Sheavings

Catholic Approaches to Paganism

Whether we are talking about pre-Christian or post-Christian paganism, the task of the Catholic is always the same: to bear witness to Jesus Christ. The question is: how?   In the New Testament, different approaches to pre-Christian paganism are evident.  Paganism is a search, but it is a search hampered by

Read More »

What is a Pagan?

“Paganism” is a term fraught with all sorts of connotations.  It originally meant something like “country dweller”, “rustic”, or even “hick”.  That’s because (contrary to popular myth) Christianity did not spread among the Hee Haw-watchers of antiquity, but among the city dwellers and urban folk.  The very last people to receive

Read More »

The Return to Paganism

I used to be a pagan. Not a neo-pagan with phony stilted semi-Tolkienesque speech (“Bright blessings! Merry meet!” “An it harme noone do as thou wilt,”). Nor was I an adherent of some recently minted group of Gaia-worshippers playing dress-up in their Society for Creative Anachronism costumes and pretending they

Read More »

Padding the Case for the New Atheism

Recently there has been a flurry of books from the “New Atheists.” Such figures as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have been holding forth to state . . . well, not anything new. The reason there is nothing new to say is that there cannot, by

Read More »

Overcoming Clericalism

Generally speaking, when one thinks of clericalism (i.e., the notion that the sacrament of Holy Orders confer, not only a priestly charism, but infinite wisdom, unchallenged authority, and limitless power on the recipient) this is normally thought of in our culture as an affliction of “conservatives”. They are, after all,

Read More »

The Opposite of Cancer

They started off, as all couples do, simply delighted with each other. They came to our house a couple of times when they were still dating. “John” was the brother of a good friend, “Sally” was his soon-to-be betrothed. They were fun. They had a good sense of humor. Both

Read More »

Obedience, Orthodoxy, and Torture

People are worried about me. One reader writes: You don’t give enough credit to the system we have in America. It is the closest thing to idealistic conditions as humanly possible (City of God, Augustine). That’s bad enough, of course. But in addition to my failure to identify America with

Read More »

One More Time: It’s All About the Eucharist

On July 10, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church”, a document stating the absolutely-not-new fact that, yes, the Church does believe it is the Church Christ founded and that other Christian bodies are right

Read More »

Those Angry Traditionalists

Ever attended a clown Mass?  Me neither.  To be sure, I’ve seen lovingly photographed liturgical bizarrenesses from time to time chronicled on the Internet. And I’ve seen some enthusiasts for the Latin Mass often talk as though such stupid liturgical antics are happening everywhere all the time and that they

Read More »

On Mediocre Liturgy, Part 1

Sometime ago, a friend of mine introduced me to a wonderful bit of parody that begins: Awake from your slumber!Arise from your sleep!The homily’s over!It wasn’t too deep! It brings to mind the old joke that the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist is that you can reason with

Read More »

Our Father: Deliver Us From Evil

Years ago, I heard a Pentecostal pastor in Spokane talking about a time he and some other local non-denominational pastors had been asked by a family they knew to come and pray for their granny who, her family said, “had an evil spirit”. One of the pastors was of a

Read More »

Our Father: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

One of the great consolations Christians have is that we worship a God who has himself wrestled with temptation. At the Judgment, we will face not an Olympian abstraction who breezed through on his looks and money, nor a severe and icy Critic who eyes us coldly and says, “Why

Read More »

Our Father: And Forgive Us our Trespasses

When asked why he had become a Catholic, G. K. Chesterton famously replied, “To get rid of my sins.” The forgiveness of sins is the awesome gift which Christ offers us, a gift so beautiful that words can scarcely express the glory of it. One of the most lovely things

Read More »

Our Father: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Most sane people never ask “Did Michaelangelo cause the statue of David, or was it his chisel? Did Shakespeare cause Hamlet, or was it his pen? Choose!” But for some reason, when the subject turns to evolution, many fundamentalists, both atheist and Christian, completely forget that a thing can have primary

Read More »

Our Father: On Earth as It Is in Heaven

Our Lord teaches us to pray that God’s will be done “on earth as it is in Heaven”. But I sometimes fancy that we (and I know for certain that I) have seldom given any thought to what that means. I think that, in part, it’s because we don’t quite

Read More »

Our Father: Thy Will Be Done

Years ago, a friend’s brother was at Reed College in Oregon. It’s one of those schools where the students seem to major in protesting more than in actual studying. After several months of watching silly demonstrations about every conceivable PC cause, the guy decided to create one of his own,

Read More »

Our Father: Thy Kingdom Come

Roughly a century ago a modernist scholar complained that Jesus came to proclaim the kingdom of God, but instead all we got was a lousy Church. He’s probably not the only person to have felt a bit disappointed, nor the only one to form the conviction that the Church is

Read More »

Our Father: Hallowed be Thy Name

The refugees returning to the Promised Land after seventy years of captivity in Babylon had a problem. He was a killjoy named Haggai and he was chewing them out for rebuilding their houses. Or…well… that’s not exactly the case. His complaint wasn’t so much that they were building their houses

Read More »

Our Father: Who Art In Heaven

Our Father is not, according to Jesus, merely our Father.  He is our Father “who art in Heaven”.  What does that mean? Getting at the answer to that, in our present culture, is harder than you’d think, not least because Heaven, says C.S. Lewis, is an acquired taste.  There are

Read More »

Our Father

In Luke’s gospel, the “Our Father”, like so much else in Jesus’ teaching, is occasioned by a request from his disciples: “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). This should get our attention, because it is typical of Jesus’ method of revelation that, instead of

Read More »

Noodling the Theology of the Body

A lot of people seem to think that the Church functions according to the principle “That which is not forbidden is compulsory.” So many folk seem to be under the impression that there is a black and white magisterial answer to everything and that “You’re with us or agin us”

Read More »

Nostalgia Isn’t What it Used to Be

One of the sweetest things about being a Dad is getting to enjoy again all those things I’d forgotten I loved in the years since becoming a grown up. With all the hubbub between being five years old and now–what with taking Iowa tests, discovering girls, discovering rejection by girls,

Read More »

Are Saints “New Revelation?”

It seems, said my friend, that the Church contradicts itself. On the one hand, Catholic teaching declares revelation complete with the close of the apostolic era. Yet consider the canonization of, say, Joan of Arc. It appears a Catholic must believe one of the following: 1. Revelation continues. It was

Read More »

Lent for Newbies

Not long ago, a nice lady wrote me saying We are both Protestants but are searching out Catholicism, just to give you a quick back ground.  There is not much out there for us on practical implications of these different Church Seasons. So my question is this: how do we

Read More »

Follow Mark on Twitter and Facebook

NEW BOOK!

Advertisement