A common complaint against Catholicism is that its view of the spiritual life is too difficult, that it over-complicates Christianity and doesn’t trust enough in the finished work of Christ on the Cross. That’s an appealing complaint, since it proposes a lighter, easier Christianity. But it’s a view we should be extremely suspicious of, given everything else we know about reality. So here are six observations that I think have some bearing on how we think of salvation specifically and the spiritual life more generally:
This Holy Week (and especially today, "Spy Wednesday"), it's worth taking a closer look at the Apostle Judas Iscariot. Here are four things that we can learn from him.
Contemporary Christianity is fond of pushing Jesus without the Church. Like its secular counterpart (in which people claim to be "spiritual, but not religious"), it's an attempt to have the relationship without the rules. If I'm lonely or going through a tragedy, I can pray, but I don't have to worry about fasting when I don't want to, or being associated with a bunch of fellow believers that I look down upon. But Jesus-without-the-Church is a rejection of Jesus.
Among the singer-songwriters who emerged in the latter part of the 1960s, Leonard Cohen was something of an oddity: a musician with a disdain for secularism and a respect (and a yearning) for religion in general, and Jesus Christ in particular.
The weirdest and most troubling of Jesus' parables is almost certainly the parable of the dishonest manager in Luke 16, in which Jesus presents a parable of a manager who, upon being fired, exploits his position to cut deals with his master's clients so that he can try to leverage this into a job with them. Rather than being justly furious, the master *praises him* for his ingenuity. What on earth is going on? Three things to keep in mind with this parable.
Let’s talk about the Bread of Life discourse in John 6:22-70. The Catholic interpretation makes sense, but it's a shocking one. We think that this lengthy passage is about the Eucharist, and that Jesus Christ literally means that we eat His Flesh and drink His Blood in Communion. This teaching, radical to twenty first-century ears, was no less radical to first-century ears, and even many of Jesus’ own disciples stopped following Him upon hearing it. Protestants typically disagree with this interpretation, arguing that Jesus’ commands that we should eat His Flesh and drink His Blood are just metaphors. Often, both sides are so busy debating the credibility of the Catholic interpretation that neither stop to seriously ask, “Does the Protestant interpretation make any sense?” The obvious question is if Jesus is speaking metaphorically, what’s it a metaphor for? What is Jesus actually saying?
Did Jesus believe in God? The answer might surprise you. Here's the Biblical case *against* Jesus Christ having faith.
This Sunday is Trinity Sunday. Do you know what’s a good analogy for the Trinity? Nothing. God is so far beyond our ability to comprehend Him, much less to express His inner nature in human speech, that all of our attempts to do so fall miserably short. Worse, it's easy to fall into heresy and idolatry. But these are no excuses for ignoring the life-changing reality of the Holy Trinity.
As Christians, we readily acknowledge that Jesus, in addition to being Divine, also had (and has) a true human body. But does Jesus also have a human soul? This is one of the earliest questions that the early Church had to resolve, and the answer is crucial for how we understand Christ Jesus.
On Easter Sunday, why does Jesus say to Mary Magdalene, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father"? And why does He then invite St. Thomas to touch His hands and side?