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