US Catholic Faith in Real Life

How many saints are there?

Catholics frequently invoke the holy women and men of the church. But how many people make up this exclusive group?

By Kathleen Manning |
Article Your Faith

The historic news that emerged from the ecclesial council held on February 11, 2013 was Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation. But that was not the day’s only newsworthy event: Benedict called the consistory to vote on three canonization causes. Then on May 12 the Catholic Church recognized another 802 saints. Blessed Laura Montoya Upegui of Colombia and Blessed Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala of Mexico both founded religious orders at the dawn of the 20th century.


What is 666 in the Bible?

Although many people associate 666 with the devil, the Book of Revelation explains what the number really signifies.

By Joel Schorn |
Article Your Faith

Years ago I worked summers on a farm in Michigan, near a fundamentalist Christian community. I didn’t know much about them other than that you didn’t want to get behind one of their members in a checkout line, because if their total had the number six in it, they would keep buying things until the sixes disappeared. This behavior came from a fear of having anything to do with the number 666, which some Christians have connected to Satan and see as a symbol of evil.


Can we use real bread at Mass?

Believe it or not, the hosts we use at Mass qualify as “real bread,” but they aren’t very good bread—at least not in any ordinary, earthly sense of the word.

By John Switzer |
Article Your Faith

A seminary pal of mine once remarked that he had no difficulty believing that Christ is present in holy communion. What he did question was the proposition that it was actually bread being used as a host.

Believe it or not, the hosts we use at Mass qualify as “real bread,” but they aren’t very good bread—at least not in any ordinary, earthly sense of the word. In accordance with one particular tradition of Western Christianity, canon law requires that the bread be unleavened (made without yeast).


What is original sin?

By Joel Schorn |
Article Your Faith

You won’t find the phrase “original sin” in the Bible. The story of humanity’s “fall” in Genesis 1 doesn’t use the term, and St. Paul, one of the church’s earliest theologians, only hints at it in places. After the first century the early church fathers started to define it, but those in the East and West took different approaches.


Who invented the nativity scene?

Anyone who has erected a nativity scene is following Francis’ 13th-century example.

By Kathleen Manning |
Article Your Faith

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.


What is the history of marriage?

Jesus lived and preached in a world that saw marriage primarily as an economic contract. Today, we believe it to be a Sacrament.

By Kathleen Manning |
Article Your Faith

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.


Glad You Asked: What is the Liturgy of the Hours?

By Joel Schorn |
Article Your Faith
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.



Who decided which books made it into the Bible?

The Bible is considered the inspired word of God by the faithful. So you have to wonder: where did it come from?

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

The Bible is considered the inspired word of God by the faithful. So you have to wonder: where did it come from?

With all the writings floating around the ancient world, who decided which of them rated as sacred enough to be scripture?

This question is technically one of canonicity. “Canon” means norm or standard. The term was first applied by St. Athanasius to a collection of Jewish and Christian writings around the year 350. A fourth-century bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, Athanasius was a powerhouse.


Does the church tell me how to vote?

Every election season, Catholics wonder about the relationship between their church and politics.

By Jim Dinn |
Article

"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.


When do the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ?

The question of exactly when the eucharistic gifts become Christ's Body and Blood has commanded attention and debate for centuries.

By Father James Field |
Article Your Faith

The question of exactly when the eucharistic gifts become Christ's Body and Blood has commanded attention and debate for centuries.

From the supper at Emmaus, disciples have cherished the Eucharist as the clearest sign of the Risen Lord's abiding presence.


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