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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.