Lay Witness Magazine

Aristotle and Aquinas: The Vital Difference

An easy, but accurate way of distinguishing the ethics of Aristotle from that of Aquinas lies in examining the fundamental questions they ask. Aristotle’s ethics is the protracted answer to a few basic questions: Who am I? How should I live? Where am I going? To these questions, Aristotle responds by explaining that we are social beings; that we should live a life of virtue in accordance with reason; and that our end is happiness. Aristotle’s ethics is very sensible. He elaborates on the fact that we are social beings who, if we are to achieve happiness, must be reasonable … Continue reading

Ask CUF: Special Edition: How Does the Church Elect a New Pope?

Upon Pope Benedict XVI’s abdication of the papacy, the college of cardinals will convene to elect the next Pope. During a conclave, the members of the college of cardinals gather in the Sistine Chapel and have no contact with the outside world. After each vote they burn the ballots. If no Pope was elected, the smoke is black. If the election was successful, the smoke will be white. What is the College of Cardinals? The college of cardinals refers collectively to the cardinals of the Catholic Church. “College” comes from the Latin word “collegium,” meaning “society” and from which we … Continue reading

Fasting: An Act of Love

I have a confession to make: I dislike fasting. There are people who enjoy it, but I am not one of them. It seems counterproductive. I’ve spent most of my life trying to stay alive and well, fed, healthy and comfortable, and then for a Wednesday and a few Fridays out of the year, I must take a break from all my efforts at self-preservation. Penance? Self-mortification? That sounds like suffering to me. Is there any redeeming value in it at all? At first glance, the answer seems to be a resounding no. The key measure for any action of … Continue reading

Is Suffering Ambiguous?: Finding That Which Does Not Disappoint

When Teresa of Avila was thrown from her carriage and landed in a mud puddle, she questioned God. His answer, “This is the way I treat all my friends,” did not set well with her. “Then, Lord,” she tartly replied, “it is not surprising that you have so few.” A saint can still find suffering ambiguous even after God speaks to her. On a naturalistic level, it is said that suffering has meaning inasmuch as it is a needed factor in the building of character. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe remarked that “Character is formed in the stormy billows of the … Continue reading

Looking at a Masterpiece: The Pieta of Avignon

This masterpiece of the late Middle Ages (1455), its authorship having been disputed for many decades, is now attributed to the French painter Enguerrand Quarton (1410-1466), and hangs in the Louvre in Paris. In a distinctly French style, different from Italian or Flemish depictions of the Piet. theme, it has been considered “perhaps the greatest masterpiece produced in France in the 15th century.” 1 A depth of grief is expressed here, but not a frantic, traumatic, desolate, much less a desperate grief.2 Though the sorrow is profound, it is full of peace. The whole reaches into the transcendent and is … Continue reading

Master Catechist: Living the Mystery of the Resurrection

With the recent government interferences in the practice of our faith, we enter more deeply into an age that has been drowned in the blood of tens of millions of martyrs to political ideologies–the totalitarianism of fascist and communist experimentations of the recent past and present decades; and to modernist lifestyles–the tens of millions of “legally” aborted babies and the despair and self-destruction of millions more of this generation. In this article Fr. Hardon reminds us of the historical reality of our faith, of Easter and all it represents, that gives hope to those who accept Jesus and His real … Continue reading

Meeting Jesus Face to Face: How to Encounter Christ

I love conversion stories. Reading about other people encountering Jesus helps remind me how blessed I am to be Catholic. Conversion stories also show me the love of God for humanity, especially for the lost sheep—and we live in an age of many lost sheep. Sometimes, those lost sheep sit in the pews next to us. Sometimes, we are the lost sheep. Catholic Christians ought to embrace ongoing conversion our whole lives. We are supposed to always be turning towards Jesus, growing in holiness and communion with the living God. But conversion can be hard. Occasionally, God just doesn’t seem … Continue reading

On Stuff

The theology of the body tells us how to work, how to love, and how to dress. But does it tell us how to decorate our homes or organize our cupboards? In a way, it does. To start with, if all creation is a gift, and we’re called to be good stewards of creation, than that stewardship extends to our homes. We’re called to care for them and what’s in them, keeping rooms tidy, floors swept, and everything in good working order. It doesn’t matter how big the home or how small, how expensive the furnishings or how cheap, if … Continue reading

Open Mike: Go to Joseph

We Catholics know that our devotion to Mary and the other saints is rooted in our understanding of the Communion of Saints. We don’t worship saints; they are our friends and loved ones in heaven. We ask them for favors because they are closer to God and can get results. Of all the members of the Communion of Saints, I could say that St. Joseph is one of my best friends. I’ve always looked to him as an example and guide; but more importantly, as a powerful intercessor. This great patron saint of workers and fathers has been an inspiration … Continue reading

Open Mike: See What Love the Father Has For Us

My daughter Bernadette asked me the other day: “Can daddies pick up the whole house with all the little girls inside it?” Little kids think daddies can do just about anything. It’s an endearing quality, and it also points to our innate desire for the glory of our heavenly Father. I can barely pick up Bernadette anymore, but even at my strongest, I know that God is the one who does the heavy lifting in my house. My kids will all come to know it, too. God is all-powerful. He is almighty. He is awe-some. And yet, He is also … Continue reading