Do Protestants and Catholics read from the same book?
A Bible is a Bible. Or is it? When I taught religion at a Catholic high school, I always had to tell my students to be sure they had a Bible that was "Catholic." Why did I have to make this clarification?
While all Christian Bibles have the same number of New Testament books, they do differ on the number of books found in the Old Testament.
Bible study: it's not just for Protestants anymore
Gary Hoffman's passion for the Bible has caused him to wind up in prison. "When you begin to reflect on scripture, it calls you deeper and deeper," he says. "I remember several times when we would hold Bible study sessions in our home. They were supposed to go for an hour and a half or two, but then people would start reflecting on how a passage applied to their own spiritual journey, and they'd really get into it. It would go on and on into the night.
During Mass each Wednesday at Casa Juan Diego in Houston, immigrants speak of not eating for days, having nothing to drink for a week, seeing people die of thirst or because they drank irrigation water with chemicals in it.
The Creed: Do you believe what you just said?
I once knew a young priest, an affable fellow and gifted liturgist, who nonetheless had the annoying habit of omitting the Creed when he presided at Mass. On one occasion when I served as lector and he as presider, he explained to me privately his aversion to the profession of faith.
What in Hell Can We Believe?
As a child I have a vivid memory of thumbing through a large book owned my grandfather that riveted my attention. It was a collection of the illustrations done by the 19th-century artist and illustrator Gustave Doré for an edition of Dante's Divine Comedy. I would love to report that Doré's depiction of paradise enthralled me, but the truth is I spent most of my time looking at the punishments suffered by those in hell.
Sacrifice was certainly a central factor in the catholic spirituality of my youth. We attended the "sacrifice of the Mass" daily. Sacrifice was not onlystrongly suggested as the appropriate response to the suffering ofothers, as in appeals for the missions or the poor; it was also taught as a good in its own right, as an important part of theprocess of following Jesus Christ. We were encouraged to veneratethose who sacrificed for others, including fathers, who sacrificed intheir jobs to provide for children, and mothers, who sacrificed oftheir time and energy to care for children.
You're holier than you know
In June of 1997, while on retreat at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, I had an opportunity to talk at some length with Father Godfrey Diekmann. One of the giants of the liturgical movement in this country and a major player in the shaping of Vatican II's document on the reform of the liturgy, Diekmann was in his upper 80s but his mind, wit, and tongue were as sharp as ever.
How do we deal with death?
Someone to watch over me
Marie Allen, of Charleston, South Carolina lost her husband when he died unexpectedly of a heart attack only a few months after their wedding. "That next morning, around 5 a.m., I remember sitting on my bed and thinking that surely this was all a dream, and when the light of day came, it would all be back to normal. I was just full of despair, when suddenly I felt my husband's presence very strongly telling me he was okay and that I would be, too. A peace washed over me. No, the grief wasn't gone, but I could bear it."