Why do Catholics put Ashes on our heads on Ash Wednesday?

Ìâ‰âÂÌâÅÒExcuse me, you've got some dirt on your head.' Every year someone says that to me on Ash Wednesday. Maybe it has happened to you too. In the past it used to frustrate me, but in recent years I have come to see it as a great opportunity to evangelize, to share with someone about the most important person in my life: Jesus Christ.

Why Do We Have a Pope? Is it Biblical?

Each of the three was given a special role in the Church. Peter was the “rock” on which Jesus would build His Church (Matthew 16:18-19). As every group needs a leader, someone to cast the deciding vote, so did the apostles and the bishops. Simon Peter, the fisherman, rose to the occasion. In his line are popes who become saints and popes who were less than saintly; yet every pope was given special authority by God to guide the Church for a time.

Jesus and the 3 Wise Guys

Have you ever noticed that the Bible doesn't specifically say how many wise men showed up in Bethlehem? We're told that wise men from the East followed a star, interacted with Herod, and made their way to the manger (bearing gifts) but nowhere does it say how many men there actually were. So, how exactly did this idea of the 'three magi' begin if Matthew 2 doesn’t give an explicit number? Is this just the byproduct of an overzealous songwriter thinking that 'We Three Kings' sounded better than 'A couple of Kings' or 'About Four Kings'?

Do You Believe in Santa?: The Real Story of St. Nicholas

Nicholas was known for his generosity. As tradition goes, he was so selfless that (although he, too, was poor) he helped his likewise poor neighbor support and pay for his daughters' weddings. Nicholas snuck up to his neighbor's house at night and dropped a handful of gold coins through the open window so that the eldest daughter could afford to get married. He would later repeat the generous act two more times. From there, the Santa legend grew into what we now know today – stockings, chimneys, a belly like jelly and all that good stuff.

That Awkward Silence: Sharing Your Faith With Your Family

The reality is that if you live out your faith there will probably be some conflict and moments of very awkward silence. Like that moment when your aunt tells you all the things 'wrong' with your Church . . . or your condescending cousin drills you on Catholic Church teaching and asks why you so 'mindlessly' follow it? Or when your Mom pulls you aside in the kitchen before family dinner and encourages you to avoid talking about certain topics like abortion or politics?

That Awkward Silence: Sharing Your Faith With Your Family

The reality is that if you live out your faith there will probably be some conflict and moments of very awkward silence. Like that moment when your aunt tells you all the things 'wrong' with your Church . . . or your condescending cousin drills you on Catholic Church teaching and asks why you so 'mindlessly' follow it? Or when your Mom pulls you aside in the kitchen before family dinner and encourages you to avoid talking about certain topics like abortion or politics?

The Bible: Is It Reliable Reading?

Still, there are countless people who try to say that the Bible is 'unreliable' or 'outdated.' Many people … some of whom are well-read and quite intellectual … do everything they can to debunk the validity of Scripture, thinking that if they can exploit seeming 'inconsistencies' or supposed 'errors' they can somehow do away with Christianity and even God. That's the first mistake . . .

The Bible: Is It Reliable Reading?

Still, there are countless people who try to say that the Bible is 'unreliable' or 'outdated.' Many people … some of whom are well-read and quite intellectual … do everything they can to debunk the validity of Scripture, thinking that if they can exploit seeming 'inconsistencies' or supposed 'errors' they can somehow do away with Christianity and even God. That's the first mistake . . .

God Made Sex (and He Made it Sacred)

God is one creative Creator. He gave us the cosmos, the sun, the moon, and the stars. He gave us the mountains and the seas, volcanoes and icebergs, tropical rainforests and sand-covered beaches. He gave us the humpback whale, the platypus, the giraffe and the dragonfly. God also gave us humanity. God created us male and female … beautifully distinct and wonderfully made in His divine image. God created marriage and God created sex.

Did you catch that last line?

To Party or Not to Party: The "Good Influence" Argument

Not going to the party makes a much bolder statement. It doesn't mean you're judgmental. It doesn't mean you're anti-fun or anti-friend. It means you're pro-God. You might think people won't notice or won't care, but you're wrong. No, the entire school might not take notice but some people will. Your courageous example to step away might be exactly what others need to see to do the same. There are others who, if given another option, would rather not be at the party.

Thinking About Drinking?: The Bible, Alcohol, and You

I talk to teenagers just about every day, and the conversations are often the same. They deal with the Bible and what the Church teaches and how challenging it can be to live a holy life in an unholy culture. I'd say that most teens that I talk to are truly looking for the Lord; some, however, are looking less for the Lord and more for the 'loopholes.' For instance: 'I heard that the Bible doesn't say drinking alcohol is a sin.'

'Well, no, the Bible does not say that drinking alcohol is a sin,' I respond. I then go on to explain that it does become sinful (very easily), if any of the following happen…

Blessed the Beggar: Who Are the “Poor in Spirit”?

Ìâ‰âÂÌâÅÒBlessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.' (Matthew 5:3)

This is one of those Scripture passages that many people 'know' (meaning, they've heard it before) but countless people fail to understand. My own parochial school teacher taught us that it simply meant God loves poor people 'more.'

Ummm, to put it as charitably and bluntly as possible . . . no, that's not what it means . . .

How Do I Start Reading the Bible?

I used to make fun of my neighbor behind his back. I didn't want to see him do well. I secretly hoped he would strike out or the outfielder would catch his ball. Then I could get up there and hit a home run! At last, I'd have my moment to shine. I would be considered the best. Everyone would want to be like ME! I was envious and it tore me apart. I had no character. I was a bad teammate and a bad friend.

When I really got into my faith and my Christian walk during high school, a few things really annoyed me . . . (in no particular order)

Who Was Mary?: A Reflection on the Mother of God

This month of May … dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary – offers us a unique opportunity to deepen our contemplative prayer life.

Just as Mary pondered all the early events surrounding Jesus in her heart (Luke 2:19), we are invited to contemplate what the Holy Spirit chose to inspire and share with us regarding Mary – not only as Christ’s mother – but as our own (John 19:27). Below is part of a reflection I wrote some time ago that I recently rediscovered. Perhaps it will bless your own contemplative prayer life . . .

Mother’s Day Bible Verses

How exactly do you thank your mother for being your mother? This year, I wanted to drop some Biblical wisdom that you might want to take to prayer and share with mom this weekend (or anytime, for that matter).

Here are some verses you might want to share within a card or note and some ideas for how you can tie them into a message fo’ yo’ mama . . .

How to Read Ephesians

The 'mystery' of Jesus Christ is both the key to our salvation and the central theme in St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:9; 3:4, 9). The mystery of Christ has various dimensions. Jesus is the Savior of the world, and he came to die on the cross for the sins of all people ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù no matter what their background