Christ's death means that no one needs to be harmed in the name of maintaining community.
Christ is the “forgiving victim,” says James Alison, a Catholic priest, theologian, and author. This idea stems from Alison’s Christian interpretation of philosopher René Girard; his work is peppered with language like “the mimetic nature of desire” and “the scapegoat mechanism.”
When we bathed our son in holy water, our whole family was immersed in a holy community.
My son turned 2 this summer, and over the past year he has expressed a keen interest in church. And when I say that he has expressed an interest, I really mean that he has started to lead our little family on a journey of faith that I had never before imagined for us. It started with his pointing out crosses. Sans serif, lower-case t’s demand his attention (and ours), as do graphicly hip plus signs, ornate crucifixes, and the simple stone crosses on the church we drive past every day to and from his daycare.
Jesus may have been Jewish, but his universal message and vision are reflected in the very definition of the word ‘catholic.’
Historical Jesus scholars all agree that Jesus was a Galilean first-century Jew. He was born of a Jewish mother, was addressed by his followers as “Rabbi,” quoted Hebrew scripture in his teachings, and taught in the Temple in ancient Jerusalem. So how did we get from the Jewish Jesus of Galilee to the Roman Catholic Church that we know today?
Catherine of Siena isn't merely a long-dead pious woman in a book of saints. She lived a fascinating life and is an enduring role model for Catholics today.
There’s a common stereotype about women in the medieval church. We often talk about female saints like Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, or Catherine of Siena like they were perfect examples of feminine wisdom, virgin saints who cared for others and spread holiness through their ministry to the poor.
We may all be one in Christ, but that doesn’t mean our individual identities don’t endure.
Take a moment to write down 10 words that best describe you. If you’re stuck for ideas, you might start with the basic information on your driver’s license: name, gender, age. Some of us will quickly include nationality and religious affiliation, race or political leaning. Others will go straight for the adjectives central to our self-understanding (or perhaps self-idealization): honest, bold, kind, helpful, creative, funny.
The blessed chrism represents our new life in Christ and the fact that we are marked and set apart by God.
In the ancient Near East, olive oil was used for healing, sealing, and strengthening. Athletes in ancient Greece would use it to limber up and soothe their muscles before competing. Oil was also poured on the head of guests as a sign of hospitality. Prophets were anointed with olive oil, and they in turn anointed kings.
A family is not just a mom, a dad, 2.5 kids, and a dog. Extending family relationships changes how we think about faith, church, social justice, and God.
It’s impossible to fully understand God. So humans come up with metaphors to try to explain our conviction of a loving God who holds us in community with each other. These images are rooted in our own experiences and cultures; the biblical image of God as a shepherd may not be as meaningful to people living in cities today.
The course of grieving is never smooth, but worship gives students a place to process their loss.
Not two minutes after transcribing my last interview for this story, my phone rang. An undergraduate student at St. John’s University, where I work, died suddenly just before Holy Week. I had just spent weeks listening to stories of loss from students and ministry professionals across the country. Now here was death, seeping hurt into my own home. My heavy heart grew heavier. I felt helpless.
Fossils remind us that we are one tiny—albeit, important—note in the magnificent song of God’s creation.
On a cold, overcast December day, I found myself taking in with delight the natural world of millions of years ago during a visit to Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History. I had a case of what I call “discernment blues,” though perhaps the official Ignatian term is desolation. There had been several deaths in the community in which I live, my grandmother’s health was declining, and several close friends were leaning on me for emotional support.
Animals are part of God’s creation. But will they join us in heaven?
Humans have kept animals around for centuries. At first it was for hunting purposes, pest control, and general working tasks. It did not take long, however, for animals to start being bred and kept as companions. According to a 2015–2016 American Pet Products Association (APPA) survey, around 79.7 million households in America are home to a pet. It is clear animals hold a special place in our hearts. So when they die, as with our loved ones of the human variety, of course we want to know what becomes of them. Where do they fit into the world God has created?