29 May 2015

Grace and Catholicism, Part II: Theological Definitions

Introduction In this post, we’ll delve into definitions with the goal of clarifying the Roman Catholic understanding of grace. Admittedly, the discussion is complex and multifaceted. It must first be stated that the theological categorization of grace is never meant to detract from its mysterious and deifying activity. Rather, such reflections are undertaken—via a hermeneutic of faith seeking understanding—with the twofold purpose of clarifying and defending the Church’s essential teachings. These teachings were passed down

Benjamin Winter 2
22 May 2015

Catholicism Undervalues Women?

Catholicism Undervalues Women? More like Frank Bruni and the New York Times Undervalues the Catholic Church and Women (Again) Frank Bruni, an opinion columnist at the New York Times, is quite fond of taking shots at the Catholic Church. He has sniped at Her when it comes to Her teachings on marriage, and his most recent attempt was in a column penned a few days ago1. The column focused on the relationship between women and

Deion Kathawa 2
07 May 2015

Round Table: Baptism

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Since Jesus’ delivery of this Great

Various 6
04 May 2015

There’s a Saint for That (A Brief Reflection)

One critique that some groups of non-Catholics rail against Catholicism that there are saints for very obscure or mundane purposes. Think of Saint Ambrose of Milan, the brilliant 4th century theologian who is the patron saint of beekeepers, or Saint Isidore of Seville, who anachronistically became the patron saint of the Internet in 2003. Why have saints for such small things, or designate saints to technologies they did not even use? There’s quite literally a

Laura Norris 2
20 Apr 2015

Men, Women, and Spiritual Friendship

In a catechesis address on April 15 at the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke about the difference between men and women. Some who wish to develop a discontinuous narrative of John Paul II and Benedict XVI as traditionalists and Francis as a progressive pope expressed their disappointment at Francis’s statements, as the pontiff warned against the prevalence of gender theory in modern society. “We risk taking a step backward,” Francis stated, and he claimed that “so-called

Laura Norris 1
17 Apr 2015

The Love that Moves the Sun and Other Stars

As the geometer who sets himself To square the circle and who cannot find, For all his thought, the principle he needs; Just so was I on seeing this new vision. I wanted to see how our image fuses Into the circle and finds its place in it; Yet my wings were not meant for such a flight — Except that then my mind was struck by lightning, Through which my longing was at last

Benjamin Winter 3
03 Apr 2015

The Natural Desire to See God?

The human person—with his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, his longings for the infinite and for happiness—questions himself about God’s existence. In all this he discerns signs of his spiritual soul. The soul, the “seed of eternity we bear in ourselves, irreducible to the merely material,” can have its origin only in God (CCC 33). Such says the Catechism of the Catholic

Benjamin Winter 8
01 Apr 2015

Round Table: Resurrection

This week, Western Christians celebrate Holy Week, the last days of Jesus Christ on earth before his crucifixion at the hands of Pontius Pilate, torturous suffering on a cross, and death. Of course, the story of Christ does not end there, but continues on Sunday with Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. This act—the defeat of death—became the launching point of the Christian faith, the linchpin of the Gospel: God has come to earth and he

Various 5
20 Mar 2015

My Journey to Catholicism: Part II

Hello again! Thanks for joining in on this second installment (Part I is here). I hope that my story encourages you—regardless of how you trace your Christian lineage—to delve deeper into the stories that shape our common past, while sharing your passion for truth in loving service to your own faith community. Last time, we chronicled my slow departure from childlike trust in the doctrines of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), and witnessed the

Benjamin Winter 16
06 Mar 2015

My Journey to Catholicism: Part I

Although this is a very personal story, it is my prayer that anyone reading it will find something that speaks to the human experience of God, and of life itself.1 Let us begin this and every endeavor with thankfulness to the Lord, and a firm desire to advance in love toward others. Regardless of where you find yourself on the journey through life, this journey is invariably and inevitably spiritual. Humanity was made by and

Benjamin Winter 16
23 Feb 2015

The Big Bang and Christianity

It is a fallacy of the modern mind to divide science and religion. It is not only atheists who do this; the average American Christian compartmentalizes theology and science. Holding to a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis, many Christians reject scientific theories of evolution and the creation of the universe. While the upcoming Round Table on this blog will discuss creationism and evolution, I wish to address in today’s post the relationship between

Laura Norris 4
09 Feb 2015

A Lenten Reading List

Lent is swiftly approaching, even though the mountains of snow outside provide no indication that Easter could be less than two months away. With each Lenten season, we pause to think of what we will give up this year, what we will sacrifice for forty days and forty nights.[1] This year, instead of giving up something for Lent, I encourage you, dear readers, to take up an additional spiritual practice for Lent: the spiritual practice

Laura Norris 2
23 Jan 2015

Seminal Christian Theologians: Pseudo-Dionysius on Hierarchy

Hierarchy is a “sacred order, a state of understanding, and an activity approximating as closely as possible the divine…” –Pseudo-Dionysius, Celestial Hierarchy 3, 164D. At this point theologically, the four greatest influences on my views (beyond Scripture and Magisterium) are Bonaventure, Pseudo-Dionysius and Augustine, and Origen. Throughout the foreseeable future, I will be posting articles about central ideas in the thought of these magnanimous individuals (series title: “Seminal Christian Theologians:). To begin, I treat the

Benjamin Winter 2
12 Jan 2015

Why the Reformation is About Much More than Religion

History is not an exact science. While people, places, dates, and events are factual, we receive history through first-hand accounts that may be biased, through second-hand accounts of history books that are influenced by years of interpretation, and finally through our own lens, shaded by how we understand the world around us. In church history, there is no better example of this inexactness and misinterpretation of history than the Reformation and what most call the

Laura Norris 0
09 Jan 2015

Dare We Hope for the Salvation of All?

1 Timothy 2:1–4:  “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Peter 3:8–9: “But do not ignore

Benjamin Winter 14
05 Jan 2015

The Problem of Predestination: Reformed and Catholic Theology in Dialogue

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s

George Aldhizer 65
29 Dec 2014

Lectio Divina and Christmas

One of the oldest practices of prayer and meditation in the Christian tradition is lectio divina. Lectio divina, Latin for “divine reading,” is a practice which originated in the monasteries of Saint Benedict in the 6th century. The practice of lectio divina continued throughout the centuries until the present day. It has evolved from a monastic practice to a spiritual practice commended for Christians in all walks of life. Dei Verbum, the Catholic Church’s dogmatic

Laura Norris 4
16 Dec 2014

Round Table: Incarnation

‘Tis the Christmas season. Our music, parties, concerts and plays, nativity scenes, lights, eggnog, and (if you’re lucky enough) snow tell us that Christmas comes swiftly. Gifts are being purchased. Plans to see family are being finalized. The busyness and joys of the Christmas season are pervasive, even for those who don’t celebrate Christmas. But why do we celebrate Christmas? The “Christmas Wars” rightfully remind us the real reason for the season: the birth of

Various 22
15 Dec 2014

The Immaculate Conception and Martin Luther

Last week, the Roman Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. While there is common confusion that the immaculate conception celebrates the conception of Christ without sin, the doctrine actually refers to the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary without original sin. Because Mary was destined to be the Mother of God, God by his grace intervened so that Mary would be free of the stain of original sin. The immaculate conception officially

Laura Norris 13
12 Dec 2014

Grace and Catholicism, Part I: Catechism

In this desire to love, humans work with that grace that is given them—in the vocations within which they are placed and using the gifts of the Holy Spirit they have received (1 Cor 12:4–11). Our humanity does not disappear when we do good works: it becomes more evident. Nourished by the Word, the Sacraments, and the Church, we grow in loving God and our neighbors. This very growth in love, for Catholics, cannot be divorced from our salvation.

Benjamin Winter 9