Charisms =/= Sanctity

10/25/2015 Comments (17)


One of the big puzzles that many Catholics have grappled with in recent years is the baffling phenomenon of some charismatic figure (one thinks of a Maciel, for instance) who can, for years, inspire or otherwise offer blessing and solace to good and decent Christians who are full of faith and obedient to the Church.  Said figure can preach or write clear and engaging explications of the Faith.  He can do all sorts of wonderful things that help struggling souls find healing, that give new purpose to the hopeless, and that help the lost discover the riches of grace in Christ.  He is beloved by his devotees—and not without reason.

And yet that charismatic figure then turns out to be bound up...READ MORE

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Why it is Great to Be Catholic

10/22/2015 Comments (17)

Matthias Grünewald, "Isenheimer Altar" (1512-1516)

Our mothers taught us to count our blessings.

That’s not Pollyanna denial of the troubles in the world.  It’s healthy Christian faith, hope, and love.  After all, the Church herself was born in a crucible of sins and troubles when her Lord was crucified and died under a heap of shame that made Him an outcast to both Jew and pagan.  The shame only deepened in that His closest, hand-picked disciples all abandoned Him in the most cowardly way.  If there was ever a dark time in history, that day was it.

And yet, here the Church still is two thousand years later, with a billion members and counting.  Because the central lesson of the Faith is not that we humans are cowardly, sinful weaklings...READ MORE

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Love Ain't Feelings

10/18/2015 Comments (12)

Evgraf Semenovich Sorokin, "Crucifixion" (1873)

Last week, we talked a bit about the meaning of concupiscence in the Church’s moral tradition. The good news about concupiscence is that it is not sin but merely the “tinder for sin,” and therefore temptation is not a revelation of what a disgusting disappointment we are to God, but is in fact the field of battle upon which we, with the help of God’s grace, grow in virtue and become saints (CCC 1264).

Because of this, those of us who suffer from disordered appetites, a weakened will, and a darkened intellect (meaning 100 percent of all human beings, with the exception of Jesus and Mary) have hope, because God is not an impatient critic, fuming at our weakness and carping at us about what...READ MORE

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You Are Created in the Image and Likeness of God and Redeemed by Jesus Christ

10/15/2015 Comments (13)

A reader wrote in to ask what I think about this story, where a young boy underwent monstrous “reparative therapy” because he exhibited feminine behavior, only to end up killing himself at 38.

As you may have gathered, I think it monstrous. This will no doubt confuse people who have noted that I think homosexual acts to be sinful and believe much homosexual agitprop to be militant, intolerant, and totalitarian in intent.

So why do I think this particular “therapy” monstrous? For the same reason I oppose totalitarian attempts and acts of violence calculated to force me to approve of homosexual acts: because I believe in human freedom and dignity.

Here’s the thing: Grace builds on and...READ MORE

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The Spirituality of Waiting Around

10/12/2015 Comments (7)

Santeri Salokivi, “The Wait” (1911)

“Time,” the man said, “is God’s way of keeping everything from happening at once.” Another way of looking at the same thing is Arnold Toynbee’s remark that some people think “history is just one damned thing after another.”

As Christians, we believe that time, history, and the sequence and interplay of events in human affairs is not merely one damned thing after another but is, like all created things, grist for grace. God doesn’t just bless things and sacramentalize them; He blesses time itself and makes it sacramental, too. He doesn’t just hallow spaces in space like temples and churches; He hallows spaces in time (like Sabbaths and feast days).

And so, for instance, we have the Old...READ MORE

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G. K. Chesterton: An Appreciation

10/09/2015 Comments (7)

Bowing down in blind credulity, as is my custom, before mere authority and the tradition of the elders, superstitiously swallowing a story I have not tested by experiment or private judgment, I am firmly of opinion that G.K. Chesterton died on the 14th of June, 1936, at his home in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire; and was buried according to the formularies of the Catholic Church in the Catholic cemetery there.

That paragraph, like so much else in my thinking, prayer, faith and writing, owes a giant debt to the colossal genius who was Chesterton (it’s reworked from the opening line of his Autobiography, just as “colossal genius who was Chesterton” is a tip of the hat to The Man Who was...READ MORE

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Divine Hatred, Divine Love

10/05/2015 Comments (4)

Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), “The Crown of Thorns”

Most of us modern Christians congratulate ourselves that we’re tolerant and not judgmental. All that Old Testament brimstone is old hat. We’ve advanced and evolved. We’re more forgiving than our ancestors.

But then a story like this catches our eye:

Shouting, "This is YouTube material!" a 27-year-old British man urinated on a dying woman who had collapsed on the street, the BBC and local Hartepool Mail and Northern Echo tell us. He also doused her with a bucket of water and covered her with shaving cream.

The woman, 50-year-old Christine Lakinski, died at the scene of pancreatic failure.

In a sad sign of the times, it was all recorded on a mobile phone.

Suddenly all those Old...READ MORE

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Building on Nature

10/01/2015 Comment

In his Letters to an American Lady, on November 10, 1952, C. S. Lewis wrote:

I believe that, in the present divided state of Christendom, those who are at the heart of each division are all closer to one another than those who are at the fringes. I would even carry this beyond the borders of Christianity: how much more one has in common with a real Jew or Muslim than with a wretched liberalising, occidentalised specimen of the same categories.

I think Lewis has a point. One of the things our faith teaches us is that grace builds on nature — that God begins with the human “raw material” He creates and, if you will, co-creates us via the risky business of giving us free will. Accordingly,...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.