If you’re married, says St. John Chrysostom, that doesn’t mean you can’t be chaste. The laws of chastity apply to you just as much as they do to the monks in the desert. “Well, what do you want us to do?” someone says. “Do you want us to go live on the mountains and turn into monks?” This is what makes me sad, that you think only monks are concerned with decency and chastity—and yet certainly Christ made his laws… Read more

Review by Katie Zumbrum Whether we like it or not, the Lenten season is almost upon us.  It has a way of sneaking up on the best of us and sometimes the only reminder is fish making a sudden appearance at restaurants.  I think of Lent as a season of sacrifice – which it is – but the book Lenten Healing: 40 Days to Set You Free from Sin also made me think of it as a way to look… Read more

St. Peter still holds the authority Christ gave him, says Pope St. Leo the Great. The Pope, the successor of Peter, can lead the Church only because Peter leads through him. The dispensation of Truth lives on. The blessed Peter, who keeps the strength of the Rock that he has received, has not abandoned the leadership of the Church that he undertook. For he was ordained above the rest so that from his being called the Rock, from his being… Read more

Mary Elizabeth Sperry has worked for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops since 1994, and serves as associate director for USCCB permissions and NAB utilization. The author of five books, Sperry’s articles have appeared in publications including Give Us This Day, Liguorian, Emmanuel, and Today’s Parish Minister. She speaks about the Bible and a variety of spiritual topics in dioceses and parishes throughout the United States and has been interviewed on National Public Radio, EWTN Radio, CBS Radio, Relevant… Read more

Christian baptisms given outside the Catholic Church are still valid baptisms, but that doesn’t mean that everything about those separated churches is valid. We should recognize the validity of their baptism, says St. Augustine, but it’s vital to heal the wound of schism. Suppose someone is brought to the surgeon with a serious wound in some vital part of the body, and the surgeon says that unless it is cured it must be fatal. Are the friends who brought him… Read more

There are bound to be bad seeds in such a large group as the Catholic Church, says St. Augustine. But the Church can’t be blamed for people who don’t follow its teachings, since the Church is always trying to bring them back. Don’t bring up against me those people who claim the name of Christian but neither know nor show any evidence of the power of their profession. Don’t hunt down the numerous ignorant people who, even in the true… Read more

The ex-slave Eutropius ruled Constantinople by controlling a puppet emperor, who abolished the right of churches to shelter fugitives. When Eutropius him­self ended up a fugitive in a church, St. John Chrysostom gave him shelter— but on Sunday he revealed the cowering Eutropius to the whole congregation. Then he preached one of the most memorable sermons of his career. “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:1). This saying ought to be written on our walls and clothes, in the… Read more

In the homilies we hear at Mass, says St. John Chrysostom, the priest usually praises virtue and condemns vice, but doesn’t talk about individuals. That gives all of us the chance to apply the lesson to ourselves. You heard yesterday how I extolled the power of prayer, and how I re­proached those who pray lazily, without exposing any of them publicly. So those who knew in themselves that they prayed earnestly accepted that commendation of prayer, and became even more… Read more

The word “pastor” is just the Latin word for “shepherd.” Why were so many of the famous leaders of God’s people actual shepherds? asks Aphrahat. It’s because they needed to know how to care for creatures that were completely helpless. Jacob was a pastor, and Joseph was a pastor and his brothers were pas­tors. Moses was a pastor, and David also was a pastor. So Amos was a pastor. These all were pastors who fed the sheep and led them… Read more

St. Augustine tells a familiar tale of peer pressure. As a teenager, he was ashamed to be thought of as a “good boy,” so he ignored the advice of his mother. Many years later, he realized that God was speaking to him through her warnings. Whose words were they, God, but yours that your poured into my ears by my mother, your faithful servant? None of them sank into my heart to change my behavior. For she told me—I remember… Read more

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