July 21, 2014

Over the last several years I have encountered a fair number of Christians who claim they are “spiritual but not religious.” In other words, they do not identify with a particular Christian denomination, using the Bible alone to guide their faith. It’s an ideology that says religious institutions are outdated and unnecessary.

People may reach this conclusion for a multitude of reasons. Some are disillusioned by what they perceive to be corruption and hypocrisy in religious institutions. Others may feel like they are not being “fed.” Others yet may feel that these intuitions teach something contrary to their beliefs regarding political and social issues.

Whatever the reason may be, we must reach out to these people and take their concerns seriously.

Jesus...

July 18, 2014

A man with the name “Stratford Caldecott” might be a spy in a Bond novel, or the male lead in a Merchant-Ivory period picture. But the one I remember here was a writer and editor, a disciple of Christ, and a gentleman. And he passed away yesterday at 60.

I knew “Strat” a little.  For a brief period we were colleagues in a very indirect way, when the Catholic publisher that employed me became affiliated with the Catholic college that employed him. A few times he made the trip from Oxford (where, among other things, he managed a G.K. Chesterton library and study center) to our offices in New England, where I got to enjoy the company of the man whose contributions to Catholic letters I had enjoyed for many years.

We talked about books, and faith, about God and art. We talked...

July 18, 2014

Some of the greatest gifts God has given to the Church for evangelism are the gifts of miracles. As a Pentecostal before I became Catholic, I always believed God still performs miracles, but I never saw anything close to what Catholics too often take for granted in both the number and kind of miracles God pours out upon his One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church in every generation. Everything from the raising of the dead, to restorative miracles of the body and more have been experienced in the Church for 2,000 years fulfilling our Lord’s prophetic words of Mark 16:17-20:

“These signs shall follow those who believe”… And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.

And yet, these...

July 17, 2014

Over the years I have had my fair share of encounters with anti-Catholics. Their arguments against the faith are pretty predictable - one of the most popular being that the Pope is the Antichrist. One of the typical “gotcha” proofs of this claim is the Papal symbol of the upside down or inverted cross, which the anti-Catholic confidently asserts as being satanic. Because of this, they reason, the Pope is himself in league with Satan.

The truth of the matter is that the upside down cross is an ancient symbol of St. Peter’s crucifixion. Tradition tells us that when St. Peter was martyred, he insisted that he be crucified upside down as he did not believe himself worth to be crucified in the manner of his Lord. 

We see an allusion to this in the Gospel of John, when our Lord...

July 16, 2014

Soon after becoming a Catholic, I started collecting "Catholicana" to hang about my neck. Eventually I was wearing a brown scapular, a crucifix, and a "dog tag" chain with twenty or more holy medals. No joke, people could always tell when I was approaching by the clinking of my medals. I liked to think of that necklace as my "cloud of witnesses." One day the chain broke, and I never replaced it. The only sacramental I continued to wear was my brown scapular.

Why was the brown scapular special to me? Frankly, it was not because of the so-called "scapular promise" attached to the scapular, attributed to ...

July 15, 2014

Today marks the 915th anniversary of the liberation of the Holy City of Jerusalem by the warriors of Christendom on the First Crusade. Those who entered the city in that summer of 1099 had endured three years of battle, starvation, and disease in order to complete their armed pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord. Eighty percent of their brothers in arms who marched from Europe with them were dead, missing, or had deserted. Those few who remained succeeded in accomplishing the task given to them by Bl. Pope Urban II  in the fall of 1095.

The liberation of Jerusalem was a momentous event. Those who returned from it were feted as heroes and known as “Jerusalemites” for the rest of their lives. The story of how the First Crusade succeeded is filled with personal...