Category: Catechesis

Anointing in The Pastoral Letter of James of Jerusalem
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Anointing in The Pastoral Letter of James of Jerusalem

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As a priest I am called upon to administer the sacraments of healing: anointing and confession.  Often these sacraments are dispensed together, when I visit people in their homes, at the hospital, or at nursing homes.  Most people are familiar with confession but frequently I am met with a look of bewilderment from the patients […]

The Rosary: A Weapon of Mass Instruction, Part 2
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The Rosary: A Weapon of Mass Instruction, Part 2

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The Joyful Mysteries continued… 3. The Nativity of the Lord And it came to pass that when they were there, Mary’s days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first born son and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger: because there was no room […]

The Sneakiest of the 7 Deadly Sins
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The Sneakiest of the 7 Deadly Sins

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At age 16, my life was about rock ‘n roll.  If my own band was not performing on Saturday night, I was out in the audience, watching another band. It would have never occurred to me to spend my Saturday nights at a Catholic conference or retreat.  True, no matter how late I was out, […]

The Rosary: A Weapon of Mass Instruction, Part 1
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The Rosary: A Weapon of Mass Instruction, Part 1

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A number of saints have described the rosary as an effective weapon for helping Christians prevail in the spiritual battle that ever rages in our midst. In fact, so great is the rosary’s power that St. Pio of Pietrelcina even went so far as to say that it’s not simply a weapon; rather, “it is […]

He Said What?! The How <em>and How Not</em> of Teaching by Personal Experience
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He Said What?! The How and How Not of Teaching by Personal Experience

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“He said what?!”  These were the first words that came out of my mouth when I heard my Confirmation teacher explicitly go into detail about how it was perfectly all right to have sex with your girlfriend if you truly “loved” her. Naturally, he told us he had sex with his girlfriend because he loved […]

Peace and Security
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Peace and Security

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A few years ago, I toured northern England.  There, stretching 73 miles from coast to coast, the Roman Emperor Hadrian built a massive wall.  Constructed of stone, it was built to last, since it marked the northernmost boundary of the greatest empire the world had ever known.  Soldiers from every corner of the world were […]

The First Epistle of St. John
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The First Epistle of St. John

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The Roman galley cruised through the surf and flotsam into the harbor on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea.  While the galley slaves slumped exhausted across their oars, the convicts disembarked and formed a long chain bound for the penal colony and marched up the road to the sound of the lash and […]

Historical Intersection: The Baptist and the Apostle
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Historical Intersection: The Baptist and the Apostle

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I did not go up to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me; rather, I went into Arabia — Galatians 1:17. John the Baptist was dead.  Herod Antipas had had him executed to placate the cruelty of Herodias, his second wife, who had demanded that the king deliver to her the prophet’s head.  An ugly night […]

Do you Have a “Rite” to Marry?
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Do you Have a “Rite” to Marry?

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Does the Church deny couples the opportunity to marry? If your answer is yes, then we need to rethink our understanding of why the Word became flesh.  The Incarnation is the fountain of the grace of the sacraments and the Church would never deny anyone that grace. However, there is more than merely the desire […]

The Generosity of God
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The Generosity of God

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“But that’s not fair!”  Most parents have heard this phrase umpteen times.  The notion of fairness, also known as justice, is wired into us.  It makes us aware that each of us has certain rights that need to be respected. But it also means that we each have duties.  If others have the right to […]

The Memoirs of the Apostle: The First Epistle of Saint Peter
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The Memoirs of the Apostle: The First Epistle of Saint Peter

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The First Epistle of Peter is the second of the seven “catholic” or universal epistles written and circulated to the faithful throughout the world during the first century following the birth of Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Simon Peter wrote this short letter, in just 105 verses.  Or the letter might have been dictated to Silvanus, […]

Doctrine: Nourishing Milk for the Soul
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Doctrine: Nourishing Milk for the Soul

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Many years ago, I had an encounter with a coworker that would forever ignite a stronger desire to articulate Church doctrine in a clear practical manner. The story goes this way. I had recently finished developing a pilot Adult Education program for the Diocese I worked in at the time. The Bishop of the Diocese […]

Some Days in Damascus
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Some Days in Damascus

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I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry.  Once I was a blasphemer and a persecutor of the Church, an arrogant man.  But I have I have been treated mercifully because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.  […]

The Epistle of Saint Jude: Epilogue of Salvation; Prologue of Eternity
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The Epistle of Saint Jude: Epilogue of Salvation; Prologue of Eternity

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The Epistle of Saint Jude is the final letter in the New Testament before the Apocalypse and one of the shortest books in the Bible.  Only once does a selection from Jude appear in the lectionary, on the eight Saturday of Ordinary Time in Year II but the brevity and obscurity of the letter is […]

Peter as Satan?
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Peter as Satan?

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Truth in advertizing — after all the glowing reports of the benefits of a product, potential side effects need to be mentioned.  Informed consent — before surgery, patients have to be told of all the things that could possibly go wrong.  That way, they have the chance to opt out before it’s too late. As […]

The Baptism of Paul: A Living Sacrifice of Praise
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The Baptism of Paul: A Living Sacrifice of Praise

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The disciple Ananias hurried along the Via Recta through Damascus to the house of a man named Judas, a leading synagogue member.  The door opened and the occupant admitted Ananias and then led him through a hallway to a room at the back of the house where he found a young man rapt in prayer.  […]

Paul in the Word and the Word in Paul
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Paul in the Word and the Word in Paul

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When Saint Paul met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus he was about thirty years old.  Paul was the son, as he testified in his own letters, of a Pharisee, who also was the son of a Pharisee.  Circumcised eight days after his birth according to the Law of Moses, Paul came from a […]

The Canaanite Woman
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The Canaanite Woman

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The apostles thought she was a nuisance and asked Jesus to get rid of her.  Jesus had gone to the region of Tyre and Sidon, modern-day Lebanon, and a local woman approached him for a favor.  This was pagan country, home turf of the infamous Jezebel.  The inhabitants of these parts were fondly referred to […]

St. Paul's Language of Prophecy: A God's-eye View of History
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St. Paul’s Language of Prophecy: A God’s-eye View of History

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Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophecies and the promises of what God had revealed to his chosen people, the Jews, long ago in the First Testament.  This is why there remains such a close connection between Judaism and Catholicism, two religions rooted in biblical revelation and faith in one eternal and saving God who in ways […]

All in the Family? Don't Take Faith for Granted
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All in the Family? Don’t Take Faith for Granted

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Last summer I went on a field trip.  I attended a three-day seminar on Christian-Jewish relations.  This happened at the Sacred Heart University in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  I arrived on Monday, checked into my dormitory on campus, and we all enjoyed kosher cuisine with other divinity and rabbinical students as we kibitzed about what Jews and […]

Miracle of the Loaves
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Miracle of the Loaves

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Only one miracle of Jesus is recorded in all four gospels — the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. I once heard a homilist give what he said was the real meaning of the story: the people in the crowd took out food they were hiding under their cloaks and shared it.  Jesus’ preaching inspired […]

Nothing Can Separate Us from the Love of God in Christ
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Nothing Can Separate Us from the Love of God in Christ

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Saint Paul on God and love is simple for to the saint these are one and the same.  That is his statement to the Christians at Rome and he declares this squarely in the middle of his Epistle to the Romans, his 5,000-word tour de force on love, God, sin, death, resurrection, and the salvation […]

CL26 - hbratton notxt
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The Purpose of Life in Three Little Words

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How many times have you heard someone ask the question: “What am I supposed to be doing with my life?” “Why am I here?” Too many to count, right? It seems too, that it is not a simple answer they want, but a large, extravagantly specific answer. They want answers directly from the source; definitive […]

YOUCAT Repackages the <em>Catechism</em> for World Youth Day 2011
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YOUCAT Repackages the Catechism for World Youth Day 2011

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American Catholics of a certain age can remember The Baltimore Catechism, a concise, systematic presentation of the faith in questions and answers, which was published in carefully graded editions for parochial schoolchildren.  In the postconciliar years, when “experiential” methods of religious education were in vogue, textbooks came to resemble magazines with more color photography than […]

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