Category Archives: Christianity

YOUCAT Series 23 – How We Celebrate the Christian Mysteries: The Seven Sacraments of the Church

Question 193
Christ, the original sacrament, is what unites all seven sacraments together.

Q. 193
From Lumen gentium No. 48:

Christ, having been lifted up from the earth has drawn all to Himself.(239) Rising from the dead(240) He sent His life-giving Spirit upon His disciples and through Him has established His Body which is the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation. Sitting at the right hand of the Father, He is continually active in the world that He might lead men to the Church and through it join them to Himself and that He might make them partakers of His glorious life by nourishing them with His own Body and Blood. Therefore the promised restoration which we are awaiting has already begun in Christ, is carried forward in the mission of the Holy Spirit and through Him continues in the Church in which we learn the meaning of our terrestrial life through our faith, while we perform with hope in the future the work committed to us in this world by the Father, and thus work out our salvation.(241)

Reflection Questions
• Why can’t science either prove or disprove God’s existence?
See Scientism and God’s Existence: A Commentary by Fr. Barron.

• What is wrong with the statement, ‘I’m personally opposed, but I can’t impose my values on others’?
See Personally Opposed, but Sleeping with the Enemy.

YOUCAT Series 22 – How We Celebrate the Christian Mysteries: How We Celebrate the Mysteries of Christ

Questions 179 to 192
In this section we explore the elements of the liturgy; its signs and symbols, the sacred music used, and the structure of church buildings. We also look at aspects such as the liturgical year, the importance of Sunday and the Divine Office.

Q. 179
See No.’s 52 – 55 of Sacramentum Caritatis.

Q. 180
See Sacramentum Caritatis No.’s 70 & 71.

Q. 181
From No. 41 of Sacramentum Caritatis:

The profound connection between beauty and the liturgy should make us attentive to every work of art placed at the service of the celebration. (122) Certainly an important element of sacred art is church architecture, (123) which should highlight the unity of the furnishings of the sanctuary, such as the altar, the crucifix, the tabernacle, the ambo and the celebrant’s chair. Here it is important to remember that the purpose of sacred architecture is to offer the Church a fitting space for the celebration of the mysteries of faith, especially the Eucharist. (124) The very nature of a Christian church is defined by the liturgy, which is an assembly of the faithful (ecclesia) who are the living stones of the Church (cf. 1 Pet 2:5).

This same principle holds true for sacred art in general, especially painting and sculpture, where religious iconography should be directed to sacramental mystagogy. A solid knowledge of the history of sacred art can be advantageous for those responsible for commissioning artists and architects to create works of art for the liturgy. Consequently it is essential that the education of seminarians and priests include the study of art history, with special reference to sacred buildings and the corresponding liturgical norms. Everything related to the Eucharist should be marked by beauty. Special respect and care must also be given to the vestments, the furnishings and the sacred vessels, so that by their harmonious and orderly arrangement they will foster awe for the mystery of God, manifest the unity of the faith and strengthen devotion (125).

Q. 182
No. 40, Sacramentum Caritatis:

Emphasizing the importance of the ars celebrandi also leads to an appreciation of the value of the liturgical norms. (121) The ars celebrandi should foster a sense of the sacred and the use of outward signs which help to cultivate this sense, such as, for example, the harmony of the rite, the liturgical vestments, the furnishings and the sacred space. The eucharistic celebration is enhanced when priests and liturgical leaders are committed to making known the current liturgical texts and norms, making available the great riches found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the Order of Readings for Mass. Perhaps we take it for granted that our ecclesial communities already know and appreciate these resources, but this is not always the case. These texts contain riches which have preserved and expressed the faith and experience of the People of God over its two-thousand-year history. Equally important for a correct ars celebrandi is an attentiveness to the various kinds of language that the liturgy employs: words and music, gestures and silence, movement, the liturgical colours of the vestments. By its very nature the liturgy operates on different levels of communication which enable it to engage the whole human person. The simplicity of its gestures and the sobriety of its orderly sequence of signs communicate and inspire more than any contrived and inappropriate additions. Attentiveness and fidelity to the specific structure of the rite express both a recognition of the nature of Eucharist as a gift and, on the part of the minister, a docile openness to receiving this ineffable gift.

Q. 183
See No. 42 of Sacramentum Caritatis:

In the ars celebrandi, liturgical song has a pre-eminent place. (126) Saint Augustine rightly says in a famous sermon that “the new man sings a new song. Singing is an expression of joy and, if we consider the matter, an expression of love” (127). The People of God assembled for the liturgy sings the praises of God. In the course of her two-thousand-year history, the Church has created, and still creates, music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love. This heritage must not be lost. Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration (128). Consequently everything – texts, music, execution – ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons (129). Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed (130) as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy (131).

Q. 184
Go to The Paradox of Prayer and Time.

Q. 185
See Restoring Sacred Time How the Liturgical Year deepens Catholic faith.

Q. 186
See General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calander.

Q. 187
See No.’s 72 – 74 of Sacramentum Caritatis.

Here is the quote from No. 73:

Living the Sunday obligation

73. Conscious of this new vital principle which the Eucharist imparts to the Christian, the Synod Fathers reaffirmed the importance of the Sunday obligation for all the faithful, viewing it as a wellspring of authentic freedom enabling them to live each day in accordance with what they celebrated on “the Lord’s Day.” The life of faith is endangered when we lose the desire to share in the celebration of the Eucharist and its commemoration of the paschal victory. Participating in the Sunday liturgical assembly with all our brothers and sisters, with whom we form one body in Jesus Christ, is demanded by our Christian conscience and at the same time it forms that conscience. To lose a sense of Sunday as the Lord’s Day, a day to be sanctified, is symptomatic of the loss of an authentic sense of Christian freedom, the freedom of the children of God. (206) Here some observations made by my venerable predecessor John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (207) continue to have great value. Speaking of the various dimensions of the Christian celebration of Sunday, he said that it is Dies Domini with regard to the work of creation, Dies Christi as the day of the new creation and the Risen Lord’s gift of the Holy Spirit, Dies Ecclesiae as the day on which the Christian community gathers for the celebration, and Dies hominis as the day of joy, rest and fraternal charity.

Sunday thus appears as the primordial holy day, when all believers, wherever they are found, can become heralds and guardians of the true meaning of time. It gives rise to the Christian meaning of life and a new way of experiencing time, relationships, work, life and death. On the Lord’s Day, then, it is fitting that Church groups should organize, around Sunday Mass, the activities of the Christian community: social gatherings, programmes for the faith formation of children, young people and adults, pilgrimages, charitable works, and different moments of prayer. For the sake of these important values – while recognizing that Saturday evening, beginning with First Vespers, is already a part of Sunday and a time when the Sunday obligation can be fulfilled – we need to remember that it is Sunday itself that is meant to be kept holy, lest it end up as a day “empty of God.” (208)

Q. 188
Read Sacrosanctum concilium No.’s 83 – 101 on the Divine Office and also The Divine Office as a Foundation of Culture: Why It Must Be Restored.

Q. 189
Go to Save the Liturgy Save the World from Father Z’s Blog.

Q. 190
Read 8 Reasons to go to Mass:

Our ancestors risked persecution, even death, to be able to take part in Mass. When you have children someday, they will need the graces and strength that come from the Mass. If you fail to pass it on because of your own indifference, you will do the gravest injustice to them and to God. You have the power to snuff out, in one generation, the faith that has sustained your family for generations. This is an enormous responsibility. You will have to answer to God for it.

Q. 191
See Chapter V of The General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

Q. 192
Read Liturgical Laws – Why They Matter.

Reflection Questions
• What is the principle of contradiction?
See 8 Things Everyone Should Know about the Principle of Contradiction.

• Which female saint has recently become a Doctor of the Church?
See St. Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church.

YOUCAT Series 21 – How We Celebrate the Christian Mysteries: God and the Sacred Liturgy

Questions 170 to 178
Here we look at the centrality of God and Jesus’ death and Resurrection to the liturgy; as well the roles faith, the sacraments and the liturgy play in our redemption.

Q. 170
Read Audience: Praying as the Body of Christ:

The liturgy is a “participation in Christ’s own prayer addressed to the Father in the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1073). The Church, as Christ’s Mystical Body and united with him, offers worship to the Father. By identifying ourselves with Christ in his prayer to the Father, we rediscover our deepest identity as Christians, as children of “Our Father who art in heaven”. The liturgy is also an encounter of the whole Christ, that is, with Christ and his body the Church. Thus, the liturgy is a sharing in the prayer of the living, universal community of believers in Christ. Prayer becomes the habitual realization of the presence of God, as we make the words of the Church our own, and learn to speak in her and through her. The Church is most truly itself in the liturgy, as it is the place where God comes to us and enters our lives. Let us remember that the liturgy is celebrated for God, not for us; it is his work; he is its subject. For our part, in the liturgy we must leave ourselves open to be guided by him and by his Body, the Church”.

Q. 171
See Pope Benedict: The Liturgy Lifts Our Hearts to God:

“As the Second Vatican Council teaches, it is by means of the liturgy that Christ, our Redeemer and High Priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with and through his Church. This is the great marvel of the liturgy: God acts, while we are caught up in his action,” the Pope said…

The people in question are the “new people of God, brought into being by Christ” through his passion, death and resurrection. This means it is a people “which does not exist by itself and which is not bound by blood, territory or country, but is brought into being through the paschal mystery,” the Pope noted.

Q. 172
From What are the seven Sacraments?:

Jesus Christ instituted the sacraments…There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian’s life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1210)The traditional definition of a sacrament is this: “A sacrament is a visible sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace”.

Q. 173
This question describes the effects of Sacramental Grace.

Q. 174
From A Tour of the SUMMA:

Man acquires intellectual knowledge from sense-knowledge. Therefore, sensible signs are aptly used to signify spiritual things. A sacrament is a sign that the senses can grasp; then the mind can read the intellectual and spiritual meaning which the sign is meant to convey. A sacrament is always an outer or sensible sign.

Q. 175
See Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

Q. 176
Again from A Tour of the SUMMA:

Not every sacrament of the New Law imprints an indelible character on the soul. Such a character is impressed by those sacraments which are ordained for divine worship and which give a person power to receive or confer other sacraments. Baptism empowers a person to receive other sacraments. Confirmation … has something of this same purpose. Holy order empowers the receiver to confer sacraments on others. Therefore, these three sacraments (baptism,confirmation, holy order), imprint, respectively, a character on the soul. A property of these sacraments is that they can be received only once by the same person. Their respective characters never fade or admit of renewal.

Q. 177
From Faith, Sacraments and the Unity of the Church:

15. The sacraments of the Church are “sacraments of faith” where God the Father hears the “epiclesis”. (invocation) in which the Church expresses its faith by this prayer for the coming of the Spirit. In them, the Father gives his Holy Spirit who leads us into the fullness of salvation in Christ. Christ himself constitutes the Church as his Body. The Holy Spirit edifies the Church. There is no gift in the Church which cannot be attributed to the Spirit. (Basil the Great, PG 30, 289). The sacraments are both gift and grace of the Holy Spirit, in Jesus Christ in the Church. This is expressed very concisely in an Orthodox hymn of Pentecost: “The Holy Spirit is the author of every gift. He makes prophecies spring forth. He renders priests perfect. He teaches wisdom to the ignorant. He makes fishermen into theologians and consolidates the institution of the Church”.

Q. 178
See the New Catholic Dictionary: ex opere operato.

Reflection Questions
• What is the hookup culture?
See ‘Hookup’ culture mentality creates social indifference

• What is Sola Scriptura?
See Why Sola Scriptura Cannot be True

Note: The iamthird blog is running a Youcat Series too! Check it out here.

YOUCAT Series 20 – How We Celebrate the Christian Mysteries: God Acts in Our Regard by Means of Sacred Signs

Questions 166 to 169
Part 2 of the Youcat focuses on the Sacraments. This first section dwells on the prominence of the liturgy; as this is where we are the closest to Christ on earth.

Q. 166
See Sacrosanctum concilium (The Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy from Vatican II):

47. At the Last Supper, on the night when He was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity [36], a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.

Q. 167
Read Sacrosanctum concilium No. 2;

2. For the liturgy, “through which the work of our redemption is accomplished,” [1] most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church. It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek [2]. While the liturgy daily builds up those who are within into a holy temple of the Lord, into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit [3], to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ [4], at the same time it marvelously strengthens their power to preach Christ, and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations [5] under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together [6], until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd [7].

Q. 168
The full text of Sacrosanctum concilium No. 10:

10. Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s supper.

The liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with “the paschal sacraments,” to be “one in holiness” [26]; it prays that “they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith” [27]; the renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way.

Q. 169
The effect of the sacraments is worth reflecting on generally, though here especially in the context of the liturgy;

59. The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the body of Christ, and, finally, to give worship to God; because they are signs they also instruct. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it; that is why they are called “sacraments of faith.” They do indeed impart grace, but, in addition, the very act of celebrating them most effectively disposes the faithful to receive this grace in a fruitful manner, to worship God duly, and to practice charity.

It is therefore of the highest importance that the faithful should easily understand the sacramental signs, and should frequent with great eagerness those sacraments which were instituted to nourish the Christian life. (Sacrosanctum concilium No. 59)

Reflection Questions
• What is the Culture of Death?
See Why do we call it a “Culture of Death”?

• What is NaPro Technology?
See NaPro Technology

Tip: An easy way to learn new prayers is to copy and paste them to the notes section of your tablet or smart phone!

YOUCAT Series 19 – What We Believe: “I Believe … in Life Everlasting

Questions 156 to 165
Among the topics studied in this section are the Personal Judgment, the Last Judgment; Heaven, Hell and Purgatory.

Q. 156
See The Vocation of the Soul to Eternal Life by St Edith Stein:

The individual soul with its unique individuality is thus not something transitory, destined merely to impress upon itself for a limited span of time the stamp of its specific particularity, and during this span of time to hand on this specific particularity to its progeny so as to preserve it beyond the duration of the life of the individual. Rather, the soul is destined for eternal being, and this destination explains why the soul is called upon to be an image of God in a wholly personal manner.

Q. 157
Read The Catholic Encyclopedia on Particular Judgment.

Q. 158
Go to Thirty-five Facts About Eternity by Peter Kreeft:

In the light of Heaven, everything we do and everything we experience takes on two new meanings. On the one hand, everything becomes infinitely more important, more serious, more weighted with glory than before. If we are practicing only for a casual pastime, our practice is not terribly important, but if we are practicing for the world championship, it is.

On the other hand, Heaven makes everything earthly seem light and trivial by comparison. Saint Theresa says that the most horrible, suffering-filled life on Earth, looked at from Heaven, will seem no more than a night in an inconvenient hotel. Saints and martyrs know the value of this life and this world; they love it because God loves it. But they lightly give it all up for Heaven.

Q. 159
See The Obvious Truth About Purgatory by Pope Benedict XVI:

A great many of us hope that there is something in us that can be saved, that there may be in us a final desire to serve God and serve human beings, to live in accordance with God. Yet there are so very many wounds, there is so much filth. We need to be prepared, to be purified. This is our hope: even with so much dirt in our souls, in the end the Lord will give us the possibility, he will wash us at last with his goodness that comes from his cross. In this way he makes us capable of being for him in eternity …

Q. 160
Read Purgatory and Prayer for the Dead:

But the practice of praying for the dead is very ancient. It goes back to Judaism and is mentioned in the second book of Maccabees (2 Mac. 12,43-46). The author tells how a number of Jews, who had fallen in battle, were found with idolatrous amulets, forbidden by the law, and how Judas Maccabeus took up a collection and sent the money to Jerusalem to have a sacrifice offered for their sin.

Q. 161
See How to Win the Culture War by Peter Kreeft.

Q. 162
Read Why Do Some Go To Hell If God Loves Them?:

Love doesn’t always equal nice, clean and pretty. Love isn’t about feeling good. It is about what is best for the other, despite the cost to myself. As a parent this is certainly the case. I see parents make the common mistake of being a friend to their children and end up not disciplining them, which leads to spoiled brats. They then ask how they could have turned out as they did. I remember the first time I punished my oldest child. I cried more than she did. But, I did it because I truly love her.

Q. 163
Read The Catholic Encyclopedia on General Judgment.

Q. 164
This explains the Catholic view compared to other Christian views on the end times.

Q. 165
Find out what the word ‘Amen’ means from here:

Amen is a Hebrew word related to the word for “believe”. It expresses solidity, trustworthiness, faithfulness. “Amen” expresses both God’s faithfulness towards us and our trust in him. (1062)
“Thus the Creed’s final ‘Amen’ repeats and confirms its first words: ‘I believe.’ To believe is to say ‘Amen’ to God’s words, promises and commandments; to entrust oneself completely to him who is the ‘Amen’ of infinite love and perfect faithfulness. The Christian’s everyday life will then be the ‘Amen’ to the ‘I believe’ of our baptismal profession of faith: ‘May your Creed be for you as a mirror. Look at yourself in it, to see if you believe everything you say you believe. And rejoice in your faith each day.'” (1064)
“Jesus Christ himself is the ‘Amen.’ He is the definitive ‘Amen’ of the Father’s love for us. He takes up and completes our ‘Amen’ to the Father: ‘For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God.'” (1065)

Reflection Questions
• What is Americanism?
See The Happy-Clappy, Individualist and Subjective Americanist Church.

• What is Humanism?
See True and False Humanism.

YOUCAT Series 18 – What We Believe: “I Believe in … the Resurrection of the Dead”

Questions 152 to 155
Jesus in His resurrection from the dead models for us our own bodily resurrection and redemption in both body and soul.

Q. 152
See Resurrection of the Dead.

Q. 153
See Homily on the Resurrection of the Body Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time Luke 20-27-38:

The atheist Karl Marx called religion “the opiate of the people” because he thought our belief in the resurrection led us to be unconcerned about establishing justice on this earth. On the contrary, our faith in the Resurrection should lead us to be more concerned about fighting injustice. In his encyclical on the Eucharist Pope John Paul II wrote “Certainly the Christian vision leads to the expectation of “new heavens” and “a new earth” (Rev 21:1), but this increases, rather than lessens, our sense of responsibility for the world today. I wish to reaffirm this forcefully at the beginning of the new millennium, so that Christians will feel more obliged than ever not to neglect their duties as citizens in this world. Theirs is the task of contributing with the light of the Gospel to the building of a more human world, a world fully in harmony with God’s plan. (Ecclesia de Eucharistia #20)

Q. 154
See The Case for Life After Death by Peter Kreeft.

Q. 155
From St Therese the Little Flower’s autobiography called ” Story of a Soul”:

O Eternal Word! O my Saviour! Thou art the Divine Eagle Whom I love—Who lurest me. Thou Who, descending to this land of exile, didst will to suffer and to die, in order to bear away the souls of men and plunge them into the very heart of the Blessed Trinity—Love’s Eternal Home! Thou Who, reascending into inaccessible light, dost still remain concealed here in our vale of tears under the snow-white semblance of the Host, and this, to nourish me with Thine own substance! O Jesus! forgive me if I tell Thee that Thy Love reacheth even unto folly. And in face of this folly, what wilt Thou, but that my heart leap up to Thee? How could my trust have any limits?

(I highly recommend reading it all)!

Reflection Questions
• Does how we dress matter?
See Modesty and God.
• What is the new atheism?
Watch “God is Dead”.

Note: You can subscribe to the YOUCAT posts on Facebook @ facebook.com/YOUCAT.org

YOUCAT Series 17 – What We Believe: “I Believe in … the Forgiveness of Sins”

Questions 150 to 151
This section looks at why priests have the authority to forgive sin, and at the different ways in which our sins are forgiven.

Q. 150
See Your Sins are Forgiven.

Q. 151
See What is meant in the Apostles’ Creed by “the forgiveness of sins”:

The sin against the Holy Ghost which Christ warned us would not be forgiven in heaven or on earth is persistent impenitence, the sin of one who rejects conversion and dies in mortal sin. One guilty of this sin can never obtain forgiveness of God, because at the hour of death he continues to thrust God away from him.

Reflection Questions
• What is therapeutic deism?
See Coming Apart, and Back Together?
• Should chivalry only be a thing of the past?
See Courtship, Etiquette, and the Adolescent Male

YOUCAT Series 16 – What We Believe: “I Believe in … the Communion of Saints”

Questions 146 to 149
A discussion on the Communion of Saints and the significance of the Blessed Virgin Mary who has a preeminent place in the Communion as Our Holy Mother.

Q. 146
See The Communion of Saints.

Q. 147
For this, read Homily on the Feast of the Assumption Pope Benedict XVI, 2005:

Thus, Mary speaks with us, speaks to us, invites us to know the Word of God, to love the Word of God, to live with the Word of God, to think with the Word of God. And we can do so in many different ways: by reading Sacred Scripture, by participating especially in the Liturgy, in which Holy Church throughout the year opens the entire book of Sacred Scripture to us. She opens it to our lives and makes it present in our lives.

Q. 148
Go to Now and at the Hour of Our Death:

What we need is the liturgy, the rote prayers, the Rosary, and the grief of God’s Son and Sorrowful Mother, crying our bitter tears in the Sorrowful Mysteries and reassuring us of the adamantine truth of the Glorious Mysteries. Here we discover the great truth that it is precisely in what is common to all men and women that we discover what is also most intensely personal – the joys, griefs, and glories of human existence that are the common patrimony of us all. It is here, in the ordinary public prayers of the Church and not in some mystic cave of contemplation far from the madding crowd, where we meet again the profound consolation of the Mother of Sorrows who sits enthroned in Heaven, reminding us that she too has been through the Worst Thing in the World – and that even that could not defeat the incredible Hope of the Risen Christ. This hope she freely shares with us in the astonishing promise that she shall indeed remember you to her Son at that most inevitable hour of your life: when it ends and you are born to eternal life.

Q. 149
See Veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of God”.

Reflection Questions
• How can consumerism distort the Christian message?
See Marriage as a consumer product
• What are the dangers involved in reading erotica?
See I’m Not Reading “Fifty Shades of Grey”

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YOUCAT Series 15 – What We Believe: I Believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church

Questions 129 to 145
A close look at the four conditions that establish the truth of the Church and what this means for us as believers.

Q. 129
This question is very well written about here.

Q. 130
See Saint Augustine On Non-Catholic Christians as “Brothers”;

Those then who tell us: You are not our brothers, are saying that we are pagans. That is why they want to baptise us again, claiming that we do not have what they can give. Hence their error of denying that we are their brothers. Why then did the prophet tell us: Say to them: You are our brothers? It is because we acknowledge in them that which we do not repeat. By not recognising our baptism, they deny that we are their brothers; on the other hand, when we do not repeat their baptism but acknowledge it to be our own, we are saying to them: You are our brothers.

If they say, “Why do you seek us? What do you want of us?” we should reply: You are our brothers. They may say, “Leave us alone. We have nothing to do with you.” But we have everything to do with you, for we are one in our belief in Christ; and so we should be in one body, under one head.

And so, dear brothers, we entreat you on their behalf, in the name of the very source of our love, by whose milk we are nourished, and whose bread is our strength, in the name of Christ our Lord and his gentle love. For it is time now for us to show them great love and abundant compassion by praying to God for them. May he one day give them a clear mind to repent and to realise that they have nothing now but the sickness of their hatred, and the stronger they think they are, the weaker they become. We entreat you then to pray for them, for they are weak, given to the wisdom of the flesh, to fleshly and carnal things, but yet they are our brothers. They celebrate the same sacraments as we, not indeed with us, but still the same. They respond with the same Amen, not with us, but still the same. And so pour out your hearts for them in prayer to God.

Saint Augustine, Ex Enarratiónibus sancti Augustíni epíscopi in psalmos (Ps 32, 29: CCL 38, 272-273).

Q. 131
See the Encyclical Ut Unum Sint on the commitment to ecumenism:

2. No one is unaware of the challenge which all this poses to believers. They cannot fail to meet this challenge. Indeed, how could they refuse to do everything possible, with God’s help, to break down the walls of division and distrust, to overcome obstacles and prejudices which thwart the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation in the Cross of Jesus, the one Redeemer of man, of every individual?

Q. 132
See The Church is Holy.

Q. 133
See How Did the Catholic Church Get Her Name?

Q. 134
This is superb:

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you”. Lord, you desire us, you desire me. You eagerly desire to share yourself with us in the Holy Eucharist, to be one with us. Lord, awaken in us the desire for you. Strengthen us in unity with you and with one another. Grant unity to your Church, so that the world may believe. Amen.

Q. 135
Full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s quote on p. 84.

Q. 136
See Religious Freedom, Path to Peace:

Religious freedom expresses what is unique about the human person, for it allows us to direct our personal and social life to God, in whose light the identity, meaning and purpose of the person are fully understood. To deny or arbitrarily restrict this freedom is to foster a reductive vision of the human person; to eclipse the public role of religion is to create a society which is unjust, inasmuch as it fails to take account of the true nature of the human person; it is to stifle the growth of the authentic and lasting peace of the whole human family.

Also Nostra aetate from Vatican II.

Q. 137
See the Catholic Encyclopedia on Apolstolicity.

Q. 138
See Church Hierarchy:

When he established His Church, Jesus placed the Apostles in charge of caring for the faithful, of teaching them the faith and caring for their souls. And He placed Peter at the head of the Apostles. Through Apostolic Succession, that same hierarchy willed by Jesus, exists today in the Church with the Pope (the successor of St Peter) at her head, leading the Bishops (the successors of the Apostles) who themselves lead the faithful in their local Churches.

Q. 139
See Decree on the Apostalate of the Laity.

Q. 140
See The Church Isn’t a Democracy.

Q. 141
See What is the Role of the Pope and The Magisterium or Teaching Authority of the Church.

Q. 142
Here is a letter about the removal of a bishop who publically went against the magisterium.

Q. 143
A very good discussion on The Church’s Magisterium:

The Magisterium is a wonderful gift from God. Faithfulness to it will preserve us from intellectual slavery to trendy theology, personal prejudices, secularism, and all the other forces that threaten to rob us of the truth.

Q. 144
See The Duties of the Bishop:

The Bishop is a representative of Christ, commissioned to bear witness to him, to speak in his name, and to preserve all that has been handed down by means of the apostolic body. “And what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well.”

Q. 145
See Chastity, Poverty and Obedience:

Truth Shall Set You Free
“[Jesus’] way of living in chastity, poverty and obedience appears as the most radical way of living the Gospel on this earth, a way which may be called divine, for it was embraced by him, God and man… This is why Christian tradition has always spoken of the objective superiority of the consecrated life” (John Paul II, On Consecrated Life, n. 18).
Don’t let the world get you down. Be strong and know that if you long to give yourself fully to God through chastity, poverty and obedience, you aspire to a noble way. Such was the path chosen by Our Lord. Such is the way he chooses for many privileged souls who come after him.
If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me (Mt 19:21).

Reflection Questions
• What does the term ‘banality of evil’ mean?
See Eichmann, the Banality of Evil, and Thinking in Arendt’s Thought

• What is the sin of human respect?
See A Reflection on the Sin of Human Respect and its Antidote, the Holy Fear of the Lord

YOUCAT Series 14 – What We Believe: “I Believe in … the Holy Catholic Church”

Questions 121 to 128
This section talks about what the Church is and the role of the Church and its members.

Q. 121
See What does Church mean?

Q. 122
Go to Lumen GentIum (from Vatican II on the Church):

He [God] planned to assemble in the holy Church all those who would believe in Christ. Already from the beginning of the world the foreshadowing of the Church took place. It was prepared in a remarkable way throughout the history of the people of Israel and by means of the Old Covenant.(1*) In the present era of time the Church was constituted and, by the outpouring of the Spirit, was made manifest. At the end of time it will gloriously achieve completion, when, as is read in the Fathers, all the just, from Adam and “from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,”(2*) will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church.

Q. 123
The essential nature and task of the Church:

… [T]he only truly independent mind … [is] the Church. And that keeping her company, entering into her, entrusting yourself to her faith–which is allegedly being nothing but infantile and dependent–represents in reality the greatest degree of independence from the spirit of the age and signifies greater boldness than is embodied in any other possible position. …That is not an infantile dependence; that is courage to contradict and the freedom to go against prevailing opinions, the freedom that offers us a firm footing and which the Church has not invented for herself.’ – Cardinal Ratzinger (Full text)

Q. 124
To gain a better understanding of this concept, read the comments section of this blog called Institution of the Catholic Church by Christ.

Q. 125
See Vatican II: the Church as the people of God.

Q. 126
Read the Encyclical on the Mystical Body of Christ:

13. If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ – which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church [12] – we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression “the Mystical Body of Christ” – an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Fathers.

Q. 127
For this question read hereSt Cyril of Jerusalem and the Church as the Bride of Christ and here.

Q. 128
On the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

Reflection Questions
• How does faith enlighten reason?
See Augustine: Reason and Faith, Philosophy and God

• What is transhumanism?
See Transhumanists Selling their Technological “Utopia” to Christians