Pope Francis entered the papal conclave wearing the scarlet red of a cardinal and emerged in gleaming white. From where did this tradition arise? The old saying suggests that “good guys always wear white,” but have popes always done so?
Although the Catholic Church lifted its ban on cremation in 1963, it continued to teach that the deceased person’s body had to be present at the funeral.
Since 1963 the church has taught that Catholics can be cremated, abolishing its longstanding prohibition of the practice. Cremation was fairly widespread in the ancient world, but early Christians rejected the practice. Theologically, they did not consider cremation to be compatible with the doctrine of bodily resurrection. Creating new rituals for death and burial was also a way for Christians to distinguish themselves from their pagan neighbors.
In our contemporary political landscape, the option for the poor gets bandied about by people on all sides of the political spectrum.
I have a friend who is a permanent deacon. He’s a former Marine, and though he is wonderfully kind, he can also turn on his military face and voice to let you know when he means business. One Sunday at Mass, he preached a homily about prayer, particularly about praying for the poor. He had on his game face that day, and at the end of his homily he leaned in close to the microphone and said in a terrifyingly stern whisper, “I know you are all busy. But you can give 30 minutes of your God-given breath to pray for the poor.”
References to the communion of saints in Catholic belief can be found as far back as the fourth century.
Borrowing from the Letter to the Hebrews and from theologian and Sister of St. Joseph Elizabeth Johnson, we can imagine the communion of saints as a giant stadium of people, all of whom have run, or are running, a great race. As each of us takes our turn at the starting line, we are lifted up by the love and encouragement of all those who know well the challenges ahead of us and who have stayed to accompany us and cheer us on.
Traditionally, Catholics believed that a person could reach heaven only if he or she was buried in a Catholic cemetery. But limited space meant few people could be buried in the ground and left there forever. Instead, most people were buried temporarily in the parish cemetery until their bodies decomposed. Their bones were then exhumed and placed among the bones of previous generations of believers in an ossuary—a receptacle or room where bones of the deceased are gathered.
Satan as a character doesn’t appear in the Bible until the Book of Job.
The most popular explanation of Satan maintains that he is a fallen angel tempted by pride. He is said to be a seducer originally created as good and whose rebellion against the divine will is reflected in the temptation that he offered to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The second coming of Christ will be much different than folklore and pop culture say.
The question of what happens to us upon Christ’s return is one that has puzzled Christians since the beginning of Christianity. If you want to see how popular it is today, just do a search for “Rapture” in the catalog of any major bookseller. There are thousands of sources available on the topic of saved Christians who will suddenly be yanked into eternity while leaving the rest of the world baffled and confused. From a Catholic viewpoint, the doctrine is often misunderstood. To clarify the puzzle we must ask this question: On the day of the Rapture, will Christians be coming or going?
Jesus got up out of the grave, but the resurrection of the dead is even bigger than that.
Each Sunday at Mass, we confess with a collective voice, “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” When I was a child, I had a very hard time comprehending this statement. The only resurrection I was aware of was the resurrection of Jesus, which pretty definitively happened in the past. Yet the life of the world to come and the resurrection of the dead are both things that we are looking for (or looking forward to). As it turns out, the resurrection of Jesus is only part of the story: the first part, in fact.
Though they sometimes seem dissimilar, the two parts of the Bible are all about fulfillment.
The relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament reflects both the continuity and discontinuity between the Christian and Israelite faiths. Christians believe God had one plan for salvation that was revealed first to the Israelites and then to all peoples through Jesus Christ. The New Testament and Old Testament, then, tell one ongoing story of salvation. At the same time, the authors of the New Testament were proposing something radically new: Jesus’ fulfillment of the Israelites’ hope in God’s promises.
For centuries theologians have debated whether or not Jesus had any siblings. But what does scripture say about his complicated family tree?
The only child often gets a bad rap. Stereotyped as entitled and self-important, people who grow up without siblings aren’t always looked upon favorably—especially by those of us with at least a sibling or two. Jesus may have acted like an only child at times in the gospels, but all of the four evangelists make some mention of his brothers and sisters.