It may seem like an extremely simple question. Sunday is the Lord’s Day. Of course we go to Church on Sunday.

And yet, when I asked someone recently about how our Sunday obligation related to the Sabbath, they didn’t know how to answer. You see, in the Old Testament, God ordained the 7th day the day of rest. After six days of working, we were to observe the Sabbath just as the Lord had. That day was not Sunday. The seventh day is actually Saturday.

So why do we celebrate on Sunday? Are we ignoring God’s commandment by working on Saturdays? And what gave us the right to change the day? In this week’s Catholicism In Focus, I answer all of these questions and more.

For centuries, it was absolutely against Catholic law for someone to be cremated. Why was this, and what changed the Church’s stance today?

In this week’s Catholicism in FocusĀ I share about the official common prayer of the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours (also known as the Divine Office.) It is an ancient prayer that people of faith have been praying for more than 2500 years, and is something that holds the Christian community in prayer throughout the day.

It is also a prayer that many people find a bit complicated to pray at first, especially if doing it alone.

Have no fear! There are many ways to pray it that can simplify the experience. The easiest is simply to download one of the many apps and pray directly on your phone or tablet. iBreviary is an app created by the Franciscans and all proceeds support the Holy Land. To pray this, all one has to do is select the particular hour and read (everything is laid out for you!)

If you prefer a paper version, there are three variations: a shorter Christian prayer book (just one week cycle of Morning and Evening prayer), the one-volume breviary (the whole four-week psalter of morning and evening prayer, feasts, propers, and abbreviated versions of the other hours), or the full four-volume breviary (complete with everything and everything!) Guides can be purchased alongside these books to ensure that you are on the right page and doing the right prayers (although be sure to buy the guide that matches the version of breviary you are using!)

This week on Catholicism in Focus, I take a look at how the New Testament was put together and what books were left out of the final edition. In it, I talk about the Apostolic Fathers, works written within the first century after Christ. If you are interested in reading these texts (and I highly recommend that you do!) I’ve provided links below:

The Didache

First Clement

Second Clement

Epistle of Barnabas

Epistle of Polycarp

Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch

Martyrdom of Polycarp

Shepherd of Hermas

I have to say: the issue of the death penalty baffles me in the Catholic Church. How we pride ourselves on being a people of life! How we claim that all life is sacred and should be protected! And yet… how vehemently I see Catholics react to the pope when he suggests that there is never an acceptable situation for the death penalty.

While the vast majority of Catholics recognize the evils of abortion, only about half are against the death penalty. While the “right to life” is a slogan found at almost every church, many of its people demand “justice” for victims in the form of executions. Reading the comments of this week’s video, hearing people talk about our pope, I’m honestly at a loss. How does this fit?

We can look to the Old Testament and find proof texts for the death penalty. All throughout the Law we can find that the penalty for certain sins is death. And people will stick to them. But why? Why them? Why, in the light of the Gospel and the recognition that we have been ratified to a new covenant, would we choose to hold onto that law when we are very comfortable letting go of others (animal sacrifices, eating pork, wearing clothing made of two fibers, etc.) Jesus makes it very clear that we are to love our enemies, that we are to forgive and have mercy because our God forgives and has mercy on us.

And yet, “justice” needs to be rendered in many people’s hearts. Horrible crimes deserve execution, in their minds.

I’m sorry, but I have to side with Pope John Paul II on this one. I have to stand with Pope Francis here. Really, I stand with the entire history of our Catholic tradition that says that the capital punishment is an evil to be tolerated at best, a thing that can never be a good. Now that situations exist when it is not necessary for the safety of society, now that we have a more defined understanding of the dignity of the human person and the damage that such penalties inflict on all of society, there is simply no need for it.

I hope that you will join me in standing agains the death penalty in all situations. It is the teaching of the Catholic Church, and really, the teaching of Jesus Christ.