This page is devoted to helping those with questions about the Catholic Faith. Where does the bible talk about Purgatory? How about Confession? Why do we baptize our newborns? Are we assured of salvation? Why is Tradition so important? Answers to these and many other topics can be found here.
St. Bernard's Catholic Community > St. Bernard's > Religious Formation > About the Catholic Faith
Every time we sin, we hurt ourselves, other people and God. The Sacrament of Reconciliation (also called Penance or Confession) was given to us by Christ to help us reconcile with Christ and his Church when we have committed harm. Through the Sacrament, we acknowledge our sins, express our sorrow in a meaningful way, receive the forgiveness of Christ and his Church, make reparation for what we have done and resolve to do better in the future. During his public life, Jesus both forgave sins and reintegrated sinners into the community. This is the goal of the Sacrament of Confession: to forgive sins and to provide reconciliation with the Church. The Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation involves four parts: contrition, confession, penance and absolution.
Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil. Adoration is homage of the spirit to the "King of Glory," respectful silence in the presence of the "ever greater" God. Adoration of the thrice-holy and sovereign God of love blends with humility and gives assurance to our supplications. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2628
Peter explained what happens at baptism when he said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). But he did not restrict this teaching to adults. He added, "For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him" (2:39). We also read: "Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name" (Acts 22:16). These commands are universal, not restricted to adults. Further, these commands make clear the necessary connection between baptism and salvation, a connection explicitly stated in 1 Peter 3:21: "Baptism . . . now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
The Mass. It has gone by many names over the centuries: the Breaking of the Bread, the Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy, the Unbloody Sacrifice, the Mystical Supper of the Lamb, and many more. Any title falls short of capturing what is the “source and summit” of Christian faith. And yet, every title contributes to deepening our entry into this greatest Mystery of our faith.
In this discussion it is important to keep in mind what the Catholic Church means by tradition. The term does not refer to legends or mythological accounts, nor does it encompass transitory customs or practices which may change, as circumstances warrant, such as styles of priestly dress, particular forms of devotion to saints, or even liturgical rubrics. Sacred or apostolic tradition consists of the teachings that the apostles passed on orally through their preaching. These teachings largely (perhaps entirely) overlap with those contained in Scripture, but the mode of their transmission is different. They have been handed down and entrusted to the Churchs. It is necessary that Christians believe in and follow this tradition as well as the Bible (Luke 10:16). The truth of the faith has been given primarily to the leaders of the Church (Eph. 3:5), who, with Christ, form the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20). The Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit, who protects this teaching from corruption (John 14:25-26, 16:13)....
Fundamentalists may be fond of saying the Catholic Church "invented" the doctrine of purgatory to make money, but they have difficulty saying just when. Most professional anti-Catholics—the ones who make their living attacking "Romanism"—seem to place the blame on Pope Gregory the Great, who reigned from A.D. 590–604. But that hardly accounts for the request of Monica, mother of Augustine, who asked her son, in the fourth century, to remember her soul in his Masses. This would make no sense if she thought her soul would not benefit from prayers, as would be the case if she were in hell or in the full glory of heaven. Nor does....
There are few more confusing topics than salvation. It goes beyond the standard question posed by Fundamentalists: "Have you been saved?" What the question also means is: "Don’t you wish you had the assurance of salvation?" Evangelicals and Fundamentalists think they do have such an absolute assurance. All they have to do is "accept Christ as their personal Savior," and it’s done. They might well live exemplary lives thereafter, but living well is not crucial and definitely does not....
Sacred art is a component of many traditional Catholic parishes and cathedrals. Statues, stained glass windows, chalices, vestments,
holy water and sometimes even incense are often part of the
Catholic experience at Mass. There are many amongst the laity who
have their faith enhanced as a result. But not all are so pleased with such arrangements. There are those both inside and (perhaps especially) outside the Church critical of anything that smacks of lavishness. “This money could be used to care for the poor....
Click here to read about the facts behind the "Epic" 2000 Years of Faith infomercial.
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The Catholic Church has always condemned abortion as a grave evil. Christian writers from the first-century author of the Didache to Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae ("The Gospel of Life") have maintained that the Bible forbids abortion, just as it forbids murder.
Below is a great video that highlights the reality of abortion.
In November 2009 the U.S. Catholic Bishops approved a pastoral letter called “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan.” The letter presents the essential points of Catholic teaching on marriage as a natural gift, as a sacrament, and as a public commitment between a man and a woman. It also discusses several contemporary challenges to marriage and how the Church addresses those challenges.
In Latin "Sola Scrptura means "Scripture alone". In the Second Vatican Council’s document on divine revelation, Dei Verbum (Latin: "The Word of God"), the relationship between Tradition and Scripture is explained: "Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit. To the successors of the apostles, sacred Tradition hands on in its full purity God’s word, which was entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.
What about when Catholics sometimes say, "We adore God but we honor his saints."
Unfortunately, many non-Catholics have been so schooled in hostility toward the Church that they appear unable or unwilling to recognize these distinctions. They confidently (often arrogantly) assert that Catholics "worship" Mary and the saints, and, in so doing, commit idolatry. This is patently false, of course, but the education in anti-Catholic prejudice is so strong that one must patiently explain that Catholics do not worship anyone but God—at least given the contemporary use of the term. The Church is very strict about the fact that latria, adoration—what contemporary English speakers call "worship"—is to be given only to God.
Below is a short commentary on Pope Emeritus Benedict from the 2012 Midnight Mass sermon.
Of course we do....just kidding.
Protestants often misunderstand the Catholic teaching on merit, thinking that Catholics believe that one must do good works to come to God and be saved. This is exactly the opposite of what the Church teaches. The Council of Trent stressed: "None of those things which precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification; for if it is by grace, it is not now by works; otherwise, as the Apostle [Paul] says, grace is no more grace" (Decree on Justification 8, citing Rom. 11:6).
The Catholic Church teaches only Christ is capable of meriting....
The Catholic Church supports the methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP) because they respect God's design for married love. In fact, NFP represents the only authentic approach to family planning available to husbands and wives because these methods can be used to both attempt or avoid pregnancy. When learning about NFP, it is important to know that:
- Natural Family Planning is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman's menstrual cycle. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman's cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.
- NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife.” (Used with the permission of USCCB.ORG/NFP)
For more information on Natural Family Planning, including the methods and more, please click here.
Let me start by saying that worship of God is not always going to be exciting in the secular sense. I hope it is always meaningful, but I can't say it will always be exciting. Excitement as defined by secular culture is an emotional high or adrenaline rush. Both are often whims that we each get at different times and in different settings, some Christian, others not. If emotional highs or adrenaline rushes are the standards of Christian worship, then Jesus himself was a lousy Christian. Jesus fasted for 40 days, and he tried to hide from the excitement of the crowds. He was spit at, teased, and received the death penalty. Even after he rose from the dead, his followers experienced torture, rejection, and death. The lives of Jesus and the apostles were hardly exciting in the sense we define it today. As his followers today, Jesus tells us that we are "blessed," i.e. "happy" if....
Christ’s invitation to priesthood is an invitation to a way of life that is athletic in its intensity and heroic in its form. Discern the call. In this short film, Father Robert Barron and the seminarians of Mundelein Seminary present the demands and the joy of the priestly vocation.