US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Can anyone be a godparent?

Godparents used to pay a much more prominent role in new Catholics’ faith formation.

By Father James Field |
Article Your Faith

Our culture subscribes to some notions of “godparent” that don’t exactly advance the pastoral plan of the church for this essential ministry. Even people who are unaffiliated or neutral in matters of religion often ask someone dear to them to be a godparent for a newborn. Sometimes it’s a way of affirming a longtime friend. It may also be a way of identifying who among the parents’ extended family might care for their child should calamity strike.

What is subsidiarity?

A well-ordered society includes institutions both large and small working together for the public good.

By J. Peter Nixon |
Article Justice

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), a Catholic, has often been the target of criticism because he supports cutting federal programs that benefit the poor. When Ryan spoke at the Jesuit-run Georgetown University in 2012, a large group of faculty and staff wrote him an open letter charging that “your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Ryan has often countered that his policies are rooted in the concept of subsidiarity, a key element of Catholic social teaching. 

Why is the Assumption a Holy Day of Obligation?

All stories regarding the Assumption contain one consistent belief: Mary was no ordinary person, and as such her body was not left on earth to decay.

By Kathleen Manning |
Article Your Faith

Assumption celebrations in the Catholic Church are a blend of the very old and the relatively new. Written stories about what transpired at the end of Mary’s life date to the third or fourth century, though Pope Pius XII didn’t proclaim the dogma of the Assumption, or the teaching Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul, until 1950. The intervening 15 centuries reveal evolving beliefs about Mary’s life and death.

Can God learn?

If God knows everything, then there is nothing for God to learn. Right?

By Susan A. Ross |
Article Your Faith

Learning is one of the most important things that human beings, as well as other living things, do. We eagerly teach our children, our students, even our pets, and we take pleasure when we see them mastering a new task or gaining a new insight. The person who cannot—or worse, will not—learn is someone we feel sorry for or avoid. We see growth and development as positive and the capacity to learn as being open to newness.

What is natural law?

Put simply, natural law argues that nature reveals the difference between good and evil. But who gets to decide what is “natural”?

By Jacob Kohlhaas |
Article Your Faith

Broadly understood, natural law refers to a range of moral theories that rely on rational discernment of the natural order as a means of telling good from evil. Within Catholic moral teaching, natural law arguments are commonly invoked to denounce “unnatural” and therefore immoral acts: contraception, same-sex sexual relations, and many assisted reproductive technologies, for example. But where does natural law reasoning come from and just how does it connect nature to morality?

Did God create evil?

If all of creation is good, then why does God allow evil to persist?

By Meghan J. Clark |
Article Your Faith

In Kenya there is a common call and response: “God is good” the speaker calls out and almost reflexively the room answers, “All the time, for that is his nature.” But if God is good, all the time, why is there evil? This is one of the oldest and most persistent human questions for Christian theology.

How are the Sunday readings chosen?

After the 16th-century Council of Trent, all the readings and prayers for Mass had been collected in a single book called the Roman Missal.

By David Philippart |
Article Your Faith

Scripture is proclaimed on Sunday according to a schedule of passages called a lectionary. For Roman Catholics it is the Lectionary for Mass and for many other Western churches, the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). 

What is grace?

Grace is a gift of love that invites us into relationship with God.

By Jacob Kohlhaas |
Article Your Faith

Religious education has taught generations of Catholics that grace is a free gift of God’s favor. It is received through the sacraments and makes our salvation possible. Unfortunately, this popular conception of grace is sometimes misconstrued, presenting grace as a commodity rather than a reality experienced in our lives. From this view, “receiving grace” through the sacraments may be interpreted as getting more grace, as if sacraments were transactions imparting a quantifiable spiritual good.

Why do we call the Resurrection ‘Easter’?

The short answer: no one really knows.

By Emily Sanna |
Article Your Faith

In many Romance languages, the word for the Feast of the Resurrection is tied directly to Passover: Pâques (French), Pascua (Spanish), and Pascha (Latin) all come directly from Pesach, the Hebrew word for Passover.