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Joe Paprocki :
67 article(s)

Joe Paprocki, D.Min., is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago. He has over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joe is the author of numerous books on pastoral ministry and catechesis, including The Bible Blueprint, Living the Mass, and bestsellers The Catechist's Toolbox and A Well-Built Faith (all from Loyola Press).
September 18th, 2009

The story of Jonah is one of those Scripture passages that we as Catholics would say is a TRUE story, but not necessarily FACT. Catholics believe that everything… in the Bible is TRUE in a religious sense. However, when it comes to scientific and historical truth (facts), there are times that the Bible is not totally accurate.
Why? Simply because the Bible comes to us from a time when most people were not literate and certainly not as literal as we are today. They did not have science and history as we understand those fields today. So, although there is a great deal of historicity in the Bible (proven by archeological study), we also find that there are places where figurative language was used. Figurative language (for

September 11th, 2009

Poor Job really gets a raw deal, doesn’t he? And it seems that God is the instigator of all this cruelty. Upon closer examination, however, we find that Satan – the one who accuses those whom God favors – is in fact responsible for Job’s suffering. In Job 1:6-12, we find that God is conducting a dialogue in his heavenly court with his angels and that Satan is present. This seems strange until we understand that in a king’s court, the role of the accuser was known as the satan. This story creates a scene of God in his “court” surrounded by his angels, one of whom is the satan (not to be equated with later notions of the devil) who accuses Job of being faithful to God only because things are going well. He wagers that…

August 28th, 2009

Dan Brown created quite a stir with his book The Da Vinci Code… and the resulting movie in which he purports that the Church has been covering up the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (as well as their offspring) in order to crush the “feminine divine.” Brown proposes that the basis for all of this is found in what he refers to as “numerous references” to Jesus and Mary Magdalene in apocryphal writings, particularly the apocryphal Gospel of Mary (Magdalene), which he claims the Church has been suppressing for centuries. In reality, there are very few references to Jesus and Mary Magdalene in these writings, all of which can easily be found on the Internet and in libraries. More importantly, none of the references

August 21st, 2009

Miracles require faith and faith has no proof. Catholic tradition holds that Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fishes (the only miracle told by all four Gospels: Mt 14:13-21; Mk 6:32-44; Lk 9:10-17; Jn 6:1-13) was indeed a supernatural event, revealing Jesus as the Bread of Life. In the Old Testament, God fed the Israelites in the desert with “bread from heaven” – manna (Exodus 16). It was believed that this miracle would be repeated by the Messiah (the anointed one) when he came. By multiplying the loaves (and fish), Jesus provides for the needs of the people as the Father once did. It is no surprise, then, that the people want to anoint Jesus as their king following this miracle. It is natural for us…

August 7th, 2009

According to Catholic Tradition, the answer is a resounding YES! In fact, Muslim teaching holds that Mary was a virgin as well, but that’s another story. The Bible teaches us that Mary conceived a child by the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18 says that she was “found with child through the Holy Spirit.” Luke 1:26:38 gives us a detailed account of Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel in which she is told that she will give birth. Mary asks how this will be possible “since I have no relations with a man.” (1:34) Mary’s virginity is crucial because it reveals to us that Jesus is truly the Son of God – “begotten, not made” – who entered into humanity. Her virginity is also a powerful sign of her…

July 31st, 2009

The story is true but not necessarily fact. Huh? Catholic Scripture scholars tell us that some parts of the Bible use figurative language to express God’s truth. Figurative language can express truth without relying on fact. We use figurative language all the time. For example, if it’s raining very hard, we say that it’s “raining cats and dogs.” That statement is true but not fact. In the same way, we know now that some parts of the Bible employed figurative language. Why? Because the illiterate culture that the Bible came out of did not have the kind of science that we have today. They were concerned more with truth than they were with facts. Does this make the creation story and certain other Biblical passages…

July 24th, 2009

Usually, we read a book by starting on page one and continuing through to the last page. Makes sense, right? Although we may be tempted to read the Bible in the same way, that’s not necessarily the best approach to reading the Bible. Why? Because the Bible is no ordinary book. In fact, it’s not a book at all…it is a collection of books: 73 in all! Think of the Bible as a library. It even has various sections to explore. In the Old Testament we have:
• the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy),
• a History section (Joshua – 2Maccabees),
• a Wisdom section (Job – Sirach),
• and the Prophets (Isaiah – Malachi).
Likewise, in the New Testament, we have 4 “sections”:
• the Gospels (Matthew – John),

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