- Feb 27, 2019
Why Ashes for Penance?
Q. How did the custom of imposing ashes come to be associated with penance? A. In ancient Jewish culture, covering oneself with dust and ashes (usually accompanied by the wearing of sackcloth) was a customary gesture of intense grief. The dust and ashes symbolized having been brought low, all the way to the ground. In the Old Testament, for example, Job covered himself in ashes after his children died and he was painfully afflicted with boils (Job 2:8). Mordecai and his fello
- Feb 20, 2019
Biblical Names for "Hell"?
Q. I notice that in some New Testament passages where one Bible translation has the word “hell,” another may use other terms. What’s the difference? A. Three Greek New Testament words have sometimes been translated in different Bible versions with our English word “hell.” One is the word hades. It usually refers in general to the realm of the dead—not specifically to a place of eternal punishment. It has this sense, for example, in Acts 2:27 (quoting Psalm 16:10), when St. Pe
- Feb 13, 2019
Reiki at Catholic Hospitals?
Q. Are Reiki practitioners allowed at Catholic hospitals? A. Unfortunately, Catholic hospitals have often promoted Reiki and other questionable practices. In 2009, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released a statement clarifying that Reiki has no place in Catholic medical care. It’s called “Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy.” A few of the document’s most important insights: Though Reiki proponents often claim that it is not a re
- Feb 6, 2019
Which Gospel Was Written First?
Q. Which Gospel was written first? A. The matter is complicated; scholars base their theories about which Gospel is prior on certain features of the four texts that can be interpreted in contradicting ways. Nearly all biblical scholars agree that Luke was not written first, and that John was written last, but the chief argument is whether Matthew or Mark came first. The “Matthew first” position dates back at least to St. Augustine in the fourth century; it was generally accep