Lay Witness Magazine

A New Evangelization: The Good News About Catholics and Contraception

Catholics take note: When it comes to helping women understand what the Church teaches about contraception, our job isn’t nearly as hard as we thought. I know, it doesn’t always seem that way. Especially if one of last spring’s favorite statistics—“ 98 percent of Catholic women use contraception”—is still echoing in your ears. Trying to tell 98 percent of any population that they’re wrong is a task that would daunt most anyone. Make that population a female one, and even the likes of Isaiah and Jeremiah would start quaking in their boots. Nevertheless, in presenting the Church’s teachings about married … Continue reading

Art For God’s Sake and Ours: An Interview with Michael D. O’Brien

Canadian author and artist Michael O’Brien is in the business of culture. A prolific writer, most notably of the Father Elijah series, O’Brien plumbs the depths of the human heart through his storytelling, and likewise his rich iconography captures a glimpse of the divine. His experience as both an artist and layman make his contributions to cultural commentary of rare value, and here he generously shares with Lay Witness his thoughts on the landscape of Catholic culture. Why is it important for Catholics to engage in the arts? The Holy Father has said, “We are losing the basic memory of … Continue reading

Ask CUF: Are there Guidelines for Selecting Movies to Watch?

What does the Catholic Church teach about watching movies. Are guidelines for adults and parents selecting movies provided? Why doesn’t the Church ban the watching of particularly harmful movies? The Church has faced noxious ideas from the beginning—before movies, before books—with recourse to ecclesiastical sanctions. Interdicts and excommunications were laid on those who sought to persuade the faithful to follow them in error. These public penalties taught the faithful in clear terms that a particular heresy or immorality was not to be tolerated, but purged from their culture. With the use of the printing press in the fifteenth century came … Continue reading

Catholic Culture: What is it and Why Should We Care About It?

The twentieth century has witnessed a veritable explosion of interest in the subject of culture in general and Catholic culture in particular. For the Catholic this is a very good thing. Culture is essential to the formation of the human person. A proper understanding of culture is necessary for a more complete appreciation of the past, a sound assessment of the present, and prudent planning for the future. The Church, the West, our country, our families, and our own salvation depend upon our understanding of culture, and this is especially true for modern man’s everyday life and his search for … Continue reading

Death Perception

Depth perception can be defined as the ability to perceive things and their spatial relationship in three dimensions. Death perception, on the other hand, can be defined as the ability to perceive things and their spiritual relationship in three dimensions. What are those three dimensions? Heaven, hell, and purgatory. Someone who has death perception sees all the events of this life in terms of the next. Such a person is not concerned about the material advantages of a given situation, but about the eternal consequences of his potential actions in that situation. One who has just begun using his death … Continue reading

Everyman’s Divine Comedy

Dante Alighieri is arguably the greatest poet who ever lived. He was born in Florence in 1265, in an exciting time when new religious orders, the Franciscans and the Dominicans, were flourishing throughout Europe, and teaching in a new invention called the University. Great cathedrals filled with color and light rose up in towns and cities from England to Sicily. Popular culture was vibrant and bright. International trade was bustling, and made many families rich, especially in Florence. Poets had embarked upon a tradition of love poetry that has lasted till our time. After he was exiled from Florence following … Continue reading

Looking at a Masterpiece: Adoration of the Magi

This painting (circa 1619) by Diego Velazquez (1599-1660) which hangs in the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain, gives us a fresh insight into the mystery of the Incarnation and the Epiphany. It is not the customary kind of idealized religious art, but rather a more realistic style of art in which figures have plasticity, that is, more fully molded shapes. Also, adding a note of genuineness, Velazquez here apparently painted the portraits of real characters known to him. For instance, the Virgin Mary has the features of his young bride, Juana. However, this in no way detracts from the sacredness … Continue reading

Master Catechist: What is New About the Lay Apostolate

As we enter into the new Year of Faith it is good to review Fr. Hardon’s clarifying comments on the Decree on the Lay Apostolate especially in this age of the new evangelization. The effective application of the Second Vatican Council’s teachings of the duties of the lay apostolate, which for the first time in Church history was spelled out in Canon Law, is now taking hold in our realization that the apostolate belongs to the heart of every authentic vocation and is, for each of us, a channel of divine grace. —Michael Mohr The Second Vatican Council’s] decree on … Continue reading

Open Mike: Having Faith in Art

As this issue goes to press, there is a Synod of Bishops gathered in Rome to formulate a plan for implementing a “new evangelization” in the Church today. The idea for a new evangelization arose a couple decades ago during the pontificate of Bl. John Paul II and has been embraced and carried forward by Pope Benedict XVI. The new evangelization recognizes that formerly Christian areas have been invaded by an obsessive secularism that has depicted Christianity as an antiquated system of morality and mythology that promotes bigotry and hates science. The decades of misinformation flooding our culture make our … Continue reading

Stepping Backward from Easter: The Meaning of the Incarnation

If someone were to ask what is the most important aspect of our faith as Christians, many of us would probably say that it is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul said roughly as much in 1 Corinthians Chapter 15, “If Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching, empty too your faith . . . and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.” Basically, he’s saying that if the tomb wasn’t empty, then our faith is. Therefore, it is safe to say that the Resurrection … Continue reading