Anyone who has erected a nativity scene is following Francis’ 13th-century example.
On Christmas Eve 1223, St. Francis created the first nativity in the Italian city of Greccio. With the help of a local nobleman, Francis celebrated the birth of Jesus in a cave outside the town. The liturgy featured a hay-filled manger in front of the temporary altar, and as Francis preached, the nobleman arranged to have an ox and a donkey stand at the altar as well.
Jesus lived and preached in a world that saw marriage primarily as an economic contract. Today, we believe it to be a Sacrament.
Before the obligatory “Ave Maria” and a crazy aunt leading “YMCA” at the reception, guests at a Catholic wedding witness “a covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation of children.” But this was not always the case. For more than a thousand years of church history, this idea of marriage faced plenty of healthy competition.
The Liturgy of the Hours is a small but bulky and intimidating-looking red-bound prayer book with lots of confusing multicolored ribbons. It is that, but of course it’s much more.
Every election season, Catholics wonder about the relationship between their church and politics.
"I believe in an America where... there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote," declared John F. Kennedy. But today some wonder whether U.S. Catholic bishops are trying to create a political bloc by telling Catholics how to cast their ballots.
"Lead us not into temptation.” Christians have prayed these words so many times, it’s easy to slide over their meaning, but they are a bit curious, aren’t they?
Would God really lead people into temptation? Isn’t that supposed to be the job of the other guy, the one with the horns and pitchfork?
The church requires two miracles before a person can be canonized. Why?
A Catholic friar on a plane that made a dramatic emergency landing in Poland last fall clutched a lock of hair from Blessed John Paul II while praying for the safety of his fellow passengers. Will this be the second miracle needed for the late pontiff’s canonization?
Should you pass on communion at a Lutheran church or participate fully?
You are at the wedding of a beloved family member or friend, which is taking place at a Lutheran church. You gladly accepted the invitation to celebrate this happy day with the bride and groom. But then there is a call to come to the table of the Lord’s Supper, to receive communion. This is the awkward moment you knew was coming. Can you, and should you, a practicing Catholic, accept the invitation?
Social justice means living in right relationship.
Conservative TV personality Glenn Beck told Christians, “I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church website. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. . . . If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop.”
Unfortunately, statements such as this have left even Catholics, who enjoy a rich social justice tradition, confused.
The Vatican's October announcement of a special process to admit Anglicans to the Roman Catholic Church raised questions for many who perhaps thought that "crossing the Tiber" would require a major shift in belief for Anglicans.
The relationship between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism, however, has always been somewhat different from the other Catholic-Protestant divides, which may make it easier for Anglicans to find a home in the Roman communion.
Is the out of doors a suitable place to get married?
Of the four wedding invitations currently posted on my refrigerator, only one is for a ceremony to be held in a church. The others? All will be outdoors: in a hotel garden, under a restaurant gazebo, or in a park. The beauty of God’s creation seems a perfect setting for making a lifetime commitment. So why doesn’t the Catholic Church allow couples to get married outside?
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