Category Archives: Prayer
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.
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).
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.
See Some unusual symbols of the Holy Spirit.
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.
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.
See Living the gifts of Pentecost.
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.”
See Novena to the Holy Spirit for the seven gifts.
• 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.
Questions 52 to 55
In this section we delve a bit deeper into the realities of Heaven, Hell and the Angels.
Here the philosopher Peter Kreeft looks at all those tricky questions that one asks about Heaven with some interesting insights;
Thus, we must learn detachment to enter Heaven. Willy-nilly, death detaches us from everything, even ourselves. We must learn to “die before you die. There is no chance after.” Learning detachment from the world, which can be possessed, is our training for learning detachment from the desire to possess Heaven, which cannot be possessed. Asked whether he thought he would possess any of his beloved library books in Heaven, C. S. Lewis replied, “Only those I gave away on earth.
From Heaven we now look at Hell.
Again I’m using one of Peter Kreeft’s articles because I find him so easy to understand.
This time he warns us not to be complacent about Hell;
We desperately need to hear this truth about hell again, simply out of honesty, because it is there. And also out of compassion. For when an abyss looms ahead, the least compassionate thing to tell the traveler is “peace, peace, when there is no peace”. Out of love for God and man, let us tell the truth about hell!
Sure, we’ll be mocked as vindictive, manipulative, or fundamentalist. Let it be so. Sometimes it seems that we’re more afraid of sharing our Lord’s holy unrespectability than of hell itself. It’s a small price to pay for the salvation of a single infinitely precious soul. And that is the business we’re supposed to be in.
This is a summary of the teachings on the Angels from St Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica.
Here’s an excerpt;
5. By natural love, angels love God more than they love themselves. All creatures belong absolutely to God; they naturally tend to God as their ultimate end or goal. Freely loving creatures must recognize God as their end or goal and tend to him before all else. Hence love of God comes naturally (in free creatures) before love of self, and is the greater love. If this were not so, natural love would be a contradiction, for it would not be perfected by attaining its true object, but would be fruitless and self-destroying.
St Gemma is well known for her devotion to her Guardian Angel.
Here is the Prayer to Our Guardian Angel;
Angel of God,
my Guardian dear,
To whom God’s love
commits me here,
Ever this day,
be at my side,
To light and guard,
Rule and guide.
• What is Totalitarianism?
See Pope Benedict XVI: Totalitarianism and Relativism Arise from the Failure to Respect the Natural Law
• What is Reductionism?
See Four Arguments for Transcendence
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.
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”.
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.
Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote a wonderful encyclical on the splendor of truth, I highly recommend reading it when you have time.
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,”
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.
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.”
St Theresa of Avila on the Trinity.
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.
Encyclical on the Holy Spirit (1986),
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.
The word almighty here is worth further analysis I believe.
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.
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.
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).
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. 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”. When the contrary is the case, freedom dies, destroying man and society.
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”.
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. 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”. It consists in the participation in his eternal law, which is identified with God himself. 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. 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.
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, 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”
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” 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.
142. The natural law, which is the law of God, cannot be annulled by human sinfulness. 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. 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”. 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.
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”. Human freedom needs therefore to be liberated. Christ, by the power of his Paschal Mystery, frees man from his disordered love of self, 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. 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.
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.”
Time for Sabbath Rest?
Ways to glorify God
• What does ‘utilitarianism’ mean?
• What is the difference between the terms ‘greater good’ and ‘common good’?
Questions 25 to 29
Here we look at why we need to have a definite profession of faith. We look at the origins of the Creeds and what they say.
The best source that I’ve come across regarding the Creed is the General Directory for Catechesis. I have used parts of it below that correspond to the questions. Although it may be directed at the role of catechesis surrounding the Creeds, nevertheless, I think it is beneficial to study them in that context anyway.
Q. 25 – As the YOUCAT states, the Creeds are ‘the foundation for the Church’s unity’ and prevent Christ’s message ‘from misunderstandings and falsifications.’ Moreover the Directory says,
[a] Who has encountered Christ desires to know him as much as possible, as well as to know the plan of the Father which he revealed. Knowledge of the faith (fides quae) is required by adherence to the faith (fides qua). (252) Even in the human order the love which one person has for another causes that person to wish to know the other all the more. Catechesis, must, therefore, lead to “the gradual grasping of the whole truth about the divine plan”, (253) by introducing the disciples of Jesus to a knowledge of Tradition and of Scripture, which is “the sublime science of Christ”. (254) By deepening knowledge of the faith, catechesis nourishes not only the life of faith but equips it to explain itself to the world. The meaning of the Creed, which is a compendium of Scripture and of the faith of the Church, is the realization of this task.
[b] St Cyril of Jerusalem affirms with regard to the Creed: “This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as a mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too the summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and New Testaments”.
Q. 26 goes on to discuss the Creeds as the common Christian confession of faith;
The object of catechesis is expressed in profession of faith in the one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
82. Catechesis is that particular form of the ministry of the word which matures initial conversion to make it into a living, explicit and fruitful confession of faith: “Catechesis has its origin in the confession of faith and leads to confession of faith.” (240)
The profession of faith inherent in Baptism (241) is eminently Trinitarian. The Church baptizes “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28,19) (242) the triune God to whom the Christian entrusts his life. Initiatory catechesis—both before and after the reception of Baptism—prepares for this decisive undertaking. Continuing catechesis helps to mature this profession of faith, to proclaim it in the Eucharist and to renew the commitments which it entails. It is important that catechesis should unite well the confession of christological faith, “Jesus is Lord”, with the trinitarian confession, “I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, in such a way that there are not two modes of expressing the Christian faith. He who is converted to Jesus Christ and recognizes him as Lord through the primary proclamation of the Gospel begins a process which, aided by catechesis, necessarily leads to explicit confession of the Trinity.
In the confession of faith in the one God, the Christian rejects all service of any human absolute; “power, pleasure, race, ancestors, state, wealth…”, (243) and is thus liberated from the enslavement of any idol. It is the proclamation of his will to serve God and man without any ties. In proclaiming faith in the Trinity, which is a communion of Persons, the disciple of Jesus Christ shows at once that the love of God and neighbour is the principle which informs his being and his action.
83. The confession of faith is complete only in reference to the Church. All the baptized individually proclaim the Credo, for no action can be more personal than this. However, they recite it in the Church and through the Church, because they do so as members of the Church. ‘Credo’ and ‘Credimus’ necessarily imply each other. (244) In fusing his confession of faith with that of the Church, the Christian is incorporated into her mission: to be the “universal sacrament of salvation” for the life of the world. He who makes the profession of faith takes on responsibilities that not infrequently provoke persecution. In Christian history the martyrs are proclaimers and witnesses par excellence. (245)
Furthermore, as an appendage to Q. 27, some information on the use of the Creed,
In the patristic period properly, catechumenal formation was realized through biblical catechesis, based on recounting the history of salvation; immediate preparation for Baptism by doctrinal catechesis, explaining the Creed and the Our Father which had just been handed on, together with their moral implications; and through the phase following the sacraments of initiation, a period of mystagogical catechesis which help the newly baptized to interiorize these sacraments and incorporate themselves into the community.
Then Q. 28, on the Apostles’ Creed:
– The Apostles’ Creed demonstrates how the Church has always desired to present the Christian mystery in a vital synthesis. This Creed is a synthesis of and a key to reading all of the Church’s doctrine, which is hierarchically ordered around it. (393)
Lastly, see The Nicene Creed- A Roadmap For Our Faith for a quick overview of the Nicene Creed for Q. 29.
• What does the word ‘catechesis’ mean?
• What would you say to a Christian who said they didn’t need to go to Church to have a relationship with God?
“A man who fails to love the Mass fails to love Christ.” – St. Josemarìa Escrivà
A few days ago, I remember talking to two of my friends on the topic of going to Mass. One of them was Protestant. The other, Catholic. It was 2 vs. 1, so to speak. But not in the way you’d expect.
Both of them agreed that going to Mass is way too boring.. And good ol’ Catholic me was left with a whole bunch of questions to answer.
My Protestant friend argued that Mass was boring because all we Catholics ever do is “read the thing, say the same things, pray the same things, and eat the thing.” While it broke my heart to think that someone would ever go so far as to refer to the holy presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist as a mere “thing” – even from a Protestant – it gave me reason to question why many people today don’t realize just how amazing and beautiful the celebration of the Mass is.
Now, on the other hand, my Catholic friend told me that he went to a Protestant service last Sunday, and said that it was so different. He said it was the most fun he’s ever had going to church.
What’s more fun than taking part in a celebration that’s 2,000 years old and receiving the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Obviously, I could only speak for myself at that time. However, what he said really made me think.
You see, the more I reflect on it, the more I’m convinced that our generation today struggles to understand what the true value of the Mass is. And I’m not saying this out of pride – I was there once. There was a time when I thought that going to Mass was extremely boring. I didn’t see the point of it. I didn’t feel anything. Even though I was taught all about the true presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and believed it, I still said to myself, “Well, so what? What am I supposed to get out of it?”
And that’s what my problem was. That’s what was blinding me to see the beauty of celebrating the Mass – expecting something out going to Mass. It sort of reminds me of the joke about “give-away” Catholics – Catholics who only show up at Mass on Palm Sunday and Ash Wednesday for the “give-away’s,” like palms and ashes.
I’ve since come to realize that the value of the Mass shouldn’t lie in what we are supposed to get out of it (although being able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist should be reason enough to go), but in what we are able to give of ourselves. I’ve since come to realize that the value of the Mass is that it is a special kind of opportunity to show God that we truly appreciate all that He has done for us through celebrating the sacrifice that gives us life, meaning, and purpose.
My brothers and sisters, Jesus longs to come into our hearts! Not only does he long for our love and affection, but like a good shepherd, he seeks to rescue the lost and the broken-hearted, the lowly and the restless – and invite them to come trust in His infinite love and mercy.
What better way to show Jesus our willingness to welcome Him into our lives than to receive Him in the Eucharist as often as possible?
He’s waiting for you. (:
My name is Jacki O. and I am in my second year at Arizona State studying Secondary Education with a focus in History. I don’t write professionally by any means, but it is definitely a hobby of mine. I was baptized Catholic and attended Mass every Sunday in my childhood up until I was about nine years old when I moved towns. I had loved going to Mass as a child, but my family just kind of stopped going when we got to our new town. After that I only attended, or even paid attention to the faith, about three times a year. Years and years went by and my beliefs started to fade. I went through many things in that time (no friends, depression, eating disorders, etc.) and was falling backwards quickly. Towards the end of my senior year in high school, I started feeling a type of calling to start going to Mass on Sundays again. After a few weeks of attending again, I wanted to find out how to get involved in a youth group or how to start bringing this into my life again. Thinking back to it, it was the grace of God alone pushing me in this direction. (He loves us in such wonderful and patient ways :) ) I tried to get more involved, but something just wasn’t right. I had been thinking about Catholicism and Jesus and all that more than I ever had before during the summer between my senior year of high school and my first year in college. The day before classes started I was walking around the campus trying to get myself oriented and I passed by the old church on our campus (which I had wanted to go into forever!) where the Newman Center’s table was outside. Everyone was really friendly and they invited me to their first college night of the year the next day (the very first day of classes). I was so excited to go and I am so glad I did. Everyone was super friendly and inviting. I felt at home there. Over the next few weeks we went on their New Student Getaway, and there is where I can officially say my life changed for good. I had officially seen the love of Jesus and I knew there was no going back. I had prayed for this for a while, but I wasn’t expecting this. So many amazing things have happened between then and now and I know more will continue happening. I can’t wait to share some of those things and what I have learned about prayer with you all!