Throughout our history, Christian art has been used to teach about our faith.  In centuries when illiteracy was common, icons, statues, frescoes and stained glass were the “catechism books” that taught biblical stories and theological lessons.  You don’t have to delve too deeply into Christian art to see that lots of these images are adorned with abbreviation designed to clarify the message in the picture. … Continue reading Abbreviations

Seven Deadly Sins

In traditional Catholic piety, sins have been divided into venial and mortal sins:  venial being more minor offenses, and mortal sins being those that mark a significant life-changing turn away from God.  Another designation that has been part of our tradition is that of “Deadly” or Capital sins.  The word capital is derived from the Latin root caput, meaning head.  So, these capital sins are … Continue reading Seven Deadly Sins


Occasionally something that begins with a purely practical purpose will, over time, take on a spiritual significance and become part of the Church’s tradition.  One good example of this is the church bell.  Bells are so much a part of our tradition that the most basic iconic representation of a Church is a square building with a steeple or bell tower. It is thought by … Continue reading Bells


On November 30th, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI published his second encyclical letter, “Spe Salvi,” or “Saved by Hope.”  His first encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est,” was a reflection on the nature of love.  But you may be wondering, what exactly is an encyclical letter anyway? In the ancient Christian Church, a encyclical letter was one sent to the bishops of a particular area. The name comes … Continue reading Encyclicals

Economic Justice

Several months ago, one of my parishioners challenged me when I spoke about the Church’s support for a new minimum wage law.  She was arguing that Catholic social teaching should simply follow and reinforce economic market forces. But the principle of Economic Justice that underlies much of the Church’s social teaching begins at a different point.  We presume that economic systems should serve people, and … Continue reading Economic Justice


On September 29th of each year, the Church celebrates the feast of the Archangels.  Although angels have been theologically out of fashion in recent years, they continue to play in important part in popular piety and spirituality.   So what is an angel?  There is so much misinformation and fanciful speculation about angels that a look at the Catholic understanding of these creatures might be … Continue reading Angels

Happy 50th Anniversary, Star Trek!

Like many people, today I’m celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the premier of Star Trek.  I’ve been reflecting lately on why this particular cultural phenomenon has had such a grip on me for so long.  I started watching when I was about 11 years old— only two years after Star Trek ended its three-year run on NBC, and long before its many movies and subsequent … Continue reading Happy 50th Anniversary, Star Trek!

Why You Should Come & See

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” John 1:45-46 There’s something about seeing– experiencing– a thing first-hand that is more compelling than having someone tell you … Continue reading Why You Should Come & See