This Lent, in many Catholic parishes, you may see people preparing for baptism and initiation into the Church.  These people, called Catechumens, are on a journey of spiritual growth.  The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the formal process that guides that journey, and during Lent, there are particular markers along that road. On some of the Sundays of Lent, the catechumens are presented … Continue reading Catachumens


In ancient times, before the founding of the city of Rome, the Etruscans began the practice of burying their dead in underground chambers.  Although the early Romans usually cremated their dead, the early Christians revived the use of catacombs because cremation was thought to deny the Christian belief in the resurrection of the body.  By the second century, Christians had begun excavating extensive catacombs in … Continue reading Catacombs


Within the clerical hierarchy of the Catholic Church, there are really three levels:  deacons, priests, and bishops.  Among bishops there are several varieties:  bishops, archbishops, and cardinals.  The pope is, of course, a bishop: the bishop of Rome.  But beneath the pope in the hierarchy are the cardinals: bishops or archbishops of higher rank.  Although they have special responsibilities and greater prominence in the universal … Continue reading Cardinals

Cardinal Newman

If you visit the campus of a large university in the US or Canada, and locate the office or building for Catholic campus ministry, it’s likely that it will be called  the Newman Center.  These ministries are named for John Henry Cardinal Newman, an English cleric of the 19th Century.  You may be wondering what the connection is between the two. Cardinal Newman was born … Continue reading Cardinal Newman

Canonical Rights

If you quizzed most Catholics about their rights in the Church, you’d probably get more than a few who would summarize those rights with the words “pray, pay, and obey.”  Apart from the fact that those are really responsibilities, not rights, they convey the common notion that the folks in the pews really don’t have any rights.  But the Church’s Code of Canon Law makes … Continue reading Canonical Rights


There was a time when the world was lit only by the sun, or by fire.  Throughout most of human history, our early mornings and nights were lit by candles.  Today much of our world is illuminated by electricity.  But for us Catholics, candles are still important. Each year at the Easter Vigil, our most sacred liturgy, we begin by blessing a bonfire, and then … Continue reading Candles

Camino de Santiago de Compostella

During the summer travel season many people of faith will take the opportunity to not just travel, but to go on a pilgrimage. For the last thousand years or so, one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations has been the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella in Galicia  in northwestern Spain. According to legend, the cathedral is the resting place of St. James the elder, one … Continue reading Camino de Santiago de Compostella

Callistan Guild

If you ask most Catholics to name the corporal works of mercy, most would probably come up with feeding the hunger and tending the sick.  But the work of mercy that is probably the least practiced today is burying the dead.  Today, burying the dead is a billion-dollar-a-year industry, and for most of us, that corporal work of mercy has been reduced to writing a … Continue reading Callistan Guild