The answer may be more complicated than you thought.
The easy answer to that question is, we, the church, did. The feasts and seasons of the liturgical year all developed from the church’s desire to remember, celebrate, and live the great mysteries of our faith.
The answer gets more complicated when we realize that these seasons originated centuries ago and developed independently in different places, spreading, combining, and sometimes dying out.
Before we can talk about Advent, we have to talk about Christmas, obviously, and, less obviously, Epiphany.
Our understanding of priests, bishops, and deacons has changed dramatically in the church's long history, says historian Gary Macy.
After giving one of the three plenary addresses on the Eucharist at a gathering of the Catholic Theological Society of America in 1997, church historian Gary Marcy and two theologians were lambasted in an article for Commonweal by Cardinal Avery Dulles. Macy’s address suggested that in the Middle Ages, women may have presided at communion ceremonies. Dulles did not approve.
When tragedy hits, think twice before claiming what God intended.
Of the many issues that drove last November’s election, few might have guessed that “God’s will” would become a major spoiler in the Indiana Senate race. When GOP candidate Richard Mourdock suggested that a life created through rape is “something God intended,” it cost him an easy path to victory. But while pundits and Democrats were quick to make as much political hay as possible out of Mourdock’s gaffe, only a few commentators, theologians, and pastors took it on.
The new missal has made priests watch their language, but after one year most say the meaning of the Mass is getting lost in translation.
Though the cross reigns over Good Friday, Easter's mystery needs a symbol of its own.
I don't usually think of Jesus' crucifixion when passing the sweets table, but there it was: A big rich dark chocolate cake adorned with white sugary latticework in the shape of-you guessed it-a cross.
We kick off the Easter Triduum with a tradition that helps to keep our faith sure-footed.
When the church gathers on the night of Holy Thursday, its business is to leave the 40 days of Lent and enter the Triduum, the three days at the heart of the Catholic community’s life. So whether Lent has been strenuous or a disaster, we leave it behind on this Thursday evening. Ready or not, we begin the Triduum.
Though it grew up in Latin America, liberation theology continues to have lessons for the faithful north of the border.
People who think of "liberation theology" as a 1960s fad should get to know Fordham University Professor Michael Lee, one of a new generation of Catholic theologians.
We shouldn’t get hung up on the details surrounding Jesus’ birth, says this Bible scholar. As with any scripture story, there’s more here than meets the eye.
Learning scripture in the land of the Bible changes the way you read it, says Sister Laurie Brink, O.P., who leads study tours to places such as Bethlehem. “The land holds memory,” she says. “It’s made holy by everybody that went there before.”