Understanding Paul: An Introduction to the Writings of St. Paul

Use the summaries as an introduction for private study. Use them in a group study as you begin to discuss the various overarching themes of each work. The point is this: use them. There is no reason to avoid St. Paul's writings. They are a beautiful gift from God and are meant to be explored. Prayerfully read through these sections in conjunction with the letters of St. Paul themselves, and watch how the second reading at Sunday Mass ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù and, most importantly, your soul ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù comes to life.

Our New Pope: Humble Yet Powerful

I was expecting something 'more.' I mean, this was the new Pope's first homily since his election. On Wednesday the world tuned in to see our new Pope Francis. On Thursday we got to hear him preach for the first time.

Jesus’ House Keys: Interesting Facts about the Papacy

There are so many things worthy of mention, but one of the coolest parts about being Catholic has to be the Tradition. We're a Church built on a 2,000 year old foundation, y'all – with Christ, Himself, as our Founder and 'cornerstone' (Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:6).

There are a lot of opinions and conspiracy 'theories' floating around about the next pope and the papacy, in general, these days. No doubt there is an author somewhere preparing to rewrite history, once again, in a best-seller telling us all about 'what's really happening” behind the closed doors of this papal election.

Wake Up Call

When I was a kid, Lent didn't mean a whole lot. Lent meant getting a filet-o-fish instead of a cheeseburger in my usual Friday Happy Meal. It meant that the music at Mass got more ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏserious,' and we didn't say the 'A' word: you know, (Allelu—). It meant that soon Easter was coming and do you know what that meant? That's right . . . an Easter egg hunt against my brothers!

Why do Catholics Abstain from Meat on Fridays in Lent?

Picture it: You’re in a hurry. You’re focused on school or work or family or friends, where there are a thousand things going on. You stop real quick to eat in the middle of the day. Halfway through the meal – or a little while after – you remember it’s Friday. And it’s Lent! And that’s a burger in your stomach!! In the words of Homer Simpson, “D’oh!”

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.

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 . . .

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