The One Really Interesting Story

The Book of Acts opens with two events of great salvation-historical importance: the going up of Jesus from earth into heaven (the Ascension), and the coming down of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples (Pentecost). Both events are commemorated by Christians in this season of the year. Jesus’s resurrection from the dead inaugurated God’s new beginning, which the New Testament calls “the last days.” . . . . Continue Reading »

Silence of the Churches

Tomorrow, on April 29th, Rome’s white marble Trevi Fountain—its swirling waters and the charging baroque statues of Oceanus, his sea shell chariot and attendant tritons and horses—will all be turned blood red in a campaign to raise awareness about modern day Christian martyrs. The popular . . . . Continue Reading »

Attack on Mother Teresa’s Nuns in Yemen

On Friday, March 4, sixteen people were murdered in a terrorist attack at a nursing home in Aden, the main city on the coast of southern Yemen. The dead comprised four nuns, who served in the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Blessed Mother Teresa, plus eight elderly residents, their . . . . Continue Reading »

First Buds of the Church

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are over now, but the melodies linger on—not only for those who observe the full twelve days of Christmastide, but also for others for whom the season has been mostly about lots of good food, good cheer, and the feel-good sentimentality of “God's in his heaven, . . . . Continue Reading »

What Romero's Beatification Means

Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated by a right-wing sniper while celebrating Mass in 1980, was raised to the altars in a magnificent beatification ceremony in San Salvador this May. Romero’s beatification was full of notes of reconciliation, which seemed to mark the official . . . . Continue Reading »

A Throne in the Grave

Last Sunday, Western Christians celebrated Easter, and in a few days Eastern churches will observe Pascha. Over the course of eight days, most of the world’s two billion Christians will have sung of Jesus’s resurrection, listened again as the glad apostles see their Lord, and heard bold talk of new life and new creation. Continue Reading »

A Theology of Martyrdom

ISIS has beheaded twenty-one Egyptian Christians in Libya. What should the Church do? How do we respond? How should we think about their sacrifice? Why does God let this kind of thing happen? It’s days like this that we need a theology of martyrdom. Continue Reading »

Notre Dame Honors Russia’s New Martyrs

It’s sometimes hard to tell, this time of year, but there’s more going on at Notre Dame than football. Spirited debate continues about the university’s Catholic identity and what that means for everything from curriculum and faculty hiring to the campus master plan. Those involved in that debate can now take inspiration from an impressive new project mounted by the university’s library, which introduces English-speakers to some modern Russian heroes of faithful discipleship. Continue Reading »

Faithful Unto Death

The ancient city of Smyrna, located on the site of today’s Izmir in Turkey, the gateway to Asia and stepping-stone to Europe, is sacred soil because of what happened there one Sunday, around 2:00 in the afternoon, in February of the year 155. On that day, Polycarp, the eighty-six-year-old leader of the Christian church in Smyrna, was cruelly put to death by fire and sword because he refused to renounce Jesus Christ. “For the blood of thy martyrs and saints shall enrich the earth, shall create the holy places,” wrote T.S. Eliot. “For wherever a saint has dwelt, wherever a martyr has given his blood for the blood of Christ, there is holy ground, and the sanctity shall not depart from it.” Continue Reading »