Answer Priest

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Questions from Ladies of the Lord

Brand new questions

Various Scriptural Questions

  • Peter from Clifton Springs: There seem to be many sacred numbers in the Old and New Testament. Which numbers are sacred for Catholics? (10/30/12)
  • Why does the Church keep the Old Testament in the Bible? The Old Testament is not the same as the New Testament. If the New Testament is right, doesn't that mean that the Old Testament is wrong? (01/17/13)
  • What is an "ecumenical Bible"? (11/20/12)
  • Amanuel from Rochester: Both the Old Testament and the New Testament accept slavery. Neither Testament condemns the practice nor encourages rebellion against it. Why did God allow the authors of the Bible to endorse an evil practice? (02/28/13)
  • John from Depew: How should Catholics read the Bible? (03/07/13)
  • Alex from e-mail: Is there a list of scripture passages which have been definitively interpreted by Holy Mother Church? Also, would you recommend a bible study program to help those of us wanting to study scripture “cover to cover”? (03/07/13)
  • Patrick from Rochester: What was the meaning of the Transfiguration?
  • Georgette from Ontario, Canada: What did Jesus do in the years prior to the beginning of His public ministry? (07/28/14)
  • Dan from Buffalo: What did Jesus mean when He said, "For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light." Who are "the children of this world" and who are "the children of light"? (05/30/13)

How to study the Bible

  • NOT ON THE LINE. Ben. What are the various Bible supplemental tools? What is a good and thorough Bible commentary? (05/06/14)
  • Dennis from Facebook: "I have a bible called the Holy Name Catholic Bible. It is very old; it came out during the papacy of Pope Paul VI. In that time frame did the Church change the names of the different books in the Old Testament? It has four books of Kings instead of two and includes books called Paralipomenon, Esdras 1&2, and Ecclesiastes. Why is this edition so different from other Bibles?"
Old Testament Names in the Vulgate and Douay-Rheims.

Exegesis: how to interpret the Bible

Sola Scriptura questions

  • Dennis from Facebook: How should I explain Catholicism to people who say, "Where is that in the Bible?"

Development of the Canon

  • Gabriel. When did the Church draw up the official list of books in the Bible? (03/14/13)
  • Why do some of the Orthodox Churches have more books in their Bible than either Catholics or Protestants? What does the Catholic Church teach about those extra books? [The extra books are 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, and the book of Enoch.] (03/21/13)
  • Omar from Maryland: Where can I find a document to show my friends why the Deuteronomical Books were removed from the King James Bible? [Actually, Omar means the deuterocanonical books. "Deuteronomy" is the "Second book of the law" while "deuterocanonical" is "second canon."]
  • Paul from Tonawanda: What is the difference between Martin Luther's version of Bible vs. Catholic version. Why did Luther and other Protestants after him remove books from the Bible?

Old Testament


  • John from Cheektowaga: The Bible says that Abraham lived to be 175 years old. Is that because there were several men named "Abraham" over the span of 175 years? Or was the claim that he lived to be so old a stretch of the collective imagination? (03/21/13)
  • Erica from Amherst: What does Genesis chapter 6 verses 1 to 4 mean? It says: "When men began to multiply on earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of heaven saw how beautiful the daughters of man were, and so they took for their wives as many of them as they chose. ... At that time the Nephilim appeared on earth (as well as later), after the sons of heaven had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown." (03/21/13)
  • Bob from e-mail: I have some questions about dates: When did Adam and Eve exist? When Noah's flood? When was Jesus born? (03/21/13)
  • Anonymous: Who did Adam and Eve's children marry? The Pastoral Assistant told us that there were other people around. Someone else told me that Adam and Eve weren't the first humans, but were just the first people to believe in God. (03/27/13)
  • Gregory from Hardinsburg, Kentucky: I have a question about Adam & Eve's Children. They had three male children, two of which got married to other women. Where and/or who were the other women?
  • From a friend via e-mail: "Genesis 1:27 says, 'God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.'" That makes it sound as though only men are in the image and likeness of God while females are secondary. Can you explain the right way to understand this verse?"
  • John from Wilson, NY: Is there any indication to how much time might have passed between the creation of man and the fall of man?
  • Jason from Orlando: In Genesis 4, why did God accept Abel's sacrifice, but not Cain's?
  • Kathy from Buffalo: When Adam & Eve sinned, God clothed them with leather, (Genesis, end of chapter 3). Do we know what animal was that from? If it was a lamb, would that be a prefigurement of Christ?

The Name of the LORD

  • Jason. Orlando. I know that in Scripture when we see "LORD" in all CAPS, it means that originally, this where the Divine Name of God would appear. But in Isaiah 25:8, it says "the Lord GOD will wipe away tears..." with "GOD" in all CAPS, but Lord is not. Why is that?

Other gods

  • Jeff from e-mail: In the both Testaments, the Bible refers to 'other gods.' Do "other gods" really exist?


  • Christina from Rochester, NY: How do you interpret the Jewish law in Leviticus?

New Testament

  • Ann, East Aurora: Why did Jesus stay in the Temple instead of going to look for His parents? (added 10/22/12)
  • Fred, Rochester: What is Agape love? (added 10/22/12)
  • What is the "gift of tongues"? (12/06/12)
  • What is the meaning of the book of Revelation? (02/05/13)
  • How persuasive were the genealogies of Matthew and Luke to the Jews? (01/16/13)
  • Mary from Buffalo: Were John & Jesus born on or about the same time? (02/18/13)
  • Erica: Please explain the Catholic understanding of predestination and free will. A speaker on Catholic radio said that they can go together. I thought predestination meant 'once saved, always saved,' but wouldn't that mean that we don't have a real choice? (05/30/13)
  • Philip from Medina: What's the significance of the Blood and Water that poured from Christ's side when the soldier pierced him? (03/27/13)
  • Ben from Rochester: In Luke 10 when the 72 disciples are sent to preach the Kingdom, who are these people and how does it relate to us? At a Protestant service recently the pastor claimed that scholars all agree that this chapter is meant for all believers. I found that odd since it clearly says Jesus appointed these men.
  • Rick from Buffalo: How did the Gospel writers become aware of things like Jesus’ words in His personal prayer to God the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane and the conversation between Jesus and Satan as Jesus was being tempted in the desert? (06/04/13)
  • Why do Matthew and Mark list Thaddeus in the names of apostles, but Luke instead lists another Judas? (06/14/13)
  • Norb from Troy, OH: How is it that the disciples sometimes did not recognize the risen Jesus physically when they were walking on the road to Emmaus or when Jesus met them by the shore of Galilee?

Gospel of John

  • Philip from Medina: Was Lazarus of Bethany, the brother of Martha and Mary, rich or poor? What happened to him after Jesus raised him from the dead?
  • Scott from Rochester: In John chapter 21, Jesus asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?" Why does Jesus repeat himself when He already knows the answer to his question?
  • Scott from Rochesster: In John chapter 21, what did Jesus mean when He said to Peter, "Someone will take you where you do not want to go"?

The life, suffering, and death of Jesus

  • Mike from e-mail: What was Jesus' mother tongue? Did he speak Latin when talking to the Roman authorities? Did he know any other languages? (06/18/13)
  • Fran from Rochester: Why did Jesus say on the cross, "Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?"
  • Was Jesus really forsaken by God on the Cross?
  • How many years did Jesus spend with His disciples? Matthew, Mark, and Luke only talk about one Passover and one trip to Jerusalem for that Passover, which suggests that it was less than a year from Jesus' Baptism by John until He died on the cross. John's gospel talks about three Passovers and three trips to Jerusalem, so that suggests at least two full years. I think I've also heard that Jesus spent three years with the disciples. What am I supposed to believe?
  • Why wasn't Jesus named "Emmanuel," as the angel told Joseph that he should be named?
  • Sarah from Amherst via e-mail: "I recently purchased the book, A Brief Life of Christ by Rev. Dr. Leslie Rumble. In it he provides a chronology of Jesus' earthly life which helps someone like me to get the main events of His life in the proper progression. The author writes that Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem of the animal sellers and money changers TWICE! I have never heard that before. Is it true?


  • Why in John 20 did Jesus tell Mary Magdalene not to hold on to Him after the resurrection? (Added 10/22/12)
  • Tommy from Buffalo: I was reading Matthew chapter 27. When Jesus died on the Cross, Matthew says that "tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many." I've never heard anything about this resurrection of "many saints" before. Why don't priests preach about this miracle more often?
  • Was Jesus' Resurrection of a physical or purely spiritual nature? When Jesus appeared to Paul, only Paul saw Him, so it must have been a spiritual apparition, not a physical one.
  • Giselle from Canada: Why didn't the disciples on the road to Emmaus recognize the risen Jesus?
  • After the Resurrection Jesus told Mary Magdaline not to touch Him, as He had not ascended to the Father. Yet later when He met with Thomas, His told Thomas to touch Him, and put his hand in His wounds. Was Jesus being sexist? (06/04/13)
  • Erica: In the Nicene Creed, why do we say that Jesus rose “again” from the dead? I’ve never understood that.

What did Jesus mean ... ?

  • Scott from Rochester: What did Jesus mean by "I did not come to bring peace but division"? (03/05/13)
  • Steve from Kenmore: Could you explain the Parable of the Unjust Steward? It sounds as though Jesus is praising a servant for stealing from his master. That can't be right! (03/21/13)
  • Giselle from Canada: What does "Lead us not into temptation" mean? Isn't it meaningless to ask God not to do something that He is incapable of doing?
  • John Z. from Facebook: What did Jesus mean when He said, "Let your yes be yes and your no be no, everything else comes from the evil one" (Matthew 5:37)?
  • Jason from Orlando: Three times Peter tell Jesus that he loves him when. Jesus's response is different all three times: "Feed my lambs," "Tend my sheep," "Feed my sheep." In the first two questions, Jesus also uses the verb "agape" to ask if Peter loves him, but Peter replies with the verb "phileo," which seems to have different connotations from "agape." What difference do these differences make?
  • Jason from Orlando: In John 21, Jesus tells Peter that when he was young, he got dressed by himself, but when he is old, someone else will dress him. I don't understand how this imagery foretells the kind of death Peter will die.
  • Why did Jesus command the demons and His disciples not to reveal that He was the Christ? Wouldn't Jesus have gained more disciples if He had allowed and encouraged people to proclaim Him?
  • Scott from Rochester: In John 15:15, the Lord says, "I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing." What did Jesus mean by "slave"? Did He really call His disciples "slaves" before he called them friends?
  • Brian from Buffalo: Why does Jesus have such a ‘distaste’ (pun intended) for the lukewarm believers found in Revelations 3:16? He says He will vomit them out of His mouth. Does this imply that those who are cold to the faith will be better off than the lukewarm?
  • Why did Jesus command the demons and His disciples not to reveal that He was the Christ? Wouldn't Jesus have gained more disciples if He had allowed and encouraged people to proclaim Him?

Apocalyptic Prophecies

  • Christopher from Rochester: So if the Bible claims we won't know the hour or the day of the second coming, if anyone predicts the 2nd coming to a specific day then theoretically God couldn't make that rapture day even if He wanted to?
The Rapture ("Left Behind")
  • Alice from Batavia: The Catholic Church doesn't seem to teach anything about the Rapture. Will Catholics who don't know this lesson from the Bible be left behind when Jesus comes in glory?
  • Ed from Rochester: What does the Church teach about the Rapture? It says in Scripture that "One will be taken; the other will remain." (01/15/13)
  • Alice from Batavia, NY: Has an idea about the Rapture. The people "left behind" in the story of Noah and in Jesus' prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem were the lucky ones. Noah's family was all that was "left" of the human race. In Jesus' prophecies, the people who were taken were put to death, while those who were "left behind" survived.


  • John C. from Skype: What did Jesus mean when He said to Peter in the last chapter of the gospel of John, "another will gird you and lead you where you do not want to go"? In the same chapter, who is "the disciple whom Jesus loved"?
  • Rose from Rochester: I heard a priest refer to Jesus' changing Simon's name to Peter, as if Jesus had given him a nickname like "Rocky." That doesn't seem right. Why would the priest say a thing like that?
  • Jesus said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan" in Matthew 16:23. How could Peter be the rock on which the Church is built if he is Satan? (04/18/13)
  • Protestant challenge: It seems that Peter was not infallible. Galatians 2:11-12 says that Peter was "clearly in the wrong" because he stopped eating meals with the Gentiles in order to please the Jews.
  • Protestant challenge: Why do Catholics think the papacy comes from Peter? Even if Peter had some authority among the first apostles, there is no Scriptural evidence that he passed his authority on to later popes.

John the Baptist

  • What did Jesus mean when He said, "among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Mt 11:11). It sounds like St. John the Baptist is in Hell. (02/21/13)
  • Joseph from Rochester: How did St. John the Baptist recognize Jesus as the Lord before Jesus completed revealing Himself to His disciples by His teaching, death, and resurrection?
  • Julie from Ontario, NY: Was John the Baptist free from original sin after he encountered Christ in the womb?
  • Ron from Elma: John the Baptist was baptizing before Jesus' ministry started, but I thought baptism was uniquely Christian. Was baptism an accepted Jewish practice?
  • Jason from Orlando: In Luke 1:15 it says that John the Baptist will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from mother's womb. Does that imply that he was conceived without sin?

Book of Revelation

  • Dennis from Facebook. In the book of Revelation, John uses a lot of symbols and images that are not very easy to interpret exactly. Did the early Christians understand all the meanings of these symbols? If his followers knew how to interpret everything he said, why didn't they pass that along to us?

Biblical Criticism

  • From John from Facebook: What is the right way to think about Biblical criticism? Some people on Catholic radio advocate it; others seem to denigrate it. What does the Church teach? (05/16/13)

Dead Sea Scrolls

  • What are the "Dead Sea Scrolls"?
  • How much does the discovery of the "Dead Sea Scrolls" change our understanding of the Old Testament? Do the Scrolls mention Jesus? Do they provide a different version of the Gospel? (05/21/13)

The papacy

  • What is a "motu proprio"? How does it differ from an encyclical or a "papal bull"? (11/20/12)
  • Why does the Catholic Church have a pope? (11/02/12)


Personal sins

  • Emmanuel (e-mail): Can you please give few examples of the "sin against the Holy Spirit"? (Added 10/30/12)
  • What is the difference between mortal and venial sin? (12/06/12)
  • How do we deal with drug dealing or other criminal activity that we see in our neighborhoods? (01/24/13)
  • Why can't Catholics use contraceptives? (added 10/22/12)
  • Is it true that "Love of money is the root of all evils" (1 Tim 6:10)?
  • Nancy from Buffalo: Is looking at pornography a sin? (01/03/13)
  • Where is the boundary line between being conscious of having a sexual appetite and committing the sin of lust? (04/09/13)
  • Are there different kinds of sin? Are all mortal sins equally evil? (01/15/13)
  • Sam from Buffalo: What is "spiritual adultery"? (03/14/13)
  • A new mother: When I take my baby with me to Mass, I have to give her a lot of attention. Is my inattentiveness at Mass something I should confess? (06/14/13)
  • Anonymous. How should people who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome judge what is and is not sinful for them? Sometimes it seems that, under stress, they say or do things without ever really having a chance to make a free choice. (06/18/13)


  • Carolyn: What do you do if someone keeps trying to contact you to tell you some gossip? Should you tell the person you just don't want to hear it?

Original Sin

  • Why does God punish everybody for Adam and Eve's sin? That doesn't seem to be fair at all. (01/10/13)
  • John B. from Webster: Why do people have to die? (02/28/13)
  • Andrew from Facebook: I've been pondering what I want to call the origin of good and evil. I'm curious as to the Catholic Church's position on whether there is simply a universal existence of good and evil, or if good and evil are essentially sent to us by God? To me it seems that is simply an interesting question without any real effect on us, because if we believe in God, we accept that everything He does is for our best interests no matter the abstract question is answered. (05/16/13)
  • Romans 5:12 says, "Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death." Does that mean that animals did not die before Adam and Eve sinned?
  • Christopher J.: Why do animals experience suffering and death if they aren't guilty of original sin? (03/05/13)

The sin of Judas

  • Lynn from Facebook: Was the betrayal of Jesus by Judas ordained by Gpd as part of His overall plan for the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. Is Judas a traitor or is he a martyr who sacrificed his reputation, relationships, and eventually his life to fulfill God's will for the salvation of our souls?

Sins of the family and of the nation

  • Delores from Hamburg, NY. Exodus 20:5 says that God punishes children for the sins of their father: "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me." How should we understand this verse?
  • Lizette: Is there more sin and evildoing today than in Jesus time?

When we see others sin

  • Carolyn: I recently had a close relative blaspheme against Jesus and the priests in my home. The relative is Catholic. I was shocked, and I feel I need to do something about this. What do you suggest I should do?

The sin of simony

  • Bob from Cheektowaga. I received a solicitation from an organization to purchase some blessed objects. Instead of purchasing them, I sent them a definition of simony. Was he correct in doing so?

Pious Spiritual Practices

  • What is the history of the use of scapulars? How many kinds of scapular are there? (01/22/13)
  • How did the devotion to the Infant of Prague develop? (12/20/12)
  • Why do people bury a statue of St. Joseph when they are trying to sell a house? (11/15/12)
  • What are "icons"? How are they different from other kinds of art found in Catholic Churches? (05/16/13)
  • How can we explain Benediction to teenagers? (12/04/12)
  • What is the best way to present the pro-life message to a parish? (12/13/12)
  • The Old Testament and many Protestant churches require "tithing"--giving 10% of one's income to God. Are Catholics who give less than 10% of their income to the Church offending God? (03/27/13)
  • Must prayers be spoken out loud? Is it possible to pray silently or without any words? (Added 10/22/12)
  • How can we tell what is from good spirits and what is from evil spirits? How can we tell what ideas, feelings, beliefs, inspirations come from God?
  • What graces do you get from using holy water? (11/02/12)
  • Alex from Florida (iCatholicRadio): Does using holy water remove venial sins? (05/30/13)
  • Jean from Rochester: How can we tell that a speaker is in good standing with the Church? (11/20/12)
  • John from Niagara Falls: My faith has been weakening. How can I strengthen it? (01/17/13)
  • Diane from Rochester: When we pray, why don't we say please? (01/16/13)
  • Mary from Rochester: Why is it that sometimes God answers our prayers and other times He doesn't? (01/17/13)
  • Carlos from Melrose, MA: What should I expect during a guided retreat? What should I do to prepare to go on such a retreat? (03/07/13)
  • Anne from Buffalo: What is a Taizé Mass? (02/21/13)
  • Kevin from Buffalo: May Catholics participate in the quasi-pagan initiation rites used in honor societies?
  • Alex from Florida (iCatholicRadio): How do I bless my children? (11/25/13)
  • What are the Church's rules for capitalization? I was raised to use capital letters for all of the pronouns referring to God or Jesus--You, Your, Yours, He, Him, His--but the lectionary and the missallettes don't do that nowadays. Doesn't that show a lack of reverence for God?

Seeking perfection

  • Lizette from Facebook: How come Jesus asks us to be like Him if we cannot be like Him because we are not perfect? What can we do to get closer to His perfection?

Outward signs of devotion

  • Is it proper for Catholics to wear a cross, or must it be a crucifix? Wouldn't wearing just a cross suggest to others that they are Protestant instead of Catholic?


  • Is it acceptable to use prayers from the Mass in private prayer? Here are some examples of what I mean: the Confiteor (confession of sin at the beginning of Mass), the Kyrie ("Lord, have mercy"), the Gloria, the prayer, "Deliver us from evil", after the Our Father, the Lamb of God, "Lord, I am not worthy."

Fervor in Prayer

  • Jason from Los Angeles: I sometimes feel that I have hit a plateau of faith, love and holiness for God. I feel that I will need to be holier so that I can believe in and love God more. I pray every day that I could have love as fervent as that of St. Phillip Neri, but I haven't felt anything. How can I increase my faith and love for God even though I spend most of my daily time to incessantly pray and mediate on God's? How can I know that God has been listening to my prayer and understands my desire to totally love and be devoted to him?
  • Anonymous from e-mail: Could you give some advice, suggestions, prayers or other help for people going through a dark night of faith or religious uncertainty due to overwhelming life circumstances?

Distractions in Prayer

  • Jen from Buffalo: I sing in a local church choir and I love being able to share my musical gift to glorify God every Sunday. However, it is easy to get distracted and focus on the music, what piece is next etc. instead of what is happening in the Mass. Do you have any suggestions for staying fully engaged and participative in Mass while still being an active member of the choir?
  • Anonymous: I get very distracted when I am praying by myself or when I attend Mass. Am I sinning when this happens? How can I become more focused and prayerful?

The Sign of the Cross

  • Anonymous: The Catechism says, "the Christian begins his day, his prayers, and his activities with the Sign of the Cross: 'In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.'" Does this mean that many Catholics have been sinning because they have not been taught to do this? (06/04/13)
  • Who invented the Sign of the Cross? I can't find it anywhere in the Bible. (07/28/14)


  • Can you explain the devotion to the Infant of Prague? (03/07/13)
  • Judy from Rochester: Can you recommend a book that my husband and I can read regarding family rosaries? (05/16/13)

Divine Mercy

  • Shawn from Buffalo: can you explain the special favors associated with honoring the Divine Mercy image in your home? (03/05/13)
  • John from Webster: Can you explain what Divine Mercy Sunday is all about? (05/23/13)
  • John from Amherst: What does the phrase, "body, blood, soul, and divinity" mean in the Divine Mercy Chaplet?

Catholic Pentecostals / Charismatics

  • What does it mean to be "slain in the spirit"? What does it feel like? What good does it do for people? (07/28/14)

Addiction and Recovery

  • Kathy from Rochester: What does the Church think of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous? (01/10/13)
  • Nancy from Buffalo: what do recovering alcoholic priests do when they have to drink the wine/Precious Blood?
  • Jason from Florida: With regards to drinking alcohol, how much is too much? When does it become sinful? How can I explain to my friends that drinking too much has a negative effect on a person's relationship with God? (03/27/13)


  • The great-nephew of Uncle Sammy: I'm horrible at remembering who I'm praying for more than a week after I tell people I am or decide to. Also, I've a rather long list of those people. I've been keeping the names in a notebook organized by Intentions, Conversions, and Souls in Purgatory. Is it alright if I pray for 'everyone in my book' or 'everyone whose Conversion I'm praying for (etc.),' or should I be praying for each person by name?

Spiritual Direction

  • Beth from Buffalo. Is a spiritual director just for super-religious people? How would we go about finding one? (06/04/13)
  • Mick: Can you please tell me how one knows when it is time to get a different spiritual director? Thank you. (07/28/14)


  • Patrick from Rochester: Can someone do a 9-hour novena? (06/18/13)
  • Carol from Rochester: If you start a novena and then have a break of more than one or two days because you forgot or were too busy to do the novena prayers, do you have to start the novena again because there was a break in the 9 days? Or can you just complete the novena regardless of how long a break there was in it?

Impure Spiritual Practices

  • Amy, Rochester: Can Catholics use a labyrinth as a legitimate form of meditation? It seems to be a pagan practice. (01/10/13)
  • What is the "creation spirituality" of Matthew Fox all about? Is this approved by the Church? (05/30/13)
  • Is the use of "affirmations" an Eastern spirituality and therefore an anti-Christian practice? (added 10/30/12)
  • What is Catharism? What was St. Dominic's role in correcting this heresy? (03/14/13)
  • Can Catholics join Masonic lodges? (11/02/12)
  • I've heard people use the word "gnosticism," but I don't understand why it is a problem. What does it mean? Why does the Church condemn gnosticism? (10/22/12)
  • Do ghosts exist? (01/07/13)
  • Can people talk with the dead? (11/29/12)
  • What is the Evil Eye and is it real? (02/28/13)


  • E-mail from Name Withheld: "Before I took the faith as seriously as I do now, I was friends with a woman who claims to be a 'green witch.' I'm not really sure exactly what that is but I'm not comfortable with it since my conversion. I guess my concern is with any evil spirits she has attaching themselves to us. ... Is this a rational fear? Should I keep my distance or only meet her in a public place? I don't feel comfortable with her in my home and I'm not keen on the idea of going to her house either."

Advice for Parents

  • How should parents deal with horror movies, fascination with the occult, and the general acceptance of sin in today's entertainment media? (03/05/13)
  • Paul from Kenmore: I feel overwhelmed as a parent with risks the internet poses for kids. What can I do to keep them safe? (12/20/12)
  • What is the best way to prepare a child with Down Syndrome to receive Penance and Holy Communion? (02/19/13)

Advent and Christmas

  • What is the Jesse Tree?
  • Jason from Orlando: Is it good for parents to lie to their children about the existence of Santa Claus?
  • What does the name "Santa Claus" mean? Is he a pagan god?
  • Who was "good King Wenceslaus"? Why is there a Christmas carol about him? (05/02/13)
  • Was the date of Christmas chosen in order to take over the major holiday of the Sol Invictus cult?

Children and the Mass

  • From a parent: My child recently made his first Communion, but he resists attending Mass with us. What can I do to help him appreciate the Mass? (07/29/14)

Saving the souls of your children

  • Anonymous from Facebook or e-mail: I have a daughter who goes to college out of state. Prior to going away she never followed the crowd. Now, she is back home and has changed her opinions and is doing things that I don't agree with as well as making choices that are bad for her health. What should I say to her? And how do I deal with my anxiety over the situation?

Sacramental Theology

  • Randolph from Hamilton, Ontario: The Catholic Church teaches that some other Churches not united to Rome (for example, the Eastern Orthodox) have a valid priesthood and therefore have the same seven sacraments as the Catholic Church. Does this apply to the Anglican (or Episcopalian) Church? (Added 10/22/12)
  • What is the difference between a permanent deacon and a priest? (Added 10/30/12)
  • Frank, Rochester: At the end of John chapter 6, Jesus says, "It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life." Doesn't that mean that the Eucharist is spiritual, not physical? (11/29/12)
  • If "catholic" means "universal," why can't everybody take Communion with Catholics? (11/02/12)
  • Why doesn't the Church ordain women as priests? Doesn't the New Testament talk about deaconesses? Doesn't the prohibition turn all women into second-class citizens in the Church? (11/29/12)
  • Why does the Roman rite make celibacy mandatory for priests? (Added 10/30/12)
  • Why doesn't the Catholic Church allow priests to get married? (11/02/12)
  • Who is allowed to receive the Sacrament of the Sick? May one be anointed before knee surgery? (11/15/12)


  • Allison from Texas: Who may baptize infants in danger of dying? Do they have to be baptized later by a priest or a deacon? (12/13/12)
  • Jason from Orlando: What is the role of Godparents in the Catholic Church? (03/07/13)
  • John from Webster: I heard that Pope Benedict was baptized on his birthday. Why don't we typically get baptized on our birthday? (03/27/13)
  • Marie from Dansville: Is it OK for me to arrange to have my grandchild baptized against my daughter's wishes? Or to baptize the child myself in secret?
  • Rich from e-mail: If, for whatever reason, an adult Christan baptizes a newborn baby with water and the Trinitarian formula, and then that infant is later baptized by clergy in church, is the first baptism invalid or sacrilegious? (07/29/14)
  • Carolyn from Facebook: Can unwed parents still have their child baptized?


  • What happened to confirmation names? / How should I go about choosing a confirmation name? (05/06/14)
  • Before Vatican II, the bishop used to slap confirmation candidates. How did that custom develop? Why wasn't it preserved after Vatican II?
  • John from Webster: Is Confirmation necessary for Marriage?
  • Gabriel from East Amherst: Both Baptism and Confirmation give us the Holy Spirit. How do the two sacraments and two gifts differ?


  • Diane from Rochester: I was given a strange-looking Host at Mass last week. Does the shape of the Host make any difference? (01/17/13)
  • Acts 27:33-38 describes Paul as taking bread, giving thanks to God, breaking the bread, and eating it. This sounds like the Eucharist. But then it says that "they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea." Did Paul throw away consecrated bread?
  • Tom from Williamsville: If, God forbid, a priest is in mortal sin and is celebrating Mass, does that in any way affect or negate the transubstantiation of the host into the Body and Blood of our Lord? (02/05/13)
  • Jim from Niagara Falls: What is the significance of the crosses made on the forehead, lips, and heart just before the reading of the Gospel? (03/07/13)
  • Jenne from Facebook: Is it OK to have toys in church for small children? (01/17/13)
  • May a Roman Catholic attend Mass and receive the Eucharist in Orthodox territory? (01/17/13)
  • Jason from Orlando:
1.) How many times a day can you receive Communion? (01/16/13)
2.) If you receive Communion during the Saturday Vigil Mass does that count for Sunday? (01/16/13)
  • Kevin: Following up on the question of how often we can receive Holy Communion... Can someone really trying to grow spiritually and/or overcome a sinful habit receive Holy Communion twice a day to receive extra spiritual benefit?
  • Jason from Florida: What is a healing Mass? How does it differ from a regular Mass?
  • Jason from Florida: What is the origin of women covering their heads in Church? Is it still obligatory? (04/09/13)
  • Jason. Florida. I love incense. Can you explain the theological and liturgical significance of incense and why many churches today do not use incense very often?
  • Erica from Williamsville. I have read that we can make satisfaction for our sins through the Mass. Does that happen automatically by simply attending Mass, or do we have to offer the Mass specifically in reparation for our sins?
  • John from Wilson: Once upon a time, I saw priests and extraordinary ministers dip the host in the chalice so that people could receive both species at the same time. Why is that no longer being done? (07/29/14)
  • Gabriel from E. Amherst: When did the Church write the Eucharistic Prayers used in the Mass? (06/04/13)
  • Chris from Texas: Why isn't Eucharistic Prayer I used more often by priests when they celebrate Mass? It is such a beautiful Eucharistic Prayer with a lot of meaning and symbolism.
  • Chris from Texas: When can a votive Mass be celebrated and what type of votive Masses are there for a priest to choose from to use? (03/27/13)
  • Víctor from Facebook: Today when giving the Eucharist, the priest said "the Bread of Life" while distributing Communion instead of "the Body of Christ." Is this acceptable? And if so is this done during a certain time of the year or can be used at any given time? (05/02/13)
  • Does the change from "sin" to "sins" in the Gloria really make any difference theologically? (06/18/13)
  • Chris from Houston: Why is the Gloria recited on feast days and solemnities of saints but not on memorials of saints?

Form and Matter

  • Why do Eastern Catholics use leavened bread for the Eucharist but Latin Catholics use unleavened bread? (07/29/14)
  • Why can't those who are allergic to bread made with gluten have the host made from rice or from some other grain?
  • Brian from Buffalo: In the gospel of John, Jesus feeds the multitude with five barley loaves. Why do we use wheat for our hosts instead of barley?

Fasting before Mass

  • Lisa from Buffalo: Does having a cough drop or a piece of gum to quench a cough before communion break the fast? (05/23/13)
  • Jesus gave the Eucharist after everybody had eaten, so why do Catholics have to fast before Mass?
  • Do we still have to fast 1 hour before receiving Communion? Does water or medicine break the fast? (11/15/12)
  • Must we fast for exactly one hour before receiving Communion? What if the priest has an unexpectedly short homily, and Communion comes a few minutes earlier than usual?

Receiving more than once

  • Jeff from email: When is it acceptable to receive Communion twice in one day? (07/29/14)


  • Suellen: Why doesn't the Creed include something to the effect of, "I believe in the True Presence of Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Eucharist"? It seems like that would be one way of making sure people knew that our Communion is not merely a symbol.
  • Brent from Rochester: What happens to the Body and Blood of Christ after we receive them and the sacred species are digested in our bodies? (05/30/13)
  • How long do the sacred species of bread and wine remain in us after Mass? If they do not remain the real Body and real Blood of Christ forever, doesn't that mean that there must be a second "transubstantiation" that turns the sacred species back into normal substances?
  • Michael: Do all the hosts get consecrated at once during Mass or only the large host? (05/06/14)


  • Jerry: Are there Christians outside the Catholic Church who can receive the Eucharist if they attend a Mass for a special event like a Baptism, wedding, confirmation, or funeral? May Catholics take Communion at non-Catholic churches for those special events?

John 6

  • Jason from Orlando. In John 6, I notice that in the NAB, there are two different words used for "eat." In verses 53-57, the word "eat/s" is used, but then in verse 58, it uses the word "feeds." In the RSV 2nd Catholic Edition, it uses "eat/s" throughout. I once heard that in the original Greek, there are two different words used, and that they are significantly different in their usage and meaning. What would be the most accurate translation (one word or two different words)? What is the difference in significance of the words?
NAB footnote [6:54–58 "Eats":] the verb used in these verses is not the classical Greek verb used of human eating, but that of animal eating: “munch,” “gnaw.” This may be part of John’s emphasis on the reality of the flesh and blood of Jesus (cf. Jn 6:55), but the same verb eventually became the ordinary verb in Greek meaning “eat.”
  • Steve from Buffalo: The gospel of John places the institution of the Eucharist very early on in Jesus's ministry, in chapter 6, long before the Last Supper. Which version of the story is more historically accurate? Is there a symbolic meaning to John placing Jesus sayings about the Eucharist earlier in His public ministry?


  • Rich from Sloan: During the Sacrament of Reconciliation, are we absolved as soon as the priest says so, or is absolution pending the completion of our penance?
  • Anonymous e-mail from the Southern Tier: If someone joins a Protestant denomination, but later repents and wants to return to the Church, may they be absolved from their sin and received back into the Church by any priest? Or do they have to obtain absolution and permission to return to the sacraments from their bishop?
  • John from Lakeview: Is it possible to be absolved from sins in the sacrament of confession without having "a firm purpose of amendment"?
  • Debbie. Getzville. A friend went to Confession. The priest told her that her sins were venial, and only gave her a blessing instead of absolving her. Was that the right thing for the priest to do?
  • Can mortal sins be forgiven without confessing them? (05/06/14)

The sin of presumption

  • Scott from Rochester: What is the sin of presumption? Doesn't the Catholic sacrament of Confession encourage presumption? (02/21/13)
  • Erica. Father, can you advise me on some practical tips that will help me better trust in God without being presumptuous? I don’t want to offend God by being too lenient with myself. (07/29/14)

Sorrow for sin

  • Peg: In 1 Thessalonians 5, St. Paul says "God never meant us to experience the Retribution, but to win salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." What does Paul mean by "retribution"? In many conversations with others, they will say something that vividly reminds me of things I have said in my past that were not good. This causes me to repent deeply for saying them in the first place. Am I experiencing "retribution"?

How to prepare for Confession

  • How should we prepare ourselves make a good confession? (12/20/12)
  • Dave from Williamsville: When and how should we make a general confession? (03/27/13)
  • John: When we are examining our conscience in preparation for confession, what are we to do if we remember sins of the past that we have not previously confessed?

How to make a confession

  • Susan from Buffalo: How do you go to confession? What is the script to follow? (01/22/13)
  • Dennis from Buffalo: I have heard different advice about how to confess our sins. Some recommend that we be very brief: "I broke commandments 3, 4 and seven." Others say that you need to talk about the details of your sins and tell how often you have committed them. What is the right way to go to confession? (06/18/13)
  • Scott from Rochester. NY. 1. What prayer can I use before confession? 2. What prayers do I use after I leave the confessional?

Feeling guilty after confession

  • Michael from Rochester: How should we deal with leftover feelings of guilt from sins that have been confessed already? (03/05/13)
  • Anonymous. Hi, I was born a Catholic, left the Church for many years, then returned when I was 27. When I went to confession, the priest told me to tell him just the one sin that I felt the greatest need to confess. I hear people on the radio saying that the first time they went to confession, they were there for more than 2 hours. I keep remembering sins from the past that I forgot to confess, and I feel really guilty and want to confess them now. What should I do?

Withholding absolution

  • Mark from Rochester: In the sacrament of Confession does the priest have liberty not to absolve someone if they keep confessing the same mortal sin?

Holy Orders

  • Is the Pope ordained as Pope in the same way that deacons are ordained as priests and priests are ordained as bishops? (03/27/13)
  • What is the difference between bishops, priests, and deacons?
  • Can a man with young children become a deacon?
  • Brian from Buffalo: Are there guidelines for the color of shirt a diocesan priest may wear? Does it vary from one diocese to another?

Order of Bishops

  • Joanne from Facebook: If a bishop is a bad man and has been caught in many lies, why do the priests follow him? (05/23/13)
  • From Jen in e-mail: Can you explain the process for appointing a new bishop?

Order of Priests

  • Christopher from Facebook: Why do we call some priests "Monsignor"? (04/30/13)

Order of Deacons

  • Gregory from Hardinsburg, Kentucky: What is the length of the study for the permanent deaconate? Are there any pre-requirements?
  • Richard from Facebook: What are the steps to joining the diaconate? Can you speak about the best way to begin the process? Also, what can I do to prepare on my own?


  • Since the man and woman are the ministers of the sacrament of marriage, do they have to be present at their own wedding? (05/30/13)
  • Lisa from Lockport: Do you have to be confirmed in order to married in the Church?
  • Sue from Lewiston. Does the Catholic Church require that the maid or matron of honor and/or the best man be practicing Catholics? Do the best man and maid of honor have to be Confirmed, too?
  • Can I be ordained online to officiate a wedding?

Chastity in Marriage

  • Are marital relations not supposed to be pleasurable because they are only for reproductive purposes? I've heard people say that the Church teaches it is a sin of lust if spouses have marital relations just for pleasure.

Marrying a non-Catholic

  • Should a divorced Methodist man get married to a Roman Catholic woman in the Methodist church because "they will accept anyone"? Would that marriage then be accepted by the Catholic Church?
  • Nancy from Buffalo: What does the Church say about Catholics marrying non-Catholics? Can it be done? If so, under what conditions? (04/30/13)
  • Sue from Rochester, NY: Is a Catholic able to marry if the minister will be a Lutheran woman. Can a Catholic attend that service?

Attending weddings

  • When should Catholics refuse to attend a non-Catholic wedding ceremony? (06/04/13)


  • Can divorced Catholics receive Communion? (01/03/13)
  • Why does the Catholic Church not permit divorce when almost all other Christian groups do? (01/17/13)
  • Doesn't Matthew's gospel allow divorce? Verse 19:9 says "Whoever divorces his wife--except for adultery--and marries another commits adultery." To me, that means that if your spouse cheats on you, you may divorce them and marry someone else. (05/06/14)

Declarations of nullity

  • Does the Church's teaching about the murder of a spouse being an impediment to marrying the widow or widower of the murder victim apply to the case of Laertes and Gertrude in "Hamlet" or to David and Bathsheba in the Old Testament?
  • What is the difference between an annulment and a divorce? Is an "annulment" just a "divorce" under a different name? (02/19/13)
  • Mary from Rochester (a revert): Why do different priests give different answers to the same question? Especially in marriage cases, shouldn't there just be one answer to these questions?
  • John from Wilson: What are the grounds for obtaining a declaration that a marriage was "null and void"? (05/02/13)
  • Amy from e-mail: If marriages can be annulled, meaning a valid marriage never took place, is it possible that some marriages that have not broken up were really never valid? If so, and if the two people are living together without being in a valid sacramental marriage, are they committing adultery?
  • From a divorced listener: My ex-wife hasn't had our marriage annulled, but she is remarried. Am I cooperating with her sin by not seeking an annulment?
  • Are children of an annulled marriage considered illegitimate? (11/25/13)

Regularizing irregular marriages

  • Suppose that a woman married in the Catholic church, then obtained a civil divorce and married another man in a civil ceremony. If her first husband dies, what would that woman have to do to have her second marriage recognized by the Church?

Divorced and remarried family members

  • Denise from Buffalo: I have a brother who is divorced and who never got an annulment of his first marriage. How should I relate to him and his second wife?

Family members in irregular marriages

  • Joanne from Buffalo: My daughter is going to marry her live-in boyfriend. My daughter has become a Buddhist. Her boyfriend is an atheist. Their wedding will have no minister of any kind. What should I do? How should I relate to them?

Anointing of the Sick

Exclusion from the Sacraments

  • Sean from Ontario couldn't be confirmed because his non-Catholic wife is uncertain about baptizing and raising the children as Catholics. Is that the right thing for Sean's priest to do?


  • Barbara from Rochester, NY: What is the proper way to dispose of damaged religious articles?

Liturgical Questions

  • Rick's question: What is the difference between a solemnity, a feast, and a memorial? (added 10/22/12)
  • Gabriel from E. Amherst: What is the origin of benediction of the Blessed Sacrament? (11/02/12)
  • What kind of materials should the chalice and other sacred_vessels be made out of? What should I do if my priest uses vessels made from the wrong materials?
  • Some parishes ring bells during Mass, some don't. Which is the right practice? (02/21/13)
  • Aren't the bells at Mass like the voices of the angels in Revelation? (03/05/13)
  • Bonnie: Is it OK to receive Communion twice at the same Mass? (added 10/30/12)
  • It seems that men, in general, hate going to Church, while most women seem to enjoy it. Why is that? (01/17/13)
  • Are priests who are recovering from alcoholism allowed to use grape juice at Mass? (11/15/12)
  • What is the "Sunday obligation"? Who is obliged to go to Mass? What about the elderly, the sick, and travelers? When is it OK to skip Mass? (11/20/12)
  • What if I only attend half of the Mass? Have I met my Sunday obligation? (12/06/12)
  • Why do some non-Catholic Churches have a different calendar from ours? Which one of us has the real date for Christmas and Easter? (11/25/13)
  • Ty from Rochester: Why is there not a First Sunday in Ordinary time? (12/13/12)
  • Chris from Texas: Why do some parishes have a crucifix on the altar facing the priest when they celebrate Mass? Thanks! (01/15/13)
  • Chris from e-mail: Is there any meaning behind a veil covering the tabernacle? I have seen veils covering tabernacles at parishes I have visited before.
  • Scott from Rochester: When I pray in the morning, my first prayer is the Confiteor and the Kyrie from the beginning of the Mass. Is that OK, or should those prayers just be restricted to the Mass? (03/27/13)

Obedience to rubrics and the text

  • Scott from Rochester: In some churches they use 'all-inclusive language' like 'Our Parents' instead of 'Our Father.' Is that OK?
  • From Maureen in Amherst: "The priests at my church have begun to regularly change the words of the readings and Eucharistic prayer to make them more gender neutral. One visiting priest even omitted any reference to the pronoun 'He' in reference to Jesus, choosing instead to use Jesus' name repeatedly in the Eucharistic prayer. I find this distracting and was wondering if this is actually allowed. It may seem a small thing, but it seems small things eventually become big things."


  • Chris from Texas: What are the special meanings of the priestly vestments? Amice, cincture, alb, stole, chasuble. (01/10/13)
  • Anonymous: What are the proper colors for liturgical vestments? What do the various colors signify? (05/30/13)
  • Jason from Pittsburgh: What is the purpose of the humeral veil used during Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament? (05/16/13)

Sunday Obligation

  • A friend from Amherst: Is it true that "half a Mass is better than none"? Where does it say you need to be at Mass before the Gospel for that Mass to fulfill your Sunday obligation?

Eucharistic Miracles

  • John from Facebook: Is there an authoritative list of Eucharist miracles that the Church recognizes? If so where? And of the ones that the Church has had scientifically investigated, is it an accurate statement that the blood type, when a blood type was found, has always been AB? (06/04/13)

Parts of the Mass

  • David from Lackawanna: I have heard priests talk about the "canon" of the Mass. What part of the Mass is the "canon," and what does this use of the word have to do with "canon law" or "canonization," if anything?
  • Debra. What is the meaning of the word AMEN and how is it pronounced? I have heard it the first syllable pronounced as "ah," rhyming with "raw," and also as "ay," rhyming with "hay." Should we say "Ahmen" or "Aymen"? I have also heard the word itself is Hebrew shorthand for something like Almighty God Be Merciful. Any insight on AMEN will be greatly appreciated.
  • Michelle from Buffalo: Should Catholics genuflect before receiving Communion? Is it irreverent to receive it in the hand instead of on the tongue?
  • Chris on a cell phone: Why are venial sins forgiven during Mass and not mortal sins? (04/30/13)
  • Why do Catholics genuflect? What does do they think genuflecting means?
  • Mary Ann from North Tonawanda: When we had retreats in Catholic school we were told by a Priest that during Consecration, we could ask the Lord for a special favor. Is this true?

Communion Rite

  • Mark from Buffalo: Should Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist allow people to dip the host in the chalice? (05/23/13)
  • Allison: Is it okay for us to say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in private during communion? After returning to my seat after receiving communion, I'll pray the chaplet while the rest of the parishioners are still in line to receive. I always thought we had the option of joining in with whatever hymn is being sung during this time or silently offering a prayer or thanksgiving after receiving communion. (06/06/13)
  • Patricia from Facebook: I especially loved to receive by intinction. Can it only to be done by the priest?
  • Patricia from Facebook: Why don't they bring back the "paten" to be used when receiving Communion?
  • Patricia. At a Cursillo retreat we all stood after receiving holy communion as done in the early church and in some of the Eastern Catholic traditions. It really felt like we were one body. Why did we give up this custom in the West?
  • Are lay ministers allowed to run Communion services when priests or deacons are not available? (05/16/13)
  • Mary Ann from Western, NY: Does canon law permit a parish to provide Communion services on a regular basis instead of the Mass?
  • Mike: I saw a person kneel to receive Communion once, and wondered why they did that. Is that allowed? (02/26/13)
  • Can a priest dictate that people only stand to receive Communion at his church? In other words, may he prevent people from kneeling to receive Communion?
  • Can a priest require people to kneel in order to receive Communion? (06/20/13)
  • Jason from Orlando. I've heard that in the early Church, there was a prohibition against kneeling on Sunday, which I believe some Eastern Churches may still observe today. Do you know anything about this, or if and why this was changed?

Extraordinary Form (Tridentine Mass)

  • Jason from Orlando: I'm interested to know what the Roman Mass was like before the Council of Trent. Can you tell me how it was different from the Tridentine Mass or do you know of any resources where I might be able to find out? (06/18/13)


  • George from Liverpool, NY: Good afternoon, Father. In "Tra Le Sollecitudini," Pius X states that “the employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is that of noisy or frivolous instruments such as drums, cymbals, bells, and the like.’ As well as ‘It is strictly forbidden to have bands play in church.’ What happened between then and now where we have all sorts "(youth) bands" and pianos instead of organs?
  • Joe from Rochester: At our church, a local band plays during the Mass. The music is quite loud and boisterous. Is that permissible? Is there anything in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal that restricts certain kinds of songs or instruments?

Effects of Communion

Extraordinary Form of the Mass

  • Tim from Buffalo: What are the differences between between the Traditional Latin and the Mass we usually attend? (03/07/13)

Liturgical Furnishings

  • Scott from Rochester: All of the crucifixes in Catholic Churches have INRI on them. What do those letters mean? (03/27/13)
  • I see the letters "IHS" in various forms of decoration in churches--on tabernacles, on vestments, or in paintings or murals. What do those letters mean? (06/06/13)
  • What does the symbol made up of a P on top of an X stand for in Church art? (05/16/13)
  • What does the word "tabernacle" mean? Why do some churches cover the tabernacle with a veil and other churches do not? (05/30/13)
  • Tommy from Buffalo: Protestants have an empty cross in their churches. Why do Catholics keep Jesus on the Cross? (06/18/13)
  • Amy from east of Buffalo: "I attended mass at a church for my Goddaughter's Baptism and was very concerned. There were no kneelers in the Church, no statues, no crucifix, and no visible tabernacle--the Blessed Sacrament Chapel is hidden behind the altar. This does not seem to meet the standard set in the Catechism that the Blessed Sacrament should be kept in a 'most worthy place with the greatest honor'! Why is this allowed? It reminded me of when Jesus said to St. Faustina that people treat him as a dead object in the Eucharist. I can't see how a church can be allowed to show the Blessed Sacrament this much disrespect. The parishioners say they do not have statues because they gave the money to the poor instead of spending on such things."

Reverence in Church

  • Joe from Rochester: After Mass, I try to pray before the tabernacle, but it the noise of conversations seems to be increasing. Should I approach the Pastoral Administrator about this?

Liturgical Year



  • Steve from Buffalo: How do we make and keep New Year's resolutions?
  • Kathy from Buffalo: When did the Church decide to celebrate the birth of Jesus December 25th?
  • Carolyn: My daughter goes to a catholic school, and the teacher said Jesus was actually born in April, not on Dec 25th. Is that true?
  • Kelly from Facebook: How should a faithful Catholic deal with Christmas/Easter relatives who attend Christmas Mass and receive the Eucharist when they clearly are not in Communion with the Church?
  • How should Catholics respond when people say "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas"?


  • Brendan from Niagara Falls: I went to a church last week, and they have their Holy Water Font covered with a purple cloth. Some churches put sand or gravel in the holy water fonts. Is that an approved liturgical custom?
  • Some churches cover the crucifixes and statues with purple cloth toward the end of Lent, but other churches don't. Is that required or prohibited?
  • Sue Ellen: When someone's birthday or anniversary falls on Good Friday, what is the best way to celebrate it?
  • When the Solemnity of St. Joseph falls on a Friday during Lent, are we allowed to eat meat that day?
  • John from Webster: Please talk about the season of Lent. During Lent, how far can we go in treating each Sunday as a 'little' Easter? A friend of mine scoffed at a church which served donuts after the 11 AM Sunday Mass' during Lent.
  • Justin: During Lent my parish does a Mass and during this Mass they have children (high schoolers) mime the Passion of Christ. This seems wrong. Have you heard of any other parishes performing the Passion this way?
  • Mark from Buffalo, NY: Why do the Maronites have more than 40 days for Lent? They begin Lent on the Monday before Ash Wednesday.


  • John from Webster: Where does the word "Easter" comes from? Is that in the Bible? (03/27/13)
  • Amy from e-mail: Why is Good Friday on a Friday and Easter on a Sunday if Jesus rose on the third day? It seems to me that if Jesus spent three days in the tomb, He must either have died on a Wednesday or rose from the dead on a Tuesday.
  • Chris from Houston: In the Easter Vigil, the priest blesses the Paschal Candle with these words: "Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega. All time and all ages belong to Christ, to whom be glory and sovereignty through every age for ever. Amen. By the holy and glorious wounds may Christ our Redeemer strengthen us and make us whole. Amen." What do these formulas mean?

Ordinary Time

Catholic Universities

  • John from Webster: What is a "mandatum"? Is the mandatum a legal Church document, or Church contract an educator agrees to and signs when presented by the local bishop (diocese)? What effect has the mandatum had on keeping Catholic schools Catholic? (05/02/13)
- Do Catholic Universities/ Colleges Boards of Directors or the Presidents of the schools cooperate, facilitate, or prevent this contract coming into existence?
- Have local bishops given up requiring this?
- Are teachers in Catholic elementary and high schools required to have a diocesan mandatum?
  • Kevin from Buffalo: I attend a Catholic school. What should I do when the truth is not taught by my teachers? (11/29/12)
  • Have we lost the purpose of Catholic education today? (11/02/12)
  • Anonymous: Dear Father, I go to a Catholic University that has a large Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered Student organization that is funded by the university. What is the rationale for why an organization that is so against Catholic teaching is allowed and funded by a Catholic University? Is there something I should do about the situation? Thank you!

Particular Feasts

  • Why does the Church have a feast called "All Souls Day"? What is the purpose of the feast? (04/30/13)


  • John from Webster: What are the Seven Sorrows of Mary? (11/02/12)

Immaculate Conception

  • Delores from North Boston: Romans 3:23 says that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Doesn't that mean that Mary is not Immaculate but is a sinner in need of mercy, just like the rest of us? (06/20/13)
  • Carolyn from Facebook: What is the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary? I think some Catholics get it confused with the Virgin Birth of Jesus. (11/25/13)

Perpetual Virginity

  • Does the fact that the New Testament says Jesus had brothers mean that Mary did not remain a virgin after His birth? (11/29/12)
  • What does the Church teach about the perpetual virginity of Mary? (06/18/13)
  • Why does the Church believe in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary? Since marriage is a holy vocation, what would be wrong with Mary and Joseph conceiving other children together?
  • Anonymous from Buffalo: In Galatians 1:19, Paul says, "I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother." When Paul calls James "the Lord's brother," is this just a general way of speaking of people who were followers of Jesus?

Mother of God

  • Why do Eastern Christians call Mary "Theotokos"? (added 10/22/12)
  • Marsha from West Seneca: How can I explain Mary as the Mother of God to a non-Catholic? Is it in Scripture? (01/10/13)

Other Titles of Mary

  • Scott from Rochester: Where did the title of Our Lady as "Queen of Angels" come from?
  • Kathryn: How did Mary come to be referred to as the "Star of the Sea"? Etymology of "Mary." (01/15/13)


  • Norah from Amherst: What event in Scripture does the 3rd Luminous Mystery (Proclamation of the Kingdom) refer to? What should someone meditate upon during this Mystery?
  • Scot from Rochester: Sometimes when I'm praying the rosary, I'll add or subtract Hail Marys. Is that OK?
  • Gabriel from East Amherst: Where did the Rosary come from? What does the word "rosary" mean? (03/07/13)
  • What right did the pope have to add the five Luminous Mysteries to the rosary? Didn't our Lady give the mysteries to St. Dominic? If she wanted to have luminous mysteries, wouldn't she have provided them herself?
  • May Catholics wear a rosary as a necklace? What about non-Catholics, rappers, or gang members who do the same? (05/16/13)
  • Mark. Tallahassee, FL: What can we do about these kids that are wear the Rosary as jewelry?
  • I have some beautiful antique rosaries. May I hang them up so that people can see and enjoy their beauty?
  • Carolyn. Is it okay for a non-Catholic to have and pray the Rosary?
  • Fran from Rochester: The Rosary has been said for many years for world peace, and yet we still have no world peace. What are your thoughts on this?


  • Amy from East of Buffalo: How long does it take for an apparition of Our Lady to be approved? How does the process of approval work? (05/06/14)
  • Karena on Facebook: My non-Catholic Christian friend asked, "Has anyone seen any apparitions of Jesus?" I replied, "Not to my knowledge." I imagine this is because when we see Jesus next, it will be his "Second Coming," and Mary appears to remind us of this. Was I correct in what I said? (06/04/13)


  • Dan from LeRoy: What happened at Fatima? What does the Church teach about the apparitions and the accounts given by the visionaries?
  • Martina from Texas: There has recently been an email floating around about the 3rd secret of Fatima. It warned about events leading up to the end of the world and predicted that after a man in white is shot, there would be a world-wide war. I guess some people call that "Armageddon." Has the Church approved this prophecy?


  • Patricia from Buffalo, NY. Why is one shoe missing from Jesus in the portrait of Our Lady of Perpetual Help? (07/11/13)
  • Jason. Orlando. What are the four creatures that are used in Catholic art to represent the four evangelists? Where did the tradition of using those creatures come from?
  • Emily from East Aurora: Why are all of the images of God in the Scriptures and in the Catholic Tradition male-oriented? We know that God is a pure Spirit, so God does not have a male body. Why can't we use other kinds of images to represent God's presence and action in the world?


  • Alice from Batavia: People visit the Holy Land and visit the birthplace of Our Lady. How can that be if our Lady's house was transported to Loreto?


  • John from Williamsville: How do angels do battle against humans? They do not have bodies. How do they war against each other? (Added 10/22/12)
  • Are parts of cities under the dominion of Satan? (11/02/12)
  • Can people talk with their guardian angels? (Added 10/30/12)
  • Joseph from Buffalo: Can Angels read minds? What are the consequences if the devil can also read minds? (01/15/13)
  • Betty: Does God need the angels? Wouldn't the existence and activity of angels take glory away from God? (01/16/13)
  • Andrew on Facebook: Could there be any connections between the "personal gods" that people and families invoke in ancient cultures? The book, God: A Biography, suggested this might be the case.
  • Fr Mark Noonan from Tonwanda: How close are the angels to us?
  • Are all angels masculine? Are there any female angels? (12/20/12)
  • From Jerry in e-mail: Are angels or saints considered to be divine beings? (05/30/13)

What is an angel?

  • What does the word "angel" mean? (03/05/13)
  • Are angels "persons"? (07/11/13)
  • Do angels have free will?
  • Do angels live in time?
  • When were angels created? (03/27/13)
  • Can an angel repent of sin and be forgiven?
  • Can angels move physical things?
  • Can angels work miracles?
  • Can angels appear on earth? (03/07/13)
  • Do angels have wings and halos?
  • How do angels move from one place to another?
  • How do angels know?
  • Do angels have feelings? (05/02/13)
  • Do all Catholics have to believe that angels exist? (02/28/13)
  • How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
  • Do angels sing? (05/23/13)
  • Do angels play musical instruments?
  • How does angelic union compare to marital union?
  • What are the nine choirs of angels? (06/20/13)
  • Why are the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael called "saints"?
  • Bob from Cheektowaga: What is the chaplet of St. Michael?

Sin of the Angels

  • How could angels commit a sin? Aren't they pure spiritual beings with undistorted intelligence? Wouldn't they know with perfect knowledge that it is good to serve God and evil not to serve God?
  • Jason from Florida: Did the angels need a savior? Are they also saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus? (11/25/13)

Was there really a war among the angels?

  • Was there really a war among the angels? How do angels fight a war? (04/30/13)
  • Why does God let devils exist? (03/27/13)
  • Was the serpent an angel?
  • What does the word "Satan" mean? (02/28/13)
  • What does the word "devil" mean?
  • Does the devil really cause people to sin? (04/30/13)
  • Can the devil really take possession of people? (04/16/13)

Does everyone have a guardian angel?

  • Does my guardian angel have a name?
  • Is it OK for me to give my guardian angel an name?
  • Do the angels love us? (05/16/13)
  • Are the angels happy? (06/18/13)
  • Is it OK to pray to the angels?
  • Did Jesus have a guardian angel?

Why was St. Thomas called "The Angelic Doctor"?

  • Did he see angels?
  • Did he have a special devotion to the angels?
  • What was his "proof" for the existence of angels?

Extra angel questions

  • Do the people whom we love become our angels when they die?
  • Have you ever seen an angel?
  • Do you pray to the angels?
  • Why do we call Our Lady the "Queen of Angels"? (04/30/13)
  • What are "genies"?

The Devil and Demons

  • Ed from Rochester: Twice in the book of Job, a group of angels come into God's court, and among the group is Satan. How did Satan get into heaven?
  • Alice from Batavia: Can demons and spirits hear our thoughts? (03/07/13)
  • Alison from Willis, Texas: Is it true that Lucifer lost his angelic powers when he refused to serve God? If he is defeated, how is it that he has so much power to cause trouble in our world? (03/27/13)
  • Erica. Amherst. Father, Would you please explain the last part of the Gospel reading from today…about the spirit going away and then coming back to "its home," finds it all clean, and then brings in seven other demons. What does that mean? I’m confused by that every time I hear it.
  • Courtney from Amherst: Has heard before that the closer you are to being on the path that God wants you to be on, the more the devil tries to attack you. Is this true?
  • What does the Church teach regarding evil and the devil and or Satan? Are the stories about devils and demons just parables or are these real spiritual enemies? (07/11/13)


  • Sarah from the station: When Jesus exorcised the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20]), why did the demons want to inhabit the pigs? Why did Jesus let them do so? (07/28/14)

The Last Things

Second Coming of Jesus

  • Andy from Buffalo: My eighth-graders have lots of questions about the end of the world and the book of Revelation. What should I tell them? (01/03/13)
  • Barbara from Kenmore: How do you balance excitement about the possibility of Christ's return in glory with the duties of everyday life? (06/18/13)
  • Carolyn from Facebook: If St. John the Baptist is known as the one who precedes Jesus, should we look for him before the second coming of Jesus also? (06/27/13)

The Antichrist

  • When the Antichrist comes, will the Church identify him and help us to avoid following him? (05/15/14)


  • Justin from e-mail: Do the dead feel the pain of separation from the living as we feel the pain of being separated from them? If so, is this part of their suffering in Purgatory? (02/21/13)
  • Jason: When we die, do we ever lose consciousness? Did Jesus ever lose consciousness when he died?


  • Patricia from Buffalo, NY. Where on the Earth will Judgment Day take place? (05/15/14)


  • Susanne from Rochester: What will the New Jerusalem will be like? (12/13/12)
  • Ann from Orchard Park: How can I explain Heaven to my son if it is a state of being and not a place? (02/05/13)
  • Mike from Ontario: Is heaven here but in a different dimension that we can perceive only when we enter Heaven rather than some distant removed location? (05/02/13)


  • Ben from Buffalo: Do the souls in Purgatory know they will be saved? (02/07/13)
  • Jim from Buffalo: Is there any way to know if someone for whom I have been praying for a long time has been released from Purgatory? (05/30/13)
  • Kathy from Buffalo: What is the "temporal punishment due to sin" that is inflicted on souls in Purgatory? (02/28/13)
  • Carolyn. Is it true that souls in purgatory cannot pray for themselves? Is this why we have to pray for them? (07/28/14)
  • Amy from Facebook: Must you receive communion on the same day you seek a plenary indulgence or can it be from communion you received days prior? (06/25/13)
  • Chris: What are the conditions for gaining a plenary indulgence? (03/07/13)
  • From Facebook: I was in adoration and picked up a card that explained if I followed the prayer on it, went to confession within certain time frames, attended Mass a certain number of times, etc, I would be kept from purgatory and three generations after me would be as well. Then a fellow Catholic shared with me that the way to receive a request was to make a "promesa" or promise to the Virgin that I would do something for her if she helped fulfill my request. I felt as if this would be bargaining with God to get Him to do my will instead of letting God mold me to His. What does the Church teach about devotions like this?
  • Jason from Los Angeles: I used to see indulgences printed in the prayer books of 30 or 50 years, but I don't see any printed in those of these days and age. Would you please tell me more about indulgences since I don't hear any priests or clergy talk about them and their importance? What are they? How many kinds of them? How does God use them as offered from us?


  • Rick from Grand Island: In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, John Paul II wrote: "There is a destination to eternal damnation as well, which consists in the ultimate rejection of God, the ultimate break of the communion with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit...Eternal damnation is certainly proclaimed in the Gospel. To what degree is it realized in life beyond the grave? This is, ultimately, a great mystery (pg. 72-73)." On Culture Talks: The Pope made a statement that there is a hell, but can't be sure there are people there.
  • Sam from Buffalo: Why does the Apostle's Creed say, "He descended into hell"? We got into a discussion about Heaven and Hell being spiritual states, not physical locations.
  • Alison from Willis, Texas: I have heard many people explain hell as being the absence of God and a place where the damned cannot feel anything but hate. Those who will eventually go to Heaven will eventually receive some type of transfigured bodies. Is this the right way to think about Heaven and Hell? Do the souls of the damned also receive a resurrected body at the Last Judgment? (04/30/13)
  • Lara from Buffalo: Can God uncreate things that He has created? What is the status of the fallen angels and the damned? Could God make them cease to exist? (04/23/13)
  • Do we know for sure whether anyone is in Hell? (06/20/13)

Apocalyptic Prophecies in Church History

  • Donna from Little Valley: "What does the Church think about the prophecies of Nostradamus?" (05/15/14)


  • Christina: Are Catholics the only ones who have saints whose bodies are incorrupt? (10/22/12)
  • Are we obliged to believe in all of the visions and all of the writings of the saints? They are perfect, aren't they? Doesn't that mean that there is no error in what they taught? (12/06/12)
  • Barbara from Kenmore: At a Jesuit parish, the priests gave a blessing with the relics of a saint after Mass was over. Is it appropriate to do that? It seems as though doing so would detract from the greatest possible graces just give in Holy Communion. (07/11/13)
  • Question from anonymous: What is the best way to pray to the saints? (06/18/13)
  • Yasmin from Facebook: We had begun talking about Father Pio, and the topic of incorruptible bodies came up. How do we know if a body is incorruptible? The idea of the Church digging up the bodies seems too far-fetched & weird. Does the custom of keeping the bodies in glass cases prevent them from decaying?
  • Jason from Florida: Is there any method used for determining a saint's feast day? Who makes the decision? (03/05/13)
  • Grace from West Seneca: Was St. Joseph born with Original Sin? How old was he when he became engaged to Mary?
  • Diane from Rochester: When the Church investigates claims of miraculous healing, how does it know which saint is responsible for the miracle? (05/03/13)
  • Marsha from Rochester: How would you explain the Communion of Saints to a non-Catholic? (05/02/13)
  • Jerry: Is there a record of the first recorded saints or when the title saint was first used? (05/23/13)
  • Why is St. Joseph called "the terror of demons"? (11/25/13)

Canonization process

  • Dave from Amherst: How does canonization work? What are the criteria used to judge that someone is a saint? (03/27/13)
  • Could a non-Catholic be canonized by the Catholic Church?
  • Jason. Los Angeles. What are the criteria for a saint to be promoted as Doctor of the Church? What is the purpose of the promotion for the title of Doctor of the Church? Who is the most important doctor of church in your opinion?
  • Charlie. South Buffalo. Why did John Paul II do away with the Devil's Advocate in the canonization process? (06/06/13)
  • Mark from Boston: What is the difference between being beatified and canonized? I know you are beautified with one miracle after you die, so why does it take another one to be canonized? Why isn't one miracle enough?

Development of Doctrine

  • What does the Catholic Church mean by the words "Holy Trinity." Is that phrase found in the Scriptures? (Added 10/22/12)
  • Has Catholic doctrine changed over the centuries, or hasn't it? In particular, did Vatican II change the teaching of the Church? (11/29/12)
  • Wasn't the Body of Christ really simple in the beginning, with no rules or rulers? Hasn't the Catholic Church betrayed Jesus by inventing all kinds of things not found in the Scriptures? (11/29/12)
  • Dan from Akron: Why are the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed so different? (02/19/13)
  • Tom from Webster: Why do Christians today ignore the commandment in Acts chapter 15 which prohibits eating the blood of animals?
  • Emile, a Muslim, from Buffalo: How much power does the Church have to change Biblical law? (05/02/13)
  • Why does the Church call those who disagree with her teaching "heretics"? Didn't Jesus say not to pass judgment on others? (05/28/13)
  • Gloria from Rochester: "What does the word 'dogmatic' mean?" (12/13/12)
  • Jason from Orlando: Is there a difference between the word "doctrine" and the word "dogma"? (05/30/13)
  • Jason from Orlando: My understanding of the decision of the Council of Jerusalem (described in Acts 15) is that it determined that under the New Covenant, Gentile (non-Jewish) converts to Christianity are not bound by Mosaic Law regarding things like circumcision, dietary laws, and observance of the Sabbath. (06/20/13)
    • First, am I understanding Acts 15 correctly? (06/20/13)
    • Second, are Jews who become Christians bound by Mosaic Law?
    • Third, is the decision in Acts 15 not to impose Mosaic law on Gentile converts a legitimate defense for observing Sunday as "the Day of the Lord," that is, the primary day of worship, prayer, and rest, instead of Saturday, which is the seventh day of the week for the Jews, the day that God commanded to be kept holy.


  • Cherrie and John from Facebook: What does the word "magisterium" mean? Is it in the Bible? (06/27/13)
  • Jonathan from East Amherst: How many dogmas are there in the Church's teaching? (04/30/13)
  • John from Buffalo: How can Protestants ignore passages like 2 Timothy 4:3-4? "The time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths." (06/27/13)

Catholic Understanding of God

Existence and Attributes of God

  • Carol from Depew: My 5-year-old granddaughter wants to know "who made God?" (05/16/13)

Divine Omniscience

  • Fran from Rochester: If God knows everything that I am going to do in my life, how do I have free will? Along the same lines, it seems as though my prayers can't make any difference. God already knows my future and He already knows what He will do in my life.


  • Gerald from Rochester: Are the persons of the Trinity "distinct ways of being"? (02/21/13)
  • Diane from Rochester: Do the persons of the Blessed Trinity worship each other? (05/15/14)
  • Liz from Elma: A deacon once told me I should start a prayer with "Jesus...Jesus....Jesus..." because of the Trinity. He said that Jesus likes things done in threes. That sounds superstitious to me. What do you think?

God the Father

God the Son

  • Anne from Rochester: What does 1 Cor 15:28 mean? "When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will [also] be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all." Does this passage mean that Jesus is not really God?
  • What is the Hypostatic Union? (05/23/13)
  • God is all-knowing. If Jesus is God, why does He not know the end of days, and only the Father knows? (06/11/13)
  • Alex from Pennsylvania: I have heard it said that Christ experienced the entire range of human conditions since he was both human and divine. Thus, we have his empathy when we appeal to him. However because he was sinless, he did not experience guilt, pains of conscience or gratitude for forgiveness. These are major human experiences that we've all had. I believe he understands, but he couldn't experience them. How can we be assured that he knows what these things feel like, in the way he experienced sadness, friendship or joy, etc?
  • John Z. from Facebook: "At what point in Jesus life does he realize His divinity? Are there any hints in Scripture? What about Mary--when did she know? If she did know, how would one go about parenting one's own creator?"

God the Holy Spirit

  • Mario from Buffalo: Why is it that our Orthodox brothers and sisters do not accept the Filioque? (04/30/13)
  • Anonymous. How can the average lay person understand who the Holy Spirit is? I can easily picture the Father and the Son, but the Spirit seems to be totally invisible.
  • Elaine from Tonawanda: The new Translation of the Mass changed the Nicene Creed in the article about the Holy Spirit. The old translation said that we worshiped the Holy Spirit; the new translation says that we adore the Holy Spirit. Is there a theological difference between worshiping and adoring?
  • Fran from Rochester: When and why did the Church change the phrase "Holy Ghost" to "Holy Spirit"?
  • Rich: What are the gifts of the spirit? I'm especially interested in an intuitive knowledge of people, the word of knowledge and discernment of spirits.
  • Dan from The Thruway: Can you recommend a good book on the Holy Spirit? (11/25/13)
  • Brian from Buffalo: Was the Holy Spirit revealed to His people before Pentecost or was Pentecost the first revelation of the Holy Spirit? (07/28/14)

Old Testament History

  • David from Lackawana: Did the United Kingdom of Israel break up during King Solomon's reign? (03/07/13)
  • Brendan in Amherst: How was Jewish society run if there wasn't a King after the Babylonian Captivity in 586 BC? Did it become a theocracy? (01/15/13)
  • Ed from Rochester: Did Abraham know that he would not be required to kill Isaac? (02/28/13)

New Testament History

  • Jason from Facebook: What languages did Jesus know and speak during His earthly ministry? (03/27/13)

Church history

  • Dave: Was the Church born when Jesus died on the Cross (blood and water from His side) or on the day of Pentecost? (Added 10/26/12)
  • Why did the Jews reject Jesus? Weren't they waiting for a Christ? (Added 10/22/12)
  • Rick from Grand Island: Why do languages go dead? Why isn't Latin spoken today as it was in the patristic era? (01/03/13)
  • Joan from Buffalo: When did the Catholic church start to call itself "Catholic"? Why did it change from "Christian" to "Catholic"? Doesn't the change of name suggest that the Catholic Church is not Christian? (07/11/13)

Faith and Reason

  • Should Christians try to prove the articles of faith by reason alone? If someone seeks scientific evidence for the resurrection, wouldn't that mean that the resurrection was not a miracle? If science could explain the resurrection, then it would seem that the resurrection is something natural rather than something supernatural. (11/29/12)
  • Emmanuel from Rochester: Are faith and reason opposed to each other? Isn't someone who just believes what they are told a better person than someone who wants explanations and arguments in favor of the faith? (11/15/12)
  • Daniel: Can you have wisdom without a lot of intelligence? (11/02/12)
  • How does St. Thomas Aquinas understand the relationship between faith and reason? (Natural theology vs. revealed truths.) (Added 10/22/12)
  • Bob from Boston, NY: What did St. Thomas Aquinas mean by "Lifeless Faith"? (Nature and Grace ix.i.iv.iv). (05/06/14)
  • John from California on Facebook: What is the greatest challenge when explaining that faith is supported by reason and that reason needs to be grounded in faith? What are the cultural roadblocks that keep people from grasping the relationship between faith and reason? I guess what I am really asking is for advice on the best way to show that the act of faith is not irrational and not anti-scientific, but a very reasonable and intelligent choice. (05/28/13)

Catholicism and Science

  • Why did the Church condemn Galileo? Is the Church opposed to science? (12/20/12)
  • Will from North Carolina: What does the Church teach about aliens? If they exist, are they, too, saved by Jesus' death on the Cross? (01/16/13)
  • John from Cheektowaga: Stephen Hawkings claims that there is no need to think that God created the universe; he can imagine our universe popping into existence as a consequence of the law of gravity. What does the Church think about that kind of speculation? (05/02/13)

Catholicism and the Arts

  • John from Buffalo: The Michelangelo sculpture "Pieta" portrays our Blessed Mother holding her son across her lap as she sits on a rock. What does "pieta" mean? (04/23/13)
  • Should Catholics buy the Harry Potter books or watch the movies? Since the author is clearly against many teachings of the Church, isn't it wrong for Catholics to endorse her work in any way? (04/18/13)
  • Jenny from Boca Raton, FL: Is it bad to listen to non-Catholic/Church-related music? [The same kind of question could be asked about watching secular TV shows or movies, or reading non-Christian literature. The general question is "how much may a Catholic use forms of popular entertainment in good conscience?"] (06/25/13)
  • My husband doesn't allow our kids to watch movies that have any magic, witches, or the slightest suggestion of something against the Church. For example the Disney Princesses, with the "fairy godmothers" and witches. He didn't want to see Kung Fu Panda because of the Chinese mysticism and the meaning of the yin yang, but a Catholic priest recommended it as a great family movie. My question is where do we draw the line? Are we going over board keeping them from these children's movies?
  • Anonymous: I'm almost 16 years old, and my friend and I like to get together and play video games. My parents don't want me to play violent ones, but I don't think it really matters, if the simulated killing takes place in a good cause within the story provided by the game. "Call of Duty" does not encourage mindless killing as in "Grand Theft Auto;" there's actually a complex, realistic storyline in which the soldier fights in the national interest. I think the game gives a pretty accurate presentation of what it's like to serve in the military. I don't think it's any worse than watching a war movie.

Catholicism and Other Religions

Catholicism itself

  • Did Vatican II change the teaching that the Catholic Church is the "one true Church"?
  • Why does the Catholic Church teach that there is "no salvation outside the Church?" Does that mean that Catholics think only Catholics can go to Heaven?

Apologetics: Explaining the Faith

  • Nicole on the 290 between Millersport and the Boulevard. Father, I have a friend who describes herself as a 'secular humanist.' Trying to talk to her about morality issues such as abortion and homosexual 'marriage' is like trying to convince a brick wall. Aside from praying for the Holy Spirit to bonk her over the head with a revelation, what should I do?
  • Jason from Orlando, Florida: How can we be passionate and honest about proclaiming the Truth and still remain charitable with those with whom we disagree?

Judaism vs. Catholicism

  • Sam from Buffalo: What are "Messianic Jews"? How do they relate to Catholicism? (05/02/13)
  • Does the Catholic Church hold all Jews responsible for the death of Jesus? (05/15/14)
  • What does the Catholic Church teach about contemporary Jews? Can they be saved without being converted and baptized? (05/03/13)
  • Jason: What does the feast of Hannukah celebrate? What lessons can Catholics learn from this Jewish feast? (05/23/13)
  • Jason. Los Angeles, CA:
  1. Is it appropriate for Catholics to celebrate Jewish holidays? (06/16/13)
  2. Is there any Jewish tradition that the Catholic Church adopts or reserves from the Jewish traditions? (11/25/13)
  3. I have read somewhere that the Jewish people will have returned to God and accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah before the second coming of Christ. Can you confirm this information?
  4. Do the Jews still believe in God? What is the difference between Reformed and Orthodox Jews? (06/18/13)
  • Jason. Orlando. Are Jews today still bound by the 613 commandments of the Old Covenant found in the Torah? If so, would a Jewish person bound by the 613 commandments of the Old Covenant still be bound by them if they became Catholic?
  • John. Wilson. Did the Ancient Jews have to confess to the priest before they offered sacrifice? (06/04/13)
  • Steve from Buffalo: What is the difference between a Jew who converts to Christianity and someone who is a 'Jew for Jesus?'
  • Does the Church approve of holding Christian Seders at parishes? (06/20/13)
  • John from Webster: Is it OK for Catholics to eat kosher or halal foods? Would that be considered an act of idolatry for Catholics?
  • Joe from Ontario: Is there any evidence that Jesus' teachings changed the legalistic way that the Jews looked at the law?

Sedevacantists vs. Catholics

  • Bryan from e-mail: I stumbled on a site for The Most Holy Family Monastery in Filmore, NY. They call themselves a traditional Catholic community. But they have some disturbing views of the Church. Can you tell us anything about them?

Orthodox vs. Catholics

  • Erica from Williamsville, New York: Is the Coptic church a rite within the Catholic Church? Is there such a thing as an Orthodox Coptic Church?
  • Jason from Orlando: Have there ever been any groups of Catholics under the Roman Rite who have broken Communion with Rome to seek Communion with Constantinople and the other autocephalous Orthodox Churches, the non-Chalcedonian Churches, or the Anglican Communion?
  • John from e-mail: Other than the earliest fathers of the church, are there any saints that are both recognized in the Greek orthodox and the catholic churches?
  • Jason from Orlando: I've heard that there are some Orthodox churches that do not recognize Catholic baptism. The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of their baptisms; why do they not accept our sacrament? (07/11/13)

Protestants vs. Catholics

  • Why can't Catholics take communion in Protestant services? Aren't we all supposed to love one another? (01/03/13)
  • Cecil from Buffalo: Why don't Protestants believe in Mary like we do?
  • Why do Protestants and Catholics have a different list of the 10 commandments? For Protestants, the first commandment is "I am the Lord Your God." The second commandment is, "You shall make no graven images." For Catholics, the first commandment is, "I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods before me." The second Catholic commandment is, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord your God in vain." At the end, Protestants have only one coveting commandment that deals with coveting both spouses and goods; Catholics have two separate commandments about not coveting.
  • Jen from Facebook: Buffalo. I have a friend who was recently "saved". She is very excited, and I'm glad she found faith in Christ. However, now she seems to be on a mission to "save" everyone. I've talked to her about the Catholic beliefs and why we believe what we believe. I am getting tired and frustrated with our conversations because she does not understand why I think that I and my fellow Catholics are saved. How can I persuade her that her anxiety about my salvation is misplaced?
  • Sylvia from e-mail: Can non-Catholic Christians go to confession? (05/30/13)

Born Again

  • Bonnie from Lancaster: What are people talking about when they say "you must be born again"?
  • What do people mean when they talk about being "born again"? Is it OK for Catholics to pray to be "born again"?

Faith vs. Works

  • Bob: Can you recommend some resources to help me understand the relationship between salvation by grace and our call to perform good works? (03/27/13)
  • Kathy. Buffalo. What are the "works of the Law," and are we still held accountable today for them? "A person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified" (Gal 2:16).

Episcopalians (Anglicans)

  • Amy from Rochester. What is the difference between Anglicans and Episcopalians?
  • Christina on Facebook: Do the Anglo-Catholics have valid sacraments?

Anglican Ordinariate

  • Kevin from Buffalo: Will the new Anglican ordinariate open the door to relaxation of the requirement for priestly celibacy in the rest of the Latin rite? (06/11/13)
  • Pope Francis recently (July, 2013) made some change in the conditions under which Catholics can join the Anglican Ordinariate. What were those changes, and why did the Pope make it easier for non-Anglican converts to join the Ordinariate?
  • Jason from Los Angeles: What are requirements for Anglican parishes to convert to Catholicism and become part of the Anglican Ordinariate? How does the Catholic Church know that the parish is fully in communion with the Church? Will I be able to receive Holy Communion in an Ordinariate parish if I attend Mass there?


  • The Mormons are truly excellent people. They live virtuous lives and have large families. Didn't Jesus say that we were supposed to judge people by the fruit that they bore? Doesn't the goodness of Mormon life prove that they are following God? (06/25/13)

Jehovah's Witnesses

  • Dawn. Rochester. I have a friend who is a Jehovah's Witness. She says that the Holy Spirit isn't a person. She quotes Acts 2:17 to make her case. It reads, "'It will come to pass in the last days,’ God says, ‘that I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.'" How can I explain the Church's teaching to her? (06/27/13)


  • Why has there been so much war between Muslims and Christians? Why did Christians think that God would be pleased with the Crusades? (02/21/13)
  • What books would be helpful in learning more about the history of Catholicism and Islam? (01/17/13)
  • Is it true that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all have the same God?
  • Why do people call Islam "the religion of peace"?
  • What is the right way for Catholics to think about the history of the Crusades? Didn't popes and saints preach that war was good? Didn't the pope promise that those who died in battle would go straight to Heaven?


  • Hindus say that we continue to come back to this world after this lifetime in either a higher or lower form of life, depending on whether we have done good or evil, until at last we become perfect. I like this idea a lot. Why don't Catholics teach reincarnation?


  • The Buddha taught people to empty their minds of everything and just meditate in peace. Buddhists don't have to believe in a creed or go to church or put money in the collection. That seems to me like a much better religion than Catholicism, with all of its rules and regulations. Please comment on this. (06/04/13)



Zen Buddhism




  • Rich: What does the Church teach about "deja vu" or people who have a "sixth sense"? (06/27/13)
  • Steve from Buffalo: Some people have had very strong experiences of knowing when a loved one dies. Is that a sign that they have ESP? What should we think about such experiences? (07/11/13)

New Age Religions and Spiritualities from Eastern Religions

  • Andrew from Niagara Falls: What is your opinion on Yoga as exercise? (03/27/13)
  • Anonymous from e-mail: I am an aerobic instructor and I teach a dance-based aerobic class. There's nothing spiritual about it. My question is, in some of her stretching, they use Pilates and yoga-based moves, and I just learned today that yoga positions give honor to a deity. Am I doing bad things by instructing people in this way?
  • Can Catholics receive or administer Reiki therapy? (05/23/13)
  • Many popular speakers say that our suffering is created because of our failure to fully realize our own divinity. Is it true that Jesus came to show us how to create an alternate reality by creating an inner reality of health and power? Will visualizing myself as healthy, prosperous, and happy cause me to be healthy, prosperous, and happy? (06/27/13)

Generic idea of religion vs. Catholicism

  • Aren't all religions equal? They all seem to say the same thing: be good and good things will come to you. Why do Catholics think that they have something better than all other religious of the world?
  • I think all religions are evil--religion causes people to do horrible things. I can't take any religion seriously, especially Catholicism. "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely."
  • Nobody can know anything for sure. It is wrong for Catholics to think that they have the truth and other people don't. Everyone has a right to their own opinions. Catholics shouldn't judge what other people believe to be true or good or beautiful. Who is to say who is right?

Cooperation with Antagonists of the Church

  • John in Tonawanda: Would it be improper for Catholics to attend a festival promoted by a Hellenic Orthodox Church? (01/16/13)
  • Leo from Rochester: should we boycott corporations who promote Planned Parenthood and/or same-sex marriage? (02/05/13)
  • Lisa from Buffalo: Is it a sin to go to particular restaurants because they support Planned Parenthood? (06/27/13)

Catholic Family Life

  • Guy from Harrisburg: Listening on iCatholicRadio through his Android phone. Whenever our daughter brings one of her non-Catholic school friends on vacation with us, how do we make her feel comfortable, as we don't plan on changing our routine of grace before meals, family prayers before bed, and, of course, church on Sunday? (06/27/13)
  • Liz from Elma, New York: My ex-husband and his family are not Catholic. When the kids are visiting them (out of town), they sometimes take them to their Protestant church on a Sunday, but not always. They never take them to Mass. What should I do? The kids are 10-18.


  • Anna from Rochester: When speaking to a priest, should people use the priest's first name or his last name? In other words, should people say "Father Marty" or "Father Moleski"? (05/03/13)

Parish life

  • Anonymous: Is it a sin to attend other Catholic churches to find one that is more interesting to me than my parish church? (06/18/13)
b) frowned upon by the church?
c) unwise to do this?

Religious life

  • Ed from Rochester: Why are there so many religious orders in the Catholic Church? Shouldn't all Catholics have the same way of life? (added 10/22/12)
  • Paul from Amherst: Why are some Carmelites called "discalced"? What does that word mean? (03/07/13)
  • John from e-mail: Can you shed some light what an oblate is and where this term originates? (06/18/13)
  • Barbara from Greece (Rochester), NY: Why are there so many orders of monks & priests--Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans, Passionists, Redemptorists, Barnabites, Trappists, Cistercians, Carthusians? How did it all start?
  • Dennis from Buffalo: When did the practice of priests and sisters wearing habits originate from? And why does it seem that more and more are getting away from wearing the traditional habits? Have the rules been relaxed?


  • Phil from Medina: Why do bad things happen to good people? (03/07/13)
  • Why did Jesus have to suffer? (01/16/13)
  • If Jesus' suffering is all-sufficient, why do we have to suffer? (03/07/13)
  • Christopher Janiak: Why do some animals experience pain if they aren't guilty of original sin? (01/10/13)
  • Anonymous from Amherst: My teenage son asked, "If God is a loving God, why does He let people die and suffer every day? Even if people can help others, most don't, so why doesn't God intervene?
  • From a Monsignor of the second rank with an inquiring mind via e-mail: The closing oration of the Feast of the Sorrows of Mary reads: "may we make up in our own lives, whatever is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the good of the Church." What could be possibly be "lacking" in the sufferings of Christ?
  • Bill from Scituate, MA: What did Paul mean in Colossians 1:24 when he said, "In my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church"? In what sense could the afflictions of Christ be at all "lacking"?
  • Billy from Buffalo: Does Father feel that it is harder to be a Priest today than it was in the past?
  • Jason from Los Angeles: I have been contemplating on God's providence, patience, omnipotence and omniscience. Why did God allow Satan, an imperfect creature, to spoil his works while He is perfect; for instance, He allowed Satan to tempt Eve and let him win the battle? Wouldn't God want all things He created to remain as good as the day God created them?
  • Lizette: At work we were talking about people we know who have to go through pain and hard times. Why do some people suffer and others do not?


  • Josh from South Buffalo: What can we say to someone who claims that the embryo is not a human until there's brain activity? (05/16/13)
  • Scott from Rochester: What would you say to a woman who's had an abortion? What type of Penance would you give? (04/30/13)


  • (not a question) Kevin from Buffalo: It seems that very few Catholics today investigate and verify miracles (for acceptance or dismissal), leaving it almost entirely up to atheists. Outside of canonization procedures, of course, but those aren't really public."

Catholic Ethics

Avoiding Cooperation with Evil

  • Would it be wrong to sign up for health insurance that covers abortion?

The End Does Not Justify the Means

  • Mary from Clarence: Why does the Church say that 'the end doesn't justify the means'? (12/13/12)
  • Phillip from Medina: When James Kopp killed Barnett Slepian in 1998, was he guilty of committing a sin even though he stopped an even greater one?


  • Jeff from Rochester: What happens to the soul of the fertilized cell during cell divisions that occur during the formation of 'mirror-image twins'? (06/27/13)


  • Amy from East of Buffalo: What does the church teach about infant bonding, breastfeeding, and the like. I am looking for something to encourage more of my friends and family to nurse and to discourage so much of the material 'needs' that our culture throws at new moms. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

Catholic Medical Ethics

  • Mike from Webster: What does the Church teach about organ donation and transplants? Is it OK to sign the organ donor form on our driver's license? Is it OK to accept an organ transplant? (01/22/13)
  • A friend from e-mail: Does the Church allow people to donate part of their liver to someone who needs a transplant? (03/27/13)
  • Justin from e-mail: How does the Catholic Church feel about donating corpses to medical schools for education instead of having the traditional burial services?
  • Anonymous from overseas via Facebook: Is tubal ligation accepted by the Church if it is for the sake of the mom's health? (06/18/13)
  • How much freedom do Catholics have to refuse medical treatment? Under what conditions are we obliged to try to save our lives? When may we give up, either for ourselves or for those for whom we are responsible? (07/11/13)
  • Frank from Missassauga ON: Is it OK for Catholics who suffer from various mental conditions such as OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorer), depression, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), or PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) to use psychoactive drugs? Wouldn't it be better for those people to control themselves by developing the proper virtues and spiritual dispositions to cope with those conditions?

In Vitro Fertilization

  • Corrado (male) from from Rochester, NY: Because in vitro fertilization is means that conception does not occur in the natural way that God planned, is this a human being with a soul? What about the other fertilized eggs in this process but not implanted? Do they have a human soul?

Genetic Engineering

  • Scientists have created genetically engineered crops. What does the Church teach about eating such unnatural food?
  • It seems as though scientists will learn how to get rid of bad genes or replace unwanted traits with desirable traits in humans through genetic engineering. To me, that doesn't seem any different from doing surgery on or providing medicine for children and grownups. What does the Church teach about this?


  • Steve from e-mail: I was surprised that Mass was said at a "memorial service" for someone who committed suicide. What is the Church's teaching about this? (06/11/13)

Suicide vs. Accepting Death

  • Cathy from Buffalo: My eleven-year-old grandson asked, "What if you threw yourself in front of a bullet or a car to save someone, but you knew you'd die as a result? Is that all right?" (12/14/12)

Entertainment and Ethics

  • John from Webster: Is it possible to watch a horror movie that portrays evil activities just for entertainment? Or does attendance at the movie mean that the viewer is supporting the work of evil spirits? (01/15/13)

Natural Family Planning

  • Jason from Florida: A friend was defending the Church's teaching about the intrinsic evil of artificial contraception when talking with some Protestants, who said that this teaching wasn't found in Scripture. Is there a scriptural basis that can be used to support the Church's teaching on this matter? How can we explain it to non-Catholic Christians who believe in sola scriptura? (04/18/13)
  • Which aspect of marital relations is most important? Unitive or procreative? (06/11/13)

Church and State

  • Anne from Buffalo: Shouldn't those who want pro-choice or pro-abortion politicians to be condemned by the Church also seek the condemnation of politicians who oppose labor laws and aid to the poor? Such politicians are also acting against Catholic teaching. (06/27/13)
  • Why do people talk about the Church's teaching on abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human cloning, and same-sex "marriage" as "non-negotiables"? What is it about this group of teachings that makes them different from other Church teachings about our social life? Aren't issues like making peace, gun control, capital punishment, environmental issues, health care, labor law, concern for the poor, and immigration reform also of concern to Catholics? (05/03/13)

Same-sex marriage

  • The Church allows heterosexual couples to marry who know that, for one reason or another, they can never have children. Doesn't giving permission to heterosexual couples to have sterile marital relations support the view of those who lobby for same-sex marriage?
  • The Church teaches that adoption is good. Why then is it opposed to allowing same-sex couples to adopt children?

Forms of government

  • Sarong from the Philippines via Facebook: "Does the Church have any social teaching on forms of government? I know she is against communism, but is she against parliamentary forms of government? The Philippines is currently under a Presidential form of government. There are some factions that suggest it should be changed to parliamentary. They are accusing the Catholic Church (in the Philippines) of going against the Parliamentary form of government. Do you have any opinion about this?"

War and Peace

  • What is the "Just War Theory"? I don't see anything like that in the Scriptures. (12/04/12)
  • Why aren't Catholics pacifists? The Quaker tradition seems closer to the ideal proposed by Jesus to "turn the other cheek." (12/06/12)
  • Sarah from West Seneca: The Church teaches that "the end never justifies the means," so we can never do something evil in order to accomplish something good. The just war theory seems to contradict that teaching. (04/30/13)

Ethical Treatment of Animals

  • Tom from Webster. Does the Church accept the use of animal tissues and organs for surgery and transplants? (05/02/13)
  • Does the Catholic Church endorse the use of animals in medical experiments and product testing? (04/11/13)
  • Is hunting for sport okay? (07/28/14)

Animal souls

  • Do animals have souls? (04/18/13)
  • Will all animals go to Heaven? Most importantly, will my pets be with me in Heaven? (05/03/13)

Vegan Questions

  • From Wake Up: (edited and abridged)
  1. I learned in Catholic church that God is called the most merciful being, so why would He create sentient beings who are intelligent, can feel pain, and become frightened, as humans do, only to have them tortured horribly by humans? (06/11/13)
  2. Did God say that He created animals for humans to consume? (06/18/13)
  3. How would we feel if we were forcibly and repeatedly impregnated as milk cows are? How would we feel if the babies we carried for nine months were taken away from us and slaughtered so that the milk nature meant for them could be collected and sold for others to drink? How would we feel if we were hooked up to milking machines until we were "spent," then shipped off to slaughter when we became too sick or too weak to be financially valuable?
  4. The Catholic church teaches their followers to oppose abortion because it is a mortal sin to kill, yet they allow their followers to brutally kill animals in order to satisfy the followers' taste buds. Isn't it hypocritical to protest the killing of human beings and not protest the killing of other living beings?
  5. I learned in Catholic church that arrogance is the most basic cause of every sin. Isn't it arrogant to allow humans to treat animals without compassion as we have been doing for so long?

Resisting evil

  • Anonymous from Buffalo: I offered hospitality to some people, but they took advantage of me and stole from me. Jesus says we are supposed to give the shirt off of our backs and go the extra mile, but does this mean that we must let people abuse us? (06/20/13)


  • Isn't gambling a sin? How can Catholics justify playing bingo at church? (06/25/13)


  • John from Wilson: What is the difference between psychics and prophets? (01/10/13)


  • Kathrine from Byron: Is it ever taking the Lord's name in vain to say "God bless America"? Will God always hear our prayer for our country?

Forgiving our enemies

  • How can we forgive people who have done real evil to us? Does Jesus require us to "forgive and forget"? (12/14/12)

The Church

  • John Z. from Facebook: Is the church considered the Kingdom of God here on earth? (04/18/13)
  • I've heard a song that says, "I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together." Does that fit with the Church's self-understanding?

Precepts of the Church

  • I've heard that there are precepts of the Church. What does that mean and what are they? (01/10/13)
  • If the Bible says we are only to follow God's Commandments, how can the Church require its members to follow the man-made "Precepts of the Church"? (06/25/13)

1. Attend Mass

  • Are Catholics really required to attend Mass on Sunday? (12/14/12)
  • From Sam in e-mail: Can you direct me to a source or church doctrine that states a mortal sin is committed when one misses Mass on a holy day of obligation?
  • If I'm serving active duty and only have access to a Protestant service, does it fulfill my Sunday obligation? (06/06/13)
  • Barbara: How can we help children to want to go to Mass? I know that parents answering "You must go to Mass because I say so" or "because the Church says so" might be the end of a discussion, but that seems to produce resentment among the young, especially teenagers. How can we present the Sunday obligation in an attractive and persuasive fashion?
  • Jennifer. Williamsville, New York. I was having a discussion with some co-workers about missing Mass and whether it is sin and, if it is a sin, whether it is mortal or venial.
  1. What are the “rules” around that situation? Is it always a sin to miss Mass even if there is a “good” reason? Some of the example brought up were traveling, working on Sundays, being sick and unintentionally sleeping in.
  2. One of my co-workers mentioned that a priest told her she doesn’t need to make it to confession before she receives again “if she didn’t really mean it” and “was sorry.” I was under the impression that to receive the Eucharist again, you had to go to confession regardless of the reason for missing Mass.
  • John from e-mail: "Isn't the Feast of Saint Joseph on March 19 a Holy Day of Obligation in canon law? Has there ever been a time when the Bishop's in this country treated it as such? Also, are there a better reasons, other than poor Mass attendance and the additional burden on priests who would have to say extra Masses as to why so many of the ten Holy Days listed in Canon Law are abrogated? In my very limited wisdom these would seem to be very poor reasons to limit personal sacrifice and the Sacrifice of the Mass."

2. Confess sin

3. Receive the Eucharist

4. Fast and abstain

  • Jason from Orlando: What does Canon law require for Friday Penance and abstaining from meat? Why is fish allowed? May Catholics eat eggs on days of abstinence?
  • A friend in Amherst: canon 1251 says that Catholics are to abstain from eating meat on every Friday of the year. Why don't Catholics in the United States obey that canon?
  • Jason from Orlando: Is Friday penance required on a solemnity?

5. Donate

Protestant Questions

  • From a set of apologetic flash cards by Ascension Press. The cards have short answers on the back for these questions.
  • Do Catholics think, "I can sin today, and go to confession tomorrow"? (06/20/13)
  • Some Protestant friends say, "At every Catholic Mass, Jesus is sacrificed again and again." Does Jesus die at each Mass? How can Jesus die more than once?
  • Catholics call the Mass a "Holy Sacrifice." Does this mean that they believe Jesus dies again in every Mass? The letter to the Hebrews says that Jesus suffered and died “once for all.”
  • If Catholics literally eat Jesus' flesh, doesn't that make them cannibals?
  • Why do call Mary the "Mother of God" when they say the "Hail Mary"? Isn't Mary just Jesus' human mother? She is only human, so she can't be the mother of Jesus' divinity.
  • Matthew 13:55-56 proves that Jesus had brothers and sisters. That means that the Catholic Church is wrong in thinking that Mary was "ever-virgin."
  • The fact that Mary calls God her "Savior" means that she must have sinned--and that, in turn, means that Catholics are wrong to call her "Immaculate."
  • The Bible does not call Mary "Queen of Heaven." Why do Catholics use that non-Scriptural title? (03/27/13)
  • Why do Catholics have priests? All Christians are priests according to 1 Peter 2:9, where it says, "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood." (05/23/13)
  • (not a question) Purgatory is not necessary. You're either saved or not saved.
  • (not a question) St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that to be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord. Christians go straight to Heaven after death. There is no purgatory.
  • Do Catholics think that Purgatory gives them a second chance to be saved? (01/16/13)
  • (not a question) Catholics distort the Scriptures. It says in 1 John 5:13 that we can know we have eternal life. As a Protestant, I have "blessed assurance" that I am saved. Catholics don't understand this gospel truth. Once you are saved, you are saved forever.
  • (not a question) Catholics count the commandments differently from Protestants. They took out the commandment against "graven images" because they worship statues.
  • Why do Catholics teach things that are not in the Bible? Colossians 2:8 says not to follow "the traditions of men." (12/14/12)
  • A baby can't give his heart to Jesus. How can he be baptized? (02/19/13)

Catholicism Answer Book

I've modified some of these questions and added some extra questions.

John Trigilio and Kenneth D. Brighenti, The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions.
1. How do we know there is a God? (03/27/13)
2. Is God male or female? (04/30/13)
-. Why do some people refer to the Church as "she"? (04/30/13)
3. Why is the Holy Trinity not three gods? (05/07/13)
4. Does the Catholic Church teach that the world was created in 6 days? (05/02/13)
-. If Catholics believe that God is the Creator, doesn't that mean they are forbidden to believe in evolution? (05/03/13)
6. Did God make evil? If God didn't make evil, who did? (01/17/13)
9. From "It's a Wonderful Life": Do humans turn into angels when they earn their wings? (05/06/14)
10. If God created Eve from Adam's rib, then why do men have the same number of ribs as women? (06/27/13)
--. Why would eating an apple be a sin? If God left the forbidden apples where Adam and Eve could get them, isn't sin God's fault?
25. Was Jesus really born on December 25? (01/03/13)
26. Was Jesus God or human? (04/23/13)
30. Did Jesus know who He was and where He came from? (03/07/13)
36. Could Jesus sin? If not, what is the significance of Jesus being tempted in the desert? (03/07/13)
56. Why don't Catholics believe in reincarnation? (01/17/13)
64. Can a priest ever refuse to give absolution? (01/10/13)
66. What determines whether someone is named a saint? (01/03/13)
67. Are Catholics born-again (Jn 3:3-7)? If they are not, aren't they all going to Hell? (01/03/13)
84. What if my sins are always the same? Should I stop going to Confession because I lack true contrition for sin? (04/11/13)
90. Can someone receive the Anointing of the Sick if they are already dead? (05/03/13)
--. Can someone be baptized if they are dead? (05/30/13)
--. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:29: "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?" Can someone be baptized for someone else who is dead?
91. What is the difference between deacons, priests, and bishops? Are they just three different names for the same thing? (05/03/13)
99. Can Catholics be married outdoors? (04/18/13)
---. What does the word "Mass" mean? (04/30/13)
123. Can the faithful bless their own homes? (01/10/13)
150. The internet is used to promote sin and crime. Shouldn't all good Christians boycott the internet in order to avoid cooperating with evil?
152. Has the Church changed its teaching on capital punishment? If it did, doesn't that prove that the Church is not infallible? (06/18/13)
157. What is wrong with in vitro fertilization? (01/03/13)
158. Why does the Church object to the use of embryonic stem cells for research? (06/20/13)
167. If someone's parents were abusive or alcoholic or drug-addicted, do you still have to honor them? (03/05/13)
---. The Catholic Church teaches that there is a difference between venial sins and mortal sins. How much can I sin without offending God too much? (04/23/13)
186. God is all-powerful. No one can oppose His will. He cannot be changed. So why should we pray? What difference does it make? Won't God do whatever He wants anyway? (02/19/13)
197. Why do Catholic churches and monasteries have bell towers? Why do some Churches ring bells during the Mass? (01/16/13)
222. What was the purpose of the Inquisition? (01/22/13)
237. Do all priests take a vow of poverty? (01/16/13)
247. Why do Catholic churches have crucifixes while Protestant churches have crosses? Aren't Catholics "crucifying Jesus again"? (01/16/13)
  • Since Jesus rose from the dead and now lives in glory, why do Catholics dwell on his death by keeping his body on the cross? Why not display an empty cross, as Protestants do? (06/06/13)
248. If an Anglican priest converts to Catholicism, does he have to be ordained by the Catholic Church? (01/10/13)
288. What is Opus Dei? (01/03/13)

Eastern Catholic Traditions

  • The Catholic Church is composed of many distinct Churches. The Roman Catholic Church is associated with the West and with the Latin or Roman rite. How does it differ from the Eastern Catholic Churches? (05/02/13)
  • Can Roman Catholics take communion in one of the Eastern Catholic Churches? (04/18/13)
  • John from Irvine, CA: Are Latin Rite Catholics allowed to pray to Eastern Rite Catholic Saints like one of my favorites, St. Charbel? (03/07/13)
  • John Paul from Syracuse: What's the difference between Ukrainian Catholic churches and Roman Catholic churches?

Spiritual Reading

  • Chris from e-mail: What are some good books for a young adult to read in order to help them grow in understanding and practicing our faith? (03/07/13)


  • Kevin from Stoughton, Mass.: What does "discernment" mean? What practical steps can one take to become good at discernment? (03/27/13)
  • Jason from Florida. It seems that Jesus gives us two contradictory pieces of advice. On the one hand, He encourages us to get out of the boat and walk on the water, as He did with Peter. On the other hand, He says we should accept the crosses that He sends us. How do you reconcile the conflicting advice?
  • Jason from Pittsburgh: What is a "signal grace"? Is that a grace that sends us a signal of some kind?
  • Sharon from the Outer Darkness: Why doesn't God speak more clearly to us about His will? I've heard people say that He doesn't send telegrams? Why not? He certainly made His will very clear to St. Paul! (06/27/13)
  • Jason from Orlando: What should we do when a choice has been weighing on our heart, but God's will isn't clear? (07/28/14)


  • What does the Church mean by the word "vocation"? How do people know whether they have a vocation? (03/07/13)
  • Dominic: How does a priest go into a religious order? Do they go to special seminaries (like a Jesuit seminary, Franciscan seminary, etc?), or do they go into one after they're ordained? What happens after a priest joins an order? Does the order tell them where to go and what they'll be doing? (06/27/13)
  • From a student: How do people know that they have a vocation to be married? (06/11/13)
  • Another Name Withheld: How do you discern a vocation to the priesthood and religious life? (04/30/13)

Religious Life

  • Mark: Are priests from religious orders allowed to hear confessions or is that restricted to parish priests? (06/11/13)
  • Dennis from Buffalo: My mom said she doesn't see why she needs to tell the priest her sins when they sin themselves. What can I tell her? (06/25/13)
  • Why are there so many religious orders? Can anybody join? (05/06/14)
The Jesuits (Society of Jesus)
  • I have heard that the superior of the Jesuits is called "the black pope." Does that mean that the head of the Jesuits wields the true power in the Vatican?


  • How should we understand the holiness of the vocation to marriage if the Church says Mary remained "undefiled"? Doesn't that phrase suggest that marital relations cause the couple to be "defiled"? (06/20/13)

Parish Life

  • Steve from Boston: I belong to a parish that seems more Protestant than Catholic. What can I do to fix it? I would love to hear suggestions from someone who has had some success in parish renewal. (03/07/13)

10 Commandments

1. I am the Lord, thy God; thou shalt have no other gods before me.

2. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord in vain

  • Brendan. Is it cursing to say the names of the Holy Family when you're frustrated? (06/11/13)
  • Patricia: My young grandson has a habit of saying God's name in vain. I told him this is wrong. he said, "so what should I say?"

3. Keep holy the Lord's day.

4. Honor thy father and thy mother.

5. Thou shalt not kill.

6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

7. Thou shalt not steal.

8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

  • Scott from Rochester. Thomas Aquinas says that there is no such thing as a little white lie. That seems too harsh. Is every lie a mortal sin? (04/23/13)
  • Brett from Rochester: Was it ethical for Lila Rose to pose as a pregnant teenager and record what was said to her in Planned Parenthood clinics?

9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.

Virtues and Vices

Four Cardinal Virtues

  • I have heard Catholics talking about "cardinal virtues." What do the virtues have to do with Cardinals? Where in the Bible does it talk about Cardinals or cardinal virtues?



  • John Z. from Facebook: Could you explain how the church and capitalism can coexist? I am not a socialist but, it seems that to make money by lending it to your neighbor or by charging them more than you paid for something you sell them is like stealing from them.

Temperance (Moderation)

Fortitude (Patient Endurance)

  • Joe from Kenmore: What can people do who feel that their faith has become lukewarm?
  • Sue from Rolla, Missouri: What do we do when our financial situation isn't good? My husband and I have been looking for work for a while now without any luck. How do we not let it bring our spirit down?

Three Supernatural Virtues


  • Lizette from Facebook: How can we keep the faith when we see so much evil in this world?



Fruits of the Holy Spirit

I have tried to list only those fruits below that differ from the four cardinal virtues and the three supernatural virtues. It is not a perfect division. I suppose that all of the fruits of the Spirit could be subsumed under the natural and supernatural virtues.






  • Ann from Buffalo: What is the meaning of "meekness"? Why is that considered a virtue that we should seek?





Seven Deadly Sins

  • What are the Seven Deadly sins? Is there one Scripture passage that lists them all? (03/27/13)
  • Betty from Buffalo: Can you define Spiritual Sloth? Can you give some examples and ways to overcome it? (03/07/13)




  • Rob from e-mail: I enjoy historical dramas on HBO, but many of those programs show explicit and frequent sexual scenes, so I've since stopped watching them. Is there a difference between this type of programming and pornography? I'd like to be able to watch them again; however I'm afraid that it might lead to sin or the near occasion of sin.
  • Anonymous. My husband is addicted to pornography and solitary sin. Is there a support group along the lines of Al-Anon for women in my situation? (06/27/13)



  • Anne from Alden, NY. If someone has bulimia, are they committing the sin of gluttony? (05/30/13)



Spiritual Works of Mercy

Admonish the sinner

  • Brian from Facebook: What should we do when we see family members or friends take Communion when we know that they are lapsed Catholics or are living in irregular relationships? I am very frustrated when they resist my efforts to show them that they are not qualified to receive Communion. They say, "How dare you tell me that I can't receive Communion?"
  • Joe from Buffalo: Many people who are not practicing Catholics take Communion at Christmas and Easter when they shouldn't. Why don't priests do more to discourage this practice? (11/25/13)

Instruct the ignorant

Counsel the doubtful

Comfort the sorrowful

Bear wrongs patiently

Forgive all injuries

Pray for the living and the dead

Church History

Apostolic Era

  • I have heard people talk about the Didache. What is it, and what should I know about it?


  • Sue Ellen: When someone's birthday or anniversay falls on Good Friday, what is the best way to celebrate it?
  • Don't the Crusades prove that the Church is evil and fallible? If God willed them, then wouldn't the Crusaders have won all the battles they fought? And could God be pleased with all of the murders, massacres, rapes, and robberies that took place, especially during the sack of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade?
  • Scott from Tonawanda: Who were Templars? Why do people talk so much about them nowadays? (04/18/13)

Schisms and Schismatics

  • Marybeth from Buffalo: What is the relationship between the Church and the Society of Pius X? Which of their sacraments are valid? Can Roman Catholics attend a Mass said by a priest from the Society of St. Pius X and take Communion with them? (04/30/13)

Church vs. State

  • John from Medina, New York: Has the Church in America always taken federal grants and used tax exempt status as a non-profit organization? Was there ever a time when the Church relied only on contributions from her members without the donations being tax-exempt? (06/06/13)

Becoming Catholic

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

  • What does "RCIA" stand for? I've heard people use the acronym, but it doesn't ring a bell with me.
  • Mike from Canada: Can you become Catholic without RCIA instruction? (06/27/13)

Personal testimony

  • Rick from Tonawanda: Can you briefly describe your younger years, growing up in the Faith & the Church? Were there times when you were not as close to the Faith & the Church as you are now? Were there specific things in your past that have strengthened your Faith?

Theological Anthropology

Free will

  • Anonymous: I have an adult son who is not practicing the Faith. I know God answers prayer: I pray for him all the time. How does that work with with the fact that God never takes our free will away? Can my prayer overcome my son's free will?