"Contend for the faith which was once for all
delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3)
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Indeed it is. Theologians call this the "Beatific Vision" (the word “beatific” is the adjective form of the word “beatitude,” which means “a state of supreme joy”).
Scripture says that the angels already behold the face of God:
"See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven." (Mt 18:10)Paul says that we will see the Lord face to face on the day when everything imperfect will pass away:
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood." (1 Cor 13:12)John echoes this same sentiment:
"Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 Jn 3:2)There are two other passages of Scripture that scholars think may pertain to this vision as well:
"Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God." (Mt 5:8)I think the Beatific Vision should be the passionate desire of every Christian, just as it was of Job:
"As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with beholding thy form" (Psa 17:15).
"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!" (Job 19:25-27)What’s amazing about the Beatific Vision is that within the invisible God is the Son, who took on a visible body in the person of Jesus Christ. Our minds aren’t yet capable of grasping such a thing, but when we stand before Him, we will finally understand, and we will bask in the glow of the amazing mystery that is our Trinitarian Lord and Savior.
Transubstantiation is what takes place in the Mass when the bread and wine become the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. It is basically a way of explaining how the change from "bread" to "Jesus" takes place. In transubstantiation, the accidents of the bread and wine remain the same while the substance of the bread and wine are changed.
Of course, in order to understand this, you have to know what "accidents" and "substance" is. The accidents are those properties of a thing that the senses perceive. What it looks like, smells like, tastes like, sounds like, feels like — these properties are the accidents of a thing. They are not the thing itself, but merely the perceptible qualities or characteristics of the thing. The substance, however, is the thing itself, or the essence of the thing.
So, take for example the bread used in Mass. The accidents of it are: roundness, whiteness, crispiness, bread-like smell, bread-like taste. The substance of it is: "bread."
In every case in the universe but one, when the substance changes, the accidents of it change too, since the accidents are attached to the substance. For example, when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, the change in substance from “caterpillar” to “butterfly” also results in a change in the accidents or outward appearance, from fuzzy, long, and multi-legged to multi-colored and winged.
Only in the transubstantiation of the Eucharistic elements do the accidents remain even though the substance changes. Maybe an illustration will be helpful. I saw a magic trick once where a man in a black costume stood in the middle of the stage. Some assistants pulled up a curtain around him. There was smoke and flashes of light. When they dropped the curtain to the floor there stood a woman in the same black costume. Transubstantiation is sort of like that. The "costume" of bread is suspended ("in mid air" so to speak) while the underlying substance (or thing that wears the costume) is changed.
I hope that helps you to make sense of this mystery. If you would like to read more about transubstantiation, I highly suggest Chapter 18 from Frank (“F.J.”) Sheed’s book Theology for Beginners. Sheed is a master at explaining complex mysteries in an accessible way.
Sacred Tradition is basically all the ways in which the teaching of the Apostles, the "deposit of faith," is passed on and preserved by the Church. This deposit was preserved and passed on through the writing of Sacred Scripture, which was inspired by the Holy Spirit, but it is also found in the ordinary teaching of the bishops, in the writings of the early Church Fathers, in the authoritative documents of the Church, and in the liturgical worship of the faithful.
Since the teaching and preaching of the Apostles has a divine origin, as does the consigning of that preaching to writing, both the preaching and the writing comprise the "Word of God" and thus "must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence" (Dei Verbum, no. 9).
So, you see, Catholics commit themselves to this Sacred Tradition because we believe that it too is a source for what God wants us to know about Himself and His Church. Even Scripture recommends this Tradition. St. Paul in particular speaks in many places about this:
I hope that answers your question. There are many different ways to articulate what Sacred Tradition is, and what the relationship is between Tradition, Scripture, and the Magisterium (or teaching office) of the Church. I highly suggest reading the Catechism, nos. 74-95, and Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, from the Second Vatican Council.
Feelings in and of themselves are not sinful, just as temptations in and of themselves are not sinful. Morality only comes into play when there is a movement of the will. In other words, it’s what we do with the feeling or how we respond to it that is important. There are certain responses to anger that are sinful, but there are also responses to anger that are good, so good in fact that it would be a sin not to “get angry.”
Anger is sinful when it leads to the harboring of ill will against a person, when it desires that a person be harmed, or seeks vengeance upon a person who does not deserve it. If it is contrary to love of God, or love of neighbor, or is rooted in our own wounded pride then it is usually sinful. An example would be flying into a rage because someone borrowed your pen, or wishing that someone would die because that person insulted you, or hoping that the star athlete on the opposing team would fall and break his leg so that your team would win.
Anger is good when it is rooted in love of God, love of his Church, love of Truth, or a desire that His Will be done in all things. This type of good or just anger is typically called “righteous indignation.” So, for example, the anger we feel at the fact that millions of unborn babies are dying because of the atrocity of abortion – that’s righteous indignation. Or, when we respond passionately to falsehood, to the profanation of the sacraments, or to people who disparage the Church, we respond rightly. In fact, to not have our feelings aroused by these injustices can be a sin if it is rooted in “lukewarmness” or apathy. We should love God, love Truth, love life, and love justice enough to reject in no uncertain terms anything that is contrary to these things.
There are many examples in Scripture of righteous indignation. When Jesus drove out the money changers (cf. Mt 21:12), called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers” (Mt 3:7), and condemned the wicked servant (cf. Mt 18:32), he was displaying righteous anger. Other examples include Moses’ slaying of the idol worshippers (cf. Exo 32:15-29) and God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Gen 19).
In one of Paul’s letters, he wrote, “Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife” (1 Tim 3:2). Some non-Catholic Christians try to use this as proof that bishops should be married. However, that is not in fact what Paul is trying to say. Here is the passage again, this time in context:
1 Tim 3:1-5 The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. 2 Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3 no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; 5 for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church?Now, this passage is not saying that a bishop must be married. Instead, it is saying that if he is married, he must be married only once . In other words, he can't have multiple wives, or divorce his current wife and marry someone else.
It really would not make sense for Paul to say that all the bishops must be married. For one, Paul himself is a bishop and he was never married! He would be disqualifying himself if he said such a thing. Secondly, if "the husband of one wife" (vs. 2) means that he must be married, then by the same logic, "keeping his children submissive and respectful" (vs. 4) would mean that he must have children. Are non-Catholic Christians really willing to go so far as to exclude from the ministry men who don't have children yet or who had children that are now dead? What about men who only have one child (after all, Paul says "children")? Many people would no longer be able to pastor their churches if these Christians were consistent in their logic.
The main point of the passage is found in the last verse: “if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church?” All Paul is trying to say is that a bishop must be someone who has all of his affairs in order, who is a good steward of everything in his care. In the first generation of the Church, the priests came from men who already had families. But, over the years, the Church came to discern that men who were called by God to be celibate were better equipped to handle the demands of being a priest and shepherd of God’s flock.
The “Glossary” in the back of the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines mortal sin as:
A grave infraction of the law of God that destroys the divine life (or “sanctifying grace”) in the soul of the sinner, constituting a turn away from God. For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must be present: grave matter, full knowledge of the evil of the act, and full consent of the will.On the other hand, venial sin is:
Sin which does not destroy the divine life in the soul, as does mortal sin, though it diminishes and wounds it. Venial sin is the failure to observe necessary moderation, in lesser matters of the moral law, or in grave matters acting without full knowledge or complete consent.See the difference? Mortal sins are always very serious in nature. Typically, any sin that directly breaks one of the Ten Commandments is a serious sin. If you commit such a sin with full knowledge that what you are doing is sinful and if you freely choose it (as in, nothing is forcing you to do it), then you commit a mortal sin. If the act is sinful but it doesn’t fulfill all three of the above requirements, then it is a venial sin.
Most of the sins that we commit every day are venial sins. These can be forgiven through an Act of Contrition (or some other prayer that shows God we are sorry for our sin and we desire His forgiveness) or by going to Confession. Venial sins are also forgiven whenever we receive the Eucharist. If we die with venial sins on our soul, we can still go to heaven because venial sins do not destroy the divine life within us, they simply wound it. However, that does not mean that we should have a cavalier attitude towards it. We should strive to avoid all sin, including the lesser ones. Venial sins too can be dangerous because the more we sin venially, the more likely we are to commit more serious sins. We know that sin leads to death; it is better to not even go down that road.
When a person does commit a mortal sin, then the divine life in him is destroyed. He no longer has God’s saving grace. If he were to die in this state, then he could not go to heaven. His only recourse is the Sacrament of Confession. If you have a mortal sin on your soul, then you cannot receive the Eucharist until you go to Confession.
Some people deny that there is even a difference between mortal and venial sin. They say that all sins are equal in the eyes of God. Scripture clearly refutes this (cf. 1 Jn 5:16-17) as does common sense. After all, I think we all intuitively know that killing someone is not quite the same as picking on your brother.
People tend to think of Purgatory in a variety of ways:
We can die in unity with God but still have imperfections on our soul. These include things like venial sins, concupiscence (the inclination or propensity to sin), attachments to sin (the state of finding certain sins attractive or appealing), and insufficient reparation (the state of not having adequately made up for the negative effects of one’s sin). Since heaven is a place where no unclean thing shall enter (cf. Rev 21:27), God desires to purge these things from the persons who die in union with Him.
The first description listed above is a misconception because Purgatory is only for souls that are already in a state of grace or friendship with God. These souls have persevered to the end. The divine life in them remains. If a soul is not fit for heaven, then it is not fit for Purgatory. There are no “second-chances” in the afterlife.
The second description is a misconception, first of all, because Purgatory is not a final destination. Souls don’t go to Purgatory and stay there forever. Eventually, they move on to heaven. Secondly, Jesus Christ did not die on the Cross for a select few. No, He died for all mankind (even you!). Our hope should be in heaven, and in the power of God’s grace to actually get us there.
The third description is a misconception because it attributes a soul’s release from Purgatory to his own suffering, instead of to the work and suffering of Christ. Yes, there is suffering in Purgatory. After all, it is a state of being refined in the burning fire of God’s love (cf. 1 Cor 3:12-15; Heb 12:29, Songs 8:6). We certainly can’t expect that to be pleasant! But, our suffering only has meaning and is only meritorious (or, worthy of receiving grace) because of the grace of God. Purgatory is a final application of the grace that He won for us on the Cross. So, it is ridiculous to say that Purgatory is somehow at odds with the Cross.
I hope that helps you to understand Purgatory better.
In the Old Testament, a prophet was someone who brought the word of God to the people by the power of the Holy Spirit. “He has spoken through the prophets,” as we say in the Nicene Creed.
Sixteen books in the Old Testament (the “prophetic books”) are by these prophets. The four “major prophets” are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. The 12 “minor prophets” are Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Of course, Moses, the greatest Old Testament prophet, is traditionally regarded as the author of the first five books of the Bible. There are also many noteworthy prophets who did not contribute to the canon of the Bible, such as Samuel, Nathan, and Elisha. There were female prophets too: Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Anna, and Philip’s four daughters.
Sometimes, in speaking for God, a prophet would foretell the future, and the legitimacy of his prophetic office was confirmed when his prophecies came true. Often his role was to convict the Israelites of their sin and to implore them to return to the Lord and remember the covenants He established with them. A prophet would also interpret current events in light of God’s plan for his people and warn them of His impending judgment (which usually came by way of the Israelites being conquered by their enemies). After the exile, when all the nations of Israel were scattered, the prophetic message was one of accepting the justice of God’s punishments and preparing for the coming Messiah.
A genuine Old Testament prophet was always directly called by God Himself, and he received the message he was to deliver by way of visions, dreams, and audible encounters. The prophets always spoke the “hard truths” that no one wanted to hear, and as a result they were often persecuted by their own people. The last and greatest of the prophets was John the Baptist, who was the immediate precursor of the Messiah and paved the way for Him with his message of repentance.
Jesus, of course, is the Priest, Prophet, and King par excellence, and in Baptism we are empowered to participate in that three-fold ministry of Christ. We are prophets today whenever we speak the truth with boldness, convict people of their sin, bring people to Christ, or share the teachings of His Church with others. Such actions often require sacrifice, just as they did in Old Testament times, but it is a calling that we all have been given and that we must undertake.
In order to answer this question, we need to know what “enmity” is, as well as the identities of the “serpent” and the “woman.” First, some background information.
So, Eve has been persuaded by the serpent to disobey God and eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; Adam has done likewise. This is the “original sin” that we all inherit and that brought sin and suffering into the world. God responds by declaring certain punishments. Here are God’s words to the serpent, once Eve tells Him that she was tricked by the serpent:
Gen 3:14-15 The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."Let’s dissect what is going on here. First, the word “enmity”: it refers to deep-seated, mutual hatred or animosity, as might be felt for an enemy. The serpent, of course, is the devil. He is “a murderer from the beginning . . . a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44). He is “that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev 12:9).
The identity of the woman is a little trickier. Since Scripture can have several layers of meaning, the woman can take on different identities. Some say the woman is Eve. Others say she is the nation of Israel, or more generally, the people of God. Catholic scholars often say that the woman is Mary. Each interpretation is correct in its own way. I would like to address the Marian interpretation.
Scholars say that this woman is Mary for many reasons. Jesus referred to His mother as “woman” at the wedding at Cana (cf. Jn 2:4) and as He hung on the Cross (cf. Jn 19:26). Also, it is her seed, Jesus, who ultimately defeats the devil. He bruised the devil’s head (which, to a serpent, is a lethal blow) when He conquered sin and death with His own death and resurrection.
If the woman is indeed Mary, then the enmity between her and the devil is seen in her own protection from original sin. It is in that way that Mary and the devil are utterly opposed. The devil breeds nothing but sin and destruction. But, since God protected Mary from inheriting original sin and thus committing any sin in her life, the devil was not able to wound her with his poison, as he does the rest of mankind. We see in Rev. 12 that, no matter how hard he tries, the devil cannot overtake the woman. This is a frustration that he will take to his grave.
Mary’s fiat is found in Lk 1:38. It is her “yes” to God, which she declared once the Angel explained to her that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Her specific words were, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word.” In Latin, it is, "Ecce ancilla Domini; fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum." The Latin word for “be it done” (or “let it be done”) is fiat, so that is the name used by scholars to refer to Mary’s response to the angel.
Mary’s fiat is special because it is through this act of humble submission to the will of God that the Son of God makes his entrance into human history, taking on a human nature and becoming one like us in all things but sin. It is an example to us of obedience and a lively faith in the Lord. Just imagine if all people responded to the will of the Lord by saying, “Let it be done!”
The magnificat, also called the “canticle of Mary,” is the song of praise proclaimed by Mary after Elizabeth rejoiced at Mary coming to visit her. It is from Lk 1:46-55:
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."The first few words in Latin are, "Magnificat anima mea Dominum . . .” so that is why these words of Mary are referred to as the magnificat. This canticle is noteworthy because it is a beautiful example of praise and thanksgiving to God for all that He has done for His people and for those in need. We tend to only pray to God in our down times. We could all learn a lesson from Mary here and redouble our efforts to pray to the Lord in good times as well as in bad.
Most people don’t know what the fiat or the magnificat is because they aren’t familiar with Latin. But, Latin is a revered language that the Church has been using in her worship and her authoritative documents for many centuries. It is good to know at least a few Latin words, at least for the simple purpose of preserving our Catholic traditions and ways of speaking.
There are a handful of books in the Catholic bible that are not included in Protestant bibles. These are Sirach, Tobit, Wisdom, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and Baruch, as well as additions to Daniel and Esther. Protestants refer to these books as the “apocrypha,” or the “apocryphal books.” One reason why these books are excluded is because Protestants find in them various doctrines or practices that are supposedly at odds with the rest of Scripture. Your friend is using that argument, and there are at least two ways to respond to it.
One approach is to defend the practice of praying for the dead. After all, your friend is assuming that there is something wrong with praying for the dead, when in fact it is perfectly fine. Catholics pray for the dead because we believe in the reality of Purgatory, the state of being cleansed by God of any remaining impurities before we enter heaven. Souls undergoing this purging can benefit from our prayers because death does not separate us from the Body of Christ. As members of one Body, we can pray for each other and offer up our hardships for one another. A lengthy defense from Scripture is usually necessary before one can convince most Protestants that praying for the dead is a legitimate practice. Read the Catechism on these subjects, as well as a few articles from Catholic.com and you can find all the verses you need. You may also consider a different approach.
Another way to tackle this is to simply show your friend that prayers for the dead can be found in his Bible as well as the Catholic one. I like this approach because it turns his argument against him. Now, in order to be consistent, he has to start tearing out books that no one in his right mind would ever dream of excluding! Elijah (cf. 1 Kings 17:20-22), Peter (cf. Acts 9:40), and even Jesus himself (cf. John 11:41-43) are all seen praying for the dead in books that are well established in Protestant bibles. It is true that the prayer is for the person to come back to life. But, that doesn't change the fact that the soul of a dead person is still being prayed for, which, according to Protestants, is strictly forbidden. Note also that, in order for these souls to return to their bodies, they must have been in an intermediate state, since heaven and hell are irrevocable and eternal judgments. This is what "prayer for the dead" is: prayer for souls in this intermediate state. Also, in 2 Tim 1:16-18, Paul prays for the soul of Onesiphorus, that he will find mercy on the day of Judgment. So, prayer for the dead is certainly to be found in the Protestant bible.
This same two-fold approach can be used to defend the legitimacy of the other “apocryphal” books as well. If you have never read them before, I highly suggest you do!
Well, it depends. Besides the literal sense of Scripture there is also a spiritual sense. This in turn is divided into the allegorical, moral, and anagogical senses. Each one brings a different layer of meaning to the text.
The literal sense is the sense that the human author wished to convey to his immediate audience. Once one considers the historical context in which the author lived, exactly who he was writing to, the circumstances in which they lived, and the purpose for his writing, then one is able to derive the literal sense of the text.
The spiritual sense is the meaning that the divine author – God, the Holy Spirit – wishes to convey to mankind in every age. It is the meaning that is found in a passage once that passage is read in the light of Christ and of Christian revelation. The allegorical, moral, and anagogical senses are all spiritual senses of Scripture.
The allegorical sense is the one in which persons, objects and actions depicted in a text are taken as representing other things not present in the text. With the allegorical sense, Moses becomes a type of Christ in his intercessory role for the people. The snake he raised up to heal them becomes an image of Christ crucified.
The moral sense is that element of Scripture that teaches us how to live rightly. As St. Paul says, “These things ... were written down for our instruction” (1 Cor 10:11). Within all of the suffering that the Jewish people had to endure is a moral lesson for us, to strive to do the will of the Lord in all things.
The anagogical sense provides the eternal significance to the realities and events of Scripture. It shows the reader that Scripture has an end in sight. Scripture not only speaks of the author’s day and of our own circumstance, but also of that final culmination of history, when Jesus Christ will make all things new.
Knowing now that there are multiple senses of Scripture, we must also keep in mind that Scripture is made up of many genres or styles of writing, such as history, poetry, parable, song, apocalypse, narrative, prophecy, etc. Once you know the genre of a writing then you know how best to understand it. For example, since the Book of Revelation is apocalyptic literature, we know that it is highly symbolic and thus we don’t think for a second that an actual dragon will appear with seven heads and ten horns when the world comes to an end (cf. Rev 12:3). Instead, we try to figure out what that dragon symbolizes.
Once you consider the multiple senses of a passage and the style in which it was written then you can capture the full breadth of meaning to be found in that passage.
Does First Communion come before Confirmation?
It depends on when your diocese has chosen to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation. In the United States, Confirmation can be celebrated anywhere between the age of reason (7 yrs) and age 16. So, if your diocese celebrates Confirmation in the second or third grade, then it will come before First Communion. But, if your diocese celebrates Confirmation in the eighth grade, then it would come after First Communion.
What is the mystical process in which the bread and wine become Jesus?
That “mystical process” is called transubstantiation.
What is man’s earthly purpose?
According to the old Baltimore Catechism, man was made to know, love, and serve God in this life, and to be with him in the next.
Who was the first Catholic bishop?
The Catholic Church believes that the first bishops were the 12 apostles themselves. It's difficult to say which, from among the 12, became a bishop first. Perhaps it is Peter, who Jesus built His Church upon (cf. Mt 16:18).
When did the Holy Spirit originate?
The Holy Spirit is God. This means that He has no beginning or end. Thus, there is no point in time in which we can say that the Holy Spirit first came to be and there is no point in time in which we can say that the Holy Spirit did not exist.
When did Roman Catholicism begin?
The Catholic Church considers Her origin to be on the day of Pentecost, around 33 AD, when Jesus poured out His Holy Spirit upon the apostles and disciples in the Upper Room. It was this Spirit that gave the Apostles the courage to preach the Gospel with boldness and to establish local churches wherever they traveled.
Who was the first one to call the Church “Catholic”?
The first instance that historians have found of someone referring to the "Catholic Church" is in Ignatius of Antioch's Letter to the Smyrneans, where he writes, "Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains [i.e., a presbyter]. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church."
What is the idol of gold that the Israelites created?
You may be referring to the golden calf that the Jews created once they began to doubt that Moses would ever come down from Mt. Sinai. You can read about the creation and destruction of the golden calf in chapter 32 of the Book of Exodus, from the Old Testament of the Bible.
Does a Catholic have to confess to a priest before receiving Communion?
If a Catholic has committed a mortal sin, then he must confess this sin to a priest in the Sacrament of Confession before he can receive Communion. If he has committed only venial sins, then he is free to receive Communion without going to Confession, and his reception of Communion will actually result in the forgiveness of those venial sins.
Who painted the Sistine Chapel?
Many of the greatest Renaissance artists of the day are responsible for the paintings that adorn the Sistine Chapel: Michaelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Cosimo Roseli, Luca Signorelli, and others. Of all these, Michelangelo is most often associated with the Chapel, thanks to the dramatic scenes that he painted on its ceiling.
Who were the most influential figures of the Catholic Reformation?
There are many saints who were influential in renewing the Catholic Church around the time of the Council of Trent. These include St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Pius V, St. Francis de Sales, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and St. Philip Neri.
What does the water represent in baptism?
Water is a very rich symbol in baptism. It represents death in that when you go under the water this is symbolic of a death to your old, sinful self. It represents life in that when you come out of the water, this is symbolic of a resurrection to new life. Water is symbolic of spiritual rebirth, since, just as we are physically born when we come out of the water of the womb, we are "born again" when we come out of the waters of baptism. Water is also symbolic of cleansing. Just as regular water cleanses dirt from our bodies, the water of baptism cleanses us of sin. Finally, water itself is often a symbol of the Holy Spirit since it is the Spirit that causes the various effects of baptism that are symbolized by the water.
What is proper behavior in a Catholic church both before and after Mass?
One should act reverently in a Catholic church both before and after Mass, and even when Mass is not being celebrated, because the Eucharist is present.
When a Catholic first enters the church building, he dips his fingers in the holy water font and makes the Sign of the Cross. Once he finds the pew in which he would like to sit, he genuflects towards the tabernacle, makes the Sign of the Cross, and enters the pew. Once in the pew, he kneels in prayer, preparing himself spiritually for the Mass that is soon to begin. Silence is observed from the moment he enters the Church, so as not to distract anyone in their prayer.
Once Mass has ended and the priest has left the sanctuary, then one is free to go, although it is praiseworthy to sing the entire closing song (or "recessional hymn"). Once the song has ended, it is customary (although not required) to kneel in the pew and say a prayer of thanksgiving, or the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. When the Catholic exits the pew, he genuflects towards the tabernacle, makes the Sign of the Cross, and then approaches one of the exits. Before leaving, he dips his fingers in the holy water font and makes the Sign of the Cross. Silence is observed once the closing song is finished, so as not to distract anyone in their prayer.
Which sacrament is the greatest?
The Church's greatest sacrament, the source and summit of her faith and worship, is the Eucharist.
How is the Catholic bible different from other bibles?
The Catholic Bible is different from other Bibles in that it contains 7 more books (Sirach, Tobit, Wisdom, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and Baruch) as well as additions to Daniel and Esther.
What are the four main parts of the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
Those are contrition, confession, absolution, and satisfaction. To learn about each one, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1450-1460.
Who is called to defend the Catholic Church?
All Catholics are called to defend the Church, and are empowered by the sacraments to do that very thing.
What are the material signs of a sacrament?
The material signs of a sacrament are those elements of the sacrament that effect our senses and direct our minds to the spiritual reality that the elements signify.
Each sacrament has its own material signs:
Where in the Bible do you find the stories of Holy Thursday?
The readings for the Mass on Holy Thursday evening commemorate the Passover, the Last Supper, the institution of the Eucharist, and the institution of the priesthood.
Read these different passages and you'll find the stories of Holy Thursday.
Why do Catholics honor and celebrate the rosary?
Catholics honor and celebrate the rosary because it is a time-tested method of contemplating the significant events of the life of Christ, it is a powerful weapon against the devil, and because it helps to strengthen our relationship with Christ and our devotion to His mother.
What does the priest say at the end of Mass?
He says, “Go in the peace of Christ,” or “The Mass is ended, go in peace,” or “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” We respond by saying, “Thanks be to God!”
Does a saint have only one feast day?
Typically, a saint only has one feast day, but there are a handful of saints who have more than one. For example, St. Peter has three (Feb 22, June 29, Nov 18), St. Paul has three (Jan 25, June 29, Nov 18), and St. Joseph has three (March 19, May 1, Dec 27). Mary has 17 different feast days (!!), at least one in every month except April.
Who wrote the letters in the Catholic Bible?
There are many letters in the Catholic Bible and they weren't all written by the same person. Paul, the great evangelist from the Acts of the Apostles, wrote Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Traditionally, Paul was also considered the author of the letter to the Hebrews, but his authorship of that letter is widely disputed. James, the Lord's "brother" and bishop of Jerusalem, wrote the letter of James. Peter, the Apostle, wrote 1st and 2nd Peter. John, the "beloved Apostle" and the Gospel writer, wrote 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. Jude, the Apostle, wrote the letter of Jude.
Why is the resurrection essential to our faith?
The resurrection is essential to our faith because, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then He did not conquer death. If He did not conquer death, then He did not pave the way for us to conquer death (and sin, the wages of which is death). If we cannot conquer death then this life is all that there is. There is no hope for an afterlife with God. There is no resurrection of the body on the last day. There is no definitive end to suffering, and evil, and death. There is no union of man with God. There is no grace. There is no Church. There is no sacraments. There is no Pentecost. Without the resurrection, the devil has won and mankind is finished.
Why is the Catholic Church based in Rome?
The Catholic Church is "based in Rome" because St. Peter, the head of the Apostles and the Rock upon whom Jesus Christ founded His Church, lived and died in Rome. His successors, who are the popes of the Catholic Church, maintained their residency in this city in his honor.
Why is a flame significant to Confirmation?
The flame is significant to Confirmation because it is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, particularly as He was poured out upon the Apostles on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. Scripture notes that on that day, tongues of fire appeared over their heads as the Holy Spirit was given to them and they were emboldened to go out and preach the Gospel. The Sacrament of Confirmation is a sort of Pentecost event in the life of a Catholic because it results in the Holy Spirit being poured out upon that person, and him being strengthened to live his faith with boldness and to be a soldier for Christ.
In Baptism, what is the meaning of the anointing on the chest?
The anointing with oil on the chest is meant to give the child the grace and the strength to live the Christian life. In ancient times, athletes would massage their muscles with oil to prepare themselves for competition. Soldiers would do the same to prepare themselves for battle. In Scripture, the Christian life is equated with both of these things: a race to be won (cf. 1 Cor 9:24; 2 Tim 4:7; Heb 12:1) and a spiritual war to be waged (cf. 2 Cor 10:3-4; Eph 6:12). So, in baptism we give the new Christian his or her adequate preparation.
What was Mary’s childhood like?
Scripture makes no mention of the childhood of Mary, so it is difficult to say with certainty what her childhood was like. The Protoevangelium of James, an ancient Christian writing, says that Mary was raised in the Temple and that, at an early age, she consecrated herself to the Lord as a perpetual virgin. Since Catholics believe that Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin and that she committed no actual sins throughout her entire life, it is safe to assume that her childhood was a truly holy and precious one.
What does “INRI” stand for?
INRI is the acronym for the Latin phrase, "Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm," which means: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Pontius Pilate had this phrase written in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew and placed on the cross upon which Christ was crucified (cf. Jn 19:19-22).
Does every saint have a feast day?
No. There are thousands of saints, so it would be impossible for every single one of them to have their own feast day (unless we decided to devote each day of the calendar to several different saints). Instead, only those saints who had the greatest impact on the Church or around whom a fervent devotion has grown are celebrated with feast days in the liturgical calendar.
What is the importance of apostolic succession?
Apostolic succession is important because it preserves for the Church the power to teach, to sanctify, and to govern that was first given to the apostles by Jesus Christ. Bishops receive this power and priests participate in it through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. In this way, the Catholic Church continues to be a truly apostolic Church, both in her teaching and in her authority.
Is the Eucharistic Prayer considered part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, or is it a separate rite?
The Eucharistic Prayer is considered to be part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Lately the Eucharistic Ministers have been permitted to return to their seats once they are finished distributing the Eucharist. I thought they weren’t supposed to return to their seats until the priest dismissed them.
During the training that was recently conducted, the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion were instructed to return to their seats once they have finished distributing Communion and they have returned the vessels to the altar. Fr. John, Brett Ballard, and I are not aware of anything in the rubrics of the liturgy or in the theology of the Mass that would require the ministers to remain in the sanctuary (the area immediately surrounding the altar) once their job is done. The former practice can actually become a distraction because one's attention tends to be drawn towards the crowd of people up front rather than towards the Eucharist that one has just received.
During Holy Week, are Catholics obligated to attend the Masses on both Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday?
You can celebrate Easter either by going to the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday night or by going to one of the Masses on Easter Sunday. You don’t have to do both.
If someone's birthday falls on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday, are they allowed to have birthday cake?
I don't know of a specific rule that applies to this. I think that, as long as you observe the fast that is required on those days (one regularly-sized meal, two smaller meals that if combined would not be greater than the one regular meal, no snacking in between), then you can have some cake for your birthday. It would simply be a part of your one regularly-sized meal.
Beyond the cake, another concern is the festive nature of most birthdays, which usually involve a party or some similar revelry. I think that such things are contrary to the spirit of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, which are solemn days with a very somber undertone. If your birthday falls on one of those days, you can either celebrate your birthday in a more subdued manner (for example, by simply having family and friends over for a meal and conversation), or you can move the celebration of your birthday to another day.
Nondenominational churches (as their name suggests) are not affiliated with any particular denomination. This means that there is nothing distinctive about their theology or their governance that aligns them with any particular denomination. The Catholic Church, however, has a very distinctive theology and governance that separates it from other Churches or ecclesial communions. It follows from this that nondenominational churches do not have many of the things that make the Catholic Church distinctly Catholic. This includes things like:
Nondenominational churches may or may not also differ with the Catholic Church on various issues of morality, such as abortion, contraception, homosexual marriage, divorce, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, capital punishment, etc. How much any nondenominational church differs with the Catholic Church on these matters basically depends on the nondenominational church in question. Some may differ greatly with the Catholic Church on these matters, while others may be perfectly aligned with us.
What makes them even more difficult to compare and contrast with Catholicism is the fact that most nondenominational churches, in their desire to remain nondenominational, usually refrain from making dogmatic statements. If it doesn’t have a direct bearing on the Gospel message or on a person’s salvation, then they usually leave it up to the believer to decide.
The Q&A for this week was a reproduction of Q&A #19. Go to that Q&A to read the answer to this question
Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind books popularized the notion that this passage is a reference to “the rapture,” the taking up into the air of all true Christians before the tribulation takes place so that they can dwell in a parallel kingdom in heaven while the rest of us hapless souls struggle against the anti-Christ on earth. But, this is not Catholic teaching, and I think there is another interpretation that fits better.
Immediately before the passage cited above, Jesus makes a reference to Noah and what took place when God drowned the whole world with a flood. In many ways, that was an end-times event for everyone alive at that time. Jesus compares that event to what will take place upon the Second Coming. He says:
“As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man.” (Mt 24: 37-39)These words of Jesus provide the context for what he says next, when he says, “two men will be the field, one is taken and one is left,” and so on. This means that, just as the wicked in Noah’s time were “swept away,” one will be “taken,” and just as Noah’s family was spared, the other will be “left.” This passage you are asking about does not refer to some being raptured and others being “left behind.” Instead, it means that, when Jesus comes, some will have their life taken from them, and others will live. This is the effect of the General Judgment, which the Church says all men will experience when the Son of Man finally comes again.
This passage also means that our day, our time here, does not always come when we expect it. God may call us home even amid the mundane chores of every day life (working in the field, grinding at the mill, etc.). Jesus’ words remind us that we must always be ready, for “of that day and hour no one knows” (Mt 24:36).
As with every difficult Scripture passage, it is important to utilize the context of the passage, and to always read Scripture with the mind of the Church. During this season of Advent, let’s make sure that we are making ourselves ready so that on “the day of Christ Jesus,” we will be found fit to live forever with Him.
An antiphon is a short verse from a psalm or other usually biblical source that is chanted (or at least recited) before and after a psalm. The O Antiphons are the antiphons chanted during the Octave of Christmas, the seven days before Christmas Eve, Dec. 17-23. On each day, a different O Antiphon is sung during Evening Prayer, which is the portion of the Liturgy of the Hours that is prayed at sunset. They are called “O” antiphons because each one starts with the exclamation “O”, followed by a title of the Savior. They are meant to heighten our awareness of the coming of the Lord as we approach those precious few days before Christmas.
The seven O Antiphons are: O Sapientia (Oh Wisdom), O Adonai (Oh Lord), O Radix Jesse (Oh Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (Oh Key of David), O Oriens (Oh Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (Oh King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Each one is named after the title of the Savior that begins the antiphon. Here are the antiphons for each day, in full, followed by the passages from Isaiah that inspire them:
Dec. 17 - O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” (cf. Isa 11:2-3; 28:29)Besides praying these during the Liturgy of the Hours, families can also make up their own prayer services using the O Antiphons. For example, everyone could recite the Antiphon for the day together, then the father could read the appropriate passage from Isaiah, and then the service would end with everyone singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” During Advent, it is always good to set aside some time to pray as a family.
Dec. 18 - O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” (cf. Isa 11:4-5; 33:22)
Dec. 19 - O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” (cf. Isa 11:1, 10)
Dec. 20 - O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” (cf. Isa 9:6; 22:22)
Dec. 21 - O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” (cf. Isa 9:2)
Dec. 22 - O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” (cf. Isa 2:4; 9:7)
Dec. 23 - O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” (cf. Isa 7:14)
Which days other than Sundays are Catholic obliged to attend Mass?
Besides Sundays, Catholics are also obliged to attend Mass on Holy Days of Obligation. In the United States, the Holy Days of Obligation are:
Which early Church father is commonly referred to as the “Doctor of Grace”?
"Doctor of grace" is a title commonly attributed to St. Augustine, because of his many brilliant works on the subject of grace.
How could the souls in Purgatory be assisted?
The Catholic Church teaches that the souls in purgatory are assisted by our prayers for them, and by our works of penance, or other good works, on their behalf.
Why do some people kneel on one knee in front of the Eucharist but other times they kneel on both knees?
The gesture of reverence depends on the degree of presence: the greater the presence, the more profound the gesture. When the Eucharist is in the tabernacle, you genuflect on one knee, since the Eucharist is present, but you can’t see it. However, when the Eucharist is exposed in a monstrance, then you can see it, so you kneel on both knees (and even bow with your face to the ground). As an aside, this also explains why we make a reverent bow (bending slightly at the waist) when we walk past the altar. The altar too is a symbol of the presence of Christ because it is there where the Sacrifice of the Mass — His sacrifice — takes place. But, Jesus is not as profoundly present in the altar as He is in the tabernacle or when the Eucharist is exposed for adoration, so that’s why we bow to the altar instead of genuflecting or kneeling.
Is the Communion Rite considered to be part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, or is it a separate rite?
It is part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal divides the Mass into four parts: Introductory Rites, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of the Eucharist, Concluding Rites.
I've noticed that the silent prayers (e.g. Lord, wash away my iniquity) are no longer used during Mass. When were they omitted?
These have not been omitted. The priest is supposed to say them quietly to himself, so you may not hear him say these silent prayers, but he definitely still says them.
Why is there always a different preface dialogue of the Eucharistic Prayer (i.e. right after everyone says "it is right to give him thanks and praise")?
For Eucharistic Prayers 1 - 3, there are dozens of possible prefaces for the priest to choose from, depending on the Eucharist Prayer he chooses and the particular feast day or liturgical season we are celebrating.
When did the Song of Praise (formerly referred to as the Meditation Song) became part of the Mass? I never encountered it until I began attending Mass at Blessed Mother.
As far as I know, the “Song of Praise” has always been an option in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 88 says, “When the distribution of Communion is finished, as circumstances suggest, the priest and faithful spend some time praying privately. If desired, a psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may also be sung by the entire congregation.” Typically, Brett Ballard, our Director of Music and Liturgy, decides to include a Song of Praise on holy days of obligation and during the Christmas and Easter seasons.
I heard that a new English translation of the Mass will be coming out soon. Why is this necessary?
In 2001, the Vatican released the document Liturgiam Authenticam, which outlined rules for translating the liturgy into the vernacular. Once this document was released it became necessary to revise our current translation of the Roman Missal. The texts of the revised translation, which should be finished by the end of 2010, are marked by a heightened style of English speech and a grammatical structure that more closely follows the Latin text. In addition, many biblical and poetic images, such as “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof” (Communion Rite) have been restored.
For more information about the new translation, see the helpful website from the USCCB.