March 27, 2017

Author Archive | Mark Shea


Hail what’s legitimate about Caesar: Duties of a Christian citizen, Part 3

Last time, in this space, we mentioned that, for Paul, as for Jesus, the state has real authority (a word rooted in the idea that human beings have an Author). But that authority is not absolute. It is a delegated one. This means that Caesar does not have unlimited licence from God to do Whatever […]


National glory be damned: The duties of a Christian citizen, Part 2

Last time, in this space, we noted that when Paul spoke in Romans 13 about the Christian’s relationship to the state, his discussion is cast entirely in terms of duty, not love. The contrast is striking really. When it comes to one’s neighbour, Paul tells us that we are to “Owe no one anything, except […]

Purple is the colour for the holy season of Lent, and the word 'Lent' comes from the Old English for 'Spring' because it is during Lent that we are to grow and flourish in grace again after the winter of our sins. Photo: Fr Lawrence Lew, OP

Mark Shea: A lovely Lenten gift in the sincere searching of another

I like Lent. I always have. By a curious Providence, I have always associated it with a period in my life (long before I was Catholic) when I discovered that things like poverty and being out of work and trusting God for your next meal could be refreshing and adventuresome and part of the joy […]

US President Donald Trump meets with county sheriffs during a listening session in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, 7 February 2017. Pope Francis' recent statements calling for a welcoming attitude to refugees and migrants hit a nerve on social media at a time when Trump has begun stricter border enforcement. Photo: CNS

Mark Shea: Beyond Trump — the duties of a Christian citizen, Part I

So the deed is done. Donald Trump, the most unworthy and dangerous human being ever to occupy the White House is now the 45th President of my country. It’s as good a time as any to discuss the duties of a Christian citizen since, like it or not, the odds are fair to middling that […]

Pope Francis pictured in St Peter's Square on 8 June. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

Mark Shea: A Conversation About Amoris Laetitia

A friend of mine writes from England, asking me for my take on Amoris Laetitia. Here is my reply: Unfortunately I’m really not much use here. I have more or less tuned out the many kerfuffles about Francis and this is one of them. What little I have gleaned is that this is controversy about […]

Photo: Pixabay

Mark Shea: thou shalt not put buttons up your nose

When I was in fourth grade I was much the same as I am now: a loudmouth who knew everything and therefore had to be taught by experience. I have tape recordings of me from just a little after this time that are better than a hair shirt. I sounded off about all sorts of […]

Filipino women covered in mud and dressed in dried leaves participate in a religious ritual known locally as "Taong Putik" (Mud People), in the village of Aliaga, while celebrating the feast of St John the Baptist. Participants wear the banana leaves in honour of St John the Baptist, whose rough clothing -- like his baptism -- was principally an external sign of repentance, unlike Christian baptism in which the baptised person is transformed from within by the Holy Spirit. Photo: Shubert Ciencia

Mark Shea: John’s second best baptism, or how the Holy Spirit changed everything

Recently we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, and it’s worth taking a look at the meaning of this strange incident (surely one of several in the gospel that show the historicity of these accounts since no one would invent it.) John the Baptist stands on the cusp of a new revelation of […]


Mark Shea: praying to action figures

Here is one of those odd stories that makes me wonder how it reached a global news network. Could be true. Could be urban legend for all I know (and I really do wonder how such a story gets from a little old lady’s living room to a global epidemic of comedy, so I take […]


Herod and the Magi

It being Epiphany and all, I thought it might be good to spend a bit of time on the story that Matthew related concerning both Herod and the Magi. The death of Herod is one of the points in time by which we calculate the birth of Jesus. Many scholars have placed it sometime before […]

Can the baby Jesus really harden hearts? A girl holds her baby Jesus figurine as Pope Francis leads the Angelus in Rome on 11 December 2016. Photo: CNS

Mark Shea: the hidden God and scripture’s satire on willful blindness

As we saw last time, Jesus draws from the Old Testament tradition in telling parables. And at the heart of the Old Testament tradition of parabolic storytelling is the fact that parables are stories told to and about corrupt figure in positions of power.  That is why, for instance, the prophet Nathan tells King David […]

Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi is surrounded by the media after a 4 November news conference for his new book "Merchants in the Temple: Inside Pope Francis' Secret Battle Against Corruption in the Vatican."

Mark Shea: The Bible is dopey stories for cretins? Time to think again

As I mentioned last time in this space, we often have the perception of the gospels as more or less unstructured ragbags of “tales and sayings about Jesus” in which the evangelist just tosses out collections of yarns about Jesus, some stories he told and a jumble of memories from people who give us random […]