US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Has hell frozen over?

By J. Peter Nixon | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Church teaching has shifted away from damnation and now focuses on salvation. Is that a good thing?

To a young girl attending Catholic school in the 1940s, eternal damnation was no abstract concept. “The nuns really terrified us,” says Pat Conroy, who grew up in Maryland. The list of potential transgressions—from eating meat on Fridays to missing Mass on Sundays—was long. “It seemed like almost anything was enough to send you to hell. I became so scrupulous and worried about everything I did.”

Why do we anoint the sick?

By Victoria M. Tufano | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
One of the great mysteries of our faith is the incarnation, our core belief that the eternal and almighty God became a human being, a man who could and did suffer just as we do.

During his ministry on earth, Jesus had a particular concern for sick people; he healed them not just with a word of power, but also with a human and compassionate touch.

When do the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ?

By James Field | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
The question of exactly when the eucharistic gifts become Christ's Body and Blood has commanded attention and debate for centuries.

From the supper at Emmaus, disciples have cherished the Eucharist as the clearest sign of the Risen Lord's abiding presence.

Why can't Catholics wed outdoors?

By Heidi Schlumpf | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Of the four wedding invitations currently posted on my refrigerator, only one is for a ceremony to be held in a church.

The others? All will be outdoors: in a hotel garden, under a restaurant gazebo, or in a park. The beauty of God's creation seems a perfect setting for making a lifetime commitment. So why doesn't the Catholic Church allow couples to get married outside?

Why do we hold hands during the Our Father?

By David Philippart | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
A how the practice of holdng hands at the Lord's Prayer began is like asking who invented kissing. We may never know for sure, but it's easy to guess.

Some families and households hold hands to say grace before meals. Maybe this practice migrated to church, as the Our Father is the final "grace" that we say before sharing in the Lord's Supper.

Is the mass still a sacrifice?

By Joel Schorn | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
It's in there. At Mass Catholics pray to God to "look with favor on your church's offering and see the victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself. . . . Calling to mind the death your Son endured for our salva-tion . . . we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice."

What are annulments for?

By Joel Schorn | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
"Why do I have to go through this?" The question sums up many other questions people have about annulments, the way the Catholic Church says a marriage is ended.

 "My fiance isn't even Catholic; why does he have to have his first marriage annulled? Other churches and religions recognize civil divorce; why not the Catholic Church? Isn't an annulment really just a hypocritical way for the church to let Catholics get around divorce? Why do I have to suffer the pain and humiliation of reliving my failed marriage?"

Why drink from the cup?

By Jim Dinn | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Receiving the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist from the cup is not a requirement, but receiving the blood of Christ is a fuller sign of the mystery we celebrate.

Why do we say Mary was "ever virgin"?

By Bob O'Gorman and Mary Faulker | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Mary is the powerful symbol of the Catholic's complete acceptance of God's grace.

Imagine yourself on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? For the milliondollar question Regis asks you: "The virginity of Mary refers to: (a) her Immaculate Conception; (b) the birth of Jesus; (c) a Hollywood movie; or (d) an expensive perfume."

Hopefully no one answered (c) or (d). However, even if you went to Catholic school, chances are you might answer (a), and you would lose. The correct answer is: (b) the birth of Jesus.

Lasting supper: Alice Camille on Jesus as the Bread of Life

By Alice Camille | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Fruit of the vine and work of human hands, a meal shared in communion with a friend becomes for us the bread of life.

"How much do you want to know?" The question I asked my good friend was hardly casual. Dale and I were sitting in a hospital room, and he was in bad shape.