Category: Catechesis

A Message To A Niece On Her Confirmation
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A Message To A Niece On Her Confirmation

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You have no doubt focused on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit in preparing for your reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of God… the emphasis being on the word “gifts.” They are free to you. But they are not cheap giveaways. You may have heard […]

Solemnity of the Ascension
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Solemnity of the Ascension

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It is fitting to celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  We rejoice to see the holy city roll out the red carpet and hail Jesus as the promised Messiah. The problem is, however, that the only crown they gave their king was a crown of thorns. This week the Church recalls a […]

Bl. John Henry Newman, 1880
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Newman: The Praise of Men

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In the sermon The Praise of Men,1 after indicating that ridicule is a powerful weapon used by the devil, Blessed John Henry Newman describes a case in which it is the cause of much pain: when a person who had shunned religion turns by God’s grace back to the practice of religion and meets the […]

Easter Sunday
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Easter Sunday

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The serpent’s bite was a deadly one.  The venom had worked its way deep into the heart of the entire human race, doing its gruesome work.  The anti-venom was unavailable until He appeared.  One drop was all that was needed, so potent was this antidote.  Yet it was not like Him to be stingy.  He […]

Sins of Ignorance and Weakness: Part I
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Sins of Ignorance and Weakness: Part I

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Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman draws on the following words from Scripture to preach on the need for a constant spiritual renewal: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Heb. x. 22. As he […]

...A Sign of Complete Submission to God.
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…A Sign of Complete Submission to God.

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Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish, had recourse to the LORD. She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids, from morning until evening, and said: “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking […]

Fasting: A Source of Trial
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Fasting: A Source of Trial

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Lent is a season of prayer and fasting, a time for conversion of the heart. As in all things, the Christian looks to Christ’s example and seeks his grace to be able to follow him. To look to Christ means, first, to see and hear him in the Gospel. We will hear Jesus ask us […]

Ash Wednesday:  Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride
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Ash Wednesday: Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride

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On February 25, 2004, I was teaching English at the University of Central Florida in the Diocese of Disney, lecturing on “Ash Wednesday,” T.S. Eliot’s famous poem. There before me in the lecture hall sat several students with ashes smudged across their foreheads in the shape of a cross. Ash Wednesday. How apropos. T.S. Eliot […]

Feast of the Holy Family
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Feast of the Holy Family

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Every year right after Christmas, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family.  There is an important reason for this.  It’s easy to think the “incarnation” means God took on a human body, that he appeared in human flesh. But there is much more to it than that.  In Jesus, God unites himself entirely with […]

Christ Has Come; He Will Come Again; I Can Say All is Well
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Christ Has Come; He Will Come Again; I Can Say All is Well

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Saint Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch overseeing 1st century Syrian Christians and was a disciple of the Apostle John. He wrote a letter to the Christians at Ephesus as he was being transported to Rome to face wild beasts in the arena. He said, “For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord […]

John the Baptist and Spiritual Joy
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John the Baptist and Spiritual Joy

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On the third Sunday of Advent, penitential purple gives way to pink and we celebrate “Gaudete” or “Rejoice!” Sunday. “Rejoice heartily in the Lord, says Isaiah” (61:10). “My Spirit finds joy in God my Savior,” says the Virgin Mary (Luke 1: 47). “Rejoice in the Lord always,” says St. Paul (I Thes. 5:16). “Make straight […]

What is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception?
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What is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception?

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“I am the Immaculate Conception.” These are the words our Blessed Mother spoke to young Bernadette Soubirous when she appeared at Lourdes in 1858. On December 8th, we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, yet it often seems to leave many people confused. What exactly are we celebrating on this holy day? Contrary to […]

In Anticipation of Thanksgiving
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In Anticipation of Thanksgiving

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I was talking to my Dad one Sunday evening while I stood in the backyard flipping burgers on the grill. “How was your weekend?” Dad asked. “Fine,” I said.  “We didn’t do much; the lake yesterday in the morning then cooked out some steaks in the evening.  Today it was church in the morning, then […]

Dedication of St. John Lateran
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Dedication of St. John Lateran

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As a rebellious teenager, I thought that Catholics should stop wasting their money on expensive churches.  We ought to sell them all and buy food for the poor, I argued.Funny thing.  Jesus, who cared much for the poor, did not have this attitude.  As an adolescent, he yearned to spend time in Herod’s sumptuous Temple […]

Facing Death as a Catholic: We Who Remain
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Facing Death as a Catholic: We Who Remain

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One of my favorite scenes in Return of the King is Sam and Frodo sitting together as Mt. Doom erupts around them. When Frodo says, “I am glad you’re with me Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things,” my heartstrings are always tugged because Frodo is reaching for the soul friendship. Love ‘till death. Boundless […]

Do Catholics Believe in Ghosts?
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Do Catholics Believe in Ghosts?

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When I was ten years old I had a direct encounter with a ghost. My brother and I were playing in our bedroom, which was in the attic, of our three-story house in New Jersey. There were steep stairs leading up to the bedroom from the third floor walk way. My brother and I were […]

The Blessed Sacrament Gives a Foretaste of Future Glory
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The Blessed Sacrament Gives a Foretaste of Future Glory

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At the conclusion of his brilliant essay, The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis wrote, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” Lewis was right:  The holy Eucharist bears the body of Christ and your neighbor bears the image of God. Your neighbor may not behave in […]

Bl. John Henry Newman, 1880
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Newman: Patron of Adult Faith Formation

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Today is the Cardinal’s feast day.

Feast of the Holy Cross
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Feast of the Holy Cross

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Terrorism is nothing new.  It’s probably as old as the human race. In fact the cradle of civilization, now Iraq, was the home of the most infamous terrorists of antiquity, the Assyrians.  Their goal was to conquer their neighbors in a way that would minimize  initial resistance and subsequent rebellion.  To do this, they knew […]

Solemnity of the Assumption
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Solemnity of the Assumption

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I once asked a college theology class if anyone could explain the doctrine of the Assumption.  A student replied, “Yeah, that’s the teaching whereby the Catholic Church ‘assumes’ that Mary is in heaven.” There’s a bit more to it than that.  The Church does not just “assume” that any canonized saint in is in heaven.  […]

Can a Scientist Believe in Miracles?
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Can a Scientist Believe in Miracles?

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Some 22 years ago when I was being catechized, preparing to enter into the Church, I was much troubled by the Eucharistic phenomenon, transubstantiation. As a physicist, I could not understand how the wafer could become the flesh of Christ and the wine His Sacred Blood. The wise old priest who was instructing me asked: […]

Jesus and the Dead Gorilla in the Looking Glass
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Jesus and the Dead Gorilla in the Looking Glass

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Two radically different strains of Americans emerged over the weekend in response to the Cincinnati Zoo killing a gorilla in order to save the life of a four year-old boy who tumbled into his enclosure. After viewing videos of the gorilla dragging the boy haplessly through the water at great speed, and climbing with the […]

Running to Win the Spiritual Race
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Running to Win the Spiritual Race

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William Shakespeare famously wrote “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” and so it is with us. Each of us “performs” each day on the world’s stage before the spectacle of our fellow man and before the saints and angels in heaven, under the watchful eyes of God. We […]

Trinity Sunday: Is it Relevant?
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Trinity Sunday: Is it Relevant?

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Many are ready to give a polite nod of some sort to Jesus of Nazareth. Most honor him as a great moral teacher. Many even confess him as Savior. But the Incarnation of the Eternal God? Second person of the Holy Trinity? God can’t be one and three at the same time. Such a notion […]

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