US Catholic Faith in Real Life

In the Bible, it’s the animals that steal the show

Animals steal the scene in the biblical drama.

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

I don’t have a pet. This puts me at odds with the 65 percent of U.S. citizens who choose to share their homes with animals. Forty-four percent of us coexist with dogs and 35 percent with cats. Freshwater fish are the most kept pet by volume, since people tend to keep them by the tank-full. Bird ownership is one-fifth the size of cat partnerships.

Not having “my” animal doesn’t deny me the pleasure of creatures in their natural habitats, going about their existence independent from mine. It would be hard to live on planet Earth and be entirely animal-free.

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What one prison chaplain learned from those she served

New insights into the story of the Good Samaritan from behind bars.

By Patricia Halsey |
Article Your Faith

I pulled out a bright green Naugahyde chair from the pile in the sparse room and started down the checklist in my mind. Let’s see. . . . The two bathrooms were unlocked, one for the men, one for me. I had dragged the heavy oak podium across the room to place it near the table that would soon serve as an altar. The consecrated hosts were safe in a pyx in my black leather burse. I’d set up five chairs in a row in front of me and put missals on the seats. Everything was in place.

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Does Jesus believe in Santa Claus?

This Christmas, find the truth of the Christmas mystery in popular holiday tales.

By John Shea |
Article Your Faith

When the jaw of the 6-year-old girl slipped and her mouth opened ever so slightly, the storyteller knew he had her. She was no longer merely hearing a story; she was living in the world of the story. When the tale was over, she and her classmates laughed and applauded.

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Who was really at the Nativity?

It turns out that scripture doesn’t say a lot about the nativity figures we take for granted.

By Emily Sanna |
Article Your Faith

Growing up, my siblings and I would take turns arranging the figures in my parents’ large crèche. I liked to display the three magi walking in a procession up to the manger, showing them on their journey following the star to Bethlehem.

My siblings were more about cramming the three wise men, shepherds, angel, and various farm animals into a tight circle around the manger, all ooh-ing and aah-ing at baby Jesus. I put my foot down one year, though, when my brother tried to add a toy elephant to the crowd. The scripture, after all, says nothing about pachyderms. 

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What does Advent tell us about our use of time?

’Tis the season for contemplation.

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

Heavens! December! This means the Christmas countdown has been on for weeks or months, depending on which calendar you’re using. In Retail Time, of course, seasonal decorations have been on display since—oh, Halloween or so. However, if you observe the more traditional, liturgical sense of time, Advent began very conveniently this year on the first of the month.

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What’s the difference between Sunday and the Sabbath?

How we name something shapes how we understand it.

By David A. Pitt |
Article Your Faith

Names matter. St. John Paul II clearly writes in Dies Domini (On Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy) that Sabbath (the seventh day of the week) and Sunday (the first day of the week) are different. Sunday fulfills the Sabbath. Naming Sunday as “the Christian Sabbath”—or worse, “the Sabbath,” which eliminates Judeo-Christian differences—neglects the true importance of the day. 

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Meet God with gratitude this November

For a new Thanksgiving tradition, take inspiration from ancient Israel.

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

Academy Award winners get a lot of ribbing for their acceptance speeches. You know: those ramblings that go on and on until the orchestra sounds a warning bar of here-comes-the-hooked-cane-to-yank-you-offstage theme music.

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When it comes to salvation, are there ways to get it seriously wrong?

When it comes to keeping the faith, words matter.

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

My cousin’s an evangelical Protestant. Recently he told me the rousing story of how he came to Christ. After a neglected childhood and perilous young adulthood, he stumbled into a prayer service and encountered the Christian story in a way that felt powerful and irrefutable. “I accepted the work that was done on the cross of Calvary,” he concluded reverently.

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What happens after we die?

“We will all be changed,” according to Paul.

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

If you’re hankering for the storybook heaven in which you get your heart’s desire and live happily ever after, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews just may support it. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1).

Take note: Trust in God is the nonnegotiable price of admission. Eternity as the land of hopes is not a bad way to envision the hereafter. This may or may not include an endless supply of blue corn chips—but for me, heaven would be a nonstarter without them.

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Have a grand plan? Don’t neglect the present for the future

For the most part, biblical tomorrow is a bleak prospect.

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

Maybe you’re not big into the vision thing. You may not have a comprehensive game plan for living, no crystalline goal that will let you know you’ve arrived when you get there. Not many of us apprehend in kindergarten the purpose for which we were born. 

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