January 6, 2013

 

Q.  Are you allowed to change your Lenten promise once you already started? –Moira Bauer, age 8

A.  It is not recommended but you may change it especially if you have a good reason.  For example, some people who decided to do some extra fasting (giving up eating certain meal times) but made them sick may need to change their Lenten promise.  Others who chose something that was way too hard (or easy) changed it to a more reasonable sacrifice.  The important part is that we unite whatever promise we made to the sacrifice of Jesus in reparation for our sins and the sins of the world.

Q.  What is the appropriate prayer to say upon kneeling in the pew before Mass begins?  And what about while waiting to receive communion? –Kathy R.

A.  Before Mass the church encourages us to reflect on Paschal Mystery that is about to take place—the actual suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.  We are also to contemplate on the sacred presence of Jesus in the tabernacle.  To help with the meditation it is also a good idea to read the Mass readings for that day.  And while waiting for communion, we are to reflect on the great gift that God has given us to be able to come in contact with him both spiritually and physically in the Holy Eucharist.

 

Q.  How did the angels carry Mary up to heaven (Assumption)? —Anonymous

A.  They must have floated her up, I guess!  Angels and saints don’t need any kind of transportation to go from one place to another.  They have their own power of flight.

 

Q.  If you have a dirty soul and you did something good, will your soul get clean? –Anonymous

A.  Only if you have venial (light sins) on your soul.  1 Peter 4:8 reads, “Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love (charity) covers a multitude of sins.” But for those who have committed mortal (serious, deadly) sins, good works cannot take away those sins and would need to make a sacramental confession.

 

Q.  Which version(s) of the Bible do we follow?  I have a colleague who is an evangelist.  When we discuss the Bible passages he tells me that I have the wrong interpretation.  For example, in the 1 of 10 lepers that returned to Jesus I said that he was “saved,” but he says that he was “whole.” –Anonymous

A.  Most translations say, “cleansed”, “cleaned” or “made whole”.  At Mass we use the translation from the New American Bible.  In the English version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church we use the Revised Standard Version.  To find out whether you have an authentic Catholic Bible, look inside the first few pages and see if you find the Catholic Church’s seal of approval written in Latin:  Imprimatur, which literally means, “let it be printed.”  The term means that a bishop has seen to it that the context was examined and found no doctrinal errors in it.

 



January 13, 2013

 

Q.  Who was the man that was strong because of his hair?  Why did he get strength from his hair? –William Gutshall

A.  That was Samson, one of Israel’s famous judges.  You can read his story in Judges chapters 13-16.  Samson was consecrated under the Jewish Nazirite vows because God called him in the special service of the Lord.  Nazirites were like prophets and part of their strict discipline is that they do not eat or drink anything that came from the grapevine nor have any razor touch their hair.  Other famous Nazirites are Samuel and St. John the Baptist.  As long as Samson kept his vows God gave him extraordinary physical strength.  But after allowing his deceitful pagan wife (Delilah) the opportunity to have his hair shaved, Samson in essence broke his Nazirite vows and lost his strength.

 

Q.  Why do we not announce for whom the Mass is offered? –Anonymous

A.  The Mass intentions are publicly announced in the bulletin for the current week.  Many parishes do not verbally announce it at Mass for several reasons.  Some have taken offense at either the mispronunciation of the name(s) and/or the announcer accidentally reads the wrong intention.  There are some who prefer to maintain a low profile and not have their intention mentioned.  These include people who are ill but don’t want to make their private physical condition attract anyone’s attention.  In a couple of parishes I was once assigned a Mass intention was publicly announced for a “deceased” person and the person complained to the pastor for the humiliating public insult!  The most important part is that God knows for whom the Mass intention is offered and the merit of the Mass will always go to the person(s) it was intended for.

 

Q.  Why are poinsettias put out on Christmas?  What do they symbolize? –Carissa Vergeres

A.  Its association with Christmas can be traced back to 16th century Mexico.  Legend tells us of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. The girl was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar.  Crimson red color came from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias.  Since the 17th century the Franciscan friars in Mexico added the plants in their Christmas celebrations.  The star-shaped leaf pattern is believed to symbolize the star of Bethlehem while the red color represents the blood of Jesus that saved us from our sins.  The name poinsettias come from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States minister to Mexico.  He introduced this lovely plant to our nation in 1825.

 

Q.  Say someone was to cut himself or try to commit suicide, why does that person go directly to hell?  What if his life was so bad and was once a believer but now a non-believer due to his life events, why doesn’t he get a shot of heaven? –Mike H.

A.  Only God judges who goes to heaven or hell and, therefore, we do not make judgments what happens to people who commit suicide except that it is a gravely wrong decision.  As long as we are still alive, we have a fair shot at heaven.  We have been given the gift of free will and cannot use “life events” as a reason for our failure to love God and accept his message of salvation.  God will always help us if we truly seek him.  He would not be a just and loving God if everyone did not have a fair chance to be saved.

 



January 20, 2013

 

Q.  What is purgatory? –Elliot

A.  Purgatory is the soul’s state of purification for those whom God deemed not quite ready to enter heaven.  Most good people who loved God and died in the state of sanctifying grace (those who are not in the state of mortal sin) are likely not perfect and pure enough to enter God’s kingdom.  No one can enter heaven with any kind of imperfection.  If purgatory did not exist most people would end up in hell.  But out of God’s love and mercy some souls enter a state of purgation or purification before they enter heaven.  Only God knows how long they remain in a state of purification.

 

Q.  Why pray for the dead?  If they have not been judged, would they be in purgatory?  Have they been judged already? –Anonymous

A.  We pray for the souls in purgatory that they may be released early or lessen their suffering.  Each person will undergo 2 judgments:  particular and general.  Particular judgment takes place immediately after we die.  Jesus will tell us immediately whether we go to heaven, purgatory or hell.  At the end of time, everyone will have a public trial before Jesus in the presence of all who ever lived (both angels and humans).  During that time everyone will know why each person will spend eternity either in heaven or in hell. 

 

Q.  People say that God is with you everywhere.  But would he be with you in hell? –Anonymous

A.  Yes, God is everywhere even in hell.  However, those in hell will never be able to see God and that is the worst suffering for those who are forever damned.

 

Q.  When you do the sign of the cross, which shoulder do you touch first? –Anonymous

A.  Catholics who belong to the western (Latin Rite) church touch the left shoulder first.  Most Catholics in the world belong to the Latin Rite.  Those who belong to the Eastern Rite Churches touch the right shoulder first.  There’s a long history between the Western and Eastern Catholics that might interest you (see http://www.mncuf.org/rites.htm).  Both eastern and western churches are equally Roman Catholics in status and dignity in the Catholic Church.  Sometimes the Eastern Church is referred to as the Oriental Church but don’t confuse them with the generic term “oriental” as coming from Asian countries.  Nearly all Asian Catholics actually belong to the western Latin Rite (e.g. Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, etc.).  We have a small number of Eastern Catholics (Byzantine, Syriac, Greek, Maronite) right in our own parish and they faithfully go to Mass!

 

Q.  Can people of all ages work at the church? –Allison T.

A.  Yes.  We have volunteers who are active in our church from various ages.  This past Christmas season we had 7-year old (Nicole Peucker) who worked several hard hours helping her family and other volunteers set up and take down the church Christmas decorations.  She started helping out last year when she was only 6!

 

Q.  Why did God create other planets? –Mary Grace, age 5

A.  So that God’s people on earth can look up and enjoy the beauty of the mysteries of the universe!

 

 

January 27, 2013

 

Q.  Is it a sin if you don’t know you’re sinning? –Robbie

A.  Usually, it is not unless it is your fault that you don’t know.  If you sincerely didn’t know if what you are about to do is a sin, and wouldn’t have done it had you known, then you certainly would not sin.  But if you purposely did not want to know if something is sinful to do or not, then it would be your fault that you didn’t know.

 

Q.  What would you do if the church catches on fire during Mass? –Anonymous

A.  I will tell everyone, “Run for your lives!”  Priests have been instructed to save the Eucharist on the altar and in the tabernacle (if possible) before we make our escape.

 

Q.  Is it a sin if you drink holy water? –Lucas Roach

A.  No.  Just make sure you don’t drink from the holy water font that everyone dips their fingers in.  That would not be very healthy for drinking and possibly make you sick.

 

Q.  The Bible and the Catechism describe God as the “Lord of hosts.”  Who or what are “hosts”? –Anonymous

A.  Most of the time the “hosts of heaven” are referred to God’s angelic heavenly army.  On a few occasions it referred either to creation in general or the armies of Israel fighting for God.  The term was used a lot in the Old Testament (about 300 times) and twice in the New Testament (Rom. 9:29, James 5:4).

 

Q.  If we have recently lost our jobs and we have pledged to tithe, how do we fulfill this commitment? –Anonymous

A.  It is recommended that you pray to the Holy Spirit to guide you in making a decision as to what you can affordably donate.  God would not hold it against your promise if you cannot afford to specifically tithe.  I also recommend reading Luke 20:1-4 for guidance.

 

Q.  Recently on TV I heard of an Episcopalian priest that converted to the Catholic Church and was ordained a Catholic priest even though he was married with children.  How does that affect the vow of chastity? –Anonymous

A.  First of all, married people observe chastity when they are faithful to their marriage vows.  They are not being “unchaste” because God recognizes their marriage.  Married Episcopalian priests who become Catholic priests are exempt from the promise of “celibacy” (remain unmarried) before ordination because they were already married prior to their conversion and ordination.  There is a difference between celibacy and chastity.  The Catholic Church has always had married Catholic priests for the past two thousand years especially in the Eastern Church.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 1580) teaches:  “In the Eastern Churches a different discipline has been in force for many centuries:  while bishops are chosen solely from among celibates, married men can be ordained as deacons and priests.  This practice has long been considered legitimate; these priests exercise a fruitful ministry within their communities.  Moreover, priestly celibacy is held in great honor in the Eastern Churches and many priests have freely chosen it for the sake of the Kingdom of God.  In the East as in the West a man who has already received the sacrament of Holy Orders can no longer marry.”

 

 

February 3, 2013

 

Q.  Is Mary a saint?  If so, why don’t we call her Saint Mary? –Tabitha

A.  Mary is a saint.  We do call her Saint Mary sometimes and there are countless churches named Saint Mary.  In our diocese alone we have at least 3:  Saint Mary (Alexandria), Saint Mary of Sorrows (Fairfax), Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception (Fredericksburg).  The most important church named after her is the major basilica in Rome called, Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major).  As the Mother of God, Mary ranks highest of all the saints and holds the title, Queen of All Saints.  When we make references to biblical saints we don’t always use their saint title (e.g., Peter, John, Mary Magdalene, Martha, etc.).  More commonly, Catholics call upon Mary in a title that identifies her uniquely and indicates that she is much higher than a regular saint:  Our Lady, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Blessed Mother, Queen, etc.

 

Q.  What happens when no altar servers show up for Mass? –Anonymous

A.  Mass is celebrated whether an altar server is present or not.  Priests don’t need servers to celebrate Mass but they help a lot when they are there.

 

Q.  I’m going to a Methodist Church for a Baptism.  My mom says that I can’t take the communion host there because they don’t believe that it turns into the body and blood of Christ.  Does that mean that they don’t believe Jesus actually did it at the Last Supper? –Catie McCabe, age 10

A.  You’re mom is correct.  The Methodist and all Protestants in general do not believe that Jesus changed the bread and wine into his own body and blood at the Last Supper.  When Protestants have a communion service they believe that they are only receiving regular bread and wine.  For us Catholics we believe that not only do bread and wine actually become Jesus during the consecration at Mass, we also believe that properly receiving the Eucharist is necessary for our salvation because Jesus says, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (John 6:53).  Catholics also treat the Eucharist far more differently and seriously than the other faiths.  Receiving Holy Communion is a sign of unity of faith.  Since we do not share the same faith as the Protestant churches it would not be right for us to receive communion from their church and neither could they receive from our church.  Catholics go through a thorough faith study preparation and first confession before even receiving First Communion.  And Catholics can only receive communion if they are regularly going to Sunday Mass.  Non-Catholics have not received Catholic instruction, made First Penance, nor do they go to a Catholic Mass every Sunday.  These reasons plus having a different set of beliefs make do not qualify them to receive Holy Communion from the Catholic Church.

 

Q.  When you leave Mass is it okay to dip your hand in the holy water again and make the sign of the cross? –Juliana Azzarita

A.  Yes, that would be fine.  Just remember that holy water was really intended to be used in the beginning as a way to “purify” ourselves as we enter the sacred house of God.



 

February 10, 2013

 

Q.  Is it a sin to leave Mass right after communion? –Anonymous

A.  If one leaves early without a good reason, yes, it is at least a venial sin.  The Mass is not over until after the final blessing and dismissal.

 

Q.  Did Jesus ever sin? –KMA

A.  No, he never committed a sin.  On earth Jesus remained as God and lived his life perfectly good and perfectly holy.

 

Q.  The article in the bulletin on Dec. 30, 2012 titled, “Home is where the family is,” appears heretical and needs to be retracted.  It says, “This family (referring to the Holy Family) like our own did not always ‘get it right,’ but they always tried to.  These three ‘amateurs’ were on holiday, and one of them got lost….” [Copyright J.S. Paluch] –Anonymous

A.  I have to agree that the article sounded a bit on the irreverent side and I didn’t like it either.  This was not written by anyone from the parish and I never saw it until after we received the bulletin shipment.  As you noted, its source was from the bulletin publisher, J.S. Paluch.  That was one of their page fillers for that week.  The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was the best family that ever lived in creation but yet the unknown author referred to them as “amateurs who did not always get it right.” That was a totally absurd and irreverent comment.  Let’s keep in mind that Mary and Joseph were hand picked by God to become the parents of the Son of God and Savior of the world because they were the best qualified to handle the role!  After reading that commentary I think it’s very obvious to us who is the real “amateur.”

 

Q.  If you break one of the commandments will you automatically go to hell? –Angelique

A.  If the commandment that was broken was a mortal sin and the person died unrepentant, the answer is yes.  Scripture tells us, “For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular has become guilty in respect to all of it” (James 2:10).

 

Q.  If you are waiting in purgatory for the end of time, how long will that be? –Anonymous

A.  Only God knows!  Always keep this scripture passage in mind whenever you have questions about the end of time (or end of the world):  “But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36).

 

Q.  What are Vespers?  And who says them? –Olaf

A.  Vespers (Latin for “evening”) is the official evening prayer of the Church.  Anyone can pray Vespers but priests, monks, nuns and other consecrated members are required to pray Vespers and the other canonical hours of prayer.  Vespers are often sung solemnly and designed as a prayer in dialogue form where participants take turns saying or singing the prayers.  When Vespers are solemnly sung, there is great feeling of an angelic presence around you.  While the format is the same, the Church prescribes a different Vespers prayer everyday for the whole year according to the liturgical calendar.

 

 



February 17, 2013

 

Q.  I’m about to go through Confirmation but I don’t exactly understand what Confirmation is or what it does for me.  Could you explain? –Anonymous

A.  You’re not alone and I’m glad that you asked the question because it is important to know what the sacrament of Confirmation is and why we need it.  Here is a simple but easy traditional definition of Confirmation taken from an old catechism:  “Confirmation is the sacrament through which the Holy Spirit comes to us in a special way and enables us to profess our faith as strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Christ.”  This sacrament complements the Baptism we already received and allows us to have the grace to understand our Catholic faith better, be able to profess and defend it when necessary, and gives us the extra strength to live our faith better in the midst of trials and persecutions.  The true meaning of “becoming an adult Catholic” after Confirmation is that we are practicing our faith on our own without the need of anyone else, like our parents, to prod us along the way (e.g., going to Mass every Sunday, frequent confession, etc.).  Without Confirmation we have less spiritual tools to avoid sin and live for Jesus and thus increase the chance of losing our souls to the power of the devil.

 

Q.  If you died and haven’t been going to church in a while, would you go to the so-called “underworld”? –Emily

A.  Not necessarily because there are sick people who have not gone to church in a while due to their physical condition.  However, if someone willfully chooses not to go to church when he or she could have gone, yes, that person is endangering himself or herself of going to the so-called “underworld” more commonly known as hell.  There was a classic sermon given by the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen in the 1940’s that you can watch online through YouTube that treats the subject of the underworld.  I hope everyone gets to hear or read it sometime.  It is titled, “The Hell There Is!”  Here’s the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDte2pWkwkk

 

Q.  Dear Father, I have been hearing that it is a mortal for anyone to say that you do not want to attend Mass.  My friend told me that to another friend and I was curious about the validity of that statement. –Anonymous

A.  Yes, you’re friend was right.  It is a serious (mortal) sin for a Catholic who is capable of going to Mass but does not go.  The 3rd commandment specifically obliges us to be present at God’s temple every Sunday, “Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.”  Not wanting to go to church would be a direct disobedience to God’s personal invitation to visit him in his holy house.

 

Q.  It seems like some people treat the Ten Commandments as if some are more important than the others.  Are there ones that are more important or are they equal? –Anonymous

A.  The commandments that refer to God (first 3) are certainly the most important.  But Jesus makes it clear that the commandments that refer to man (last 7) are just as important when asked which was the greatest commandment:  “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and will all your mind.  This is the greatest and first commandment.  The second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” (Mt 22:36-39).  It is also worth repeating last week’s scriptural verse that is related to this:  “For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular has become guilty in respect to all of it” (James 2:10).

 



February 24, 2013

 

Q.  When did Mary go to see Jesus after the resurrection? –Peter

A.  The Bible does not tell us this detail.  However, knowing that Jesus was very close to his mother we can safely presume that he went to see Mary first.  If you came back from the dead whom would you like to visit first, your mother or your friends?  Remember, just because it is not specifically mentioned in the Bible does not mean it didn’t happen.

 

Q.  Can you give an update on the proposed cemetery that you talked about a while ago?  I believe it was supposed to be in the Purcellville area. –Jim W

A.  Two weeks ago I spoke to one of the investors involved in the project and I had the same question.  I was told that the cemetery project is still ongoing and was informed that there are still issues between the financier and the bank that need to be settled.  The other issue is that the diocese is working with the cemetery investors to make sure that the Catholic section will remain in perpetuity to the diocese.

 

Q.  Why isn’t adoration a sacrament? –Daniel

A.  Actually, adoration is very much connected to the sacrament of the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is placed in the monstrance that is used during adoration.

 

Q.  On the 4th Sunday of Advent (Luke 1:39-45), why does the Bible remove the name “Jesus” when Elizabeth proclaims, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb”____. –Anonymous

A.  The Bible translation is correct and did not drop the name of Jesus.  “Jesus” was added in our Hail Mary prayer much later by the Church.  When you read the Bible passage it is obvious that it refers to Jesus.  But if you are just praying the Hail Mary it does sound much nicer to hear the sacred name of Jesus added to specifically identify him as the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb.

 

Q.  Father, would you please tell me where Jesus went after he passed?  Is “Limbo” involved in the answer?  And why is that after asking 200 people this question no one seems to know the answer? –C. White

A.  As person #201 I can only hope that I have the right answer for you.  The Creed that we pray says that Jesus descended into hell.  In Hebrew the word is sheol which means a “lower place.”  The Church teaches us that Jesus at least went to the dead who died in the good graces of God prior to Our Lord’s death on the cross.  Heaven’s gate was closed until we were redeemed from our sins.  These good people have been waiting for a very long time for the Messiah to take them to heaven.  As far as limbo, this is a theological theory as a place where the good unbaptized people go after death and.  It teaches that those in limbo experience natural happiness with no suffering but will not be able to experience the beatific vision (seeing God in his full glory).  The Church does not teach that we have to believe this theory but traditionally many have believed it for several centuries including by several popes.

 

Q.  How many animals or species were on Noah’s ark? –Kevin

A.  A lot!  The Bible did not specify how many animals boarded the ark.  In Genesis chapter 6 God’s only instruction for Noah was to take his sons and their wives, and one set of male and female animals, in order to repopulate the world.  This is God’s wisdom reminding Noah, and the rest of the world, that any other exclusive combination (2 males or 2 females) would cause the animals (and humans) to become extinct without the need of a great flood!

 

 




March 3, 2013

 

Q.  I’m a Catholic and my very good friend is Methodist and invited me to go to her church.  If I go to her Sunday service would that count as a Sunday Mass? –Anonymous

A.  No, not at all.  Going to Sunday Mass may not be substituted by going to a non-Catholic service.  If you visit their Sunday service you are still obligated to Keep the Lord’s Day holy by worshiping at a Catholic Mass.  When Catholics have to visit another church we are only there as visitors and observers but we do not worship with them.  The reason for this is because non-Catholic beliefs seriously contradict and violate our Catholic doctrine in many areas.  For example, we believe that the Eucharist is the miraculous changing of the bread and wine into the true body and blood of Jesus Christ.  The Methodists and other Protestants refuse to accept that doctrine and would even view it as a practice of idolatry when we bow down before the Eucharist.  In a similar way many of them also view praying to the Saints as idolatrous.  Regardless of the difference of our faiths, the Catholic Church encourages us to be respectful of people of other faiths and maintain a good relationship with them.  I actually enjoy getting together with my Protestant colleagues here in town and just had a nice lunch with one of them last week!

 

Q.  In the story of the Good Samaritan, was the Samaritan rich? –Mary Grace

A.  It is very possible that he was.  He was able to afford to provide lodging, medicine and extra expenses to the poor man who has robbed and beaten.  (The story of the Good Samaritan is found in Luke 10:25-37).

 

Q.  If the big flood washed away everything except Noah and his family, why do people say we are sons and daughters of Adam and Eve? –Elizabeth S.

A.  It is because Noah and his family are descendants of Adam and Eve.  For that matter, all of us are true descendants of Adam and Eve… and Noah’s family as well!

 

Q.  Which is more joyful, Easter or Christmas? –Joseph

A.  The Church celebrates in the Liturgy Easter as a much bigger and joyful event than Christmas.  Traditionally, Pentecost was even celebrated as a bigger feast than Christmas.  Every Sunday is considered a mini Easter in our Catholic liturgy.  There was far greater joy among the Christians when they learned that Jesus rose from the dead.  The resurrection is also the sign of our future as followers of Jesus.  St. Paul says that if we do not believe in the resurrection our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 14:15).

 

Q.  Do you get to see other people in heaven like our deceased family, friends or pets? –Anonymous

A.  Whoever makes it to heaven will be able to see each other.  This is why it is important for everyone among our family members and friends to take their faith seriously.  When it comes to salvation it is “every man for himself!”  We all have to answer to God individually.  Those in hell will never see their loved ones in heaven.  Now as far as pets, Jesus did not mention about eternal life for them so I don’t have any guarantee that they will be there.  But it would be really nice if we find them there!

 

 

March 10, 2013

 

Q.  At the Last Supper did Jesus eat his own body? –Alec

A.  This is a very good question and I actually had to read all 3 Gospel accounts (Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, and Luke 22:14-20) on the Last Supper to try and find the answer.  It appears that Jesus took part in eating the traditional Jewish Passover meal with the apostles.  However, it is very interesting that there was no mention of Jesus consuming the bread and wine he just consecrated into his own body and blood.  All 3 Gospel writers said that Jesus took the bread and wine and “gave it to them.” There was no mention at all of Jesus eating or drinking the consecrated bread and wine.

 

Q.  Why do you have flowers in Lent? –Alec

A.  If you’re referring to the plants in the sanctuary you might want to get a closer look.   Those are just plants with no flowers.

 

Q.  Why did Jesus bring Mary up to heaven but not Joseph? –Mary Grace

A.  Joseph was already in heaven with Jesus by the time Mary was taken up into heaven several years later.  That’s why we call him Saint Joseph.  It appears that Joseph died before the public ministry of Jesus because there was no mention of him in the Bible during that time.

 

Q.  Does a good deed balance a bad one? –Thomas

A.  Yes, it can.  Scripture tells us, “Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love (charity) covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).  But if the bad deed was a mortal sin, you will need to confess that in order to completely make up for that with a good deed.

 

Q.  How does God live forever and be there forever?  I don’t get it? –Chrissy, 8 yrs. old.

A.  It is a mystery that we don’t fully understand.  God is eternal and has no beginning or an end.  God has always been around and will always be there.

 

Q.  Is it a sin to play the role-playing games of “Dungeons and Dragons”? –Anonymous

A.  I am not very familiar with this game and in my research I have not come across any condemnation from the Catholic Church about playing it.  Unless a competent Church official declares it as an immoral game, it is unlikely that it would be a sin to play it.

 

 

March 17, 2013

 

Q.  Was the star the Three Wise Men saw the Star of David? –Anonymous

A.  No, the star they saw was a guiding star that led them to Jesus.  The Star of David is simply a reference to the symbol of Judaism or the Jewish State and the Jews officially used its image long after Jesus was already born.

 

Q.  In the book, “Heaven is for Real”, the boy says that no one in heaven is old.  If we are not united with our bodies until the second coming how could he tell if someone were old or young? –N.

A.  The boy’s reported vision is consistent with what we theologically expect to happen after we die.  St. Thomas Aquinas believed that our future resurrected bodies will look like the age of the resurrected body of Jesus:  a perfect mature and healthy 33-year old.  In the meantime, the souls in heaven can appear as what their future bodies would look like even though they have not received them yet.  In heaven no one has the negative effects of original sin anymore such as sickness or aging.

 

Q.  What is the Holy Spirit? –Anonymous

A.  As Christians we believe that there is one God in three divine persons:  The Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.  We refer to God as the Holy Trinity.  The Holy Spirit is the 3rd person of the Holy Trinity.  The mystery of the Trinity teaches us that while we recognize all 3 persons as God, there aren’t 3 Gods—just 1 God but in three distinct persons.  Jesus was the one who told us about this remarkable nature of God.  Someday we’ll learn more about this great mystery in heaven.

 

Q.  Is it a sin to play violent video games that simulate killing? –Anonymous

A.  It can be but not necessarily.  It depends on the type of video game you are playing with.  But if you’re parents say that you shouldn’t play a particular violent video game and you did so anyway, then you would have committed at least the sin of disobedience.

 

Q.  In the March 3rd issue of the Magnifikid it says that God doesn’t punish people by storms, sickness or death.  If he doesn’t then why did he make a flood when Noah had his ark? –Anonymous

A.  In Genesis 9:8-17 God promised Noah in a covenant that there will never be another great flood that would destroy the inhabitants of the earth as a whole.  God even left the symbol of a rainbow to remind us of this covenant.  However, God did not say that individuals or even certain nations would be spared of sickness or disasters.  For example, through Moses God brought plagues and death to Pharaoh’s kingdom in Egypt (Genesis chapter 7-12) when he refused to free the Jews from slavery.  God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for highly immoral activities (Genesis 19) and saved only Abraham’s family.  There are several references in the Bible when God permitted disasters to happen when the people turned away from God and advocated sinful ways.  The Bible also tells us that our generation and future generations will not be spared of disasters either if we don’t follow the path Jesus taught us to live.

 



March 24, 2013

 

Q.  If someone is already dead and it is his/her birthday, should you still celebrate it? –Maeve

A.  Celebrating a deceased person’s birthday is perfectly fine because no one really dies.  For example, we celebrate the birth of Jesus with Christmas and we also have feast days for saints’ birthdays (Blessed Mother—September 8 and St. John the Baptist—June 24).

 

Q.  I want to be a priest when I’m older, how do I do that? –Anonymous

A.  Good for you, young man!  Sometimes we can hear God calling us into the priesthood at a young age.  I was around 6-years old when I first expressed a desire to become a priest.  Keep praying to God to guide you in your calling.  It is through prayer that we hear God’s silent voice speaking to us about what he wants us to do.  I recommend talking to your parents about the priesthood and to the priests as well.  The priests in the different parishes I grew up in were very helpful in helping me become a priest.  Finally, ask your parents to host the Elijah Cup that we promoted in last week’s bulletin!

 

Q.  On Sundays of Lent are you supposed to observe what you have given up?  I’ve heard some people say you don’t have to because Sundays are “Mini Easters”. —Anonymous

A.  Some people like to ‘cheat’ during Sundays of Lent from their voluntary personal sacrifices and that’s kind of ‘okay’.  Since Sunday is always a day of rest one could use that argument.  In the old days (pre-Vatican II era) all Catholics from ages 18-59 were required to fast (eat only 1 full meal a day + 2 very tiny small meals like a piece of bread or two and only water for drink in between meals) from Monday through Saturday during the whole season of Lent plus observe whatever personal sacrifice they gave up!  It was understandable why they took a break on Sunday.  But now fasting is totally optional except on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  Since we now have it very easy compared to the past, many of us maintain our Lenten sacrifice throughout the whole season of Lent including Sunday.  Here’s my personal take on ‘Sunday breaks’:  unless you are following the old fasting laws from Monday thru Saturday during Lent, you should continue to observe what you gave up even on Sundays.

 

Q.  If you gave up chocolate for Lent, can you have white chocolate because it does not have cocoa in it? –Claire, age 10.

A.  Unless you specifically gave up only chocolate with cocoa, white chocolate should not make a difference.  Giving up chocolate means all chocolates for Lent, right?  Don’t worry, by the time you read this bulletin Easter Sunday is only 1 week away and you can have all the chocolates you want!

 

Q.  Is it wrong to cut yourself in order to take our pain away? —Anonymous

A.  Yes, it is always wrong.  God forbids deliberate bodily mutilation.  Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit and we are to treat them with great care.  There are many ways to treat one’s pain and seeing a doctor is the preferred way.  If you are experiencing physical or emotional pain I highly recommend that you speak to your parents right away and ask for help.  Praying to God for help is also going to be very helpful.

 



April 7, 2013

 

Q.  Does the pope have to be a cardinal to be elected as pope? –Olivia Hannon, age 9

A.  No, the cardinals can elect a non-cardinal as pope.  It is unlikely to happen since the last time a non-cardinal was elected pope was in 1378, Pope Urban VI.  He was the Archbishop of Bari, Italy at the time he was chosen.  Theoretically, the cardinals can elect a layman.  If that happens, he would be ordained a priest/bishop right away since the pope’s job is officially the Bishop of Rome.  This also is very unlikely to happen.

 

Q.  I go to confession every month.  On those times when I do not have a sin to confess, what do I tell the priest? –Anonymous

A.  The priest cannot administer the sacrament of Penance if the person does not have any sins to confess.  You need to confess at least one venial sin (minor or less serious sin) because the priest cannot give absolution to anyone who does not have any sins that need to be absolved.  Proverbs 24:16 says, “For the just man falls seven times and rises again.”  The recent popes went to confession weekly while the late Venerable Pius XII and Blessed Mother Teresa went to confession everyday.  Perhaps a deeper examination of conscience may help you find something to confess so that you can continue your monthly confession--a very good practice, by the way, that I highly recommend.

 

Q.  Did Jesus ever get sick? –Anonymous

A.  There is no record of Jesus in the Bible or in tradition that he ever got sick.  Original sin introduced sickness into the human body.  Since Jesus had no original sin he unlikely received the effects of original sin.

 

Q.  How old was Mary when she gave birth to Jesus? –Moira

A.  It is believed that Mary was around 15 years old when she gave birth to Jesus.

 

Q.  When Jesus was near death on the cross, he prayed, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they are doing.”  Do you think the Lord was about to destroy the world at that point, and that Jesus’ prayer saved humanity? –Anonymous

A.  God was not going to destroy the world at that time because the whole mission of Jesus was to save the world and not destroy it.  The prayer was that God the Father would show mercy and forgiveness to the people who were responsible for the unjust suffering and death inflicted upon Jesus.

 

Q.  What is the meaning of bowing and why do we do it? –Lucas Roach

A.  Bowing is one of the sacred gestures that we do as a sign of respect to God or to something sacred (for example, bowing towards the crucifix or the altar where the sacrifice of Jesus takes place during Mass).

 

Q.  If people who come to Mass know that they are leaving right after communion, don’t you think they should sit in the narthex so that there will be room for the rest of us who stay until the end of Mass? –Anonymous

A.  This is the first time I’ve ever heard this suggestion but I think you have an excellent idea!  I hope everyone reads this and I’ll share your suggestion with the other priests.

 



April 14, 2013

Q.  In the March 3rd Magnifikid issue it says that God doesn’t punish people by storms, sickness or death.  If he doesn’t, why did God make the flood when Noah had his ark? –Anonymous

A.  In the Old Testament era it was not uncommon for God to send devastating effects such as the ones you mentioned in order to correct the sinful ways of the people.  Without those disastrous warnings the people were not going to change their destructive ways of living.  After Jesus arrived and redeemed us from our sins, the people had a lot more direct guidance from the Gospel and therefore did not have to resort to as many ominous disasters to “wake” people up.  However, there are still many destructive elements that are man made as a result of sinful choices by the people.  For example, many die as a result of unjust wars, famine caused by greed, spread of diseases caused by sinful relationships and/or illegal drug use, etc.  Jesus clearly warns that if the world rejects his Gospel message and continues to spread the life of sin that there would be future great disasters that God will allow such as earthquakes, plagues, wars, sickness, etc., before he returns to earth (see Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, and the Book of Revelation).

 

Q.  Can someone ever lose one’s faith? –Anonymous

A.  Yes.  To live by faith is a daily choice.  In order to preserve our faith in God we need to pray daily, love God and our neighbor, learn more about God, follow all the commandments of God, receive the sacraments regularly (for Catholics), and do good deeds.  Most people who are likely to start losing their faith are those who stop praying to God regularly.  People who speak to God regularly never seem to lose sight of God.

 

Q.  Can you have a tattoo if it has a picture of a cross or something? –Kennady Briscoe

A.  The Catholic Church does not have a specific prohibition against having tattoos because Jesus did not specifically say anything about it.  This doesn’t mean that the Church endorses tattoos whether it is a religious image or not.  But the Church teaches that our bodies are sacred temples of the Holy Spirit and ought not to be harmed or defaced.  Jesus probably did not have to address tattoos because the Jews and the early Christians were not known for the practice of marking their bodies with tattoos because God already prohibited it in the Old Testament.  They reference Leviticus 19:28 for this:  “Do not lacerate your bodies for the dead, and do not tattoo yourselves.  I am the Lord.”  The only permanent marks God desires from all Christians are these two indelible marks that need to be on our souls for eternity:  Baptism & Confirmation.

 

Q.  If we as Catholics believe that the bread and wine truly turn into the Body and blood of Christ, does it matter if the host has gluten in it? –Anonymous

A.  To have a valid consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus (Eucharist) we need to use the same materials used by Jesus or risk not have the transubstantiation from taking place.  There was gluten in the traditional Passover bread. When we use the approved “gluten-free” bread for those with health sensitivity, there is actually a tiny portion of gluten in it.  The same reason rational is used for using wine instead of grape juice.  Once Jesus set the precedence to his first priests at the Last Supper how to celebrate Mass and said, “Do this in remembrance of me,” the Church has carefully and consistently observed the tradition.

 

 

April 21, 2013

 

Q.  Where do the vestments come from?  Why do you have to wear them? –Anonymous

A.  The history of church vestments goes back to the Jewish tradition.  God instructed Moses to tell Aaron and his sons, who were Jewish priests, how to dress appropriately at the altar for the religious services.  God says, “Therefore, to the various expert workmen whom I have endowed with skill, you shall give instructions to make such vestments for Aaron as will set him apart for his sacred service as my priest.  These are the vestments they shall make:  a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a brocaded tunic, a miter and a sash.  In making these sacred vestments which your brother Aaron and his sons are to wear in serving as my priests, they shall use gold, violet, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen” (Exodus 28:3-5).  Read the rest of Exodus chapter 28 to find more details of how vestments are to be made and you will see how similar the design of the Catholic vestments are to the Jewish.

 

Q.  When we were at the Christmas Mass we noticed some children coming back from communion and removing the hosts from their tongues making faces, talking to each other, and finally putting the hosts back into their mouths.  What, if any, is our responsibility on this situation?  Since it was Christmas Mass, it was quite crowded and I believe the family left before the Mass was over.  All of us who saw this were shocked! –Anonymous

A.  This is a very sad sacrilegious act that all parishes agonize during Christmas, Easter, First Communion and Confirmation Masses.  There are several Catholics, and sometimes non-Catholics, who do not go to Mass regularly but fail to tell the children that it is inappropriate for them to go to communion if they do not attend regularly or if they are not Catholics.  We cannot fault some of the children who do this because they likely do not know any better.  But we have a duty (clergy, Eucharistic minister, lay people) to correct them right on the spot if possible.  You are right to be outraged by what you saw.  We’ve had a number of parishioners who have taken it upon themselves to correct children and adults who walked away not consuming the Eucharist after receiving it and telling them how inappropriate that was.  Some people get upset about being corrected but a sacrilege against God, the Eucharist, was committed and correction is necessary.  Every Catholic has the responsibility to be a “protector” of the Eucharist.  If you witness something like this and feel uncomfortable confronting the person you can get the priest, Eucharistic minister, or usher’s attention to address the situation.  Every now and then the Eucharist is found discarded in between the pews or somewhere on the church property.

 

Q.  Why does God let such things as earthquakes happen? –MeriAnn Richards

A.  When the earth and the universe were first created God made them in good working order.  However, after the devil and Adam committed the first sins (the ultimate “original original sin” was the sin of the rebellious angels) the whole universe was affected and caused a domino effect of imperfections.  This includes natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, etc.  The good news is at the end of time God promised to renew the heavens and the earth so that everything will become perfect both in heaven and on earth—even far better than it was before!  Read Revelation chapters 21-22 to learn more about how beautiful the future world is going to be for God’s faithful.

 



April 28, 2013

 

Q.  Can you tell me why an angel is called an “angel”?  --Jacqueline Wisecarver

A.  It comes from the Latin word, “angelus,” which is the Latin word for “messenger.”  Its root can be traced from the Greek verb “angello” which means, “to bear a message, to announce, or to bring news of.”  The name of the angels is the meaning of their message or mission.  For example, Michael means, “who is like God”; Gabriel means, “the strength of God; and Raphael means, “the healing or the medicine of God.”

 

Q.  Was Pontius Pilate a bad man and did he go to hell? –Anonymous

A.  It doesn’t appear that Pontius Pilate was completely a bad Roman governor during the time of Jesus.  He allowed the Jews to practice their faith openly.  He even tried initially to save Jesus from being condemned to death but the Jews chose to save Barabbas instead.  Pilate found Jesus not guilty of any offense that the Jews accused him and “washed his hands” of passing the death sentence.  However, Pilate was someone who was lukewarm in standing up for what is right and gave in to pressure in the midst of a popular request from the crowd to crucify Jesus.  We can never say that Pilate ended up in hell because aside from Lucifer God has never identified anyone else in hell by name.  It is possible that through the prayers of his wife, who appears to be a Christian for pleading to save Jesus whom she referred to as a “righteous man” (Matthew 27:20), Pilate may have repented later and was saved.  We’ll have to wait until we reach the next life in order to find out.  In the Eastern Christian Church, especially the Orthodox, believe that she was a devout Christian who died a holy life.  Tradition identifies her as Claudia Procula and possibly the same Claudia mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21.

 

Q.  Do Anglicans believe in the real presence of Jesus in their communion?  Someone from a different faith said this was a “Roman invention” with no basis in scripture. –SBC

A.  It depends on which particular Anglican you ask.  Those from the high church Anglicans have the likelihood in believing in transubstantiation (changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus).  They are the ones who identify themselves as Anglo-Catholics and hold similar beliefs to the Roman Catholics.  The low church Anglicans generally do not believe in transubstantiation.  Regardless, the Roman Catholic Church does not accept the sacramental validity of the Anglican’s Eucharistic liturgical attempt to procure transubstantiation.  Sometime during the Reformation Period the Anglican Church officially rejected the Mass as a true sacrifice of Jesus and therefore lost the continuity of the sacrament of the Eucharist that was handed down from the time of the apostles.  It is for this reason that an Anglican or Episcopal priest/bishop that converts to Catholicism is ordained a Catholic priest in the Roman Rite.

 



May 5, 2013

 

Q.  If you do not receive Confirmation, will you still go to heaven? –Marissa Friedl

A.  You can but it would be more difficult.  The sacrament of Confirmation gives us extra spiritual tools to help us get to heaven.  Every Catholic has an obligation to receive the sacrament of Confirmation and to deliberately not want to be confirmed is a serious sin.

 

Q.  Some people believe in science but do you think God made science happen? –Anonymous

A.  Science is the various study of how nature works.  Since God created nature, whether scientists believe it or not, they are studying the amazing work of God.  In that sense, yes, God made science happen.  There is no conflict between true faith and true (honest) science.  Legendary scientist Albert Einstein believed in God and even said, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” 

 

Q.  Is cremation accepted in the Catholic Church? –Anonymous

A.  Although the traditional burial is what the Church prefers, cremation is permitted as long as the proper regulations are observed.  These include the condition that the body to be cremated is believed to be sacred and that the cremains will be placed in a permanent burial place and not scattered.  Here is a helpful link that explains the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding cremation:  http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=645

 

Q.  When the devil was tempting Jesus for 40 days and nights, did he know that he was the Son of God? –SBC

A.  No, the devil only suspected that Jesus was the Son of God.  When he failed to make him fall into sin he only thought Jesus was a holy man.  Jesus hid this knowledge very well from the devil so that he could fulfill his Heavenly Father’s plan to redeem us from our sins by dying on the cross.

 

Q.  How did John the apostle die? –Anonymous

A.  Tradition tells us that John died a natural death around 100 A.D. in Ephesus (Turkey) where he served as bishop.  Prior to death John suffered a lot and was even imprisoned in the island of Patmos (Greece) where he was inspired to write the last book of the Bible, The Book of Revelation, or sometimes known as, The Apocalypse.

 

Q.  How do you deal with stressful situations especially in this economic and violent life of ours? –Anonymous

A.  Jesus gave us a bright outlook of life by telling us that if we remain faithful to him we will not be troubled because we have a great place to look forward to in heaven:  “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith also in me.  In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.  If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:1-3).  At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that if we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” all our other necessities in life will also be taken care of (see Matthew 6:25-34).

 

May 5, 2013

 

Q.  If you do not receive Confirmation, will you still go to heaven? –Marissa Friedl

A.  You can but it would be more difficult.  The sacrament of Confirmation gives us extra spiritual tools to help us get to heaven.  Every Catholic has an obligation to receive the sacrament of Confirmation and to deliberately not want to be confirmed is a serious sin.

 

Q.  Some people believe in science but do you think God made science happen? –Anonymous

A.  Science is the various study of how nature works.  Since God created nature, whether scientists believe it or not, they are studying the amazing work of God.  In that sense, yes, God made science happen.  There is no conflict between true faith and true (honest) science.  Legendary scientist Albert Einstein believed in God and even said, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” 

 

Q.  Is cremation accepted in the Catholic Church? –Anonymous

A.  Although the traditional burial is what the Church prefers, cremation is permitted as long as the proper regulations are observed.  These include the condition that the body to be cremated is believed to be sacred and that the cremains will be placed in a permanent burial place and not scattered.  Here is a helpful link that explains the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding cremation:  http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=645

 

Q.  When the devil was tempting Jesus for 40 days and nights, did he know that he was the Son of God? –SBC

A.  No, the devil only suspected that Jesus was the Son of God.  When he failed to make him fall into sin he only thought Jesus was a holy man.  Jesus hid this knowledge very well from the devil so that he could fulfill his Heavenly Father’s plan to redeem us from our sins by dying on the cross.

 

Q.  How did John the apostle die? –Anonymous

A.  Tradition tells us that John died a natural death around 100 A.D. in Ephesus (Turkey) where he served as bishop.  Prior to death John suffered a lot and was even imprisoned in the island of Patmos (Greece) where he was inspired to write the last book of the Bible, The Book of Revelation, or sometimes known as, The Apocalypse.

 

Q.  How do you deal with stressful situations especially in this economic and violent life of ours? –Anonymous

A.  Jesus gave us a bright outlook of life by telling us that if we remain faithful to him we will not be troubled because we have a great place to look forward to in heaven:  “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith also in me.  In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.  If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:1-3).  At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that if we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” all our other necessities in life will also be taken care of (see Matthew 6:25-34).

 

May 12, 2013

 

Q.  Why does the number “40” seem so significant in the Bible?  Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting and praying, Noah sailed in the ark for 40 days, the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert.  I see a pattern here. –Peter Karanski

A.  The Jews traditionally have measured a whole generation as 40 years.  When God freed the Jews from Egyptian slavery, they grumbled and complained to him relentlessly showing their lack of faith in him.  God wanted a new generation of faithful Jews to enter the Promised Land (later known as Israel) and therefore allowed them to wander around the desert for 40 years.  Most, if not all, of those who complained bitterly to God and expressed returning to Egypt hoping for a better life died and never made it to Israel.  Earlier in the Old Testament, Noah and his family floated in the ark while 40 days of rain flooded the earth and cleansed the world of people who became very sinful.  Perhaps it was from this “40” that began the series of serving it as a “magic” number of measuring a completion of purification.  Jesus prayed and fasted for 40 days and nights as an example of a personal penitential cleansing.  Jesus did not need to be personally cleansed but offered it for the purification of others.  After the resurrection Jesus made appearances to his disciples during a 40-day period before ascending back to heaven perhaps to mark the completion of his “earthly time” with us.  Your observation is quite correct that there is significance to the number 40 in the Bible.

 

Q.  Is it a sin to go to a friend’s wedding if he or she doesn’t believe in God? –Beth Hogan

A.  As long as the wedding is not forbidden by the Catholic Church, attending the wedding would not be a sin.  The Church does not forbid even a Catholic from marrying an atheist as long as the Catholic party’s faith is not going to be endangered and that the future children are raised Catholic.

 

Q.  Why did Jesus perform more miracles in the Bible than at the present time now? –Chris Frost

A.  Some of the miracles of Jesus were recorded in what is now called the New Testament.  They only covered the time when Jesus was still living here on earth.  But that doesn’t mean that Jesus no longer performs miracles today.  Many of them are recorded in several writings but just not in a book that we call the Bible.  Jesus continues to perform many miracles to this day.  The most common miracle is something we experience at Mass everyday:  the changing of the bread and wine into his own Body and Blood.  The Eucharist is the greatest of all God’s miracles.

 

Q.  Who answers the “Ask the Priest” questions?  P. S. We really appreciate your help with evangelization! J --SBC

A.  Thank you for asking, SBC!  There are probably others, especially new parishioners, who aren’t aware who answers the queries in the question box (located in the narthex).  I (Father Escalante) actually answer them myself and consult only the official teachings (Magisterium) of the Roman Catholic Church (e.g., Catechism of the Catholic Church, Code of Canon Law, papal writings, church documents, commentaries from saints and authors who follow the magisterium).  And many of us wonder just who is this “SBC” who frequently asks very good questions!

 

May 19, 2013

 

Q.  If the devil was really an angel, then he had everything he could want.  Why did he turn away from Jesus Christ? –Chrissy, 9 years old

A.  It was due to the sin of pride.  Satan and the other rebellious angels did not want to serve God and wanted their own kingdom to do whatever they please.  They also wanted to be gods themselves.  They could not accept being obedient to Jesus because he would eventually become both true God and true man.  The devil and his angels did not like the idea of being obedient to the human nature of Jesus because angels are supposed to be far superior to humans.  Some theologians believe that they did not want to accept Mary either as the Queen of angels because she is completely human in nature.

 

Q.  How do priests go to confession? –Keira M.

A.  The same way all the other Catholics go to confession:  we confess our sins to another priest.  Priests cannot administer the sacrament of Penance to themselves.

 

Q.  At the end of Mass I noticed that there was a greeting.  Why is there a greeting at the end when a greeting is like saying “hello” when you meet someone? –Harriet S.

A.  That segment is more of a “farewell” greeting.  You could look at as saying hello and goodbye in Hawaiian.  Both times you say to the person, “Aloha.”  At Mass we use the ancient Christian greeting, “The Lord be with you…etc.,” for the greeting and farewell.

 

Q.  If you make a promise to God on your terms but break it, do you have to confess that as a sin? –Anonymous

A.  That would depend on the promise you made.  For example, if you promised not to do a particular sin anymore and you broke that promise, obviously, you would need to confess it.  But if you made a non-sinful promise, like promising to say a particular prayer, penance or good deed everyday, but decided to stop doing it then at worst it would only be a venial sin if it’s even a sin at all.  We are not required to confess venial sins so in theory there is no need to confess it.  When in doubt you could always ask the priest at the confessional if you needed to confess a particular sin.

 

Q.  I’m confused!  Who is usually right, the Catholic Church or the Catholic people? –Anonymous

A.  A very good question!  This requires a little explanation.  In a nutshell, the Catholic Church is always right when she officially proclaims an essential teaching necessary for our salvation that is officially declared by the pope for all Catholics to believe.  We refer to these teachings as “dogmas.”  When it comes to faith and moral teachings the pope is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 16:18-19) to teach only what God wants him to proclaim for all of God’s people.  The “Catholic people” are always wrong when they deny Catholic dogma and oppose the official teachings of the pope.  However, it is also important to note that outside of the realm of Catholic faith and morals, the people in the Catholic Church, including popes, bishops, priests, nuns, brothers, lay people, etc. can make wrong decisions regarding politics, science, financial/administrative decisions, etc., just like everyone else.

 

May 26, 2013

 

Q.  Why are there so many religions if it was just Adam and Even that started out? –Anonymous

A.  Unfortunately, there are many people who started a new religion based on their own personal beliefs.  However, as difficult it is for many to understand, there were only 2 religions that God established:  Jewish and Catholic.  The Jewish faith was established with Abraham and God revealed through his descendants that the Messiah (Jesus) would come later and perfect the laws of the Jewish faith.  When Jesus arrived he fulfilled the Jewish prophecies and established a Church that would later be called a Christian Church.  Originally, there was only one Christian church and that was the Catholic Church.  The word “catholic” is from the Greek meaning “universal.”  The Catholic Church has been around since Jesus established it upon Peter, the first pope.  Various people with their own interpretation of Christianity later founded all the other religions that identify themselves as Christian.  We are blessed to belong to the original Church of Jesus Christ that contains the fullness of the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.

 

Q.  Did all the apostles of Jesus go to heaven? –Marissa Friedl

A.  We at least know that 11 of the original apostles are now in heaven and we rightfully call them “saints.”  Since Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and later hanged himself without any record in scripture about being reconciled with God, the Church cannot include him among the apostles who are in heaven.  He’s lucky if he even made it to purgatory!

 

Q.  Was there a Catholic Council during the Counter-Reformation? –Dana Friedl

A.  Yes.  The Council of Trent was held from 1845-1863.  This was one of the greatest councils in the history of the Catholic Church.  It was the council that truly “reformed” and re-set the church back in order after it suffered major setbacks due to the church scandals of the time that triggered the Protestant Reformation movement.  The council addressed the spiritual, catechetical, liturgical, ecclesiastical and political life of the Church.  It provided greater clarity in what Catholics must truly believe and how the liturgical rituals should be properly celebrated.  Many great saints lived during the Counter-Reformation including our own St. Francis de Sales, St. Jane Frances de Chantal, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Francis Xavier, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Pius V, etc.

 

Q.  If we receive Jesus at our First Communion, why do we have to receive it again? –Meaghan S.

A.  There are only 3 sacraments that leave a permanent mark on our souls that continually give us graces:  Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders.  The grace of the Eucharist only remains with us during the day we receive it even though the spiritual benefits are gained forever as long as we remain in the state of grace.  The more we receive the Eucharist worthily, the greater our reward will be in heaven.  It’s like our bodies need to be fed daily in order to stay alive and healthy.  Our soul needs to be spiritually nourished by Jesus regularly in order for it to remain prepared for eternal life in heaven.

 

 

June 2, 2013

 

Q.  What was the rule with marrying people in your family back in the old days? –Carly Campbell and Olivia Haller

A.  God said don’t do it anymore!  However, in the beginning of creation it was necessary for the people to marry their “family” because the world began with just Adam and Eve.  Their children obviously ended up marrying each other.  After Noah and his family of eight survived the great flood, their children’s children married each other to repopulate the world.  But during the time of Moses God made it very clear that it was no longer appropriate for family members to marry each other.  We know this from reading Leviticus chapter 18.

 

Q.  In the story of Noah’s Ark, it the ark still there on the mountain? –Mary Grace

A.  It is possible that it is still there but we don’t know exactly which mountain.  The Bible tells us that Noah’s Ark rested on the “mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4) after the flood.  Ararat is a region of high mountains in modern day Turkey.  It could have settled in any of the mountains in that region.  The highest peak is almost 17,000 feet high.

 

Q.  Can you receive the sacrament of reconciliation if you do not speak the same language as the priest, i.e., if he could not understand what was being said? –Dana Friedl

A.  Yes, it is possible if the penitent requests the sacrament and there is no availability of another priest who speaks the language.  The format is the same for confession everywhere in the world.  The only thing that differs is the language.  A creative way of doing this, if done face to face, is for the penitent to point to a number in the 10 commandments to give the priest an idea at least a general idea of the sin.  This, of course, is very general.  If someone points to the 5th commandment, it doesn’t mean that the person necessarily physically “killed” anyone.  It could have meant he just got very angry with somebody.  In this case the priest just hopes for the best scenario and that there was no impediment to giving absolution!  This has happened to me on a few occasions when I was asked to hear confessions from other languages that either I knew very little or nothing about.  Without realizing it at the time I can now see how Divine Providence led me to study 6 languages before I was ordained a priest (Tagalog—my native language in the Philippines, English, French, Latin, Italian and a small bit of Spanish).  It helped me to hear confessions from people from other countries.  [Once I remarked that I could probably now understand any language but Greek.  When someone challenged if I could understand Swahili my response was, “Sorry, that’s Greek to me!”]

 

 

June 9, 2013

 

Q.  Did Jesus and the devil ever meet both in human form? –Marissa Friedl

A.  The devil and his demons were only pure spirits since they were originally made as good angels.  They never had a human body and will never have one of their own.  However, Jesus did meet some of these evil spirits while they possessed the bodies of humans.  Jesus exorcised (drove out) those demons out and the formerly possessed people were returned back to their normal lives.

 

Q.  What does hell look like? –Avery

A.  In various eras of history God has allowed certain saints the grace of seeing a glimpse of hell.  They all said how difficult it was to describe just how scary and sad the punishments the souls go through in there.  They claim that there is no suffering on earth that comes close to what pain and sorrow the people and the demons experience in hell.  I’m going to mention one particular revelation by Our Lady of Fatima in 1917 to the 3 young children.  Of the 3 secrets revealed, the first one was a vision of hell.  Sister Lucia Santos (one of the visionaries who later became a Discalced Carmelite nun in Portugal) wrote the details in these words:  "Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror."

 

Some may think that the explicit words might be a bit scary to publish in the bulletin and could scare some people especially the children.  However, it is important to note that Our Lady showed this vision of hell to the children who were only 7, 9 and 10 years old!  Part of the big problem we have in society today is that people no longer want to believe that there is a hell and that some people actually end up there forever.  We have lots of people committing crimes, serious sins, and living lifestyles not in conformity with God because no one reminds them about hell anymore.  On the other hand, you will find a lot of people who believe that practically everyone is going to heaven.  A healthy balance of learning both heaven and hell helps us to live a virtuous life and avoid sin.  Jesus warns us, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.  How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.  And those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).  Two classic rock songs seem to have a good insight to the afterlife.  Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” seem to imply that a stairway is a sufficient enough path to channel people towards God’s paradise but a highway is needed for the heavy traffic of those heading towards the terrible kingdom of satan!

 

 

June 16, 2013

 

Q.  Does doing your penance complete the confession?  Is your soul not cleansed if you don’t do it? –Ally W., age 13

A.   If you accidentally forgot to do your penance you are still forgiven of your sins after confession.  But if someone deliberately did not want to do the penance without a good reason, it is likely that person was not forgiven and may not have had the right intention of going to confession in the first place.

 

Q.  Was Jesus an only child? –Anonymous

A.  Yes, Jesus was the only child of Mary.

 

Q.  Do you go to a certain Mass just for priests? –Margaret Owen

A.  On rare occasions, yes.  For example, when I go on retreat for priests we concelebrate Mass together and there are no lay people in the congregation.  But most of the time I celebrate Mass with the people in church.  On my day off or when traveling I celebrate Mass by myself (yes, we’re allowed to do this).

 

Q.  If you die a good Catholic with venial sins due to a sudden death, is there a chance to get into heaven? –G.O.S.

A.  Most certainly.  It is only when one dies with at least one known unconfessed mortal sin that could bar the soul from going to heaven.

 

Q.  Why do we say Adam is our father even though God flooded the earth?  Noah’s family and the animals were only ones who were saved. –Elizabeth Schueckles, age 7

A.  That’s a very good observation especially coming from a 7-year old.  Noah’s family came from the family line of Adam and Eve like everyone else and that’s the reason why we refer to Adam as our common ancestor.

 

[No Ask the Priest Column for June 23, 30, July 7]

 

July 14, 2013

 

Q.  Why did God need to rest after creating the world?  I would think it would not be necessary for him. --Anonymous

A.  That was just a figure of speech.  It is true that God does not get tired and did not need to rest.  At the end of the initial creation God was merely separating the Sabbath or The Lord’s Day (Saturday for the Jews & later Sunday for the Christians) as a day of worship and rest for God’s people to observe.

 

Q.  One of my friends claim that purgatory was a place where people are placed as punishment for our forefathers’ sins.  Is this true? –Anonymous

A.  Not at all.  Purgatory is a place of purification for the individual’s temporal punishment due to sin.  Many people who die in the state of grace are not likely to have reached perfection here on earth and be ready to enter heaven.  Purgatory “perfects” the souls by spiritually purifying them.

 

Q.  What is your favorite prayer? –Cole Elam

A.  Most definitely, the Mass!  There is no prayer that I could offer to God greater than the Mass itself.  That’s why I look forward to celebrating the Mass everyday.  As far as private devotional prayer, I’ve always liked to pray the Holy Rosary since I started doing it in high school.

 

Q.  If you missed going to Mass, do you have to go to confession before receiving communion again? –Anonymous

A.  If you missed Mass without a legitimate reason, the answer is yes.  It is a mortal sin to deliberately miss Mass.  But if you were sick or you did not have a reasonable opportunity to attend Mass, it would not be a sin at all and you could go to communion the following Sunday.  There are times when people who travel are unable to find a Catholic Church within reasonable distance for Sunday Mass.  But it is important that one attempts to find a Catholic Church in the area where one is traveling.  This can be done by a simple search on the internet.  You can also check masstimes.org for a list of Mass schedules for North America and many other countries.  I checked Nagasaki, Japan once and I got a list of 20 Catholic Churches and their Mass times.  I was impressed!

 

 

July 21, 2013

 

Q.  In Revelation 19:16 it mentions Jesus has written on his robe and thigh, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”  Since this is on his skin, is it considered a tattoo? –Julia F.

A.  It would seem to appear like a tattoo if we were to see it.  Remember, most of the images in the Book of Revelation is symbolic and not the true image.  When we see Jesus in heaven he wouldn’t have any tattoo-like marks on his body or any other out of the ordinary descriptions mentioned in Revelation such as “fiery eyes” and “sword coming out of his mouth.”  But I am thrilled to know that you are reading the Book of Revelation. We are studying that now in the Tuesday night summer Bible study using Jeff Cavins’ study course and it is incredibly inspirational and fascinating.

 

Q.  Can a kid who is too young to receive Holy Communion obtain an indulgence for the poor souls in purgatory? –Nicholas, age 6-3/4

A.  Yes, most certainly!  Keep saying your prayers for the suffering souls in purgatory, little man.  You’ll have many friends in heaven by the time you get there!

 

Q.  Is there an age requirement to become a priest? –Anonymous

A.  There is no age maximum but there is an age minimum to be ordained a priest.  Canon 1031 states that the candidate for the priesthood must have completed his 25th year of age:  “The priesthood may be conferred only upon those who have completed their twenty-fifth year of age, and possess a sufficient maturity; moreover, an interval of at least six months between the diaconate and the priesthood must have been observed.”

 

Q.  Why do you have to be of certain age to receive Holy Communion? –Anonymous

A.  The baptized Catholic needs to have at least a basic understanding to see the difference between a consecrated Eucharistic bread and a regular bread.  This happens around the age of reason which is usually around 7 or 8 years old.

 


 

July 28, 2013

 

Q.  Can the devil hear your thoughts like God can? –Sam, age 12

A.  No.  Only God can hear our thoughts.  God permits Our Blessed Mother, the angels and the saints to hear our silent conversation with them when we address them in prayer.  They don’t know what we are thinking about all the time like God does.  But the devil can only hear what we verbally say and can read our actions.  Sometimes our actions give the devil an idea what we have in mind.  We know this because we can do the same thing by observing the actions of others.  We cannot read what is in the mind and hearts of others and that is why Jesus cautions us not to make rash judgments of people’s actions.

 

Q.  In the 2nd Reading [from July 7, 2013—Galatians 6:17] St. Paul writes that he “bears the marks of Jesus” on his body.  Does that mean he had the “stigmata”? –Anonymous

A.  St. Paul was simply stating that he experienced sufferings similar to what Jesus underwent during his ministry.  As an apostle St. Paul was scourged, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, etc., for teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:23-29).  He did not have the physical wounds of Jesus on his hands, feet and side as some saints have been given as a mark of their closeness to Jesus.  The earliest recording of this, commonly referred to as stigmata, was in the 13th century when St. Francis of Assisi was given the marks of Jesus’ sacred wounds.  A few men and women have been given this special grace in history.  In the 20th century St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, Italy bore the stigmata for 50 years and was the first priest to receive Jesus’ sacred marks.

 

Q.  Are shorts considered appropriate for adult males in church? –Anonymous

A.  As long as they modest looking and long enough.  The closer the bottom section is to the knees, the better.

 


 

August 4, 2013

 

Q.  You mentioned in the homily that there was a rule that the Jews couldn’t touch a dead body or they would be declared “unclean.”  What would happen if they were wearing gloves? –Anonymous

A.  The laws mentioned Numbers 9 (whole chapter), 19:11-22 & Leviticus 21:1-4, 11-12 forbid the Jews to touch a dead body.  If they do come in contact with a dead body they would need to undergo a purification washing ritual as mentioned in 19:11-22.  I don’t think they had gloves back in those days so there was no way for them not to touch dead persons when they came in contact with them.  But if they did have gloves we could assume that they would not consider touching the body because the Jews were very precise in treating the laws.

 

Q.  Was hell made before Adam and Eve or was it made when the devil turned away from God? –Peter

A.  Hell came into existence after the devil and the rebellious angels turned away from God.  Since the devil and the bad angels predated human existence, hell existed before Adam and Eve.

 

Q.  Is grace predetermined and “rationed” by God?  If so, how can we have free will? –SBC

A.  Grace is not rationed but given freely by God.  Our free will can reject the grace that God has offered to us as a gift.  Some grace is predetermined.  For example, Mary was predetermined to become the Mother of God.  But she had the choice to accept the grace to become the Mother of God or not.  As we know from scripture, Mary accepted the grace when she said, “Let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

 

Q.  If I don’t care about confession what should I do? –Anonymous

A.  It is probably best that you set up a time to meet with a priest or a religious education teacher regarding your question.  We’ll gladly try to explain the beauty and necessity of going to confession.  Not knowing your reasons why you don’t care about confession makes it difficult to answer your question.  For example, how much do you know about this sacrament?  Most of the time when Catholics realize the value of the sacrament of penance they instantly want to receive the sacrament very soon.  Once they realize the guaranteed effect of forgiveness in the confessional and that it truly brings peace to the soul, they usually have a change of heart and appreciate the sacrament more than ever. Those who go to confession frequently do so because they feel the warmth of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.  Once you understand the sacrament better I believe that you will also have the same experience.

 


 

August 11, 2013

 

 


 

August 18, 2013

 

Q.  How old is Pope Francis? –Anonymous

A.  Pope Francis was born on December 17, 1936 and will be 77 on his next birthday.

 

Q.  My parents are elderly now and of the 3 children I seem to be the only one that helps them with work around the house.  Aren’t the children expected to help?  Are there biblical verses to support this? –Anonymous

A.  It is expected that all the children should give a helping hand in caring for their aging parents.  Sirach chapters 3 and 7 have good references that you can refer to.  Sirach 7:27-28 is one of the clearest references you can use:  “With your whole heart honor your father; your mother’s birth pangs forget not.  Remember, of these parents you were born; what can you give them for all they gave you?”

 

Q.  Are we supposed to sit down once the tabernacle is closed or should we keep kneeling? –Anonymous

A.  Traditionally, the faithful knelt down until the tabernacle is closed.  The current General Instruction of the Roman Missal does not specify anything what the congregation is supposed to do so there is no right or wrong posture in church during this time.  However, the Church recommends that we should be in meditative prayer during this time regardless of whether we are kneeling, sitting or standing (for those who don’t have a seat) out of love and respect for the Holy Eucharist.

 

Q.  Is it a sin to dislike an animal even if you give it everything it needs to live? –Andrea Reeves

A.  Now that’s an interesting question!  If you’re treating your animal as best as you can but is responding to you in a “ferocious” manner, I guess you’d have a reason to dislike that animal and it wouldn’t be a sin.  In answer to your question, it wouldn’t necessarily be a sin to dislike an animal as long as you are not deliberately mistreating it.  I have known people who reluctantly gave pets to their children out of love for their kids but dislike the pets’ “unruly” habits in the house.

 

August 25, 2013

 

Q.  Why do some other Christian religions don’t have Jesus Christ on the cross? –Anonymous

A.  Some faiths refrain from putting the body of Jesus (corpus) on the cross because they do not believe in making images (or statues) of real persons.  There are some who believe that making images that resemble real persons is too close to idolatry.

 

Q.  Is it possible to know the name of our Guardian Angel? –Hannah O’Neill

A.  It is possible if God reveals it to you.  In the Bible some angels who made appearance to certain individuals identified themselves by name; for example, Gabriel and Raphael.  But ordinarily, we are unable to find out their real names so we can name them ourselves if we prefer to call them other than “Guardian Angel.”  It is also possible the names of the angels are something that we cannot pronounce while we’re here on earth.  On a few occasions the angel in the Bible refused to give their names to the people whom they appeared to.

 

Q.  My non-Catholic mom’s ashes were “scattered” at Bear’s Den Overlook.  As a Catholic can my ashes be scattered there if they are entirely put in one place or do they need to be kept in an urn? –Mother’s son

A.  Our Catholic faith believes in burying our remains in a blessed/consecrated sacred place.  Going back to the traditional Jewish practice, we treat dead bodies as sacred and must be given a proper permanent burial place. The resurrection of the body is an essential belief of our faith and the bodies of the deceased await the return of Jesus.  The scattering of the sacred remains of the deceased is not part of the Judeo-Christian tradition for burial and the Catholic Church does not approve of this practice.  We do not throw our deceased loved ones in the ocean, river, lake, beach, mountain, etc. after they die and that’s essentially what happens when the cremains (proper term for cremated bodies) are “scattered” instead of being buried.  If you choose to be cremated and placed in an urn, that would be fine as long as you are permanently buried in a dignified place.  I don’t know if there is a legal burial place or cemetery at Bear’s Den Overlook so make sure you find out this important information.

 

 

September 1, 2013

 

Q.  Where exactly do the donations to the Poor Box go?  Who actually receives the benefits? –Anonymous

A.  The Poor Box donations go to the parish People’s Need account to help the local needy in our area.  The recipients are both parishioners and non-parishioners.  We work a lot with Loudoun County social services that refer some of their clients to us to help pay for their water, electrical, rent, medical bills, food, etc.  The county has been very helpful in properly screening the clients as churches are frequently targeted by fraudulent claims for help.  This is really unfortunate because when unknown people directly approach us for financial help many of them usually run towards the door the moment we tell them we’re calling social services or the police to verify.  When parishioners are seeking direct help we rarely go through social services and usually only for advice on how to help them more and not because we suspect that they are making a false claim.  The Poor Box is there to help especially our parishioners but most of the funds end up helping non-parishioners as we help the needy regardless of their faith (and even if they have none).  When we have extra cash remaining we usually send the money to our local Catholic Charities in Leesburg.  I’m really glad you asked this question because there are many others who are not aware what we do with the Poor Box collection.  And I encourage many more to support our Poor Box and the People’s Need Sunday collection.  Your generosity has helped so many people including many fellow parishioners.

 

Q.  Do you have to be a deacon before you can become a priest? –Patrick O.

A.  Yes.  There are 2 kinds of deacons in the Catholic Church:  Transitional and Permanent.  Transitional deacons are ordained seminarians who are on the final stage of the process to receive the priesthood ordination.  Permanent deacons are often ordained married men who are in the special vocation to serve the church as deacons of the church.  Both transitional and permanent deacons can baptize and do wedding ceremonies.

 

Q.  Does God forgive all my sins when I pray?  If he does, why do I need to go to confession? –Kevin Hallissey

A.  God forgives us of our venial (light) sins when we pray directly to God.  But for mortal (serious) sins we need to be reconciled with God through the sacrament of Penance thru a priest.  However, it is also good to go to confession even if we have only committed venial sins because we receive lots of graces that help us to become better followers of Jesus just for going to confession itself.


September 8, 2013

 

Q.  Is there a patron saint for writing or drawing? –Hannah O’Neill

A.  Believe it or not, the patron saint of writers is none other than our parish patron, Saint Francis de Sales!  For artists and painters Saint Luke is their patron saint.

 

Q.  I know it’s written that Jesus was asked how to pray and he taught them the Lord’s Prayer.  How did it come about that we place our hands together with the fingers pointing up? –C. White

A.  There are many explanations why the hands are folded together in prayer and there is no single answer.  Some believe that this is a natural position of the hands in prayer because all of the fingers are pointing towards God in heaven.  Others add that keeping the fingers together is a sign of submission towards God or a lawful superior or authority.  It is also a sign of humility as opposed to someone who has his or her arms crossed together and the hands in opposite directions to indicate resistance or independence.  Keeping the hands clasped together is also a prayerful gesture and a sign of humility and a variation of the fingers pointing upwards.

 

Q.  One of my Jewish friends mentioned that she heard Pope Francis was quoted saying that he was okay with gay marriage.  Is this true?  Please explain.  –SBC

A.  It is definitely not true.  Pope Francis is a very vocal defender of traditional marriage. As cardinal and archbishop in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pope Francis publicly fought against the secular Argentine government legalizing gay marriage and the adoption of children by gay couples.  The conflicting misquote happened during the pope’s flight (July) to World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Reporters were given the opportunity to ask him questions and one asked what he thought of priests with homosexual tendencies but living a celibate life.  The pope’s response was, “If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”  Those who took the interview out of context presumed the pope had changed his mind about the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality.  He was merely reiterating the Church’s teaching that celibate (not sexuality active) homosexuals are called to a life of holiness just like everyone else and should not be unjustly judged and prejudiced (See Catechism paragraphs 2358-59).  Pope Francis has faithfully taught and even fought for the true teachings of the Catholic Church all his life.  At the same time the Holy Father sincerely seeks to reach out and minister to the spiritual needs from those who identify themselves as homosexuals.  As true followers of Christ, we are called to do the same and follow the lead of Pope Francis. The Holy Father is a great witness to the world that living for Jesus Christ and proclaiming his Gospel can be done in a compassionate way while at the same time not compromise any of the Catholic Church’s teachings.


 

September 15, 2013

 

Q.  How long was Lucifer a (good) angel before he rebelled and became satan? –Anonymous

A.  Theologians believe that the rebellious angels became demons very shortly after their creation.  The angels as superior spiritual beings were created with super intelligence and could understand and act on their free will rather instantly.  They knew the consequences of being sent to hell forever but due to their intellectual pride they still could not accept being fully obedient to God.

 

Q.  Do you give Holy Communion to people who are allergic to wheat? –Alec

A.  It’s a good thing we don’t have to as this could make them very sick.  There is a special gluten-free communion host approved by the Catholic Church that families can order for those who are allergic to wheat.  We have a few parishioners who bring these special hosts for them to receive at Mass that are consecrated separately from the regular hosts.  You probably have seen them come up first for communion.  Most get their hosts from the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

 

Q.  Are you allowed to marry anywhere as a Catholic? –Anonymous

A.  No.  The Church norm stipulates that weddings for Catholics should be done before the sacred altar consecrated to God in a church recognized by the local bishop.  On rare occasions a bishop may issue a dispensation for a Catholic to marry outside of the Catholic Church.  Let me give you an example that happened not too long ago.  I prepared an engaged couple, a Catholic and an Episcopalian, to be married in an Episcopalian Church.  They completed all the preparations and requirements for a Catholic wedding including the promise of raising their future children in the Catholic Church.  The groom’s brother is an Episcopalian priest and they requested a dispensation that he marries them in his Episcopal parish.  Our Catholic bishop agreed that this was a good reason for a dispensation and it was granted.  Since the wedding received the permission of our bishop, the wedding was fully recognized by the Catholic Church and did not need to be “convalidated” later in a Catholic ceremony.  [Important note:  Catholics who marry outside the Catholic Church without the bishop’s dispensation commit a mortal sin and may not receive Holy Communion or any of the sacraments, nor are they eligible to be Baptism/Confirmation sponsors, until their marriage is convalidated by a priest or a deacon.]


 

September 22, 2013

 

Q.  The more I try to get to know God, the more I feel further away from him.  Any advice? –Anonymous

A.  Don’t panic and lose heart, my friend!  Sometimes we presume God is far away because we don’t get any “good feelings” when we try to pray or when we try to study our faith.  Faith is not about feelings.  It is about trusting the God that we do not yet see.  We believe in Jesus regardless of whether we are experiencing good times or bad.  Sometimes God allows us to feel spiritual dryness in order to grow in our faith.  The true strength of our faith and love for God is revealed when we continue to remain faithful despite personal struggles or heavy temptations.  Jesus is closest to us when we are suffering for his sake.  This is the meaning of Jesus’ teaching, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).  We gain more graces during the time of trial than when we are experiencing spiritual consolations.  In our lifetime God gives us a mixture of both.  In reality, those who try to live their best for the Lord in the midst of trials are those whom God recognizes as people of strong faith.  God gives his biggest battles to his best warriors.  And God will not give us anything that we cannot handle:  “No trial has come to you but what is human.  God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond our strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Keep praying and speaking to God in your heart and you will soon feel that closeness with him.

 

Q.  Could you address the Pope’s recent comment regarding atheists where he said “Listening to and obeying one's conscience means, indeed, to make decisions in relation to what is perceived as good and bad?”   On the surface this seems to give tremendous latitude to not only non-believers, but also believers. –Dave Dittmeier

A.  One could easily misread Pope Francis’ comment on conscience and presume that one’s individual conscience can automatically override any law that they consider “violates” their conscience.  That’s why it is important to read the entire segment on Moral Conscience in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 1776-1802) in order to properly understand the true nature of human conscience.  One part says, “Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions.  ‘He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience.  Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters” (1781).  It would be an injustice if we stopped right here.  Paragraph 1783 states, “Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened.  A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful…. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.”  This segment also cross-referenced a key element of Catholic judgment in par. 2039, “….As far as possible conscience should take account of the good of all, as expressed in the moral law, natural and revealed, and consequently in the law of the Church and in the authoritative teaching of the Magisterium on moral questions.  Personal conscience and reason should not be set in opposition to the moral law or the Magisterium of the Church.”  This nullifies what some Catholics claim that they can freely dissent from official Catholic teaching.  With regard to his comment on atheists Pope Francis was simply responding to the La Republicca Italian newspaper founder’s question, "Does the Christian God forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith?”  The pope’s answer was, “God will ‘forgive’ them as long as they behave morally and live according to their consciences…. To listen and to follow your conscience means that you understand the difference between good and evil."  The pope was not making a blanket statement that just by being a pure atheist that denies God is sufficient enough to get to heaven for scripture says, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.  But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father” (Matthew 10:32-33).  We also cannot forget Psalm 53:2, “Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’  Their deeds are corrupt; not one does what is right.”  (It is safe for us to presume that there are no fools, atheists or agnostics in heaven!)

 

 

September 29, 2013

 

Q. What does “CCD” in religious education stand for? –Elliot B.

A.  Excellent question!  Did you know that most Catholics, including catechists (and some DRE’s), don’t know what those 3 letters stand for?  CCD stands for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.  The term originated in Rome, Italy in 1562 when CCD was first established as an association with the purpose of teaching Catholic religious education in a systematical way.  Later it got nicknamed simply as “catechism.”  And the word catechism comes from the Greek meaning “to teach orally” (word of mouth).

 

Q. What is “First Saturday”?  Is it always the first Saturday of the month or the Saturday that follows First Friday? –Anonymous

A.  First Saturday of the month is a devotional day in the Catholic Church when we specially honor the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  It is determined by the calendar and not by the First Friday devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

 

Q. Is it bad to leave Mass right after communion? –“Z.”

A. Yes, unless you have an emergency or very important reason to leave.  It’s worse than leaving the family dinner table early without first being excused either by mom or dad.  You know what would happen if you did that.  [When I was in my teens someone told me not to leave Mass early because at the Last Supper, when Jesus celebrated the first Mass, only Judas left early…right after communion!  In all my Catholic life I don’t ever recall leaving Mass early.  It’s probably because my family never did that.]

 

Q. Father, will God still love me if I get divorced? –Anonymous

A. Yes, undoubtedly, he will!  God says in Psalm 34:19-20, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.  Many are the troubles of the just, but the Lord delivers from them all.”  Let me know if you need counseling during your difficult transition.  Keep in mind that you can continue to receive the sacraments if you get divorced.  It is only those who divorce and remarry outside the Catholic Church that cannot receive the sacraments until their marriage is reconciled.

 

Q. What was the (Blessed Virgin) Mary’s last name? –Katy

A.  They did not use last names in the time of Jesus so Mary didn’t actually have one.

 

 

October 6, 2013

 

Q.  Where was Joseph during the crucifixion of Jesus? –Anonymous

A.  It is believed that Saint Joseph died sometime before the crucifixion.

 

Q.  Why did we change some of the words for the Mass? –Thomas

A.  The Church required that the Mass translations should be faithful to the original Latin.  The original 1970 English translation of the Mass was not as accurately translated so the current one is now more faithful to the true intended meaning of the words.

 

Q.  With all the different religions in the world how does God let us into his kingdom?  Can you go to heaven if you’re not Catholic?  –Anonymous

A.  Even though Jesus established the fullness of the truth about God in the Catholic Church, he died on the cross for the salvation of everyone.  God will judge those who are fit for heaven based on what they believed in their heart as the truth.  Good non-Christians could go to heaven if they sincerely followed their own religion that they believed to be true.  They are still saved by Jesus and not by their false gods and false beliefs.  The Church refers to this as invincible ignorance.  Catholics do not automatically go to heaven either.  All Catholics still need to follow God and faithfully receive the sacraments in order to get to heaven.

 

Q.  I have watched some shows that follow mediums who reconnect the dead with their loved ones.  I know the Old Testament specifically states it is wrong.  At least 2 of the mediums are “Catholic” and have received a certain approval from their church.  What are your thoughts on this?  --Anonymous

A.  The Catholic Church rejects consulting mediums to contact dead people.  Most of them are frauds and some invoke spirits using witchcraft or the occult.  The great Harry Houdini was famous not only for his incredible magic tricks but he was also very good in exposing the fraud mediums during his time.  The frauds are no different today.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (2116):  “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future.  Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers.  They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”  Certain saints were given the gift to foretell the future, communicate with souls in the afterlife and even speak to God and the saints directly.  However, none of them self promoted themselves and offered their gift to people on demand except for the saintly priests who were hearing confession and could read their souls to help them recall their past sins.  Not knowing what this show was about I can’t speak for the “Catholics” who supposedly have some church approval for their medium work.  I have my doubts on their claim.  [Just to show you how fraudulent these mediums are, do you remember the popular Psychic Network in the 1990’s?  So many people were calling them for consultation and made money off of them.  Somehow the franchise went bankrupt a few years later due to…”unforeseen” circumstances!]

 

 

 

October 13, 2013

 

Q.  When was heaven made? –Avery

A.  If you’re referring to heaven as a location where angels and saints are found, then heaven was created around the time when God made the angels.  The Church teaches the eternal presence (omnipresent) of God everywhere.  God is eternal and has no need of heaven for a home. There isn’t a place anywhere in existence where God is not.  But the angels do not have omnipresence like God so their presence had limits.  In the beginning, God created heaven for the angels and later the earth for humans.  At the end of time the Bible tells us that there will be a new heaven and a new earth to replace the current one:  “Then I (St. John) saw a new heaven and a new earth.  The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more” (Revelation 21:1).

 

Q.  Does it matter which hand is on top when you’re receiving communion? –Anonymous

A.  Yes, it does.  The hand that picks up the Eucharist to place it in your mouth should be on the bottom.  This means the dominant hand should always be placed at the bottom.

 

Q.  Ecclesiastes 12:13 states, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God, and keep his commandments:  for this is the whole duty of man.”  Is this considered the most important passage of the Bible?  –Anonymous

A.  I am not aware of the Church placing rankings on biblical passages.  If there were such a ranking, this passage would certainly be right up there.  Failure to observe the commandments leads to an unpleasant eternal “hot bath!”

 


 

October 20, 2013

 

Q.  Was Jesus nailed through his hands or wrists?  And if he was nailed through his wrists why do people get the stigmata on their hands? –Annie

A.  The Church does not conclusively say one way or the other.  The Bible speaks of the wounds of Jesus on his hands.  In the account of the resurrection on John 20:25 Thomas the apostle says, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”  It is possible that the reference to the “hands” could have meant the wrist but we don’t know for sure.  The Shroud of Turin, which many Catholics believe and revere as the cloth that wrapped the body of Jesus after his death, appears to show that the nail marks were on the wrists of Jesus.  The visible stigmata on the hands of the saints could very well be a “symbolic” location of how Jesus was nailed to the cross rather than the true physical place for it.  It would seem that nailing someone’s wrists on the cross would hold the body better upright than the palms of the hands.

 

Q.  Is stubbornness a sin? –Mary Grace

A.  Yes, it can be.  It is important to know that stubbornness involves an unreasonable insistence on doing something wrong that he or she wants or not want to do.  This is not to be confused with the virtue of being steadfast, firm or persevering for maintaining a stance that is good such as not compromising one’s faith in Jesus and his teachings.  Stubbornness is about one’s selfish desires and is not concerned with the good of others.

 

Q.  What is the ‘proper’ way to take communion:  kneel first, bow first, make the sign of the cross after, by the tongue or with the hand? –Anonymous

A.  Everything you mentioned is “proper” if it’s done in the correct sequence.  The Church states that if holy communion is received kneeling you don’t need any other sign of sacred gesture because kneeling in itself is a sign of reverence and adoration.  But if communion is customarily taken in the parish standing, as in nearly all the parishes, one needs to make a sign of reverence prior to receiving the Eucharist.  You can genuflect, bow or make the sign of the cross.  Some people do the sign of the cross after receiving communion but the liturgy teaches that this should be done before receiving.  The norm for taking communion is by receiving it directly on the tongue but one has the option to receive it in the hand.

 

October 27, 2013

 

Q.  Can you see the stable in Bethlehem or is it torn down? –Anonymous

A.  There was no real stable at Bethlehem where Jesus was born.  It was on a cavity side of a mountain where many of the shepherds would hang out.  The nice Christmas crèche that we decorate is only figurative image and cosmetically made to look really nice.  Where Jesus was born was rather very primitive.  The crib of Jesus was likely a feeding trough for animals.  When Jesus was born on earth he was in about as poor of a place that he could be in.  It was where animals like sheep would spend their time and probably not the best smelling place either.  The great humility of God is seen in the birth of Jesus.  I’ve visited Bethlehem twice and I felt the great humility of God even more after seeing where he was born and also seeing where he was crucified in Jerusalem.

 

Q.  Does 1,000,000 Hail Marys actually help the new building be built faster? –Anonymous

A.  As of this writing we are up to 327,435 Hail Marys prayed so far.  We haven’t reached a million yet but after we began the campaign on January 25, the day after the groundbreaking, we’ve seen the building get built quite a bit and it is picking up speed.  We expect to finish the parish center by Easter Sunday 2014.

 

Q.  Does holy water taste the same as normal water? –Carleigh

A.  Yes, it does.  Our holy water is drawn from the same well where we get our drinking water.

 

November 3, 2013

 

Q.  Why are tax collectors always thought of as huge sinners?  Isn’t that stereotyping? –13-year old anonymous

A.  The Jews despised all the Jewish tax collectors during the time of Jesus because they were collecting money from them to give to the support of the pagan Roman emperor that worshiped a false god.  Tax collectors were considered collaborators with the enemy.  They also made money by charging well beyond the actual tax and the Jews had no choice but to pay.  Many of them seriously abused their position and became very wealthy overcharging people.  That’s why they were considered public sinners.

 

Q.  If I pray to God everyday, will he answer me? –Keira MacMillin

A.  God always hears our prayers.  The reason why God doesn’t answer our prayers right away is because sometimes it is not the right time for our requests to be granted.  But there are times when God does not grant our request.  We have to remember that when we pray to God for something, sometimes his response is a “no.”  If God does not think what we’re asking him is good for our salvation he certainly would not grant it.  The good thing is if we are praying for something sincerely and God says “no” to that, he will give us something else of an equal or greater value.  In the meantime, because we have been praying to God regularly our souls are made holier each day.

 

Q.  If I am to believe in “ALL things visible and invisible,” does that mean I have to believe in aliens from another planet?—Ben, 5th grade

A.  The reference about “invisible” in the Creed is a reference to the invisible presence of God, the angels, the saints, heaven, etc.  These are the ones we cannot see with our physical eyes but exist in the spiritual realm.  If there are aliens in other planets, and there is no evidence yet to be found that there are, they would not be invisible.  They are just “unseen” because they are far away.  There is a big difference between being invisible and unseen.  For example, our Guardian Angels are always next to us but we can’t see them because they are invisible.  Our lungs are always with us but they are unseen because they are hidden inside our bodies and could become visible with the use of a medical device such as an X-ray or if the doctors operate on us.

 

November 10, 2013

 

Q.  What is the “Apocrypha”?  What does it mean?  Is it real? –SBC

A.  The apocrypha comes from the Latin apocryphus meaning secretive or hidden.  This term is used by primarily Protestants to refer to the 7 books in the Old Testament that they removed from their Bible during the Reformation in the 16th century.  Protestant Bibles only contain 39 Old Testament books as a result of this.  The Catholic and Orthodox have always maintained all 46 books of the Old Testament.  The 7 books removed were Wisdom, Judith, Sirach, Baruch, Tobit, Maccabees 1 & 2.  The reason we have always kept all 46 books of the Old Testament is because Jesus used the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) with all 46 books during his time.  The Jews themselves did not even consider removing the 7 books from their canon until about 100 years after the birth of Jesus.  Catholic and Orthodox Churches do not refer to them as apocryphal books because for us these 7 books are part of the revealed Word of God and on the same importance with the rest of the Bible.

 

Q.  If the priest can open the tabernacle can anyone else open it? –Anonymous

A.  Normally, only the Ordinary Ministers of the Eucharist (bishops, priests and deacons) may open the tabernacle.  With permission the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion may also open the tabernacle to get communion to give to the sick.

 

Q.  What does God look like, is he old or young? –Bob, 5th Grade

A.  God is a spirit and neither looks old or young.  We don’t really know what God actually looks like because this is a mystery.  Our physical bodies would not survive seeing the beauty of God.  In Exodus 33:18-20 Moses asked to see what God really looked like and was told, “But my face you cannot see, for no man sees me and still lives.”  We do have an idea what God in his human nature looks like because of Jesus.  As the Son of God Jesus is both divine and human.  We know what a man looks like so that gives us an idea.  As far as the glorious image of God as the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Spirit), we will not know this until we get to heaven.

 

 

November 17, 2013

 

Q.  Is moping a sin? –Hank Jr.

A.  Yes.  If it is just moping it is usually only a venial sin.  It is a sin against charity.

 

Q.  My mom says animals don’t go to heaven.  Is this true? –Anonymous

A.  Jesus never addressed salvation for animals.  He even ate fish and meat (especially lamb in observance of the Passover).  Since God only mentioned eternal life for the angels and people from his many creations, it is presumed that animals do not share in salvation.  If eternal life exists for the animals, which animals would go to heaven?  The animal kingdom includes fleas, ticks, worms, snakes, stick bugs, mosquitoes, spiders, parasites, etc.  For consolation, just know that it wouldn’t be a sin to dream that you just might find your favorite pet or animal in heaven.

 

Q.  Why did God make us superior over all creatures if he wants us to be humble? –Catie M.

A.  Being superior over all the creatures on earth meant that God gave us a free will and an eternal soul.  Other creatures live according to instinct and will eventually die and no longer exist at some point.  God gave us the gift of free will so that we can choose to love God and his people.  This gift was not shared with other living creatures.  We are also given eternal existence so that we can choose to live with God happily forever.  God desiring us to be humble simply means that we should always obey the ways of God who created us out of love.  True love of God naturally leads to humbly appreciating and respecting God’s other creatures.

 

Q.  When an exorcism is performed, can you actually see evil spirits leaving the body? –Anonymous

A.  It is my understanding that this is a rare occurrence.  Exorcists have to conduct tests to make sure the possessing demons are all gone before they would declare the exorcism as complete.  The clearest sign of the person no longer possessed is that he or she is no longer acting in an unusual unnatural behavior.  In Saint Louis de Montfort’s book The Secret of the Rosary, he mentioned that Saint Dominic once exorcised a man with 15,000 demons possessing him.  When he placed a Rosary around his neck 15 red hot coals came out of the man’s body to signify the departure of the 15,000 demons.  In the Gospel Jesus did a similar exorcism by driving many demons out of one man’s body and commanded them to enter a herd of swine in the land of the Gerasene (Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39).

 

 

November 24 2013

 

Q.  Someone told me that yoga meditation is against our Catholic belief.   Is this true and why? –Anonymous

A.  The yoga physical exercises are fine and often believed to be very good according to some studies.  However, yoga meditation involving pagan spirituality violates the First Commandment that forbids true believers of God to have anything to do with false and strange gods.  There is only one God and that is the Holy Trinity:  Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit.  There are many variations of yoga spirituality with eastern pagan influences such Hindu and Buddhist.  The calling of the pagan gods’ names is definitely inappropriate for Christians.  St. Paul writes, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).  The pagan message of salvation is also in opposition to the salvation taught by Jesus.  Reincarnation totally rejects the resurrection teaching of Jesus.  Reincarnation also rejects the Christian theology of salvation/damnation and the eternal existence of heaven and hell.  Jesus came into the world to save souls from being lost to hell forever and to the power of satan.  The only authentic message of salvation comes from Jesus and no one else:  “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved” (Acts 4:12).  So if you choose to do the physical exercises of yoga, make sure that you make your meditations only focused on the mysteries of our Christian faith and nothing more.

 

Q.  Where is heaven and where is hell? –Nolan Alvarez

A.  We know the existence of heaven and hell based on what God has revealed to us but we don’t really know precisely where they are because they are not in a physical location.  They belong in a spiritual world that is a mystery to us.  What we do know is that those in heaven can see a lot of what is happening here on earth.  Their spiritual world must be near us if they could do that.

 

Q.  Is it a sin to go to church with a friend who isn’t Catholic as long as you also attend Mass? –Anonymous

A.  As long as you make it to Mass every Sunday it is all right to accompany a friend on occasion to their church as a guest only and not as a worshiper.  Remember, although we fully respect the beliefs of others their worship is different from our Catholic faith and will have elements of contradiction that we cannot accept.  For example, at Mass we believe that the real body & blood of Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.  Nearly all other Christian (except the Orthodox) churches reject the mystery of transubstantiation and consider our practice idolatry.  We can’t go to Mass in the morning professing what we believe and then worship at another church that rejects what we just professed.  We honor and pray to Our Blessed Mother and the saints in our church but in other denominations they forbid that practice and also consider it the sin of idolatry.  These are just a few reasons why one could not properly worship in two contradictory church beliefs.  We can only properly pray based on what we truly believe:  the law of praying is the law of believing.

 

December 1, 2013

 

Q.  Did Mary and Jesus have guardian angels? ­–Anonymous

A.  Yes.  The angels have always accompanied the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as their guardian.

 

Q.  Did Jesus have original sin?  Did Jesus ever sin when he was a kid? –Anonymous

A.  Jesus did not inherit original sin nor did he ever commit a sin as kid or as an adult.  As God he does not sin because he always chooses what is good and right.

 

Q.  If we light a candle but don’t have any money on us to give, is it a sin? –Anonymous

A.  No, it would not be a sin.  If it is very important that you light a memorial candle for the intention you are praying for then you have a very good reason to just go ahead and light a candle even if you don’t leave an offering.  The suggested offering is there to help us replace the candles.

 

Q.  Was the first saint a boy or a girl? –Peter

A.  That would be very difficult to find out.  Saints are simply those who live a good holy life for God.  Saints are both living and deceased.  There are saints both in the Old and New Testament eras.  One could make the argument that Abel, one of the first sons of Adam and Eve, was the first saint of the Old Testament because he lived a life that was pleasing to God before his brother Cain killed him out of jealousy.  In the time of Jesus the parents of Mary and grandparents of Jesus, Saint Joachim and Saint Ann, are the only saints referred to prior to Saint Mary the Mother of Jesus and Saint John the Baptist.

 

December 8, 2013

 

Q.  What is the best prayer you can pray and why? –Kam Jones

A.  There is no definite answer to this one but if I were to give an opinion it would be this:  “My God, I love you!”  Prayer is about a loving conversation with God and if we don’t know how to start our prayer perhaps we should first express our love for Him.  This short prayer has been around for centuries and has helped a lot of people open up the rest of their conversation with God in a nice way.  As far as recited (vocal) prayers, the best one is what Jesus taught us known as the Our Father or The Lord’s Prayer).

 

Q.  Are altar servers allowed to open the tabernacle? –Anonymous

A.  No.  Only the Ordinary Ministers of the Eucharist (bishops, priests, deacons) and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (those who help the priests give communion at Mass and to the homebound sick) may open the tabernacle.

 

Q.  What is a good way to strengthen one’s prayer life? –Anonymous

A.  The most helpful way to improve one’s prayer life is frequent sacramental confession because our soul is at its best praying mode when it has little or no sin.  Reading and meditating on scripture verses slowly help us become more in tune with the spirit of God.  The Psalms and the other wisdom books (e.g., Proverbs, Sirach, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom, Song of Songs) seem to automatically lift our spirits up toward God and are therefore very useful in preparing to pray.  But one must always study more about God in order to become better at prayer.  Consistent improvement of one’s prayer life is closely connected to how much we desire to know more about God.  We can relate to this by reflecting on our friends.  The good and loyal friends we have gotten to know and love for several years are the same ones whom we had spent many quality time and conversations with in the past.

 

 

December 15, 2013

 

Q.  Did God create the world with the “Big Bang”? –Dylan

A.  Yes.  God decided he wanted to create the world…and bang, it happened! Seriously, it is possible the world started out with a big bang and this theory does not necessarily violate our belief in creation because God would have been the author and cause of the process.  While the Big Bang Theory is pitted against creation, it is a myth that this was formulated by an atheist who wanted an alternative explanation to how the world came to be.  To those who advocate the Big Bang Theory they can thank Georges Lemaitre for introducing this scientific concept.  He and the famous Albert Einstein had several important scientific discussions regarding the universe especially on the Big Bang.  Oh, by the way, he was better known as Father Georges Lemaitre.  He was a Catholic Belgian priest (1894-1966), who aside from celebrating Mass, taught physics and astronomy at the University of Louvain.  Among his great contributions to the scientific world include being the first to introduce both the theories of the Big Bang and the Expanding Universe (2 years ahead of the more recognized Edwin Hubble).  We always wonder after all these years who has been passing around the bad rumor that the teachings of the Catholic Church are against science and reason?  They should look at history a little more closely and they will find that lots of Catholics and other Christians are recognized as big contributors to science.  Here’s a Catholic trivia special for you: From 1682 until 1955, 35 craters of the moon have been named after Jesuit priests in honor of their contribution to science.  [Thank you for your very good question, Dylan.  I hope this response will help many others who often wonder whether there is a conflict between faith and reason.  God says there isn’t because he is the author of nature itself.]

 

Q.  Why do we have a “world without end”? –Caleb & Mary Castaneda

A.  It is because God intended for us to live forever.  God’s creation is beautiful and he wants us to enjoy both heaven and earth.  The world we live in now is not perfect but God will make it perfect in the future for those who are in God’s good graces.  There is a great beautiful future ahead of us and that’s why it is worth living our Catholic faith patiently though at times we may have to experience challenges in life.

 

Q.  My sister, who is single, is having an affair with a married man.  Can she expect God’s blessing in her life when doing such a defiant act? –Anonymous

A.  No.  A person only receives blessings when he or she is in the state of sanctifying grace.  This precious state is lost when the person commits at least a mortal sin and does not repent.  Adultery is a direct violation of the 6th commandment, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).  In 1 Corinthians 6:9 St. Paul listed specific sins that would prevent one from inheriting the kingdom of God:  adultery, fornication (sex between unmarried couples), idolatry, theft, homosexual practice, prostitution, greed, drunkenness and slander.  But let us always keep in mind that God is always ready to grant complete pardon to anyone who asks for forgiveness of sins.  Recognizing that we are sinners ourselves, we should also always pray for the conversion of those living apart from God.

 

 

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