Category Archives: Jesus

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 13 – What We Believe: I Believe in the Holy Spirit

Questions 113 to 120
This section covers concepts such as the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus, the Church, as well as ourselves.

Q. 113
Go to the encyclical Dominum et vivificantem, on the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and the world by Pope John Paul II (1986).

Q. 114
Here is the full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s homily quote on page 73. Other than discussing the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus, it has a great focus on freedom, responsibility & unity.

Q. 115
See Some unusual symbols of the Holy Spirit.

Q. 116
See The Holy Spirit and Prophesy:

In the Old Testament a prophet is not primarily one who predicts the future. The idea of a prophet as one who predicts future events is a popular conception that corresponds with only a part of the function of the true prophet. A prophet is simply someone, inspired by God, who speaks in the name of God and who expresses God’s commands or his promises.

Q. 117
An extremely difficult concept to understand is how Our Lady can be the “Mother of God”; perhaps something that you have never really given much thought to previously. Below are several different sources that talk on this subject:

The Holy Spirit and Mary by Dwight P. Campbell.

Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate by Mark I Miravale.

– Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, Pope John Paul II.

An Unfathomable Marian Richness by Michael D. O’Brien.

Q. 118
See Living the gifts of Pentecost.

Q. 119
This piece is very uplifting:

One of my life-changing spiritual experiences was studying the letter of Pope Paul VI, On Evangelization in the Modern World. In the final chapter of that letter, the pope talks about the role of the Holy Spirit in evangelization. The key sentence reads, “It must be said that the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization: It is he who impels each individual to proclaim the gospel, and it is he who…causes the word of salvation to be accepted and understood.”

Q. 120
See Novena to the Holy Spirit for the seven gifts.

Reflection Questions
• How does modernism effect the Church?
See Modernism Hits the Jackpot, and Loses…Again.

• Is it ok to go to confession during Mass?
See Questions Answered: On Confession during Mass, and homilies given by non-ordained person.

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YOUCAT Series 12 – What We Believe: I Believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God

Questions 71 to 112
An in-depth examination of the meaning of the person of Jesus Christ, as laid out for us by the Creed.

Q. 71
See This is the Message We Proclaim.

Q. 72
An explanation on what the name Jesus means from an article named, The Holy Name of Jesus:

The name Jesus comes from the Greek Iesous which was derived from the Aramaic, Yeshu. It means “Yaweh is salvation.” The name was not unique, even in biblical times, and today it is common in Arabic-speaking East and in Spanish-speaking countries. From apostolic times the name has been treated with the greatest respect, as honor is due the name which represents Our Lord, himself.

The Holy Name of Jesus is, first of all, an all-powerful prayer. Our Lord Himself solemnly promises that whatever we ask the Father in His Name we shall receive. God never fails to keep His word.

When, therefore, we say, “Jesus,” let us ask God for all we need with absolute confidence of being heard. For this reason, the Church ends her prayer with the words, “through Jesus Christ,” which gives the prayer a new and Divine efficacy.

But the Holy Name is something still greater.

Each time we say, “Jesus,” we give God infinite joy and glory, for we offer Him all the infinite merits of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. St. Paul tells us that Jesus merited the Name Jesus by His Passion and Death.

Each time we say “Jesus,” let us clearly wish to offer God all the Masses being said all over the world for all our intentions. We thus share in these thousands of Masses.

Each time we say “Jesus,” we gain indulgences for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, thus relieving and liberating very many of these holy souls from their awful pains. Thus they may be our best friends and pray for us—–they cannot pray for themselves, however.

Each time we say “Jesus,” it is an act of perfect love, for we offer to God the infinite love of Jesus.

The Holy Name of Jesus saves us from innumerable evils and delivers us especially from the power of the devil, who is constantly seeking to do us harm.

The Holy Name of Jesus gradually fills our souls with a peace and joy we never had before.

The Holy Name of Jesus gives us strength that our sufferings become light and easy to bear.

Q. 73
For more information on this, go here.

Q. 74
See this, and from an article called Begotten, not made: The grammar of Christmas:

That Christ was before there was a “was” is a grammatical remark that suggests that Christ is not some subsequent thought God might have had, but rather that whatever it means to say God means we must also say Christ. Unlike us there was or is no time when Christ was not.

This reality – that is, that there was never a time when Christ was not – forced the church to say what we say when we say God is three in one. That is why we say Sunday after Sunday, “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.” “Begotten, not made” is a grammatical remark.

Q. 75
From Why we call Jesus “Lord”;

Jesus Christ is Our Lord, the Son of God the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, true God and true Man. We call Him “Our Lord” because as God He is Lord and Master of all, and as our Saviour He redeemed us with His Blood.

Christ is our Creator, Redeemer, Lawgiver. Teacher, and judge. All these we mean when we say Our Lord. St. Paul says: “He is the Blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords … to whom be honor and everlasting dominion. Amen” (1 Tim. 6: 15,16).

Q. 76
Two extremely insightful articles on the Incarnation:

Why Did God Become Man ? By Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.

Infinity dwindled to infancy: The why of Christmas By George Weigel.

Q. 77
See The Son is Equal to the Father.

Q. 78
See An absolute mystery:

Involved are both the meaning of man himself and the revealed reality of the Holy Trinity, for when we say that “God became man”, we mean that the Word of God, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, united to himself a human nature. So God became in Jesus as we are. It is the defined, official teaching of the Church that the Incarnation, as a term of the divine action, is the mysterious union of the divine nature and the human nature in the Person of the Word. This is also called the “Hypostatic Union”, since the union of the divine nature and the human nature takes place in the Person of the Word. Hypostatic is the Greek word for “personal”.

Q. 79
See The Enfleshment of God.

Q. 80
See Was Mary a Perpetual Virgin?

Q. 81
From Mary: Ever Virgin:

An important historical document which supports the teaching of Mary’s perpetual virginity is the Protoevangelium of James, which was written probably less than sixty years after the conclusion of Mary’s earthly life (around A.D. 120), when memories of her life were still vivid in the minds of many.

The article goes on to use direct quotes from the Protoevangelium, including dialect between an angel of the Lord and Our Lady’s mother, St Anne.

Q. 82
For a discussion of the meaning of Theotokos (God-bearer), go to Chapter II of Bl. Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical on the Dignity and Vocation of Women.

Q. 83
See Immaculate Conception and Assumption:

It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived “by the power of the Holy Spirit,” in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what “immaculate” means: without stain. The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, and its stain is a corrupt nature. Mary was preserved from these defects by God’s grace; from the first instant of her existence she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the corrupt nature original sin brings.

Q. 84
This page has a list of Saints quotes on the necessity of devotion to Our Lady for salvation.

Here is but one:

O chosen Queen of Heaven! You alone are the refuge of guilty mortals to whom so many a tearful eye, so many a wounded and miserable heart is raised . . .
You, O elect Queen, are the gate of all grace, the door of compassion that has never yet been shut!

Bl. Henry Suso

Q. 85
From Mary is Our Mother:

Looking first at Scripture, the principal basis for the doctrine of Mary as Spiritual Mother of all humanity is found in the Gospel of John. In this scene, Mary is at Calvary at the foot of the Cross with John, the beloved disciple. John tells us, “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother’” (John 19: 26-27). Throughout the Church’s history, numerous popes, theologians, and writers have confirmed their belief that here John is symbolic of all humanity. In other words, that Jesus from the Cross gave His Mother to every human person for all time.

Q. 86
Here is the full text of the quote used in this question.

It is a great look at the errors of feminism and how to establish a “new feminism”.

Q. 87
From Why was Jesus Baptised?

In Christ’s baptism we can find a reflection of the way the sacrament of Baptism affects a person. Christ’s baptism was the exemplar of our own. In it the mystery of the Blessed Trinity was revealed, and the faithful, on receiving Baptism, are consecrated by the invocation of and by the power of the Blessed Trinity. Similarly, heaven opening signifies that the power, the effectiveness, of this sacrament comes from above, from God, and that the baptized have the road to heaven opened up for them, a road which original sin had closed. Jesus’ prayer after his baptism teaches us that “after Baptism man needs to pray continually in order to enter heaven; for though sins are remitted through Baptism, there still remains the inclination to sin which assails us from within, and also the flesh and the devil which assails us from without” (St, Thomas, ibid., III, q. 39, a. 5).

Q. 88
See here:

The Holy Spirit led Jesus into a huge fifteen-by-thirty-five mile desert between the mountain of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea so that He could pray to the Father about the public ministry which He was about to commence. He prayed and fasted for an incredible forty days, which obviously would have left Him physically weak and famished. It was at this moment that the Devil came to Him to tempt Him. Much like God the Father had once allowed Job to be tested, the same Father allowed His Son to be tempted. The first temptation was aimed right at Jesus’ tremendous hunger: ‘If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of Bread.’ Jesus had come to save people, to feed their most important hunger — the hunger of their souls. Jesus refused to change a stone into bread for the devil; but for us, His beloved flock, He changes bread into His own flesh and blood for He is the word that comes from the mouth of God and God wants to put that Word in our mouths. Let us not presumptuously tempt God by receiving Him and then going out and live in a way incompatible with the Gift we receive. Let us, rather, “worship Him, the Lord our God, and serve Him alone.”

Q. 89
Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Q. 90
See a reflection on miracles by St Augustine from his book City of God.

Q. 91
See Miracles: Signs of God’s Presence.

Q. 92
This is a great page on the 12 Apostles of the Catholic Church. You can click on each Apostle and go to a link about them.

Q. 93
Here Pope Benedict XVI talks about the Transfiguration:

In his address before the Angelus on August 6, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI described how the events of the transfiguration display Christ as the “full manifestation of God’s light.”

This light, which shines forth from Christ both at the transfiguration and after his resurrection, is ultimately triumphant over “the power of the darkness of evil.”

The Pope stressed that the feast of the Transfiguration is an important opportunity for believers to look to Christ as “the light of the world,” and to experience the kind of conversion which the Bible frequently describes as an emergence from darkness to light.

“In our time too,” Pope Benedict said, “we urgently need to emerge from the darkness of evil, to experience the joy of the children of light!”

Q. 94
See How did the messianic entrance into Jerusalem come about?

Q. 95
What I took away from reading this is that prior to the Exodus, just as whoever didn’t participate in the eating of the lamb and putting the lamb’s blood on their door, lost their first-born. We too risk losing our souls if we knowingly don’t participate in the sacrifice of the Mass on Sunday (See Q. 365).

Q. 96
See Who Killed Jesus?

Q. 97
See Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, n. 4:

True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ;(13) still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.

Q. 98
See Lenten Grace!

Home to the Father. To Abba, who waits for us with arms as outstretched as those of His Only Begotten Son on the Cross. O Holy exchange on the cross – my death in exchange for His life, my sin for His salvation, my shame for His glory. Epitomised in the exchange of Jesus for Barabbas. We (Barabbas stands for each one of us) who were guilty, were set free and He took our place (scapegoat – Leviticus Chapter 16). He took our punishment so we could become Bar-Abba (Son of the Father).

Q. 99
See Homily of his holiness Benedict XVI, Basilica of St John Lateran, Holy Thursday, 21 April 2011:

“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. 100
See Pope Benedict XVI on fear of death.

Q. 101
From Good Friday:

It is fitting that Christians glorify the Cross as a sign of Christ’s resurrection and victory over sin and death, of course. But we should remember each time we see a cross that the Cross of Jesus’ crucifixion was an emblem of physical anguish and personal defilement, not triumph-of debasement and humiliation, not glory-of degradation and shame, not beauty. It was a means of execution, like a gallows or a gas chamber. What the Son of God endured for us was the depth of ugliness and humiliation. We need to be reminded of the tremendous personal cost of love.

As Lent advances we contemplate the redeeming Mystery of the Cross which aids the Church in her pursuit of the renewal of the faithful. The image of the Cross may help each of us to learn more fully the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice, and how we are to imitate His example. We can hope that our prayers which focus on the Crucifixion of our Lord will help atone for our own sins and the many grave sins of our society.

And from the encyclical Deus Caritas Est n. 6:

In these words, Jesus portrays his own path, which leads through the Cross to the Resurrection: the path of the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, and in this way bears much fruit. Starting from the depths of his own sacrifice and of the love that reaches fulfilment therein, he also portrays in these words the essence of love and indeed of human life itself.

Q. 102
See Offering it Up.

Q. 103
See The Blood and Water from His Side:

If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Master’s side. The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the holy eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. So also with the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.

Q. 104
From Pope Benedict XVI:

You have made a very appropriate choice, putting the Risen Jesus Christ at the centre of the Convention’s attention, and of all the life and witness of the Church in Italy. The Resurrection of Christ is a fact that occurred in history, of which the Apostles were witnesses and certainly not its inventors. At the same time, it was not simply a return to our earthly life. Instead, it is the greatest “mutation” that ever occurred, the decisive “jump” towards a profoundly new dimension of life, the entry into a decidedly different order that regards above all Jesus of Nazareth, but with him also us, the whole human family, history and the entire universe.

This is why the Resurrection of Christ is the centre of the preaching and the Christian witness from the beginning and until the end of time. Certainly, it is a great mystery, the mystery of our salvation, which finds its fulfilment in the Resurrection of the Incarnate Word and both anticipates and guarantees our hope. But the mark of this mystery is love, and only in the logic of love can it be brought close and somehow understood: Jesus Christ risen from the dead, because all of his being is perfectly and intimately united with God who is love, which is truly stronger than death.

He was one with indestructible Life and therefore he could give his own life, letting himself be killed, but he could not succumb to death definitively: at the Last Supper he concretely anticipated and accepted out of love his own death on the Cross, thus transforming it into the gift of himself, that gift which gives us life, liberty and salvation.

His Resurrection, therefore, has been like an explosion of light, an explosion of love that melts the chains of sin and death. It inaugurated a new dimension of life and reality, from which the new world comes forth, that continuously penetrates our world, transforming it and drawing it to himself.

Q. 105
See The Glorified Body of Jesus:

In order to confirm the faith of his disciples in his Resurrection, Jesus had to convince them that it was really he. All four Gospels mention the Resurrection, and each gives some details regarding the appearances (cf. Mk 28; Mk 16; Lk 24; Jn 20-21). First of all, they recognized him in his physical appearance — his body was the same body, though transformed, that they had known during the preceding three years. Thomas doubted, so the Lord said to him: “Put your finger here and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing” (Jn 20:27). To all the assembled disciples, he said: “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Lk 24:39).

Q. 106
See On the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A Catholic View:

Why is the resurrection of the body important? The bodily resurrection is key to not only the belief in the resurrection, but also other tenets of the Christian faith (e.g. the Sacraments). First, it is a continuation of the Incarnation. God’s loving identification with his people is in both death and the victory over death. Second, the bodily resurrection affirms the goodness of and God’s lordship over the created realm. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s original purpose for mankind is fulfilled. We were created for a bodily existence and are redeemed by Jesus Christ in that state. The bodily resurrection also finalizes and affirms the redemption of all creation begun when God become man in the Incarnation. Third, the bodily resurrection has important ethical implications. Because the redemption of the world has come through the created order, it demonstrates how highly God values the created order and specifically the body. Our bodies can and must be dedicated to God’s glory now. This forms the basis for not only personal holiness, but also social justice. How we treat others, in the now, in the material realm, matters. Redemption did not occur in the some abstract spiritual realm, but in history, in creation. Thus, the living of God’s kingdom is now, in creation, not just in some future spiritual state.

Q. 107
See The Resurrection of Christ: the basis of our Faith.

Q. 108
From here:

Because of Jesus’ Resurrection, death is not what it seems to be. It is not the end, but the beginning of a new type of life for the saved. While remaining human beings of flesh and blood, we shall all be transformed (1 Cor 15:51) into “spiritual bodies” (1 Cor 15:44). And God plans, in the fullness of time, ” to unite all things in him (Christ), things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10).

Q. 109
From Fr Kenneth Baker;

The Ascension of Jesus can be defined as the transfer of his risen, glorious body to heaven, that is, to the world of the divine. In the Old Testament, God is described in some texts as “descending” from heaven to accomplish something on earth; he then “ascends” or returns to the world of the divine. Jesus himself speaks of descending to this earth and ascending again to the Father once his work of redemption has been accomplished (cf. Jn 3:13, Eph 4:10).

Q. 110
See The Glory of the Lord.

Q. 111
See The Second Coming:

By the expression “the Second Coming”, we are referring to the Christian belief in the words of Jesus that he will come again in glory to judge all men. The Parousia will signal the end of human history as we know it. When this will take place no one knows but the Father (Acts 1:11), nor is there any clear indication in Scripture of just how it will be accomplished.

Q. 112
See Jesus Will Judge the Living and the Dead:

When the Creed says that Jesus will judge “the living and the dead”, it means that he will judge all men — past, present and future. No person will escape his judgment. Since all men are subject to sin (Rom 5), they are all likewise subject to death (Rom 6:23). Even Christ and Mary had to die. Some have interpreted “the living” in the Creed to mean those in a state of grace, and “the dead” to mean those in sin. However, “the living” can also mean those who are still on this earth at the time of the Second Coming. Since all men are subject to death, the most probable meaning is that they will die and be brought before the judgment seat of Christ in an instant.

Reflection Questions
• What is body-self dualism?
See Dualistic Delusions

• What is Devotion of Divine Mercy?
See Background of the Divine Mercy Devotion

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YOUCAT Series 11 – What We Believe: Fallen Man

Questions 67 to 70
A closer look at man’s fallen nature due to original sin; our inclination to sin, or reject God, and the knowledge that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Savior.

Q. 67
In this passage called The Catholic View of Sin, it gives a quick snapshot of the Church’s teaching on sin; including mortal and venial sin, indulgences and then focuses some important issues;

Catholic theology divides the punishment for sin into two parts: eternal and temporal (‘temporal’ in this context means lasting only for a limited period of time). Normally, the eternal punishment for sin can be remitted through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as we saw above. However, the church maintains that there is still a temporal punishment to be borne, as all sin is an affront to God. This then leads to the idea of Purgatory as a place where unremitted sin can be removed in the afterlife.

Q. 68
Original sin as looked at in Theology of the Body;

As an expression and symbol of the covenant with God broken in man’s heart, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil delimits and contrasts two diametrically opposed situations and states: that of original innocence and that of original sin, and at the same time man’s hereditary sinfulness which derives from it. However, Christ’s words, which refer to the “beginning,” enable us to find in man an essential continuity and a link between these two different states or dimensions of the human being.

Here is the full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s quotation in this question also.

Q. 69
From Sins of Omission by Archbishop, Cardinal Henry Edward Manning;

Every day of your life pray God to give you light to see yourselves just as He sees you now: to show you what sin is in all its hideousness, in all its subtlety, and to show you those secret sins which now you do not see in yourselves. Every day of your life ask this of God. Remember the young man who came to our Lord, and asked what he should do to inherit the kingdom of Heaven. Our Lord said: “Sell all thou hast and give to the poor, and come and follow me.” (Matt. 19:21).

Q. 70
A great discussion on salvation: Defining Salvation and its 4 Individual Aspects: Sanctification, Redemption, Forgiveness, and Justification

Also, here from the encyclical on the Redeemer of Man;

The Church’s fundamental function in every age and particularly in ours is to direct man’s gaze, to point the awareness and experience of the whole of humanity towards the mystery of God, to help all men to be familiar with the profundity of the Redemption taking place in Christ Jesus. At the same time man’s deepest sphere is involved-we mean the sphere of human hearts, consciences and events.

Reflection Questions
• What is Phenomenology?
See: Philosophy: Edith Stein & the call of the philosophical life

• What is Postmodernism?
See: 7 characteristics of postmodernism in Generation Y

YOUCAT Series 7 – What We Believe: I Believe in God the Father

Questions 30 to 48
The remaining questions in Part 1 hone in more closely on the contents of the Creed. Here we will be looking specifically at God the Father.

I’m using a great deal of links to broaden your knowledge of the concepts in the YOUCAT this time. I hope you gain insight from them.

Q. 30
Although I am trying to not just cite the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1997) in our study, it is worth reading what it says about the One God,

These are the words with which the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed begins. The confession of God’s oneness, which has its roots in the divine revelation of the Old Covenant, is inseparable from the profession of God’s existence and is equally fundamental…Jesus himself affirms that God is “the one Lord” whom you must love “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength”.

Q. 31
The General Directory For Catechesis explains why God gave Himself a name;

– Jesus, with the Kingdom, proclaims and reveals that God is not a distant inaccessible Being, “a remote power without a name” (332) but a Father, who is present among his creatures and whose power is his love.

Q. 32
Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote a wonderful encyclical on the splendor of truth, I highly recommend reading it when you have time.

Q. 33
Many people today have no idea of the concept of real love -that love is always coupled with suffering. Pope Benedict goes to explain,

“God has so loved us that he gave himself up for us: This is the message of the Cross, ‘mystery of death and of glory. ‘The cross reminds us that there is no true love without suffering, there is no gift of life without pain,”

Q. 34
So much wisdom in this question! How often, even during the day, when, on the whole, we are trying to put God first in our lives, do we slip up and think we will find fulfillment in our own wants?

This has some helpful strategies to help put God first in our lives.

Q. 35
On the Trinity,

[T]he concrete saving way that God gives grace to us corresponds to three distinct, interrelated ways of existing within God’s own being. God exists in a threefold manner, as first, second and third person, or as radically transcendent, incarnate and continually present, as we experience in the Christ event. In speaking of the triune God, we exercise a radical faith that, as Catherine LaCugna writes, “we do not know a shadow image of God but the real living God of Jesus Christ in their Spirit. The God who saves—this is God.”

Q. 36
St Theresa of Avila on the Trinity.

Q. 37
The line that stands out for me here is ‘… father and mother stand for origin and authority, for what is protective and supportive.’

Read this page for some Saints’ quotes on the subject of obedience.

Q. 38
Encyclical on the Holy Spirit (1986),

Q. 39
A discussion on who Jesus is;

For all men of good will to whom creation speaks as a wonderful work of God, for all honest men who feel within themselves the experience of emptiness and of hunger for truth and justice for all men who search for a meaning in life and a destiny to pursue, for all of those and to all of them Christ offers Himself as the way, the truth and the life which begin and end with God.

Q. 40
The word almighty here is worth further analysis I believe.

Q. 41
This is the best description on the topic of evolution and creation; it makes St Thomas Aquinas’ teachings much more easy to understand compared to anything else I’ve read.

Q. 42
How was the Genesis account of creation interpreted before Darwin?:

The history of Christian thought has not been consistently dominated by proponents of a literal interpretation of Genesis. The discoveries of modern science should neither be seen as the instigator of some abandonment of trust in Scripture, nor as contradictory to Scripture, but as guideposts toward a proper understanding of Scripture’s meaning.

Q. 43
See How do randomness and chance align with belief in God’s sovereignty and purpose?

And from Catholics/Free Will/ Predestination;

The only proper framework to understand predestination must be rooted in the notion of a communion of persons in love. Why? The nature of God as Trinity is this very kind of communion and God created man to share in that “blessed life” (cf. Catechism, no. 1). This communion of love demands freedom of will. For love is not something thrust upon a person, but offered as a gift. This communion of love in the Trinity is also the basis for evangelization in the Church (cf. Catechism, no. 850). As this is the very essence of the relationship between God and man, everything in one way or another must refer back to it and be measured by it. As this was God’s purpose in creating man, it is also intimately tied to our redemption and our ultimate destiny. God is love (1 Jn. 4:8).

Q. 44
These two pages (one and two), on the topic of Creation, are helpful to understand this question.

Q. 45
The more that you can understand the principle of natural law the better. It can be used as a foundation for dialogue on contemporary issues such as euthanasia, abortion and same-sex marriage. Hence, it is writen about in the context of its relationship to democracy in Evangelium Vitae and it is also discussed in the Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine ;

138. In the exercise of their freedom, men and women perform morally good acts that are constructive for the person and for society when they are obedient to truth, that is, when they do not presume to be the creators and absolute masters of truth or of ethical norms[261]. Freedom in fact does not have “its absolute and unconditional origin … in itself, but in the life within which it is situated and which represents for it, at one and the same time, both a limitation and a possibility. Human freedom belongs to us as creatures; it is a freedom which is given as a gift, one to be received like a seed and to be cultivated responsibly”[262]. When the contrary is the case, freedom dies, destroying man and society[263].

139. The truth concerning good and evil is recognized in a practical and concrete manner by the judgment of conscience, which leads to the acceptance of responsibility for the good accomplished and the evil committed. “Consequently in the practical judgment of conscience, which imposes on the person the obligation to perform a given act, the link between freedom and truth is made manifest. Precisely for this reason conscience expresses itself in acts of ‘judgment’ which reflect the truth about the good, and not in arbitrary ‘decisions’. The maturity and responsibility of these judgments — and, when all is said and done, of the individual who is their subject — are not measured by the liberation of the conscience from objective truth, in favour of an alleged autonomy in personal decisions, but, on the contrary, by an insistent search for truth and by allowing oneself to be guided by that truth in one’s actions”[264].

140. The exercise of freedom implies a reference to a natural moral law, of a universal character, that precedes and unites all rights and duties[265]. The natural law “is nothing other than the light of intellect infused within us by God. Thanks to this, we know what must be done and what must be avoided. This light or this law has been given by God to creation”[266]. It consists in the participation in his eternal law, which is identified with God himself[267]. This law is called “natural” because the reason that promulgates it is proper to human nature. It is universal, it extends to all people insofar as it is established by reason. In its principal precepts, the divine and natural law is presented in the Decalogue and indicates the primary and essential norms regulating moral life[268]. Its central focus is the act of aspiring and submitting to God, the source and judge of everything that is good, and also the act of seeing others as equal to oneself. The natural law expresses the dignity of the person and lays the foundations of the person’s fundamental duties[269].

141. In the diversity of cultures, the natural law unites peoples, enjoining common principles. Although its application may require adaptations to the many different conditions of life according to place, time and circumstances,[270] it remains immutable “under the flux of ideas and customs and supports their progress … Even when it is rejected in its very principles, it cannot be destroyed or removed from the heart of man. It always rises again in the life of individuals and societies”[271]

Its precepts, however, are not clearly and immediately perceived by everyone. Religious and moral truths can be known “by everyone with facility, with firm certainty and without the admixture of error”[272] only with the help of Grace and Revelation. The natural law offers a foundation prepared by God for the revealed law and Grace, in full harmony with the work of the Spirit[273].

142. The natural law, which is the law of God, cannot be annulled by human sinfulness[274]. It lays the indispensable moral foundation for building the human community and for establishing the civil law that draws its consequences of a concrete and contingent nature from the principles of the natural law[275]. If the perception of the universality of the moral law is dimmed, people cannot build a true and lasting communion with others, because when a correspondence between truth and good is lacking, “whether culpably or not, our acts damage the communion of persons, to the detriment of each”[276]. Only freedom rooted in a common nature, in fact, can make all men responsible and enable them to justify public morality. Those who proclaim themselves to be the sole measure of realities and of truth cannot live peacefully in society with their fellow men and cooperate with them[277].

143. Freedom mysteriously tends to betray the openness to truth and human goodness, and too often it prefers evil and being selfishly closed off, raising itself to the status of a divinity that creates good and evil: “Although he was made by God in a state of holiness, from the very onset of his history man abused his liberty, at the urging of the Evil One. Man set himself against God and sought to attain his goal apart from God … Often refusing to acknowledge God as his beginning, man has disrupted also his proper relationship to his own ultimate goal as well as his whole relationship toward himself and others and all created things”[278]. Human freedom needs therefore to be liberated. Christ, by the power of his Paschal Mystery, frees man from his disordered love of self[279], which is the source of his contempt for his neighbour and of those relationships marked by domination of others. Christ shows us that freedom attains its fulfilment in the gift of self[280]. By his sacrifice on the cross, Jesus places man once more in communion with God and his neighbour.

Many Catholics have no idea about the richness of Catholic social teaching; so when you have time it will be really worthwhile to get aquatinted with the whole Compendium!

This is another of my favorites on natural law.

St Thomas Aquinas, moreover, was the one who developed the understanding of natural law from ancient greek philosophy, work by Saint Augustine and revelation. Even though many others have approaches to Natural Law, St Thomas Aquinas is still acknowledged by the Church as the most regarded. For more on its history go here.

– A slideshow on Natural Law.

Useful information on the basis of Natural Law, especially when debating for its existence with someone who follows a secular humanist life philosophy, such as one defined by John Hagee;

Secular humanism by its very nature rejects the belief in God as well as the belief that man needs to submit to a moral code proposed by a higher power. It rejects the belief in spirit and supernatural and takes on a “naturalistic” philosophy that embraces science rather than faith. It teaches that there is no god and that what you see in the physical realm is all that exists. The secular humanist does not believe in sin, the concept of need for a savior, in miracles or supernatural experiences on earth or in life after death.

One area that must be considered is that there is no sin or concept of good and evil, as described in Scripture, in secular humanism. Additionally, there is no demonic or angelic activity. Without the concepts of “good and evil” contributing to a moral code, the secular humanist looks towards science to describe and explain human behavior as well as to develop an individual moral code. According to the Secular Humanism Declaration,“It should be noted that secular humanism is not so much a specific morality as it is a method for the explanation and discovery of rational moral principles.”

Q. 46
For a discussion on how to interpret Genesis see these two pages, here and here.

Q. 47
Time for Sabbath Rest?

Q. 48
Ways to glorify God

Reflection Questions
• What does ‘utilitarianism’ mean?

• What is the difference between the terms ‘greater good’ and ‘common good’?

YOUCAT Series 5 – What We Believe: Man Responds to God

Questions 20 to 24
This section covers aspects of belief and faith as a response to God’s offer of friendship to us.

Starting off with question twenty. A fabulous example of how one is to respond to God when he speaks to us is Blessed Mother Teresa, as her words quoted from here testify,

A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, [we] must empty ourselves. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.

The YOUCAT then proceeds to explain what faith, so accurately thought of above, actually is.

Two aspects of this explanation of faith stand out to me.

The first is that faith is absolutely certain – would a Christian not state their beliefs because they might change with time? No, that is what an agnostic would do, is it not? Christians know the truth and can state it here, now and forever – although hopefully they will gain a more in-depth faith with time.

How many people privatize their faith because of this reason?

Secondly, the parachutist analogy in question twenty-one – it basically boils down to trust doesn’t it.

We live in a society that is in many ways void of trust.

When religion is taken out of politics, because it conflicts with others’ agendas, people’s thinking on issues becomes distorted. Instead of these qualities being due to persons because they are made in the image and likeness of God, which is, in fact, the basis of human dignity and hence human rights, the values are given to thoughts and actions, leading to devastating consequences, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly states,

History has shown us how dangerous and deleterious a state can be that proceeds to legislate on questions that touch the person and society while pretending itself to be the source and principle of ethics. Without universal principles that permit a common denominator for the whole of humanity the danger of a relativistic drift at the legislative level is not at all something [that] should be underestimated (cf. “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” no. 1959). The natural moral law, strong in its universal character, allows us to avert such a danger and above all offers to the legislator the guarantee for an authentic respect of both the person and the entire created order.[1]

As an example, someone might say to you, ‘I respect your beliefs, will you respect mine?’

If you said, ‘yes’, wouldn’t you be accepting that those beliefs are ok?

To understand how this ever so subtle play on language, and indeed other common factors found in our age, lead to an erosion of moral standards in society read, A Refutation of Moral Relativism by Peter Kreeft:

Moral practice has always been difficult for fallen humanity, but at least there was always the lighthouse of moral principles, no matter how stormy the sea of moral practice got. But today, with the majority of our mind-molders, in formal education, or informal education—that is, media—the light is gone. Morality is a fog of feelings. That is why to them, as Chesterton said, “Morality is always dreadfully complicated to a man who has lost all his principles.” Principles mean moral absolutes. Unchanging rocks beneath the changing waves of feelings and practices. Moral relativism is a philosophy that denies moral absolutes. That thought to me is the prime suspect—public enemy number one. The philosophy that has extinguished the light in the minds of our teachers, and then their students, and eventually, if not reversed, will extinguish our whole civilization.

This relativism (remember the reflection question from last time?) robs the world of truth – for everything is seen as being true.

In the document titled On The Way To Life (which for anyone interested in catechetics is real gold). Just go to the RE and Catechesis section to find it.

In the section titled ‘Truth-trust’, it gives more insight on how this affects society:

People come to live in a society in a purely instrumental way that erodes any possibility of living towards a ‘common good’. Politics is forced into a position of inflating the goods in which it can offer in order to gain popular support and then generating cynical disengagement from the democratic process which it fails to deliver. These tensions and contradictions within the cultural and political force of modernity touch all institutions, including the Church.

So, in a world where everything is true – relativistic in other words, nothing really can be true and therefore, no-one can trust anybody.

The irony is that when people say they are being tolerant, respectful, etc (like what is so common in arguments these days), they can be being the very opposite! I highly recommend reading this piece called True and False Tolerance for further insight on this concept;

The prevalent idea of tolerance is connected to relativism: “each one has his truth”; “each individual is autonomous”; “the self is the source of meaning.” To be tolerant in this view is to cling to the opinion that everything is a matter of opinion and of equal opinions at that. Each person must take his bearings from his sovereign subjectivity, and no one has the right to put forth a universal standard. To affirm that a particular proposition is true by itself, apart from mere opinion, is considered an attack on tolerance.

What does this reign of universal tolerance, or dogmatic relativism, in fact mean? It has as its effect the undermining of all authority and vital knowledge, depriving all meaning from liberty and toleration. It finally destroys liberty and tolerance themselves. Taken to its logical conclusion, the reign of opinion means the end of all intellectual and moral authority, whether it be the great minds whose dialogue forms culture or the institutions — Church, family, school — that traditionally have transmitted rules of conduct. The reign of opinion means the attenuation of every form of knowledge. In the kingdom of opinion, there is no place for knowledge that engages one’s being.

Consequently, the phenomenon discussed above makes believing in God very difficult because everything is the truth and you can’t trust anything – I hope you can see the connection.

Therefore, for Catholics it is so important to see through relativism and to show other people the value of having an objective set of beliefs. In other words, believing in definite rights and wrongs that come from a source outside of ourselves, namely, God.

As Cardinal Burke puts so eloquently,

When reason is not purified by faith in the political realm, … the powerful and influential of the time exercise a tyranny which violates the fundamental rights of the very people whom political leaders are called to serve.

… Religious faith … also serves to evangelize and bring hope to men and women today who are “lost in the unreal and destructive world of moral relativism and, therefore, tempted to despair.[2]

For the sake of brevity I’ll leave the other characteristics of faith, as listed in Q. 21, for a discussion in the comments section. If readers would like to contribute their thoughts that would be great!

Moving on to Q. 22…

Many people have never thought much about what is outside the visible world, and still those who do may feel that it is a bit superstitious, to say.., pray to Saint Anthony when you have lost your keys, or something similar. On the contrary, Catholics should have a deep connection to the invisible. For more information I have put a link here to an article that explains how a Catholic has a sacramental imagination, one that thinks of the spiritual in a completely Christocentric way. An abstract from it is below:

We must stress, of course, that Catholic imagination is, in the deepest sense, a response to the imagination of God. Christ, the Word incarnate, crucified and risen, is God’s way of imagining our humanity. To believe, is to be caught up into such all creative imagining: `The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory… full of grace and truth’ (Jn 1:14). By becoming flesh, the Word has entered into human imagination. In that light, we begin to live in a universe of grace. It means having a sense of the fundamental goodness in creation. Our world can never be totally corrupt, because God has created it and made it his own. That is the crucial point: If God could so enter our human world, if God has owned this world as his very own in Christ, then the whole of creation can be seen as one great sign of God’s presence and love. And, in the resurrection of Jesus, we believe that the transformation of all creation has begun. Hidden within the struggle and dying of our history there is always the hope of rising with him. The whole of creation is shot through with the great cosmic mystery of Christ: `all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together’ (Col 1: 16-17).

Furthermore, the following two links are great additional reading for question twenty-three, on faith and science and question 24, on faith and the Church.

I’ve added some direct citations from these as well so you can get an idea of what they’re about:

Q. 23. What is the proper relationship between science and religion?

The popular view that science and religion are engaged in an endless debate is a misunderstanding that arises from a limited picture. When creation and evolution clash in a courtroom, the daily news fills up with stories suggesting there is some profound conflict between science and religion. What does not make the daily news is the research of the majority of scientists on topics that do not come into contact with religion.The same is true of the work of theologians and biblical scholars investigating topics in fields unrelated to science.

Q. 24. Pope Benedict XVI’s WYD 2011 Closing Mass Homily

Dear young friends, as the Successor of Peter, let me urge you to strengthen this faith which has been handed down to us from the time of the Apostles. Make Christ, the Son of God, the centre of your life. But let me also remind you that following Jesus in faith means walking at his side in the communion of the Church. We cannot follow Jesus on our own. Anyone who would be tempted to do so “on his own”, or to approach the life of faith with kind of individualism so prevalent today, will risk never truly encountering Jesus, or will end up following a counterfeit Jesus.

I’ll leave you with a funny thing I read quoting Cardinal Pell from WYD 2011, ‘Young people are in the Church to set it on fire. Old people are there to make sure it does not burn down.’

Reflection Questions
• What does the term ‘secularism’ mean?

• Can you think of ways that will help you not privatize your faith?

Further Reading
[1] Papal Address to Pontifical Academy for Life

[2] Religion ‘purifies’ politics, Cardinal Burke says