(RNS) It’s a tough sell: A young, unmarried teenager gets pregnant, but the father isn’t a man but God himself. And the girl is a virgin—and (some believe) remains one even after she delivers a strapping baby boy.
That’s the story of the Virgin Birth, one of the central tenets of faith for the world’s 2 billion Christians. The story is embraced by every branch of Christianity, from Eastern Orthodoxy to Mormonism, Catholic, and Protestant.
The ranks of the saints are filled with men and women who risked their lives in battle. So why don’t military veterans have a patron of their own?
In the parish church of my youth, my family often sat under a stained glass window that depicted a poor man lying on the ground with his hand out to the Roman officer towering over him. Oddly, the soldier was cutting his own cloak in two. It was a long time before I learned that the Roman was St. Martin of Tours, a patron saint of soldiers.
It’s now been almost a year since Pope Francis issued his apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel.” Much has been written about this long document; its approach to evangelization, social justice, and a more decentralized church has been variously dissected, praised, and panned.
Many Catholics aren’t persuaded by the church’s natural law arguments on matters of sex and morality. Maybe it’s time we come up with more reasonable conclusions.
Anyone—no matter how powerless or small—can have a lasting effect on the world.
Ten years ago, when I was a 14-year-old high school student, my religion teacher arranged for me to interview Father Patrick Ahearn, a leading expert on St. Thérèse of Lisieux who happened to reside just blocks away from our school at St. Thomas More Church on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. What at the time seemed like frustrating extra work now stands out in my mind as one of the most memorable and meaningful experiences of my adolescence.
In an interview with L'Osservatore Romano last month, Cardinal Francecso Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, said that his council was working on a revision of Book Six of the Code of Canon Law, “On Sanctions.” The proposed changes would hopefully make the canonical penal process more accessible for bishops who wanted to bring canonical charges against priests who had sexually abused youngsters.
In using maternal metaphors for God alongside the paternal ones, we embrace the fullness of God’s love for us.
Most Christians are familiar with referring to God as Father, but can we call God “Mother”? Many places in the Bible and Christian tradition as well as theological voices answer this question affirmatively: God can be referred to as “Mother.” In fact, every recent pope since John Paul I has made some reference to the value of understanding God like a mother.
Deacons are not meant to be mini-priests, or super-laypeople. But the church as we know it wouldn’t be the same without them.
Even after nearly 50 years, the permanent diaconate still confuses some people. If deacons aren’t priests, are they laypeople? No—they are ordained. Some deacons say that priests have told them that theirs is not a “real” vocation. Wrong again. Deacons are called to embody the image of Christ the servant; they represent the church in the community, and at Sunday Mass they bring the needs of the community to the attention of the church.
The editors of U.S. Catholic interview Claretian Father Samuel Canilang, the director of the Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia (ICLA) in Quezon City near Manila, Philippines.
The institute was founded by the Claretian Missionaries in 1997 and educates religious and lay students from all over Asia, offering degree programs in consecrated life, missiology, spirituality, and biblical ministry.
Whether by intention or not, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s choice of a papal name has meaning not only for Catholics. St. Francis of Assisi is a widely recognized saint, known for his faith and humility. It’s not surprising that American Protestants also find him appealing.
“I think mainline Protestants are attracted to the same things Catholics are attracted to,” says David Heim, executive editor of the Christian Century. “He seems like such a living witness to the Good News of the gospel and living it out in practical ways.”