Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes us.
The movie Shadowlands is the story of C. S. Lewis and his wife Joy. At one point in the film, after finding out Joy’s cancer has gone into remission, one of Lewis’ friends says to him, “I know how hard you have been praying, and now God is answering your prayer.” Lewis, brilliantly played by Anthony Hopkins, replies, “That’s not why I pray, Harry. I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.”
Atonement explains how Jesus’ execution relates to human salvation.
“Jesus died for our sins.” As a teacher and churchgoer, I hear this expression quite often by people making a connection between salvation from sin and Christ’s crucifixion. In other words, “Jesus died so that I can go to heaven.” This connection between our salvation and the death of Jesus on the cross is often understood through the idea of atonement.
It’s not a trick question.
It sounds like a trick question akin to “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?” Of course Jesus’ birth is Christmas Day. But did the Incarnate Word arrive on December 25? I’d say there’s a 1-in-365 chance.
The task of creating a good life for all members of society is never perfectly realized.
Social life is a lot like being on a sports team. Individual players want to be as successful as possible, perhaps by scoring lots of points. The ultimate goal of each player, however, is the success of the team, a goal more than the sum of every player’s statistics. A team does not win because each player tries to score as many points as possible, but conditions do need to be optimal for each individual player to play well in order for a team to win. The good of both the individual and the team are interdependent.
How do Christians make sense of some of the Bible’s more graphic stories?
There are some Bible stories that don’t appear in the Lectionary. Like that of Yael, in the book of Judges, who drives a tent peg through an enemy general’s head, killing him instantly. Or that of Uzzah, who reaches out to steady the Tabernacle in 2 Samuel and, as a reward for his consideration, is instantly struck dead by God.
The Catholic Church has never declared that anybody is in hell.
The Catholic Church has historically treated suicide as an unforgivable sin. The reasoning, as articulated by St. Thomas Aquinas, was that suicide was not only a grave sin but one whose very nature deprived a person of the opportunity for repentance and, therefore, forgiveness.
This is, of course, no longer the case. The church now both buries and prays for suicide victims, entrusting them into God’s limitless mercy.
Israelites in peril made their way to Egypt many times in the biblical record.
Folks are asking the question: Should we count our Lord among the ranks of refugees? Did the Holy Family qualify for refugee status, given they were forced to leave Israel and lay low in Egypt to avoid King Herod’s dreadful war on baby boys?
Sin is a break in a relationship thanks to our words, thoughts, actions, and inactions.
When I was in high school, I wanted to go to a party. I knew that my parents would say no, so I lied and said that I was at a friend’s house and went anyway. This was wrong, but was it a sin?
The Bible calls for us to “love God with all of our strength” and “love our neighbor as ourselves.” In general, sin refers to free choices that harm and break our relationship with God and with others.
In the Roman Catholic Church, bread for the Eucharist must be made of wheat, be unleavened, and be recently made and unspoiled.
At the center of our celebration are the simple elements of bread and wine.
The wine used for Mass is much the same as any wine we might serve at our own tables. Any unspoiled natural wine made only of grapes may be used. But the bread that we use for Mass is usually the flat, round wafers we call hosts. (The word host comes from the Latin hostia, which means victim, one to be sacrificed.)
Mercy and compassion do not always go hand in hand.
The logo for last year’s Year of Mercy, designed by Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik, depicts the Good Shepherd, who in his mercy takes humanity on his shoulders. When you look closely at the image, however, you see the shepherd’s eyes are merged with the man he carries.
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