Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Religious Ed Teacher is Wrong

Q: I am curious about what I should do when a CCD teacher or someone who is supposed to be teaching the Faith says something that I just know the Catholic Church doesn’t teach. I don’t want to be offensive or anything but is there something that I can do when this happens?

A: If you know for sure that what that person is teaching isn’t true, then you have every right to approach him or her about it. Out of respect though, you shouldn’t bring it up in the classroom. Maybe wait until class is over, and then tell the teacher your concerns. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe to be the truth.

A lot of times people do not know what the Church teaches. In other words, they are not trying to teach against the Catholic Church, they just don’t know better.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Different Ways to Mourn and Deal with Death

Q: Yesterday my aunt died out of the blue. When I have to deal with things like this I try not to think about them, but my sister tells me I should cry and let it all out. I just don’t show my feelings like other people. Usually if I am upset I put on some music because it helps me get my stress out by singing along with it. Do you think that is a healthy way to deal with a family member’s death?

A: People mourn in different ways, some people ball their eyes out, others sit and pray, some analyze the situation, and others de-stress by doing something. If you find that it is most helpful to you to put on music and sing away the stress that is wonderful, because you are working on dealing with the situation. However, I think it is important to think about the things you are dealing with in your life. It is always hard for people to deal with death. I think you should keep singing to help yourself feel better, but do not ignore the situation. I find that talking things out works for me, even if it is talking things out between just God and I. I’m not going to tell you the best way for you to mourn, but do not ignore your aunt’s death.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Different Kinds of Prayer

Q: How am I supposed to pray? It doesn’t seem like enough to just ask for stuff.

A: According to St. Therese of Lisieux, “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” (CCC, 2558)

St. John Damascene says: “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” (CCC, 2559)

There are different kinds of prayer, these are:

Adoration is where we worship God as our creator.

Prayer of Petition is where we “ask for stuff,” and, “by prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father. Our petition is already a turning back to him.” (CCC, 2629) Of course we have to remember that prayer is not like a vending machine, we don’t pray so as to get stuff. Prayer is a relationship with God, and we should be motivated to pray out of love, not out of material need.

Prayer of Intercession is where you pray to a Saint, or the Blessed Mother, and ask them to pray on your behalf. The second half of the Hail Mary when we say “Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death” is a prayer of intercession.

Prayer of Thanksgiving is simply thanking God for all that He has given us. Just like we like to be thanked when we do something nice for others, so does God.

Prayer of Praise is exactly what it says it is, praising God. “Praise embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal: the ‘one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist.” (CCC, 2639) The Psalms are songs (prayers) of praise.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

How to Make the Most of NQLB, Part Four

13. Catholic Colleges. You'll find links to Catholic colleges and universities next down the sidebar. Link to them and check them out. We encourage you to consider these worthwhile places of higher learning. You should seriously pray over your college choice as well as do your research.

14. The NQLB YouTube Channel. Here you'll find some of our favorite videos. Subscribe to keep up with us.

15. Search Catholic Blogs. This feature allows you to look for more answers to your questions by searching other Catholic blogs. Just plug in your search string to find out what other Catholic blogs are saying.

16. Join our Facebook Network. If you FB, you can invite friends to join the network. Spread the word and tell the world about No Question Left Behind.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

How Do I Deal with Friends Tempting Me

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

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


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fear God or Friends with God

Q: Are we really supposed to be fearful of God? It seems to me that we should be friends with God.

A: My Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of fear contains more than one meaning. In this case it is defined ”To look upon with reverence and awe.” It doesn’t mean trembling and shaking in fear. God has enough power to move a mountain, which He created. That definitely gives me a feeling of awe! God loves each one of us with unconditional love. Because of this, I feel reverence toward Him. God is just so amazing; how could you not fear Him? Fear of God is actually one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. God wants to be your friend. Being God’s friend puts you under His protection and gives you no reason to fear (as in trembling fear) anything.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Dealing with Friend's Suicide

Q: There have been several suicides at my school in the last few months. I have been very upset about this for a while. I feel lonely and scared. I don’t want to wake up in the morning, thinking some else will die today. How do I deal with this? How can I help my friends who are feeling the same way?

A: Suicide is a very difficult situation to deal with. Often the people left behind, such as family and friends, are left with numerous unanswered questions, the most common being, “why?” Why would someone go against the basic human survival instinct and take his or her life? Many times people are left feeling alone and depressed, some even worry about what would happen if they were in the situation the deceased had been in before committing suicide – would they ever reach that point? The feelings that you have are very normal and real, and you are not alone in having such feelings.

People deal with death and suicide in a number of different ways. Writing, drawing, painting, crying, laughing, singing, talking, reflecting, remembering the good things – there are countless ways of expressing how you feel. The important thing is to find a healthy way of dealing with your feelings and working through your worries and fears, getting back to a more normal way of life. There is no set time limit for how long these feelings will last. It could be weeks, months, or years, depending on how well you and your friends knew the classmates who died. Try talking to a school counselor or teacher. They’re there to listen to you, and they want to make sure you are doing okay. Ask a counselor to have a group discussion with you and your friends if you are concerned about how they feel. Talk to your priest about arranging a memorial service for your schoolmates who died, or about starting a prayer group for the families of those children.

Harold S. Kushner, a Rabbi Laureate in Massachusetts, wrote a wonderful book about dealing with the pain and confusion that surrounds tragic situations, such as suicide. It is called When Bad Things Happen to Good People, and I have given copies of it to a number of people I know who are going through difficult times. He offers insight into why terrible things happen in this world, as well as advice on how to understand the pain and fear that accompanies difficult situations. I would recommend that you (and your friends) read this book, as a means of helping you resolve your loneliness and fear in the wake of these tragic suicides.

Maureen D.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to Make the Most of NQLB, Part Three

9. Related Websites. You'll find these links just under Our Favorite Music. These websites are dedicated to a lot of the topics we discuss here -- religion, dating, sex, abortion, and more.

10. Blogs We Like. These are blogs we find interesting as Catholic teens and young adults. Tech tips, getting into college, Catholicism, modesty, and more.

11. What We're Reading. These are books we've either read or are currently reading. We're not talking about religious books or textbooks, but enjoyable fiction. These are books just for fun.

12. Bibliography. These are books we have used or are currently using to write this blog. These are the religious and nonfiction books that help us provide answers to your questions. Definitely worth checking out if you want to learn more about your faith and why you're here in the first place.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Forced to Pray in School

Q: My parents send me to Catholic school, even though I don’t believe. The school forces everyone to pray and I don’t like it. I got detention on the first day of school for refusing to pray. Is this fair?

A: Unfortunately, life is not always fair. Did you deserve a detention strictly for not praying? Probably not, but you did not get a detention just for not praying – you got a detention for not following school policy. Most of the time, teachers and principals don’t take too kindly to students blatantly refusing to follow the rules or do what they are told. However, if you feel unjustly forced into professing something you don’t think you believe, then try this tomorrow during prayer: take a moment of silence. I spent two years working on a staff of religiously diverse individuals, from the most devout Catholics and Protestants, to the most adamant atheist I have ever met. Before each of our weekly meetings, we spent a moment in silence for reflection. Some of us prayed, others collected their thoughts, and we all used it as a moment to slow down and step away from our busy lives. A moment of silence is respectful both of those around you, who believe the prayers being said, as well as of you and your own personal beliefs. So tomorrow, when it comes time to pray, close your eyes and take the time to silently reflect on whatever you happen to be thinking. It also might be a good idea to mention to your teacher what you would like to do beforehand, so he or she doesn’t take it as silent insubordination!

Maureen D.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Friend is Pregnant

Today's question gets two answers . . .

Q: I just found out that my best friend is pregnant. It was a total shocker to me. She just turned 18 and is in her senior year of high school. I really don’t know what to say to her. One side wants to wish the baby well and the other side wants to tell her off. I’ve seen girls pregnant before in our school, but not a friend. How do I talk to her and say the right thing?

A1: If you are being a friend to her, you are doing and saying the right things. If she is not scared yet, she probably will be at one point during the pregnancy, and she will need the support of a good friend. One thing I have learned is that people don’t want friends to fix their problems; they want to be able to voice their problems and concerns with someone. She knows there are plenty of people who are already talking about her and thinking badly about her, it would be nice to have someone there to support her. What is done is done, we can either dwell on the situation or we can help make it better. You already know how to be a friend, which is what she needs more than words. You may have to be the one to initiate the conversation, but let her know that you are there for her and then let your actions and attitude back it up.


A2: First off, try not to worry about saying the right thing. At a time like this, the only thing your friend needs is someone who isn’t going to be judgmental or mean. She needs someone who is going to be a friend. Imagine yourself in her place – having to tell your parents, struggling with mixed feelings of fear and shame, listening to the whispers in the high school hallways. Finding out you are pregnant is never an easy thing to handle when you’re single, and it’s that much harder when you are only eighteen. Try to understand that, although you may not agree with her choice to have sex, she is dealing with a heavy consequence of the mistake she made.

With that, the best thing you can do is be supportive. Let her know that you are here for her whenever she needs to talk. If you feel comfortable doing so, maybe even offer to be there when she tells her parents – that is probably one of the hardest things she may ever have to do, and it may be a little easier if she doesn’t have to do it alone. Also, talk to her about what she is thinking in terms of the baby’s future. Does she want to keep the child or offer him or her up for adoption? Has she been to the doctor and gotten everything she needs to keep her and the baby healthy? Make sure you also talk to her about how she is doing. What is she thinking? How does she feel? Is she worried? Upset? Anxious? Happy? Try not to reprimand her or tell her off for getting into this situation – the mistake has already been made, so screaming and yelling will do nothing but ruin your friendship. By this point, the only thing you can do for your friend is be there, which is probably one of the most important things she needs right now.

Maureen D.

Monday, January 12, 2009

All I See is Pain and Suffering

Q: I have diabetes, which makes my life hard. My mom says that good can come from my disease, but I only see pain and suffering. If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t He just wipe out suffering?

A: Good can come from disease, and it comes from pain and suffering. That may be hard to believe, but look at what a strong connection there is to Christ. Suffering is a way to become closer to Christ, by understanding His suffering on the cross and His death more, through your personal suffering. It is very important for you to remember to unite your suffering with that of Christ. Bare it for love of Him, become strong from baring pain. In the beginning there was no suffering, God did not create it, man chose it by disobeying God. That is why He can’t wipe out suffering. It is not because He wants us to suffer and die, He is all powerful, but He gave us free will.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

How to Make the Most of NQLB, Part Two

5. Check out the Help Lines in the sidebar. These links will take you to professional organizations that can help you in serious situations.

6. Pray for us and our visitors. Our patron saint is St. Augustine. Ask for his intercession when in trouble.

7. Next item down the sidebar are the Labels. This feature helps you find questions and answers on specific topics. For example, if you have concerns about dating then click on the Dating label.

8. Check out the bands listed in the sidebar under Our Favorite Music. These are great bands that will also raise up your soul.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

Naked Guy in the Bible

Q: I was reading about the naked guy in the Garden of Gethsemane when they arrest Jesus, in Mark 14:51-52. What is the deal with that guy? Who is he? What was he doing there? And why is he naked? It’s just puzzling.

A: It is a confusing topic, and there are a few guesses out there as to what it means.

Some say that that verse might just be reporting what happened. Maybe there was just some guy who ran off naked. The types of clothes they wore in those days were a lot different from the ones we wear now, they were more like cloaks or coats, so it isn’t that odd that the guy would just slip out of his cloak to get away.

Others say that it symbolizes detachment in that we can only escape the clutches of the enemy if we’re prepared to leave everything behind. And still others say that the apostle Mark is the guy in the garden.

Whatever the reason, it sure does make for interesting reading!


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Catholics, the Rapture, and Left Behind

Q: A lot of my friends are reading the Left Behind books. What is the Rapture? Are these books okay for Catholics to read?

A: I have actually read one of the Left Behind books. The rapture that they are talking about in the books is when Jesus comes to earth, takes all of those who were “saved” back to heaven, and left all of those who were “unsaved” behind. The rapture is not a Catholic teaching and is not biblical.

In the books, the people who don’t believe in God are given a short period of time to get “saved” and join the rest of the people in heaven. I don’t think the books are wrong for Catholics to read, but I think the main thing you have to remember is that they are fictional books. The Left Behind books are not written to be studied as the truth. They are for entertainment only.

If you would like to learn more about Catholic teaching regarding this topic, a good book is The Rapture Trap by Paul Thigpen [Ascension Press]. I found it at my public library.


Addendum: Here's an article from Catholic Commons on the rapture.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Should Catholics Force Their Pro-Life Beliefs on Society

Q: I am a Catholic and part of an online forum where we hold a few debates once and a while. One that's come up is the subject of abortion. One of the people arguing in favor of it is a Catholic and she claims that since America allows freedom of religion, Christians and Catholics should not try to 'force' their beliefs on others. How can I argue that abortion is a serious crime?

A: First off, freedom of religion is the freedom for one to practice any religion they want, since abortion isn't a religious practice I don't see how it falls under freedom of religion. Our country was founded on basic Christian morals, "One nation under God..." And God's list of basic morals is found in the Ten Commandments, one of which is "Though shall not kill".

If this argument isn't good enough than there is the overwhelming evidence that human life begins at the moment of conception. In that instant human DNA that is unique from the mother is created.

"Embryo: The developing individual between the union of the germ cells and the completion of the organs which characterize its body when it becomes a separate organism.... At the moment the sperm cell of the human male meets the ovum of the female and the union results in a fertilized ovum (zygote), a new life has begun.... The term embryo covers the several stages of early development from conception to the ninth or tenth week of life."
[Considine, Douglas (ed.). Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia. 5th edition. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976, p. 943]

So if we know that life begins at the conception of a human embryo, and that abortion destroys the embryo, then we can say that abortion is the destruction of a human life. And that my friend is considered murder.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

How to Get the Most from NQLB, Part One

This blog was several years in the making before it's debut some months ago. A lot of work, planning, and prayer went into it's creation. If you'd like to get the most out of No Question Left Behind: Teens Helping Teens, here are some tips:

1. Hyperlinks are provided in some of the answers. Click on them to find more in-depth information.

2. Most pictures are hyperlinked. Again, click on them for deeper information or to find related websites.

3. If you have a question you'd like answered by the NQLB team, then email us. There is a link in the sidebar. Keep in mind that the team is made up of high school and college students and so questions may take while to be answered depending upon school schedules and how many other questions we receive.

4. Support this blog financially. We have some big plans to expand the No Question Left Behind ministry, including a vlog, but they take funding. You can help in a variety of ways. If you're going to purchase something from anyway please make that purchase through our blog by clicking on the advertisement in the sidebar. In the future we'll be adding other advertisers. Visit them. You can also make a direct donation through the Donate button in the sidebar.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Friday, January 2, 2009

Is Pleasure Bad

Q: I have always wondered if pleasure is bad. I'm a guy and I'm 18 and I masturbate (touch myself) twice a week. I know that it's a natural part of life and that a lot of teens do it. I was wondering if masturbation is a sin???

A: First off, pleasure isn't bad. God gave us the amazing gift of sexual pleasure, but like anything worth having it needs to be treated with the greatest respect. Masturbation is a sin and if it's done with full knowledge and consent it is a mortal sin. There really isn't an explicit passage in the Bible that says, "Thou shalt not masturbate!" However, there are passages about sexuality and love...

Matthew 5:28
"But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

During masturbation, we call upon lustful images. We allow this slide show from Hell to control us physically. In doing so, we are essentially committing adultery with every single person that runs through our mind. In this moment of "self love," our minds are no better off than that of a rapist.

We are called to imitate our Lord as best as we can. "What would Jesus do?" Our Lord God is love, and "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Masturbation does not fit any of these criteria. It is a purely self-seeking act, a narcissistic "self love", and an act of impatience in waiting for sex in its true and holy form. Also, no matter how much we would like to deny it, masturbation affects the people closest to us. When you start to get close to someone in a pure way, even on just a dating basis, this purely selfish act will eat at you night and day. It prevents you from fully caring and enjoying another person in the intimate, self-giving, and holy ways God calls us to.

2 Peter says:
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins."

A continuous turning away from God prevents us from truly loving ourselves or anyone else. The fight for purity is a long and hard road, a fight that can only be won when we allow God to lead the way. And in the fighting you will gain so much. You will learn how to let go of selfishness and pride, how to lay your struggles at the feet of Christ, how to truly love selflessly, and also, you will start to realize the infinite forgiveness of the Almighty. The Lord of the universe was beaten, tortured, and killed because of our sins; and yet, He gives His forgiveness to all who asks. Do not underestimate the power of God's grace which is given to us in the Sacrament of Confession.