US Catholic Faith in Real Life

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.


Glad you asked: Would God lead us into temptation?

By Joel Schorn |
Article Your Faith
"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?


Why does the church require miracles for sainthood?

By Heidi Schlumpf |
Article Your Faith
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?


Does the church have any ‘mothers’?

Writers on the early church speak often of ‘Church Fathers,’ but were there any Church Mothers?

By Michael Cameron |
Article Your Faith

Because of the cultural situation of the time, women wrote little and wielded power even less, so it’s hard to speak of “Church Mothers” in the same way we do the “Fathers.” Nevertheless, many ancient Christian women were known for their heroic faith as martyrs, spiritual guides, teachers, and, of course, mothers. They were often commended for their unique purity of life, their inner strength, and even their “virile” courage.


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