US Catholic Faith in Real Life

What's so special about friendship?

Friendship is not fallen into but attained through countless steps or acts in which two or more people are available to each other.

By Martin E Marty |
Article Your Faith

You “fall into” love, but you do not “fall into” friendship. Yet you can “fall out of” friendship. At least the dictionaries and phrase books are ready for such an experience. We talk about people no longer being friends; they “had a falling out.”

What is different, what is special about friendship that makes it irregular to fall into it but not to fall out of it? One clue is this: you have to work at being a friend, while you cannot help being in love.


Father is a complex metaphor for God

God isn’t a “Wait until your father gets home…” dad, but rather unconditional love.

By Heidi Russell |
Article Lifestyle Your Faith

While recent decades have seen feminine images of God spread even to mainstream media like Time magazine, our image of God the Father has remained, well, patriarchal. 


Does hell exist?

Hell may not be a literal burning fire, but does that mean it doesn’t exist?

By Kevin P. Considine |
Article Your Faith
It’s hard for many Christians to wrap their heads around the idea of hell. How could a just and loving God create a place of eternal torment and torture? To get around this paradox, many theologians over millennia have argued that hell is a consequence of human sinfulness, not a product of the Creator. Hell, understood this way, is an extension of what it means to have free will.
 

Why Catholics treasure their saints

When we honor the saints, says theologian Elizabeth Johnson, let us not forget the everyday people who sustain our faith.

By Elizabeth Johnson |
Article Your Faith

A group of Christians gathers at the Nevada test site to witness against the folly of nuclear weapons. In their prayers, before some of them are arrested, they honor the memory of Franz Jagerstätter, a young Austrian killed by the Nazis because, as a follower of Christ, he would not serve in their war machine.


What is official liturgy?

Liturgy often changes to meet the needs of the faithful, says Father Mark Francis. Nowhere is this more evident than during the Christmas season.

By A U.S. Catholic interview |
Article Your Faith

For many Catholics, the word liturgy brings to mind processionals with incense and a crucifix, Eucharistic prayers, or the Communion Rite. Vestments, incense, and music may be floating around in our mental pictures as well. But what about other kinds of faith practices? Eucharistic adoration or devotions to patron saints? The blessing of the animals on the feast of St. Francis or the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe? Are these celebrations also liturgical? Or are they merely popular reflections of our faith based on each parish’s individual nationality and culture?


Is the Bible infallible?

Historical inaccuracies don't make the Bible untrue.

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

A lot of people—even the kind who go to church—wonder if the Bible is true or just stories. The best answer to that question is: The Bible is true. And some of it really happened.


The mystery of faith and science

Theologian Heidi Russell says that science doesn’t always have to shake up our core concept of God as creator.

By A U.S. Catholic interview |
Article Your Faith

Heidi Russell has a dream. “I would love to see parishes get a subscription to Scientific American,” she says. “And then have a group that discusses what’s in each issue, reads about what’s happening in science, and then asks, ‘What might science tell us about our faith?’ ”

Russell, who teaches theology at Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Pastoral Studies, has a special interest in the relationship between science and faith. She speaks as passionately about neuroscience and quantum physics as she does about theology and God. 


When the world is falling apart, keep going

The future is a scary place, but we have to face it head-on—even if we’d rather deal with change by hiding our heads in the sand.

By Alice Camille |
Article Your Faith

What do you do when the sky is falling? This is not just a problem for Chicken Little to solve in the familiar children’s story. It’s a life question all of us have to answer sooner or later. As is the case with most fables and nursery rhymes, the famous fowl must address a certain grim reality nested in the experience of a world at risk.


Did God create men and women to complement each other?

Most Catholics can agree that people are embodied creatures who are shaped by relationships. But how much of a role does sexual difference play?

By Jacob Kohlhaas |
Article Your Faith

In Catholic circles, the term complementarity is often used to indicate a belief that men and women both have different—but balanced—attributes and skills. For its advocates, complementarity is an integral aspect of sexual difference that reveals the handiwork of a loving God who designed men and women for relationships, both socially and in the unique context of marriage. Yet critics worry about the concept’s origins, what it implies about gender, and how it has been used in modern society. 


For us and for our salvation?

If God uses torture to save, what does that say to victims of violence, and what does it say about God?

By Heidi Schlumpf |
Article Your Faith

That Jesus died for our sins is so ingrained in Christianity it seems almost absurd to question it. It’s in our creed: “For our sake, he was crucified under Pontius Pilate.” It’s in our prayers: “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world.” It’s in our hymns: “Who did once upon a cross, Alleluia! Suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!”


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