Sheavings

Ten Commandments: The Fifth Commandment

It’s a simple-sounding proposition: “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13). And some people, such as pacifists, are absolutists in understanding it to mean that all killing forbidden. But, in fact, that is not what the commandment means. In Hebrew, the Fifth Commandment forbids the taking of innocent human life. Both

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Ten Commandments: The Fourth Commandment

With the Fourth Commandment (“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12)), we begin to enter into territory that is closer to what we call “natural law”. Basically, the command to honor your father and

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Ten Commandments: The Third Commandment

Some time ago, a bumper sticker appeared urging us to “Support your labor union: the people who brought you the weekend.” The folks who dreamed up the ad campaign seem never to have heard of the Third Commandment. For, of course, it was God who invented the weekend. The idea

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Ten Commandments: The Second Commandment

“Exodus” is the Greek name for the second book of the Bible. In Hebrew, it is called the Book of Names. That’s because, like Catholic encyclicals, the Hebrew books of the Bible are titled by the opening words of the book: “These are the names…” It is fitting that this

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Ten Commandments: The 1.5 Commandment

The tricky thing about the commandments is figuring out how to break them up. Astute readers of Scripture and Catholic catechetical materials will notice that there are actually different ways of breaking up the Ten Commandments. The original Hebrew text refers to them as (pedantry alert!) the “Ten Words” but

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Ten Commandments: The First Commandment

The other day, one of my readers sent me a hilarious note: Hey, Mark, you may get terrific questions as a Catholic author/speaker, but as a Catholic high school teacher, I get terrific answers. My current favorite: Q: Name the seven capital/deadly sins. A. (among the others): Sluttony I have

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Through a Veil Darkly

So here’s a headline from ZENIT announcing, “Scholars Aim to Disprove Darwin”. My thought: “Good luck with that.” I’m highly skeptical that guys like Hugh Owen, who believe in a young earth and the co-existence of dinosaurs and humans, are going to land any punches that overthrow the basic arguments for stuff like

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Thanksgiving: An Odd Reconciliation

Mark Twain once remarked that when he was fifteen his father was the stupidest man alive, but by the time he turned twenty-five he was surprised at how much the guy had learned in ten years. That pattern can be seen all over the place. Consider the Pilgrims’ Progress over

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A Tale of Two Covenants, Part Four

Why have we been talking for three weeks about the relationship of the Mosaic Law and the gospel? Well, in addition to the fact that it’s good to know what the Church teaches about our relationship with our Jewish older brothers, it’s also important if we want to have the

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A Tale of Two Covenants, Part Three

Many Reactionary Dissenters claim that the Church at the Second Vatican Council reversed itself not merely on prudential or disciplinary matters but on essential teaching when it comes to the Church’s relationship with the Jewish people. The epicenter of this claim is not hard to find. It is, of course,

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A Tale of Two Covenants, Part Two

As we discussed in our last column, the Progressive Dissenting reaction to the Reflections on Covenant and Mission document was as wrong as it was hasty. Many people assumed that “the Church now teaches” that salvation was possible apart from Jesus Christ. But in fact the Church has never reversed (and will

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A Tale of Two Covenants, Part One

The relationship between the Old and New Covenants has been a hot topic for 2000 years. Not long ago, Ann Coulter caused a media row by announcing that Christians are “perfected Jews”. A few years before that, a document called Reflections on Covenant and Mission made headlines by apparently saying that Jews

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Spiritual Warfare, Part IV

We’ve been looking at some of the ways in which St. Paul battled for the gospel against the powers and principalities in the heavenlies, as well as against a host of earthly foes.  In this last part of our series, let’s note a few basic principles that Paul exemplifies. Caesar’s

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Spiritual Warfare, Part III

The apostle to the Gentiles proclaimed the gospel to a multicultural and embattled world very much like ours. Here are some things we can learn from him as we enter more deeply into a time of persecution. We live in the Crybaby Age. The world is chockablock with people in

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Spiritual Warfare, Part II

Last time, we began talking about the problem of how a Catholic should respond to deliberate acts of desecration of the Eucharist. We discovered that Scripture shows a curiously double-sided response from Christ and his Church which I sum up as “forgive and fight”. This pattern is laid out for

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Spiritual Warfare, Part I

Recently, the Catholic League complained when a University of Central Florida student walked out of Mass with the Host and held it hostage for several days. In response to this, a professor named P.Z. Myers, who teaches at the University of Minnesota – Morris, wrote a viciously anti-Catholic post on

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Sheep Without a Shepherd

Recently, a Democrat party shill actually spoke of the “breakthrough” in the Democrat abortion platform with a straight face: “For the first time, the Democratic Party is using ‘reduce’ and ‘abortion’ in the same sentence, and for the first time it talks about the decision to have a child and

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Asking Questions

In 1996, the Pope said it’s okay to think God may have used evolution to create the body of the first humans. In other words, he said Catholics may, if they like, believe God formed Adam from the dust of the earth reeeeeally slowly rather than very quickly. This commonplace liberty

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You Meet Subsidiarity in the Oddest Places

This past October 3 marked “National Hair Day” and, to quote columnist Jonah Goldberg, who among us was immune to the excitement? There’s a National This Day and National That Week for every conceivable cause. Somebody out there loves to create these days and most of us love to ignore

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Striking the Rock

A notable feature of much ancient literature is its almost childlike willingness to believe that, of course, We the Authors are superior and stainless while They the Foreigners are subhuman. This sort of attitude informs virtually every ancient culture from Egypt (whose official records do not tend to record the

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The Parable of the Dishonest Steward

Scripture includes some of the clearest and most impenetrably obscure texts in the world. At the “clear” end of the spectrum, Amos rages in prophetic fury against “you who trample the needy and destroy the poor of the land” and against those who “buy the lowly man for silver, and

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Sterility and Fruitfulness

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” If Jesus had not said it, I doubt most people in our culture would ever connect “purity” with “seeing God.” As we saw last time, a huge number of people in our culture, when the word “purity” is propounded

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The Star Out of Jacob

God himself has willed that Creation be a sign to us of himself. So it is not strange that the immensity of a starry night remind us of God’s immensity and glory. It is no surprise that the beauty of the heavens reminds us of the beauty of Heaven. It

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We See Better When We Don’t Squint

Back in the late 80s, many Christians decided that the big threat to civilization was something called “backward masking”, the occasional practice of incorporating reversed recordings of the human voice (and sometimes instruments) into rock songs. Christians were all a-twitter over the satanic message supposedly encoded therein. Rush Limbaugh, with

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