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.


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.


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.


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.


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.