Grace is a gift of love that invites us into relationship with God.
Religious education has taught generations of Catholics that grace is a free gift of God’s favor. It is received through the sacraments and makes our salvation possible. Unfortunately, this popular conception of grace is sometimes misconstrued, presenting grace as a commodity rather than a reality experienced in our lives. From this view, “receiving grace” through the sacraments may be interpreted as getting more grace, as if sacraments were transactions imparting a quantifiable spiritual good.
Atonement explains how Jesus’ execution relates to human salvation.
“Jesus died for our sins.” As a teacher and churchgoer, I hear this expression quite often by people making a connection between salvation from sin and Christ’s crucifixion. In other words, “Jesus died so that I can go to heaven.” This connection between our salvation and the death of Jesus on the cross is often understood through the idea of atonement.
To make conversations about race more productive, try using different metaphors for God.
Growing up in London, Ontario was not easy for me as an Asian immigrant. I was taunted on the school playground almost daily. Kids used derogatory slang, chanting “ching chong, ching chong,” and made fun of my eyes, pulling their own sideways and mockingly saying they had Chinese eyes.
Sin is a break in a relationship thanks to our words, thoughts, actions, and inactions.
When I was in high school, I wanted to go to a party. I knew that my parents would say no, so I lied and said that I was at a friend’s house and went anyway. This was wrong, but was it a sin?
The Bible calls for us to “love God with all of our strength” and “love our neighbor as ourselves.” In general, sin refers to free choices that harm and break our relationship with God and with others.
God isn’t a “Wait until your father gets home…” dad, but rather unconditional love.
Hell may not be a literal burning fire, but does that mean it doesn’t exist?
When we honor the saints, says theologian Elizabeth Johnson, let us not forget the everyday people who sustain our faith.
A group of Christians gathers at the Nevada test site to witness against the folly of nuclear weapons. In their prayers, before some of them are arrested, they honor the memory of Franz Jagerstätter, a young Austrian killed by the Nazis because, as a follower of Christ, he would not serve in their war machine.
Liturgy often changes to meet the needs of the faithful, says Father Mark Francis. Nowhere is this more evident than during the Christmas season.
For many Catholics, the word liturgy brings to mind processionals with incense and a crucifix, Eucharistic prayers, or the Communion Rite. Vestments, incense, and music may be floating around in our mental pictures as well. But what about other kinds of faith practices? Eucharistic adoration or devotions to patron saints? The blessing of the animals on the feast of St. Francis or the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe? Are these celebrations also liturgical? Or are they merely popular reflections of our faith based on each parish’s individual nationality and culture?
Historical inaccuracies don't make the Bible untrue.
A lot of people—even the kind who go to church—wonder if the Bible is true or just stories. The best answer to that question is: The Bible is true. And some of it really happened.
Theologian Heidi Russell says that science doesn’t always have to shake up our core concept of God as creator.
Heidi Russell has a dream. “I would love to see parishes get a subscription to Scientific American,” she says. “And then have a group that discusses what’s in each issue, reads about what’s happening in science, and then asks, ‘What might science tell us about our faith?’ ”
Russell, who teaches theology at Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Pastoral Studies, has a special interest in the relationship between science and faith. She speaks as passionately about neuroscience and quantum physics as she does about theology and God.