Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Video Games Evil?

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.

Michael

Friday, November 20, 2009

Preaching in Public School

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.”

Jenna

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Catholics, the Elect, and Predestination

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.

Christian

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why is Catholic Church Against Gay Marriage

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.

Ashley

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Selling My Soul to the Devil

Q: My mother is sick with cancer and I was having a bad day myself with a lot of problems going on and I said that if my problems would go away and my mother would get better that I would give the devil my soul. Is it really possible that I gave the devil my soul? If I did, is there anything I could do to get it back?

A: The devil tries to distract us, to con us, tempt us, and trick us from getting into heaven. Some people choose to ignore God’s call, while others choose to follow. Some people choose to follow a path of darkness. In this case, I don’t think you gave your soul to the devil; your soul belongs to God. We do not have the authority over our souls to place them into heaven or hell. We have the way we carry out our lives to show where we would like to end up, but the ultimate judgment lies with God alone.

Jesus Christ was crucified. He died, and rose from the dead to conquer all of our sins. If you think you have done something wrong (anything) you have the opportunity to repent through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. One of the most beautiful things with God is that no matter how badly we mess up, if we are truly sorry in our hearts and ask for forgiveness, God will grant it.

Alex

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jesus and Mary Magdalene Married

Q: Was Mary Magdalene like Jesus’ girlfriend? There was a movie that showed Mary having Jesus’ children.

A: No, that is definitely a misunderstanding. Mary Magdalene was not Jesus’ girlfriend by any means. They were just close friends. Movies may try to portray them this way to make it more interesting, or they may do it in an attempt to corrupt the story. They are false for doing this. Refer to the Bible and what you have been taught through Tradition, not movies or Hollywood.

Jenna

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pentecostals, Hair, Makeup, Jewelry, and Dresses

Q: I have a Pentecostal friend who says that women shouldn’t cut their hair, wear make-up, or wear jewelry, and that they should only wear dresses because of something in the Old Testament. Is that true?

A: This is not a teaching of the Catholic Church. Some denominations see things differently. Even though God and his teachings do not change, many things like this have to do with the Old Testament Jewish culture and customs. Culture and custom do change.

There is also the consideration of biblical translation. For example, Deuteronomy 22:5 reads, “A woman shall not wear anything that which pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” Now, this passage doesn’t clearly prohibit pants on women, even though some Christian denominations say that it does. We need to also take into consideration the cultural time. The Hebrews wore a long, sleeved garment similar to a nightshirt. Pants didn’t appear for many centuries after Deuteronomy was written.

Tom

Monday, November 2, 2009

Roman Catholics

Q: Are all Catholics Roman Catholics?

A: Yes and no. The phrase “Roman Catholic” can mean two things. Usually, it means a church that acknowledges the Pope as the leader of the Catholic Church on earth. A true Catholic Church is in union with the Pope in Rome – that’s where “Roman Catholic” comes from. Because of this, churches that have split off from the Vatican aren’t truly Catholic churches.

However, it can also refer to the liturgy the church uses in the Mass. In this sense, Roman Catholic means a church that celebrates the Mass with the Latin Rite liturgy. Some Catholic churches use different liturgies like the Byzantine, Coptic, or Chaldean liturgies. (Just to name a few.)

This means that they celebrate the Mass differently than you’re probably used to. In most other rites, they don't call it “the Mass.” They call it “the liturgy” or “qurbana” or something else, depending on the traditional language. The ritual has all the same essential elements as the Mass – Bible readings, Eucharistic prayer, and Holy Communion – but the prayers will often use different words (and sometimes different languages). In some Eastern Rites, the priest offers the entire Eucharistic prayer behind closed doors. In still other rites, the liturgy includes a lot more Bible readings than you'll find in the average Latin Rite Mass.

These churches may call themselves “Byzantine Catholics” or something else instead of “Roman Catholics” but as long as they look to the Pope for authority, that’s okay.

Basically, a true Roman Catholic Church is a church that acknowledges the Pope as the visible leader of the Catholic Church on earth and obeys what he says. Some Catholic churches that have different ways of saying Mass call themselves something different than “Roman Catholic,” but that’s all okay as long as they’re “Roman Catholic” in that they’re in union with Rome.

Michael

Monday, September 21, 2009

Choosing and Paying for College

Today, we're taking a little break from the usual Q&A to bring you a special announcement.

If you're starting to think about college then you'll want to check out Catholic Colleges Month. It's hosted by Homeschool Connections but is open to everyone, teens and parents, who want to know more about choosing and paying for college.

This is a series of free webinars on college topics from How to Pay for College Without Breaking the Bank to meet & greets with several great Catholic colleges and more.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dealing With My Parent's Divorce

Q: My parents are getting a divorce, and everything they do feels like a choice between the two of them. I know they both caused this, but everything just feels so wrong. I am really scared that they might not get an annulment. What should I do? I don't want my parents to be divorced, but I especially don't want them to be divorced and their marriage not annulled. Our family is breaking, and I can't hear what God wants for my family. Please tell me how I might be able to talk to God during this time of turmoil.

A: As children of God, it is usually best if we approach Him just as that, a child. God is all loving, all just, and all merciful; He will listen to your prayers, and though He may not do precisely what you ask for, He knows that what you are really praying for is the best possible outcome in such circumstances as the ones you are in. If we come before Him humbly and wanting to accept His will, we can pray sincerely.

Tell God of what you are feeling and of what you want for yourself and your parents. He will listen to you; you are His child.

I’ve often had periods where I can’t feel God’s presence or hear what His will is; I’m sure everyone has experienced something similar at one point or another in their lives. This isn’t a bad thing, though! In fact, it is a blessing, as Jesus tells us in John 20:29:
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Also, I would strongly recommend praying to the following saints and asking them to offer their own prayers for your family, especially your parents. St. John Francis Regis, the patron saint of marriage, St. Gengulf, the patron saint of unhappy marriages, and St. Monica, the patron saint of married women. All of these wonderful saints will be more than willing to help you and your family. The Holy Family would also be happy to pray for you; all you have to do is ask. Mary and Joseph were the holiest married couple.

If you can, I’d recommend talking to a priest – your pastor, maybe, or another priest whom you trust – and ask for his advice on the matter. Priests are here to help guide us, so I would strongly encourage you to take advantage of that. He could tell you more about the possibilities of an annulment and the process as well, along with giving you spiritual help.

I wish you and your family the best and you'll be in my prayers. God bless!

~ Rain

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Twilight and Catholic Girls

Today's question comes not from a fellow teen but a youth minister.

Q: I have several teens addicted to the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers and I noticed some behavioral changes away from modesty and purity attitudes. First, I asked them to help me understand the allure of the books and the response I received was that they liked how Edward was so protective of Bella and that they were chaste until marriage. Another response I received was that the eroticism was consensual but they didn’t take it all the way so it was a lesson in self-restraint. This prompted me to do more research on the subject and to learn what I could without actually reading the books. I fear the eroticism will lead me to a near occasion of sin so I don't wish to read them myself. I am a youth minister and I fear these kids are being lead into a false sense of love and relationships through these books. Since I have recently seen pictures of one of my girls on Facebook with her name inserted into the erotic passages of the books she is reading, I have become more concerned. Do you have any suggestions?

A:
About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him—and I didn’t know how potent that part might be—that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
-- Bella Swan: Twilight
Being a 16-year-old girl, I myself have read the Twilight Saga: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. This saga has gotten so popular; it’s to the point that if you’re a girl and haven’t read them, people wonder where you’ve been. And, I must confess, that’s one of the only reasons I continued to read the following installments after the first book—so that I wouldn’t be left out when I heard my friends talking about Edward Cullen (vampire), Bella Swan (human), and Jacob Black (werewolf), the love triangle in the Saga.

I did enjoy reading these books, though, I must say. The plot of the story— “good” vampire boy meets shy, awkward human girl—is very intriguing, and I’ve always loved vampire stories, like Dracula and The Historian. There are also a few redeeming qualities in the Saga. Stephenie Meyer, being a Mormon, did put a lot of moralistic points of view into the books, such as: saving sex till marriage, a pro-life message concerning the unborn (yes, in a saga about vampires!), and Edward’s loathing of being a monster. (In the book, Edward and his family want to be, in a sense, saved from damnation by drinking only the blood of animals, hoping that will win them salvation.)

But while reading these books, it was also very clear to me that Bella and Edward’s relationship was unnatural and unrealistic, and I must say, abusive at times. Basically, Bella is obsessive, and Edward is possessive (which, unfortunately, most girls translate into “protective”). Bella’s always raving over Edward’s body and how he’s like a “god”; Edward’s drawn to Bella’s seductive scent and her blood, and watches her every move, even to the point of watching her in her sleep. Sounds like the common, abusive relationships we have today, minus the vampire aspect, doesn’t it?

In the end, Bella’s obsession with Edward starts to look appealing over a healthy, normal relationship, and it’s a struggle to keep your mind and heart clear. That being said, I’m not surprised that Christian girls are being lead astray by these books. If I hadn’t already been enlightened by the beauty of chastity and God’s amazing role for sex and hadn’t already taken them to heart, it definitely would’ve been even harder for me to keep my focus after reading these books. (It’s hard enough in today’s culture, without reading books like Twilight!)

My advice to you would to have some sort of youth group discussion on Twilight vs. Real Love for girls (unless some guys have the guts to come, too). I’m pretty sure that all the girls would come to that (most obsessed ones take any chance to talk about Edward!). In this discussion, get their thoughts on Twilight again, why they think it’s so good, and if they would want to have a boyfriend like Edward and why. If they give their reasons, then ask how that compares to a godly relationship. Then read Corinthians 13: 4-7, and then replace ‘love’ with Edward, then with Bella. Does Edward fit? Does Bella fit? Finally, replace Jesus’ name and ask them how Edward and Bella’s relationship compares to Jesus’ love for us—the love we should be imitating in our own relationships. Get them thinking. If that part of the discussion goes well, then ask them what the faults of Twilight are. Hopefully they will realize some of them and point them out; then give your thoughts on how that contrasts with real chastity and love. Hopefully then they’ll come to realize their error in thinking, if they hadn’t already realized it.

God bless!
Catherine

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sixteen: Keep My Baby or Give Up for Adoption

Q: My best friend is 16 and about 5 months pregnant. Before, she had her mind set on adoption, but now she wants to keep it. I am strongly against this because I believe it is going to ruin her life as she knows it as well as her future. I know that she needs a lot of support and someone to be there and listen to her, but I don't think I could bare to allow her to keep it. Should I intervene? And if so, how should I do it?

A: As I write this, my four year old sister and three year old brother are getting time-outs for being bad (this time it was a small fight over a toy). They are both adopted, and we have what's called "open adoptions" which means we keep in touch with their birth families (send pictures, even visit sometimes), they both come from different mothers in different cities, but in our state. Before we adopted Rose, my sister, we had a baby boy named Adam for three weeks, and then his birth mother changed her mind and we had to give him back. That was the most heart-breaking thing that I've ever been through, and probably will ever go through.

I realize this probably doesn't mean much to you, but I should tell you right now, there is no way anyone can really know what would be best for your friend and the little child inside of her. Anyone but God, that is. But I urge you to try to see both sides, especially from her point of view. This is going to be maybe the single hardest decision she will ever have to make, and she'll have to live with it for the rest of her life, whether she keeps the baby or decides to adopt.

From the adoption side, I look at my little brother and sister and can't even imagine life without them. They are the most wonderful things that have ever happened to me, even if they get on my nerves sometimes.

But from the mother's side, I look back on those three weeks my family had with Adam, and I wonder: If letting a child you love THAT much go after just three weeks is as hard as it was for me, then how hard must it be after nine months?

I can't tell you that it would be better for the mother to keep the child just as I can't tell you that giving the baby up for adoption would be any better. I don't know what kind of situation your friend is in or if it's a good environment to raise a child in or not. But I can tell you that that baby, that tiny little child, is a miracle, though it may not seem like it.

You say you're worried about your friend's life and your friend's future, but there's another person to add to the equation. We should respect and consider that life as well. I'm sure your friend was well aware that her decision to have sex could possibly result in a child, and in making that decision, she chose to take on the responsibly of her actions. Although, to be fair, there are many teenage mothers out there who have graduated high school, probably even some that have gotten through college. It all depends on how committed the mother is to a good life for both her and her child. It also matters that there are people around(family, the father, close friends) who will help her emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially as well.

What kind of goals does your friend have for her life, her future career, and possible future family? Are her parents supportive of her through this pregnancy? Where is the baby's father in all this? Can she handle the responsibility of someone twice her age? These are some very serious questions that you can ask yourself and her. The answers factor a lot in if it would be wise for her to keep the baby.

So I suppose your answer in a nutshell is this: You can try and explain these things to her and hope and pray she will make the best decision for herself and the child. But the fact remains, this child was made by God for a specific reason, and God's plan beats all in the end.

I hope you have found this helpful, please pass my congratulations on to your friend for her holy gift. My prayers are with you all.

Peace,
Martha

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Has Mary Appeared on Earth

Q: We have some real devout Catholic friends who are really into Marian apparitions. Do Catholics have to really believe that Mary appears on earth?

A. You don’t have to pay the least amount of attention to Marian apparitions, even the ones that the Church has proclaimed are authentic and really did happen, and still be a perfectly good Catholic. You aren’t guilty of any sin.

It's not required of you to believe in these apparitions, but it is highly encouraged you do. There is some surprisingly credible evidence that many may (and the Church teaches did) really take place. Some of the most famous Marian apparitions are: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady of Lourdes, and Our Lady of Fatima.

During the last Fatima apparition, October 13, 1917, there occurred an incredible phenomenon with 70,000 (and no, that's not a typo) witnesses present, where the sun began to whirl and dance in the sky. The sun then appeared to plunge toward the earth, and in effect vaporized all water, and moisture in the surrounding countryside. The only other thing that could have such an effect would be a nuclear bomb, and you can’t really deny what 70,000 witnesses saw, not with any logical explanation anyway.

Also keep in mind that not all Marian apparitions are authentic. There are many apparitions that the Church has not proclaimed to be genuine.

Christian

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Catholic Church and Aliens

Q: What does the Church teach about aliens? Could there be people on other planets?

A: There’s not really an answer for this question, because only God knows. The Church doesn’t teach anything about people on other planets. Since God can create anything, it’s certainly possible that He created people on other planets, but nobody can be sure either way.

Michael

Monday, September 7, 2009

Catholics and Angels

Q: I was wondering what the Church believes about angels. Do we all really have a guardian angel?

A: Angel is Greek for messenger. The Church teaches that angels are pure spirits, and are far more intelligent than we are, and wield a great deal more power and responsibility (CCC, 330). Of course, angels are not perfect and can make wrong decisions, as shown by Satan and his followers (called demons or fallen angels) who chose to disobey God. Also there are nine different orders of angels: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominions, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels, and angels. And yes, we do have a guardian angel. Since the seventeenth century, the Catholic Church has celebrated guardian angels every October 2. You can even give your angel a name if you want. For example, I named my angel Sanctus. It’s not actually exactly a common name, but it stuck all the same.

Christian

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Mom Treats Me Like a Kid

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 are 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!

Maureen D.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tired of Being a Nobody

Q: I’m tired of being a nobody. I want to be cool and popular, but it seems that all the popular kids at school spend way too much time cutting down other people. I don’t want to be cool just by pointing out how uncool everyone else is. So, how do I get noticed without being mean?

A: To be noticed, be especially friendly and self-giving. Have other people notice that there is something different and special about you. Be a positive example, and people will naturally be attracted to you. People will crave your difference. Don’t give in to conformity. Create your own person, and your own standards. That is far more important than popularity.

Jenna

Monday, August 31, 2009

Catholic Church, Divorce, and Annulment

Q: My mom and dad want to come into the Catholic Church, but the priest says they can’t until my mom gets her first marriage annulled. Is an annulment like a Catholic divorce?

A: The same situation happened with my parents. They explained to me that an annulment is when a marriage is reviewed by a Catholic tribunal to determine whether or not there was something existing when the couple got married that would make their marriage null (lacking characteristics that would make it a fully blessed marriage in the Catholic Church). Divorce is a civil action. The Catholic Church does not grant divorces. An annulment is not a Catholic divorce. In the eyes of God, you are married till death do you part. However, certain conditions could be present that would have made the marriage invalid in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Therefore an annulment could be granted, and you would be free to marry in the church again.

Ashley

Friday, August 28, 2009

Why Do Catholics Go to Confession

Q: Why do I have to tell my sins to a priest? Why can’t I just tell Jesus myself? Isn’t it better to go straight to God with your problems?

A: In John 20:22-23, Jesus makes it clear that confession is a very important sacrament, “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” In this verse Jesus passes on the power of forgiving sins to the Apostles, who are the first priests of the Catholic Church. It also states that He breathes on them. The only other time that God breathes on us is in Genesis 2:7 when he breathes a living soul into the first man. This emphasizes how important the sacrament is.

Also, you never have to worry about the priest telling anyone your sins because if he does then he will be excommunicated. In the Sacrament of Confession, also called Reconciliation or Penance, God forgives your sins through the priest. When you tell your sins to a priest you are actually whispering in the ear of Christ, so really you are going straight to God with your problems.

Christian

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sunday Services vs. Sunday Mass and Eucharist

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 does not fulfill our Sunday obligation as Catholics. 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.

Ashley

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Trinity

Q: Is it true that Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses aren’t considered Christians by the Catholic Church because they don’t believe in the Trinity the same way that we do? Why is that so important?

A: Yes, that’s true. They don’t believe in the Trinity, along with several other very important doctrines. As the Trinity and several of the other things they don’t believe in (including the Incarnation – the Christian belief that Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, became human) are some of the most important doctrines in the Christian faith, they shouldn’t be considered Christians.

And not believing in the Trinity isn’t like not believing in Santa Claus. If you don’t believe that Jesus Christ is God and that He and the Holy Spirit are equal to the Father, then you’re not a Christian. Jesus Christ is where the word Christian comes from.

Michael

Friday, August 21, 2009

Making an Impression on Teachers

Q: I’m going to be starting ninth grade in less than a week and I really want to make a good impression this year on my teachers. Any ideas?

A: Ninth grade, just like every new grade, is a chance to start over and start fresh. New teachers, new subjects, new classes – a whole world of new challenges to overcome. I would say the best thing to do, if you want to make a good impression, is take a look back on the past eight years of school and figure out what you did wrong, then fix it. Maybe you didn’t study hard enough in middle school, or got used to skating through English classes by reading Cliffnotes. Try setting aside time every day strictly for homework, and then stick to it! (By strictly, I mean no television or phone calls, or other distractions – just good old fashioned homework.) Actually read the books you are assigned, you may be surprised to find they’re not all half bad. Pace yourself – high school means harder classes and more work, so avoid all-nighters and late-night cramming by doing any work you can ahead of time. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most teachers love having students stop by after class with questions about the reading or to ask for help studying for next week’s test. Working hard and enjoying what you’re learning are two sure tickets to making a good impression.

Maureen D.

Friday, July 31, 2009

How to Choose High School Courses

Q: I have to start choosing my high school courses soon. My counselor talked to me about deciding on the path to my career. Some of my friends already know what they want to do, but I don’t. If I ask my dad he’ll just pick all the courses he wants me to take. What should I do?

A: Look through all the courses and consider the pros and cons of each class. Decide which you want to take based on what you think. Now is the time to start making important decisions by yourself. Look into what credits colleges require or recommend. See what your high school requires you to take before graduating. Or perhaps, if you have met the requirements, take a class that you have sincere interest in, or a class that might relate to your current ideas of a college major or profession. If you are having great trouble, pray and ask for guidance. Perhaps ask a close friend to help too. Have faith in the decisions that you make.

Jenna

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Petty Theft and the Seventh Commandment

Q: I work in an ice cream parlor part time. After hours we help ourselves to all the ice cream we want without paying. Is that really stealing? Everyone does it and our boss doesn’t pay us what we’re worth anyway.

A: Yes, that is stealing, which is against the seventh commandment.

The Catholic Church teaches that in some circumstances, you may be less responsible for a bad thing you do. For example, if you hurt someone because they’re trying to kill you, you’re less responsible for the act itself, but that doesn’t make it right. This doesn’t apply in your case – and even if it did, it still wouldn’t make it the right thing to do.

We read in the Bible, “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.” (Lk. 16:10) This is great advice. If it is easy for you to steal ice cream today, it will be easier for you to steal big things in the future.
If you don’t think you’re getting paid what you’re worth, it would be a much better, and much more Christian idea, to get a new job than to steal from your boss.

Michael

Monday, July 20, 2009

Adam, Eve and Apes

Q: Could Adam and Eve have evolved from Apes? What does the Catholic Church have to say about the theory of evolution?

A: I don’t think that Adam and Eve could not have evolved from apes because each person has their own individual soul that was especially created by God. Though Catholics say that there is a possibility that human body parts may have evolved, by God's guidance, there is no way his soul could have evolved. The soul has a unique and special creation and not in any way inherited from our parents. Pope Pius XII said that, “the teaching authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions . . . take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter [but] the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God” (Pius XII, Humani Generis 36). In conclusion, we, as Catholics, are to believe that whether or not the human body was created or evolved that the human soul was created.

Karen

Friday, July 10, 2009

Is Getting Buzzed a Sin

Q: I learned in school that using mind-altering drugs is a mortal sin. Is it right that drinking is not a sin, but getting drunk is? If so, is getting high a mortal sin? What if I’m just getting buzzed using marijuana?

A: Drinking is not inherently an evil act. If it was, Jesus probably would have used grape juice at the Last Supper. However, getting drunk is considered a grave offense, not because of the alcohol but because of the excess. The Catechism of the Catholic Church shows that the problem with getting drunk is not in the act of drinking, but in the act of drinking too much. Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, and it refers to any form of excess, or extreme and unnecessary indulgence – food, alcohol, medicine, etc. Drinking in excess places you in danger of being physically harmed, as well as to the people around you. (CCC, 2290)

The Catechism also covers the use of drugs under its section on respect for health. “The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.” (CCC, 2291) The Catechism clearly states the Church’s recognition that mind-altering substances are an offense to our life and health, which the Catholic Church views as “gifts entrusted to us by God” (CCC, 2288). Sorry, but there seems to be no real way of getting around it – even if you are only getting buzzed.

Maureen D.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How Can I Be Free of Sin

Q: How can I be free from my life of sin? I love God, but why do I always sin? I am feeling depressed because I think I am a failure. I always fail God. When I ask for forgiveness, I feel that I am just lying to God because deep inside me, I feel that I might do it again.

A: You sound like you are being very honest with yourself, and really want to change. St. Augustine said, “We hate the sin, but love it at the same time.” It’s hard to change, but you have made the first step.

Go to confession. Even if you’re not a Catholic you can go under certain conditions. You may feel nervous, or even scared to tell your sins to a priest, but that’s okay. I go almost every week and every time I’m so nervous that I have to pray for enough courage so that I don’t chicken out at the last second. Afterwards, I feel relief that I am forgiven and loved. The Sacrament of Reconciliation gives us several gifts: spiritual guidance, certainty of forgiveness, humility. It helps us to overcome self-deception in matters of sin, strengthens our self-control, and gives us special graces that will help us avoid sin in the future.

There is a really great CD you can listen to on confession, simply called Confessions by Father Larry Richards. You can receive a free copy by linking here.

Christian

Monday, July 6, 2009

God or the Girl

Q: I sometimes think that God wants me to be a priest, but I am in love with a girl. Am I wrong to ignore this feeling that I should be a priest? How do I know what God wants?

A: Knowing and understanding God’s plan for your life is difficult and confusing. He often doesn’t show us what He wants for us until He is ready. Don’t ignore the calling that you feel from God. Talk to the girl that you are in love with, as difficult as this will be, and explain to her that you are going to do what God is calling you to do. She may not understand right away, but in time all things work out for the best when we listen to God and do what He wants us to do.

Tom

Friday, July 3, 2009

Do Annulments Make Children Illegitimate

Q: My parents are divorced and the Church annulled their marriage. Doesn’t that make me illegitimate?

A: This does not make you illegitimate (Canon 1137). Your parents gave birth to you while they were legally married. Even though the Church no longer recognizes their marriage as sacramental, it did exist civilly. That is, their marriage did in fact take place, but it was not fully blessed due to some problem at the time they exchanged vows.

Jenna

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Too Overwhelming to Read the Whole Bible

Today's question has two team members answering ...

Q: How do I go about reading the Bible? It looks too overwhelming to read it all at once. What are the most important books to read? How do I start?

A1: If you just want to read the entire Bible, I’d suggest taking a few minutes every morning to read a few passages, starting with Genesis and going through the entire Old and New Testaments. (Or, of course, if you’re particularly interested in one book, you can focus on that.) You can mark down the passages you find really interesting (in a different notebook, especially if the Bible is not your own copy). When you’ve finished, you can go back and read the ones you marked or even start on rereading it. You can also look up any questions you have or words you don’t know.

A helpful book for you might be My Daily Catholic Bible edited by Paul Thigpen [Our Sunday Visitor]. It has 20-minute readings that allow you to read the whole Bible in one year.

But the easiest way to take in the entire Bible, might just be to go to daily Mass. If you go to Mass every day for three years, you’ll have heard and read the entire Bible through the daily readings (Liturgy of the Word).

Another thing I’d suggest is to find a good Catholic Bible study that can help you learn the connections between the Catechism and the Bible. I’m in one at a church in my neighborhood, and it’s really helped me to understand more about the Bible that I didn’t before.

Michael


A2: In terms of which books are more important, I found the answer in the Second Edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. According to the Catechism, the books of both the New Testament and the Old Testament are equally important, due to the divine inspiration that lead to their creation. Both Testaments influence one another, working together to provide God’s Truth to us. “As an old saying put it, the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New” (CCC, 129). However, the Catechism recognizes the Gospels as the center of the Sacred Scriptures, because Christ is their focus (CCC, 139).

The Bible is one of the oldest and most influential books of all time. It tells the story of God and of ourselves, from our creation to our salvation. It offers valuable insight into how to live a full life, be a good person, and find joy in God. There is no wrong way to read the Scriptures, so try not to worry about “doing it right” – just take your time, and enjoy it. However, if you would like some form of guidance in starting on your journey through the past, here are some tips for reading the Bible, which I have found useful in the past.

When reading the Scriptures, one logical place to start is in the beginning (no pun intended). Simply find some time, sit down, open up to page one of Genesis and start reading. If you prefer the Psalms to the Book of Genesis, start there – or Sirach, or Proverbs, or the Gospel according to Mark – which book you begin with is really inconsequential. Take it at your own pace – start with a few paragraphs at a time, or even read a chapter every day. The important part of reading the Bible is not to get through it, but to understand it and walk away with some form of knowledge you did not have before.

Remember: you are not the first person to read the Bible, so talk to your parents, friends, or priest about anything you may find interesting or disconcerting. Good luck and enjoy!

Maureen D.

Monday, June 29, 2009

What is Love

Q: Everybody has probably thought about this, but I'm just gunna get it out there. What is love?


A: God is love. Every act of love is an imitation of God. What is an act of love? Love is present in every act of patience, kindness, trust, humility, generosity, selflessness, and goodness. The greatest act of love is the total giving of one's self to another. This is most clearly seen on the Eucharistic table and the wedding bed. Love is not fully tangible, beyond matter and time. Attempting to describe love in mere words is like trying to capture the glory of God in a mere painting.


Paul

Friday, June 26, 2009

Why Does God Allow Satan to Exist

Q. Why does God continue to allow Satan to exist? I know that He gave us free will, and therefore will not force us to do what is right, but why doesn't He cause Satan to become good, without taking away his free will? Or cause Satan to just cease to exist?

A. Well, for starters, He's not going to just kill off Satan. Of course He's able to, but we all know a kinder and more merciful God than that. Ah, Satan, our famous prince of darkness, our fallen angel. He chose that life, he chose to be "the evil one." He used to be one of the good guys, but then ... he wanted more. He wanted the power and control that God had. So he fell, down to a place called Hell where he could rule ... but still under the command of God. Satan still has to ask His permission before setting loose on the world. Everything Satan does, God has allowed him to do.

Take, for example, Job. One of those routine days in heaven and Satan shows up, God asks him where he has come from, and he answers that he's just been "to and fro and up and down" on earth, and God asks him if he's considered Job, "There is no one like him on earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil."(Job 1:8) Then Satan challenges God by saying, "Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face."(Job 1:9-11) So God gives Satan permission to "stretch his hand against" Job, but not to harm Job himself. And Satan must obey. Later on in the book of Job, God gave Satan permission to harm Job, as long as he didn't kill him. And Satan had to obey.

So really, the question is, why NOT continue to allow Satan to exist? Without the evil in this world, free will would be irrelevant, there would be no other option but good. God wants us to freely choose Him, and if there's no other option, it's not the same. And God is ultimately in control, there is absolutely nothing that Satan can do that God can't prevent if He wants to. God loves us all a great deal more than we can possibly imagine and He wouldn't put anything on us that we couldn't handle with His help.

Hope that answers your question, my prayers are with you,

Martha

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stuff to Do on Summer Break

Q: I’m bored. Can you suggest anything I can do during summer break?

A: Summer break is the greatest time of the year, no school, no homework, and no teachers. It’s like a three-month-long Saturday morning, only without all of the cartoons. Unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much free time. So how do you fill those long hours of boredom? Here are just a few suggestions of things to do this summer break:

Start a club. Realize that you are not the only person looking for something to do over summer break. Why not bring your friends over and tackle boredom together? If you believe the old saying that two heads are better than one, imagine how many fun things four or five heads can come up with! But to start a club, you have to have a purpose. Maybe you could start a Random Acts of Kindness Club whose members do nice things for people in your neighborhood, like helping the older woman across the street plant flowers or walking the dog for your neighbor who broke his leg.

Get a job. Not all jobs have to be boring or involve sitting inside all day. Try working for an ice cream store, or caddying at a local golf club. Too young to get “a real job”? Don’t dismay – make up one of your own! Start a lawn mowing service, or a dog walking business. As long as your job involves something you can have fun doing, it’s a great way to spend some of that free time, while making a little money on the side.

Volunteer. Summer is the perfect time to become a volunteer in your community. Offer to help with your church’s summer Bible camp, or volunteer to work at the zoo a few times a week. See if any local day-care centers are in need of students to help out during lunch or naptime. Become a tutor for kids you know who have a difficult time with math, or reading, or spelling – something you’re lucky enough to be good at. Or volunteer to deliver flowers at the local hospital. There are tons of things for you to do over summer break – just use your imagination.

Maureen D.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dealing with Anger Issues

Q. I have so much anger. I always seem to let it out on the people I love most. I'm trying to change but I can't. I feel so hopeless like I'm never going to be able to change who I am. I feel like I should just give up trying. Can someone help me out with this?

A. Emotions are the hardest things to control, and I find what leads to them is pride. We often take things into our own hands instead of turning our trials to God, and then we get ourselves into heaps of trouble. I am glad that you recognize what your obstacles in life are; that’s a gift, because often people are blind to the cons of their actions and emotions.

Now, getting back to the pride issue; it's fundamental to always be thinking about what you’re going to do before you do it. Before saying a word, think about it. And pray about it. When things seem unconquerable, pray to God. If we humans can't overcome our troubles, then we need divine help, and we find that in Jesus Christ. So, pray, pray, pray! Prayer creates your relationship with God, increasing your love for Him and, at the same time, for others.

Confessing your anger often will also help tremendously. Great graces can be found through going to Confession. Baring your soul in such a way causes a wonderful realization that we humans are weak, but God is there to help.

Remember that things often get worse before they get better, but perseverance and prayer, confession and trust in God will defeat all barriers of sin in our lives.

As a closing, I’d like to include two Bible verses which are two of my favorites.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7)

“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

God bless.
Lorraine

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Catholics and Fashion

Q: I normally wear a brown scapular. But I like to wear clothes from Aeropostale and Abercrombie. A lot of people tell me that it is clinging to the world and not living like Jesus. I don't wear the clothes to impress, I just like the way they fit and the way they look. What do I do?

A: Good for you for wearing a scapular! I must confess, every time I’ve tried to wear one, it would irritate me endlessly and I’d take it off after a few days. Anyway, hope I can answer your question!

Clothes have always been important, ever since Adam and Eve’s fashionable, “environmentally-friendly” fig-leaf loincloths. Fashions have come and gone throughout the ages. We all know what it’s like today. People tell us what to wear, how to wear it, why to wear it, and to not care what it’ll cost us, whether it be money or our dignity.

But what does the Bible say about it? 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, "Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God."

Mind you, that doesn’t mean you can’t dress fashionably or wear jewelry. Peter is just reminding us that the external is not what’s important—it’s your “hidden character” that’s important. If you’re dirty inside, your apparel will reflect that mindset. In the same way, if you’re holy inside, your apparel should represent it—if not, then you don’t know the meaning of true beauty and modesty.

In your case, I understand you like Aeropostale and Abercrombie—not to impress, but for the comfort. But people are judging you for it, claiming it’s too worldly. What to do? One thing they have to realize is, no matter what you wear, it was considered “worldly” at one time. Believe it or not, your grandma’s clothes were fashionable at one time—and they may come back into fashion! Even the Jews had their own clothing clique (albeit very modest).

But, on the other hand, those people may have a point, depending upon how immodest your clothes are—upon how much they attract people to your body and not your personality. For girls: really tight clothes, cleavage, and lots of skin. For boys: sleeveless shirts, extremely tight “emo” pants, and way too baggy pants, “showing off” their boxers (by the way, guys, this is not in any way attractive).

If your clothes fit one of those descriptions, do yourself a favor and get a new wardrobe (I recommend Good Will highly)! Though they will attract people to you, you have to ask yourself: what type of people do I want to attract? Do you want people who will like you for your body and choice of clothes, or people who will respect you and love your personality?

Plus, you might want to consider how Abercrombie & Fitch advertises itself. “Immodest” and “inappropriate” are understatements. Go to their website and see for yourself. Then ask yourself: do I want people to think of images like that when they look at me? Do I want to be wearing a brand that promotes itself like this? Think about it; it’s your decision.

Through all the fashions that come and go, always remember these words in Ephesians: “Put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all (the) flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Put on the armor of God! If you wear that, you’ll awe people with your inner beauty shining forth. They’ll forget all about judging your clothes.

God Bless,
Catherine

Monday, June 1, 2009

Catholicism and Hinduism

Q: My sister’s boyfriend is a great guy, nice and respectful. The problem is he is Hindu and we are Catholic. My sister really cares about him and now they're talking about getting married. I’m worried that this won't work out or that she'll decide to become a Hindu too. How do I approach this subject without hurting her feelings? What exactly is Hinduism?

A: Hinduism differs from Christianity and other Western religions in that it does not have a single founder, a specific theological system, a single system of morality, or a central religious organization. It consists of thousands of different religious groups that have evolved in India since 1500 BC. Hinduism is based on ancient scriptures known collectively as the Vedas. Hindus believe in a supreme spiritual force called Brahman with which an individual will become one after cleansing his or her karma through a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. In life, Hindus follow the laws of dharma, or spiritual teachings.

Approach your sister with care and concern. Go into the conversation with an open heart and mind. Let her know how you feel, but also let her make her own decision. Pray for her.

Jenna

Friday, May 29, 2009

Brown Scapular and Heaven

Q. My mom says that if you die while wearing the brown scapular, you will go straight to heaven. That sounds superstitious to me.

A. Only dying in a state of grace can guarantee our reaching heaven. Scapulars are not “good luck charms,” although we can attain certain graces by wearing the scapular. The Church considers wearing scapulars, like praying the rosary, to be a helpful way to cultivate a devotion to Mary. Scapulars remind the wearer, and others, that the wearer has a devotion to our Lady. Also, the scapular is a sacramental. Sacramentals are like reminders of the sacraments, holy water reminds us of baptism, and the scapular reminds us of holy orders. In 1251 our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock and said, “Whosoever dies wearing it shall not suffer eternal fire.” That is why people believe that if you die while wearing the brown scapular, you will go to heaven. Of course, when Mary says this she assumes that one doesn’t deliberately live a sinful life.

Christian

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jehovah's Witnesses and the Trinity

Q: Two Jehovah's Witnesses came to our house and referred to John 14:28b where it reads, “for the Father is greater than I.” They said that Jesus is less than the Father, so He can’t be God. Is that true?

A. I think that whenever you encounter anyone of another faith, it helps to really know the Bible. That is only a small verse in John. There is also John 5:19-30. Those verses talk about how God and his son Jesus are one and the same. Verse 26 says “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” So my advice is to really study the Bible and know how to properly quote verses that will help you when you encounter someone of another faith.

Ashley

Monday, May 25, 2009

Do Catholics Believe in the Rapture

Q: Protestants say that Matthew 24:40 proves the rapture, but I know Catholics don't believe in the rapture. How do we Catholics interpret that Bible verse?

A: Because I'm not being very creative today, I'm going to give you a piece of context from this really great apologetics book I have ...

A Faulty Interpretation of Matthew 24:38-41
Dispensationalists teach that, in these verses, those taken away are snatched up in the secret rapture. But notice: nothing in this passage speaks of a secret rapture or coming. The context is very clear: Jesus is using these examples to emphasize the suddenness and unexpectedness of His return. These Dispensationalists are reading a secret rapture into the text; it certainly does not flow immediately from the text.

If we look at the parallel passage in Luke 17:22-37, Jesus again uses the example of the flood to emphasize the suddenness of His return. He adds another example, the destruction of Sodom. Both events illustrate the same point: the suddenness of judgment.

There is no teaching of a secret rapture here. Our Lord begins this passage by saying the day of the Son of man will be obvious: 'as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other'(verse 24). There's nothing secret about lightning. Jesus explicitly says that just as judgment in the time of Noah and Lot occurred without warning, 'so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed'(verse 30). Revealed is the opposite of hidden. This day refers to Christ's public coming and sudden judgment at the end of time. Our Lord's return will be obvious: as obvious as the flood, as obvious as the destruction of Sodom, as obvious as lightning.

Some rapture proponents try to use the events of Noah's flood and the destruction of Lot's Sodom to support their theory that the righteous are raptured while the wicked are left behind on earth. In both cases, however, the ones who were snatched away (raptured) were the wicked(Luke 17:37 adds an important detail. After Jesus declares that one man will be taken, the other left, and one woman will be taken, the other left, the disciples ask the obvious question: "Where, Lord?" Where will these people be taken? Jesus responds: "Where the body is, there the eagles [or vultures] will be gathered together." They are snatched away to a place of death, a place where carrion birds gather around carcasses. Christians definitely don't want to be snatched away in judgment). The ones who remained on earth were the righteous! This is the very opposite of rapture theory.

--Beginning Apologetics #8 "The End Times: What Catholics Believe about the Second Coming, the Rapture, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and Indulgences by Father Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham

Well, there you have it. I think that explains simply enough, hope it helped. I'll end with our two main scripture passages ...

"For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. The women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left." --Matthew 24:38-41

"The he said to the disciples, 'The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, "Look there!" or "Look here!" Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them - it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot's wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.' Then they asked him, 'Where, Lord?' He said to them, 'Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather." --Luke 17:22-37

Martha

Monday, May 18, 2009

Supporting Pro-Life

Q: I'm a 15 year old girl who goes to a Catholic High School. I was sitting in religion class and talking with my friend who's not Catholic. The teacher was having an open discussion and the question of abortion came up. Everyone in the class, including the teacher, was saying how we all believe abortion is morally and utterly wrong. We agreed that it is such a horrible tragedy. Well, my non-Catholic friend whispered to me, "I'm pro-choice." I was so shocked that I didn't know what to say. Caught in the moment, I quickly responded, "I'm not," and we dropped the subject. When the issue of abortion comes up in religion class, my friend always starts shaking her head and getting annoyed. I want to tell her why I'm so pro-life and why there shouldn't be abortions, but I don't know how. I've said a few things like, "Everyone should have the chance to live," etc., but ... I don't know. I always thought about doing stuff in the pro-life movement when I get older, for I'm extremely saddened by abortion, but not even being able to handle this ... I feel like I'll never be good at working for the pro-life movement. Any suggestions on what to say or do? Thanks!

A: There are two things that really help when you're talking with people about abortion: questions and education. When your friend says she's pro-choice, ask her what she thinks that means. She might not have a full understanding of what being "pro-choice" is. Ask her questions like: What are we allowing women to choose? Why should an innocent baby die because of the actions of adults? If you let your friend explain her position, maybe she will come to realize the truth on her own. The second thing you need to do is educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about abortion, so when your friends have questions, you will have answers. Also, don't be afraid to say, "I don't know". A wise person will admit to not knowing and then will spend time researching to find an answer. This is better than making something up that sounds good. There are many great websites with tons of information about abortion. Some of my favorites are: Students for Life, National Right to Life, and Abortion Facts.

Probably the best thing you can do to support the pro-life cause is to act pro-life. "Preach the Gospel always and when necessary use words." Live as a person who loves not only their own life, but the lives of everybody around them. Speak with patience and care, be a friend to those who society rejects, and most importantly, pray. Pray for those who unjustly suffer from the hands of others, and pray for the souls of those who cause the suffering.

Never allow the demon of discouragement to keep you from doing what is right. Keep the faith; know that abortion will end someday and that your help is needed.

Peace,
Paul

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Can't Do My Penance

Q. What do I do if the priest gives me a penance to do, but once I leave Confession, I realize that I can't do it?

A. First, it depends what you mean by "can't do it." If you meant you physically cannot do your penance, then I would talk to the priest who you went to for Confession. If he wasn't your parish priest, and you can't reach him, talk to your parish priest about your penance.

If you can't carry out your penance because it is difficult, then pray. If necessary , talk to your pastor, youth minister, or another strong Catholic adult that you trust for guidance. Remember, the penance part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is important. The absolution takes away your blame for the sin, but not it's effects. Penance is meant to remedy the damage caused, and is necessary for a full Reconciliation (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 1459).

Tyler

Friday, May 8, 2009

Finals, College, and the Rest of My Life

Q: I am freaking out over my life. Finals are coming up and I go off to college next year. How am I supposed to know what to do with my life? What if I mess up in school and mess up my whole life?

A: Transitions in life are always somewhat frightening, so don’t feel like you are the only person who feels this way. Most people are not sure what they should be doing at this time, and there can be a lot of pressure from parents or others to go to college, or make other decisions that you are not sure about. You shouldn’t worry about messing up your whole life. Even if things go badly, there will be plenty of chances for you to take a different path. Don’t make a decision simply based on what others are telling you, try to do what you think is best for you life and what you feel God is calling you to.

On the other hand, your parents receive a lot of wisdom from God. They probably have some ideas that you don’t necessarily see the value of right now, but trust your parents and realize that they do have a pretty good idea of what is best for you.

Tom

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Difference Between Mortal and Venial Sins

Q: What are some examples of mortal and venial sins? Where in the Bible does it talk about them, and what is the difference?

A: In 1 John 5: 16-17 it talks about mortal, and venial sin, “If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin that is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.”

The Church teaches, and this verse explains, that mortal sin destroys our relationship with God, it is potentially fatal, while venial sin being less serious wounds our relationship with God, but allows our relationship to subsist. Three things must be present to determine whether or not a sin is mortal: It must be serious, and is performed with complete knowledge and total consent. The Ten Commandments spells out for us what sins are serious.

Christian