Sunday, October 7, 2018

What is Hell?

Hell is the complete and utter rejection of love. Some say that is impossible but imagine a person who is completely selfish. That person does only what is self-serving, not self-giving. Hell is saying, “I want whatever I want for me and me alone. I don’t care about anyone else!” This is not the way of love.

God gave us life so that we may love. God is love and God invites us to share in his love. That love is shown by the selfless gift of ourselves to others for their benefit. When we reject love through mortal sin, we are rejecting God and others. “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.” (CCC, para. 1857)

If we die in a state of mortal sin, then we have chosen of our own free will to reject God, and we will be eternally separated from God. That separation is the chief punishment of hell.

Read more about hell in the Catechism, paragraphs 1033-1037.

Know your faith. Live your faith. Teach your faith.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Why does the Bible contradict itself?

The Catechism states: “The inspired books teach the truth. ‘Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.” (para. 107) It also sates: “In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.” (para. 109)

When dealing with contradictions it is important to look at what is being written and why. What appear to be contradictions may be different versions from different points of views with different emphases for different audiences. The introductions to the books and the footnotes in a Catholic Bible can help sort out what is intended by the human authors and the divine author. Read more about Sacred Scripture in the Catechism in paragraphs 101-141.

Know your faith. Live your faith. Teach your faith.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

What was Vatican II and why is it important?

Every now and then, all the bishops of the world get together with the pope, which is called an ecumenical council, and talk about issues that are important for the faith, for the Church, and for the world. The last time this happened was in 1962-1965, at the event called Vatican II. It is called that because it was the second time a council met in the Vatican.

Pope St. John XXIII called the council, as St. John Paul II writes, “to guard and present better the precious deposit of Christian doctrine in order to make it more accessible to the Christian faithful and to all people of good will.” (Fidei depositum)

To that end, Vatican II issued sixteen documents on all sorts of topics, including worship, Revelation, the Church, the world, and more. The Catechism is a direct result of Vatican II and quotes it extensively. Vatican II taught the truth in a new way: “For this deposit of faith, or truths which are contained in our time-honored teaching is one thing; the manner in which these truths are set forth (with their meaning preserved intact) is something else.”

Read more about Vatican II in the Apostolic Constitution, “On the Publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church” at the front of the Catechism.

Know your faith. Live your faith. Teach your faith.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Why should I believe what the Church teaches?

Why do you believe anything that anybody teaches? First, and foremost, you trust the people who teach you. You trusted your parents before you even knew you were trusting them. You trust your teachers. You trust your coaches. And rightfully so. They are put in authority over you to guide you to know the truth.

Secondly, you trust what has been taught to you because it is true! Two plus two does equal four! And it always will! Force equals mass times acceleration! Mathematic and scientific truths are easy to verify.

But there are other truths that are even more important. Your parents love you. God loves us. The Church teaches God’s love for us.

So, if the Church is established by Jesus to bring us to Heaven, and the pope and the bishops “are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice,” (CCC, 2034) as it says in the Catechism, and we believe this, then we should believe what the Church teaches.

Read more about the Church as Mother and Teacher in the Catechism, paragraphs, 2030-2051.

Know your faith. Live your faith. Teach your faith.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Why does the Church insist on getting involved with politics?

The first amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” So, the Church may speak out with regard to policies and the common good. And the Church does! She speaks out against injustice. She speaks out for human dignity. She speaks out for what is good and true and beautiful.

Sometimes this means the Church has a position on important issues, such as abortion, same-sex, so-called, marriage, immigration reform, freedom of religion, physician-assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research, and so forth. She is protected by the Constitution to speak out. This is not getting involved with politics. This is providing a moral compass for society.

What the Church does not do, and is prohibited by the Internal Revenue Code from doing, is participate or intervene in a political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate. This is where the Church draws the line. However, the Church encourages us to be involved in politics!

Read more about participation in social life in the Catechism, paragraphs 1897-1927.

Know your faith. Live your faith. Teach your faith.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Who is the Church to tell me what’s right and what’s wrong?

The Catholic Church was established by Jesus Christ as the means to continue his mission in the world. The Church is like a sacrament, “a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men.” (CCC, 775) Therefore, the Church is “the instrument for the salvation of all,” “the universal sacrament of salvation.” (CCC, 776)

This means Jesus gives the Church the responsibility to bring the whole world to God through the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Church follows Jesus’ teachings and shares them with the world. So, when the Church teaches about right and wrong, it is Jesus teaching about right and wrong. The Church is the Body of Christ.

The Church has the assurance that she is following Jesus correctly because Jesus said so: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt. 16:18-19) Jesus also gave his power to the apostles on the night that he rose from the dead: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you. … Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (Jn 20:21-22)

Read more about the Church in God’s plan in the Catechism, paragraphs 751-780.

Know your faith. Live your faith. Teach your faith.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Why should I go to church to pray when I can pray anywhere and anytime?

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians that we should “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes 5:17) This implies that we should pray wherever we are at and not just in a church. There are many passages in the Gospels about Jesus and prayer. He prayed in the synagogue, went to the Temple in Jerusalem, in the Garden of Gethsemane, on a mountain, by the seashore, and more.

However, the question asks about praying in a church as opposed to praying elsewhere. This should not be an either/or question, but a both/and question. We should pray everywhere AND in church. So why is the church a special place to pray? Because Jesus is there, and not in the same way that Jesus is everywhere!

Jesus is in the tabernacle in the church, really, truly, and substantially, in the Eucharist. That is why some churches offer perpetual adoration, so that people may come and adore Jesus in the Eucharist. There is even a feast dedicated to the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, Corpus Christi, which is celebrated on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday. Also, we come to church to pray with one another as a community. We share our faith with one another. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt. 18:20) Further, we are called to “Keep holy the Lord’s Day,” the third commandment, and we do this especially by coming together on Sundays to celebrate the Mass.

Read more about the adoration of the Eucharist in the Catechism, paragraphs 1373-1381.

Know your faith. Live your faith. Teach your faith.