Archive for the ‘Questions & Answers’ Category

On Today’s Gospel 

Posted: August 14, 2017 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections, Questions & Answers

To love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength is to follow His commandments and statutes. To love our neighbour as Jesus loved us.

We are all called to a higher standard of Holiness and obedience. In order that we lead our brethren closer to Him by our example. This means we have to obey the laws of the land and pay our taxes without reservation.

Just as Christ is our Light, let our Light from Him shine through to others. Amen

First reading
Deuteronomy 10:12-22

Moses said to the people:
‘Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you? Only this: to fear the Lord your God, to follow all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, to keep the commandments and laws of the Lord that for your good I lay down for you today.
‘To the Lord your God belong indeed heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth and all it contains; yet it was on your fathers that the Lord set his heart for love of them, and after them of all the nations chose their descendants, you yourselves, up to the present day. Circumcise your heart then and be obstinate no longer; for the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, triumphant and terrible, never partial, never to be bribed. It is he who sees justice done for the orphan and the widow, who loves the stranger and gives him food and clothing. Love the stranger then, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. It is the Lord your God you must fear and serve; you must cling to him; in his name take your oaths. He it is you must praise, he is your God: for you he has done these great and terrible things you have seen with your own eyes; and though your fathers numbered only seventy when they went down to Egypt, the Lord your God has made you as many as the stars of heaven.’

Matthew 17:22-27

One day when they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised to life again.’ And a great sadness came over them.
When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, ‘Does your master not pay the half-shekel?’ ‘Oh yes’ he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, ‘Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?’ And when he replied, ‘From foreigners’, Jesus said, ‘Well then, the sons are exempt. However, so as not to offend these people, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that bites, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for you.’

A Letter From St Cyprain…

Posted: September 16, 2014 by CatholicJules in Memory Book, Questions & Answers

From a letter from St Cyprain to Cornelius….

Divine providence has now prepared us. God’s merciful design has warned us that the day of our own struggle, our own contest, is at hand. By that shared love which binds us close together, we are doing all we can to exhort our congregation, to give ourselves unceasingly to fastings, vigils and prayers in common. These are the heavenly weapons which give us the strength to stand firm and endure; they are the spiritual defenses, the God-given armaments that protect us.

Let us then remember one another, united in mind and heart. Let us pray without ceasing, you for us, we for you; by the love we share we shall thus relieve the strain of these great trials.

Can You Answer A Question About Masturbation?

Posted: October 24, 2011 by CatholicJules in Questions & Answers

QUESTION : Before I begin the question, it may be helpful for you to know that I am a young male catholic.

I have been struggling with the issue of masturbation in the past couple of months. I just came into the Catholic Church this Easter Vigil through the RCIA program that my parish began in September. I come from a Presbyterian tradition where masturbation isn’t really an issue (of course if you commit it then you get instant forgiveness through prayer).

After doing some research, I discovered that masturbation has some medicinal benefits. Masturbation strengthens the immune system, reduces the chance of getting prostate cancer, raises self-esteem, and gives your body a work which boosts your cardiovascular system.

Obviously the church teaches that masturbation is a sin, mortal in most cases because of the lust issue.

So I am confused. I have medical science on the one side and the church on the other with opposite opinions on the subject. 

I guess I have several questions. First is, “What is your opinion on masturbation?” Second, “Why is the church so hostile against sex?” Third, “Is there a plan for the Magisterium to review the sex rules anytime soon?”

Thank you for your time.  HWK



Even if the physical benefits to masturbation were substantial, which I doubt, they would not justify the negative results. Masturbation conflicts with the whole purpose of sexuality. The act of sexual intercourse is the physical expression of the marriage vows made at the altar. It is therefore an expression of Christian love, i.e. concern for the other. It is the most complete way of expressing the total self-donation of one person to another. Total means until death. It can’t be total for a week or a couple years.

With masturbation there is no self-donation to anybody. It consists of taking pleasure for oneself alone. There is no giving at all. We were created for more than that.

Nowhere will you find a higher understanding of sexuality than in the Catholic Church. I suggest that you get a hold of “Good News About Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

I Love Being Catholic!

Posted: August 21, 2011 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections, Questions & Answers

We all should spend sometime today and reflect on our faith.  Why are those of us Catholic, still Catholic?  And perhaps those from other denominations can reflect on why not Catholic?  What is it that is keeping you away from the Catholic faith? 

I absolutely know why I am Catholic and loving every little bit of it because I have the fullness of faith and am in communion with the one triune God!

Today’s Gospel especially shows us who it was that established our Church.

Matthew 16:13-19

So I encourage you sisters and brothers in Christ, to share with all of us why you are Catholic here in the comments section?  Those of you interested to know more about the Catholic faith and are in Singapore can contact me for a sit down and I will share with you all that I know.  For those overseas, a good place to find answers will be at

God bless you all!


Question : I have recently had doubts about the Real Presence in the Eucharist. I went to Reconciliation and confessed that to the priest. But the more I thought about it, it was really a question that I couldn’t answer that caused those thoughts to pop into my head. The question was: If consuming Christ’s Body and Blood is not cannabalism, what is it then? Then that leads to me doubting what Christ said and questioning the Real Presence.

Should I receive the Eucharist even though I have these doubts?

Answer : The Eucharist is a miracle. In fact, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, it is His greatest miracle. We eat His body and drink His blood UNDER THE FORM OF BREAD AND WINE. Cannibals eat flesh and blood that has the appearance of flesh and blood.
When cannibals eat the body and blood of another human being, that person’s body becomes a part of the cannibal. But when eat the body and blood of Jesus, we become a part of HIM!

He is God, after all. In the Eucharist, His divine embrace permeates our bodies in a way that far exceeds the surface embrace that we experience with other people. You need to think outside of the human box. We are dealing here with a God that can create from nothing. You accept this, even though you don’t understand it. So with the Eucharist. It’s the same God. But most of all, to appreciate the Eucharist, we must have an appreciation of the Passion. If this reflection on His Passion moves you, then by all means, continue to receive the Eucharist.

Reflection on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ +

The agony in the garden was really the agony in His mind. He suffered the passion in His mind before He suffered it in His body—to the point of actually affecting the latter by sweating blood. But from then on, it was His bodily suffering that affected His mental suffering.

At the base of all His suffering was the one thing that human beings dread the most: rejection. He was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter and abandoned by all the rest of His Apostles; those He had hand picked as His closest intimates. He was most rejected by those who put Him to death. They not only wanted Him dead, they wanted Him to suffer. They not only considered Him to be worth nothing, they considered Him to be worth minus nothing! This significance was not lost on Him. He felt fully the rejection as each physical agony reminded Him.

So we thank Him for joining us on our human journey and actually choosing to experience what we fear the most.

We thank Him for enduring the arrest and the cruelty of the guards and the Sanhedrin. We thank Him for enduring the cruelty of Pilate who allowed Him to be executed rather than risk his own political ruin—and for the cruelty of Herod who wanted to be entertained by having Him work a miracle. We thank Him for all the time He spent satisfying their preoccupation with themselves, just delaying His ultimate death. We thank Him for the anxiety of that night in a cell.

The next morning He was brutally scourged with such intensity and violence that He became as an aged man in a matter of minutes. His multiple wounds bloodied His entire body. The loss of so much blood not only severely weakened Him; it also caused a severe, throbbing headache that remained with Him for the duration.

We thank Him for this and for the mockery He received when they put a purple cloth on His shoulders and pushed a crown of thorns down into His head which intensified His headache. They blindfolded Him and slapped Him, insisting that He ‘prophesy’ who had hit Him. They spat on Him and beat Him.

He stood at the praetorium in utter disgrace according to the attitude of the crowd—while in reality, He stood in utter glory: almighty God, being present to every person who has ever suffered rejection, joining them in their moment of pain. It was there that He was sentenced to death by crucifixion. Physically, He was utterly miserable. He revealed to St. Bernard that carrying the cross was His most painful agony. He was so weak, He could hardly walk. Nauseous and thirsty, He found the weight of the cross on His shoulder almost unbearable. It most likely dislocated His shoulder. It is not surprising that He fell down on the stone streets that were filthy with animal dung—with the cross on top of Him. And He got up each time.

It was only with the help of Simon of Cyrene that He made it to the top of Calvary. There they drove the nails into the carpal tunnels of His hands, causing pain throughout His upper body. The nail in His feet registered great pain through all the sensitive nerves there. When the cross was righted, His up-stretched arms squeezed His lungs and He began to pant for lack of oxygen. So He had to push down on His crucified feet to push His body up in order to fill His lungs with air. This took great effort because He was so weak. Yet He managed to maintain such effort for three hours of agony which increased gradually as He became weaker moment by moment. By the end of the third hour, His agony was at its peak

He had come to the point where His lack of strength simply was no match for what is known as Sepsis, where the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria, and in this eternal moment He died, giving us His life. Transcending time, this moment of divine love is present to us in the tabernacles of the world. Thank you, Lord. We adore you O Christ and we praise you. By your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

Who Are You?

Posted: June 11, 2011 by CatholicJules in Memory Book, Questions & Answers

When someone asks,”Who are you?” the response of a Christian should first be, “I am a child of God, the Father who created me, the Son who redeemed me, and the Holy Spirit who empowered me, Blessed Mary is our mother as is the Church, the people of God.  The saints are our brothers and sisters.”  Then we add our unique details: “In addition, I am the son/daughter of Anthony and Patricia Tan.  I have a sister and a vast number of uncles, aunts and cousins.”

Rev.Val J.Peter

Only the names have been changed by the blog Author to reflect a local flavour

Question :- Often I see questions on here pertaining to whether someone can attend this wedding or that based on the religion of the bride and groom. Could you give a general list of when you should and should not support a given wedding? This will help me with all future decisions, although like most, I have a hindsight situation of my own.

My best friend growing up was married a few years ago (before I knew my faith as well as I do now). He has always been a Methodist and asked me to be a groomsmen. His wife was a Catholic however. I did not meet her till just before the wedding so I don’t know whether she was practicing or not. He had just told me that she was Catholic but would probably become Methodist after they married. The ceremony was done by a Methodist minister and I don’t believe she had a dispensation but I didn’t ask. Should I have participated in such a wedding? Is this something I need to confess?

Answer : In your own particular situation, we don’t know whether or not the wedding was presumptively valid because we don’t know whether the bride had the dispensations necessary to marry a non-Catholic in a non-Catholic ritual. Even presuming the wedding was presumptively invalid though, the Church does not explicitly forbid Catholics from attending invalid marriages and so Catholics must use their own prudential judgment in discerning attendance on a case-by-case basis. From what you’ve told me, it does not appear to me that you need to confess attending this wedding.

As for general rules:

  • Catholics may attend all presumptively-valid marriages of Catholics, non-Catholics, and non-Christians.
  • For Catholics marrying other Catholics or marrying a non-Catholic Christian or non-Christian, a wedding is presumptively valid if it is done in accordance with Catholic marital law. Catholics marrying non-Catholic Christians or non-Christians need a dispensation from cult to marry the non-Catholic party and a dispensation from form if they are marrying in a non-Catholic ritual.
  • For non-Catholics and non-Christians who are marrying other non-Catholics or non-Christians, a wedding can be considered presumptively valid if there are no known impediments to the marriage. The most common impediments that outsiders are likely to know about would be previous marriage, close blood relationship, or same-sex partners. If none of these impediments are known to exist, a prospective guest may presume that the wedding will be valid.
  • The Church does not explicitly forbid Catholics from attending presumptively-invalid marriages. Catholics must use their own prudential judgment in making the decision, keeping in mind the need to uphold the Catholic understanding of the sanctity of marriage. One rule of thumb that may be helpful in making such decisions might be to ask yourself if you believe the couple is doing the best that they can to act honorably and according to the truth that they have. So, for example, you might decide to attend the presumptively-invalid wedding of a couple who is expecting a child; but decline to attend the presumptively-invalid wedding of a couple who have engaged in adultery and destroyed previous marriages and families.
  • While there may be just reason to attend a particular wedding that will be presumptively-invalid, I cannot recommend participating as a member of the wedding party in such weddings. There is a difference between attending as a non-participating observer and actively involving yourself in the wedding as an honor attendant.
  • If you are not attending the wedding as a matter of principle, then I cannot recommend attending a reception or giving a gift to honor an occasion that you believe in conscience that you cannot celebrate. I do recommend though writing the couple a letter in which you express your love and that you will pray for them. (If prudence suggests it, it is fine to withhold from them what you will be praying to God that they obtain, such as the grace of repentance and conversion.)
  • In the case of same-sex partners, the Church has spoken so strongly against “same-sex marriage” that I cannot recommend attending or celebrating “same-sex weddings” under any circumstances.
Catholic Answers Apologist

Extracted From Blessed Pope John Paul II Encyclical Ecclesia De Eucharistia

49. With this heightened sense of mystery, we understand how the faith of the Church in the mystery of the Eucharist has found historical expression not only in the demand for an interior disposition of devotion, but also in outward forms meant to evoke and emphasize the grandeur of the event being celebrated. This led progressively to the development of a particular form of regulating the Eucharistic liturgy, with due respect for the various legitimately constituted ecclesial traditions. On this foundation a rich artistic heritage also developed. Architecture, sculpture, painting and music, moved by the Christian mystery, have found in the Eucharist, both directly and indirectly, a source of great inspiration.

Such was the case, for example, with architecture, which witnessed the transition, once the historical situation made it possible, from the first places of Eucharistic celebration in the domus or “homes” of Christian families to the solemn basilicas of the early centuries, to the imposing cathedrals of the Middle Ages, and to the churches, large and small, which gradually sprang up throughout the lands touched by Christianity. The designs of altars and tabernacles within Church interiors were often not simply motivated by artistic inspiration but also by a clear understanding of the mystery. The same could be said for sacred music, if we but think of the inspired Gregorian melodies and the many, often great, composers who sought to do justice to the liturgical texts of the Mass. Similarly, can we overlook the enormous quantity of artistic production, ranging from fine craftsmanship to authentic works of art, in the area of Church furnishings and vestments used for the celebration of the Eucharist?

It can be said that the Eucharist, while shaping the Church and her spirituality, has also powerfully affected “culture”, and the arts in particular.


Acts 2:46

46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts,

Catholic Q & As

Posted: April 5, 2011 by CatholicJules in Questions & Answers

Can God Take A Joke?
Q: Is it a sin to tell jokes? From time to time in old Christian writings I find statements such as “Christians should not indulge in jesting, laugh or tolerate buffoons” (St. Basil) and the like. I often rely on humor to get along with people and with myself. I’ll try to be less zany in the future, but I still feel frightened at the thought that I shouldn’t try to make people laugh. What should I do?

A: Did you hear the one about the man who . . . Well, okay, I’ll hold off on that for now. Perhaps an adequate answer is provided by some recent newspaper reports on the approaching beatification of Pope John XXIII. They recalled his humor and, in particular, his response to an American visitor who — honoring the interest in statistics that most Americans have inherited in their genes — asked the Pope, “How many people work in the Vatican?” Pope John is reputed to have looked at him and answered (with a pontifical grin, one imagines), “Oh, about half.”

The present successor of St. Peter, especially in situations where he is most at home — in Poland or with young people — loves bantering and joking. It’s possible that St. Basil didn’t have a great sense of humor. More likely, however, he was quite right in the context he was referring to. There are situations where jesting and laughing are clearly out of place. But mirth and humor also have a legitimate, even important, place in life. The key here is balance. If you don’t have that balance, when it comes to joking and humor, you have to find that balance.

As for buffoons, if the dictionary is right in its description of such a blighter (that’s Irish lingo) as someone who is “a low, vulgar or indecent jester, one without self-respect,” I couldn’t have more sympathy with St. Basil. In fact, I’d be tempted to utter a loud British “Hear, hear, old chap!” and vote for the buffoon to be sent off to a special purgatory where he would have to listen to replays of himself for about two millennia. On second thought, that might qualify as “cruel and unusual punishment.” Two days of some people’s “humor” would be excruciating.

Anyway, whatever you think of the above arguments, here’s the clincher: If jesting and laughing were unacceptable
for Christians, we would long since have died under an avalanche of anathemas. And while there are a few people out there who wish that such a thing had happened, so far not a single prelate has chimed in to accuse us of “execrable and perfidious levity unbecoming of Christians,” or of any similarly impressive crime. So there.

Q: We have a serious problem in our parish with a particular lay “liturgist.” One of our parish priests, Fr. N., is from another country. He’s a wonderful man and an excellent priest, but he’s been told by our bishop that he’s “here to learn, not to change anything.” (Apparently this translates to mean that the priest is not allowed to (re)introduce any of the traditional devotions that have fallen by the way in our parish.) The problem stems from the “liturgist” who says: “RCIA is my ministry, and Father N. has nothing to do with it.” She also claims that it’s mandated by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops to use the RCIA program, as opposed to allowing people to receive individual instructions in the Faith, something which Father N. has said he would be happy to provide, if it was requested of him (which it has). The parish “Liturgist” seems determined to thwart any effort by Father N. to do an “end run” around her RCIA position of power. Is there some reliable and authoritative ecclesiastical source I could turn to that would either support her claims or prove them false?

A: You’ve probably heard the standard line about liturgists. Question: “What’s the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?” Answer: “You can negotiate with a terrorist.”

Ahem. Well, to be fair, I do know some excellent liturgists, people who are orthodox theologically, and blessed with great humility and a genuine spirit of cooperation. Unfortunately, there are also liturgists who are not theologically orthodox, who don’t evince the virtue of humility (something crucial for all Christians, of course, but especially for those who serve the Church with Her sacred ministry of the Sacraments and the Liturgy), and who are intransigent in their opposition to traditional forms of Catholic piety. Some of these liturgists have staked out their own liturgical fiefdom and will defend it with the territorial élan of a terrier.

For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with the acronym (though it’s invoked with such fervor everywhere these days that it’s hard to imagine anyone who frequents a Catholic parish could possibly have avoided running into it), RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. What does the Church have to say about adults who will be initiated into Christian life?

According to Canon 851 of the Code of Canon Law (Church law, that is universally binding in the Latin Rite), “An adult who intends to receive baptism is to be admitted to the catechumenate and, as far as possible, brought through the various stages to sacramental initiation, in accordance with the rite of initiation as adapted by the Episcopal Conference and with the particular norms issued by it.” We’re also told (Can. 788 §3): “It is the responsibility of the Episcopal Conference to establish norms concerning the arrangement of the catechumenate, determining what should be done by catechumens and what should be their prerogatives.” In the United States, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) effectively determined “what should be done by catechumens” by establishing the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

Nevertheless, judging by what those nationally responsible for it say about it, your local liturgist is laboring under some fairly serious misconceptions about what “RCIA” is. With modesty, flexibility and reason (which goes to prove that the liturgist joke is unfair as a generalization!), what they say is the following (emphases are mine): “The Rite of Christian Initiation is not a program. It is the Church’s way of ministering sensitively to those who seek membership. For that reason some people will need more time than others to prepare for the lifetime commitment that comes with membership in the Catholic Church. The usual length of preparation is from one to two years. For those already baptized and who seek full communion in the Catholic Church, the time may also vary. It seems reasonable that catechumens or candidates experience the yearly calendar of Catholic practice at least one time around in order to make an informed decision.”
I think it’s fairly obvious that there’s a great deal of flexibility and adjustment to the situation of each candidate. And most importantly, it’s “not a program”; individual instruction can be “ministering sensitively” to candidates, and therefore part of RCIA.

The second part of the question is, can the priest intervene? Well, assuming he’s the pastor of the parish, he’s obliged to do so. At the very least, he should evaluate what the liturgists or catechists are proposing to do in order to decide whether to endorse and approve it.
According to Canon 519, “The parish priest is the proper pastor of the parish entrusted to him. He exercises the pastoral care of the community entrusted to him under the authority of the diocesan Bishop, whose ministry of Christ he is called to share, so that for this community he may carry out the offices of teaching, sanctifying and ruling with the cooperation of other priests or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of Christ’s faithful, in accordance with the law.” Moreover (Canon 528 §1), he “has the obligation of ensuring that the word of God is proclaimed in its entirety to those living in the parish. He is therefore to see to it that the lay members of Christ’s faithful are instructed in the truths of faith . . . . ”

That, too, seems clear enough. The pastor is the one who is primarily responsible before God for the spiritual well-being of his parish (i.e. all his parishioners, the souls of the men, women, and children entrusted to his care). He can exercise his responsibility with the assistance of others, but they aren’t somehow independent operators.

The bishop can remove him as pastor if he so wishes, but as long as he leaves him there as pastor, he can’t redefine the role entrusted to the parish priest by canon law. And if he removes him, he must name another priest in his place (no, the lay liturgist can’t become the pastor). That new priest, in turn, must take upon himself the pastoral care of the faithful of his parish. That’s why he’s the pastor!

Certainly, the pastor is “under the authority of the diocesan bishop,” and the bishop can instruct him to follow a particular process in preparing adults for initiation into the Sacraments. But you can take it as certain that nowhere is it said that the pastor is “under the authority of the parish liturgist.” Father, then, has plenty to do with it, since RCIA is most certainly a ministry of “teaching and sanctifying.”
That said, it’s not clear why there should necessarily be a preference for “individual instruction” by the priest over whatever the liturgist is proposing to do. If he or she understands and communicates that faith well, perhaps this person will do it better than the priest. There’s plenty of room and need for those lay collaborators; the priest is not a one-man orchestra.


Answers By Fr. Brian Wilson, L.C.

Some Q & A(s)

Posted: December 23, 2010 by CatholicJules in Questions & Answers

Answers By Fr. Hugh Barbour, O.Praem

Q. In a previous answer, you said it’s permissible to confess sins already confessed and absolved, as long as it’s not done out of scrupulosity. I admit that it might be good to recall past sins in order to grow in gratitude for God’s forgiveness, but how is it appropriate to confess them again?

A. In 1304, Pope Benedict XI, in the constitution Inter Cunctas Sollicitudines taught: “Even though it is not necessary to do so, we judge it spiritually helpful to confess the same sins over again on account of the contrition, which is a great part of this sacrament.” The “matter” of the sacrament of penance is contrition for sin, the sin is only the necessary motive for the sorrow. Thus any confession which increases contrition, as well as our purpose of amendment, is helpful to the fruitful reception of the sacrament. As we grow in the love of God, reflecting on our past sins, even though they are forgiven, strengthens our resolve to avoid sin, it deepens our sorrow for our sins, and it can make our reception of the sacrament more effective in rooting out the remaining sources of sin in us.


Q. When I hear that the devil can tempt us, I am frightened. Is he able to get inside of us and make us sin? Can he force us to give in to his temptations?

A. The only way that the devil can tempt us is, in principle, the way in which other human beings can tempt us. He can approach us only from the “outside,” through our senses and sense imagination and memory. The devil cannot force our spiritual will or our immaterial intellect. He can only work on the aspects of our soul which are completely dependent on physical sensation. The difference with the devil is that, being by nature an angel (although a fallen one) he is able to “see” into our imagination and memory, even though we may not be expressing their contents by words or actions. This gives him a slight advantage, more ammunition, to use against us. However, he never is able to be sure we have really given in, because he can only guess whether we have given full consent or completely understand, or have reflected sufficiently that what we have done or want to do is sinful. This is because he cannot see our intellect or will. This can only be seen by God. This is why the earliest teachers on Christian prayer and spiritual discipline, the Fathers of the Desert, emphasize how important control of our imagination is in fighting the devil. By constant prayer, by short aspirations prayed inwardly or out loud as we go about our daily work, short prayers like “My Jesus, Mercy” or “Mary, Help,” by thinking about the life of Our Lord, Our Lady, and the Saints, by avoiding useless words and images on TV and radio, we can clean up our imagination, and give the devil less to work on. We will recognize temptations more easily, and reject them more successfully, if we have a purer inner life. The best example of this is Our Lord and Our Lady. When the devil tempted Christ, he was not sure He was the Son of God and Messiah. This means that Our Lord had so complete a control of His imagination that nothing entered there which he did not want to, so the devil was perplexed at a man with an imagination and memory so pure and holy, so he was forced to come out into the open and ask. (What a humiliation for him, and a lesson for us!) In World War II, there were posters with sinking ships over the caption “somebody talked.” If we can quiet our imagination by prayer and silence, we can avoid many an attack of the evil one. Lets remember the words of St. Peter: “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory through Christ will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little” (1 Peter 5:8-10).


Q. A nun recently told me its possible that we have more than one life on earth, through reincarnation. I showed her paragraph 1013 in the Catechism, which says there is no such thing as reincarnation. She shrugged and said that teaching is “non-infallible” and were free to hold other opinions. Is reincarnation compatible with the Catholic Faith?

A. The problem with reincarnation isnt’ that a soul could be reunited with a body after death. After all, Christians believe in exactly that: the resurrection of the dead, in which our souls will be reunited with our bodies.
The problem is that reincarnation entails the notion that the body is not an essential aspect of the human person, but only a shell, or an instrument of the spiritual soul. The Church solemnly defined at the Council of Vienna in 1312 that the human soul is not only a spirit, but is per se and essentially the form of a body. The council taught that the contrary view was heretical. The Catechism (CCC #365) quotes this definition of the fifteenth ecumenical council. Our Catholic Faith presents death as a tragic consequence of sin, not as a natural passage from one state to another. Christ’s death triumphs over the death brought about by sin by rising from the dead in His own identical body. So too our future resurrection will be the same body which we now are, materially reconstituted by the ministry of angels and reunited with the soul by the miraculous power of Christ. Resurrection in the same body means the re-uniting of body and soul (CCC #997), not the taking on of a new body not previously our own. Reincarnation has a tantalizing attraction for many since it satisfies their curiosity about themselves without coming to grips with the permanent, everlasting nature of our bodily individuality. Christianity believes so strongly that the body is an essential part of our makeup and happiness, that even God, to redeem us had to take on flesh, die, and rise again, and feed us with His own Body. The Fathers say “Christ did not redeem what He did not assume.” The Incarnation and Resurrection are the Catholic responses to the error of reincarnation. Archbishop Christoph Scho‘nborn of Vienna (the main architect of the Catechism) has written a book on reincarnation, available from Ignatius Press of San Francisco.

Some Q & As

Posted: November 19, 2010 by CatholicJules in Questions & Answers

Q : May I have a lozenge before Communion?

I am a newbie so I don’t know if I am doing this “right”. I just wanted to pose a question about reception of Communion. If you start coughing during Mass and have to use a lozenge, can you still receive the Eucharist?

A: Hi,

Yes;  it’s medicine and meds don’t break the fast. However, you should spit it into your handkerchief before receiving.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

Q : Who cares if same-sex marriage is “unnatural”?

How do we answer advocates of same-sex “marriage” when they respond saying: “There are many things humans do that can be considered ‘unnatural’ such as flying planes.”

A: Same-sex “marriage” isn’t “unnatural” for humans in the way that flying is “unnatural.” It is “unnatural” in the way murder is unnatural. In other words, it is opposed to the natural law, which Fr. John Hardon, S.J., defined this way:

As distinct from revealed law, it is “nothing else than the rational creature’s participation in the eternal law” (Summa Theologica, 1a, 2ae, quest. 91, art. 2). As coming from God, the natural law is what God has produced in the world of creation; as coming to human beings, it is what they know (or can know) of what God has created. It is therefore called natural law because everyone is subject to it from birth (natio), because it contains only those duties which are derivable from human nature itself, and because, absolutely speaking, its essentials can be grasped by the unaided light of human reason (source).

Flying is “unnatural” for humans because we do not have wings. Same-sex “marriage” is unnatural not because humans lack a physical attribute that would make it possible, but because it violates the same moral law inherent to every human being that also prohibits murder

Catholic Answers Apologist Michelle Arnold

Q&A – Salvation Has No Conditions?

Posted: November 8, 2010 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys, Questions & Answers

Q I had a discussion with an Evangelical friend on the virginity of Our Blessed Mother. I pointed out that Protestant reformers Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli taught the historic Christian doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity. He didn’t care and said that our salvation doesn’t depend on belief about Mary’s virginity. All we have to do, he said, is believe that Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior and we will be saved. He also said Catholicism isn’t “true” Christianity. What should I tell him?

A – The Reformers indeed taught the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity, but that usually doesn’t impress modern-day Protestants like your friend. Protestants agree with the Catholic Church’s teaching that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. But faith in Christ includes faith in and assent to what He taught His commandments and doctrines. Your friend’s minimalist attitude toward what is necessary to salvation risks turning Christianity into a mechanical ideology: “Say the sinner’s prayer’ and you’re in, nothing else matters. Just don’t become a Catholic.”

Point out that if there are no conditions for salvation other than faith in Christ as one’s Savior, then not being a Catholic cannot be a condition for salvation. If he says you can’t be a Catholic and be saved, then he’s added a condition and is being inconsistent. This may help him see that there’s more to salvation than mere faith in Christ. Jesus reminded us that faith alone isn’t sufficient: “Why do you say to me, Lord, Lord,’ but do not do the things I command?” (Luke 6:46-47; cf. Matt, 7:21-23). This includes believing in all that He and the Apostles taught. And that includes the truth of Mary’s perpetual virginity. You see, all of revelation is connected. One cannot say, for example, I’m willing to accept this doctrine but I won’t accept that one. That’s completely contrary to Christ’s will. Your friend’s point of view is common among Protestants, who have a tendency to reduce “faith in Christ” to simply the belief that He is our Savior. But let’s remember what “Savior” means. It means that Christ is saving us from something, He is saving us for something, His salvation comes to us in a certain way and under certain conditions (eg. believe, repent, be baptized, etc.). This also tells us who He is: God Himself. You see what a wealth of doctrinal implications are contained in the word “savior”: sin, death, and hell, the commandments, grace, heaven, sacrifice, merit, sacraments, the Church, the Trinity, the Incarnation, His death, Resurrection, and Second Coming. For those who know and love Christ, there is nothing about Him, His life, His friends, His teachings that is not of interest or help to them.

Christ came to “bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37) and to reveal many supernatural mysteries about God and the kingdom of God which we could never have known by the power of unaided human reason. Believing the truths about Christ contained in Sacred Scripture are part of having faith in Him. We can’t separate faith in the person of Christ from faith in His life and message, in the prophets who preceded Him, and the Apostles and their successors who followed after Him. These Apostles the early Church magisterium proclaimed the truth with the teaching authority Christ gave them: “He who hears you, hears Me” (Luke 10:16; cf. Matt. 16:18, 18:18).

And remember what Christ command the magisterium of His Church to do: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). Christ wants Christians to assent to and profess all the doctrines contained in the Deposit of Faith, including the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity. He reminds us that, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in Heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

Answered By Fr. Hugh Barbour, O.Praem


If somebody confesses to a priest that he has killed a number of people and he intends to kill some more people what is the priest to do? Could he even gives names or clues about what people this person said he would kill? Can the priest contact the intended victims or the police to try to stop the killings?

Answer :

A priest cannot violate the seal of confession for any reason whatsoever. He can deny absolution to someone he believes is not truly repentant for his sins — and a stated intention to recommit the very sin being confessed during the act of sacramental confession itself could indicate impenitence — but he cannot in any way, either by word or action, violate the seal of confession. That means that not only can he not say anything, but he cannot act upon the information gained in the confession either. In the hypothetical you propose, such a priest could not contact authorities or victims, give clues, or — to give an example of a wordless action — steal the murderer’s weapon to render him weaponless.

The priest acts in persona Christi (“in the person of Christ”) and in confession the penitent is speaking to God himself through the ministry of the priest. That means that the information given during sacramental confession doesn’t properly belong to the priest himself as a fellow human being; it belongs properly to the penitent and to God. That is one reason why the priest cannot act upon what he hears in sacramental confession. Another reason is even more serious: If penitents have reason to fear that a priest is allowed to reveal their confessions, they won’t confess. If they don’t confess, they risk hell. Ultimately, the inviolability of the seal of confession is about saving lives — it is about saving the immortal souls of those who have committed mortal sin and are at risk of eternal damnation.

Michelle Arnold – Catholic Answers Apologist


Question :– I’m currently in RCIA and during Mass before our classes a man either had a stroke or a heart attack in the pews and fell over to the ground. 5 or 6 people stood up and interrupted the priest’s sermon yelling “we need a doctor” and “call 911.” The priest didn’t say anything, nor really do anything. He just stopped and told us to stand up and say the Nicene Creed (like we normally do). I was confused and quite upset about this. What exactly is the role of the priest when something like this happends?

P.S. – This incident happened before communion took place, if that makes any difference.

Thank you very much.

Answer :-


If the priest is young and inexperienced, his reaction is understandable. Perhaps, for some reason he became confused. But what a priest ordinarily should do in such an emergency is to go down and anoint the man and remain with him until he is taken from the church. THEN, he should continue with the Mass.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

Is it normal to feel abandoned by God?

Posted: October 6, 2010 by CatholicJules in Questions & Answers

QUESTION : I was not active in the church for many years. I started back the week after Easter of 2009. In the following months, I became very active in my church and felt very good about what I was doing. One night last summer I woke up in the middle of the night and felt what can only be described as pure love filling the room (I live alone).

Recently, however, I don’t feel it as much or even at all. I still believe and I still work to deepen my faith but I can’t honestly say that I feel the constant presence of God in my life these days. When I pray, I don’t feel like my prayers are being heard let alone answered. I know that God won’t abandon me ever, but recently I have felt like I have been going through life alone and I don’t know why.

ANSWER : God gave you consolations when He determined that you needed them. Now, He wants your fidelity without consolations. Now you show your love for Him because He is that you want and not the consolations. This purifies your love and makes it greater. Just keep your eyes on Him. Mother Teresa went for over twenty years without consolations. It wasn’t easy, but her love for Him grew–and so will yours.

You might want to read a book on this: “Mother Teresa: Come, Be My Light” by Fr. Brian Koldiejchuk, M.C.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

Should I Give Up?

Posted: October 4, 2010 by CatholicJules in Questions & Answers

QUESTION : My world is crashing around me. I feel so alone. I’ve tried hard to pray and be faithful to my marriage, family, friends. But I am alone. My husband lost his job and has been out of work for over a year. We are becoming unable to pay all our bills. He doesn’t seem to care anymore. I really would just love to walk away, but my Catholic faith is holding me. But I don’t know for how long. I want to give up. Any suggestions on keeping the faith?

ANSWER : Reflect on the following each day and anytime you are tempted to give up. He has been there, He is with you and He alone can see you through.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

Reflection on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ +

The agony in the garden was really the agony in His mind which resulted in His sweating blood. He suffered the passion in His mind and in His body. Such mental and physical suffering actually intensified each other.

At the base of all His suffering was the one thing that human beings dread the most: rejection. He was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter and abandoned by all the rest of His Apostles; those He had hand picked as His closest intimates. He was most rejected by those who put Him to death. They not only wanted Him dead, they wanted Him to suffer. They not only considered Him to be worth nothing, they considered Him to be worth minus nothing! This significance was not lost on Him. He felt fully the rejection as each physical agony reminded Him.

So we thank Him for joining us on our human journey and actually choosing to experience what we fear the most.

We thank Him for enduring the arrest and the cruelty of the guards and the Sanhedrin. We thank Him for enduring the cruelty of Pilate who allowed Him to be executed rather than risk his own political ruin—and for the cruelty of Herod who wanted to be entertained by having Him work a miracle. We thank Him for all the time He spent satisfying their preoccupation with themselves, just delaying His ultimate death. We thank Him for the anxiety of that night in a cell.

The next morning He was brutally scourged with such intensity and violence that He became as an aged man in a matter of minutes. His multiple wounds bloodied His entire body. The loss of so much blood not only severely weakened Him; it also caused a severe, throbbing headache that remained with Him for the duration.

We thank Him for this and for the mockery He received when they put a purple cloth on His shoulders and pushed a crown of thorns down into His head which intensified His headache. They blindfolded Him and slapped Him, insisting that He ‘prophesy’ who had hit Him. They spat on Him and beat Him.

He stood at the praetorium in utter disgrace according to the attitude of the crowd—while in reality, He stood in utter glory: almighty God, being present to every person who has ever suffered rejection, joining them in their moment of pain. It was there that He was sentenced to death by crucifixion. Physically, He was utterly miserable. He revealed to St. Bernard that carrying the cross was His most painful agony. He was so weak, He could hardly walk. Nauseous and thirsty, He found the weight of the cross on His shoulder almost unbearable. It most likely dislocated His shoulder. It is not surprising that He fell down on the stone streets that were filthy with animal dung—with the cross on top of Him. And He got up each time.

It was only with the help of Simon of Cyrene that He made it to the top of Calvary. There they drove the nails into the carpal tunnels of His hands, causing pain throughout His upper body. The nail in His feet registered great pain through all the sensitive nerves there. When the cross was righted, His up-stretched arms squeezed His lungs and He began to pant for lack of oxygen. So He had to push down on His crucified feet to push His body up in order to fill His lungs with air. This took great effort because He was so weak. Yet He managed to maintain such effort for three hours of agony which increased gradually as He became weaker moment by moment.

By the end of the third hour, His agony was at its peak. He had come to the point where His strength simply gave out and He suffocated. In this eternal moment as He died, He gave us His life. Transcending time, this moment of divine love is present to us in the tabernacles of the world.

Thank you, Lord. We adore you O Christ and we praise you. By your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

Question: A couple of weeks ago in our parish Mass there was a large quantity of the Precious Blood remaining after a communion. Instead of drinking it, the leader of our squad of Eucharistic Ministers decided to pour it down a special sink in the sacristy which he said was made just for this purpose. Is this allowed? It seemed so irreverent to pour the Eucharist out like that.

Answer: Although the extraordinary minister of the Eucharist may have had good intentions, objectively to treat the Precious Blood in that way is a terrible sacrilege. The bishops of the United States have established norms recognized by the Holy See which are the minimum to be followed in the reverent treatment of the sacrament of the Precious Blood. Their Directory for the Celebration and Reception of Communion Under Both Kinds, promulgated in 1984, states: “Ministers shall always show the greatest reverence for the eucharistic species by their demeanor and in the manner in which they handle the consecrated bread or wine. Should there be any mishap, for example if the consecrated wine is spilled from the chalice, the area should be washed and the water poured into the sacrarium. After Communion, the eucharistic bread that remains is to be stored in the tabernacle. Care should be taken in regard to any fragments remaining on the corporal or in the sacred vessels. In those instances when there remains more consecrated wine than was necessary, the ministers shall consume it immediately at a side table before the Prayer After Communion, while the vessels themselves may be purified after Mass. The amount of wine to be consecrated should be carefully measured before the celebration so that none remains afterward . . . It is strictly prohibited to pour the Precious Blood into the ground or into the sacrarium (paragraphs 34-36, 38, emphases added).

The “sacrarium” is a special sink in the sacristy of most churches used for the disposal of sacred things that are no longer usable, for example, holy water, blessed ashes, and so on. The Blessed Sacrament is never “disposed” of. It must always be consumed (eaten or drunk) by a priest, deacon, an appointed minister, or one of the faithful.

In the introduction to the norms just quoted, the bishops give a clear and classical presentation of the Catholic dogma concerning the substantial and permanent presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Perhaps if we priests were as eager to give instruction in the sublime mysteries of the Faith as we are to involve the laity in various liturgical ministries, such horrible practices wouldn’t occur nearly as often as they do.

Question Answered by FR. HUGH BARBOUR, O.PRAEM

The Remission of Temporal Punishment

Posted: September 28, 2010 by CatholicJules in Memory Book, Questions & Answers


Q. What is understood by an Indulgence?
A. An indulgence is a relaxation or remission of debt of the temporal punishment, which remains due to the Divine justice for sin, after the sin itself, and the eternal punishment have been remitted by the Sacrament of Penance.

Q. Has Jesus Christ given to his Church the power of granting indulgences?
A. He has, as appears evidently from holy scriptures; for,

First, He says to St. Peter, “Thou art Peter – and I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven,” Matth. xvi. 18. in which words our Savior gives to St. Peter, as the chief pastor of his Church, whose authority as such extends over all her members, an ample and universal power of conducting the faithful to heaven, by loosing them from every thing that might hinder them from going there, provided always they be properly disposed, and perform the conditions required upon their part. Now, there are only two things that can hinder a soul from going to heaven, to wit, the guilt of sin, and the debt of temporal punishment; for till that debt be paid, none can enter there; consequently our Savior says, “whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, shall be loosed in heaven,” manifestly includes both, and assures us, when the Chief Pastor looses the faithful from their sins in the Sacrament of Penance, or from the debt of temporal punishment, by granting an indulgence, this sentence is ratified in heaven, and stands good in the sight of God himself.

Second, On another occasion, declaring, “that he that will not hear the Church,” that is, the bishops and pastors of the Church, is to be considered “as a heathen and a publican,” he immediately says to these pastors, in the persons of all the Apostles, “Amen, I say to you, whatsoever ye shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven,” Matth. xviii. 18. In which words, by the same reasoning as in the former case, we see the power of granting indulgences conferred on the first pastors or Bishops of the Church, as successors of the Apostles. It is given to the head of the Church, with regard to all the faithful, and to the bishops of the Church with regard to that portion of the faithful committed to their charge, to be exercised by them under such regulations as the Church herself, in her sacred councils, has judged proper to appoint.

Third, St. Paul, though not one of the twelve Apostles then present with our Savior, when this power was given them, both exercised it himself towards the incestuous Corinthian, and recommended to the pastors of that church to do the same; for, having first condemned and bound him to public penance, and “delivered him over to Satan for the destruction oft he flesh, that his spirit might be saved in the day of our Lord,” 1 Cor. v. 5; yet afterwards, being informed of his great repentance and vehement sorrows, he writes to that church, “To him who is such a one, this rebuke is sufficient that is given by many; so that contrariwise, ye should rather forgive him – and to whom ye have forgiven any thing, I also. For what I forgive, if I have forgiven any thing, for your sakes that I done it, in the person of Christ,” 2 Cor. ii. 6. 10.

Q. When the Church grants an indulgence, by remitting the debt of temporal punishment due to the Divine Justice, does she offer any compensation to the justice of God in place of it?
A. Yes she does; to understand which, we must observe,

First, That God Almighty has given to his Church the infinite merits and superabundant satisfaction of his son Jesus, to be applied and dispensed to her children for the good of their souls, according to their wants. Thus St. Paul says, “Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present wicked world,” Gal. i. 4; and God “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ,” Ephes. i. 3; “that he might show in the ages to come, the abundant riches of his grace, in his bounty towards us in Christ Jesus,” Eph. ii. 7; for “he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things!” Rom. viii. 32. Now, the Pastors of the Church are “the dispensers of the mysteries of God,” 1 Cor. iv. 1; to wit, of all these “spiritual blessings, abundant riches and graces of Christ,” which are the fruits of all his infinite merits and satisfactions. These are dispensed to the people and applied to their souls by the Pastors of the Church, when they administer to us the Holy Sacraments, and they are offered up to God as a compensation to his Divine Justice, for the debt of temporal punishment, when they grant us a relaxation from that debt by an indulgence.

Second, In the Creed, we are taught to believe that in the Church there is “the communion of saints;” that is, that all the members of the Church have a spiritual communication with one another in holy things, that the prayers, sacrifices, penances, and good works, which are performed by any of the faithful are accepted by Almighty God in such measure and manner as he sees fitting for all the others who put no impediment; and the reason is, because all the members of the Church compose but one spiritual body to Christ, of which he is the head; and therefore, all the faithful, as members of one another, mutually partake of one another’s prayers and good works, especially when they are expressly intended and applied for one another.


As nothing is more agreeable to God, than that all his followers should live together in unity, charity, and brotherly love, as members of one body, mutually helping one another, especially in spiritual things; so we find many examples of his readiness to bestow great favors upon his people, in reward of this mutual charity. Thus, when Job’s friends could find no acceptance with God of themselves, they found it immediately when Job offered up his prayers and sacrifices for them, Job. xlii. How often did the prayers and sacrifices of Moses and Aaron obtain forgiveness for their sinful people, both as to the sin and the temporal punishment, even when God was so provoked by their crimes, that he seemed determined to consumer and destroy them? How often does God declare in scripture, that he bears with the people of Israel, that he deals mercifully with them, that he bestows favors upon them, and the like, for the sake of his faithful servants, Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, even long after they were out of this world? So also speaking of his care for Jerusalem, he says, “I will protect this city, and will save it for my own sake, and for David my servant’s sake,” 4 Kings xix. 34. Where observe, that he joins “his own sake” and “David’s sake” together, in the same sentence, as the joint motive of his protecting Jerusalem.
From the same principles, St. Paul so often recommends himself to the prayers of the Faithful, and when, on a certain occasion, he had met with some great afflictions, he says to the Philippians, “I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayers,” Phil. i. 19. Seeing then that the prayers, penances, and good works of the faithful, and especially of the Holy Saints of God, who are of all others the most in favor with him, are, through the merits of Jesus Christ, on whom they all depend, most readily accepted by Almighty God for the benefit of all the members of his Church, especially when, by a spirit of charity, they are offered up and applied for that purpose; therefore, when the Church grants an indulgence to her children, for relieving the debt of temporal punishment due to the Divine Justice, she also offers up with the infinite satisfaction of Christ, all the prayers, penances, and good works of his Holy Saints, as a most acceptable oblation to the justice of God, in satisfaction or compensation for the indulgence she grants, both in imitation of what God himself did, when he joined his own sake and David’s sake, as the joint motive for protecting Jerusalem, and as an exercise of that holy communion of Saints, which she professes in the Creed; so that “out of their abundance, our wants are supplied,” and our debt paid, 2 Cor. viii. 14.


Q. How many kinds of Indulgences are there?
A. Two kinds, a Plenary Indulgence, which is obtained, would deliver us from all the debt of temporal punishment that we owe for our past sins; and a Partial Indulgence, which delivers us from it only in part, and is commonly expressed as given for a certain time, as of forty days, a year, or the like. The meaning of which is, that an indulgence is granted for such a proportion of the debt of temporal punishment we owe to God, as would have been remitted to him, had the sinner undergone, for that space of time, the severe penitential works prescribed by the primitive church for his sins.

Q. What things are required for gaining the benefit of indulgence?
A. Three things:

First, That a person be in the state of grace, and in friendship with God; for while one continues in the state of sin, and at enmity with God, and of course worthy of eternal punishment in the sight of the Divine Justice, he is not in a state capable of receiving an indulgence. And on this account it is, that in all grants of Plenary Indulgences, it is generally required as a condition for gaining them that the person apply first to the sacrament of confession, in order to put his soul in the state of grace, without which he is incapable of receiving that benefit.


Second, That the conditions required in the grant of the indulgence be exactly performed; for, as indulgences are always granted on certain conditions, to be performed on our part, such as approaching to the Holy Sacraments, works of charity and mercy, exercises of piety and religion, prayers for the necessities of the Church, and the like; if these conditions required, are not exactly performed as required, we have no title to the favor of the indulgence.

Third, In order to gain the full effect of a Plenary Indulgence, it is also necessary to have a perfect repentance, and sincere detestation of all our sins, even the least venial sin; because, as the punishment of sin will never be forgiven, while the guilt of it remains in the soul, and as a sincere repentance is absolutely required for the remission of the guilty; therefore, this sincere repentance must precede the remission of the punishment. Hence we may see how few there are who gain the full effect of a Plenary Indulgence, as there are few who have a sincere and efficacious repentance of every venial sin, and a sincere and firm resolution of avoiding every sin, great or small, with all the occasions of sin. Yet this ought not to hinder us from using our beset endeavors for gaining a Plenary Indulgence when occasion offers; because, though we should not gain the whole effect of it, the more endeavors we use, and the better we be disposed, the more ample benefit we will reap from it; and whereas, we can never be certain how far we gain this benefit, and have but too much reason, from our own imperfect dispositions, to fear, that we may have yet a great debt remaining unpaid; therefore, our endeavoring to gain an indulgence ought not to make us remiss in leading a truly penitential life, but rather encourage us to do so the more exactly; because, the more we endeavor by works, worthy of penance, to satisfy the Divine Justice, the better we will be disposed, when the opportunity comes, for gaining the more abundant effects of indulgences; for, when we have done our best, it is perhaps little to what we ought to have done; and what we gain by indulgences makes up for the deficiencies of human infirmity, but can never be supposed to patronize negligence and sloth.

Q. When a person dies in the grace and friendship of God, but before he has discharged the debt of temporal punishment which he owes to the Divine justice, what becomes of him?
A. The soul is sentenced to purgatory, “out of which he shall not come till he pays to the last farthing,” Matth. v. 26.

Further exploration of Gaining Indulgences can be found HERE.

Statue Of Mary Stepping On A Snake..

Posted: September 2, 2010 by CatholicJules in Questions & Answers

Question: I noticed a statue of Mary stepping on a snake. I asked the owner of the store to explain what this meant. She said that in Genesis 3:15 the Lord said that Mary would someday crush the serpent’s head, the serpent being the devil. I checked this in my Bible (a Catholic version that I bought at the same shop). But Genesis 3:15 doesn’t say that. It says that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head. I understand this to be Jesus Christ, not Mary. So, how can that statue of Mary with the serpent be justified?

Answer: In the Book of Genesis 3:15 God speaks to the serpent after the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; He shall crush your head and you shall lie in wait for his heel.” This is a correct translation of the original Hebrew text and the traditional text of the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament. But two ancient translations, the Latin Vulgate (revised by St. Jerome) and the ancient Coptic version (Coptic is the Egyptian language used prior to the Arab Muslim invasions), read, “She shall crush your head.” But current editions of the Bible in modern languages, translations from the original languages, all follow the translation “He shall crush.”

Now, in order to understand why Our Lady is depicted crushing the serpent, you need to know that the whole of Christian tradition in any language of East or West interprets that passage as a prophecy of the coming of the Messiah or Savior, Jesus Christ, the “seed of the woman.” He is the Second or New Adam, and His Mother Mary, because she was completely free from sin, both original and actual, is the new Eve, the only woman who has a perfect enmity with the devil. This passage, sometimes referred to as the Protoevangelium (Greek = “first Gospel”) is the first announcement of the Good News of Salvation after the Bad News of Sin and Death. Many popes, including the Pope John Paul II, have repeatedly interpreted this passage in a prophetic sense, referring to Christ and Mary. Take a look, for example, at Pope John Paul II’s Marian encyclical Redemptoris Mater. The Catechism’s teaching on this passage is found in paragraphs 70, 410, and 411.

Some Scripture scholars deny that this passage refers to Jesus or Mary. They see the literal sense of this verse only as a popular folk tale, written as a way to explain why humans are afraid of snakes! (That’s a slippery interpretation if there ever was one.)

Naturally in the Latin tradition, because of the translation “she shall crush,” the passage has had a more vivid Marian meaning. That’s where the tradition of depicting Mary crushing the head of the serpent arose. But it’s a very apt and theologically precise image, nonetheless, since it’s a perfect image of her Immaculate Conception, her lifelong immunity from sin, won for her by Christ’s saving passion and death on the cross (cf. Luke 1:47). This is one reason why the new liturgy of the Roman Rite, promulgated at Vatican II, retains the reading “she will crush your head.” It is part of the antiphon (a short thematic verse) used for Mass on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It’s part of the Church’s tradition, a witness to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s special role in her Divine Son’s plan of salvation.

Question Answered by FR. HUGH BARBOUR, O.PRAEM

For a very long time this verse from Scripture as spoken my Jesus (Matthew 8 21:22)  I thought meant that we should not mourn for the dead or be overly concern with visiting the dead because they are, as we hope in a better place with Our Father in heaven.  However if they are in purgatory, then we should pray for their souls but either way they have departed and so we should concern ourselves with living our lives according to God’s will.  Also we should only concern ourselves with helping the ‘living poor’ those who are starving whether physically or emotionally. Charity for the Living so to speak.

Although there maybe  a tiny bit of truth in my thoughts on the subject above, I have finally found a better and more complete answer written by Raymond Lloyd Richmond.  Honoring and respecting the dead apart from our Christian sensibilities is what makes us Human. Let’s see what Raymond says……

Now, to understand the meaning of this passage, you first have to put it in its historical context.

The Historical Context:

Leaving the Spiritually Dead World Behind

Jesus was leading His disciples to Jerusalem—to His Passion and death on a cross, and, ultimately, to His Resurrection and the establishment of the Church. Thus Jerusalem represents not only Heaven but also the Way of the Cross as the only way to enter Heaven. Jesus makes it clear, then, that this journey to Jerusalem is not just some vacation pilgrimage. To follow Him means to give up everything: to “die” to the past and, with resolute determination, to turn full attention to the journey ahead.
In this passage, Christ was speaking to a man who—intellectually, at least—wanted to become a disciple, but who in his heart wanted to secure for himself his family inheritance. To go back and bury his father meant to arrange things so that when his father died, he would be secure. Christ knew all of this, so He said what He said, speaking directly to the lack of true faith in this man’s heart.
Letting the “dead bury the dead” means, therefore, to make a clear and total break with the spiritually dead—that is, with the spiritually “dead” world you’re leaving behind. When you resolve to travel to “Jerusalem,” you can’t look back. In that moment of conversion, the past means nothing, and the future becomes everything.

Our Real Social Obligations

Now, to us, in the world today, this passage has an additional—a psychological—meaning. Christians today must follow Jesus inspirit, not along a real dusty road to a real city plodding along behind the actual historical Jesus. So, yes, to follow Him in spirit we do have to die to the past, but we also have our real lives in this world with real social obligations. When our parents die, we really do have to bury them.
But there is more to life than its literal social obligations.

The Desire for Love and Recognition

“Letting the dead bury the dead” means that to live a genuine Christian life we have to give up our psychological desire to make the world—the spiritually “dead”—give us the love and recognition we believe we deserve.
Let me explain.
Let’s assume, for example, that your father is an alcoholic, or that your mother is a sort of professional “victim,” always complaining of being mistreated and treating everyone else with an acid tongue. Or maybe your parents weren’t quite this bad, but maybe they misunderstood you in other, more subtle, ways. In any event, you have been wounded deeply, and you have suffered greatly because of the inconsiderate behavior of others. You have felt unnoticed, unheard, and unloved. You have felt abandoned. You have felt rejected. So what can you do?
Well, in the past, as a result of all the hurt that was ever inflicted on you, just like your parents perhaps, you felt victimized. You complained about how poorly you were treated. And, in those complaints, you wanted unconsciously to show them—and the rest of the world around you—how much you have been hurt. And, in wanting to show them how much you have been hurt, you have wanted compensation—and, in some ways, you have wanted a compensation that is actually a form of revenge.
OK. So that’s what you have done according to the ways of theworld. You have done what everyone does in law, and politics, and sports: feel victimized and demand satisfaction for your hurt. And if you can’t get that satisfaction, you will become depressed and seek out erotic pleasure or drugs or alcohol or food to try to satisfy yourself. Or, you will try to tear down the Church through heresyand disobedience.

An End to Victimization

What does Jesus do when his disciples want to call down fire from heaven to avenge the insult they have received? Jesus rebukes them. (See Luke 9:54-55.)
That is, as a Christian, you have to respond to your hurt by “letting the dead bury the dead.” In other words, you have to stop trying to make the spiritually dead—your mother, your father, and anyone else who has ever hurt you—“love” you or give you the recognition you so desperately crave. Whenever you are injured, you have to realize that you cannot call down fire from heaven to avenge yourself. You cannot make the world treat you fairly. You cannot make the world love you. You cannot make the world notice you. Instead, you have to turn all your attention, with resolution and determination, to the real destination of your life: Jerusalem. Jerusalem, where all victimization must end, and where sufferingand death on a cross for the sake of others is the only path to true love—and the Kingdom of Heaven.
So there you have it. In the end, as you say, “I can’t do this”—but the full truth is that you can’t do it alone, without the grace of following Jesus to Jerusalem.
If you follow Jesus, you will have life.
If you reject Him, you are dead. Only the spiritually dead are concerned about their affairs in this world, so if you turn from Christ to go back and arrange things so that you can draw benefit from the world, you are dead. You are the dead trying to bury the dead.
Therefore, if you “complain” about how much you are being tested, you are dead. You’re simply defending your pride, feeling sorry for yourself and demanding that the world notice your pain. But being a Christian involves recognizing your feelings of hurt and then resolving to speak about them charitably and calmly withoutdemanding anything. If others listen to you, fine. Work with them to find a solution to the problem, as you have done by writing to me. And if they fail to hear you, well, pray for their repentance and let the dead bury the dead.

Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.

Question: Here’s a simple question that I think will stump you. Since marriage is a necessary, natural institution, it hardly seems necessary for it to be a sacrament. After all, marriage already existed before the sacraments. Why would Our Lord have to make marriage a sacrament?

Answer: Well, I’m afraid you didn’t stump me, but you did give me the opportunity to explain an important issue. There are actually two points that need to be made in answering your question. One is about marriage, the other is about sacraments in general.

In a certain sense, marriage is the original sacrament. St. Paul said, “Husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. No one ever hates his own body, but nourishes and fosters it, just as Christ does the Church, since we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, ‘and the two shall be as one flesh.’ This is a great sacrament, I mean it regards Christ and the Church” (Eph. 5:28-32).

Marriage symbolizes the union between God and the human race, a unity that is the purpose for which we were created. That’s why St. Paul cites Genesis 2 and relates the natural institution of marriage directly to the spousal relationship between Christ and the Church. This union was intended “from the beginning” to be realized in Christ the Incarnate Son of God, the Bridegroom of the Church, his mystical Body. St. Thomas Aquinas points out that the marriage of our first parents, Adam and Eve, was a sacrament signifying the union of Christ and the Church to be consummated in the glory of heaven (Summa Theologiae II-II, q.2, a.7). This means that marriage was already in a sense a “sacrament” pointing to Christ even before Adam and Eve, the first married couple, fell into sin.

Many Catholics forget that there have always been sacraments, instituted by God to express faith in Christ and the effects of faith in Him. All the rites and observances of the Old Covenant, circumcision, sacrifices, and so on, were “sacraments” of faith in the coming Savior and Messiah. These Old Testament “sacraments” symbolized and pointed toward the effects of His future coming. Yet all of these were established by God after the fall, and after the promise of a Redeemer from sin and death. But marriage is different. It preceded the Fall and was the original sacrament or sign of that union between God and Man. In fact, it was from the start intended by God to be an efficacious, that is “truly effective,” cause of grace. If there had been no Fall of Adam, sanctifying grace would have been transmitted simply by natural generation, the union of husband and wife. The priesthood and worship would have been a family matter under the priesthood of the Father of the household. So when Our Lord made the marriage a sacrament of the New Covenant, He was only bringing to perfection an institution which had always been in some sense a sacrament of God’s love for the human race. It’s interesting to note that the sacrament of marriage is the only sacrament which is discussed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in terms of the whole history of our race, from creation before the fall until Christ (CCC 1601-1617). Marriage is the primordial sacrament.

Now, in the light of all this you might ask, “So what’s new and different about Christ’s institution of marriage as a sacrament of the New Covenant?” Christ came into the world to overcome sin and death, things about which Adam and Eve were happily unaware on their “wedding day,” and so marriage in Christ is not only a sign of God’s union with humanity, but most particularly sign of the sacrificial love of the Cross. St. Thomas teaches that all the sacraments in some way indicate the power of Christ’s suffering and death. In the mutual offering of their lives and bodies one to the other, man and woman in marriage share in the love of Christ on the Cross. The liturgy of the Roman Church shows this beautifully in the Mass for the Celebration of Marriage, when the special “nuptial blessing” of the couple is given after the Our Father as the Body and Blood of the Lord are lying in sacrifice on the altar. It is then that the Church prays for the fruitfulness and fidelity of their union, uniting the mutual offering of the man and woman with the offering of Christ’s Body. As any faithful Catholic married couple will tell you, there is always some cross to bear in wedded life. The Holy Sacrament of Matrimony unites these to the Cross of Christ, the Bridegroom of his Church.

 Question Answered By FR. HUGH BARBOUR, O.PRAEM

Q & A On Our Catholic Faith

Posted: August 27, 2010 by CatholicJules in Great Catholic Articles, Questions & Answers

Below is a link to a PDF file on Our Catholic Faith for non-catholics who may be interested to know more.  The file can also be found on my widget bottom left of this blog.

God bless,

Non-Baptised Babies Goes To ‘Limbo’?

Posted: August 27, 2010 by CatholicJules in Questions & Answers

Question: My grandmother, who was taught the Faith from the Baltimore Catechism, told me that there is no way that a baby who dies without baptism can go to Heaven. She said that such a baby goes to a place called “limbo” where it is happy, but only in a natural way and not by seeing God in the beatific vision like the saints. But I read in the new Catechism that we can hope that there is a way that they can go to heaven. Has the Church changed?

Answer: Here’s what the Catechism says: “The Church does not know of any means other than baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude. As regards children who have died without baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them . . the great mercy of God allows us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without baptism.” (CCC 1257-1261) This is not essentially different from the Baltimore Catechism your grandmother learned. In fact, the Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent did not even mention limbo or the question of the salvation of unbaptized infants, so the older catechisms in use when your grandmother was a child, and even the new Catechism, supplement Trent’s teaching on the issue of salvation and baptism.

There have been, since the time of St. Augustine, various attempts to explain theologically the fate of unbaptized infants. St. Thomas and his followers held and taught the classical explanation of limbo, which you were taught. At the time of the Council of Trent, Cardinal Cajetan held the view that the desire of the parents to have their child baptized would be sufficient in the case of the child’s death.

Although there are other explanations, here’s the traditional and very consoling interpretation of the doctrine of limbo. First, remember that limbo is a doctrine very well developed and supported by theologians down through the centuries who have, in the words of the Catechism, “hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without baptism” (CCC 1261). In his book (published in French in 1959) The Salvific Will of God Towards Infants and Small Children, the great Swiss Cardinal, Charles Journet (A.D. 1891-1975), one of the few men made a cardinal because of his theological expertise, explained the doctrine of limbo in terms of salvation. According to Journet, children in limbo share in salvation because of the resurrection of Christ, in which it is absolutely certain they will share. Thus along with the natural happiness which is theirs because of their innocence, they will have the gifts of immortality and a happy social life with the rest of the human race, in particular with their parents. The fact that they don’t share in the beatific vision does not deprive them of the other real and necessary elements of human happiness, or the happy association with those who do possess the beatific vision. Cardinal Journet says they will know and love Christ as the cause of their resurrection. Their resurrection will be their share in the salvation won by Christ for the human race of which they are a part. This view has the happy characteristics of being based only on dogmatic certainties: the resurrection of the dead, the necessity of baptism for supernatural life, and of emphasizing that our salvation consists not only in the supernatural beatific vision, even though this is its essential aspect, but also in the miraculous restoration of natural life, the survival of our person because of Christ’s triumph over death.

Question Answered by FR. HUGH BARBOUR, O.PRAEM