Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Catholic and Protestant -- The 10 Commandments

Q: What’s the deal with the Ten Commandments? My Protestant friend says that their Ten Commandments are different than Catholic’s.

A: The Ten Commandments were given by God through Moses in Exodus. Our Lord handed on these commandments to His Church and gave it power to make new laws as time went on. In the sixteenth century, Protestants interpreted Exodus 20 differently than Catholics, and expanded the commandments in different ways.

One Protestant version reads:
1. I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.
5. Honor thy father and thy mother.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness.
10. Thou shalt not covet.

And the Catholic version:
1. I am the Lord your God: You shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
3. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
4. Honor your father and your mother.
5. You shall not kill.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

Jenna

Monday, December 29, 2008

Church is Boring

Q: Church is too boring, but I have to go according to my parents. So is there anything I can do to make it more interesting?

A: Don’t worry, that’s not an unusual feeling for us as teens. A way that I try to make it more interesting is by going to Mass every week, and trying to learn more about my faith. I also attend Bible studies and a charismatic youth group that helps me to grow on a spiritual level and deepens my faith (it’s also more appealing to me at my age). It has been my experience, hearing from my parents that most teens go through a time of wondering, “Why am I here? What am I getting out of this?” but as you continue to deepen your faith and grow as a Catholic, the Mass begins to have more meaning to you personally. Just don’t give up on it, look into books about the faith, or Catholic Bible studies in your area that could help you understand more and aid you in growing spiritually.

Ashley

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Flirtatious Guy

Q: One of my friends is really heavy on flirting with any girl, even though he has a girlfriend. It’s out of hand and the girls in our group are getting irritated. Is there any way I can get him to stop?

A: Your friend may not know others think he is flirting. Some people are naturally flirtatious and do not realize how others see their actions. Talk to him, he probably doesn’t know that the girls in your group are becoming irritated with his flirting. Tell him that the girls would like him to cut back on it. Be ready for him to say that he doesn't flirt with them, because he may not know he's doing it. Let him know some specific situations that have made the girls uncomfortable.

Don't expect a complete character overhaul, but if he knows specific things that are irritating them he can stop doing those things. If we do not let someone know the things that are bothering us we cannot hold them responsible for those things. Until it is communicated the other party does not know their actions are bothersome. You cannot force your friend to stop, but letting him know that he is being perceived as irritating is a good way to help him choose to stop.

Alex

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Divorce Affect on Teens

Q: My parents have decided to get a divorce. I’ve been looking for information about the effect divorce has on teenagers and I haven’t found much. What should I expect?

A: In the world of global communication and Internet capabilities, there are a number of different useful web sites that deal with the effects of divorce on children and adolescents. The Better Divorce Network, offers an extensive list of different problems or situations you may find arise after your parents are divorced, including one parent moving far away, splitting holidays and birthdays between both parents, and the possibility of step-families.

Divorce is a very difficult situation to work through, for both the parents and their children (CCC, 2385). Difficult situations are like fingerprints; they’re different for every person. I would suggest talking to some of your other friends or classmates, or possibly finding an online chat room for teenagers who have gone through the same thing – although your experiences may not be the same, your friends may be able to offer some valuable insight into how to deal with your thoughts and emotions during this trying period.

Maureen D.

Friday, December 19, 2008

St. Francis a Vegetarian

Q: I’m having a disagreement with my parents. I want to become a vegetarian because I don’t believe in the inhumane killing of innocent animals. I realize that becoming a vegetarian means that I’ll have to eat other foods so that I get the necessary nutrients and stuff, but my parents still think it’s unhealthy. Plus, it is inconvenient for the rest of the family. I’m trying to get them to understand my position better. My question is: wasn’t St. Francis a vegetarian?

A: No, St. Francis was not a vegetarian. In early biographies, St. Francis says if Christmas were to be on a Friday, that all those in the Order would be allowed twice as much rations of meat, and animals allowed twice as much hay.

St. Francis had a great love for animals, he often referred to them as his brothers or sisters, and he would even talk to them. If the act of eating meat itself were immoral then all the saints would be vegetarians. God put animals on this earth solely for our benefit. Animals do demand a certain amount of respect though, as does everything else that God created. You don’t cut down a giant innocent oak tree just for the sake of chopping it down do you? You do it for the wood. Chopping down big ole’ oak trees for fun, or needlessly, would be misusing one of God’s gifts to us. It’s the same with animals, God put them here so that we may profit from them, but not to kill for fun. To kill inhumanely or more than we need is, again, an abuse of one of God’s gifts to us.

Christian

Additional Resource:
Healthy Vegetarian Eating

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How Can We Fault Judas

Q: If Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was planned out by God and was a key part of our salvation, how can we fault Judas? After all, Jesus told him to do it at the Last Supper. Peter denied Jesus three times, even after he was warned that it would happen, and Peter was made the head of the Church. Why is Peter forgiven, and not Judas?

A: First of all, in Matthew 26:21 it says: “and as they did eat, he said, ‘Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.’” Jesus is not telling Judas to betray Him, but was showing that He knew what Judas was planning to do, and that He wasn’t going to stop Judas.

Secondly, Peter was forgiven because he was sincerely sorry and sought forgiveness. Sure Judas was sorry too, but he didn’t understand just what a loving and forgiving God our Lord is, so he committed suicide. The thing is, if Judas had asked for mercy like Peter he would have been forgiven, and maybe even have become a great saint. You see, it was his choice.

Really, for all we know there may not even be one single person in hell. Whhhaatt? I’m serious! Hey, it isn’t very likely but we gotta be optimistic right? After all, we were all created solely for the pure purpose to be with God in heaven one day. It’s a possibility (seriously doubt it though).

Christian

Monday, December 15, 2008

Catholic Teaching on Self-Harm

Q: Hi, I am a sophomore at at a Catholic high school. I was wondering if you could possibly send me some information about the Catholic Church's teaching and thoughts on eating disorders or any kind of self injury. I am doing a project on eating disorders in my Christian Relationships class. If you have any information it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

A: Though the Church doesn’t have a specific teaching on eating disorders and self-injury (that I can find), there are principles on the respect of self and of the human body. In CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) #2288, it says: “Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.”

If someone is knowingly and deliberately abusing himself by doing things like cutting, burning, etc., it is gravely going against the will of God. 1 Corinthians 6: 12-20 says: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.”

Cutting and self-mutilation is an undignified way to treat your body—the temple of the Holy Spirit—along with going down the path to becoming anorexic. God created us in His image, and our body is meant to glorify Him. The idea that hurting and starving ourselves is the cure to the pain inside, or something that will lead to happiness, is of course a very twisted and sick idea.

People who have anorexia nervosa, and who are addicted to cutting, drugs, and forms of self-injury, are not necessarily culpable for their actions, because many have forms of mental illnesses; therefore, they may not be committing a sin. But only God knows what’s in their hearts, and their reasons for doing it.

I hope this information helps you out with your project!

Catherine

To find help with self-injury:
To Write Love On Her Arms
Teen Hope Line
Befrienders: Self-Harm
Catholic Therapists Online

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why Go to Confession

Dr. Ray Guarendi on the Sacrament of Confession.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Kissing and Chastity


Q: I'm totally for following chastity, but is kissing as big a sin as premarital sex?

A: No, not even close. Sex is part of the sacrament of marriage, kissing is not. As long as it is not awakening sexual desire in either person, and there is no chance of going further, or thought of going further, a kiss won’t hurt.

Amanda

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Religious Life for Women

Q: I have been thinking about the religious life. How do I find out more about the every day life of a sister or a consecrated single?

A: Talk to someone who is a sister or a consecrated single. They can answer any questions you have, and give you the details of their everyday life. You could also read about what they are committed to and how different orders work. I have several consecrated friends, and I have asked them many questions about their lives as consecrated women. I answered most of my questions by simply talking to them. You can contact their organization at: Vocation Director, 60 Austin Avenue, Greenville RI 02828 or the website www.legionariesofchrist.org. Ask to correspond with a consecrated, a pen pal. These women love to talk to girls about devotion to the consecrated life.

You can also visit this website for information about Carmelite nuns: www.siouxcitycarmel.com/index.html or write them at: Vocation Directress, Carmelite Monastery, 2901 South Cecilia, Sioux City, Iowa 51106. The website is an excellent place to start as it can help you in your decision about the religious life. They are very happy to answer any questions you have.

Both of these orders are full of wonderful, joyful women who have given up everything to follow Christ. There are many, many other orders that you can look into as well. Check them out and see what kind of options there are available, look for one that pops out at you.

The next thing you need to do is pray. Pray, pray, pray, pray! Talk to God about it. He is the one who plants the desire for a religious vocation in you. He will direct you to the right order, if that is what you are meant to do. Don’t rush it; it will take some time. The important thing is to listen to God at all times, and be careful not to let your own ideas get you confused with God’s plan.

Amanda

Here are a couple of orders with young vocations:
Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist
Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dropping Out of School Because of Bullies

Q: I feel as if everyone hates me at school. I’m tired of being bullied. I feel like dropping out.

A: Don’t give up – I promise there is more to life than what lies inside your school walls. Unfortunately, you’ll never know if you give up and drop out now. Being bullied is a very hard thing to go through, and for having the strength to make it through this far I commend you. People often tell those of us who get picked on to tell a teacher or talk to the principle, but that doesn’t always work. So what do you do? Let’s look at this step-by-step.

First, bullies usually pick on people they see as “weak” or “unconfident.” People don’t usually single out the quarterback or valedictorian to make fun of. I have learned that the quickest way to make people stop picking on you is self-confidence. Easier said than done, eh? But it’s not as hard as you would think. When I first hit high school, I was scared to death. I had always been a pretty outgoing person, but I was never really classified as “cool.” People always made fun of my hair, or my clothes, or my complete lack of athletic ability. But I stopped worrying about what other people said or thought, and found something I loved to help me through – acting.

Now, I’ve never exactly been what you would call a good actress, but through drama I found a world I never knew existed – one where I was actually accepted for who I was, no questions asked. And somewhere between time on stage, in the chorus, and time backstage with the other actors and stage crew, I found the self-confidence and ability to let all those negative comments bounce right off of me that I never thought I’d have. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true – all you need is a little more self-confidence and the whole world can change for you!

So what’s the moral? No, not that drama can abolish bullies from schools all over the world – that’s just wishful thinking. Sadly, there will always be people who think they are better than you, and feel the need to prove it through cruelty. The point is, the only way they can make you feel bad about yourself is if you let them. So find something you love, something you can throw yourself into, and something you are (relatively) good at. Once you see you can actually do something worthwhile, and that you really are as special as God made you to be, you may be pleasantly surprised at how school suddenly doesn’t seem like such a task to get through. Who knows, you may even end up liking it!

Maureen D.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Can a Satanist Go to Heaven

Q: I used to talk to this Satanist every day. But then I found out he secretly hates me because I’m Catholic and he hates Christians. Don’t get me wrong, he’s actually a really, really nice guy. He’s against abortion, and he really cares about other people. For a Satanist, he’s actually not much different to a Catholic, regarding morals.

So, what I’m trying to ask is, will he go to Hell? I mean, he’s really nice, but he hates Christians, and he’s a Satanist. What are his chances of going to heaven? Because I understand that God is rather harsh when it comes to judgment.

A: In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official teaching of the Church states in #1033: “We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: ‘He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. That is key for anyone who wants to know how he or she can be united with God in heaven: to love Him. If you don’t love God and don’t freely choose to do His will, you are freely choosing to be separated from God after death—which is called Hell. As it also says in CCC #1033: “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell’.”

For your friend to go to Heaven, the question is not whether he had been good or moral enough to go to Heaven, since many people who don’t love God or don’t believe in God have good morals. The question is: did he love God with his all his heart, with all his mind, with all his soul, and with all his strength?

People who don't love God and have no desire to do His will, through their own freewill God gave them, freely choose to reject God. By rejecting God and not having faith in Him, they refuse to allow God’s grace to flow through them. And, before they die, if they refuse to believe in Him and convert, they will choose Hell—the eternal separation from God.

Therefore, if the Satanist were to choose Heaven, he would have to come to freely love God, convert and repent for all of his sins against God.

Matthew 7:13-14 says: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that lead to life, and those who find it are few.” For everyone, the path to Heaven is narrow and hard, but with God’s help and grace, everyone can get to Heaven if they freely choose to love God and put their trust in Him, for God is a merciful God, who does not want “anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Pray for the Satanist, that he’ll come to realize that God is the only One who deserves worship, and the One whose love for him is incomparable to any other love he’s known.

Catherine

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Catherine

My name is Catherine, but many of my friends call me Cat. I am fifteen-years old, and am the eldest of six children. I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; my family moved to Michigan when I was three. I live in the country on eight acres of land. I have been raised Catholic all of my life. I enjoy growing more deeply in knowledge about my Catholic faith, and am always striving to try to love God more and to fully give my life to Him. I am the treasurer of the pro-life club I am in, and am active in the pro-life ministry. I enjoy playing three instruments: piano, bass guitar, and guitar. I enjoy singing with my dad when we do the music for Mass. I love listening to music, mainly alternative metal and symphonic metal, though my genre tastes are very diverse. As my family can attest to, one of my main passions is spending hours on the Internet, to blog and chat mostly. I am a book worm; I could read books all day if I had the time and if it was healthy to do so. My learning interests right now are writing, philosophy, theology, history, and Latin. I would like to attend Franciscan University of Steubenville when the time comes for college.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why Purgatory


Q: If Jesus died on the cross for our sins then why would we have to go to purgatory?

A: When we die we will go straight to one of three places, those who die without repentance will go to hell, those who die in God’s grace and friendship but have sinned will go to purgatory, and then others like the elect, saints, and those who have never sinned like Mary or babies will go straight to heaven. Purgatory is important because, “nothing unclean shall enter it [heaven].” (Rev. 21:27)

Jesus died for our sins so that we may be with Him in heaven but we still must be made clean of any venial sin and/or the stain of mortal sin. After purgatory, we will be completely free from sin and have absolutely no familiarity with it whatsoever. It’s only logical that we would go through some sort of purification before entering heaven. Purgatory is that purification and before Jesus’ death I don’t think purgatory even existed since no one could enter heaven.

Christian

Monday, December 1, 2008

Jesus Praying

Q: Jesus prays throughout the whole New Testament. He is God, why does He have to pray?

A: To understand this, you also have to understand about the Trinity. God is three persons (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) but there is only one God. This is a great mystery that we could not figure out on our own, so God revealed it to us (CCC, 732). It’s bigger than our understanding, but that’s because God is God. If we could figure Him out completely, he would be something less than we are. Anyway, the three persons who are God live in constant loving communion and conversation. Talking to God is prayer, even for God.

So when Jesus (the second person of the Trinity) is praying, He’s having a conversation with the Father (the first person of the Trinity). Jesus also prayed in order to show us how to pray. He shows us that His Father is our Father too. That’s one advantage of God becoming man – he can be a perfect example when showing us how to pray. He prayed in many ways – reading Scripture (Lk. 4:16-20), praying spontaneously (Jn. 11:41-42), going to synagogue (Jn. 6:59), fasting (Mt. 4:2), etc.

Michael

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Figuring Out Beliefs

Q: I used to be best friends with this guy when we were kids. We both changed a lot in high school, and now we aren’t as good of friends. He became a hardcore Christian, and I’m still trying to figure out my beliefs. He is always trying to save me or have people from his Fundamentalist church come and talk to me. How can I tell him that I want him to back off a little, without being a jerk about it?

A: I would approach him, and just explain that you are doing a lot of searching right now. Tell him that you would appreciate his prayers during this time of your life but that you need to figure things out for yourself. Let him know that even though you may benefit from talking to him or his friends, you’d like to be the one who asks for information in your own way and time.

Ashley

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Catholics and Statue Worship

Q: My neighbor says that Catholics worship statues. Wouldn’t it be breaking the first commandment to pray to a statue?

A: Catholics do not pray to statues and relics, but to the persons they represent. We respect them, meaning not merely showing respect to stone and wood and paper, but to the persons these things represent. It is just as right to show respect to the images of Christ and the saints, as it is of those whom we honor or love on earth. The first commandment forbids the making, or the use of, statues only when they promote false worship.

Jenna

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Hate Religion

Q: I’m not a bigot or anything, I just hate religion and I think it is just like a drug. Every time I see someone wearing a cross around their neck, I want to jump up and tell them to get real. What should I do?

A: I would not suggest jumping up and challenging their beliefs, even though you would like to. The best way to handle a difference of opinion with someone is in a discussion. And the best way to have an effective discussion is to know the other person’s side. I think you should investigate further into why those people are wearing crosses. In this process you will be able to discover the reasons for their display. This will help you better express your own position. Don’t look simply at the surface; look into the depths of what they believe.

Anyone can make an attack at someone for his or her beliefs. It takes a wiser person to examine the other person’s position, to educate themselves about new ways and choose the best course for himself or herself. Another possibility is to look inward and examine why you feel the way you do. Look into why you hate religion, and research it more. I think the best way to move forward in anything is to first examine oneself, take the information, turn that knowledge into action, and grow.

Alex

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving and the Sin of Gluttony

Q: Is it a sin of gluttony when you pig out at Thanksgiving dinner?

A: Gluttony is when you are constantly indulging yourself in food (or other pleasures). Gluttony is an emotion and a mentality. If you eat a lot more than usual on Thanksgiving it’s not gluttony, you are feasting and celebrating for all that you are thankful for. But if you eat constantly every day, all you are doing is entertaining yourself or using food to ease anxiety and pressure. So, go ahead and feast on Thanksgiving but don’t use food as a daily indulgence or anxiety reliever.

Austin

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tattoos and Parents

Q: I think tattoos are cool, but my parents hate them. We fight over this constantly. I want to be my own person, but my parents won’t let me get a tattoo. It makes me really angry. What should I do?

A: Okay, I’m a teen who also at one time wanted a tattoo. I also went through the fights with my parents about the tattoo. They kept asking me a question (and I think that it has finally sunk in), “How would I feel about being 60-years old and have my grandchildren ask me about the tattoo on my back that I got when I was 18?” Plus, most people who have tattoos regret ever getting them and blame it on a stage they went through as a teen.

There are many ways of expressing yourself that don’t involve something as permanent as a tattoo. Think of alternatives. A compromise may be a henna tattoo. They last for about 2 weeks and you can get them re-applied, but they aren’t permanent.

Ashley

Monday, November 17, 2008

Confirmation and Beliefs

Q: My problem is my religion. I have nothing against the Catholic Church, but I would like to find out about other religions. I don’t feel it’s fair for me to have to automatically go to the same church as my parents. I have always considered myself an independent person. If I don’t believe in everything the Catholic religion preaches what is the point of me being confirmed?

A: At some point in life, many people tend to go through a period of questioning their faith and religion. It can be much more meaningful to believe in something because you really think that it is right, rather than just because your parents made you attend church.

I know that a lot of people are confirmed early in high school, but if you don’t feel like you are ready or aren’t yet sure about the Catholic Church, I think that it is a good idea to learn more about the Catholic Church on your own. A good place to start might be the bibliography in the sidebar of this blog.

If you want to learn more about the requirements for the Sacrament of Confirmation, then check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (CCC, 1306-1310)

Tom

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Catholics and the Sign of the Cross

Q: Why do Catholics make the sign of the cross on themselves?

A: The sign of the cross represents the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Before and after prayer we cross ourselves because it helps remind us of Jesus’ death. It also reminds us of His promise that through Him, because of His suffering, we can get to heaven. It can also remind us of whom we belong to.

Amanda

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Being a Pro-Life Nurse

Q: I want to be a nurse. Can I work in a hospital that performs abortions as long as I don’t work in that part of the hospital?

A: Well, if you strongly oppose abortion, then I think it would be a conflict of beliefs if you worked at a hospital that performs them. There are many other hospitals out there that don’t do abortions. Some things are worth taking a stand against, and if you make the decision now not to work at a hospital that performs abortions, then that is one way to stand up for life as a Christian.

I strongly suggest, as a future nurse, that you read the powerful story of Jill Stanek. You can find it at www.jillstanek.org. Mrs. Stanek is a Christian woman who went to work as a labor and delivery nurse at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. It never crossed her mind that a hospital by that name would perform abortions. Sadly, she learned how wrong she was when one day she was brought a baby aborted alive at 21 weeks of gestation. She held that baby for 45 minutes until he died.

Instead of looking the other way, Mrs. Stanek remained at Christ Hospital for some time with the hope of changing their abortion policy. During that time she held countless babies that were aborted alive. It changed her life forever. Eventually, she was fired for her stance and she now works full time in the pro-life movement. She has testified before congress and helped bring about the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which protects children from infanticide.

Now that is an amazing nurse!

Ashley

Monday, November 10, 2008

Going to Mass Alone

Q: My parents are really cool people and all, but I wish that we could start going to church. I feel like I need God in my life more. I’m trying to read the Bible more often and to get in touch with God. My mom claims that she gets bored sitting in Mass, but I really want to start going. Do you have any suggestions?

A: If your parents absolutely refuse to take you to church, try to find a ride with a friend or other family member. As a second option, use your church directory to find someone who might be willing to take you. As a last resort, take a bike ride or walk to the closest church or bus stop. However, if all fails, make a spiritual communion, by saying a prayer to God, telling Him how much you wanted to receive Jesus in Communion. He will understand your predicament and be happy that you are so dedicated to Him and His Church.

Jenna

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Waiting for Sex

Q: I have a boyfriend and we’re really close. We’ve talked about sex and I’m a bit tentative about it all. How do I convince him that we should wait until we’re married?

A: It’s not necessary for you to convince him, but talk with him and share why you made that decision. If your boyfriend really loves you, then he will respect your decision.

If he doesn’t want to wait, don’t let him put pressure on you and your commitment. You don’t want to keep yourself in tough situation. If he’s not going to respect your choice to do what’s right, then you need to end the relationship.

Jesus tells us that we need to wait (1 Cor. 6: 13, 18-20, and 1 Thess. 4:3), and with all the messages we are pounded with from society, it’s a good thing that He does. God created sex and it is sacred in marriage, but otherwise a sin.

Waiting until marriage protects both of you, not only from putting your eternal soul in danger, but from emotional and physical hurt. You can’t be sure that you will end up married and you could get pregnant. Those are some of the things that can happen, and the hurt won’t go away. The peace and joy that comes from a lifestyle of chastity is worth more than all of the pleasures of the world!

Sex is not just for when you think that you’re in love and you want to show it. It is a total giving of yourself, everything in your being. Real love allows you to wait, because real love can endure anything. “Love does not insist on its own way” (1 Cor. 13:5)

Amanda

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Praying When Things Fall Apart

Q: My family is falling apart. I’ve been praying real hard, but things aren’t getting any better. Why isn’t God answering my prayers?

A: Don’t give up! God answers every prayer, although not always in the way we want. God will answer in His own time and in His own way. We have to do more than just pray hard; we have to make prayer a priority, and to make God the center of our lives. Prayer is more than asking God’s help. It is a relationship with God, and to keep that relationship healthy we have to pray each and every day. We should pray with humility, perseverance, and confidence, we should pray for what will help us gain salvation, and to pray in a state of grace, or to go back to a state of grace.

Also, suffering in and of itself is evil, and is a product of original sin, but we can put suffering to good use. If we carry our crosses with joy, and offer up our suffering to Jesus it would be a great way to show Him how much we love Him. You’re obviously going through some very hard times. Keep in mind that not all is lost, and that maybe some good can come from your hardship. God knows what you are going through, and He will never abandon you. His love for you is so great that it is beyond comprehension.

Christian

Monday, November 3, 2008

Praying When Confused

Q: Could you tell me what’s the best way to sort out feelings when you’re really confused?

A: Pray. Find a quiet place away from distractions so you can just think things out, and pray. Our prayers are very powerful. Prayer is the closest we can get to God and heaven here on earth. It can work wonders in our lives, in the lives of others, and it can definitely help us sort things out. God knows exactly what is going on in our lives, after all he is omnipresent (which means he is everywhere at once), but since prayer is, simply, having a relationship with God. He wants us to tell Him what is going on in our lives.

Pray to God during your best times as well as your worst. There are no dos or don’ts, no how-to books or guidelines telling how you have to pray. None of us are very well equipped for prayer, but there is a way to pray better, the more you pray the better you’ll get at it. Start praying on a regular basis if you’re not already. If you don’t like to pray, or think it’s boring, just keep trying. Pray with a humble and sincere heart, and maybe try to pray more.

Like I said, prayer is the closest we can get to God. If we don’t like to pray that usually means that we don’t want to have a relationship with God and if we don’t have a relationship with God then we’re sunk. We’re gonna have a pretty hard time getting into heaven, and none of us want that. I cannot stress enough the importance of prayer, and what a significant role it can play in our lives, ‘cause having that relationship with God can make a total difference. It can help us sort out our feelings, and it can be our key to salvation. So pray, and believe me it will help you work out the confusion.

Christian

Friday, October 31, 2008

Why Did God Create Satan

Q: Okay, if God is all-good, why did he create Satan? I mean if God is good, how can evil things happen in the world that He created? How can evil come from something that is pure goodness?

A: When God created Satan he was not yet evil, but a good angel. God gave the angels free will; He wanted them to choose Him freely. Satan wanted to be like God, so he and his followers radically and permanently rejected their creator. It is their irreversible choice, and not a flaw, that makes this unforgivable. Evil did not come into the world from something “that is pure goodness” but from Satan’s choice to reject the goodness of God’s reign, and from seeing himself like God. Since God is all-good then we can correctly assume that everything that God does, and that all his laws are also completely good. Therefore to do something against God’s laws is evil. Evil is more than doing something that would hurt another person, but doing something that God said not to do (or inversely not doing something that God said to do).

Christian

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why Not Just End Your Life

Q: I’m doing a report for school on euthanasia. It seems to me that suicide is the only path out sometimes. Why is it morally wrong if it’s easier to end your life quickly than to suffer through long and arduous pain?

A: Committing suicide is a mortal sin; it is breaking the fifth commandment. God commanded this because He wants us to take care of our spiritual and physical being. He gave each person a soul. He chose each person individually for a purpose. God knows when to call us home. There is a reason for everything, including suffering. Society tells us that we should do everything to stay away from pain. God tells us that it is a blessing and a way to unite ourselves with Christ. Offering up your pain to God pleases Him because you are showing Him that you are willing to suffer for Him.

Amanda

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Teen Dating Scene

Normally, we take questions from teenagers, but today we make an exception and take a question from a mother and her teen daughter. We're also doing things a little differently by having two authors of the answer.

Q: This is from me (a mom!) and my lovely 16-year-old daughter, who recently started away-school after being homeschooled from kindergarten until high school.

Mom says dating is for when a) you know you are called to the vocation of marriage and b) you are at a point in life when marriage is a possibility (say, late college-age, or at least when there is some spiritual and intellectual maturity and a job!). Dating is not a game, and is bad preparation for marriage to be constantly hooking up, getting romantic and/or intimate, then breaking up ... and going onto a new person. Modern dating was never envisioned by the Church, so there are no "rules" for it. But it's easy to see how harmful it is to be playing at love without looking for a person to spend the rest of your life with. So, at this age, I think having male friends is fine, going out in groups is fine, but "pairing off" is a bad idea. St. Francis de Sales says: "... if you hope to enter into a temporal marriage, guard jealously your first love for your first husband. In my opinion it is very deceitful to present him with a heart quite worn out, spoiled, and weary with love instead of a whole and sincere heart."

Daughter says she isn't going to get physically intimate with a guy, she just wants to have fun and see what its like to have a guy totally crushing on her. All her friends at school are dating. What's the big deal? Unless the Church comes out with some statement against dating, there is nothing wrong with it.

What's your take on this?


A: As a couple who has recently started dating, we would like to point out the seriousness of an intimate human relationship. There is great joy and pleasure in dating, but there is so much more than just feelings and fun. A relationship based solely off of feelings will only end in broken feelings.

Your daughter "wants to have fun and see what it's like to have a guy totally crushing on her," and this is normal. But the question is: is this an adequate reason to date a guy?

We say no. This way of doing things is totally unfair to both parties. Using a guy to get his attention and to "have fun" is just that, using a guy. She would be screwing with this guy's thoughts and feelings. Also, in a sense, deceiving him and betraying his trust. Isn't this simply using the way that he thinks and feels about her solely for self-pleasure?

What many young women don't realize is that solely seeking emotional closeness has the same addictive qualities as guys seeking physical pleasure. A woman can become addicted to an "emotional masturbation," enjoying the waves of pleasure coming not from physical stimulation (as it happens for guys) but from the emotional stimulation. If not guided spiritually, this will lead to a self-centered relationship with a long list of abuses.

To have a truly joyful and fun relationship, the spiritual aspects need to be set on a higher level than the physical and emotional. This can be done with maturity, prayer, and counsel. It is not something to be taken lightly, but something that needs to be respected and honored as sacred.

Kristina and Paul

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kristina

Who am I? That's a question that could take a lifetime to answer. But lets see here ... my name is Kristina Marie. For those who are curious, that means Christ-bearer. And that pretty much sums up my goals, my ambitions, and my dreams. I'm a freshman at Aquinas College this year, pursuing a degree in psychology. As for what I want to do as a career; jail ministry, counseling, social work, and youth ministry are all possible directions I could take. Sometimes I wish that I could live more than one life in order to accomplish everything I'd like to do.

I play guitar. I write poetry. I love being with people. My family is incredible. I was homeschooled for most of my life. I LOVE fruit. I tend to be a very deep person, yet at the same time I'm always made fun of for my naivety. Honestly, I'm still trying to discover who I am, where I am going, what I want, what God wants, and all those hard questions that take forever to answer. Life is good though. I enjoy the journey.

I am blessed.

Paul

They call me Paul. I'm a 19 year old freshman at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am the sixth of nine kids, including two adopted siblings. Born and raised Roman Catholic in the tiny town of Hubbardston. I am a Theology major with plans on being a youth minister in the future. I'm active in Students for Life and Catholic ministries. I enjoy following and discussing politics, especially the pro-life campaign. I love hanging out with friends, watching a good movie, playing Wii, and listening to all kinds of music.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Being an Individual

Q: I am the type of girl who doesn’t have many acquaintance friends but like five very close friends. Because of this, I usually do stuff by myself and I like it. I get along fine with people but I enjoy doing stuff on my own like going to the mall. I also do not like parties or group projects. Parties bore me to death unless one of my close friends is having a small one. Is it normal to want to be individual about a lot of stuff?

A: Well, you know, since I’m a practicing Catholic, homeschooled, and come from a so-called “large” family (seven kids including me), today’s society would consider me a complete and utter freak. (I’m also a very radical person.) Keeping that in mind, I may not be the best person to give an answer depicting what is normal and what is not, but I’m going to answer this question anyway.

It’s not really whether or not it’s considered normal that’s important, but is this okay. Do you know the saying “stand for what’s right, even if you stand alone”? This statement illustrates my point wonderfully. Even if you’re not considered normal, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re messed up or anything. If you’re a very private person then that’s fine. It’s not like that’s a sin or some disease or disorder. Being private is part of your personality and God made you that way for a reason. But anyway, your question: Is it normal? I think so. There are plenty of other people out there who are quiet, soft-spoken, or private people. I’m that way and I’ve got friends like that too. (Of course, I’m “abnormal” don’t forget that.)

And one more thing, in some way or other, and maybe more or less, we are called to be in communion with others. It is okay to be private as long as it’s not out of selfishness and that’s just the way you are.

Christian

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Breaking Off a Friendship

Q: How do I break off an unhealthy three-year friendship? She lies about serious things and is always making sarcastic remarks about my family. I have tried to be a good friend but this friendship puts me on an emotional roller coaster. Don’t tell me to just avoid her. That’s impossible.

A: Unfortunately, avoiding her is not only impossible, it’s one of the worst ways of ending a friendship. Avoiding someone who you no longer want to be friends with ends up hurting both of you in the long run. The other person often feels neglected and discarded, and usually does not see the reason for your sudden cold shoulder. Resentment, pain, and anger on both sides are all very common when this situation arises.

The best way to break off an unhealthy friendship is also the hardest, because it involves you talking to her about it. Sit your friend down and tell her you are unhappy with your friendship and need it to end. The key is to do it nicely, but firmly. Don’t make accusations and don’t start a screaming match. Simply explain to her why you feel you can no longer be her friend, and see what she thinks. Listen to her, and make sure both sides of the story are clear.

Then, after everything that needs to be said has been said, stick to your decision. Don’t call her up when all of your other friends are out at a movie without you. Don’t pretend to be “best friends” when you have no one to sit with at lunch. This will just end up in confusion and her feeling as though you are using her, bringing you right back to the resentment and anger you tried to avoid. Losing a friend is very difficult to get through, but remember: everything is okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

A few years ago, Rachel Simmons wrote a book called Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, which talks about the different struggles that girls go through – with their family, friends, and schoolmates. She wrote a follow up book this past year, Odd Girl Speaks Out, in which she published stories of girls who had read her book and wanted to tell about their experiences. These books offer some wonderful advice on how to deal with a range of things that girls encounter through the teenage years, especially unhealthy friendships. I highly recommend that you check either of these out of the library for a quick, easy, and very insightful read.

Maureen D.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Practicing and Studying Wicca

Q: I’ve been raised as a Roman Catholic against my will, baptized when I was too young to understand. I never really believed in God. Then I stumbled upon the religion Wicca. I’ve been practicing and studying this for about three months. In secret, of course. How do I tell my parents?

A: Struggling with your faith is a natural part of life, only made more difficult when you feel completely detached from what you have been raised to believe. When I graduated from high school, I spent a period of time in a form of religious limbo – not really sure what to believe or where to find the faith I wanted. During that time, a good friend of mine asked me if I had even bothered looking at the faith that I was so adamant about running away from. As it turns out, I found all of the answers I needed and more simply by taking what had always been my parents’ beliefs and embracing them as my own.

I think the first step you need to take, before walking away from the Roman Catholic faith you have been baptized into, involves looking deeper into what the Roman Catholic Church believes and preaches. What does the Church teach that you agree with? That you disagree with? Why is it hard to imagine that God really is out there? (On this note, St. Thomas Aquinas has some wonderful books to read if you’re interested in some good food for thought.)

Struggling with your faith is something that almost everyone goes through, but not something anyone should go through alone. Talk to your parents about their beliefs and why they chose to raise you Catholic. Ask your friends where they stand on their journey towards faith, and talk to a priest or youth group minister at your local church about any questions that come up. Before you denounce the Catholic faith, look a little harder – you just might realize there’s more you believe in than you thought.

Maureen D.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Catholic Church Position On Stem Cell Research

Q: Why are Catholics so against stem cell research? It could help so many people.

A: This is a misconception many people have. The Catholic Church is not against stem cell research, but is against fetal stem cell research. We agree that adult stem cells can and has helped many people.

The Catholic Church does not support fetal stem cell research because it destroys a living human embryo in order to extract the embryo’s stem cells. The Church teaches that all life is sacred, from conception until natural death.

If our government can choose to destroy an unborn human life for the greater good, then soon it will also become their right to decide to dispose of terminally ill patients and condemned prisoners.

We must also consider the long-term consequences of fetal stem cell research. Once the limited supplies of human embryos are destroyed, where will the additional embryos come from? The answer is egg extraction, something already happening in California and England. Egg extraction is an extremely painful and dangerous process for women. It also destroys women’s dignity by stripping them of their natural instinct as caregivers and selling their own infants.

Adult stem cell research does cure disease. There have been over 70 debilitating diseases that have either been treated or cured with stem cell research. So far there have been no benefits in embryonic stem cell research. Also adult stem cell research does not harm the donor and is much easier to extract. Some ways they extract the stem cells include blood from the umbilical cord, dental pulp, and the placenta.

If we support embryonic stem cell research then we neither respect the life God gave us nor are we responsible caretakers of the earth and our babies as God meant us to be.

I hope this has answered your question.

God bless,
Mary

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mary

We have added three more teens to the No Question Left Behind team. You will be meeting them over the next few weeks. For today, meet Mary.

My name is Mary and I am the second oldest of a blended family of seven kids. I'm 16 and a high school junior. I'm co-enrolled at the local community college. I love shooting sports and have competed at the national and international level. We recently moved from the city to the country and I love pond hockey. I also love hanging out with my friends, music, and crafts. I hope to be a paramedic someday and perhaps a missionary to China.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cloned Humans and Souls


Q: The whole cloning issue has been all over the news and newspapers. I have one question: Would a cloned baby have a soul?

A: Yes, a cloned baby would have a soul because Catholics believe that it takes a soul to make a human body. Also, Catholics believe that a body must have a spirit. The Latin word for spirit is spiritus and the meaning of this word is breath. So, in order for a body to live it must have breath and in that case it must have a spirit and a soul.

Karen

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Bible, Pornography, and Evil

Q: Where does the Bible deal with or talk about the evil of porn?

A: In the times of the Bible there really wasn’t pornography like we have now. Back then they obviously didn’t have photographs, the Internet, or television. There was adultery in those times, and according to the Bible (Mt. 5:27-29) pornography falls under adultery. In these three verses Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” When Jesus says “lust” he means thoughts of immoral behavior or behaving immorally.

So if you like someone, or feel attracted to somebody, that’s not adultery. It becomes the sin of adultery when you lust over someone or an image. In the Bible, Saint Paul says to the Corinthians in 6:18-20, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” That pretty much reinstates what I said before about lust but also tells us that respecting our bodies is respecting the Lord.

There might be more about adultery and subjects related to it in the Bible but those verses seem the most clear about teachings on pornography. So, those quotes from Jesus and Paul basically address your question. In few sentences, Jesus and Paul tell us pornography is adultery. Adultery goes against the law of God.

Friday, October 10, 2008

How to Live a Holy Life

Q: How do we live holy lives? It is too hard with my friends always trying to talk me into stuff I know is wrong. How do I get the strength to say yes to God and no to my friends?

A: Deepen your love for God; learn more about Him. The more you come to know God the easier it will become for you to say yes to Him. Strength comes from God; you can get it by spending time with Him in prayer and time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Also, you can find extra help from graces like: weekday Mass, confession, praying the rosary, wearing a scapular, sacrifice, and fasting. Make an effort to do some of these things. It makes a huge difference! When your friends challenge you, say a quick prayer, a Hail Mary, ask the Holy Spirit for the right words. Before you go to school or anywhere with your friends, ask for the intercession of a saint. Just live it! Live the holy life for real!

Amanda

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Catholic Politicians and Personal Beliefs

Q: I’ve heard Catholic politicians say that religion is a private matter and should have nothing to do with public policy. Is it okay for them to ignore personal religious beliefs when making laws?

A: No, it’s not okay. No matter what we do, whether it is politics or anything else, God and our religion should be a priority. For example, many politicians say that abortion is a personal thing, and that it is up to you if you want to murder an innocent child. This is wrong. To go and defy all moral laws and one’s own religion like that is plain wrong. No matter your reasons, nothing can justify such an act. Your “personal religious beliefs” are important and you should never compromise them to get elected or for any reason. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta once said, “I believe that politicians spend too little time on their knees. I am convinced that they would be better politicians if they were to do so.”

Christian

Monday, October 6, 2008

Praying the Rosary Boring

Q: My mom wants us to pray the rosary every night as a family, but I think it is boring. It is just the same prayers over and over again, and it takes too long.

A: The rosary doesn’t have to be boring, even if “it is just the same prayers over and over again.” The rosary has a meditative quality that allows us to reflect on Jesus’ life, and forget about our own worries, fears, and anger. When praying the rosary try to meditate on the mystery you are presently on. For example, say you are on the first sorrowful mystery, The Agony in the Garden, meditate on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knows that He is going to die. He knows He will be humiliated and tortured. He prays to His Father asking if there is another way. He is so stressed that He sweats blood, but in the end Jesus says, “not my will, but thine, be done.” (Lk. 22:42b) Even though he is so afraid that he sweats blood, he is still willing to die for our sake. Wow! Now, surely that’s not boring, and you could spend a few minutes meditating on that. As for the rosary taking too long, is taking twenty minutes to contemplate on the life of Jesus so hard? Is it so hard for you to take twenty minutes a day out of your 1,440 to pray the rosary?

Christian