Catholic Religion Quiz, Part II

06/11/2015 Comments (43)

Continuing from last time in this space...

9. The Eucharist is

A) a beautiful symbol of our togetherness which we invest with the spirit of Love and thereby transform into the “body” and “blood” of Jesus in a process called “transsignification”
B) whatever you believe it in your heart to be
C) merely a reminder of something that happened a long time ago when Jesus suffered
D) the true body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ fully present under the appearance of bread and wine and offered in sacrifice to God the Father. It is also a meal whereby we feed on Jesus and become participants in his divinized human life and are graced to live as members of his one body. Finally, it is a...READ MORE

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Catholic Religion Quiz, Part I

06/07/2015 Comments (40)

Some time back the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life put out a quiz in which atheists did better than Christians in answering some basic questions about such matters as “Which Bible figure is most closely associated with leading the exodus from Egypt?” (In case you were wondering, the correct answer was “Charlton Heston”. And if you believe that, odds are you are Christian and not an atheist—at least according to the Pew poll.) The reason atheists did better is that, being at war with all mankind about the thing that matters to it most, they oppose all theists and are wary of the whole broad spectrum of religious belief (though with a particular focus on Christ, to be sure). Christians,...READ MORE

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Comfort and Affliction

06/04/2015 Comments (5)

God often comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. For Israel, toiling under Pharaoh's lash, the revelation to Moses is good news indeed: "I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey" (Ex 3:7-8). This Scripture has passed into the collective consciousness of Western Civilization as the archetypal word of comfort, hope and promise.

And yet, as the Israelites find out, these words of comfort are not to be taken for a moment as a promise of a free ride. The Israelites soon discover that God, unlike the jury that acquitted the Menendez brothers, is not about to let...READ MORE

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Laughing at the Devil

05/31/2015 Comments (7)

Some years back, my kids discovered the work of the great genius Weird Al Yankovic. Weird Al, for them what don't know, is a musician who has graced the pop music world with something it richly deserves and badly needs: parody. Weird Al takes the self-absorbed world of yer garden variety rock/pop artiste and knocks it down with gusts of laughter. Sent by heaven to shatter the mirror of Narcissus, Weird Al transforms tunes like Queen's elephantine opus "Bohemian Rhapsody" into a polka tune replete with accordion and banjo, Michael Jackson's "Beat It" into the truly memorable "Eat It" (a protracted lecture to a kid who won't touch dinner), or Sting's pretentious "King of Pain" into "King of...READ MORE

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Many of You May Remember the Reformation

05/24/2015 Comments (24)

Here is a big advertisement from last fall from something called “Paula White Ministries”. It has that sort of “Oprah” vibe to it that many non-denominational “women’s ministries” do. Unlike the martial vibe one gets from male-run Evangelical outfits that are about “Fighting for the Truth!” and “Making an Impact on This Generation for Jesus Christ!” Oprahfied non-denom women’s ministries tend to make you think of The View or “Cawfee Tawk” or Susan Powter—plus Jesus.

So what’s Paula all about? Well, in this ad, she is inadvertently illustrating that Catholic teaching is a boomerang. When you throw some of it away, it tends to come back and hit you in the head from unexpected angles. Permit...READ MORE

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The Benefits of Belief

05/21/2015 Comments (4)

Many people assume "true" Christianity is wholly and utterly altruistic and sentimental. Often, to illustrate this, Jesus' command to the rich young man ("Go, sell all you have, give it to the poor, and then come and follow me") is trotted out to support the notion that the gospel is a sort of dreary altruism. It appears that Christianity is, in Ted Turner's phrase, "a religion for losers."

Worse still is the contrast between this supposed goal of pure altruism and the stark fact that pure altruism is rare among Christians. Not only does Christianity apparently have an ideal of depressing and weary rejection of personal happiness, it also has a near zero batting average in achieving the...READ MORE

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When Judging is a Virtue

05/17/2015 Comments (42)

G.K. Chesterton once remarked that one of the principal disasters of the breakup of Christendom was not that it loosed Christian sins on the world, but that it loosed far more dangerous Christian virtues. For it is virtue, untethered from the governance of God and running amok which can do vastly more damage, since it is convinced of its own rectitude all the while it lays waste and destroys.

A case in point is the Christian virtue of forbearance, summed up in the famous text, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." For countless people in our culture, this is imagined to be the only thing ever uttered by Jesus of Nazareth and the only religious text in the world which remains out of the ruins...READ MORE

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The Future Isn't What It Used to Be

05/14/2015 Comments (14)

Here’s a really cool site called Paleo-Future, devoted to chronicling the History of the Future.  I’ve often thought such a subject would make a great book.  After all, people have been making predictions forever. So, it would really be fun to see how the Assured Prophecies of Yesterday have panned out.

Browsing through Paleo-Future, I note such prophetic insights as these from 1957:

Interplanetary travel will become "commonplace" in the next 50 years, World War I ace Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker predicts.

"In fact," he told an audience of Rotarians yesterday, "space ships in the year 2007 will be semi-self-sustaining planets in themselves."

Rickenbacker, who is now chairman of the board...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.