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

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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

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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

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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

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Purgatory as Judgment

Purgatory as Judgment

We often imagine that purgatory is a sentence we serve before our admittance into heaven.  But what if purgatory doesn’t follow judgment?  What if purgatory is judgment, subjectively experienced by us? This is precisely the view articulated by St. Catherine of Genoa (d. 1510).  For her, purgatory isn’t an immersion in corporal fire but a metaphorical, spiritual fire.  Our inordinate attachments to lesser goods, or to false goods, which distract us from God are impurities

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Purgatory Beyond the Images of Flames and Punishment

Purgatory Beyond the Images of Flames and Punishment

In the third installment in our series on purgatory, we examined the opinion that purgatory involves actual corporeal fire.  We saw that this odd-seeming view has some basis in a sound understanding of the relationship between the soul and the body, and that it concerns an undo attachment to merely material goods.  We saw, too, that this view is related to other models of purgatory.  In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  Jacob Marley is sentenced

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