The Semi-Permeable Membranes of the Various Protestantisms

04/23/2015 Comments (81)

One basic rule of thumb to understand in Catholic/Protestant conversations is that it is not the case that Catholics rely on Sacred Tradition and Protestants don't. Rather, Catholics (and, by this, I mean “educated Catholics speaking out of the Magisterial teaching of the Church”) rely on Sacred Tradition and know they do, while Protestants rely on (parts) of Sacred Tradition and (usually) don't know they do.

So, for instance, despite Paul’s prescriptions (directed only at clergy of his day) that a man must be the husband of but one wife, nowhere in the text of Scripture is it made clear that Christian marriage must be monogamous for all (a fact that did not escape Luther or John Milton...READ MORE

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Swearing and Vulgarity

04/19/2015 Comments (17)

I’ve always loved this funny little tune from Chaucer’s day:

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing, cuccu!
Groweth sed and bloweth med
And springth the wude nu.
Sing, cuccu!
Awe bleteth after lomb,
Lhouth after calve cu
Bulloc sterteth, bucke ferteth.
Murie sing, cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu,
Wel singes thu, cuccu.
Ne swik thu naver nu!

This joyful, ebullient tune, doubtless sung by many an English peasant out sweating in the field, is full of the solid earthy, good humor of a people who were closely bound to the land. For them, one of the images of sheer joy was when the “Bulloc sterteth” and the “bucke ferteth”. That latter clause is now rendered into modern English by very polite translators as “The...READ MORE

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The Critics Rave!

04/16/2015 Comments (12)

As a guy who's done a bit of chatting about the Catholic Faith with folks, one of the things that has struck me over the years is the sheer fecundity of the human mind in giving reasons not to be Catholic. To a young Catholic or a new convert, such overwhelming fertility in repudiating the Faith can be rather daunting. A trip to an Internet list group, for example, can be a bit like drinking from a fire hose of anti-Catholic rhetoric. One can simply be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of it all.

This is, however, all to the good for the intrepid Catholic who takes seriously the fact that "in everything God works for the good with those who love him" (Romans 8:28). So when life serves you...READ MORE

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Asking Questions

04/12/2015 Comments (16)

In 1996, Pope St. John Paul II said it's okay to think God may have used evolution to create the body of the first humans. In other words, he said Catholics may, if they like, believe God formed Adam from the dust of the earth reeeeeally slowly rather than very quickly. This commonplace liberty of Catholic teaching (which merely echoed Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis and which can be traced back to the patristic era) was hailed as a complete theological revolution in a Church which, the media seemed to imagine, had hitherto forbidden the very mention of Darwin. The Pope, we were informed, had finally "conceded" the possibility that evolution might be true. To anybody with even an elementary...READ MORE

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153 Fishes and Related Matters

04/09/2015 Comments (26)

When Pope John Paul II died on April 2, 2005 there were any number of fascinating coincidences that surrounded his death.  They were the sort of thing that make you go “hmmmm” and (if one is a wobbly agnostic) begin to suspect that maybe You Know Who has His hand in things after all.

For instance, John Paul managed to go to his reward in the one sliver of time which tied together Easter, Fatima and the Divine Mercy Feast which he himself had established (he died on Saturday evening, the Vigil of the Feast of Divine Mercy, which falls in the Octave of Easter). Given the movable nature of the Easter Feast (not to mention the moveable nature of First Saturdays, a devotion associated with the...READ MORE

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Death and Laughter

04/05/2015 Comments (6)

"If April showers bring May flowers," I asked my four-month-old son as he lay on my chest, "what do May flowers bring?"

I waited for a reply but four-month-olds are uncommonly reticent about speaking, so finally I was compelled to answer my own riddle.

"Pilgrims!" I cried with glee.

My wife Janet lay there next to me, propped up on one elbow and rolling her eyes. The only thing worse than a dumb joke is a dumb joke you've heard before. So I sat little Luke up on my chest and said, "I don't know, Luke. I thought it was a good joke. What did you think?"

He instantly barfed on me.

Janet fell over backward laughing and eventually slid off the bed in her convulsive hysteria. It was several...READ MORE

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The Cross by John Donne

04/02/2015 Comments (2)

SINCE Christ embraced the cross itself, dare I  
His image, th' image of His cross, deny ?  
Would I have profit by the sacrifice,  
And dare the chosen altar to despise ?  
It bore all other sins, but is it fit  
That it should bear the sin of scorning it ?  
Who from the picture would avert his eye,  
How would he fly his pains, who there did die ?  
From me no pulpit, nor misgrounded law,  
Nor scandal taken, shall this cross withdraw,  
It shall not, for it cannot ; for the loss  
Of this cross were to me another cross.  
Better were worse, for no affliction,  
No cross is so extreme, as to have none.  
Who can blot out the cross, with th' instrument  
Of God dew'd on me in the...READ MORE

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Terri Schiavo and the Weapons of Our Warfare

03/30/2015 Comments (44)

Ten years after Terri Schiavo was ordered to be made dead by the state, there remains an open wound that is only festering as the state continues to become the servant of the powerful in an expanding arena of war by the strong against the weak. 

Propagandists tell us that "extraordinary medical treatment" was withdrawn so that she could "die with dignity".  Pardon me while I pause from writing this to receive some "medical treatment" from my kitchen in the form of a glass of a glass of tap water and a sandwich from the fridge.  Food and drink are not "medical treatment" but basic human rights.  What was denied Terri Schiavo was nothing extraordinary, but simply a drink of water.  She was,...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.