Don’t Be Ashamed of the Gospel…or the Eucharist

Don’t Be Ashamed of the Gospel…or the Eucharist

In the contemporary West, we’ve become used to a rather perverse and un-Scriptural idea: that real virtue depends on seeing ourselves democratically. People of good-will, it’s thought, eschew the idea of privilege or advantage as something inherently unfair—an injustice to be rectified.  When we adopt this perspective, however, we end in denying that our un-earned, undeserved Covenant with God really gives us anything unique.  It’s offensive to modern sensibilities to think that Christians have been

View Full Post
He is Risen! And It’s Not a Metaphor

He is Risen! And It’s Not a Metaphor

“He is risen!”  This Easter proclamation encapsulates the basis of faith in Jesus Christ.  It’s a sine qua non of the Christian faith.  Without the resurrection of Christ, there’s no Christianity. St. Paul puts it like this: “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).  The word we translate here as “vain” is κενόν (kenon), which means something like “empty,” “devoid of content” or

View Full Post
Judas, Peter, and Me

Judas, Peter, and Me

In the Gospels, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ, is depicted as a man generally disposed to underhanded activity.  Though he was entrusted with the treasury by which Christ’s earthly mission had been funded, it’s said that he stole from it for his own purposes (John 12:6). It was Judas, as well, who disparaged the thought of emptying an expensive bottle of perfumed oil over Jesus’ feet.  The bottle could have been sold and the money

View Full Post
On Lent and Being Human: Penance, Fasting, and Abstinence

On Lent and Being Human: Penance, Fasting, and Abstinence

Lent is a penitential season, and among the features of a penitential season in the Judeo-Christian tradition are fasting and abstinence.  Fasting, of course, involves forgoing food.  Abstinence involves forgoing comforts of the body.  Think of fasting as giving up what we strictly need at a bodily level and abstinence as giving up those bodily goods that we can live without, but which make life a lot more enjoyable. Most Roman Catholics think of abstinence

View Full Post
Purgatory as Surrender

Purgatory as Surrender

Once, when I was teaching moral theology, a student who wasn’t Catholic asked me about purgatory.  I explained that, in this life, we retain numerous attachments to earthy goods and concerns, selfish wants, resentments, prideful aspirations that have little to do with our relationship with God.  We dread the approach of death because there’s too much in this world we aren’t prepared to leave behind if that’s what going to heaven requires.  It’s not that

View Full Post