Lay Witness Magazine

A Declaration of War: The Health and Human Services “Contraception Mandate”

We’re in a war,” declared Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to a gathering of NARAL Pro-Choice America [1]. The Obama administration has declared war on people of faith in America and the Catholic Church in particular, forcing them to compromise their sincerely held religious beliefs or be heavily fined, taxed, and run out of business. Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I, of Chicago reportedly said: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” If he is correct, then these are … Continue reading

A New Evangelization: The Language of Love

At first glance, much that went on at Yale University during the week of February 12th was enough to make even the most tenacious of culture warriors throw up their hands in defeat. This year the infamous “Sex Week” was back, bigger and badder than ever. Just a glance of the week’s activities made this Catholic girl blush a shade much redder than her hair. Talks included: “Contraception 101,” “A Tantric Toolbox of Personal Enlightenment, Interpersonal Intimacy, and Humanitarian Aid,” and “Stripped Stories—A Night of Hilarious Sex-Themed Storytelling and Games.” And those are just the G-rated talk titles. At least … Continue reading

Ask CUF: What is "Soul Sleep"?

I made friends with a young woman studying to be a Protestant pastor here in Germany at the University of Erlangen. Naturally our discussions center on ecumenical questions. Here is the most recent one: I tried to explain— or justify—praying through Mary’s and the saints’ intercession, yet, all the foundation for my argument was lost when my friend stated that in Protestant belief all the dead are dead until the Last Judgment. According to their belief the saints simply cannot intercede for us. The question is not their worthiness as friends of God and good intercessors, but that they are … Continue reading

How the Church Fathers Can Help Us Engage the Culture for Christ

Jamie Blosser From the May/Jun 2012 Issue of Lay Witness Magazine I have been asked to ponder the question of what advice might be given by the Fathers of the Church to our present challenge, i.e. to engage the culture of our age with the Gospel of Christ. The Fathers, of course, faced the very same challenge, and under similar circumstances: a culture deeply inimical to Christian values, and very disinclined to take seriously the claims being made by Christians. The earliest, post-apostolic generation of Christians took this challenge so seriously, and devoted so much energy to its demands, that … Continue reading

Keeping the Faith of Our Fathers: What the Early Church Teaches us Today

When we think of “teachers” today, we imagine people working in brick-and-mortar schools—with classrooms, mass-produced books, and very young students segregated by age. But there is little evidence that any such institutions existed in the age of the early Fathers. In those early centuries, persecution would have made such gatherings difficult or impossible. What’s more, there were no printing presses, so there were no textbooks, no catechisms, no worksheets. Remember, literacy was rare. Classroom schooling was for the privileged few. Yet Christianity was then, as it was in the time of James Joyce, and as it continues to be today: … Continue reading

Looking at a Masterpiece: The Little Street

This painting circa 1657 by one of the great masters of the Golden Age of Dutch painting, Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. At first superficial glance it may seem quite ordinary and commonplace, merely a somewhat haphazard scene of a little street in Delft. But soon one detects a secret beauty in it. Vermeer has a special gift for giving us a glimpse of beauty in a fleeting moment of everyday life, thus almost imperceptibly linking time to eternity. Obviously I have been focusing in these columns on sacred art, since through that powerful medium we … Continue reading

Master Catechist: Champion of Faith, St. Cyprian

The first three centuries of the Christian era are commonly known as “The Age of Persecution” the Church’s enemies promptly and aggressively fulfilled Christ’s prediction to His followers: “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” Once again we see our Holy Mother Church being persecuted, as she has been in every period of her history, by secular-humanist societies and their respective governments promoting a pagan religious ideology. In this article Fr. Hardon shares the account of one of the early Fathers of the Church, St. Cyprian, who gives us directives on how to cope with rejection by … Continue reading

Open Mike: To Live the Faith, Now More than Ever

The Church in America has to take a hard look at our choices. Did passivity and dismissal of serious warnings (most notably the widespread indifference to Pope Paul VI’s prescient predictions set forth in Humanae Vitae) enable the dilemma we now face with the HHS contraceptive mandate? The very real possibility of being forced against our wills to pay for others’ use of contraception, abortion, and sterilization makes us wonder, could we have prevented the endangerment of our religious freedom? Now, we have a choice: beat our breasts while lamenting, “What have we done?” or put our hands to the … Continue reading

Out of Death, Life: The Martyrs of the Early Church

A small group, men and women, young and old, huddled together in the center of the amphitheater. The crowd, hearing the hungry lions roaring in their underground pens, stirred in anticipation of the spectacle to come, thinking the small group was huddling in fear. It soon became obvious, however, that the group was in fact singing. The audience quieted, straining to hear. They heard a common tune, but the words were unfamiliar. The sacrificial victims were singing a hymn in praise of one Christ, who had died on a cross, but somehow had been raised. The crowd roared in outrage. … Continue reading

St. Irenaeus and the True Gnosis

Gnosticism, the first great heresy to have appeared in Christian history, is often identified with its most familiar tenet: that the material universe itself is inherently evil and that salvation comes from recognizing this fact and returning to the clean, pure realm of spirit alone. Yet this can hardly be the true essence of this ancient challenge to the Church since Gnosticism shares its anti-material principle with many other religious systems, several of which (such as Hinduism and Buddhism) long pre-date Christianity itself. No, the kernel of Gnosticism is subtler, more elusive, but vital to grasp. The essence of Gnosticism … Continue reading