The National Catholic Review

The Good Word

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    This is the seventeenth entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. This post examines a conflict between Hellenists and Hebraioi, both groups of Jesus’ disciples divided on linguistic grounds, and the choosing of seven to serve the needs of the Hellenists’ community. According to tradition the seven were the first seven “deacons,” but the text does not bear this out unequivocally.

  • Most of us can picture a life preferable to the one we have. Some of us spend entirely too time doing that. We scarcely notice the details of the dream changing, but the imagined life is even more variable than the real one! The only constant seems the stubbornness of God in not granting our wishes, but nowhere in the sacred scriptures does God pledge the life of our dreams. God only promises that our lives will be meaningful, provided that they draw their purpose from Christ’s own, the vine...

  • Kathryn Harrison’s new biography Joan of Arc (2014) is 320 pages long. She uses the word “voice,” or its plural, 150 times. Hard not to, when Joan’s own understanding of her life, and of what God wanted of her, was entirely determined by those voices. That was the issue at her trial by church...

  • This is the sixteenth entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. This post examines the second arrest of the disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount.

    For previous entries, please now go to the Complete Acts of the Apostle Commentary, where you can find links to each of the...

  • The morning of April 22, 1915, French and Canadian soldiers were immovably entrenched to the north of Ypres, a Belgian city in the Flemish province of West Flanders.  They saw a strange, green-yellow cloud form above the opposing German trenches. It then billowed across no man’s land into their ranks. As the cloud engulfed them, they experienced a burning sensation in their throats and intolerable choking. Within seconds, men were writhing in their death agonies, vomiting blood and mucus; a...

  • This is the fifteenth entry in the Bible Junkies Online Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. This post examines the second arrest of the disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount.

    For previous entries, please now go to the Complete Acts of the Apostle Commentary, where you can find links to each of the...

  • How history is recited matters almost as much as what happened. When someone as talented as Shakespeare tells your tale, the image stays fixed.

  • Hamlet expires saying, “The rest is silence.”  When someone dies, a stillness descends.  However feebly he might have communicated to us, even a moment before—with a gesture or a sigh—the soul of the other enters a silence in death.  It’s so final, so absolute.  Small wonder that many believe that the other is lost to us at death, dissolving away into nothing.  Yet, before she died of tuberculosis, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux wrote, “When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the...

  • He was a few weeks shy of his seventeenth birthday. It was a morning in spring, and he was on his way to a youth rally. As he walked past his parish church, the Basilica of Saint Joseph, on the Avenida Rivadavia, Jorge Borgoglio felt compelled to enter. “I went in. I felt I had to go in—those things you feel inside and you don’t know what they are.”

  • Enrique Garcia Medina / European Pressphoto Agency

    It’s in the nature of the sacred to be separate.  Sacer, the archaic Latin root of the English word, suggests that which is “cut off,” deliberately distinguished from what we call the secular.  Religions create sacred time, sacred places, sacred objects, and sacred persons.  Sometimes we see more when something is set at a distance.  The sacred reveals by setting aside.