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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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Ask and Understand: Week 2

Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. The rest will be given. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Universal Faith is on a quest for dialogue with people who believe other things, in order to build peace and understanding. We hope and pray to tear down walls of bias that are present in our world.

We know each person is an individual with opinions and questions. In this segment we’ll invite a guest every week to cross paths respectfully as friends.

Our guest this week is Baird Scriven. Visit his blog here!

We Asked:

Q: What is baptism to you?

A: The type of baptism that I’ve grown up around is believer’s baptism (as apposed to infant baptism), where you enter a body of water (baptistry, pool, river, sea etc) and are dunked under the water by two members of the congregation (generally people who have had big rols in your faith, but also generally elders or similar). Baptism to me is the symbolic representation of dying to your old life (going underwater) and being reborn in Jesus (being pulled up from the water), it is a outward statement of inward change, showing your repentance and your turning toward Jesus, it is a way of saying to your community that you have made that descision. It’s another step in your walk with Christ. It is following Christ’s example. There is also baptism in the Spirit, which is being filled with the Holy Spirit, but more than just that, that’s a bit harder to explain the meaning of being baptised in the Spirit in my life, as each time I’m baptised in the Spirit it’s different, but generally it’s accompanied by gifts of the Spirit, eg prophecy, words of wisdom or knowladge, occasionally, but rarely for me the gift of healing – basically the gift the Lord knows I

need at that time. That is a really inadequate way of describing it.

Read the account of pentacost for a better description of something similar (if not the same) as baptism in the Spirit, though I’ve never spoken in Tongues, or different languages (I know people who have though).

Q: How would you describe your denomination?

A: My personal denomination is non-existant, I try to be non-denominational and live by the teachings of the bible rather than what any doctrine says, as such I’ll always try to take any teaching away and check it’s authenticity against biblical teaching, and through prayer. But I suppose if you want to force me to try and catagorise myself, I suppose I’m Methodist mixed with Baptist, with a healthy dose of Evangelical and Charismatic, with possibly a splash of Anglican, but not much.

The Guest Asked:

Q: I know we’ve had many conversations about the Saints, so this seems a logical question from my point of view, and one I should have asked much earlier on, but what are your criteria for Saints, what do people have to do to get a sainthood, what boxes do they have to tick, if you like?

A: This is a good question. Technically you have to work on making your life holier to be canonized as a saint, however a friend put up a list of questions that are considered when someone is up for canonization here. It’s nothing we can’t achieve if we look at our own lives and see how we can sanctify ourselves to the point where people really don’t see ourselves but Jesus. We need to become very, very holy for a canonization. It’s something we work for all our lives; it’s something we have to take seriously. However, I’ve gathered from the stories of all the saints that a real saint doesn’t believe they’re going to get a canonization. They become so humble that it’s no longer about them, and nothing they do is ever perfect anymore. Not even a canonization ceremony is dedicated to them. I blogged about it here.

Q: What are your views on the gifts of the Spirit?

A: The thing about this question is that in Catholicism there are what we call Charisms, and then there are the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are received most during the sacrament of Confirmation. I think what you’re referring to is Charisms. The Catechism states that these gifts do exist and are to be used to benefit the Church and our fellow believers: (This is a good website with more detail to the Catholic view of Charisms.)

798 – “The Holy Spirit is ‘the principle of every vital and truly saving action in each part of the Body.’ He works in many ways to build up the Body in charity: …by the many special graces (called ‘charisms’), by which he makes the faithful ‘fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church.’ [252] ”

799 – “Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.”

800 – “Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms. [253]”

801 – “It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church’s shepherds. ‘Their office [is] not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,’ [254] so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together ‘for the common good.’ [255] “

This is a good page on the Catholic view of the gifts of the Holy Spirit received at Confirmation. This is a good, deep topic that deserves its own blog post, which I will probably do because it would help even Catholics who confuse the two.

Food for Thought: Have you ever tried discerning your Charism? It’s well worth it!

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’?