US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Should Catholics serve in the military?

Good soldiers don't wage war. They wage peace.

By Stephen Schneck |
Article Your Faith

Christ preached turning the other cheek, doing good to those who persecute you, and loving your enemies. At the Sermon on the Mount, he reminded us that the meek will inherit the earth and that peacemakers shall be called children of God. With all these teachings on peace, what does that mean for Catholics who want to serve in the military?

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Is ignorance a sin?

During the penitential rite we say, “in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.”

By Kevin P. Considine |
Article Your Faith

I am the father of two boys. Like all children, they sometimes cause harm without intending to do so. When they were very young, my wife and I would tell them: “Do not . . . (fill in the blank). You will get hurt.” Of course, they would do it anyway and cause some minor injury to themselves by touching a hot pot, pulling a big book off of a shelf, or running on ice. Bandages and hugs would be necessary. Their actions were out of ignorance, but they had to learn.

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Do Catholics have to care for creation?

The church recognizes climate change as a problem that must be addressed.

By Michael Wright |
Article Justice

Many people are familiar with the Book of Genesis referring to humanity’s “dominion” over the earth (1:28). We often misunderstand this to mean we humans have free rein to exploit creation for our own gain, often at others’ expense. Rather, God, in providing for us through a life-giving world, bestowed upon humanity the responsibility of stewardship.

In Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), Pope Francis clarifies that stewardship is an act of respect for creation. The world is more than a collection of resources for utilitarian consumption.

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What are stigmata?

St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine of Siena are among those who received this marker of faith.

By Kevin P. Considine |
Article Your Faith

Some Catholic traditions are strange. After all, our “big tent” of traditions includes relics—oftentimes the body parts of saints—apparitions, weeping statues, and exorcisms.

Among these strange traditions is one worth examining more closely: stigmata. Stigmata are mystical phenomena where holy men or women (mainly women, including Catherine of Siena) receive some or all of the bodily wounds of Christ’s crucifixion. This tradition is a sign of closeness with God through sharing in Christ’s suffering.

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Why do Catholics eat fish on Friday?

What is the significance of abstaining from meat during Lent? And why eat fish?

By David Philippart |
Article Your Faith

Christians have fasted (gone without food) and abstained (gone without certain foods, especially meat) since the beginning. The Book of Genesis teaches that all the plants and animals that God created and entrusted to human beings are good, especially those given to us as food (Genesis 1:29). Jesus taught that nothing that a person eats makes him or her evil (Mark 7:18). So why then do Christians fast and abstain?

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Could Mary have said ‘No’?

Mary faced many risks when telling the angel yes. Nevertheless, she persisted.

By Kevin P. Considine |
Article Your Faith

When I was a boy attending Catholic school, the annunciation was one of the joyful mysteries that the good sisters had me commit to memory: The angel visits Mary, offers her the central human role in God’s plan of salvation, and Mary says yes.

Mary could have chosen otherwise; God respects human freedom. But far too often Christians take her yes for granted. Mary’s consent to God’s plan warrants more attention, especially in today’s world, a time when the #MeToo movement has brought to attention the sacred importance and easy abuse of women’s right to consent.

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Is hoarding a sin?

I have 12 rolls of toilet paper. Am I prepared to share the wealth?

By Alice Camille |
Article News

I called my mother last night. She’s 91 and lives alone in another state. Because of the COVID-19 state of emergency, I wanted to be sure she was OK and not feeling too anxious. It was reassuring to hear her bubbly laughter over the phone as she reminded me her house always enjoys a stuffed-to-the-gills pantry and refrigerator, virus or no virus. It’s true: Whatever else may happen, Mom won’t starve.

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What is Ash Wednesday?

Lent did not always begin on Ash Wednesday.

By David A. Pitt |
Article Your Faith

In the Ash Wednesday gospel reading Jesus directs us to clean up: “Put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may not be seen by others” (Matt. 6:17–18a). And yet shortly after hearing these words we line up to receive ashes on our foreheads, a mark associated with penance and fasting. Clearly the Ash Wednesday ritual does not come from the gospel. 

Lent did not always begin on Ash Wednesday. In the sixth century, Gregory the Great identified the season of Lent (Quadragesima, or the “Forty Days”) as beginning on a Sunday and lasting until Easter Sunday. 

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Who was really at the Nativity?

It turns out that scripture doesn’t say a lot about the nativity figures we take for granted.

By Emily Sanna |
Article Your Faith

Growing up, my siblings and I would take turns arranging the figures in my parents’ large crèche. I liked to display the three magi walking in a procession up to the manger, showing them on their journey following the star to Bethlehem.

My siblings were more about cramming the three wise men, shepherds, angel, and various farm animals into a tight circle around the manger, all ooh-ing and aah-ing at baby Jesus. I put my foot down one year, though, when my brother tried to add a toy elephant to the crowd. The scripture, after all, says nothing about pachyderms. 

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What’s the difference between Sunday and the Sabbath?

How we name something shapes how we understand it.

By David A. Pitt |
Article Your Faith

Names matter. St. John Paul II clearly writes in Dies Domini (On Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy) that Sabbath (the seventh day of the week) and Sunday (the first day of the week) are different. Sunday fulfills the Sabbath. Naming Sunday as “the Christian Sabbath”—or worse, “the Sabbath,” which eliminates Judeo-Christian differences—neglects the true importance of the day. 

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