Below are the questions submitted though the Curious Catholic website along with answers from our different contributors:
What is the most important job in the Priesthood?
The most important job of the Priesthood is the celebration of the Eucharist, a priest lives to celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass.
How is it possible that an Arch-Angel can be a Saint?
The term "Saint" refers to someone who is in heaven, and Angels being that they are can be referred to as Saint. However the term is most commonly reserved for someone who has lived a virtuous life and through the discernment of the Church we hold this person to be in heaven.
Why does the church have that candle on a chain?
The candle to which you are referring is the Tabernacle Lamp. This candle is there to let us know that the Eucharist is in the tabernacle so we know that we are in God's presence.
If Christianity is “the” religion, why are there so many different subgroups? Example: Baptist, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witness.
As with everything in life people interpret things differently because we grow up with different worldviews, different customs, different cultures, different family backgrounds, ect. Each group represents a different way in which groups of people have made sense of living Christianity based on their interpretation and understanding of the message of the Gospel. That said, not all interpretations are of equal value because that would be to neglect that in someone has to have gotten it right and therefore one of these interpretations is in fact the surest path to a relationship with God based on the Truth, and we hold that to be the Catholic Church.
Why is there evil even when we have God?
If you look at the bible, evil always comes about by the choices individuals and/or groups have made that contradict the reality of who God made them to be. Evil is the product of us using our God-given gift of free will in a way that rejects God, who is the source of all that is good. God does not take from us that which He has given, the freedom to choose, even when our choices reject Him and the good of others. The existance of evil in our world is not because God wants it so, but because by our actions or inaction we have brought it about or allowed it.
Do you make time for God everyday?
Yes. In fact Priests promise to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, which is a set of prayers based on the Psalms and other Bible verses which represent the official prayer of the Church.
What are the most important values in our faith life as Catholics?
Faith, Hope and Love. I refer you what Saint Paul says to the Corinthians:
"If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1st Corinthians 13:1-13)
How/Why do Catholics celebrate Thanksgiving?
Well, technically speaking, Catholics do not celebrate Thanksgiving, Americans do. Not all Catholics celebrate Thanksgiving, only Catholics in America do. Thanksgiving is a culturally american feast, and therefore American Catholics celebrate it just as Catholics from other cultures participate or celebrate feasts that are part of their own cultures.
Would God take things from us in order to pull us closer to Him? This could be a loved one or possessions?
Technically, yes. I do not believe God actively takes something from us, but rather allows the circumstances that would take something from us happen in order to get us closer to Him. I think the best example is that of Job. God does not actively take anything from Job but rather allows it to happen so that Job may give testimony of his faith in Him. But then again, this is not an official Church teaching but rather the opinion of one rather flawed priest, so take it as you will.
Do Catholics believe in the rapture? If "no" then why don't we? If "yes" what do we believe about the rapture?
No, Catholics do not believe in the rapture. The rapture is the believe that prior to the end times the faithful chose will be spared the trials of the end and taken to heaven before anything happens, in another words, these chosen one will be spaired from the sufferings of that time. The biblical basis for the rapture is mainly one verse from 1 Thessalonians 4:27 which reads: "Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord." The reasons we do not believe in the rapture as Catholics is simple, it is inconsistent with other beliefs presented in Scripture.
This idea that the faithful will manage to escape suffering is inconsistent with the fact that Jesus never tells his followers they won't suffer, but actually warns them that they will suffer for following Him. Second, the idea of escaping the trials and sufferings has a more dangerous effect, it diminishes the value of suffering and therefore the central act of Christianity, the crucifixion. It is clear throughout the bible that God does not spare us from suffering but redeems our suffering, transforms it. And lastly, Saint Paul over and over emphasizes that suffering for the sake of our faith is a great thing, something to be looked forward to, the greatest kind of testimony of our Christian faith. If the rapture were true then it would be like God stealing from His own followers the opportunity to do the very thing He has asked us to do, to remain faithful and steadfast in faith no matter what happens. The Rapture is thoroughly inconsistent with our understanding of the Gospel message and therefore we do not believe it.
Is someone once Catholic always a Catholic even if they turn away from Church to join another faith?
Short answer, yes. There is no way to "un-catholisize" yourself. In baptism we are marked, we recieve a spiritual mark by which we are in a sense, identified as part of Christ's Church. Even when someone goes away and joins another church be it of whatever religion, that person, in the eyes of the Church and God, does not stop being a Catholic. It is, in other words, in his Spiritual DNA. Just as a son can deny his parent his DNA will always say he is his dad's son. We also have to remember that in baptism God is welcoming us into His family, and once family you are always family, you are always welcome back. And that is the hope we have for those who leave.
Burial or Cremation, which is proper and why?
The Church accepts both burial of the person's body and cremation. However the Church has a clear preference for burial for several reasons. The most important of these reasons is that burial is consistent with the beliefs we profess, specifically that we believe in the resurrection of the dead. The acceptance of cremation is due to practical purposes but even then, the proper way to dispose of a person's ashes is by burying them in the ground not by spreading them somewhere or keeping them in a container.
What does the Church teach about dreams and what they mean?
The Church has no official teaching about dreams or the interpretation of dreams. Each person's prayer life and experience with the Lord is unique. God chooses to communicate with us at the individual level in many ways, and as we see in Scripture (for example with Joseph the husband of Mary) God at times uses dreams to communicate with us. However, most times, dreams are just that, dreams. Our mind and our imagination are powerful and sometimes dreams are just the way we work out things happening at a subconscious or even our anxieties. If you are having particularly meaningful dreams I would suggest talking them over with your spiritual director. However, let me end with this, St. John of the Cross, warns about reading too much into our perceived mystical experiences (whether really from God or not). As he puts it, if it really came from God, do not dwell on it because you have already received the graces God intended to give you through that experience, and if it is not from God then by not dwelling on the experience you avoid hindering your spiritual growth.
What happens to the soul of an aborted baby if neither parent is baptized?
The fate of the child's soul is in no way connected to their parent's baptism. As far as the child goes, we can always count on God's mercy and love for the innocent.
Can a person of Catholic faith marry another person who is not Catholic, divorced, and who's former spouse will not give them an annulment?
Spouses do not have the power to give annulment or to stop the annulment investigation. Usually, if the person provides the documentation that is asked it is a fairly quick process for an annulment. The only possible complications may be if the non-Catholic's former spouse is Catholic and they married in the Church. However, without knowing any details of the case it is hard for me to give you any useful advice. I would suggest pointing the person interested in the annulment in the direction of your local marriage advocate, who's information you can obtain from your local parish. But in short, without an annulment a Catholic person can not marry another person who was previously married because the annulment guarantees that you are not in fact marrying someone who is already married in the eyes of God and the Church.
My Fiance and I are thinking about going to a Catholic church instead of a regular Christian church. We feel like Catholics have a deeper connection and higher respect for God and Jesus Christ. Do we have to join to go to a Sunday service?
First of all let me say that I am glad you have encountered positive examples of Faith in the Catholics you have met. To answer your question, in short, no, you do not need to "join" to attend Sunday Mass. That is, if by joining you mean becoming a registered member of this particular church. However, in order to fully participate and enjoy what happens at mass you have to be properly prepared. There is a process for becoming Catholic which would allow you to participate fully of all that comes with being a Catholic (for example, going to communion during mass, or going to confession). I encourage you talk to your local priest or even attend your church's RCIA program (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) in order to get to know the Catholic faith better.
Why isn't the Blood of Christ offered at every mass during the week?
That is an excellent question. This is one of those issues were our theology and practicality meet in a happy middle ground. First, we believe that when receiving the Eucharist we receive all of Christ, therefore it is not necessary to receive both the Body and the Blood, because either one constitutes receiving the whole. The other reasons, which are practical are that, first, there is not always an extraordinary minister to distribute the blood at every weekday mass; secondly, it would be very expensive to provide wine for every mass every day. Not a glamorous answer but there you have it.
The Statuary of St Francis or Assisi sometimes shows the saint contemplating a skull instead of the usual birds. Why a skull?
Often we associate St. Francis with animals and pets. However this is a man who's singular devotion was to a life of penance and service, a life of poverty, and most especially towards the end of his life a man of contemplation. A few years before his death Francis wrote the Canticle of Brother Sun, in which he devotes the following words to death: "Praise be you, my Lord through Sister Death from whom no one who lives can escape." The skull represents St. Francis' meditation on death and suffering, his deep yearning to be united with the Lord.
I am not sure what to do with the palm leaves I receive on Palm Sunday. One church I have attended had people bring them in before Lent. Did they burn them to make the ashes?
The proper way to dispose of a Sacramental, such as the palms from Palm Sunday is to burn them or bury them. Some parishes offer their parishioners the ability to bring the palms in so that the ashes from the previous year's palms will be used for Ash Wednesday.
How does a newly elected Pope choose his name for his Papacy?
The simple answer is that he just chooses a name. There is no rule dictating how a name should be chosen, neither is there a list to choose from. However, the tradition has been to choose the name of a previous pope or saint. Also another interesting tradition is that newly elected popes avoid choosing the name Peter so as to honor the first Pope.
How did St. Raphael become an archangel? Where is this referenced in the Bible and what exactly does that title mean?
The title Archangel appears twice in Scripture and it seems to refer to a particular position within the hierarchy of Heaven. Raphael appears in Scripture once, in the book of Tobit, chapter 12, verse 15 where Raphael specifies that he is one of "those seven who stand in the presence of the Lord." It seems then that an Archangel is an angel with a particular mission and position within the heavenly ranks.
If you had a Catholic wedding, but your spouse is Episcopalian, can you both be buried in a Catholic cemetery?
In short, as long as one of them is a Catholic then yes they can be buried in a Catholic cemetery.
What is the real deal with St. Valentine's day? Catholic feast day or made up by greeting card companies?
I am sorry I did not get to answer this one until now but I actually had to do a little bit of digging with this one. The truth about this celebration, I am sorry to say, is still a bit of a mystery but allow me to shed some light into it. Yes, there is a Saint Valentine, in fact according to our records there are at least 3 Saints by that name. February 14th was attached to Saint Valentine of Rome when all the way back in the 5th century his feast began to be celebrated on that day. Curiously enough all 3 Valentines were martyred and all are associated to the same date, Feb. 14th. As far as the day's association to romantic love, I could not find any definitive connections to any of the Saint Valentines. However some sources I came across seem to agree that the day became associated with romance and love during the middle ages. On a more Catholic note, in our Church calendar Feb 14th is reserved for two great saints not named Valentine. Happy feast of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius!
In reference to the earlier question concerning not eating meat on Friday. Why had the Holy See leveled the requirement to abstain from meat on Friday during the regular year? Was this requirement assigned to other countries also?
The requirement to abstain from meat on Fridays throughout the year was for the whole Catholic world. The reason it was changed in the U.S. was because the Bishops of the United States thought asked for permission to give the faithful of the U.S. the option to replace the abstaining from meat with some other penance or work of piety on Fridays outside of Lent. This means that if you are not doing some other form of penance on Friday you should be abstaining from meat. The permission granted by the Holy See was to have the option of doing something different, not of doing nothing, because Fridays remain a day of penance.
I hate to say this, but someone challenged me on Confirmation the other day and I gave a stumbling response to them. Can you give me a short apologetic version of what Confirmation is?
Confirmation is the sacrament in which the Baptismal graces given to us by God are completed. Being one of the sacraments of initiation once received, along with baptism and first communion, it means you become a fully initiated member of the body of Christ with all that entails. A good biblical pointer for confirmation is Acts 8:14-17. In these passages Peter and John go to a group of people who had already been baptized and accepted the Lord in order to lay hands on them to receive the Holy Spirit because "the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized." This is important because it points to the fact that somehow Confirmation, this receiving of the Holy Spirit, is necessary for completion of what has begun in Baptism.
If you commit a mortal sin and ask for God's forgiveness but die before being able to go to confession are you still forgiven?
In short, yes, or yes we hope so. If, through no fault of your own, you die before being able to get to confession even though you are appropriately contrite for your sin, we have to trust that God, who knows you were contrite also knows you were not able to make it to confession before your death. That being said, this does not mean that we are safe in waiting to confess mortal sins. Like I pointed out, if through no fault of your own, which is the key to this. This is part of God's great mercy and love, that he takes our intentions into account. The case would be different if you commit a mortal sin, and after asking for forgiveness in personal prayer you count it as good enough and then delay going to confession purposefully. There is a reason why the same all-knowing God, who knows you are contrite for your sin is also the same God who gives us a specific rite in which to reconcile with Him and the rest of the body of Christ.
I was taught that it is wrong to leave mass early but was recently told by a close friend that it is ok to leave mass after Communion. Can you set the record straight? Personally, it bothers me when people rush the door the leave mass after Communion.
Actually, I'm afraid your friend is wrong. If we pay attention to the words and prayers during mass we realize there is actually a dismissal, a time when the words "you may go" are literally said. Leaving Mass prior to that is to leave before it is over, and considering how Mass is a meal, THE Heavenly meal made available to us, leaving mass early is comparable to being invited to a once in a lifetime dinner with by the most important person in the world and skipping out after dessert without interacting with the other guests or thanking the host for the meal, which is why our response to the dismissal is... you guessed it "thanks be to God."
Please explain the how and why of the change from the Feast of the Circumcision to the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God." I thought the Annunciation satisfied that fact and an Old Testament prophecy. The circumcision of Jesus confirms his Faith and lineage.
Thank you for this question. The revision of the Roman Missal in 1962 effectively removed the Feast of the Circumcision, then Pope Paul VI designated January 1st as the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The reason he gave for this was to revive the Solemnity of Mary, Mother God which was the older tradition, which at some point was displaced by the Feast of the Circumcision. It is noteworthy, that even though the circumcision does confirm Jesus' faith and lineage the Solemnity of Mary as Mother of God reaffirms something even more important, Jesus' divinity; so basically by celebrating the Marian Solemnity we actually affirm a central part of our Faith, that Jesus is truly divine.
Why can't we use "Yahweh" anymore?
According to a directive from the Vatican we stopped using the Tetragrammaton in order to conform to the tradition of not saying God's name. The name "Yahweh" that we know is actually based off of the Hebrew YHWH, containing no vowels. Jews, out of respect for God maintain the tradition of not saying God's name at all in order to avoid even saying it wrong. This is a practice that was taking up by Christians as well but over time was lost, and we began to see the name of God used in the context of the liturgy in some of the songs at Mass. We also have to understand that avoiding God's name has a deeper meaning. In the biblical context, to name something or someone was to know them completely, and define their reason to be; this is why we see God naming man, and man naming the animals. It is, therefore, out of respect for our own tradition and the Jewish tradition that we stopped using the "Yahweh."
What is the purpose of the homily?
The purpose of the homily is to break open the word of God that has been proclaimed at mass for the gathered community. To do this, the homilist begins by explaining the meaning of the text for the time in which it was originally written and then applies this understanding to our present day lives. This development should then point toward some practical applications in holiness that each person can apply to their lives.
The church invites all, but to many it denies sacraments. Did Jesus do that?
It is a misconception to think of the sacraments as a right, as something we deserve or earn. The sacraments are a gift of God which He gives us. However, these gifts are something we have to be prepared to receive. Our wanting a sacrament says nothing of our ability to receive a sacrament. In the scripture Jesus gives us an example of this in the story of the young rich man (Lk 18: 18-23; Mt 19: 16-22.) Jesus tells the young man what he must do receive the gift of discipleship...and the young man refuses to do what was necessary for him to receive the gift. The Church follows Jesus' example, she does not offer us sacraments that we are either unprepared or unable to receive. This can be a painful experience, but it is also an invitation to look into what is preventing us from doing what is necessary to receive the gifts we yearn for, the gifts God has offered us.
Some homilies will be more positively received than others. Each homilist, guided by the Holy Spirit, determines the focus he wishes to convey from the readings of that day. The message preached may resonate more strongly in the hearts of some than in others. Certainly the skills and life experiences that each homilist can use will vary. In all of this, however, God is reaching out to touch us with his word. Through the homily that’s delivered we, as hearers, need to be open to receiving this truth in our lives.
Each case in which a person is unable to receive a sacrament feels like a rejection and is hard. But each of those cases is unique, with unique circumstances and backgrounds. If this is something you have encountered I invite you to talk it through with your priest so that whatever may be happening can be clarified and resolved.
In the south, a big question that I'm asked as a Catholic is "Are you saved?" What is the best way to answer this question?
Simply put, at face value the answer to this question can be "yes, I have been saved," or "I am being saved." The reason for this, is that as asked, the question implies that there is a singular event in which one's salvation may be affirmed, the "once saved, always saved" argument. However the Bible itself deals with salvation as something that has happened, something we hope for and as a process. Scripture points out we are already saved, that is, God offers us salvation freely, a salvation he has already won for us (Eph. 2: 5-8; Rom. 8: 24.) At the same time Scripture talks of salvation as something in progress (2 Cor. 2:15) that one needs to endure to the end (1 Cor 1: 8) and that we must be invested in working out (Phil. 2:12.) Then there is the idea of salvation as something we hope for (Rom. 5:2.)
From the protestant view the question behind the question is whether or not a Catholic thinks he/she can earn salvation, which we can't, it is a gift, something God gives us freely. However, this gift, is something we have to work on being able to receive and accept. It is a gift we hope for and yearn for. But most importantly it is a gift that has to be lived out. The way to accept the gift of salvation is to live the gift, which is something we struggle with, and therefore why we hope for it while being assured of it by Christ.
I attended a funeral mass and the same day later attended mass at my church. I took communion at both, was this OK?
Yes. A person can receive Communion more than once in a single day – but no more than twice a day.
Hence, when receiving the Eucharist, we are able to receive it while also participating in the full context of the Mass (or Communion service). In other words, we are not supposed to just be popping our heads into mass just in time to catch Communion and then leave again.
Nevertheless, there are some exceptions, though. For those who are home-bound and unable to attend Mass or for those receiving the anointing of the sick and taking Communion as Viaticum – the Eucharist can be received outside of Mass (or service) attendance.
Why do Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent? Why is this not done throughout the rest of the year?
Catholics abstain from meat during Lent as a form of penance and repentance. Fridays throughout the year are marked as penitential days as part of our call to repentance and in remembrance of the Lord's passion. It is necessary to clarify that fasting and abstinence are not quite the same thing though they are both forms of penance. Fasting means we reduce the amount of food we eat that day down to one full meal (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only two obligatory fasting days) whereas abstinence is specific to not eating meat.
The reason we do not abstain from eating meat the rest of the year was that the conference of Bishops of the U.S. obtained special permission from the Holy See to replace that form of penance with other penitential or charitable practices as acceptable alternatives for fulfilling outside the time of Lent. In other words, the fact that we are free to eat meat on fridays outside of Lent does not mean we don't have to do some sort of penance or charity every friday; granted, if you still desire to abstain from meat every friday you are free to do so as your penitential practice on fridays.
Can a Catholic marry a Baptist in a Catholic Church?
Without knowing any details the answer is yes. In fact, unless given special permission a Catholic is required to marry in a Catholic Church regardless of the other person's professed faith. However, there are details that make this question something to be discussed more directly with your parish priest to make sure all your bases are covered.