Monday, September 29, 2008

How to Answer the Questions of Non-Catholics

Q: I have some non-Catholic friends who love to challenge my faith and ridicule and put me down when I cannot answer their questions. What's the best way to deal with them?

A: Don’t listen to their ridiculing; ignore it. If you can’t, that’s okay, because if you’re willing to do a little work you won’t have to for long.

First of all, if you can’t answer any of their questions then just use the three most commonly used words (in my case, at least) in apologetics: "I don’t know." Those words? Yes, those words. But what are the words I don’t know without its counterpart? Nothing. So what you need to do is follow them up with: "but I can find out."

Then comes the hard part. Do the research. You can go and ask someone to help you come up with an answer to a question, like your parents, or a priest, or anyone else you think could help. There are also a lot of books you can read that can give you more information. My personal favorite is the Catechism of the Catholic Church (second edition, mind you). This book has anything and everything there is to know on Catholicism in it, and it is big, too big sometimes. Of course it has an index and glossary (believe me you will need them). See the bibliography in the back of this book for some great apologetics books. A good website to check out is Catholic Answers. This will be enough to get you started.

You probably don’t need me telling you this, considering you used the word friends, but I’ll tell you anyway just in case. When answering a question don’t get aggressive, you should be assertive, but even a little aggressiveness can make matters worse. Share the Truth with love!


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Patron Saint for NQLB Blog

The No Question Left Behind team is looking for a patron. Patron saint that is. A saint to look out for and pray for our blog, our readers, and ourselves. But just who should we pick? Who's the perfect patron saint for No Question Left Behind.

We'd like to know your opinion before making a final decision. If you'd like to vote, then just take a look over to the sidebar. There you'll find a poll. Voting closes November 1st, All Saints Day.

Before voting, check out Sr. Mary Martha's blog as she has some ideas herself and makes some convincing arguments.

Here are the candidates:

St. Raphael
Patron of young lovers and people leaving home for the first time.

St. Augustine
Patron of theologians and beer (translation: party animals).

St. Thomas Aquinas
Patron of students.

St. Dominic Savio
Patron of juvenile delinquents.

St. John Bosco
Patron of young people.

St. Maria Goretti
Patron of youth and purity.

St. Francis DeSales
Patron of writers.

St. Mark
Patron of teens.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Homosexuality, Sin, and Hell

Q: Recently I read at a Christian website about how homosexuality is a sin, and those who protect their rights are not people of God and are going to be sent to hell on the day of judgment. This made me extremely angry. I believe in God, but I don’t believe that He will send homosexual supporters or homosexuals to hell for this. Does the Catholic Church agree with me?

A: Everyone and everything belongs to God and He alone is the judge. Whenever anyone claims that another is going to go to hell, I usually feel sorry for the person placing the judgment. God alone is the judge of our souls. The greatest and scariest thing is that God knows what is in everyone’s heart and soul.

The Catholic Church agrees that we are to hate the sin, but love the sinner. Being Catholics we are called to uphold the laws of God, and in Matthew 22:39 Jesus says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I think there is a way that we can object to sins and immorality and still respect all people.

I have a few friends who are homosexual, and I don’t approve of the activity, but I still respect them. It’s not my duty to place judgment on them, but to display the love of Christ. John 21:21-22 says, “When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord what about him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.” This is a reminder to me that I have enough faults of my own and should focus on my own lifestyle and choices. We should not make others feel judged; if I am trying to spread the word of God my actions speak louder than words. If my actions are judgmental, what view of Catholicism am I portraying?

We are all made in the image and likeness of God. When I feel myself becoming judgmental I try to call to mind my own sins, my own vices that keep me from living the way God intended me to live and that helps me recall that I am no better than the other person, that I too am a sinner, even if our sins are different.

Now, the Catechism of the Catholic Church does condemn homosexual activity as “intrinsically disordered” which “under no circumstances can be approved.” (CCC, 2357) Yet, and this is important, it also says that homosexuals “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.” (CCC, 2358)


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Should I Forgive

Q: One of my friends and I got in a fight last year. It was pretty insignificant and I didn’t think much of it. But then she started saying stuff about me behind my back and got all of our friends to think that I am a horrible person. I never said one bad thing about her. She even got our homeroom teacher into it.

I cut off our friendship. But now everyone in our group says we should make up. I’m not sure if I should forgive her for all the stuff she’s done to me this past year and be friends with her again.

A: Forgiving is difficult. It usually means acknowledging that someone has hurt you and that is a hard thing to do. In the Lord’s Prayer we ask, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We ask to be forgiven in the same manner we forgive. Bishop Desmond Tutu said, “Forgiving means abandoning your right to pay back the perpetrator in his own coin, but it is a loss that liberates the victim . . . One asks, ‘Have you forgiven those who held you prisoner of war?’ ‘I will never forgive them,’ replies the other. His mate says, ‘Then it seems they still have you in prison, don’t they?’” (No Future Without Forgiveness [Random House, 2000], pg. 272)

Forgiving someone is a difficult process, but if we do not forgive those who hurt us, the pain will never go away. I am not saying you need to be best friends with this person, but forgiving her will get rid of some of the tension and open the door to civility.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Spreading the Faith

Q: What can I do to help my friends in school who don’t know God?

A: First, to help those who don’t know God, let them see that you do know Him. Act as a member of God’s Church and demonstrate His love. Second, invite others to participate in your Church and/or youth group activities. Make a friendly gesture toward these events; don’t push them uncomfortably upon your friends. Like that saying, “Always propose, never impose.” Third, try to make conversation about God and beliefs. Start by asking your friends what they believe and, in turn, tell them about your faith. Encourage their own foundation in God by providing books, websites, or a Bible. Make it interesting. Make them want the beautiful gift of faith that you are so blessed to have yourself.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Catholicism and the Paranormal

Q: Could you tell me what the Catholic position is on contacting the dead, astrology, astroprojection, seeing angels in your room, using crystals that have positive energy, and ouija boards? I have a friend into this stuff and I told him not to do it or at least to be careful.

A: Contacting the dead, astrology, astroprojection, using crystals that have positive energy, and ouija boards are very real and very dangerous. They seem harmless, but evil spirits are real and we do come across them in the real world. Satan has many ways and tools to get to us, and most of them do appear harmless. They are purposefully designed that way, and many people are drawn into things like these because they seem so harmless. It can be hard to explain to a friend how they could be dangerous if he doesn’t believe that they’re real, or doesn’t believe in spirits. People will often intuitively feel that something is not right about it, and might just need you to say something to the affect of “Why play with fire like that? I know you don’t think it’s real or dangerous, but it’s safer not to mess around with it at all.”


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ditching a Bad Reputation

Q: I’m 16 and I’m a junior in high school. During my freshman and sophomore years, I dated a lot of different guys. After a while, I started getting a bad reputation. Over the summer, I decided that I’ve had enough of that and decided not to date at all.

The problem is, I still have this reputation at school. No matter what I tell people, they won’t believe me. It’s so bad at school, I’ll be walking down the hall and guys will make really rude remarks and the girls all hate me. I’m tired of this, how am I supposed to make them believe me?

A: Stick with your new behavior and attitudes. Go out of your way to show that you've changed, but don’t act hypocritical about it. You can’t force people to think differently of you, but with time, hopefully this will happen. Act with purity of heart and charity. If others don’t notice your goodness, don’t lose hope. Your Father in heaven sees all that you do and forgives you. His approval is worth more than anything. Be patient, and the right person for you will come along.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Steroid Use

Q: I want to move up in the weight lifting world. I need to be bigger than I am now, but I’m having trouble losing fat and gaining muscle. Can steroids hurt you?

A: I remember learning about steroids in health class, so the first thing I will advise is asking your health teacher about some of the effects of steroids. Steroids work by increasing the levels of testosterone in your body and this can cause serious side effects. Some of the effects include shrinking testicles, skin problems, and cardiovascular problems.

Steroids are not the answer for losing fat and gaining muscle. If you are serious about losing fat and gaining muscle, I suggest speaking with a doctor, nutritionist, or a dietician. Anytime you are considering taking a pill that is going to manipulate levels of hormones in your body you should call a doctor.


For more information:
NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
Don't Be an Asterisk

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fr. Stan Fortuna - Everybody Got to Suffer

A rapping priest?

More from Father Stan on suffering.

No Question Left Behind will now feature a new music video each and every Saturday.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen

Q: My friend was just a kid when he got cancer and died. If God is real, why does he let kids die?

A: It is difficult to always see God’s hand in our lives, especially when we go through very hard times. Man does not always know God’s purpose for events and circumstances. God has a plan for the world, and he allows horrible things to happen. Yet, he does not make them happen. However, we have a promise of eternal life, and even though it is so hard to see children die, we know that they are happy with Our Lord in heaven.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Did the Pope Ban the Bible

Q: Are Catholics allowed to read the Bible? When I went to my friend’s Baptist church, everyone brought his or her own Bible. I’ve never seen a Catholic carrying the Bible. My friend says that’s because the pope won’t let us.

A: I don’t want to sound negative or anything, but your friend is wrong. Yes, we’re allowed to read the Bible, I read the Bible all the time. I have a Bible sitting here right next to me. Also the popes throughout the past two thousand years have always tried to encourage people to read the Bible, not the other way around. I’m in an apologetics group, and we read stuff out of the Bible like every five minutes. There are hundreds of Catholic Bible studies out there, and we read tons of stuff from the Bible at every Catholic Mass. The disciples, the very people who wrote the New Testament, were also the first priests of the Catholic Church, and the apostle Peter the first pope.

Many people accuse the Catholic Church of chaining bibles to big stones and not allowing them to read them, this is not true, the Catholic Church did chain up bibles but that’s because that was before the printing press and books were extremely expensive. They were chained so they wouldn’t be stolen and could be used by all Catholics (Rev. Henry G. Graham, Where We Got the Bible [TAN Books, 2004], pp. 58-59). I found a lot of interesting reading on this topic in the Radio Replies series [TAN Books]. Check out Volume I, pp. 118ff and Volume II, pp 116ff.

Sadly, unlike our Protestant brothers and sisters, many Catholics read hardly any of the Bible outside of Mass, or none of it at all, but that doesn’t mean that you have to follow their example.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Mary As Role Model

Q: So what makes Mary so special? Isn’t she human just like you and me? Shouldn’t we be looking to Jesus for a role model instead of Mary?

A. There are a lot of reasons why Mary is special. Mary is Queen of Heaven, and protects us from evil. Through praying the holy rosary and wearing the scapular she can help us with our salvation. This is her mission, as Mother of the Universe, to protect and guide everyone. It is very important to have a relationship with your heavenly mother. She knows what you need and how to help you. Unlike our earthly mothers, she will never run out of patience. Mary’s patience is one thing that we can try to follow. That alone is a good reason to take her as a role model. We can also follow her in obedience to God. She could not have been more obedient and we should strive for that. There are many other things that we can look for to Mary. Mary and Jesus have what we need. Mary is only human like us, but she was sinless during her whole life as was Jesus, and we sin everyday. Take both for role models, and give your best to follow their example.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Finding Forgiveness

Q: I did something that made me feel dirty and guilty. You know, I was thinking it was bad and sinful at the moment; but I did it anyway. I can’t confess it because I’m too ashamed. People have told me, before this happened, that if you are a 100% sorry, you should forgive yourself because God already did. This is eating my insides.

A: If you are 100% sorry for a mortal sin you committed, you can still be forgiven and reach heaven, but believe me it isn’t worth risking going to hell for eternity. All it takes is one mortal sin to get you on the road to hell. Play it safe and go to confession. When we’re not in a state of grace our very soul is at risk. Confession brings that risk factor to a minimum. Only through the Sacrament of Confession can we be absolutely sure that we are forgiven, and through confession we can attain graces critical to our salvation. No matter how ashamed you are you should still go to confession. The priest doesn’t even need to know who you are, and he’s not going to yell at you or anything. Actually, he will be very understanding, and will give you counsel to help you from messing up again. In fact, that’s the whole reason he sits in that little stuffy room for I don’t know how long, solely to help you. You really have no reason to be afraid, it’s understandable to be nervous, but you needn’t be afraid. Yes, you may feel rotten, but you messed up and feeling guilty is not necessarily a bad thing. It says in the Bible that those with no shame are capable of the greatest evil (Jer. 8:12, Zeph. 3:5). Sorrow for sin is a good thing and we shouldn’t be afraid to go to confession because of it. Just go to confession, you’ll feel a lot better.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Treasures of the Vatican

Q: The Vatican has so many treasures it has collected throughout the years. With all these treasures, why not sell them and help the poor ten times over, instead of hoarding them?

A: Well, I wouldn’t say that it is hoarding. The treasures that the Vatican owns are incredibly old and have a significant meaning to us as Catholics and as human beings. Their beauty helps to lift our hearts and minds to heaven. These treasures have survived wars and other things that have happened throughout the years. It is important for the Vatican to preserve these treasures, so that the next generations can have these historical artifacts to learn more about our Catholic faith and our culture. Many of these treasures were gifts given to the Vatican for safekeeping and display. They are there for everyone to enjoy. At the same time, the Church does help the poor in many, many ways. They are a leader in helping those in need.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Scandal and the Church

Q: I am really struggling with this sex scandal the Church is facing. Why has the Church been so secretive about the issue? If the Catholic Church is the one true church, then how could this happen?

A: The sex scandal in the Church is hard for all of us Catholics to understand. The thing to remember is that before anything else, priests are human and have free will. We are all capable of falling into sin, even priests. The church leadership should have been open about it, so that the problem could be properly addressed. But they kept it secret out of fear. Even though this isn’t an excuse for what has happened it is something that we should keep in mind. We should all be praying for our priests and other religious so that they will be strong and follow God’s guidance.

Christ said, “on this rock I will build my church and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Mt. 16:18) One sign that the Catholic Church is the one true church is that even horrible scandals such as this have not prevailed.