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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.