US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Messengers of comfort and courage: The truth about angels

How people of faith throughout the ages have found meaning in angels.

By Lisa Raatikainen |
Article Your Faith

Around the turn of the millenium, British scholar Emma Heathcote-James set out to collect stories of modern day angel encounters. She placed a classified ad seeking personal accounts of angelic contact and was startled at the number of people who eagerly came forward to share their experiences. The reports rolled in from across a wide swath of cultural and religious identities, including many who claimed little interest in spiritual matters.

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What church leaders can learn from St. Paul about race and diversity

To heal the wounds of racism in our nation, the church must practice what it preaches.

By Ferdinand Okorie, C.M.F. |
Article Justice

When St. Paul arrives in the Roman Empire, teaching the gospel of God’s love for humanity through the self-gift of Christ on the cross, he meets an empire structured around class, status, ethnicity, and gender. Within this culture, his message resonates among those disenfranchised by the Roman social order and the legal system that keeps some out while turning them into property and human capital.

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Why didn’t the Jews and Samaritans get along?

To understand why people despise one another always requires a backstory.

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

When it comes to enemies, we rarely think twice. Our response is emotional and reflexive. If something comes from them, we’re against it. Whatever it is they’re saying, it’s wrong. Whatever they want is bad. Whatever they’re doing must be stopped.

We carry this attitude forward to our nation’s formal opponents as well as to rivals at work, political adversaries, neighbors who bug us, and family members who press our buttons. Nothing these people are up to can be good. It would help if they would just disappear.

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Let the vibrant art of Laura James lead you through scripture

James' compositions challenge and inspire toward a deeper understanding.

By John Christman |
Article Culture

Liturgists are sometimes fond of repeating an old theological principle: Lex orandi, lex credendi. Broadly, this means, “The way we pray shapes what we believe.” The more varied one’s experience with differing Christian liturgical traditions, the more this truth is borne out. How we pray not only shapes but also proclaims our understanding of God and of ourselves.

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All the people wanted was lunch. Jesus gave them something more.

Do we fix our hungers on worldly fare or fill ourselves with the life Jesus offers?

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

All they wanted, to be honest, was lunch.

Many of these folks had come the day before. That was the day Jesus took a small boy’s picnic sack and served 5,000 people. Some in the crowd today were newcomers, but news of free food travels fast. Most people, then as now, like to eat more than they like to do just about anything else.

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When your faith is tested, remember these biblical characters

From Jacob tussling with the angel to Jesus in the wilderness, a lot rides on biblical tests of character.

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

In an earlier era of media broadcasting, the system that produced the radio and TV programming we all enjoyed underwent frequent tests. From 1963 to 1997, the two-tone attention signals these tests emitted became a familiar, if irritating, feature of tuning in. As their creators noted, the two combined sound waves were “suited to draw attention due to their unpleasantness.” Contrary to what I thought as a kid, these tests weren’t intended to ensure that the entertainment equipment we used at home was in good repair.

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In uncertain times, keep your heart in balance

Self-possession is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, says St. Paul.

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

Remember February? That was the month before pandemic ensued. Before the social fabric was made into confetti, tossed in the air, and fluttered back together in novel, largely virtual ways. Back then, in the last yoga class I’d see for a while, a young woman completely lost her Zen.

Seriously: I’ve not witnessed a lack of self-possession like this outside of my family. All of a sudden, in the middle of a warrior pose, this attractive young woman in fashionable leggings started yelling, I mean YELLING, at the guy on the mat next to hers.

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To understand scripture, understand its authors, says this scholar

Scripture scholar N. T. Wright says the Bible must be understood in its historical context.

By A U.S. Catholic interview |
Article Your Faith

It’s impossible to list all the books that New Testament scholar and historian N. T. Wright has written in the space allotted on the facing page. His career spans more than 40 years, during which he has published dozens of books—some large, some small, some academic, and some geared toward a popular audience—aimed at helping readers understand the New Testament in a new light through the lens of first-century history.

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What can kosher principles teach Catholics about moral purity?

Catholics can learn something from the Hebrew Bible’s insistence on purity.

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

The phrase “99 and 44/100 percent pure” means only two things to most people. Either it’s the formula for Ivory soap or the measure of Ronnie Milsap’s love in a country song written by Eddie Rabbitt. Willy Wonka fans may recall that Gene Wilder used this sequence of numbers ironically—99, 44, 100—as the combination to the door of his chocolate factory. Whichever association you make with that percentage, it may be as much purity as we hope to see in an imperfect world like ours.

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Is it OK to write in the Bible?

Scripture is meant to be held, examined closely, and even dog-eared.

By Teresa Coda |
Article Your Faith

In a stroke of luck, I once found a cookbook that I had been planning to purchase—Beard on Bread (Knopf)—in a box labeled “free” along the curb. The best part of finding a used copy of this classic on bread baking? I was privy to the insights and recommendations of the book’s previous owner, who had scribbled throughout the margins. My favorite annotation was a note beside the second of two consecutive banana bread recipes: “This one’s better.”

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