Monday, November 23, 2009

Video Games Evil?

Q: I would like to know if it's okay to play a video game that has wizards in it. A person gets powers, etc. for getting certain objects. The game is mostly action and a person mostly wouldn’t know this unless they read the theme of the game. This might seem like a silly question, but I was wondering.

A: The main problem with this is that the Church teaches that magic, sorcery, and related superstitions are wrong. On the surface, this doesn’t make it wrong to play a video game involving wizards. However, you have to be very careful not to let such games influence you in the wrong way. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Users should practice moderation and discipline in their approach to the mass media. They will want to form enlightened and correct consciences the more easily to resist unwholesome influences.” (CCC, 2496) Basically, that means that if you’re frequently exposed to what might be a bad influence, you might be less inclined to think it wrong if it came up in real life.

So while there’s nothing directly sinful about playing this sort of game by itself, it is a good idea to find another one.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Preaching in Public School

Q: The Bible says that we should go out and spread the word of Jesus. But I go to public school and it is against the law to talk about Jesus in school. That isn’t freedom of religion. What do I do?

A: It is not against the law to spread the word of Jesus, however, tact is needed. You don’t need to broadcast it throughout the school, or make a television announcement about it. The easiest ways to spread the Word of God is by dropping small hints during conversation and by your own moral example. Sometimes it’s best to evangelize by just letting others watch how you act and have them realize what they’re missing. Forcing religion and God onto others often makes them turn away. You have to be kind, welcoming, and supportive. You have to make them interested; you have to show them how great it is to know God. As St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel always and when necessary use words.”


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Catholics, the Elect, and Predestination

Q: Would you please explain what the Catholic Church teaches about the Elect? I had a priest explain to me that the Church teaches predestination while Calvinistic Protestantism teaches double predestination. I’m confused. If God chooses before all time who is to be saved, where does free will come into play? It would seem fruitless to apply any effort into trying to live the Christian life if you are predestined to hell. No matter what, you’re out of luck. There is a biblical passage that basically says that none of the chosen will be snatched from God. This problem has been bothering me for some time now.

A: First let’s lay down some definitions:
Predestination: The doctrine that God specifically chose some to be saved before the creation of the world. Yet, God predestines no one to go to hell.

Double Predestination: The belief that God specifically chose some to spend their eternity in hell before the foundation of the world.

Predestination is a Catholic doctrine that has a solid base in Scripture, including the passage that you point out in your question, “and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” (Jn. 10:28) Other Scripture on this topic includes, Romans 8:29-30, Matthew 25:34, John 10:27, Acts 13:48, and Ephesians 1:4.

Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia states, “Predestination affirms that, as part of the eternal plan of divine providence, God has predetermined certain persons to eternal bliss.” The Blessed Mother is an example of someone who is predestined for heaven. Those of us who are not predestined to heaven, must choose heaven through our own free will.

However, there are forms of predestination that the Church completely rejects, including double predestination as taught by John Calvin. To believe in double predestination would in effect mean believing that we have no free will, and that we have no purpose in life. As you pointed out, there would be no point in avoiding sin, or even in living, because it has already been determined where we will spend eternity.

Whether we go to heaven or hell is our choice. We can either live a good Christian lifestyle and have a loving intimate relationship with God, or we can live our lives in sin. All we need to do is repent our sins and beg for forgiveness. Of course, that’s not to say that we can just live in sin, and then be sorry for them when we die. Striving for God’s goodness and rebuking evil will make it literally a million times easier for us, and those around us, to reach heaven.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Why is Catholic Church Against Gay Marriage

Q: Why is the Catholic Church against gay marriage? I should have the freedom to marry whomever I want.

A: It’s evident that God created male and female to be joined together from the beginning of time. I think you should ask yourself this question: “If God intended for two females to be married (or two males) then why can’t they have children?” The Catholic Church has always recognized that marriage is between a man and a woman. Until recently all Christian churches and governments recognized this truth too.

Although we should be compassionate to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ, we cannot accept or support their choice of sexual lifestyle. Nor should we have to compromise our moral values to allow them to legally marry, or for it to be recognized by the Church.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Selling My Soul to the Devil

Q: My mother is sick with cancer and I was having a bad day myself with a lot of problems going on and I said that if my problems would go away and my mother would get better that I would give the devil my soul. Is it really possible that I gave the devil my soul? If I did, is there anything I could do to get it back?

A: The devil tries to distract us, to con us, tempt us, and trick us from getting into heaven. Some people choose to ignore God’s call, while others choose to follow. Some people choose to follow a path of darkness. In this case, I don’t think you gave your soul to the devil; your soul belongs to God. We do not have the authority over our souls to place them into heaven or hell. We have the way we carry out our lives to show where we would like to end up, but the ultimate judgment lies with God alone.

Jesus Christ was crucified. He died, and rose from the dead to conquer all of our sins. If you think you have done something wrong (anything) you have the opportunity to repent through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. One of the most beautiful things with God is that no matter how badly we mess up, if we are truly sorry in our hearts and ask for forgiveness, God will grant it.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Jesus and Mary Magdalene Married

Q: Was Mary Magdalene like Jesus’ girlfriend? There was a movie that showed Mary having Jesus’ children.

A: No, that is definitely a misunderstanding. Mary Magdalene was not Jesus’ girlfriend by any means. They were just close friends. Movies may try to portray them this way to make it more interesting, or they may do it in an attempt to corrupt the story. They are false for doing this. Refer to the Bible and what you have been taught through Tradition, not movies or Hollywood.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pentecostals, Hair, Makeup, Jewelry, and Dresses

Q: I have a Pentecostal friend who says that women shouldn’t cut their hair, wear make-up, or wear jewelry, and that they should only wear dresses because of something in the Old Testament. Is that true?

A: This is not a teaching of the Catholic Church. Some denominations see things differently. Even though God and his teachings do not change, many things like this have to do with the Old Testament Jewish culture and customs. Culture and custom do change.

There is also the consideration of biblical translation. For example, Deuteronomy 22:5 reads, “A woman shall not wear anything that which pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” Now, this passage doesn’t clearly prohibit pants on women, even though some Christian denominations say that it does. We need to also take into consideration the cultural time. The Hebrews wore a long, sleeved garment similar to a nightshirt. Pants didn’t appear for many centuries after Deuteronomy was written.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Roman Catholics

Q: Are all Catholics Roman Catholics?

A: Yes and no. The phrase “Roman Catholic” can mean two things. Usually, it means a church that acknowledges the Pope as the leader of the Catholic Church on earth. A true Catholic Church is in union with the Pope in Rome – that’s where “Roman Catholic” comes from. Because of this, churches that have split off from the Vatican aren’t truly Catholic churches.

However, it can also refer to the liturgy the church uses in the Mass. In this sense, Roman Catholic means a church that celebrates the Mass with the Latin Rite liturgy. Some Catholic churches use different liturgies like the Byzantine, Coptic, or Chaldean liturgies. (Just to name a few.)

This means that they celebrate the Mass differently than you’re probably used to. In most other rites, they don't call it “the Mass.” They call it “the liturgy” or “qurbana” or something else, depending on the traditional language. The ritual has all the same essential elements as the Mass – Bible readings, Eucharistic prayer, and Holy Communion – but the prayers will often use different words (and sometimes different languages). In some Eastern Rites, the priest offers the entire Eucharistic prayer behind closed doors. In still other rites, the liturgy includes a lot more Bible readings than you'll find in the average Latin Rite Mass.

These churches may call themselves “Byzantine Catholics” or something else instead of “Roman Catholics” but as long as they look to the Pope for authority, that’s okay.

Basically, a true Roman Catholic Church is a church that acknowledges the Pope as the visible leader of the Catholic Church on earth and obeys what he says. Some Catholic churches that have different ways of saying Mass call themselves something different than “Roman Catholic,” but that’s all okay as long as they’re “Roman Catholic” in that they’re in union with Rome.