Author: Paul Fahey

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Where Peter Is – LIVE (sort of, not really)

I was asked to give a talk about Pope Francis at the Catholic Information Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While I’m only one member of the WPI team and this isn’t an official WPI event, I wanted to let you all know about this event and extend an invitation to any faithful readers in the West Michigan area. The talk is on Sunday, July 21st (3:00pm- 5:15pm, Mass to follow) and the title is: Transformed...

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Our Father

For the past week, and up until just a couple days before Pentecost, the Gospel readings for daily Mass are from John’s recounting of the Last Supper. Here Jesus repeatedly speaks about, and prays to, “the Father.” I want to step back and reflect on that for a minute. God is completely and utterly beyond us. Take a second and try to imagine something, anything, that isn’t bound by space, time, and matter. We can’t...

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What should the Church do?

In a recent blog post titled “The Numbers” Don’t Look Good—What Should the Church Do?, Msgr. Charles Pope reflected on the drop in Mass attendance and reception of the Sacraments over the past several decades. And the numbers don’t look good. One example: in 1970, 54.9% of Catholics went to Mass weekly; that percentage dropped to 21.1% by 2018. The other statistics are just as bad. For some, this decline may be shocking. But for...

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When I know better than the pope

During the papacy of Saint Paul VI, both traditionalists and progressives made the same mistake: they thought they understood things better than the Church. The former said that Pope Paul VI shouldn’t have changed the liturgy because they couldn’t square his teaching with they believed to be true. The latter said that Paul VI should have changed the ban on contraception because they couldn’t square his teaching with they believed to be true. As Catholics,...

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How vast the Father’s love for us

The picture on the top of this article is one of my favorite religious images. It’s an icon of the resurrection, specifically, of Jesus’ descent into “the place of the dead.” This is the event we remember every time we say the line in Apostles’ Creed, about Jesus “descended into hell.” After his death, Jesus went to the place where the righteous figures from the Old Testament were waiting for the Messiah to defeat sin...

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Holiness isn’t about trying harder

I’ve noticed that “growing in holiness” is usually presented by popular Catholic media as something like “We just gotta pray more and try harder, then the Lord will make us holier.” As if becoming holy will take a lot of work, but God makes it possible. Similarly, we often speak of grace as sort of a spiritual vitamin or, as one book I recently saw put it, “The Eucharist gives me the energy to pursue...

The Pope Francis Generation

I’m too young to have known John Paul II. He died before I cared about Jesus, let alone the pope. Benedict was pope during my conversion at the end of high school and during college. But I was too deeply entrenched in culture war stuff to care much about what the pope had to say. Back in college I binged listened to Catholic Answers. I read The Catholic Thing pretty much daily. I regularly read...

The Unprecedented God

My oldest son, Simon, turned six earlier this month. I remember the afternoon we were getting ready to take him home from the hospital. I stood there holding him, absolutely terrified that the nurses would actually let us leave the hospital with this baby. My wife and I had no idea what we were doing. Simon was so helpless, so vulnerable, so dependent on us for everything, and they trusted us to take care of...

The Stupid Shepherd

What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little...

We do not Possess the Truth: How the Church Changes Her Teachings

“We must move toward an idea of truth that is evermore inclusive, less restrictive; at least, if we are thinking of the truth of God and not some human truth, however solid it may appear to us. The truth of God is inexhaustible; it is an ocean of which we can hardly see the shore. It is something that we are beginning to discover in these times: not to make us slaves to an almost...

The Harlot and the Bride

In the first reading today, John describes the apocalyptic fall of the great city of Babylon. While there’s debate among Scripture scholars over whether John’s vision of Babylon represents Rome or Jerusalem, for my purposes here I want to focus on Babylon being identified as “the great harlot.” The harlot in Biblical imagery is the unfaithful one, the adulterer, the idolater. Harlotry, then, is the love of earthly goods to the detriment of love of God...

Yet another reason to mistrust the pope

Over the weekend I saw many people speaking out in frustration over Pope Francis putting Cardinal Cupich of Chicago on the planning committee for the February meeting in Rome addressing the abuse crisis. Those critical of this appointment are, unsurprisingly, conservative American Catholics who generally distrust the pope already. They are presenting Cupich’s appointment as yet another reason to doubt the pope and this upcoming meeting. This mistrust of Cupich largely rests on three recent...

#USCCB18 and the McCarrick Documents

During the US bishops conference this week, my bishop, Bishop Boyea, put the following proposal to vote: “Be it resolved that the bishops of the USCCB encourage the Holy Father to release all the documentation that can be released consistent with canon and civil law regarding the misconduct of Archbishop McCarrick.” After around a half hour of debate this proposal was voted down 83-137. You can read about the debate over this proposal here or...

The Virtue of Not Being Weird

The Christian ideal will always be a summons to overcome suspicion, habitual mistrust, fear of losing our privacy, all the defensive attitudes which today’s world imposes on us. Many try to escape from others and take refuge in the comfort of their privacy or in a small circle of close friends, renouncing the realism of the social aspect of the Gospel. (Evangelii Gaudium 88) Recently I was talking with a friend of mine about different Catholic...

Bishop Barron on Amoris Laetitia and the JPII Generation

I love Bishop Robert Barron. I just listened to his talk from the World Meeting of Families last month in Ireland where he spoke on chapters seven, eight, and nine of Amoris Laetitia and I noticed two things.First of all, in an hour long talk he spends all of five minutes on chapter eight because he sees it as obviously non-controversial. Bishop Barron explains the most contentious teaching in Amoris in his book, “To Light...

Mortal Sin: the Consequences of Confusion

A common confusion I see among Catholics is a misunderstanding of mortal sin that conflates mortal sin and grave matter. This misunderstanding has serious consequences and distorts the very heart of our faith.  Concerning mortal sin, the Catechism says: “Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to...