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Catholic Essays and Articles

Articles are now listed by topic, alphabetically. Some of these articles overlap with other pages, including our Basics of Catholic Belief and Objections pages.

Apparitions

Marian Apparitions: Truth or Trouble? by Jennifer Dierker (Catholic)
Marian apparitions have always been a point of debate, with some Catholics being embarrassed of them, with others revolving their spiritual lives around them. Jennifer provides a balanced perspective based on official Church Teaching on apparitions in this concise article. She asks: are they reliable? Do Catholics have to accept them and use the devotions that have come from these apparitions? Is Marian devotion even good?

Baptism

Baptism: More Than Just a Bath by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
The early Church saw baptism as communal, sacramental, and life changing. Postmodern people are rediscovering its meaning in opposition to the individualism of our culture.

Are Catholics Born Again?: Reclaiming The New Birth by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
Are you born again? The phrase is often repeated, but what did it mean to the early Church? Jonathan shows us the ancient meaning of born again, and why it is communal, sacramental, and unifying.

The Bible

A Catholic Reflection on Biblical Criticism by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
Biblical criticism is a hotly debated topic among Christians. The critical study of the Bible often leads to negative consequences, causing some to lose their faith, others to drift away from classical Christianity. However, moderate and faithful biblical criticism is not necessarily bad. Jonathan argues that Biblical criticism, when approached properly, leads one to seriously consider history, doctrinal development, and ultimately the claims of Catholic Church.

The Bible: Inerrant, Inspired, or Just A Good Read? David Bennett (Catholic)
What is the Bible? Some Christians say it's error free to the letter, others say it's riddled with error. We say that Jesus Christ is the Word of God and the Bible effectively and accurately reveals Him. However, we have little affiliation with modernist positions on scripture.

"Catholics Don't Believe The Bible" by David Bennett (Catholic)
Often Catholics are accused of "not believing the Bible." Is this true? What does "believing the Bible" even mean? You'd better watch out. Catholic Bibles have extra books which are especially good for thumpin!

There is No Plain Meaning of Scripture by David Bennett (Catholic)
Is there a Plain Meaning or "Plain Sense" of the Scriptures? Can anybody pick up the Bible and find its basic truth because the Bible is just that plain? Or is the Catholic and Orthodox position true, which states that there is a real objective meaning to the Bible but that this meaning is only found fully with the aid of the Apostolic Church? Think of the response of the Ethiopian Eunuch to Philip: "how can I understand [the Scriptures] unless someone guides me?"

The Catholic Church and Catholicism

Catholic Practices, Duties, and Lists Compiled by David Bennett (Catholic)
You have asked for it, so we have delivered it: all the common Catholic lists and practices in one place. The Seven Deadly Sins, The Cardinal and Theological Virtues, The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, the Duties of a Catholic, and more! We are always saying, "now what is that 4th corporal work of mercy again?" or "I can't remember the last deadly sin!" Now you don't have to sweat it. This is not a true essay, but a compilation of materials.

The 15 Marks of the Church by St. Robert Bellarmine (Catholic)
St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) builds upon the traditional four marks of the Church: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. These 15 marks provide an important way of looking at what makes a Church "true."

The Vincentian Canon by St. Vincent of Lerins (Catholic)
The Canon, taken from the writings of Vincent of Lerins, provides a fine basis for the catholic faith. The faith is "that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all." In some ways it provides a good basis for "consensual" Catholicism, which protects regional diversity, but also excludes much novel innovation. However, there are limits to Vincent's canon. Doctrinal truths develop and unfold, much like an idea held only in the mind may unfold into one's outer life and become more refined over time.

We Believe in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church by David Bennett (Catholic)
Being a part of the Catholic Church means being a part of the worldwide, universal and historical Church. To find the fullness of the Christian faith, choosing the catholic Faith is really the only option. In a postmodern era of relativity and accommodation to secular culture by many churches, the timeless faith has a powerful pull.

What It Means to Be "Catholic" (Against Popular Terminology) by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
Just as the term Christian is thrown around a lot today with no real meaning, so is the term "catholic." Typically in our secular Western society, "catholic" means a love of medieval aesthetics or a preference for the smell of incense, or even among Roman Catholics, the meaning is purely cultural, as opposed to submitting to the beliefs, practices, and structures of the historical Church. Jonathan discusses the meaning of the word "Catholic" and why the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches generally comprise the Church Catholic, and he discusses how others may be called "catholic." He also explains why "cafeteria Catholicism" is a contradiction in terms.

A Young Person's View of Church by Jill Knuttila (Orthodox)
Don't tell us what we want...ask us. Treat us like adults. Jill addresses these and other concerns. Since she is currently looking for a church, all churches take note.

Charismatic Movement

Possible Dangers of the Charismatic Movement by David Bennett (Catholic)
This is a list of possible dangers and pitfalls of the Catholic charismatic movement and non-Catholic charismatic churches. This essay is written by one friendly to the Catholic charismatic movement who nonetheless takes a critical view of certain charismatic excesses. This essay is partially based on the work of Fr. Edward O'Connor.

I Can't Be Charismatic. I'm Catholic! by David Bennett (Catholic)
This is an update of an article originally written in 2003. This essay examines both fairly and critically the charismatic movement and charismatic experiences, while describing some of the author's own experiences. The place of praying in tongues in the Catholic Church is also examined.

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Church History and Tradition

The Christian Tradition: Living, Holy, and Relevant by David Bennett (Catholic)
We are a part of a living, God-guided Church, and Tradition is its history.

Constantine: Founder of the Catholic Church? by David Morrison (Catholic)
Poor Constantine...Many groups, websites, and "pastors" accuse him of founding the catholic church, stamping out "true" Christianity. Many accuse poor Constantine of inventing doctrines like the Eucharist, Sunday worship, veneration of the saints, etc. David Morrison explains that while Constantine was a capable emperor, he was not powerful enough to found a Church 300 years before he existed.

The Church Year (Christmas, Easter, etc)

Advent Reflections: We're All Waiting for Something by David Bennett (Catholic)
Advent is a time when the Church waits for Christ's second coming by celebrating the waiting for his first coming. This brief reflection examines the postmodern disdain for any kind of waiting, and how Advent is a perfect time to "wait" prayerfully with past saints.

Why is Christmas Celebrated on December 25? by David Bennett (Catholic)
This article summarizes multiple theories that explain why early Christians chose the date of December 25th to celebrate Christmas. The reasons for choosing this date are firmly rooted in Scripture and Jewish and Christian Traditions, and not paganism.

Are Christmas and Easter Pagan? by David Morrison (Catholic)
Are Christmas and Easter pagan holidays? Many members of various Christian sects contend that these and other Christian Holy Days are pagan. David Morrison looks at the controversy, and explains why God can even transform days. He also shows that Holy Days are days in which we "live into" Christ's life, death, and resurrection.

Christians and Halloween: Should Christians Celebrate Halloween? by David Morrison (Catholic)
Should Christians Celebrate Halloween? Halloween gets a lot of people upset, especially some groups of Christians. David Morrison explains why Halloween can be a time for many people to do evil things, and why the Church opposes even dabbling in forbidden practices. However, Morrison explains that many of our Halloween traditions are just harmless fun. He also gives a brief history of Halloween and explains the connection to All Saints' Day. Please check out our PDF Version of this article.

The Church Calendar: Experience the Bible in a Year by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
A short explanation of the Church year, and reasons for recovering its riches today. Check out The Follow-Up to this article.

Feasts, Fasts, and Seasons of the Christian Church Year by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
Do you want to know about Advent, Epiphany, Saints' days, but have been afraid to ask? Are other sites far too advanced or dumbed-down in their explanations of the Church Calendar? If you answer yes, then this article is for you! Jonathan has written an article that goes through the Church Calendar step-by-step, and explains the changing of the seasons, colors, and popular customs and much more.

Jump Into the Mystery of Christ: Easter and an Ex-Girlfriend by David Bennett (Catholic)
Christ's Resurrection is much like love relationships: try to explain them and you will come up short. However, if you "jump in" and experience them, you'll come to know their deep and rich meaning.

My First Experience With Lent by Jill Knuttila (Orthodox)
A brief reflection on a first Lenten season.

Tis (Not Quite) the Season...But There's Still Plenty to Celebrate by David Morrison (Catholic)
Have you noticed lately that in the wider culture Christmas seems to start at Halloween? Catholic Christians know that Christmas does not begin until December 25th, so what is there for us to celebrate from Halloween until Christmas Day? David outlines some of the major feasts between Halloween and Christmas, and explains customs and practices to help us celebrate them. Of course, he does not say early secular Christmas celebrations are bad per se, just that we have our own rich, largely unexplored, customs.

The Twelve Days of Christmas and Christmastide: A Rich Catholic Tradition by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
Does Christmas, and the joy and magical spirit that come with it, seem to pass too fast? Does that post-Christmas letdown get a hold of you around the evening of December 25th? Well, traditionally Christmas is a season, not a day, and lasts until early January. Jonathan explains this, and how it can make your Christmas feasting continue for 11 more days and then some!

"You Sure Are at Church a Lot During Holy Week...How Strange!" by David Bennett (Catholic)
Sometimes going to Church more than once a week is strange, but "strange" is a value judgment, and depends on whom you ask. Ask the early Church and it is quite normal.

Catholic Conversion

Click Here For Conversion Stories and Resources
We have moved our conversion resources and stories to one, unified location. Check it out!

NEW Click Here For Catholic Conversion Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
These are common questions about becoming Catholic. Check them out if you are interested in joining the Catholic Church, but don't know where to begin!

Creeds

Creeds: Why do We Need a Creed? by David Bennett (Catholic)
We all have beliefs, i.e. creeds, and so does the Church. If we go without creeds, we go without belief.

The Nicene Creed: Ancient Symbol of the Catholic Faith by David Bennett (Catholic)
The Nicene Creed is the unifying symbol of the historical Christian faith that, among other beliefs, provides guidelines for the Trinity, Jesus' divinity, and the creation of the world by one God.

Doubt

We Are All Thomas: Doubt, Community, and the Call to Faith by David Bennett (Catholic)
After a conversation with a friend and professor, and reading the lectionary texts for 1 Easter, David reflected on Thomas the Apostle. We all doubt like Thomas, and while Jesus allows some doubting, he calls us to lives more blessed lives of faith. In today's turbulent postmodern world, doubt is everywhere. The story of a kid from the suburbs of Reno, Nevada who pets an African lion in a station wagon plays into the story (yes, it's true).

End Times (Eschatology, Rapture)

What do Catholics Believe About the End Times? by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
End-Times speculation sells books, and even many non-Christians eat this stuff up (think Left Behind!). Although these books make a lot of dough for their writers and publishers, their theology is shaky, resting upon fringe 19th century Apocalypticism. This essay shows us why rabid end-times obsession is bad for Christianity, and what we Catholics have to say about the basics of the end-times.

Eucharist (Communion, Mass)

NEW The Eucharist, Mass, and Gratitude by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
The word Eucharist means "thanksgiving" and Mass means "to send forth." The very nature of these words teaches us many profound Christian themes. One of theses themes is gratitude. This article is based on a speech given at a Kairos retreat.

Eucharist by David Bennett (Catholic)
Called Lord's Supper, Communion, or Mass, the ritual is the hallmark of our worship. While some churches advertise "featured speakers" present each week, we have Jesus, the biggest star, present, in the Eucharist.

Evangelism and Mission

A Better Way to Evangelize: Avoiding Collateral Damage by David Bennett (Catholic)
Have you ever been put off by certain evangelism techniques? Do you cringe when you hear a street preacher turn the Christian faith into something hateful? Do you back away when you see the hokey, hyper-emotional, and deceitful evangelism methods some Christians use? Bennett has proposed a formula for determining whether our evangelism techniques actually turn more people away than they bring to Christ. If so, we had better change our methods, and let our message be offensive because it is challenging, not our presentation of it! This article is available in a printer-friendly PDF file.

Healing

Healing of Memories: A Personal Story by Jill Knuttila (Orthodox)
Jill takes us through the healing of her memories, starting with a brief background, then moving on to her attendance at an Anglican camp designed to heal memories. This is an interesting personal story of painful memories, and the beginning of their healing.

Icons and Iconography

Icons in the Postmodern Church by James L. Obermeyer
Human beings are sensory creatures, naturally seeking symbols, and always searching for beauty. However, many churches want their members to leave behind these basic human needs at the door, and this results in churches that are no more meaningful than business buildings. Icons, ancient Christian worship tools and "windows into heaven," help remedy this problem, making Christian worship more meaningful.

Inclusive Language

Thou Shalt Not Use Exclusive Language by David Bennett (Catholic)
Inclusive language is a fierce debate in many churches, especially in mainline Protestant denominations. Some Christians strongly want inclusive language, wanting to force it on their denominations. Other Christians strongly oppose it, and seek out parishes that don't use it. In some mainline churches and seminaries, it seems as if an 11th commandment has been handed down: "thou shalt not use exclusive language." This essay explains the debate and reaches a Catholic and moderate conclusion.

Jesus Christ

Christ the Crucified King by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
This brief article looks at Christ the King, in light of Christ the King Sunday, the Sunday before Advent. Jonathan examines Christ's humble kingship, and deals with objections to Christ as "King," since many falsely assume that any king must be evil and oppressive. As Jonathan reminds us, God's Kingdom is not a democracy, and Jesus cannot be recalled.

The Resurrection of Jesus: A Catholic View by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
This article presents and ancient and postmodern take on the Resurrection of Jesus, specifically the bodily Resurrection, which is and has been the cornerstone of Christianity since the very beginning. Its place in postmodern Christianity should be the same. Jonathan examines the importance of the resurrection, heretical beliefs about the resurrection, and analyzes its veracity in our postmodern age.

Thoughts On the Incarnation of the Word by Steve Clark (Orthodox)
The Incarnation, the Word of God made flesh, is a fascinating and meaningful Christian doctrine. It is indeed the heart of our faith. Steve explains the belief and what it calls us to.

Who is Jesus?: The Catholic Understanding of Jesus Christ by David Bennett (Catholic)
Jesus Christ, his person and his actions, is the basis of the Christian faith. A lot has been written and said about Jesus lately. In this article, we provide a Catholic picture of who Jesus is. This article emphasizes the importance of knowing Jesus when trying to understand who he is. This is not a comprehensive treatment of the issue, but hey, this section is called the "Basics!"

Liberals and Conservatives

Concern: "Are You Liberal Catholics?" by David Bennett (Catholic)
Our name, Ancient and Future Catholics, may seem to imply that we are liberals. This article explains why the Catholic Church cannot be considered liberal in various usages of the term, but also why the Church is above earthly politics.

Love and Human Relationships

My Relationship With God After My Father's Death by Jill Knuttila (Orthodox)
In a very open and honest article, Jill writes about her relationship with God through abuse, neglect, and the death of her father. This article is not sugarcoated. While it is not "positive" and "happy" as many believe Christianity must always be, it is an honest exploration of how many Christians feel towards God at times: angry.

What Love Is by Jill Knuttila (Orthodox)
Reflections on true love, trust, and caring.

Mary (The Virgin Mary)

NEW Concern: Why Do Catholics Pray to Mary? by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
Some Christians hear Catholics praying to Mary, and it immediately seems wrong to pray to anybody besides God. Yet, as Jonathan points out, we pray to people all the time, asking them to pray for us, just as Catholics do with Mary. In this article, Jonathan explains why Catholics pray to Mary and other saints.

We Believe in the Virgin Birth by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
The virgin birth, that is the belief that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary without a human father, is part of classical Christian doctrine. While we can never fully explain the miracle of Mary's virginity, we do our best here.

What About the Virgin Mary? (A Brief Catechism on Mary) by David Morrison (Catholic)
Learn the basics about the Virgin Mary. Do Catholics and Orthodox worship Mary? Was she really a virgin her entire life? Is she God's mother? Why give Mary Such respect? We help dispel a few myths, as well as explain the basic catholic beliefs concerning the virgin Mary. This is done in a helpful Q and A format.

Pope John Paul II

Tributes and Prayers In Honor of Pope John Paul II by Various
The following comments appeared on co-editor Jonathan Bennett's blog when he posted a prayer for the Holy Father. AOL News linked over and we received hundreds of comments. Here are the ones that are a tribute to him and to his work. Notice the different languages, nationalities, and even the non-Catholic contributors. These are a testimony to our departed holy father. [Ed. Note: these were written before he had departed and reflect that context]. We offer this as a tribute to the life and work of Pope John Paul II.

Protestants, Anglicans, and Non-Christians

Are Realignment Anglicans Donatists? by David Bennett (Catholic*)
A lot has been said about modern day Donatism among Anglicans. Bennett analyzes the nature of ancient Donatism, and why the Donatist controversy was primarily about the validity of sacraments and willful schism from the Catholic church, and not a rationale for a church without any moral standards. This article discusses the ancient and historical catholic consensus, and why stubbornly deviating from that consensus creates schism. This article was highlighted here by our friends at CANN. *Note, D. Bennett is now Catholic, and this article was written when he was Anglican, from an Anglican perspective.

Editor David Bennett (Catholic*) Responds to the Anglican Primates' Statement
David Bennett analyzes the current situation in the Anglican communion, as well as offering commentary on the statement following the October meeting of Anglican Primates. Bennett believes the document is a mixed bag, effectively condemning Western unilateralism, but offering no real solution, except to essentially say "If Gene Robinson is consecrated, all hell will break lose." *Note, D. Bennett is now Catholic, and this article was written when he was Anglican, writing from an Anglican perspective.

Jehovah's Witnesses and the Catholic Doctrine of the Incarnation by David Bennett
The Jehovah's Witnesses are an example of being zealous for faith. However, their beliefs and practices do not line up with ancient Christian beliefs and practices. Bennett argues that this is because the Jehovah's Witnesses effectively deny the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, that God became human in the person of Jesus Christ. This explains many of their anti-material tendencies.

A Lament For Orthodox Episcopalians by David Morrison (Catholic)
David, an Orthodox Christian turned Catholic, has written these humorous lyrics in response to recent trends and events in the Episcopal Church. Put on "Yesterday" by the Beatles and sing along. Please keep in mind this is humor.

Non-Denominational Denominations and Other Contradictions by David Bennett (Catholic)
Non-traditionalists have a tradition? Spontaneous worship is ritual? Do "anti-institution" institutions exist? This essay examines why we sometimes do not even know what many of our oft-repeated phrases mean.

Online Handbook of Denominations
We have collected information on various denominations and churches, reviewing them from a Catholic perspective. Our intent is to be accurate and charitable, making this online handbook of denominations handy for all Christians. Currently we have information on the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches, the Anglican communion, Lutheran churches, and Methodist churches.

What About the Salvation of Protestants and Non-Catholics? by David Bennett (Catholic)
In some Christian denominations, only members are given the possibility of salvation. Some Christians suggest everybody gets to heaven, and that all religions are equally valid. What does the Catholic Church teach on this touchy matter? How can non-Christians be saved if Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life?" Can non-Catholics be saved if "outside the Church there is no salvation?"

Reconciliation (Confession)

Reconciliation: The Sacrament of Conversion by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
Reconciliation (commonly called "confession") is one of the most meaningful sacraments of the Catholic Church, yet one of the most misunderstood and under-appreciated. Jonathan explains the history of the sacrament, the guidelines governing its use, as well including personal reflections, a helpful FAQ, and reading list.

Sabbath and Sunday Worship

The Sabbath or Lord's Day? by David Morrison (Catholic)
Weaved into a personal story of his childhood, David Morrison describes the reasons why Christians since the earliest days have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus on the seventh day (symbolically the eighth day), no more bound by Jewish law. We see all in the light of Jesus, and that includes mandatory Jewish law and observances.

Sacraments (See Individual Entries)

The Real Tea Party: An Allegory by Traci Hendrix (Orthodox)
Traci has written another allegory, this time an allegory about a real and a pretend tea party. Contained within is a lesson about the mysteries (sacraments) of God, and how true worship and religion uses the real world as a vehicle for God's grace. Please take the time to read this excellent story.

Sacraments: Meet God Through Our Own World by David Bennett (Catholic)
Bread, Wine, Oil, and Water...God uses them all. God could be more esoteric, but He knows that we live in the physical world.

Saints and Communion of Saints

Communion of Saints: The Whole Family of God by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
Living, dead, here, and there, we are all one Christian community of God, united in our worship.

Secular Culture

A Comparison of Secular and Catholic Cultures by Jill Knuttila (Orthodox)
Jill, rather new to the whole "catholic" experience, compares differences between what she has seen in secular culture and catholic culture.

Sin and Pardon

On Arrogance, Sin, Humility, and Peeling an Onion by Steve Clark (Orthodox)
There are many types of arrogance, and you wouldn't believe how similar our own arrogance is to peeling an onion. Read on.

Purest Gold: God's Refining Fire in our Lives by Traci Hendrix (Orthodox)
Our trials might be blessings after all, since God is always refining us like gold. And Job is not the only Biblical example that our suffering is for a purpose. In trouble or strife? Check this out.

Room by Room by Traci Hendrix (Orthodox)
Traci has written a fine story, a modern day allegory based on symbols and experiences from modern life, in which she tells the story of the way in which Jesus accepts us and cleans house in our lives...and it's not always pretty!

Sin, Pardon, and the Kingdom of a Merciful God by David Morrison (Catholic)
Many parts of the Bible seem to suggest you get one sin, and that's it. The early Church tended to see it this way as well. This article discusses pardon, sin, and confession, and how the Holy Spirit has led us to take Jesus' teachings on forgiveness literally.

Worship and Prayer

"But Isn't Liturgical Worship Dead?" by David Bennett (Catholic)
Most Christians have grave misunderstandings about liturgy, believing liturgical churches are dead, cold, and lifeless. Bennett explains why the opposite is actually true, and gives good reasons why we all are ritualists anyway.

"Catholic Worship Isn't Exciting Enough!" by David Bennett (Catholic)
In our culture, something that is not exciting is usually discarded for the next best new thing. However, as Christians, perhaps we want something more than excitement...and this gets us excited

A Guide To Visiting a Liturgical Church for the First Time by Jonathan Bennett (Catholic)
Like an alien visiting another planet, going to a Catholic, i.e. liturgical, church for the first time can be scary and confusing. This essay is currently "down" for more editing and expansion. Please check back!

"If These Drums Go, I Go": A Critique of Contemporary Worship by David Bennett (Catholic)
This essay discusses a young person's voyage from a "contemporary" church, which is supposed to appeal to all young persons, to a historical, liturgical blended one. Bennett analyzes why young people are drawn to liturgical worship, and why emotion-driven religion leaves many feeling empty, while time-tested worship brings us closer to God.

"Why Do You Pray Using A Book?" by David Bennett (Catholic)
Why would a good Christian need to say a prayer from a book? Don't true Christians only pray spontaneously? Does Satan laugh with delight at written prayers? Well, we all use some written forms, and written forms are not that bad after all. In fact using written prayers actually allows for more spontaneous prayer.

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