Christ Promised a Crown of Thorns, not a Bed of Roses

When I was rather younger, and attending an evangelically-flavored Episcopal parish, I participated in a program called Evangelism Explosion. In a nutshell, EE was a program to train parishioners to go door-to-door presenting the gospel; it involved memorizing dozens of pertinent scripture references (we had flash cards) and a detailed outline of a presentation of the Gospel, culminating in an invitation to give your life to Jesus.One part of the presentation was a personal testimony … [Read more...]

How Can You Love the Siblings You Haven’t Seen If You Don’t Love the Siblings You Have?

It's been said that home is where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in; and there's a great truth to this. Our families, the parents and siblings and children of our own blood, have a claim on us that we cannot ignore. We didn't choose them; we might not always like them; and yet we somehow have to get along with them.That's a dynamic that's in some amount of trouble in our modern American society. We all know families that are broken; and the younger adults in American are … [Read more...]

The Terrible Contradiction of Staffing

In Chapter 4 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis notes that the story of faith isn't simply the story of a journey; it's also the story of the building of a city, a place where all can live together in peace:In presenting the story of the patriarchs and the righteous men and women of the Old Testament, the Letter to the Hebrews highlights an essential aspect of their faith. That faith is not only presented as a journey, but also as a process of building, the preparing of a place in which human … [Read more...]

The Glorious Multiplicity of Creation

Two weeks ago I looked at paragraphs 48 and 49 of Lumen Fidei, and talked about the Glorious Multiplicity of the Magisterium. The truth of the faith is too large, I said, (using rather more words) for one bishop to encompass it all; thus, we have many, so that nothing may be lost.In that post I was speaking of revelation; but the same thing is true of all of creation. God is vast, unbounded; and everything that was, and is, and will be in all of creation exists to show forth some … [Read more...]

The Glorious Multiplicity of the Magisterium

The phrase "the magisterium of the Church" is simply a fancy phrase for the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. This teaching authority resides in the Pope and in the college of bishops speaking together, and is ensured by the Holy Spirit through the apostolic succession.In paragraphs 48 and 49 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis explains why it has to be this way.Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity. Precisely because all the articles of faith are … [Read more...]

Pope Francis on Fellow Travelers and True Believers

Historically, the phrase "fellow travelers" was used of those who sympathized with the aims and goals of the Communist Party but chose not to join it. Though not members, they were traveling in the same direction. That doesn't mean they precisely shared the beliefs of the Communist Party—presuming that the members of the Party themselves had a precisely unified set of beliefs beyond that week's party line.We see something similar in every area where people band together to do something: t … [Read more...]

Lumen Fidei: The Ten Commandments, an Invitation to Love


The first thing that comes to most people's minds when you say, "The Ten Commandments," I think (aside from the obligatory nod to Charlton Heston for people of a Certain Age) is "Thou Shalt Not". The Ten Commandments are all of the things you aren't allowed to do: Thou Shalt Not Steal, Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery, Thou Shalt Not Even Covet. We see them as negative, as impinging on our American freedom to do whatever the hell we want to do.In paragraph 46 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis … [Read more...]

Lumen Fidei: Claiming the Community


In paragraph 45 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis makes a point about the Profession of Faith that I hadn't previously considered: the Creed isn't simply a statement of abstract belief, to which we give assent. In it, we are making claims about God and claims about our relationship to Him and to other Christians; and we are truly claiming a place in that community:The creed does not only involve giving one’s assent to a body of abstract truths; rather, when it is recited the whole of life is d … [Read more...]

Lumen Fidei: The Gift of Baptism

In chapter 3 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis is talking about the role of the sacraments in the life of faith. In paragraphs 41 through 43, he talks specifically about the sacrament of baptism, and makes several salient points.First, baptism is a communal thing: it is how the faith is passed on: Baptism makes us see, then, that faith is not the achievement of isolated individuals; it is not an act which someone can perform on his own, but rather something which must be received by entering … [Read more...]