The Real St. Nicholas Would Slap You in the Face

While the association of Santa Claus with the birth of Christ---and the roots of the Christmas season---is tenuous at best there is a real figure behind the red-suited fat fellow and his name is St. Nicholas.You've heard of him.Santa Claus, Father Christmas, and St. Nick are often pseudonyms for the same guy this time of the year but while two are purely fiction the fact of St. Nicholas, as a real honest-to-goodness saint, is firmly grounded in history.And a fascinating one at … [Read more...]

What the Screaming Kid at Mass Taught Me About the Eucharist

It’s just after 5 o’clock on Saturday and I hustle, as quiet as I can, into the church. I sit in the new section, a 1,500sqft addition that squeezed the last bit of space out of our church’s tiny footprint–making space for our ever-expanding community of parishioners. At more than two thousand registered families we’re the physically smallest parish in our area, but also, by most metrics, the most vibrant. And that’s why I’m here, to speak after Mass about the New Evangelization, about the amazin … [Read more...]

So You Want an Incredible Parish?

The sometimes torrential flow of Catholics leaving the Church for Evangelical traditions can be baffling for the uninitiated.What would possess someone to leave the Catholic Church?With access to the ancient sacraments and a Church which traces its lineage and authority structure back to the Apostles would could possibly be more enriching? More attractive?It might confound those in love with their Catholic faith but I've had just these conversations and, likely, you have too. Likely y … [Read more...]

Of All This Ugliness, I Repent

My gosh, this election.It's been long, difficult, and ugly.I was hoping that the ugliness would finally abate now that all the votes are counted and the presidency is cast; I was hoping we'd struggle a little bit, maybe, and then get on with things. We'd be civil again. We'd find our way back together in spite of the dark, but...This ugliness.Throughout the election my social media feeds became something of a sad and sorry caricature of what they'd used to be. Prominent … [Read more...]

So You Want to Move to Canada: A Field Guide for American Catholics

Hello, America.So, for whatever reason you've suddenly got your heart set on making the move to Canada.Your northern neighbour.The one you didn't even really notice was there until you suddenly needed somewhere to flee for your life.Ah, it's OK. One of the many things you'll learn about Canada---and Canadians---is just how gosh darn forgiving and tolerant we are, as a rule.But, hang on, before you stuff your ever-depreciating American dollars into a nondescript duffel bag and … [Read more...]

The Thing I Love About Padre Pio

I've written before about the laudable Catholic practice of praying for the dead---and that the dead can pray for us, too.I've written as well about the incredible gift that the saints are; to know that there are holy Christians, in Heaven, praying for us right now is incredible.What I haven't written about, and what I feel compelled to share now, is the incredible story of Padre Pio---and his incredible commitment to praying for us.First, a primer.That deceased Christians could p … [Read more...]

Five Things You Need to Know About the Protestant Reformation

The Lutheran church down the street from our house has a sign that proudly proclaims, Reformation Sunday Celebrating 499 years of the Protestant Church It makes me feel a bit nauseous every time I pass because there's one thing we shouldn't be doing as we consider the 499th anniversary of the Reformation it's celebrating.Now I know there are those---scores of them---that see the Reformation as the virtuous Christians ripping the true Christian Church out of the clutches of the evil and c … [Read more...]

Why Does the Catholic Church Have So Many Rules?

Easily one of the most frequent objections to Catholicism that I hear is that it's a miserable religion made up of equally miserable rules.(And miserable people!)It's the stuff of the Pharisees.The stuff that Jesus railed against.It's all about following the rules.I hear this objection most often from those I meet that were raised Catholic but, for whatever reason, left the faith.There are a lot of those kinds of people, so I hear the objection a lot.But the notion tha … [Read more...]

Did Jesus Rise from the Dead (And Does it Matter)?

I am the world's greatest teacher.I have a mug that says so.In fact so far I've garnered about half a dozen similar mugs over a nearly decade's long career. So it must be true.I recently lent a friend my copy of The Case for Jesus by Brant Pitre. It's far and away the best case for a real, historical Jesus. He does a great job of laying out, in a fulsome and scholarly way, the argument's for Jesus existence in honest-to-goodness space and time.And for his resurrection from the … [Read more...]

When Did the Historic Church Lose its Way?

 As an Evangelical Protestant convert to Catholicism one of the most common objections I hear to the Catholic Church is an earnest one,"The Church lost its way when it began to add stuff."The line of thinking runs like this:Somewhere along the way, usually in the very early centuries, the Church got confused. They fell into a Old Testament legalistic tangle, they began to venerate the saints and Mary, and they effectively Romanized---becoming unrecognizable as the Church we r … [Read more...]