Putting things in perspective
Anyone who has sat in a waiting room or kept vigil in an ER or ICU can probably verify this: Some heart-rending conversations can be overheard, and none of them seem to be concerned with whether the day’s Dow is high or low or what Janet Yellen and the Fed might be doing next. There […]
Sinless St. John the Baptist? Why is Purgatory necessary?
Q. Recently, I was told by friends that when John the Baptist leaped in his mother’s womb, he was made sinless by the Holy Spirit. I find it hard to believe that any human is sinless, except for Jesus and Mary. Am I correct? (Aiken, SC) A. You have some good friends and they are […]
Three wise men inspire South Carolina
On Nov. 30, Clemson University hosted Eboo Patel. He is the founder and executive director of Interfaith Youth Core, which links young people of many faiths in cooperative service and shared experience. After addressing groups all day, Patel joined the evening celebration of 80 years of Catholic campus ministry at Clemson. He spoke of the […]
What it means to be powerless
Every now and then something up close and personal gives us a hint of what the experience of Mary and Joseph might have been like. A sad story which came to our sisters this autumn was one of those events. With some variations, it connects with the experience of a twosome faced with unexpected regulations […]
Attending a same-sex wedding? / What is mercy?
Q. My husband has a sibling who is getting married to a same-sex partner. They have been together for years. Given our religious beliefs, are we able to attend the ceremony? (Greenville, SC) A. This is one of those very hard questions from the real trenches of Christian discipleship. The question itself speaks well of […]
Did Jesus feel abandoned?
Q: What does the Catholic Church teach about being saved? Do we also have to do good works to get to heaven? (Charleston, SC) A: All right, here’s a 400-year-old query! We’ve been working to give a fuller answer to this question since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The best summary the Church […]
What’s in the Koran?
During the weeks after September 11, 2001, my religious community’s motherhouse hosted a series of evening prayers. Their culmination was a gathering of roughly 600 people to hear a Muslim imam and the local Catholic pastor join in a time of mourning and faith-exchange. The imam came from nearby. He was in charge of a […]
Incense as a biblical symbol; getting son back to Church
Q: Why do we have incense at Mass? Sometimes it makes it really hard to breathe. (Charleston, SC) A: Incense can be used for solemn occasions but it should be used with prudence and temperance. Some parishes even announce beforehand what Masses will have incense, and this seems to be greatly appreciated by people with […]
Turning the other cheek
Q: Does turning the other cheek mean I have to be nice to relatives who have been purposefully cruel or ugly to people I care about? That feels false, particularly when someone has been repeatedly unkind. How do I handle seeing these people at family events or in public? Some people say you have to […]
People for sale? The problem of human trafficking
In the late 1990s, when I was living in a seminary faculty residence, I was jarred by a news item about something discovered in the northwest Detroit suburbs very near our campus. Two teenagers who had been purportedly adopted from another country had been found to be virtually imprisoned in the home of an affluent […]