Ethiopia’s Chapel in the Sky

If churches were assessed by their risk factor, Abuna Yemata Guh would be our new Sistine Chapel. Perched 650 feet above a steep cliff in Northern Ethiopia, visitors face a 45-minute climb up the cliff’s vertical face in order to access the precariously positioned church. Dating back to the 5th century, history has it that its founder Father Yemata built the chapel to be closer to heavenly spirits; however, others claim it was a strategic move to avoid his enemies.

The Lone Man Building a Cathedral By Hand

For 53 years, Justo Gallego has been building a cathedral by hand on the outskirts of Madrid almost entirely by himself. Gallego has no formal architecture or construction training, but that hasn’t stopped him from toiling on this herculean task. At 90 years old, Gallego knows that he will not be able to finish the project in his lifetime. But he keeps at it anyway, day after day, driven by his faith.

Why God Gave Us Bodies

God made the world—and you—on purpose. What is that purpose? Well, that’s what St. John Paul II went to great lengths to explain in his Theology of the Body talks, which Fr. Mike sums up beautifully in this video. With profound simplicity, Fr. Mike—inspired by St. John Paul II—shares the fundamental truths of this ingenious vision of humanity and sexuality. Made in God’s image and likeness, you are your body, and you are made for love. What you do with your body matters. You’ll have to watch the video to get the last and most powerful point. It’s amazing.

Trump Scores At U.N. On Religious Liberty

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on President Trump’s remarks on religious liberty delivered at the U.N. today:

President Trump continued his legacy of defending religious liberty with a stellar address at the United Nations today. He offered many examples of religious persecution around the globe, stating that 80 percent of the world’s population lives in nations where religious liberty is either restricted or banned altogether.

In one of the most startling statistics mentioned by President Trump, he said that “11 Christians are killed every day for following the teachings of Christ.” That alone is worthy of the kind of international dialogue that the U.N. was founded to address. But we need more than dialogue: the perpetrators need to be brought to justice.

The most ground-breaking aspect of President Trump’s statement came at the end. “The United States is forming a coalition of U.S. businesses for the protection of religious freedom. This is the first time this has been done. This initiative will encourage the private sector to protect people of all faiths in the workplace.”

This is a huge improvement over the Obama years when religious liberty was privatized to mean freedom to worship. People of faith want an expansive and robust interpretation of religious liberty—we are not satisfied to attend religious services.

The next battleground for religious liberty is the workplace. No one should be forced to engage in any religious practice, but neither should they be told to check their beliefs at the office door. Reasonable accommodations can and should be made. This is what the president is getting at, and we welcome it.

Trump also noted the hypocrisy of those who preach the wonders of diversity, which frequently is code to neuter religious liberty. “Too often people in positions of power preach diversity while silencing, shunning, or censoring the faithful. True tolerance means respecting the right of all people to express their deeply held religious beliefs.”

Saint Therese

St. Therese has an upside-down interpretation of the mustard seed of faith that rings true.

The life of faith is the greatest, most exhilarating life in the world. Sometimes. Other times it is the most tedious, thankless life in the world.

It’s supposed to be that way.

The Church explains why in Sunday’s readings, the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

A Sunday warning: You may not believe anything Jesus has to say, at first.

First, he says “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Um … I don’t know about you, but I can’t do that, and no one I know can. Does that mean we don’t have even a smidgeon of faith?

Second, he says, “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?” 

It seems to me like most of the congregation should raise their hands. That’s exactly what we would say. 

Few of us would say what Jesus says is the expected response to such a servant: “Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished.”

But think again and what Jesus says makes a lot of sense. First, the mustard seed.

I love St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s take on the mustard seed. She wrote, “for a soul whose faith equals but a tiny grain of mustard seed, God works miracles, in order that this faith which is so weak may be fortified; yet for his intimate friends, for his Mother, he did not work miracles until he had put their faith to test.”

In other words, according to her, Jesus is not saying, “any amount of faith can do miracles.” He is saying, “Only small amounts of faith can do miracles.”

Thousands of Catholics return to Mass after watching these TV commercials

For the past 20 years the ‘Catholics Come Home’ apostolate has been responding to St. John Paul II’s call for a “new evangelization” by creating inspiring TV commercials that invite inactive Catholics to return home.