US Catholic Faith in Real Life

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.

Why are some Bible stories repeated?

By Desirae Zingarelli-Sweet |
Article Your Faith
At Jesus’ birth, shepherds came to visit him, followed soon after by the wise men, right? Actually, not quite. There are two separate versions of Jesus’ birth in the New Testament. This happens fairly often in the Bible; both the Old and New Testaments contain numerous repeated and similar-sounding stories.

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.

Do Catholics believe in evolution?

By John Switzer |
Article Your Faith
Imagine if we were able to see evolution as a sign of the unlimited potential of God’s creation, rather than a threat to our limited point of view. 
For the biblical literalist, the theory of evolution is problematic because it appears to contradict the stories found in the earliest chapters of Genesis. But is literalism the best approach to understanding scripture? The Catechism of the Catholic Church discourages literalism when it encourages believers to recognize the various literary genres found in the Bible.

Where do clerical collars come from?

By John Switzer |
Article Your Faith
Mark Twain once remarked that “clothes make the man” because “naked people have little or no influence on society.” Since clergy aren’t known for appearing nude in public, we should probably stick to the question of whether or not they should be distinguished by their dress. 

Why do Catholics and Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter on different days?

By Kathleen Manning |
Article Your Faith

Since the early Middle Ages, all Christians have used the same method for determining the date of Easter, though they arrive at a different result. Described authoritatively in The Reckoning of Time by eighth-century English scholar Bede, “The Sunday following the full moon which falls on or after the equinox will give the lawful Easter.” The equinox is observed on March 21. This straightforward method based upon an easily observable natural phenomenon survived the Schism of 1054, when the Catholic and Orthodox Churches split from each other.