The Temptation of Christ

02/25/2015 Comments (7)

If we are serious Catholics, we must recognize that our Faith calls us to acknowledge a much-disliked and disputed doctrine: the Fall. The teaching, in the words of Paul, is that "By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).

The doctrine of original sin says that what is wrong with the human race is something like a birth defect. Our fallenness consists not of something Adam and Eve gave us, but of something they didn't give us: a relationship of union with God that should have been there but isn't. The result is that we are born with a hole in our soul where God should be, but isn't.

How our race got...READ MORE

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Sadie Hawkins and Lent

02/19/2015 Comments (14)

When I was in high school, every February saw the annual ritual of "Sadie Hawkins Day." Sadie Hawkins was a character in the old cartoon strip "L'il Abner" who took things into her own hands when it came to datin', courtin' and all the rest of the male/female frou-frou that so occupies the adolescent mind. She didn't wait for a guy to ask her out. She asked him.

So, once a year, in honor of dear Sadie, my alma mater held a dance in which the girls asked the guys out for a change. The net result of this arrangement was to create a social situation in which a small but stable group of insecure boys were reminded for four years straight that no girl in the school would touch them with a barge...READ MORE

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The Intolerable Compliment

02/15/2015 Comments (6)

It is a strange fact of the Christian life that one of the surest marks of God's favor is trouble. In the scene just preceding Luke's account of the temptation of Christ we have seen one of the most overt revelations of Jesus' true identity. The heavens are torn open, the Spirit descends on Jesus "in bodily form like a dove" and the very voice of the Father declares "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." There's just not a lot of ambiguity here.

And yet, in Luke's account, we find the very first token of the Father's pleasure with the Son is this: he was immediately led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days to be tempted by the devil. For many people this is as...READ MORE

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Why Catholics Don't Know What They are Talking About

02/12/2015 Comments (65)

Forty years after the Council of Nicaea definitively had settled the question of whether or not Jesus was God and condemned Arius as a heretic, a huge number of bishops, as well as most the cultured elite had more or less given up trying to actually live by the teaching of the Council. The Imperial Court was not interested in Catholic theology. It was interested in civil peace. So some sort of compromise with Arianism seemed like the way to go. All the Best People were semi-Arians and much of the episcopacy couldn't see what the big problem was with a Big Tent. Let's accommodate those who say Jesus is God and those who deny he is God, they said. We shouldn't be narrow and exclusive....READ MORE

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Pursuing Virtue, Not Clintonism

02/08/2015 Comments (32)

I think Chesterton is on to something profound when he says that when you abandon the big laws, you don't get freedom and you don't even get anarchy: you get the small laws.

In other words, the paradoxical effect of attempting to be lawless is to become more and ever more legalistic, to parse words ever more finely, to look for every loophole, excuse, technicality, and microscopic nuance in order to try to show why what you are doing is not really against the law that haunts our hearts.

We see it in the kid who carefully tells his Mom, "Yes, I had a piece of cake" while neglecting to mention that the piece consisted of three quarters of the cake. We see it in the memorable...READ MORE

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Equality: It's Medicine, Not Food

02/05/2015 Comments (9)

If you ask most people what will resolve the tension between the races, the sexes or the economic classes, nine times out of ten people will say, "Equality and Toleration." Why? "Well, because we live in a democracy and each person is as good as any other. Toleration is fundamental to human society."

So goes the popular wisdom. And, of course, as in most cases, popular wisdom has a lot on the ball. Equality before the law is important. So is Toleration. These things are the beginning of any civil society.

But they are not the end of one. For where pop wisdom gets it wrong is in elevating these things to the status of supremacy over things that are greater and deeper: namely, love and...READ MORE

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Tending the Ecosystem of the Faith

02/01/2015 Comments (63)

As a born and bred Western Washingtonian, I was raised to respect the environment. My entire education, especially in this part of the country, was ordered to toward making me acutely aware of the fundamental interconnectedness of things. If you dump some toxic junk out of your boat somewhere upstream on the Skagit River, the effects are felt everywhere downstream. If the mill north of Everett pumps out tons of sulfide stench into the air (as it often did when I was a boy), it doesn’t just stay in the air on the mill’s property. It becomes everybody’s property and you smelled it in south Everett where I lived. If some apparently insignificant seaweed starts to die off in Puget Sound, it can...READ MORE

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Co-Creators with Christ

01/25/2015 Comments (3)

God creates from nothing, we create using the stuff God supplies us. As creatures in his image and likeness, it is our right and proper office to be "sub-creators" as J.R.R. Tolkien called us. Therefore, teaching our children how to cooperate with God in the work of creation is a perfectly fitting job for us as Catholic parents.

Genesis points out five tasks given the human race in the Garden: marriage, fruitfulness, rule, work, and worship. In all these tasks, we become more fully human and, for the baptized, become more profound participants in the life of the Blessed Trinity through Christ. Let's look at them briefly.

Marriage: Man and woman are made to be "one flesh" by God. But, of...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.