US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Do Catholics believe in the Rapture?

The second coming of Christ will be much different than folklore and pop culture say.

By John Switzer |
Article Your Faith

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?


What is the resurrection of the body?

Jesus got up out of the grave, but the resurrection of the dead is even bigger than that.

By Kira Dault |
Article Your Faith

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.


Why do Catholics venerate Mary?

Mary the mother of Jesus has many titles, but why exactly is she so special?

By Kevin P. Considine |
Article Your Faith

In 2005 in Chicago, a young woman was driving home from work and looked at the wall of an underpass where she saw an image of the Virgin Mary. For a short while, “Our Lady of the Underpass” became national news and a local pilgrimage site. Where some saw a miraculous image, however, others saw a mere salt stain. 


What is the relationship between the Old and New Testaments?

Though they sometimes seem dissimilar, the two parts of the Bible are all about fulfillment.

By Joel Schorn |
Article Your Faith

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.


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.


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