Recent Blog Posts

My Ordeal

Posted on February 29, 2012

It was exhausting and exhilarating. Between the end of one semester and the beginning of the next, I spent ten days working to establish a more visible and permanent presence for the St. Paul Center in southern California—teaching, speaking, taping, consulting with bishops, meeting with scholars and Hollywood stars. At night I sometimes caught chill, and I had no appetite for eating. But I chalked it up to the frenetic activity.

I came home briefly...

Intro to Lent II: Fasting

Posted on February 27, 2012

Second in a series of three posts.

“Why do Catholics have to fast?”

The question came from a non-Catholic Boy Scout in my son’s troop. We had spent a long, soggy weekend in the middle of the woods. And now, Sunday morning, the adults announced that breakfast would be delayed so that the Catholics could keep the Communion fast. He was not a happy camper.

His question comes to...

Natural Revelation in the Catholic Tradition

Posted on February 27, 2012

Natural revelation refers to God’s self-disclosure in creation, through the things that have been made. Scripture and magisterial teaching are equally clear and emphatic that the knowledge of the existence of God and his basic attributes can be achieved by human reason reflecting on the created order:

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no...

Intro to Lent 1: Prayer

Posted on February 24, 2012

First in a series of three posts.Reprinted from 2007.

How do you know it’s Lent?

It’s not so much by the ash mark on your forehead or fish marks on the calendar. Tradition tells us that Lent has three distinguishing marks: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

This three-part series will examine those practices. Prayer is surely the best place to begin, because it’s the one that unites them...

The New Creation: Reflections on the First Sunday of Lent

Posted on February 24, 2012

Genesis 9:8-15 
Psalm 25:4-9 
1 Peter 3:18-22 
Mark 1:12-15

Lent bids us to return to the innocence of baptism. As Noah and his family were saved through the waters of the deluge, we were saved through the waters of baptism, Peter reminds us in today’s Epistle.

And God’s covenant with Noah in today’s First Reading marked the start of a new...

God’s Great ‘Amen’: Reflections on the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on February 17, 2012

Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24-25
Psalms 41:2-5, 13-14
2 Corinthians 1:18-22
Mark 2:1-12

Today’s Gospel makes explicit what has been implied in preceeding weeks. Namely, that in healing the sick and casting out demons, Jesus is manifesting God’s forgiveness of His people’s sins.

They had wearied of God, refused to call on His name, we hear in today’s First Reading. Despite that, God promised...

Thoughts on the Church’s Old Testament Canon

Posted on February 15, 2012

The Canon of the Old Testament in the Days of Jesus

There was no universally-accepted canon of Scripture among the Jews in the first century A.D. Instead, different sects within Judaism had divergent views of which books were inspired and authoritative. The Samaritans and the Sadducees, although very different in their religious views and practice, were agreed that only the five Books of Moses were divinely inspired Scripture. The Pharisees, on the other hand, accepted a...

Made Clean: Reflections on the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on February 10, 2012

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Mark 1:40-45

In the Old Testament, leprosy is depicted as punishment for disobedience of God’s commands (see Numbers 12:12-15; 2 Kings 5:27; 15:5).

Considered “unclean” - unfit to worship or live with the Israelites, lepers are considered “stillborn,” the living dead (see Numbers 12:12). Indeed, the requirements imposed on lepers in today’s First Reading - rent garments, shaven head,...

“Paschal Sacrifice: A Heavenly Banquet for Earthly Beggars”

Posted on February 10, 2012

Does your mind wander at Mass? If so, here’s some very good news for you drawn from the Banquet Theology in the Gospel of St. Luke.


The Real Campaign

Posted on January 30, 2012

The year has hardly begun, and in the United States we’re already well into our race to November’s presidential elections. The campaign follows us wherever we go. The media micro-analyze every candidate’s every word and gesture. And then the news stories make their way into our conversations at work and at home.

The papers and blogs and news networks—and even the political parties—count on us to get...