From Juju to the Eucharist

07/12/2015 Comments (31)

As Protestant pundit Cal Thomas illustrates, people tend to deny any and all connection between themselves and the object of their hostility.  They rename sauerkraut “liberty cabbage” when at war with Germans and French fries “freedom fries” when mad at France and they try to pretend that Muslims and Christians “don’t worship the same God” ever since 9/11.  Protestants like Thomas are free (if you call it that) to try to overcome the Law of Non-Contradiction by main force.  But American Catholics who are in this mood do not have the same luxury. 

Not that they don’t try.  But two forces tend to stop them. 

First, there are atheists who tend to make treacherous allies in the Clash of...READ MORE

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Disgust is Not an Argument

07/09/2015 Comments (19)
James Gordon [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Umayyad Mosque, built by Christians as the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist, is considered the fourth-holiest place in Islam. The mosque holds a shrine which some believe contains the head of St. John the Baptist, regarded as a prophet by both Christians and Muslims alike.

– James Gordon [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s something you don’t read every day. Some years back, the Middle East Media Research Institute reported the following:

Media Uproar Following Egyptian Mufti's Fatwa on Companions of the Prophet Muhammad Being Blessed by Drinking His Urine

An uproar in the Egyptian media followed the recent publication of a book by Egyptian Mufti Dr. Ali Gum'a in which he claimed that the companions of the Prophet Muhammad would drink his urine to be blessed.

Many people don’t know that a “fatwa” is not a “death sentence” but an opinion by a Muslim leader. Because of this many western readers, merely glancing at the story, assumed that somebody has yet again been sentenced to death for saying...READ MORE

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Saints: Our Unseen Prayer Partners

07/05/2015 Comments (3)

Some of my non-Catholic friends find prayer to the saints ooky. They ask me, "Since when is talking to a bunch of dead guys Christian?"

Since biblical times. Consider Moses. He had been a dead guy for several centuries when Christ began his ministry, yet he was intensely interested in earthly doings judging by his behavior on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:30-31). Likewise the various deceased saints in Revelations seem intensely interested in our affairs. So too those mysterious dead folk who visited Jerusalem on Good Friday (Matthew 27:52-53). All this seems to indicate our connection with the dead is unbroken by death.

Notice also Christ's reply to the Sadducees, who disbelieved...READ MORE

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"We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident"

07/02/2015 Comments (10)

Every July, Americans hold the Secular Feast of St. Thomas Jefferson and take a little time out to renew their baptismal vows of citizenship in the American Experiment. As part of that rite, Americans take a small amount of time (between the sacred meals of fried chicken and spare ribs and the lighting of the sacred fireworks) to contemplate the American creed summed up in the Declaration of Independence.

Some readers may think I am being sacrilegious by speaking of the Fourth of July in religious terms, but I'm not. G.K. Chesterton (no blasphemer he) once remarked that America was "a nation with the soul of a Church" and said that it was the only country founded on a creed. I think he is...READ MORE

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Of the Glory of Kings and the Killing of Cats

06/25/2015 Comments (1)

My friend, Dr. James Felak of the University of Washington, notes that life is full of broad proverbs that are both true and commonsensical, yet flatly contradictory and false if we try to make them into an all-encompassing rule of life. That's why everybody believes "haste makes waste" but also believes "he who hesitates is lost." That's why Scripture itself (Proverbs 26:4-5) puts two seemingly contradictory (and yet true) proverbs right next to each other:

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.

And that same commonsense habit of mind is why the Catholic tradition has always been...READ MORE

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Back to the Tradition!

06/21/2015 Comments (17)

The closest you ever get to a poll in Scripture occurs in this memorable exchange:

Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them. And he answered them, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, "Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the...READ MORE

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Paul the Convert

06/18/2015 Comments (11)

St. Paul’s place in the Church has been a bone of contention ever since he was knocked off his horse by our Lord on the way to Damascus.

He was a mass of paradoxes that seemed (to those who did not understand him) a mass of foolish contradictions.

  • He loved Christ above all and was not infrequently named an enemy of God.
     
  • He was all things to all and yet had a determined circle of enemies who regarded him as a two-faced phony.
     
  • He labored to present the truth to wildly different audiences in terms they could understand, only to be suspected of compromising the truth.
     
  • He declared those who received circumcision after baptism to be under a curse and he had one of his own...READ MORE

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In Praise of Credulity

06/14/2015 Comments (12)

St. Thomas Aquinas was once tricked by his fellow students who cried out, “Look! A flying ox!” Thomas dutifully went to the window to look and his peers all laughed at him heartily. Thomas’ reply (and one of the many reasons he’s a saint): “I thought it more likely that an ox would fly than a Dominican would lie.”

I think of that story as I read a piece on the Blessed Virgin Mary allegedly appearing in Egypt that made the rounds some time back. Dunno if it’s a real apparition or not, but the headline got me thinking.

You see, I'm always rather leery of such stuff. But, I’m also not altogether convinced that this speaks very well of me.

I live in an age where making fun of the credulous...READ MORE

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.