Catholic Officialdom and Theological Ambiguity

08/17/2014 Comments (27)

As I mentioned recently, I once guested on a talk radio show and got a call from a man who wanted to know what the "official Catholic teaching" was on (I kid you not) "how much body mass you can lose before you lose your soul." The man was apparently under the impression that if a certain amount of tissue gets lopped off in an amputation, your soul would leak away and he was urgently interested in whether the Church had issued an official measurement (in grams?) of just how much tissue this would have to be.

The question, odd as it was, nonetheless is not the only one of its sort out there. On the Internet, in magazines and on other media I frequently run across the notion that the...READ MORE

Filed under catechesis

The Assumption of Mary

08/14/2014 Comments (29)

The most recent Marian dogma—the Assumption—was promulgated in 1950. But like all doctrinal developments throughout the history of the Church, it is rooted in apostolic teaching and reflected in Scripture. Pope Pius XII defined the dogma this way:

“The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

What evidence is there for the Assumption?

To begin with, we have the witness of the New Testament, which already takes for granted the image of Mary as a Cosmic Heavenly Figure by the time of the book of Revelation (roughly 90 AD).

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with...READ MORE

Filed under mary

More on Infallibility

08/10/2014 Comments (51)

There is no greater scandal among moderns than the Catholic Church's claim to infallibility. And who can blame them? For as this century drags to a close, it does look as though only a cretin could seriously believe any institution possesses modest integrity, much less infallibility. We've been so schooled in cynicism since Watergate and Vietnam; we've seen so much goop on Kennedy affairs and libidinous preachers and people injected with plutonium that we aren't even shockable anymore. So when we read of Borgia Popes, pedophile priests, and radical nuns praying to Diana, we just fold the paper and look for the "Far Side" cartoons.

And yet... here is this strange divine sea of a Church,...READ MORE

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What "Infallibility" Means

08/07/2014 Comments (33)

Here is the text of a whimsical email conversation I had with a friend once:

Q: "Mark, is a dog's mouth cleaner than a human's? What the official infallible Catholic position on this question?"

A: In his 16th Century encyclical Bene Canus (Good Doggie), Pope St. Gregory XXIV declared, pronounced and defined that "oggie'sday avehay eanerclay outhmays". This, being translated from the original Latin, means that the Church does definitively hold as (ahem) Dogma that dogs have cleaner mouths, but the good Pope chose to leave undefined precisely what dogs' mouths are cleaner than. The dogma caused considerable consternation upon its promulgation. A delegation of Orthodox bishops attempted to...READ MORE

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Against Punishing the Poor

08/03/2014 Comments (56)
Under a proposed stricter Norton Shores solicitation ordinance, people asking for money would receive a civil infraction citation, and motorists who hold up traffic because of their engagement with panhandlers could also be penalized.
It is *so* important make sure the poor are well and truly punished and humiliated for being poor. So, so important. Also any filthy do-gooder who tries to help them.  Particularly remarkable is the terror (supported by urban legends of rich panhandlers pulling down $500 a day that nobody repeating such legends seems eager to try) that if one is generous to the poor, one might be (gasp!) cheated on occasion, which is apparently a fate so horrible that it is...READ MORE

Filed under blessed are the poor

People who live in DeGrasse Houses…

08/01/2014 Comments (67)

...should not throw stones:

...says the guy who seriously claims that Giordano Bruno was a scientist and who says that all that "deep question" junk (aka, philosophy, theology, metaphysics, and ethics) "can really mess you up."

Yes, he really did say that. Go ahead, listen for yourself, beginning at 20:19 — and behold the spectacle of an otherwise intelligent man and gifted teacher sounding every bit as anti-intellectual as a corporate middle manager or used-car salesman. He proudly proclaims his irritation with "asking deep questions" that lead to a "pointless delay in your progress" in tackling "this whole big world of unknowns out there." When a scientist encounters someone inclined...READ MORE

Filed under agitprop

A reader has a question about friends using IVF

07/27/2014 Comments (53)

She writes:

I have a question for you. I have a couple of non-Catholic neighbors, friends trying to conceive. They've already frozen eggs. Is it improper if me, a Catholic, to pray for success with the implantation of the embryos? Thanks for your time...

Hmmm.This is one of those things the apostles and fathers of the Church never had to think about.   I think the first thing to do, if possible, is try to broach with them the question of the morality of IVF. Have you spoken with them about the moral implications of what they are doing? IVF involves fertilizing multiple eggs, picking one for implantation, and then killing the rest.  In short, selective abortion. Perhaps your relationship...READ MORE

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Kidz!  You Can Join the Exciting, Fast-Paced and Lucrative World of Homeschool Publishing!!!!

07/25/2014 Comments (2)

A dear friend of mine writes:

From: Anonymized But Lovely Reader
Subject: have i ever told you ....

.... how wonderful you are?

what's that?  no??  how remiss of me!

by now you're doubtless thinking All right, what does she want this time?

and you'd be right.

you see, i am nearing the end of a revision of Entropy Academy, or How to Succeed at Homeschooling Even If You Don't Homeschool (yes, Cow [Mark here: she is referring to our second eldest son, whose actual and long-disused name is Matthew.  You may ask, "Cow?" Don't ask.  Long story.] made the cut) which will result in an e-publication-ready copy of breathtaking magnificence. 

response to the hard copies in circulation has been...READ MORE

Filed under mailbag

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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.