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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Can God learn?

If God knows everything, then there is nothing for God to learn. Right?

By Susan A. Ross |
Article Your Faith

Learning is one of the most important things that human beings, as well as other living things, do. We eagerly teach our children, our students, even our pets, and we take pleasure when we see them mastering a new task or gaining a new insight. The person who cannot—or worse, will not—learn is someone we feel sorry for or avoid. We see growth and development as positive and the capacity to learn as being open to newness.

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What is natural law?

Put simply, natural law argues that nature reveals the difference between good and evil. But who gets to decide what is “natural”?

By Jacob Kohlhaas |
Article Your Faith

Broadly understood, natural law refers to a range of moral theories that rely on rational discernment of the natural order as a means of telling good from evil. Within Catholic moral teaching, natural law arguments are commonly invoked to denounce “unnatural” and therefore immoral acts: contraception, same-sex sexual relations, and many assisted reproductive technologies, for example. But where does natural law reasoning come from and just how does it connect nature to morality?

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Where do we get the Marian dogmas?

The dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary are relatively new, but the pious attitudes that inspired them are ancient.

By John Switzer |
Article Your Faith

Scholars of early Christianity are in agreement that interest in the mother of Jesus was mostly initiated by the need to clarify the church’s teachings about the nature of Christ, his relationship with God, and the salvation Christ accomplished. Through Mary the fullness of Christ’s genuine humanity was guaranteed, in opposition to those who argued that Jesus only appeared to be human.

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Did God create evil?

If all of creation is good, then why does God allow evil to persist?

By Meghan J. Clark |
Article Your Faith

In Kenya there is a common call and response: “God is good” the speaker calls out and almost reflexively the room answers, “All the time, for that is his nature.” But if God is good, all the time, why is there evil? This is one of the oldest and most persistent human questions for Christian theology.

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