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.


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.


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


Sunday, May 24, 2009

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.


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).


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.


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.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Nose Piercing and Parents

Q: I came home from the mall with a fake stick-on nose stud and my parents went ballistic. I say it is my body and if I want my nose pierced then it’s my decision to make. They say that I am disrespectful. So, what’s wrong with piercing your nose?

A: The problem here is not necessarily the act of piercing your nose. For the record, simply piercing your nose is not sinful or perhaps even against God’s will, but going against your parents’ wishes is. If your parents are against you getting your nose pierced, talk to them. Their reasons for not wanting more holes in your nose than God put there may be legitimate concerns. But before you talk to your parents, sit down and think long and hard about why you want to have your nose pierced. Body piercing is not the most pleasant experience, and there are multiple health repercussions associated with them including scarring, infection, and disease.

Regardless of your reasons and the possible risks, the bottom line is that if your parents would feel disrespected by you piercing your nose, then it’s out of the question. The Fourth Commandment states, “Honor thy father and thy mother,” so there’s no way of getting around doing what your parents want – or not doing what they don’t want. Besides, is ruining your relationship with your parents really worth a piece of metal in your nose?

Maureen D.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

Grandparents Living with Teens

Q: My grandma is coming to live with us and I’m not too happy about it. My grandma used to be pretty cool; she always told the funniest stories. Now she is sickly and dying. It is just too hard to see her that way. It’s like she’s not even my grandma anymore. How do I deal with this?

A: Look at it as a way to be a servant, and to see Jesus. It may be hard, but like Mother Teresa said, “You can see the face of Jesus in everyone you meet.” As a teenager, it is a great humbling experience. Your grandmother is a blessing, not a burden. It is very special that your family has the opportunity to take her into your home instead of having to put her in a nursing home. Put yourself in her shoes. How would you like to be treated if you were her? Maybe you could talk to her about the things that you used to do and the fun times you used to have. Make her feel important and let her know that she means something to you.