10 Reasons It’s Safe to Come to Mass this Christmas

You've no doubt seen Saturday Night Live's chillingly (hilariously) accurate tour of what you can expect at Mass this Christmas, but you might still be thinking, Hmmn.  Is it really a good idea for someone like me to go to place like that?  With Jesus in it and stuff?The answer is yes.  Here are my top ten reasons why:10. It really is the Church for anybody at all.  There might be other religions where you're expected to have your act together from day one.  Catholics, on the other hand, … [Read more...]

Atheists Advise: Don’t Watch Just Anything, Be Discriminating to Safeguard Your Faith

The Washington Times reports that American Atheists have figured out what Catholics have long proclaimed: American Atheists unveiled Wednesday the “War on Christmas” line-up on its television channel, AtheistTV, featuring “original programs proclaiming the truth about Christmas on December 24 and December 25, featuring scholars and celebrities from the atheist community.”“Christmas is hard for many atheists, so we will provide programming free from superstition and fairy tales that allows  … [Read more...]

Subtle Smackdown: Vatican Report on American Women Religious is a Warning for Every Parish and Diocese

Don't let the headlines fool you, the freshly-released Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States of America, 16.12.2014 is anything but glowing praise.  It's charitable and mannerly, but if you read closely and put on your thinking cap, the findings are harrowing.  All the more so because our religious orders don't exist in some bubble; every sister comes from a Catholic parish, and every sister in turn bestows her vocation on the Church.  W … [Read more...]

You Can Have Santa Magic Without Lying to Your Kids

This post is not about "mental reservation."  This is about how it's entirely possible to have all the wonder and magic of playing at Santa Claus -- I maintain more wonder and magic -- while still being entirely frank with your kids about the fact that it's a game.  A very good game. How We Got Here My husband and I were still fairly new Christians when our first was born.  We took our newly rediscovered faith extremely seriously (as we do still) because we were keenly aware of how easily it co … [Read more...]

What’s a Small Discipleship Group, What Makes One Work, and Why Should We Care?

At New Evangelizers this week I'm chatting about "small groups."  Specifically, small discipleship groups (as opposed to say, small gatherings to play poker, or shoot up stop signs, or whatever it is you think of when you hear the words small group).Gosh I talk about a lot of stuff, I'm not even sure what to excerpt.  The big topics:What makes a discipleship group different from, say, the parish women's club?  How does the one fit in with the other? How about one-on-one or informal dis … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Salvation Controversy by James Akin

The topic of Catholic vs. Protestant views of salvation has come up several times in conversation lately.  With that in mind, here's a reprint of the review I wrote several years ago of Jimmy Akin's book The Salvation Controversy, published by Catholic Answers in 2001.  The book is currently in print in electronic version only, but you can find hard copies used here and there.Read on, and see if you are the target audience.  If you're not, give it a skip; but if you are the likely reader, I' … [Read more...]

Small Groups: The Best Most Dangerous Thing That Can Happen to Your Parish

Today at New Evangelizers, I write about "Small Groups."  By that what I mean is a handful of parishioners -- say, less than 15 -- getting together to do Christian stuff together.  Learn about the faith, do a work of mercy, pray, whatever it is that particular group does.Your parish has to have small groups.  If it doesn't, everyone dies on the vine:But everybody – everybody – in your parish needs a small community.  Human beings literally cannot socialize in large gatherings.  You’ll not … [Read more...]