Of the Glory of Kings and the Killing of Cats

06/26/2015 Comment

My friend, Dr. James Felak of the University of Washington, notes that life is full of broad proverbs that are both true and commonsensical, yet flatly contradictory and false if we try to make them into an all-encompassing rule of life. That's why everybody believes "haste makes waste" but also believes "he who hesitates is lost." That's why Scripture itself (Proverbs 26:4-5) puts two seemingly contradictory (and yet true) proverbs right next to each other:

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.

And that same commonsense habit of mind is why the Catholic tradition has always been...READ MORE

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Back to the Tradition!

06/22/2015 Comments (15)

The closest you ever get to a poll in Scripture occurs in this memorable exchange:

Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them. And he answered them, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, "Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the...READ MORE

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Paul the Convert

06/19/2015 Comments (11)

St. Paul’s place in the Church has been a bone of contention ever since he was knocked off his horse by our Lord on the way to Damascus.

He was a mass of paradoxes that seemed (to those who did not understand him) a mass of foolish contradictions.

  • He loved Christ above all and was not infrequently named an enemy of God.
     
  • He was all things to all and yet had a determined circle of enemies who regarded him as a two-faced phony.
     
  • He labored to present the truth to wildly different audiences in terms they could understand, only to be suspected of compromising the truth.
     
  • He declared those who received circumcision after baptism to be under a curse and he had one of his own...READ MORE

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In Praise of Credulity

06/15/2015 Comments (12)

St. Thomas Aquinas was once tricked by his fellow students who cried out, “Look! A flying ox!” Thomas dutifully went to the window to look and his peers all laughed at him heartily. Thomas’ reply (and one of the many reasons he’s a saint): “I thought it more likely that an ox would fly than a Dominican would lie.”

I think of that story as I read a piece on the Blessed Virgin Mary allegedly appearing in Egypt that made the rounds some time back. Dunno if it’s a real apparition or not, but the headline got me thinking.

You see, I'm always rather leery of such stuff. But, I’m also not altogether convinced that this speaks very well of me.

I live in an age where making fun of the credulous...READ MORE

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Catholic Religion Quiz, Part II

06/12/2015 Comments (46)

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

06/08/2015 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

06/05/2015 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

06/01/2015 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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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.