US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Can we use real bread at Mass?

By John Switzer |

A seminary pal of mine once remarked that he had no difficulty believing that Christ is present in holy communion. What he did question was the proposition that it was actually bread being used as a host.

Believe it or not, the hosts we use at Mass qualify as “real bread,” but they aren’t very good bread—at least not in any ordinary, earthly sense of the word. In accordance with one particular tradition of Western Christianity, canon law requires that the bread be unleavened (made without yeast).

How to stage an intervention with an alcoholic

By Wendy Donahue |

A good intervention is …

…planned. “The alcoholic can do a pretty good job of saying how wrong you are and who served him too many drinks,” says Father William Stenzel, a Chicago pastor and guest lecturer and spiritual director at Guest House treatment center for clergy and religious. “The best ones are organized interventions where he’s always free to choose.”

…clear. “If you choose not to get help, you’ve chosen to not work here.”

What should we make of the other gospels?

By Michael Peppard |

If Catholics know anything at all about the Bible, we know that there are four gospels. But every so often, a newly discovered ancient text hits the headlines, such as the Gospel of Thomas (1945), the Gospel of Judas (2006), or the papyrus fragment last year that included a phrase about Jesus’ “wife.”

What are Catholics supposed to make of texts not included in the canon of the New Testament?

In short, be not afraid. While the fourfold gospel canon holds a mine of inexhaustible spiritual riches, there is also much to be learned from noncanonical sources.

What is the soul?

By Joel Schorn |

When I was a teenager, I took a religious education correspondence course from the Paulist Fathers. They would send me booklets to read, and at the end of them were questions on the material that I would answer and send back. Then some anonymous Paulist priest would grade my answers and return them to me with the next pamphlet.

Famous last words: Benedict’s final act as pope may be his most enduring

By Bryan Cones |

Pope Benedict’s final act may be one of his best gifts to the church.

So were you shocked, just shocked, when Pope Benedict XVI resigned back in February? “Shock,” or at least some form of it—“Pope’s sudden resignation sends shock waves through church,” claimed Reuters—appeared in nearly every headline covering the pope’s precipitous exit from Peter’s chair.

Why did Jesus “descend into hell”?

By John Switzer |

We sometimes say of people that they’ve been “to hell and back.” Christianity says the same thing about our Savior.

The statement is found in the Apostles’ Creed, a profession of faith with origins that may go back to the questions asked of candidates for baptism in the late second century. It reminds us that the saving power of Christ is for all times and all peoples, even those who entered and passed from human history prior to his death and resurrection.