Table of Contents:
WordBytes on Catholic Doctrine
FAQs & Teachings of the Faith
Catholic doctrine covers everything in our world and in our own personal loves. In this group of WordBytes, we answer questions that help shed light on how to apply Catholic doctrine to our lives in order to experience Jesus Christ more fully.
Choose from these topics:
- What does Catholic doctrine teach us about evil in our world today and End Times prophecies?
- What does Catholic doctrine teach us about some very “Catholic” beliefs?
- What does Catholic doctrine teach us about Mary?
- What does Catholic doctrine teach us about controversial topics?
- What does Catholic doctrine teach us about the Catholic Mass?
- What does Catholic doctrine teach us about the after-life?
What does Catholic doctrine teach us about evil in our world today and End Times prophecies?
- The Second Coming of Christ: Should we believe modern revelations?
I’m often asked for my opinion about modern-day mystics, inner-locutionaries and visionaries, i.e., people who claim to be getting messages from Jesus or Mary. The questions come especially about the ones who warn that Americans are soon going to pay for their sinfulness, or that the anti-Christ is here or is coming soon, or that time is short and disaster is looming for the entire society or world. And is the Second Coming of Christ going to happen soon?
- Malachy’s prophecy, Pope Benedict’s resignation, and other end of the world stuff
Saint Malachy has been attributed to writing a prophecy regarding the succession of popes beginning with Innocent II, who became pontiff in 1140. According to his predictions, the line of popes will end after the papacy of Benedict XVI. And then the world will end. Was he right?
- Are natural disasters really chastisements?
Let’s take a look at what the Catholic Church Magisterium teaches about God’s punishment. We know that people create their own disasters when they make bad decisions and when they sin. God allows people to reap what they sow — it’s a spiritual law — so that they might learn from their sins and repent. This is their personal, self-made chastisements. God prefers them to repent an easier way. God does everything possible to help them repent an easier way. He is merciful.
- Are we seeing signs that The Tribulation has begun?
Are mass shootings and other terrorist attacks an indication that The Tribulation has begun? Or any disaster (man-made or natural) since then? Or predictions about the end of the world? The official Catholic Church teaching on The Tribulation is worth reading at times like this. Otherwise, we are easily led astray.
- Is America blessing God or rejecting God?
Question: I heard a preacher on TV say something that bothers me, and I’m not sure why. He said, “Why would God bless America as He has? I believe the reason is that He intends for us to influence the nations of the world. Not only are we an example of liberty and democracy, but we also have the resources and manpower to take the gospel around the world—and in many respects, the Church has done just that. But there is too much sin, too much immorality in America!”
- The affects of moral relativism: A frank analysis of what’s running amuck in our world
We are living in a time when it sounds more foreign and uncomfortable to take literally and sincerely the call to “do everything that the Lord has told us.” We are like the Israelites in Exodus 24:3-8. We want to be good and faithful children of God, and we intend to obey his commandments, but we (good Catholics as well as inactive Catholics and other Christians) easily fall into the traps of moral relativism.
- Why does God favor the ungodly?
Question: You might have noticed that people we consider to be ungodly are thriving in all their undertakings. They hold high positions in societies, have more than enough money, etc. while the ‘God-fearing’ ones are wallowing in poverty. What is behind the success of ‘ungodly’ people? Do you think God has any merit for loving such people? What should the ‘God-fearing’ people do to earn the Creator’s grace like what is being lavished on ‘bad’ people?
- Have We Lost Faithfulness, Trust and Courage?
We’re alarmed about how increasingly un-Christian our society is becoming. In the Church, I hear lots of blame being cast in the wrong direction. In an attempt to return to a time when faithfulness to Christian morality seemed much more commonplace, there’s a growing desire to regain “conservative” values. Good! But the trend is to take this too far: ultra-conservatism with a longing to return the Church to the way it was before Vatican Council II.
What does Catholic doctrine teach us about some very “Catholic” beliefs?
- Who is the Holy Spirit?
What are the gifts of the Spirit? There are two kinds: those that sanctify us and those that grant extraordinary favors to help us in our Christian lives and ministries. What are the fruits of life in the Spirit? In addition to gifts of the Spirit, there are fruits of the Spirit, i.e., the products of a life lived closely connected to the Spirit of God. They are supernatural, because these fruits come directly from the Holy Spirit through our connection to him. The fruit of a life lived in God is good works.
- Defining Purgatory & the Communion of Saints
All Souls Day (November 2) is a special day that the Church has given us to remind us about how important it is to offer prayers for those who have died in the arms of Jesus but have not yet reached the full glory of heaven. Transitioning from earthly life to full union with God in heaven is usually not instantaneous. We call this transition “purgatory”. Since there is much confusion and misunderstanding about the Doctrine of Purgatory, I’m providing here a brief explanation.
- Why must we go to confession if God’s love is unconditional?
If God’s love is UN-conditional, then why must we go to confession if we have mortal sin — so that our sin can be forgiven by the priest? That is “conditional” love, i.e., God will only love me if I conditionally go to “Jesus-in persona” specifically in a specific time and place and only at that time and place.
- Why go to a priest for Confession?
Since God hears and answers our prayers, we can confess our sins directly to God; why go to a Catholic priest? Answer: God always forgive us when we go directly to him, one-on-one, but Christ also provides special additional graces when we go to God for forgiveness in the context of a Sacrament of the Church.
- What is the Heart of the Church? (video podcast)
What is the heart of the Church? It’s the same place as the heart of your faith. It’s where you can feel closer to God and know, better than ever, that he truly cares about you. Terry Modica discusses the heart of the Church on a physical level and a metaphysical level, and she makes it easy to understand by sharing a couple of stories from her own experiences. She also explains that we enter into the heart of the Church when we go to Mass — and why daily Mass can make such a big difference in our lives. It’s not just a building that we enter into. It’s the heart of God himself.
- The Christmas Magi: What do we know about them?
Earliest references, outside of Matthew, include a second century text, entitled Protoevangelium of James, in which the magi are said to have visited Jesus in a cave. Also, the magi were depicted in catacomb drawings during the Roman persecutions of Christians. Relics of the magi were widely circulated, and some are still in existence. Records indicate that the relics were brought from Persia to Constantinople in 490 by the Emperor Zeno.
- Is the Catechism of the Catholic Church Dependable for Teaching Truth?
We know that when the Bible was written, the Holy Spirit directly inspired the books’ authors. But Sacred Scripture is not the only source of divine revelation. Just as God is a Trinity of divine Persons, so, too, has He given us a trinity of sources for divine revelation, which includes Sacred Tradition and Church Magisterium.
- Are the Magisterium & the Pope dependable for teaching truth?
The Pope is not an absolute monarch, whose thought and will are law. On the contrary, the Pope’s ministry is guarantee of obedience to Christ and his word. The Pope must not proclaim his own ideas, but bind himself constantly and bind the Church to obedience to the Word of God, in face of attempts to adapt and water down, in face, as well, of all opportunism.
- Preventing priest burnout amidst shortages
For every problem, there is a solution in God’s hands. Let us pray – not just for new vocations (as we already have been doing for many years) but for a renewal in the Church that will overcome the old mindsets that hold us back from seeking, finding, and implementing the solutions that God has in mind.
What does Catholic doctrine teach us about Mary?
- Was Mary an immaculate conception?
Mary was conceived immaculately, meaning that she was conceived in her mother’s womb without the stain of original sin — as a special grace from God — so that later her body could be a holy temple for the unborn baby Jesus. Since God’s perfect holiness cannot reside in a sinful person, Mary’s womb would not have been able to hold Jesus if she was still corrupted by original sin. It’s a theological answer to how Mary could become the mother of God-Jesus.
- What do we know about Mary’s birth and life?
Why do Catholics make claims about Mary that are not in Scripture? For example, on September 8th the Catholic Church celebrates her birthday. I’ve heard stories about her serving in the Temple as a child. And how she spent her years after Christ’s resurrection and ascension.
- How do we know Mary never sinned?
Is there reference anywhere in the Bible as to the fact that Mary was kept from sin? Yes, but it’s the messages of inter-related scriptures that provide proof of this Catholic teaching. The Catechism is a great resource for getting questions answered. It references scriptures everywhere. Here’s what it says about Mary and whether or not she sinned.
- Was Mary the Mother of God?
Mary is the “Mother of God” only by the fact that she carried or “bore” Jesus the Son in her womb and mothered him throughout his childhood years. She did not carry God the Father or God the Holy Spirit in her womb, although her womb did hold Christ’s unity with the Father and the Spirit. And she certainly did not precede God, not even God the Son Jesus.
- Did Jesus have a brother named James?
Why do Catholics believe Mary remained ever-virgin? Didn’t Jesus have a brother named James? Answer: There are more than one persons named James in the Bible. There are two among the 12 Apostles! If you look for every reference of James in the Gospels, you’ll see that the one whose mother is named Mary is not the same person as the mother of Jesus.
What does Catholic doctrine teach us about controversial topics?
- Is the Catholic Church right about contraception?
The debate about whether state and federal law should mandate contraception and sterilization coverage in health care has created a wonderful opportunity to provide the world with some faith formation on a very misunderstood topic. How well are we doing?
- Does Catholicism condemn homosexuals?
Warning: This WordByte is not politically correct. But then, neither was Jesus. This article is intended to put aside the confusions and muddied-waters of the “gay agenda” and messages of worldly society, so that we who are seeking the truth in all humility may regain a clear understanding of what God wants us to believe about this issue, as clearly stated in scripture and Church teachings.
- Why must I get an annulment to remarry?
The painful question: Why does the Church treat me, a divorced and remarried devout Catholic, so harshly, forbidding me from receiving Jesus in the Eucharist? It’s not fair! It’s making me an outcast! I should be able to remarry without the hassle of an annulment.
- God’s mysterious ways with an annulment
The following is the testimony of Caro Yañez about getting a difficult annulment so her second marriage could be blessed: I met my husband, Felix, in April 2010, and we married in a civil ceremony in July 2011. He is my first and only husband. I became his second wife. Our road to happiness wasn’t going to be easy, because his first marriage had been by God’s laws. But we didn’t want to wait.
What does Catholic doctrine teach us about the Catholic Mass?
- What’s the big deal about going to Mass?
It’s so easy to not go to Mass. Lots of Catholics stay home from Mass. We can feel spiritual without going to church. We can pray at home. We know Jesus loves us. So — what’s the big deal about going to Mass anyway? Well, let’s consider these questions, too…
- Why is Mass the best way to progress in the spiritual life?
What’s the easiest way to progress in the spiritual life? By witnessing miracles, because they enliven our faith. Where’s the most miraculous place on earth? The holy Catholic Mass! The Liturgy of the Eucharist…. Frequent celebration of the Mass is still what empowers me better than anything else.
- The correct posture at Mass: Should we be standing or kneeling?
Theologically, it’s also correct for the people of the congregation to unify themselves with the priest who is presiding, standing when he stands. The Church teaches that there is to be uniformity of posture as a visible sign of our unity as the Body of Christ. This means that if you’re visiting a parish that stands when you’re used to kneeling, or that kneels when you’re used to standing, you should do what that parish does instead of being different.
- The correct posture at Mass: Can we genuflect when receiving Communion?
“I’ve been told that we are no longer allowed to genuflect when receiving Holy Communion. We were concerned with this and would like to know what source document this came from. We receive Holy Communion kneeling, not only out of humility, but also to remind everyone that it is Jesus we are receiving and that we should show Him the greatest reverence.
What does Catholic doctrine teach us about the after-life?
- Who wants to live to be 150 years old? Not me!
One day, when I took my dad to see a neurologist about the health of his brain, I heard him tell the doctor (and not for the first time), with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, “Can you help me live to be 150? There’s a lot I want to do yet!” Each time I hear that, I think, “Not me! I want to get to heaven a lot sooner than that!”
- Mysteries of the afterlife: Where do spirits go?
“A priest recently talked about the afterlife and told us that heaven, hell and purgatory are not a place, it is a state of life. He said many think that they are going to heaven when they die, but it is not a place, or there is no burning in hell, because when we die we are spirit and a spirit does not occupy time and space.” Is he right?
- Are spouses reunited in the afterlife?
Jesus says there are no marriages in heaven. How will this affect my relationship with my spouse after one or both of us have passed from earthly life? The Catholic Catechism explains: “From a valid marriage arises a bond between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive….” Perpetual means “from this day forward”. Eternally. So then, what did Jesus mean?
- A Vision-Parable of Purgatory
A man named Abbot died and met Jesus at the entrance to heaven. The gate was named “The Moment of Death and Resurrection”…. Jesus drew Abbot’s attention…. Jesus held a small baby in his arms, holding her tenderly, and he showed her to Abbot. “Who is she?” Abbot asked as he felt somehow connected to her. Jesus answered, “She is the daughter you aborted.”
- Is hell crowded or empty?
Fewer people end up in hell than we might think, because when we meet Jesus face to face at the hour of our death, everything becomes clear. Even someone who has rejected the Christian faith during his life on earth, at the moment of death, when Jesus comes to meet him (or her), he finally sees Jesus as he really is and for the first time truly understands who he is, how much he loves us, and what he has done for us to bring us to salvation. Will he want to spend eternity with Jesus?
- Do pets go to heaven?
“My wife and I had to put our beloved precious dog, Cosmo, to sleep. He was in end stage liver disease. He was 12 years and almost 4 months old. Where do our pets go after they die? Will we ever see them again?” Jesus told his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). St. Francis understood this to mean, “God wishes other creatures besides humans to be included in the plan of salvation” (from the Sermon to the Fish’s of the Sea).