US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Do dogs go to heaven?

Animals are part of God’s creation. But will they join us in heaven?

By Meghan Murphy-Gill and Shanna Johnson |
Article Your Faith

Humans have kept animals around for centuries. At first it was for hunting purposes, pest control, and general working tasks. It did not take long, however, for animals to start being bred and kept as companions. According to a 2015–2016 American Pet Products Association (APPA) survey, around 79.7 million households in America are home to a pet. It is clear animals hold a special place in our hearts. So when they die, as with our loved ones of the human variety, of course we want to know what becomes of them. Where do they fit into the world God has created? 


What do Protestants think of Mary?

Since the Reformation, Protestant traditions have been shifting and changing. Beliefs about Mary are no exception.

By Kevin P. Considine |
Article Your Faith

Growing numbers of Mexican Americans are converting to Pentecostalism from Catholicism, and some are bringing their devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe with them. In many cases, this devotion occurs mainly in the privacy of the home, but Guadalupe’s religious and cultural importance cannot be stifled. Pentecostalism, which places great importance on the inerrancy of scripture, honors Mary’s role as the mother of Jesus but does not feel there is enough biblical evidence to give her any larger role in the work of salvation.


Why does baptism have to be so wet?

While baptizing people with a little dribble of water is “enough” for a valid celebration of the sacrament, it hardly conveys the full meaning of Baptism.

By Victoria M. Tufano |
Article Your Faith

The gasps are audible at our Easter Vigil, when adults in parishes are baptized in cleverly disguised wading pools: “Was it really necessary to ruin their clothes?” Some may see this “overabundance” of water as too much of a good thing; others wonder (often aloud) if we’re becoming Baptists.


Is it sinful to charge interest on a loan?

It might initially seem like little is at stake, but interest is an issue of human dignity.

By Kevin P. Considine |
Article Justice

Let’s say I take out a mortgage to buy a home, most likely from a very large bank, on which I am charged interest. Or maybe I loan a friend money to start her own business. Once her venture succeeds, she pays me back what she borrowed, plus a 10 percent return as a gesture of thanks. Are either of these situations sinful?


Is the Vatican built on St. Peter's bones?

By Matt Tedeschi |
Article Your Faith

In many ways, the story of the church starts with Peter. With the words, “And I tell you, Peter, that on this rock I will build my church,” Jesus appoints Peter as head of his new church and charges him with the responsibility to build it from the ground (Matt. 16). 

Throughout the centuries, biblical scholars and theologians have taken these words to imply that Jesus gave unique authority to Peter. But Catholics understand Jesus’ words differently: The new Christian church would be physically built on Peter’s remains.


Does the church support unions?

By Kevin P. Considine |
Article Justice

The progress of the Industrial Revolution came with a steep price: the horrible excess of human wreckage. Be it death or dismemberment in factory work, chronic disease thanks to pollution and lack of sanitation, or the cruelty of child labor, the basic humanity of workers was not respected.


Are relics a thing of the past?

By James P. Cahill |
Article Your Faith

The word relic denotes antiquity, but in just the past couple years, this centuries-old tradition has been causing a bit of medieval-style controversy. In September of 2014, the beatification process for Archbishop Fulton Sheen was postponed indefinitely, largely because of a dispute over Sheen’s body. (Sheen was an Emmy Award-winning television and radio personality who became a midcentury pop culture icon preaching and teaching on Catholic theology, making him one of the world’s first televangelists.) While the location of the archbishop’s body is not in question—he’s buried beneath St.


Are there rules for decorating the church during the holidays?

Trying to decorate the church for Advent? Two church documents offer guidance on the subject of church decor.

By Victoria M. Tufano |
Article Your Faith

There are surprisingly few official rules about decorating churches, much to the chagrin of those who have been crowded out by Christmas poinsettias or engulfed by Easter lilies. At times, admittedly, the altar looks like it's been attacked by a rioting mob of florists.


Why are Advent candles pink and purple?

Catholics use three purple candles—the color typically associated with penance—and one pink, the color of rejoicing worn on the third Sunday of Advent.

By Kathleen Manning |
Article Your Faith
In a season filled with red Santa suits and green Christmas trees, the purple and pink candles of the Advent wreath can seem incongruous with many Catholic families’ usual Christmas decorations. The modern Advent wreath, created in 19th-century Germany by Johann Hinrich Wichern, featured red and white candles. While these colors may be more in keeping with traditional Christmas décor, they were most likely used because they were just what was available.
 

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