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Cradle Catholic with a lot of questions; such as, why am I just figuring this stuff out now?

December 28, 2010

Did Jesus say we shouldn’t use the term “Father”? If so, why do we call priests “Father”?

“And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”
The priests’ role nurtures our religious foundation as Christians in a manner similar to the nurturing role of a natural father.  The priest is typically responsible for ministering all of the Catholic sacraments.  Sacraments are the cornerstones of our faith and provide structure to our lives.  The use of the word “father” in reference to priests can be traced back to the earliest centuries of Christianity.  The practice is widespread and continues to this day.  This has led to some confusion in biblical interpretation because Jesus is quoted in Matthew 29:9 as saying “And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”  Was Jesus instructing us not to use the title father?  No, like all of Jesus’s teachings they are meant to be taken in the context of the greater story, in the message he was sending given the issue at hand.  In this case, Jesus was condemning the practice of people taking undue status and privilege with their titles.  During his time, certain leaders made a practice of heaping titles on themselves. 
References: Catholic Q&A: All You Want To Know About Catholicism by Father John J. Dietzen

December 26, 2010

What are the Mysteries of the Rosary?

The Rosary is divided into five “decades.” A decade is a set of ten beads.  Each decade represents a mystery or event in the life of Jesus.  The term mystery is used to describe important events/parts of the Catholicism that cannot be confirmed outside of our religious faith. The 20 mysteries of the Rosary are categorized evenly into four general events - joyful, sorrowful, glorious, and luminous. While reciting the rosary, you are supposed to devoutly meditate on each specific mystery. Through meditation on events that rely on faith to understand, you open yourself to greater spiritual insight.

Specific Mysteries of the Rosary are focused upon on certain days of the week.  During private recitation of the Rosary, each decade requires devout meditation on one of the mysteries (depending on the day of the week). If there are two or more people saying the Rosary together, the leader must announce each of the mysteries before the decade, and start each prayer.

The Joyful Mysteries (Mondays and Saturdays):
               The Annunciation
               The Visitation
               The Birth of Our Lord Jesus
               The Presentation at the Temple
               The Finding at the Temple

The Sorrowful Mysteries (Thursdays and Fridays):
               The Agony of Christ in the Garden
               The Scourging at the Pillar
               The Crowning with Thorns
               The Carrying of the Cross
               The Crucifixion and the Death of Our Lord 

Glorious Mysteries (Wednesdays and Sundays)
               The Resurrection of Our Lord
               The Ascension of Our Lord
               The Coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles
               The Assumption of the Virgin Mary
               The Coronation of the Virgin Mary          

The Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary (Thursdays) – 2002 Five mysteries were added to the Rosary by Pope John Paul II.  These mysteries focus on the public ministry of Jesus Christ (Thursdays).
               The Baptism in the Jordan
               The Wedding at Cana
               The Proclamation of the Kingdom
               The Transfiguration
               The Institution of the Eucharist 

References: The How-To Book of Catholic Devotions by Mike Aquilina and Regis J. Flahert and Understanding Catholicism by Bob O'Gorman and Mary Faulkner

December 19, 2010

Catholics priests can be married too…

What?  Yes.  Officially the Church permits to be married under the following circumstances:

  • Ex-Anglican priests - under Pope John Paul II, a special dispensation was allowed for the ordination of married, Anglicans that decided to convert to Catholicism
  • Members of one of the Eastern Rite Churches in communion with Rome.
  • Widowers - following the death of a wife a man can become a priest
There have even been married popes, starting with St. Peter.  (Mark 1:30 states “But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.”) Records are very limited regarding Saint Peter and other married popes through the ages.  However, it was recorded that Saint Hormisdas, who was pope from 514 to 523, was married and a father to Saint Silverius.  Saint Silverius later followed in his father’s footsteps to become pope from 536 to 538.  The last reported married pope is thought to be Pope Adrian II (867-872).  He was married before he ascended the papal throne, and refused to adopt celibacy or renounce his family after being elected pontiff. 

References: Teach Yourself Catholicm by Peter Stanford and Catholic Q&A: All You Want To Know About Catholicism by Father John Dietzen

December 17, 2010

Who wrote the gospels?

Christ never wrote a word of Scripture – nor did he tell his Apostles to write anything.  Most of his followers were illiterate.  Simply put, we have no information about Jesus written during his own lifetime.  In fact, most scholars date the writing of gospels somewhere between 45 and 120 years after the death of Christ.  It is commonly believed that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did not actually write the Gospels attributed to them.  It is believed that the gospels bear these names because, in ancient times, it was common for literary works to bear the name of the person of whom the teachings were based.  In other words, the book would be recognized as the teachings of a particular person - rather than the author.  The writers of the gospels were educated Greeks that heavily relied on the oral tradition of the time in which they lived.  Want a little more information?  Here's a quick wrap-up.
Gospel of John
  • John was - one of the twelve original apostles
  • Based on - the teachings of John
  • Date of writing - near the end of the first century
  • Differs significantly from the other three gospels
Gospel of Matthew
  • Matthew was - a tax collector turned apostle
  • Based on - Gospel of Mark, “Q" (info shared by Luke and Matthew but not found in Mark)
  • Date of writing - 80-90 AD
Gospel of Mark
  • Mark was - a companion of Peter and Paul.
  • Based on - teachings of Saint Peter
  • Date of writing - 50-70 AD
Gospel of Luke
  • Luke was - Paul’s physician, mentioned only once in the New testament
  • Based on - Gospel of Mark, “Q" (info shared by Luke and Matthew but not found in Mark)
  • Date of writing - 80-90 AD
In the words of the First Vatican Council, the Church’s position on Scripture is that “having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author.”

References: Expressions of the Catholic Faith by Kevin Orlin Johnsom; Catholic Q & A: All You Want To Know About Catholicism by Father John J. Dietzen; Jesus Under Fire by Michael J. Wilkins and J.P. Moreland

November 17, 2010

First things, first

Since this is my first post I thought I'd include a general introduction/disclaimer qualifying the statements I intend to include on this site.  First and foremost, I’m not a religious scholar.  I went to public schools all the way through graduate school.  None of my college classes were in religion.  That being said, I am a cradle Catholic.  Throughout my childhood and again now that I have children; I have attended mass essentially every week.  I took some time off from the Church in college.  Still when you add up all the hours I have spent in Church it equals, well, a lot.  I do not agree with the Catholic Church in all matters.  I probably wouldn’t even describe myself as religious.  I do not believe faith should be blind, but rather, that it should be challenged in order to evolve and stay relevant.  I am particularly fascinated with the historical, sociological, and sacramental aspects of the Catholic faith.  I have read, and will continue to read, a vast library of books related to the Catholic faith.  The research and knowledge I have gained from this literature will serve as the backbone for the information I present on this site.  And I'll include sources in case you would like to research any particular topic further.

I currently run a Catholic gifts e-commerce site called All Sacraments Gifts.  I am creating this blog in large part to complement that site, and fill in any information gaps about Catholicism beliefs that I think are interesting and topically relevant.  Each post I publish on this blog will be a topic that is meant to increase overall comprehension of the Catholic faith.