“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness–on them light has shined.” Isa 9:2 NRSV The prophet Isaiah lived at an unusual point in the history of the Israelite people. His prophetic ministry overlapped the Assyrian conquest of Israel in 722 BCE and their subsequent siege of Jerusalem in the days of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19). The beginning chapters of the book
If I may approach the subject of sacred music without diving into the worship wars, a recent time of personal devotion reminded me of one of the aspects of worship music I particularly appreciate. That is, songs which tickle my brain, allowing me to continue pondering God’s nature after the music has stopped, the service is over, and I am back into the grind of the everyday week. One such song is the hymn Immortal
“To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:5b-6 NRSV).” The book of Revelation contains a series of visions meant to comfort and encourage believers under the heavy hand of persecution. When the author, John of Patmos, introduces himself in Revelation 1:9, he says that
Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church Given that yesterday the Church celebrated the memorial of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I thought that this week instead of my usual poem I would share a prayer, a traditional litany in honor of her beautiful Name. As I prepared this piece, I couldn’t help thinking that much of the prayer’s language will be unfamiliar to my Protestant brothers and sisters. It
This is the third in my “In Defense of” series. Be sure to check out parts one and two! Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. At my ordination to the priesthood, there was a beautiful litany led by
Does Apophatic Theology Denature Christianity Part I. I. The Reality of Sin in Apophatic Theology Viewing God as the ultimate embodiment of moral rightness means that moral action, and the moral life, is intrinsically oriented away from the self: one ought to sublimate one’s own will and desires when those sentiments impel toward self-aggrandizement or self-centeredness. Moral evil, then, is a self-oriented derogation from the moral perfection God epitomizes. Spong correctly (and in line with
By Blake Hartung The last book of the Bible, the Revelation (or Apocalypse) of John, has been a consistent source of mystery and bewilderment for Christians since its composition in the last decade of the first century. This is of course, shouldn’t be too surprising; we are, after all, talking about the book that has given us such bizarre tableaux as a pregnant woman clothed in the sun pursued by a dragon, four colorful horsemen,
Without the Bible—and more specifically, the New Testament—the Christian faith would not exist today. This is a fact that Christians of any branch would readily agree upon. But how did we get this collection of 27 New Testament books?1 How do we know that we have the correct books—that we haven’t left any out or included any spurious ones? To frame the question more poignantly, can we trust the collection of books we call the
As a filmgoer whose personal tastes run toward the eccentric and the macabre (Guillermo del Toro and Darren Aronofsky are two of my favorite directors), I’ve seen plenty of films that fall into the “horror” or “dark thriller” category. It saddens me that this genre is often written off by persons of faith as crude and crassly exploitative, and I’ve written elsewhere about the fascinating theological implications that lie beneath its grim exterior. Thus, inspired
Human beings have long been interested in discerning what the future holds. Throughout recorded human history, people have sought to understand “the End” and what that event entails. Some worldviews adopt an attitude of pessimism regarding the end of the things, theorizing the utter destruction of planet earth by nature or humanity. Other perspectives take a more positive approach, trusting that the ills of the world will be remedied before life ceases on planet earth.
Revelation 6:9-11 9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them;
Dear Bakers, You have been getting a lot of attention recently, especially since the new law passed that would likely allow you to refuse to make cakes for gay weddings. It’s certainly worth asking how to interpret the First Amendment on this issue, but perhaps first we should ask what the gospels say. As you may remember, Jesus’s first miracle was at a wedding party. He provided wine for a bunch of people who were
Time is fascinating. Paradoxically, it both moves quickly and slowly, there is plenty of it and yet never enough. Embracing both of these realities is needed to live well. On the one hand, we need keep our focus on the end toward which time is headed if we’re to live well. At the same time, this focus should drive us back the present moment and the direction that has been given for the moment to
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.