Category: Grace

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On Today’s Blessed Marian Feast

Earlier today, my mother, Patricia Lewis, passed away at home after a long illness. She was surrounded by family and friends when she drew her last breath. Just before her final moments, my brother and I sang the first two verses of one of her favorite hymns, “Immaculate Mary.” Due to December 8 falling on the Second Sunday of Advent, today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in the US. For my mom, I...

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The Church of Discomfort

Those who grew up without access to the internet, cell phones, or a host of screens on demand are familiar with the experience of boredom in a way that many young people today are not. Long ago we would whine to our parents about how bored we were. Even if our parents wanted to ease our all of our burdens and concerns, however insignificant, they would have found it difficult to do so. There’s likely...

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“My power is made perfect in weakness”

When the Church takes up someone’s cause for sainthood, one of the things they look for is heroic virtue. Drawing from Pope Benedict XIV and St. Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic Encyclopedia defines “heroic virtue” as “…a habit of good conduct that has become a second nature, a new motive power stronger than all corresponding inborn inclinations, capable of rendering easy a series of acts each of which, for the ordinary man, would be beset with...

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...

Grace and Mercy Is Everything

What is grace, and how exactly does grace “work”? I don’t want to suggest to anyone that I have the full answer, but over the last few years, Pope Francis’ theology has reminded the Church, in important ways, about what grace actually is and what it is not. When I say, “Pope Francis’ theology,” I am primarily referring to the way Pope Francis prioritizes Mercy, the essential, most foundational proclamation of the Christian faith. Pope...

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...

Against Certainty

Did Jesus establish his church to give us personal certainty and perfect clarity? Assuming so reveals a rather rationalist view of the church. A view that is typically used as a fortress to rebuff questioning or dissent, or to guard against unflattering bits of church history, or to preserve an idealistic but unreal vision of the church, a vision useful for apologists but loosely connected to reality. A view that assumes that the development of...

Hedge Maze

A Moral Maze

Over the past couple of weeks, Where Peter Is has featured some articles presenting dueling metaphors about Christian freedom, conscience, and the place of other people in informing conscience. Paul Fahey first drew a picture of a garden, walled by God, in the middle of a wasteland. He suggested that there should be complete freedom of movement within this garden, and that though some people may find a need to limit themselves further to avoid...

Pope Francis’ “Dangerous” View of Conscience

George Weigel complains that “voices have been heard urging a view of conscience that is curious, even dangerous.” What view of conscience could that be? Weigel describes it like this: Under certain circumstances, conscience may permit or even require that a person choose acts that the Church has consistently taught are intrinsically wrong—such as using artificial means of contraception, or receiving Holy Communion while living the married life in a union that’s not been blessed...