Q: What do teenagers do during the summer? I was hoping maybe you could give me a few hints as to what I should be looking for and what to avoid. A little advice would go a long way right now. Thank you in advance.
A: Well first off, I don’t think there’s any set activities that teens have to do during the summer! It really depends on the individual. I myself enjoy just hanging with friends, maybe at their house or the youth center in my town. I also enjoy the occasional game of tennis or golf, but that’s just me. I would say just do what you enjoy doing. Another tip is to get involved in your youth group, if your town or parish has an active one. They’ll certainly give you more ways to spend your time.
As for what you should avoid, I could say the obvious (drinking, drugs, etc.), but that would be of little use to you. Avoid relationships that aren’t genuine. By that I mean don’t lower your standards just to make more “friends”. It’s a mistake I’ve seen plenty of people make, and it always leads to that individual feeling used, unloved, and depressed. This is the type of “friend” that leads people to making bad decisions like the ones I listed above. Make sure you have friends that will stay with you no matter what, help you in your times of need, and most importantly respect you for who you are. I am fortunate enough to have such friends, and believe me, it’s the only way to go. They make it difficult for me to ever not find anything to do during the summer!
Q: My mom treats me like a kid even though I am 14. I think that she needs to loosen up. She tells me that I can’t wear certain clothes and doesn’t let me wear makeup. Should I put up with it or talk to her?
A: Fourteen is a rough age for many people. With high school comes a lot of new pressures – get good grades, have new experiences, strive for popularity. However, fourteen is also difficult for those of us watching you go through that difficult time. I remember being terrified when my sister went through middle school and into high school, because I hated the idea of seeing her make the mistakes and experience the heartbreaks that I had. Parents are the same way, especially mothers. Fourteen is an interesting age, because you're no longer a child, and yet not quite an adult – you are able to make some decisions on your own, but still rely on your parents for support. As such, you still need to respect their decisions and realize that they may disagree with you for good reasons.
My advice is to talk with your mom (in an adult-like manner, with no screaming or whining), and maybe try to come to some form of compromise over what clothes or makeup you can and cannot wear. Most importantly, listen to her and try to understand where she is coming from. Despite what we think, mothers want nothing but the best for us, so try to keep that in mind. No matter how the conversation ends up, what mom says goes (there’s that Fourth Commandment again), but hopefully by talking it over with her you’ll have a better understanding of why she won’t let you. And who knows, maybe you just might agree!
Q: Can two people of the opposite sex be close friends without being intimate?
A: Yes, people of the opposite sex can be friends without being intimate. Many are actually best friends and nothing ever develops into a physical relationship. However, one must be careful about what they say and do in the presence of the other person to keep things at a friendship level. There is a fine line between intimate and “just friends.” Not all people are able to succeed in such friendships. Ask God to help if you are struggling in such a situation.
Q: How do I explain to a non-Catholic Christian that the Eucharist is not cannibalism?
A: You can explain to a non-Catholic Christian that the Eucharist is not cannibalism by first explaining each of the two parts separately, at first, and then together. What we must first do is explain the Eucharist by saying that in the Eucharist Christ's Body is truly and substantially present in a supernatural, not in a natural way. It is the same as in the Last Supper when Christ changed the substance of the bread and wine, but not its form, into His Flesh and Blood. So, the form of the Eucharist, which does not change, is bread and wine.
Then, you must answer the question of cannibalism. Cannibalism is to eat food, but not just any food. For it to be cannibalism the form of the food has to be meat and / or blood of one’s own species. Since the form of the Eucharist is not meat or blood it cannot be cannibalism. The determining factor is the form of the food. If a person eats a dead man, that would be cannibalism. If, on the other hand, a lion nourishes himself by eating several people, and then a month later a hunter comes along and kills and eats that lion, that would not be cannibalism.
Q: My best friend and I like to spend the night at each other’s houses a lot. If she spends the night at my house on Saturday then she goes to church with my family on Sunday. But if I spend the night at her house on Saturday, my parents won’t let me go to church with her family because she isn’t Catholic. I don’t see what the big deal is; church is church.
A: If that is the rule, then you should respect your parents. The Protestant church service doesn't fulfill our Sunday obligation as Catholics. They don't have the Eucharist. The rule around my house (because I have a lot of Protestant friends) was that I had to go to my church first, fulfill my obligation, and then I could go to my friend’s church. You should also be able to defend your faith if you are ever put into a situation at your friend’s church that would call you to.
Q: Can you tell me some possible ways to defend yourself against peer pressure?
A: Set firm standards for yourself and create a reputation based on them. Find a friend who shares the same morals as you and create a “buddy system.” Keep each other in line with the standards you have set.
Accountability plays a huge role in peer pressure situations. Check up on each other from time to time and offer support.
Q: Do aborted babies go to heaven? I heard someone say once that aborted babies are “baptized in blood.”
A: Yes, aborted babies do go to heaven. Baptism of blood or the baptism of desire is given to those who through no fault of their own have not received the Sacrament of Baptism (baptism of water). Baptism of blood is given to those who lived a good life and died in Christ’s name. Baptism of desire is given to those who would have belonged to the Catholic Church if they had known. (James Drummey, Catholic Replies [C. R. Publications, 1992], pg.93)
We believe that babies are saved because it is not their own imperfection that has caused them no chance of being part of God’s Church. We entrust them to the mercy of God. (CCC 1261)
Q: My godparents were practicing Catholics when I was baptized. They are divorced now and not practicing the Faith. I pray that they will come back to the Faith every night. Can I get new godparents?
A: No, you can't. I think the best thing you can do is to continue praying for your godparents. Instead of looking to get new godparents, you can talk to them about it, and trust that God will bring them back to Him.
Q: I would like to know if it's okay to play a video game that has wizards in it. A person gets powers, etc. for getting certain objects. The game is mostly action and a person mostly wouldn’t know this unless they read the theme of the game. This might seem like a silly question, but I was wondering.
A: The main problem with this is that the Church teaches that magic, sorcery, and related superstitions are wrong. On the surface, this doesn’t make it wrong to play a video game involving wizards. However, you have to be very careful not to let such games influence you in the wrong way. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Users should practice moderation and discipline in their approach to the mass media. They will want to form enlightened and correct consciences the more easily to resist unwholesome influences.” (CCC, 2496) Basically, that means that if you’re frequently exposed to what might be a bad influence, you might be less inclined to think it wrong if it came up in real life.
So while there’s nothing directly sinful about playing this sort of game by itself, it is a good idea to find another one.
Q: The Bible says that we should go out and spread the word of Jesus. But I go to public school and it is against the law to talk about Jesus in school. That isn’t freedom of religion. What do I do?
A: It is not against the law to spread the word of Jesus, however, tact is needed. You don’t need to broadcast it throughout the school, or make a television announcement about it. The easiest ways to spread the Word of God is by dropping small hints during conversation and by your own moral example. Sometimes it’s best to evangelize by just letting others watch how you act and have them realize what they’re missing. Forcing religion and God onto others often makes them turn away. You have to be kind, welcoming, and supportive. You have to make them interested; you have to show them how great it is to know God. As St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel always and when necessary use words.”
Q: Would you please explain what the Catholic Church teaches about the Elect? I had a priest explain to me that the Church teaches predestination while Calvinistic Protestantism teaches double predestination. I’m confused. If God chooses before all time who is to be saved, where does free will come into play? It would seem fruitless to apply any effort into trying to live the Christian life if you are predestined to hell. No matter what, you’re out of luck. There is a biblical passage that basically says that none of the chosen will be snatched from God. This problem has been bothering me for some time now.
A: First let’s lay down some definitions: Predestination: The doctrine that God specifically chose some to be saved before the creation of the world. Yet, God predestines no one to go to hell.
Double Predestination: The belief that God specifically chose some to spend their eternity in hell before the foundation of the world.
Predestination is a Catholic doctrine that has a solid base in Scripture, including the passage that you point out in your question, “and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” (Jn. 10:28) Other Scripture on this topic includes, Romans 8:29-30, Matthew 25:34, John 10:27, Acts 13:48, and Ephesians 1:4.
Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia states, “Predestination affirms that, as part of the eternal plan of divine providence, God has predetermined certain persons to eternal bliss.” The Blessed Mother is an example of someone who is predestined for heaven. Those of us who are not predestined to heaven, must choose heaven through our own free will.
However, there are forms of predestination that the Church completely rejects, including double predestination as taught by John Calvin. To believe in double predestination would in effect mean believing that we have no free will, and that we have no purpose in life. As you pointed out, there would be no point in avoiding sin, or even in living, because it has already been determined where we will spend eternity.
Whether we go to heaven or hell is our choice. We can either live a good Christian lifestyle and have a loving intimate relationship with God, or we can live our lives in sin. All we need to do is repent our sins and beg for forgiveness. Of course, that’s not to say that we can just live in sin, and then be sorry for them when we die. Striving for God’s goodness and rebuking evil will make it literally a million times easier for us, and those around us, to reach heaven.
Q: Why is the Catholic Church against gay marriage? I should have the freedom to marry whomever I want.
A: It’s evident that God created male and female to be joined together from the beginning of time. I think you should ask yourself this question: “If God intended for two females to be married (or two males) then why can’t they have children?” The Catholic Church has always recognized that marriage is between a man and a woman. Until recently all Christian churches and governments recognized this truth too.
Although we should be compassionate to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ, we cannot accept or support their choice of sexual lifestyle. Nor should we have to compromise our moral values to allow them to legally marry, or for it to be recognized by the Church.