February 27, 2015

Then Cardinal Ratzinger, in his book, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, published in 1988, warns against depicting heaven as an extension of this life prettied up with depictions of “lions laying down with lambs,” and eternal picnics. Not only do we have the real problem with the fact that most of the world lives in abject misery, materially speaking—we forget that living in our modern United States of American where “the poor” often means not being able to afford all 2,000 cable channels—but we also must remember that lions, lambs, and picnics get boring after a few million years. These depictions just don’t cut it for the modern, thinking man.

On the other hand, I Cor. 2:9 is overused as well. “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard,” with regard to...

February 23, 2015

The terrifying images have become ubiquitous in recent months. Men in orange jumpsuits kneeling before a camera, with a specter draped in black at their shoulder. The black-costumed specter waving a knife and issuing threats, the threats offered in English with a British accent. Then, unimaginably, using that knife to deliver death.

At first, just one man at a time. Then two. Then the violence shifted. Another orange-suited man, this one soaked with gasoline and waiting in a cage for the inevitable fire. Then the violence escalated. Nearly two dozen men in orange marched along a beach, each flanked by their own shadowy executioner.

This brutal slaying of hostages—journalists, humanitarian aid workers, a prisoner of war, Coptic Christians kidnapped in a foreign country in...

February 20, 2015

In a previous blog post, I talked about the error of both Fr. Robert Baron and Hans Urs von Balthasar in positing the real possibility that Hell could be empty for all eternity. This post led to people asking more questions about the nature of Hell itself. What is it? Is it really "eternal?" and more.

Below find my answers to some of those questions.

By definition, according to CCC 1033, hell is “[the] state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed.” Some people cannot fathom how Hell could be a reality if God is truly an “all-loving” and “merciful God.” Yet, Hell could be said to be both the definitive expression of God’s justice and of...

February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday makes me think twice about something: the common practice among Catholics of each person’s selecting his own private sacrifice to observe during this holy season. Mom gives up TV while her teenage son gives up xBox. Little sister gives up chocolate, and Dad gives up red wine. You can see one problem already: Dad is going to be tempted to spiritual pride since his is the only real sacrifice! (That's a joke, chocolate lovers.)

As my pastor pointed out this morning, none of our sacrifices are worth the effort if the intention that drives them is not the correct one. Father Edward Leen, very likely my favorite spiritual writer (I strongly recommend his In the Likeness of Christ), points out that our service to...

February 13, 2015

On Friday, January 23, I finally reached the bishop on his cell phone. Tracking him down in his undisclosed location in northeastern Nigeria was quite the task, for reasons that will be made clear. But thanks to the good offices of my friend Obianuju Ekeocha of Culture of Life Africa (hyperlink www.culturaoflifeafrica.com), I managed to connect with His Excellency Oliver Dashe Doeme (pronounced DEE meh). Why must the prelate be extremely selective about from whom he takes phone calls?

Well, imagine not knowing—day after day—whether you’ll see your kids again after they head off to school in the morning. Imagine being awoken by the thunderous staccato of automatic weapons rattling the walls of your house,...

February 9, 2015

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post on the availability, or lack thereof, of sacraments for the homebound, titled Have Sacraments, Will Travel. After writing that post, I searched for an appropriate image to illustrate it. I settled on a photo of two pairs of hands, both female, one pair of hands placing the Eucharist into the obviously older hands of the other. Click on the link to that post, provided in this paragraph, if you would like to see the image. When I chose it, I thought it was a lovely image of someone bringing Communion to a homebound person.

When the post was published, some readers took exception not to the post itself but to the image, expressing their...

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