Imagine if People Actually Fell for John Lennon's Nonsense

07/15/2016 Comments (72)

(Photo Credit: Roy Kerwood, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)

Sometime back, I wrote a little piece about John Lennon’s hymn to original sin (aka “Imagine”) expressing my bafflement at the fact that people (including Catholics who ought to know better) regard this as a hope-filled anthem of the Coming Great Rosy Dawn and not as what it is, Music to Accompany the Machine Gunning of the Counter-Revolutionaries. I got lots of mail for it, but one note which particularly stands out as Illustrative of the Problem follows, with my responses:

Dear Sir,

I am a life-long Catholic, educated by Holy Names sisters in Seattle, Wa. Do you actually write for a catholic magazine?


Everybody wants to think they know everything about something, -here’s my...READ MORE

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We Say “Marana Tha”, Not “Klaatu Barada Nikto”

07/11/2016 Comments (15)

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), “The Last Judgment”

Here’s an article by an atheist who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jack Chick. He theorizes on What Rome Is Up To when a couple of Catholic sources remark that the discovery of life on other planets poses no particular threat to the Catholic faith.

This piece is a classic example of how sin makes you stupid. Our Bright knows ahead of time that Catholics are censorious idiots who fear Truth. So it only stands to reason that Rome fears the discovery of life on other worlds because the first Vulcan we meet will conclusively prove that advanced civilizations have outgrown the god myth and Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End is the only truly prophetic book ever written. Therefore, it can only...READ MORE

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St. Thomas Aquinas and the Sciences

07/08/2016 Comments (3)

Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664), “St. Thomas Aquinas”

It is notable that when St. Thomas argues for the existence of God he does not point to seeming exceptions to the laws of nature and ask, "Why are there exceptions to the rules?" That's because he knows the work of the sciences is to discover why there are seeming exceptions to the rules of Nature. The person whose faith rests on exceptions to the rules today ("If there is no God, then explain lightning, or disease.") will find that faith in ruins when the exception is explained with static electricity and germs.

Instead, what Thomas does is begin, not *against* the sciences, but for them. Science is nothing other than the enterprise of learning the rules of nature (and how to exploit them...READ MORE

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Would Jesus Salute the Flag?

07/04/2016 Comments (14)

More than 45,000 Boy Scouts salute during the singing of the national anthem as part of the Boy Scouts of America 2010 National Scout Jamboree on Fort AP Hill, Va., July 28, 2010. (Photo credit: Cherie Cullen, via Wikimedia Commons)

The origin of the term "holiday" is Holy Day. A Holy Day is a day set apart for something. Our present understanding of the term "holy" always assumes that the thing set apart is set apart for God. This is not surprising. Words like "holy" are pretty much only the province of biblical characters, preachers and other religious types.

Yet curiously, the word "holiday" is not necessarily fraught with such religious implications. That's why we celebrate the Fourth of July Holiday, but don't imagine it is a Feast in the same sense that Christmas is. It is "holy" to Americans, not the Church.

And rightly so. We do well, as a people, to celebrate the American founding. It is a thing worthy of...READ MORE

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How I Came to Think Differently about Mary

07/01/2016 Comments (13)

Stefan Lochner (c. 1400/1410–1451), “Madonna im Rosenhag”

It once seemed perfectly obvious to me that Catholics honored Mary too much. All those feasts, rosaries, icons, statues and whatnot were ridiculously excessive. Yes, the gospel of Luke said something about her being "blessed" and yes I thought her a good person. But that was that.

No Mary, No Salvation

People who celebrated her or called her "Mother" or did all the million things which Catholic piety encourages bordered on idolatry. It was all too much. Jesus, after all, is our Savior, not Mary.

However, after looking at the gospel of Luke afresh and thinking more and more about the humanity of Jesus Christ, some things dawned on me. For it turns out that Luke said more than "something"...READ MORE

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There is Only One “Real Jesus”; Accept No Substitutes

06/27/2016 Comments (3)

Thomas Francis Dicksee (1819-1895), “Christ of the Cornfield”

Here's an email about a website called "New Covenant Ministries" (a self described "No-nonsense, Honest, Direct, Prophetic, Apostolic, Priesthood of All Believers [Men and Women], Post-Trib, Sabbatarian, Messianic-Israelite, Patriarchal, Evangelical, Received Text, Johannine Tradition & Communion, End-Time Gatherers, New Birth, Holiness, Restorationist, New Covenant Torah, Non-Charismatic, and Sola Scriptura" group which styles itself "One Spotless Church Gathered from the Corpse of Christendom.")

That warm affirmation of ecumenism should be a tip off that this group is unlikely to be tremendously reliable when their assertions wander off the beaten path of Christian orthodoxy. But still...READ MORE

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How Tradition Gave Us the Bible

06/24/2016 Comments (1)

Valentin de Boulogne (1591-1632), “Saint Paul Writing His Epistles”

Last time, in this space, we started looking at how doctrine develops in the life of the Church.  Today, we will take a look specifically at how the Church's doctrine regarding "which books should we read in the liturgy?" developed.  For that, of course, is all we mean by "the canon of Scripture".  The Church chose these books and not those for its readings as Mass, put them all together in The Book (Biblia) and used them Mass.  How did they make that call?

In some cases, the Church in both east and west has a clear memory of just who wrote a given book and could remind the faithful of this.  So, for instance, when a second century heretic named Marcion proposed to delete the Old Testament...READ MORE

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Sacred Tradition is the Mother of the Bible

06/20/2016 Comments (4)

Vladimir Borovikovsky (1757-1825), “Saint Matthew the Evangelist”

It's still a jolt for some people to realize this, but the Bible did not fall down out of the sky, leather-bound and gold-monogrammed with the words of Christ in red, in AD 95.  Rather the canon of Christian Scripture slowly developed over a period of about 1500 years.  That does not mean, of course, that Scripture was being written for 1500 years after the life of Christ.  Rather, it means that it took the Church some fifteen centuries to formally and definitively state which books out of the great mass of early Christian and pseudo-Christian books constituted the Bible.

The process of defining the canon of Scripture is an example of what the Church calls "development of doctrine".  This...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.