Christian duty and panhandlers. What’s the right thing to do? For a long time I’ve struggled when approached by panhandlers, people on the street asking for money. I want to help, but I don’t want to be taken advantage of, or feed an addiction, or endanger myself.
As a Catholic, as a Christian, I know helping the less fortunate is central to my faith. In one of the most famous passages from Scripture, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says in a parable ‘whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
So on the street, someone asks you for change…what’s the answer? In this episode we explore this issue with Gary Sole, CEO for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the Diocese of Cleveland.
Just to mention aliens turns some people off, but to a Christian, to a Catholic, thinking about extraterrestrial life can hold tremendous value. If you replace the word “alien” with “the other” then we start down a familiar path.
Does “the other” exist in the universe? Would “the other” mean us peace or harm? Should I will the good of “the other?” Some of the greatest Catholic thinkers wrestled with this question of “the other.” Whether you’re thinking about so-called aliens, people who live in the center of the earth, or maybe creatures at the end of the world, how we approach our theoretical brothers and sisters of the universe might tell us a lot about what our faith really means to us.
“From earliest times people have looked up into the heavens especially at night and seen the stars in that and though they had no idea just how vast it is, that we’re beginning to get a sense of still, those who are of faith you know able to say the one God I know who loves me, and created me, also created all this, and so it presses them to become even more full of wonder and adoration toward God and appreciation of who He is.”
Angels seem mysterious and familiar all at the same time. Angels are by definition different than you and I are—they’re spiritual beings, without bodies, but can be present in our world. St. Augustine says “angel” is the name of their office, or what they do: they are servants and messengers of God.
They show up throughout the Bible, in the Old Testament and New Testament at key moments…
“…saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.”
In the Gospel of Matthew at one point Jesus tells us that angels that watch over us, the Guardian Angels, also “always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which explains what Catholics believe, says, “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.”
What more do we know about angels and how we should think of them?
On today’s episode we’ll hear from a Catholic Bishop and a former member of the British armed forces talking about how our duties as Christians, striving to walk the path to Heaven, and how does that square with the hell of war?
This is a big topic with many twists in turn so we’ll attempt to somewhat narrow our conversation today, and it will be driven by a single line of dialogue from the movie Kingdom of Heaven: “your quality will be known among your enemies before ever you meet them.”
Standing on the shore of a mountain lake at sunrise, you may not think you’re necessarily on a pilgrimage, but then you’re drawn toward a prayerful moment. You gaze into the raspberry and amber skies, as the lapping waves try to sing you back to sleep.
But you’re called to be present and aware of the awe.
Or maybe you hike toward an Alpine peak when you’re serenaded by birdsong; nature’s hallelujah. Again you’re very present in the moment; thankful and introspective, like a pilgrim. And then on the trail you literally see Christ on the cross.
A traveler, a pilgrim, before you thought to install a wayside chapel—a small, wooden structure to draw you even further toward God. These things are common in Europe, and in Wisconsin chapels created by European immigrants still pepper the countryside.
Today we round out our series on the Marian Apparition site in Champion, Wisconsin with a few more thoughts on making pilgrimages wherever you are. You don’t have to go far to travel deeply in prayer. Sometimes you just need to look closely around you and decide to spiritually get away.
There’s a crisp hint of Autumn in the air when a young Adele Brise first catches sight of the mysterious figure she would soon know to be the Blessed Mother Mary. It’s October 1859.
Adele carries her bag of wheat toward the grist mill, in a wooded patch of Northern Wisconsin, when she freezes, frightened.
There, between a hemlock and maple tree stands a beautiful woman clothed in dazzling white, wearing a yellow sash and crown of stars atop her flowing golden hair, until…she’s gone.
The vision of the woman fades, and Adele all alone, continues on her way. A second encounter with the mystery woman a few days later is just as startling, compounded by the fact this figure doesn’t say a word.
On counsel from a priest, Adele is prepared for her next encounter and says to the figure: ‘In God’s name who are you and what do you want from me?’
‘I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners,’ the woman says, ‘and I wish you to do the same.’
The Queen of Heaven—the Blessed Virgin Mary—proceeds to explain to Adele what she’s being called to do: teach the children of this wild country what they should know for their salvation, while also encouraging Adele, that she’s not going to have to do it alone:
When you strip away distractions, you might come closer to the part of yourself calling out for more. Not more stuff. Not more flashing lights. But more substance of the purest kind; the kind only God can provide.
It’s goodness. It’s hope. It’s love.
Catholics believe were are continually journeying through our lives, as Pope Francis said, until the final and marvelous goal…reaching Heaven.
But sometimes that spiritual journey, also becomes a literal journey…a pilgrimage.
Today we begin a series of episodes about a visit to the only place in the U.S. where the church has approved a Marian apparition…in Wisconsin.
Switzerland is one of the world’s wealthiest countries, and poverty doesn’t manifest itself in the same way as in other places. The numbers of people needing food and shelter are exponentially less, even when considering Switzerland’s size.
But there can be another kind of poverty, a spiritual poverty.
In this short episode of the Faith Full Podcast we talk a little about the poor in spirit, and the need for a bit more compassion in our approach to each other.
How do you pray? Is there a wrong way to pray? U.S. Catholic Bishops put it this way: “Prayer is our response to God who is already speaking or, better yet, revealing Himself to us.” It’s like a phone is always ringing and God is just waiting for us to pick it up and spend time with Him. But how do you do it? It can be through recitation, through meditation, or maybe through the work we do.
In this episode we meet John Kraemer, a man who over two decades has offered as prayer his efforts to build a church each year out of tens of thousands of Lego pieces.
On the way out of Jericho a blind man named Bartimaeus sat begging on the roadside. The Gospel of Mark tells us Jesus is passing by, and Bartimaeus cries out for Him to have pity. Jesus stops and asks him what he wants Jesus to do for him.
“Master, I want to see,” he says.
Jesus replies, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” And he received his sight, and then followed Jesus. You can see with your eyes, yes, but you can also see with your mind, heart, and spirit. In this episode of Faith Full we meet Fr. Jamie Dennis, a Catholic priest who is blind, whose journey to helping others see the way to God has not always been easy.
“Here is sort of the blunt truth and I’m not trying to put the Church in a negative light, I’m just stating a fact: the Church hasn’t always been good at dealing with people who are, quote unquote different. It’s difficult.”