Isn’t it a bit weird that Catholics call the Pope “papa,” father? This Sunday provides us with essential Scriptural background on the papacy, the petrine office. Jesus gives Peter the “keys to the kingdom of heaven,” after witnessing to the special grace Peter has to know Jesus’ true identity. Many have pointed out that the “keys” refer back to the figure of Eliakim, King David’s prime minister. True enough.READ MORE
The suffering of a child symbolizes uniquely terrible evil as well as despair about the future. This week’s Gospel gives a “limit” case in which Jesus encounters this evil in the form of a mother with a suffering daughter. What he does is stunning and massively helpful for us if we bravely ponder the details.READ MORE
A man at my parish was struggling to overcome a habitual sin. He said to me, “Father, I know the chance that I will commit sin again is really high. Why should I keep confessing my sins? Isn’t that dishonest?” Anyone who has felt the tyrannical power of sin — and who hasn’t? — has pondered this kind of question.READ MORE
What is Christianity finally about? These days if you ask almost anyone who doesn’t know the Bible you’ll probably hear an answer like this: “Being a good person” or “following the golden rule.”
No offense to the golden rule, but our faith is simply much stranger than that. This week’s feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord is a luminous example of this. Jesus becomes radiantly and overwhelmingly beautiful. The glory of God literally shines forth from his body and even his clothes.READ MORE
At a church meeting, a very wealthy man rose to tell the rest of those present about his Christian faith.
“I’m a millionaire,” he said, “and I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my life. I remember that turning point in my faith. I had just earned my first dollar, and I went to a church meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work. I knew that I only had a dollar bill and had to either give it all to God’s work or nothing at all. So at that moment, I decided to give my whole dollar to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today.”READ MORE
Life, like the church, is often burdened with evil, smallness, and impurities. The Lord’s parables give us a hope-filled perspective on all three.
Evil: in Jesus’ parable about the good farmer whose enemy plants weeds at night, Jesus tells us that God is not the cause of evil but permits evil to exist with good out of his patient love. He will finally deal with it, but his love lets things stay messy for a time.READ MORE
It will not be out of place to consider the ancient tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the apostles and guarded by the fathers. For upon this faith the Church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian either in fact or in name.READ MORE
For those of us who think that the faith and zeal of the early Christians died out as the Church grew more safe and powerful through the centuries, the martyrs of Uganda are a reminder that persecution of Christians continues in modern times, even to the present day.
The Society of Missionaries of Africa (known as the White Fathers) had only been in Uganda for 6 years and yet they had built up a community of converts whose faith would outshine their own. The earliest converts were soon instructing and leading new converts that the White Fathers couldn't reach. Many of these converts lived and taught at King Mwanga's court.READ MORE
At the end of the sixth century anyone would have said that Augustine had found his niche in life. Looking at this respected prior of a monastery, almost anyone would have predicted he would spend his last days there, instructing, governing, and settling even further into this sedentary life.
But Pope St. Gregory the Great had lived under Augustine's rule in that same monastery. When he decided it was time to send missionaries to Anglo-Saxon England, he didn't choose those with restless natures or the young looking for new worlds to conquer. He chose Augustine and thirty monks to make the unexpected, and dangerous, trip to England.READ MORE
For some time, I have worn a brown scapular. If you don’t know much about this devotional practice, here is a very quick-and-dirty version, greatly lacking in detail: it’s two little pieces of brown cloth, connected by a cord and worn around the neck beneath one’s clothing. One of the cloth pieces depicts Our Lady of Mount Carmel appearing to St. Simon Stock, and the other piece — the one that is sometimes visible at the nape of my neck — depicts Our Lady’s “scapular promise:” Whosoever dies clothed in this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.READ MORE
The world-famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima is recognized as the primary way in which the message of Fatima spread throughout the world and continues today.