Previously Answered Questions

  • Father's answers

    Q.  What makes Catholics different from other religions? 

    A.   Central to Catholic faith is the belief in the Holy Trinity, comprising God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  This foundational doctrine underscores the divine nature of God and the interconnectedness of the three persons within the Godhead. 

     

    The veneration of Mary, the Mother of God holds a significant place in Catholic devotion. Catholics believe in Mary's immaculate conception and her role as the Mother of God, emphasizing her intercessory power and her presence as a source of comfort and guidance.  

     

    The veneration of saints, who are viewed as exemplary models of Christian living, is also a prominent aspect of Catholic practice. 

     

    The sacraments, regarded as sacred rituals instituted by Christ, form an integral part of Catholic life. These include baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. Each sacrament holds profound spiritual significance.   

     

    The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass stands as the central act of worship for Catholics. It commemorates the Last Supper, where Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist, emphasizing the real presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine. The Church teaches us it is the source and summit of our Christian lives.  The liturgical calendar, with its cycle of feasts, seasons, and solemnities, provides a structured framework for communal worship and spiritual reflection. 

     

    The Role of the Pope 

    At the heart of Catholicism stands the figure of the Pope, who serves as the spiritual leader and the visible head of the Catholic Church. The Pope, also known as the Bishop of Rome, traces his authority back to St. Peter, one of the apostles chosen by Jesus Christ. According to Catholic tradition, Peter was appointed by Jesus as the rock upon which the Church would be built, symbolizing his role as the first Pope. 

    The Pope's primary role is to safeguard and interpret the teachings of Jesus Christ, ensuring the continuity and integrity of the Church's doctrines. As the Vicar of Christ, the Pope is regarded as the earthly representative of Jesus and is vested with the authority to guide the faithful in matters of faith, morality, and spiritual governance. 

    One of the Pope's key responsibilities is to provide pastoral care and guidance to the worldwide Catholic community. Through his encyclicals, apostolic exhortations, and public addresses, the Pope addresses a wide range of social, moral, and theological issues, offering insights and directives that shape the collective conscience of the Church. 

    The Pope also plays a pivotal role in fostering unity and collaboration among the diverse members of the Church. His efforts to promote interfaith dialogue, ecumenism, and global solidarity underscore the universal scope of his leadership, transcending geographical and cultural boundaries. 

     

    Central to the Pope's authority is his role as the final arbiter in matters of doctrine and Church discipline. When addressing matters of faith and morals, the Pope's pronouncements are considered infallible, signifying that they are free from error and carry the weight of divine truth. 

     

    The election of a new Pope, known as a conclave, is a solemn and intricate process conducted by the College of Cardinals. This tradition reflects the continuity and stability of the papal office, ensuring a seamless transition of leadership and the preservation of the Church's spiritual heritage. 

     

    The role of the Pope in Catholicism embodies a profound sense of spiritual stewardship, moral guidance, and global leadership. His influence extends far beyond the confines of the Vatican, resonating with Catholics and non-Catholics alike, as a symbol of continuity, faith, and the enduring presence of divine grace within the world. 

     

    The papacy stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the apostolic succession, affirming the unbroken chain of spiritual authority that links the contemporary Pope to the earliest foundations of the Christian faith. In this way, the role of the Pope serves as a cornerstone of Catholic identity and unity, embodying the timeless mission of shepherding souls and proclaiming the Gospel to all nations. 

     

    The Sacraments 

    The sacraments hold a central position in the spiritual life of Catholics, serving as sacred rites that symbolize and impart the grace of God. Rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ and upheld by centuries of tradition, the sacraments encompass key moments of spiritual significance, marking the journey of faith for individuals within the Catholic community. 

     

    Baptism, the first of the sacraments, initiates individuals into the Christian faith, cleansing them from original sin and welcoming them into the Church. Through the pouring of water and the invocation of the Holy Trinity, baptism signifies rebirth and spiritual regeneration, establishing a profound connection to the body of Christ. 

     

    Confirmation, often referred to as the sacrament of the Holy Ghost, strengthens the baptized individual through the outpouring of the Holy Ghost.  This sacrament confers the gifts of the Spirit, empowering the recipient to boldly profess and live out the faith, thereby deepening their commitment to the Church and its mission. 

    The Holy Eucharist, also known as the Holy Communion, stands as the pinnacle of the Catholic sacramental life. During the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the bread and wine are consecrated, transforming into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Through the reception of the Eucharist, Catholics partake in a profound union with Christ, nourishing their souls and fostering spiritual communion with the entire Church. 

     

    The sacrament of penance offers the opportunity for individuals to seek forgiveness for their sins and reconcile with God and the Church. Through the act of contrition and the sacramental absolution pronounced by a priest, the penitent experiences the liberating grace of God's mercy, restoring their spiritual equilibrium and renewing their commitment to virtuous living. 

     

    Anointing of the sick, often administered to those facing illness or advanced age, brings the comfort and healing grace of Christ to the individual. Through the anointing with blessed oil and the prayers of the faith community, the sacrament offers solace, strength, and the assurance of God's compassionate presence amid physical and spiritual afflictions. 

     

    Holy orders and matrimony, the sacraments of vocation, confer distinct callings within the Church. The sacrament of holy orders ordains individuals as deacons, priests, or bishops, empowering them to serve the faithful and administer the sacraments. Matrimony sanctifies the union of spouses, bestowing upon them the grace to fulfill their sacred commitment to one another and to God. 

     

    The sacraments, with their profound spiritual significance and transformative power, embody the essence of Catholic faith and practice. They serve as tangible expressions of God's grace, fostering spiritual growth, communal unity, and a deep sense of divine presence within the lives of believers. 

     

    The importance of Scripture and Tradition. 

     

    In Catholicism, the interplay between tradition and scripture forms a foundational cornerstone of faith and theological understanding. The Catholic Church places significant emphasis on the preservation of sacred traditions, handed down through generations, alongside the authoritative teachings found in the Holy Scriptures. This dual commitment to tradition and scripture reflects the rich tapestry of divine revelation and the enduring legacy of the Church's spiritual heritage. 

     

    Tradition, often referred to as Sacred Tradition, encompasses the beliefs, practices, and teachings that have been passed down within the Church from the time of the apostles. These traditions, rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles, serve as a vital link to the early Christian community, providing a framework for understanding the faith within the context of history and continuity. The preservation of sacred traditions underscores the organic development of Catholic doctrine, ensuring its fidelity to the original deposit of faith. 

     

    Scripture, embodied in the Holy Bible, holds a central position in Catholic theology and spirituality. The Bible, comprising the Old and New Testaments, serves as the inspired and authoritative word of God, offering profound insights into the divine plan for humanity and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church reveres the Scriptures as a source of divine revelation, guiding believers in matters of faith, morality, and spiritual growth. 

     

    The relationship between tradition and scripture in Catholicism is characterized by a harmonious interplay, with each informing and enriching the other. The teachings and practices preserved within sacred tradition find resonance and validation in the scriptural narratives, while the Scriptures, in turn, find their interpretive framework within the living tradition of the Church. This dynamic interplay ensures a holistic and nuanced understanding of the faith, rooted in the enduring truths of divine revelation. 

     

    The Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church vested in the Pope and the bishops, serves as the custodian and interpreter of both tradition and scripture. Through the Magisterium, the Church safeguards the integrity of sacred traditions, ensuring their fidelity to the apostolic teachings, while also providing authoritative interpretations of the Scriptures, guiding the faithful in their understanding and application of biblical truths. 

     

    The importance of tradition and scripture in Catholicism extends beyond doctrinal formulations; it permeates the liturgical life, spiritual practices, and moral teachings of the Church. The celebration of the Mass, the sacraments, the lives of the saints, and the ethical principles espoused by the Church are all deeply rooted in the dynamic interplay between tradition and scripture, embodying the enduring vitality of Catholic faith and practice.  “Outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation.”  (extra ecclesia nulla salus)  There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved. (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.) 

     

    We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.  (Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.) 

     

    The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angles, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their alms givings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier.  No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Jesus Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.  (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1442.) 

     

    Understand this, there is the possibility of salvation for those who do not become formal members of the Catholic Church if, through no fault of their own, they do not know of their objective obligation to do so...Having said this we as Catholics are not supposed to obsess about the salvation for those who are not formal members of the Church, because God alone knows whom He can still save (in some extraordinary manner) from among the great mass of humanity which has not exteriorly professed the Catholic religion. 

     

     

    Q.  Why is Catholicism more strict than other religions? 

    A.   I would not say Catholicism is more strict than other religions, Catholicism does not call for the death of unbelievers, as others do.  Some religions do not permit their followers to associate with “unbelievers” of their religion.  These are extreme expectations that The Catholic Church has never held. 

     

    Credits: 

    Alexa Dark, Shane Schaetzel, Rev. Jeffery A. Fasching  





  • Q.  How do Catholics view other religions? 

     

    A.  Our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice on the Cross-He offered His very Flesh to be perpetuated throughout time-not a new and different sacrifice each time, but the same sacrifice continued, once for all.  In other words, when we attend the Holy Mass we are in a literal sense present at the sacrifice offered once on Calvary.   

     

    Why does Our Lord want His once-for-all Sacrifice offered throughout history and accessible to every single person?  Because just as He commanded the Israelites to eat the sacrifice as a foreshadowing of the Holy Eucharist, so too He commanded His followers to eat the Sacrifice, which is His very Flesh: “Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For My Flesh is true food and My Blood is true drink” (Jn 6:54-55).   

     

    The Jewish people at Capernaum begged Our Lord to give them this “bread” always.  Jesus said: “the Bread that I will give is My Flesh for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51).  Jesus Christ offered Himself on the Cross so that from that time onward, all His followers could eat the Flesh and their sacrificial Lamb, just as was done during that first Passover in Egypt.  And the Lamb must be eaten or the sacrifice is not complete.  This is exactly why Our Lord told the Jews: “Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you do not have life within you” (Jn 6:53).   

     

    What was their response?  “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” (Jn 6:60).  This became the single doctrine they refused to accept: “As a result of this, many of His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him” (Jn 6:66).  So it was in Capernaum that Our Lord said: “Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:54).   

     

    When we as Catholics receive Holy Communion in a state of grace (that is with no mortal sin on our souls) we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and this reception of our Lord’s Flesh prepares our own bodies for our own glorification because we are receiving the glorified Flesh of Christ.  As long as we receive Our Lord worthily, we are being made more and more like Him, the glorified Lord Jesus Christ.   

     

    True love dictates that a God who could give us not only His Spirit, but also His Flesh, would certainly do so and indeed He has!  God has power to hand over to us His complete self-soul and body-to unite with our own soul and body.  In doing so God is telling us that a spiritual relationship with Him in and of itself is not sufficient, yet many who claim to have a “personal relationship” with Christ actually deny our Lord because they refuse to obey all His commands, one of which is to “eat My Flesh” (Jn 6:53).  Jesus Christ made this point crystal clear when He said:  “For My Flesh is true food and My blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55).   

     

    Many so called followers of Jesus Christ actually find this kind of relationship too intimate and too personal.  Many want Our Lord on their own terms.  This is exactly why the followers at Capernaum no longer walked with Him.  This is exactly why Judas Iscariot began his betrayal at this point.  This is exactly why the Protestant revolutionaries of the 16th century denied this truth.   

     

    In Capernaum Our Lord called Judas a devil for his unbelief.  All those who are presented with the Truth and who either deny, reject or downplay it risk suffering the same fate as Judas, whereas those who worthily partake of the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood possess an intimate union with Our Lord Jesus Christ found nowhere else.   

     

    By receiving Christ’s Body and Blood we share in Christ's Divine life not found anywhere else but the Holy Eucharist because the Eucharist is life-giving unlike absolutely anything else.  Worthy reception of Holy Communion preserves, increases and renews the life of grace we received at baptism. 

     

    The Catechism of The Catholic Church (CCC) also teaches us that receiving the Flesh and Blood of Christ in a worthy manner (that is, free from mortal sin) cleanses us from past sins and preserves us from committing future sins. 

     

    However, remember that receiving Holy Communion does not wash away our mortal sins.  We must receive sacramental absolution in the Sacrament of Penance for that. 

     

    Holy Communion also strengthens our spirit of charity which, as St. Paul teaches us, is the way to holiness.  Without Communion our charity tends to be weakened in our daily lives.  Jesus Christ gives us His Body and Blood to revive our love for Him!  This helps us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves completely in Him.   

     

    Our Lord commands us to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood for the sake of the unity of His Mystical Body.  Holy Communion unites the faithful more closely to the “Body of Christ.”  It is the Holy Eucharist that makes the Church, and this is what the Protestants deny.  Those religions separated from the Holy Catholic Church have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic Mystery, especially because they deny the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  Without the Catholic Priest, there can be no Eucharist.  These divisions are often painful and they should remind us all of our responsibility to pray for  

    Christian unity and the salvation of souls among all believers in Jesus Christ. 

     

    Q.  Why Faith? 

    A.  Faith is necessary for salvation. “Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation” (CCC, no. 161). “Faith is necessary for salvation.”  Faith gives you strength: the inner resolve to withstand turmoil. 

     

    (2 Corinthians 5:7) “For we live by faith, not by sight.” (Hebrews 11:6)  “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” 

     

    Faith facilitates affairs, and affairs improve faith (Jn 2: 22). Faith is indeed an alpha and omega of moral life, as the Lord Himself, which it reveals to man. Faith is not something that a person can do without. It is necessary for salvation. 


     

    WHAT IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH STRICT ABOUT? 

     

    The Catholic Church is strict about three basic things: (1) doctrine, (2) morality and  

    (3) public worship… 

     

    Doctrine is what we believe, meaning specifically what the Church teaches in the creeds and catechisms. Catholics are expected to believe everything the Church teaches, and we are not permitted to publicly dissent from established Catholic doctrine. We can speak out against corruption in the Church, and call out corrupt leaders, and errors in pastoral methods (verbal or written) but established doctrine is non-negotiable. Those Catholics who publicly and persistently dissent from Catholic doctrine, after being formally corrected, are committing the mortal sin of heresy, and are rightly called “heretics” who are not in good standing with the Catholic Church. 

     

    Morality has to do with the way we conduct our lives, both privately and publicly. In this sense, Catholic morality is not based on subjective (or private) interpretation. It must follow the doctrines of the Church as mentioned above. Moral relativism (what’s wrong for you may be right for me) is not a Catholic option. Catholic morality is static and consistent, which means it’s the same for everyone and it doesn’t change. 

     

    Public worship is how we worship God together in Church. This is called liturgy, and it comes to us from the Apostles and the ancient Jewish Temple. Liturgy is important because it publicly expresses the corporate (community) relationship the Church has with God. We are all one Body in Christ, and God made the New Covenant with the Church as a whole, not individuals. Liturgy shows our togetherness, as one Body, and prevents worship from being hijacked by individuals seeking attention. It makes Church into a corporate (community) act of worship, rather than an entertainment show, pep rally, or self-help seminar. Liturgy also helps convey doctrine, when it is done well, and becomes a form of catechesis (teaching) for those unstudied in Catholic doctrine.