Church teaching articles and columns

Below are the latest columns from the St. Louis Review. Click on a title or the 'Continue Reading' link to read the whole story.

February 8, 2018

Lent begins this week. What's your plan?

Sometimes our Lenten disciplines feel pretty random. We give up chocolate, or beer, or whatever — not because of any intrinsic value in them, but just because we feel like we should give something up. The apparent randomness can become an argument — sometimes from others, sometimes in our own minds — against keeping up the discipline. Does it really matter?

I'm all for well-chosen Lenten d...

February 8, 2018

Lent is the time each year when the Lord allows us to see our enormous need for redemption and how willingly He offers it.

Jesus also models for us how to spend this time of transformation. "The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and He remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan."

In the desert, our humanity is tested. The desert is a dry and barren place. Fierce, wild beasts inhabit it. Food is hard to come by....

February 2, 2018

One story told about St. John Vianney, the saintly pastor of Ars in France, is that he often saw a farmer sit in the back of the parish church. The saint noticed that the farmer would spend long periods of time there before the Eucharist. Finally one day, the saint asked him what he did during his time of adoration. The farmer simply responded, "I look at Him and He looks at me."

This is what Eucharistic Adoration is: a time for us to c...

February 1, 2018

¿El tiempo y el lugar realmente importan en nuestra relación con Dios?

Por un lado, Dios está en todas partes por Su esencia, presencia y poder. Esta es la enseñanza de Santo Tomás de Aquino. Esto significa que encontramos a Dios en cada momento y lugar.

Por el otro lado, Santo Tomás sabía — y nosotros podemos saber, con una pequeña reflexión — que hay formas en las cuales el tiempo y el lugar todavía importan.

Por ejemplo...

February 1, 2018

Do time and place really matter in our relationship with God?

On the one hand, God is everywhere by His essence, presence and power. That's the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas. It means that we find God in every time and place.

On the other hand, St. Thomas knew — and we can know, with a little reflection — that there are ways in which time and place still matter.

For example, we know this as Cardinals fans. Thanks to the w...

February 1, 2018

Leprosy was so contagious that victims had to be isolated from the rest of humanity. This caused victims to suffer from psychological illnesses associated with isolation and extreme loneliness.

Various scientific and psychiatric studies show that babies who don't receive sufficient human contact are more likely to suffer developmental delays — either physical or emotional.

There is a very simple explanation for this. The Communit...

January 26, 2018

¿Cómo reacciona usted? Las lecturas de esta semana nos hacen esta pregunta.

El hijo de David, Absalón, comenzó una rebelión y David tuvo que huir para salvar su vida. Mientras huía, un hombre vino a encontrarse con él, maldiciendo a David por todo el derramamiento de sangre. Los guardias reales querían cortarle la cabeza al hombre. ¿Cómo reaccionó David? Él les dijo a sus soldados que quizás Dios le había enviado a este hombre. Después...

January 26, 2018

How do you react? The readings this week ask us this question.

David's son Absalom, started a rebellion and David had to flee for his life. While he was fleeing, a man came to meet him, cursing David for all of the bloodshed. The royal guards wanted to lop the man's head off. But how did David react? He told his soldiers that maybe God had sent the man. After all, it was the truth: David was reaping the fruit of his own sins. He accepte...

January 26, 2018

Does the potential threat of a nuclear missile attack get the best of you? What about the constant threat of another terrorist attack, in almost any neighborhood? What about racial unrest, the inability of our society to work together for the common good? These fears are all aspects of a world where sin abounds and we have no place to go. It has been like this since Cain and Abel.

Those who remember another time that was so different mu...

January 26, 2018

Recently, I was teaching third-graders at the parish school. One of the students asked if the Sign of the Cross was the shortest prayer there was. I responded that I knew a shorter one: the name Jesus.

The power of Jesus' name is apparent from St. Paul's writings, where he tells the Philippians that every knee shall bend and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:11). The confession that Jesus is Lord also forms the most...

January 19, 2018

Is it possible to condemn a sin in the clearest possible terms, and yet love the person who commits the sin?

As we mark the 45th anniversary of the legalization of abortion in the United States, it's crucial that we answer this question correctly.

Contemporary culture wants to tell us that we can't do both: either we accept the person and endorse their actions, or we hate the person because we don't approve their behavior.

January 19, 2018

¿Es posible condenar un pecado en los términos más claros posibles, y sin embargo amar a la persona que comete el pecado?

Al señalar el 45º aniversario de la legalización del aborto en los Estados Unidos, es crucial que respondamos esta pregunta correctamente.

La cultura contemporánea quiere decirnos que no podemos hacer ambas cosas: o aceptamos la persona y respaldamos sus acciones, o la odiamos porque no aprobamos su comportami...

January 19, 2018

What are the sounds that drive us? Recently I was waiting at a red light and saw a driver in a car opposite me. He was bobbing his head up and down and side to side rhythmically. The movements seemed so extreme that I wondered how he could tell when the red light changed.

Granted, the body was simply responding in a musical way to the rhythms on his radio. Thank God there was a reason his body responded in this patterned way. If that we...

January 19, 2018

Who were the Church Fathers? 

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman began life as a High Church Anglican. At Oxford, he became a leader within the Oxford Movement, which emphasized the Catholic elements of the Church of England to help reform it. Through his studies in this movement, particularly of the Church Fathers, he converted to Catholicism, eventually becoming a cardinal.

But who were these peop...

January 11, 2018

"El vino nuevo se vierte en recipientes nuevos" (Mc. 2;22)

Las lecturas de esta semana están llenas de historias acerca de nuevos recipientes para el vino. Y nos dan algo que pensar acerca del comienzo del año.

Por ejemplo, después que Saúl es rechazado por su desobediencia, David es ungido como el nuevo rey de Israel. Dios trató de hacer algo nuevo, y David es el nuevo recipiente.

Cuando David pelea con Goliat, Saúl trata...

January 11, 2018

"New wine is poured into fresh wineskins" (Mark 2:22).

This week's readings are filled with stories about new wineskins. And they give us something to think about at the start of the year.

For example, after Saul is rejected for disobedience, David is anointed as the new king of Israel. God is trying to do something new, and David is the new wineskin.

When David fights Goliath, Saul tries to outfit him in armor and give hi...

January 11, 2018

The Gospel for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time begins: "Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: '... this is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.'"

Just what does Jesus mean by "the time of fulfillment?"

The word "fulfillment" means the achievement of something desired, promised or predicted. The poet George Herbert reflects on this mystery in a poem entitled "Th...

January 11, 2018

Is there a biblical basis for Purgatory? 

When explaining this question, I like to begin by explaining the concept of Purgatory. The Catechism does this in an approachable way: "All who die in God's grace, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven" (1030).