US Catholic Faith in Real Life

What's so special about friendship?

Friendship is not fallen into but attained through countless steps or acts in which two or more people are available to each other.

By Martin E Marty |
Article Your Faith

You “fall into” love, but you do not “fall into” friendship. Yet you can “fall out of” friendship. At least the dictionaries and phrase books are ready for such an experience. We talk about people no longer being friends; they “had a falling out.”

What is different, what is special about friendship that makes it irregular to fall into it but not to fall out of it? One clue is this: you have to work at being a friend, while you cannot help being in love.

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.

What does it mean to see God?

Human beings are created to see the divine, says theologian Hans Boersma.

By A U.S. Catholic interview |
Article Your Faith

What does it mean to see God? Is it a literal vision, along the lines of Moses and the burning bush or Jacob’s tussle with a divine figure in the Hebrew Bible? Or more metaphorical—think of the theologians who talk of “seeing” God in creation or during contemplative prayer? Is it even possible within the confines of worldly creation? Scripture verses such as 1 Corinthians 13:12 say, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.” Does this mean that in the hereafter we see God in an unprecedented way?

Why do Catholics venerate the Sacred Heart of Jesus?

It’s time to reconsider this devotion, which represents mystic union with the very source of love itself.

By Jeffrey Essmann |
Article Your Faith

Across time and cultures the heart has symbolized a variety of traits: love, awareness, the will, along with numerous other prime movers of humanity. From Cro-Magnon Man to the Aztecs, the Egyptians, Chinese medicine, Judaism, and Islam; from Eros aiming his arrow at Psyche’s heart to Valentine’s Day cards, heart tattoos, and the endless trove of pop songs about hearts in various stages of being won, lost, or broken, so overarching is the symbol’s power that it seems to spring from something existential and primal.

What does it mean to be a Catholic in good standing?

Our status in the church shouldn't be relegated to a set of rules.

By Teresa Coda |
Article Your Faith

As the director of faith formation at a Catholic parish, I’m frequently asked questions about the logistics of the sacraments. Can I miss the confirmation service and still be confirmed? Do I need to prove I’ve gone to confession to receive the Eucharist? Can I doubt my faith and still partake in the sacraments? While these inquiries are easily answered (no, no, yes), I trip over my words every time I’m asked, “What does it mean to be a Catholic in good standing?”

Must we call the persons of the Trinity Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

No matter the particular names you choose, the core message of the Trinity remains unchanging.

By Teresa Coda |
Article Your Faith

One of the paradoxes of our Catholic faith is that its foundational element, belief in the Trinity, the flour to the bread of Catholicism, cannot be understood through human reason. The mysteriousness of the Trinity, however, hasn’t stopped the church from spending centuries examining and clarifying its doctrine. The core elements of the Trinity are described in no uncertain terms: God is only one, but exists in three distinct persons. The divine persons do not share one divinity but are each wholly and entirely God, existing in relationship with one another.

Why was Jesus baptized?

When John baptized Jesus, it meant something very different than it does to Catholics today.

By David A. Pitt |
Article Your Faith

Twenty years ago, director M. Night Shyamalan’s movie The Sixth Sense changed how viewers experienced the power of perspective. If someone stopped watching before the climactic “reveal,” they perhaps could have offered a reasonably coherent plot summary. But as soon as they reached the ending, everything they thought the movie was about had to be reevaluated, and their reasonably coherent plot summary would not have worked at all.

No one had to die for our sins.

It’s time to rethink the crucifixion, says theologian Elizabeth Johnson.

By A U.S. Catholic interview |
Article Your Faith

Care for creation often falls low on the list of priorities for the majority of Christians, with many even vocal that environmental stewardship isn’t a Christian call. There’s something deeply wrong with that, says Elizabeth A. Johnson, one of the church’s foremost theologians of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Where do the sacraments come from?

There weren’t always only seven sacraments.

By David A. Pitt |
Article Your Faith

One summer afternoon, driving past a cemetery, I saw six bikers talking, laughing, and drinking beer, their motorcycles parked nearby. My initial indignation was transformed upon noticing a solitary beer can on a headstone. The bikers had not simply pulled off the road for a quick drink on a hot day but were reconnecting with a now-deceased friend.

Why is the Assumption a Holy Day of Obligation?

All stories regarding the Assumption contain one consistent belief: Mary was no ordinary person, and as such her body was not left on earth to decay.

By Kathleen Manning |
Article Your Faith

Assumption celebrations in the Catholic Church are a blend of the very old and the relatively new. Written stories about what transpired at the end of Mary’s life date to the third or fourth century, though Pope Pius XII didn’t proclaim the dogma of the Assumption, or the teaching Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul, until 1950. The intervening 15 centuries reveal evolving beliefs about Mary’s life and death.