Using this form allows individuals to ask questions, make comments or leave opinions on just about any topic. Questions, comments or messages will be responded to by Fr. Emilio Sosa or other religious authorities.
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Question: Why do Catholics believe the Catholic Church is the one true Church, founded 2,000 years ago by Jesus Christ Himself?
Submitted on 04/18/2019 at 11:23:32 PM by Anonymous
The Catholic Church is the only church today that can claim to be the one church founded by Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago. Other denominations can trace their origins back to various human founders at a later date in history.
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said to Peter, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it." Jesus handed the authority to guide the Church in His name to Peter and the apostles, to be passed down through the centuries. The Church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23). Christ established only one Church—one body—so that there would not be multiple "bodies" with conflicting doctrines. After all, God cannot contradict Himself. Christ also wanted His Church to be visible, so all may see that the Church is indeed one, just as Christ and the Father are one (John 17:22).
This one, visible church, with divine authority and consistent doctrine that Christ established 2,000 years ago is the Catholic Church, the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Timothy 3:15). As Paul asks in 1 Corinthians, "Is Christ divided?" (1 Corinthians 1:13). No. That is not what the Christ intended. So, He established one Church.
Question: The Bible says to call no man Father, so why do we call our priests ‘Father’?
Submitted on 03/25/2019 at 10:01:14 PM by Anonymous
Matthew 23:9 says, "And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in Heaven." Notice, however, that this makes no distinction between spiritual fathers, which is what our priests are to us, and biological fathers. In other words, if you interpret this passage to say, absolutely, that no man is to be called father, you cannot distinguish between calling a priest "father" and calling the man who is married to your mother "father". But, is that actually what this passage is saying? Or is Jesus warning us against trying to usurp the fatherhood of God? The latter intention, in many ways, is what the Pharisees and Scribes were doing. They wanted all attention focused on them…they were leaving God, the Father, out of the equation, which is why Jesus goes on to call them hypocrites, liars, and whitewashed tombs.
If you interpret this passage from Matthew 23 as an absolute ban against calling anyone your spiritual father, then there are some problems for you in the rest of Scripture. For example, Jesus, in the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16, has the rich man referring to Abraham as "father" several times. Paul, in Romans chapter 4, refers to Abraham as the "father" of the uncircumcised, the Gentiles. That’s referring to spiritual fatherhood, not biological fatherhood.
In Acts 7:1-2, the first Christian martyr, Stephen, referred to the Jewish authorities and elders who were about to stone him as brothers and "fathers," as does Paul in Acts, chapter 22. This is referring to spiritual fatherhood. So, if you interpret Matthew 23 as saying we cannot call anyone our spiritual father, then you would have to argue that Jesus, Paul, Stephen, and the Holy Spirit must have all gotten it wrong.
It is okay to call priests "father," just as it was okay for Jesus and Paul to call Abraham "father" and for Stephen and Paul to call the Jewish elders "father." As long as we remember that our true Father is God the Father and that all aspects of fatherhood, biological and spiritual, are derived from Him, and as long as we do not allow anyone else to usurp that role in any way, shape, or form, as the Pharisees and Scribes were prone to do.
Question: Why do all the Priest scandals happen?
Submitted on 01/16/2019 at 2:05:49 PM by Anonymous
All of us have heard stories about policemen, doctors, teachers, counselors and priests that have betrayed a sacred trust. These individuals represent vocations we look to for guidance, hope and help. We want to be able to trust them. But when one of these people violates our trust, it seems much worse and even harder to comprehend than when other people in society fail. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that we should abandon all respect for law enforcement, health care, education or the Church because people who work in those professions and vocations fail to live as Christ calls them to live. After all, the vast majority of people in those vocations serve in a heroic and exemplary manner.In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus Christ described His Church, the Kingdom of Heaven, as being a "field of wheat and weeds," showing that there would be good and bad, saints and sinners and everyone in between in the Church until the day when He returned to judge the nations. This means that, sadly, there will be members of His Church — including priests and bishops — who have committed sins that have hurt others.In Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter entitled Tertio Millenio Adviente (Toward the Third Millenium), he affirmed that "...the Church should become more fully conscious of the sinfulness of her children, recalling all those times in history when they departed from the spirit of Christ and his Gospel and, instead of offering to the world the witness of a life inspired by the values of faith, indulged in ways of thinking and acting which were truly forms of counter-witness and scandal." He went on to say that "Before God and man she always acknowledges as her own her sinful sons and daughters. As Lumen Gentium affirms: ‘The Church, embracing sinners to her bosom, is at the same time holy…’" The Church herself is indeed holy, but she is made up of sinful members. All situations of scandal, however, do not negate or disprove the truth that Christ transmitted to the world through His Apostles (Mark 16:15). As Christ promised, in spite of the weakness and sinfulness — and sometimes the scandal — caused by priests and other Catholics, "the gates of hell will not prevail against" the Church. (Continue reading here for more on the priest scandals).
Question: Why can't women be Priests?
Submitted on 10/11/2018 at 3:31:26 PM by Anonymous
Church teaching on the ordination of only men to the priesthood finds its origins in the teaching and practices established by Christ. While He was on earth, Jesus chose men to be His apostles and He passed on authority to these men to carry out His work of preaching the good news (Luke 9:1-2) and forgiving sins (John 20:23).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, "The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible" (CCC 1577). Furthermore, the Catechism informs us that "No one has a right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Indeed no one claims this office for himself; he is called to it by God" (CCC 1578).
Jesus came to us on earth in the form of a man. It makes sense, then, that He chose His successors—his "representatives" on earth—to be men.
Finally, though we cannot always know exactly why Christ made some of the choices He made, we do know that He did not view women as inferior to men. Christ simply made clear that this particular vocation—the priesthood—would be reserved for men. In obedience to the will of God, the Catholic Church has and will continue to follow this practice of ordaining only men to the priesthood.
Question: Why don't Catholic Priests marry?
Submitted on 5/15/2018 at 6:15:10 PM by Anonymous
St. Paul notes that "...The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord" (Corinthians 7:32). The practice of celibacy allows for a priest to give his full attention to the work of building the Kingdom of God. St. Paul indicates numerous times that virginity is to be considered a "higher call." Priests thus respond to that call, so they may number themselves among those who are set apart for this specific ministry. Furthermore, remaining celibate allows the priest to more perfectly live out the virtue of chastity, modeled in its entirety by Christ Himself. The Church does not force anyone not to marry. Those who decide to remain celibate in their vocation do so voluntarily. Priests are among those who have freely chosen to take this vow of celibacy for the sake of their earthly ministry and vocation. It makes sense that the Church—considered the Bride of Christ—is served by virgin priests, who fully devote themselves to Christ’s Bride. Priestly celibacy should be looked at as a beautiful offering to Christ, a wonderful testimony of a priest’s devotion to our Lord and to the Church.
Question: Why do Catholics sit, stand and kneel so much during church? Is there some meaning to it all or is it just something we've been taught to do?
Submitted on 08/31/2017 at 8:16:02 PM by Anonymous
Please let us explain why we Catholics sit, stand, and kneel during the Mass.
Two Things to Know About Jesus in the Mass
Before digging in, there are two important things to know about Jesus Christ in the Catholic Mass. These are fundamental. If you know these two things a lot of why we do what we do will make more sense.
First, the priest, in the Mass, is acting in the role of Jesus.
In the Catholic Mass, the priest who is celebrating the Eucharist—who will break the bread and drink the wine—is performing all of his actions in place of Jesus. The priest is acting in the person of Jesus during the drama of the Mass.
Accordingly, we sit and stand when the priest sits and stands. When altar servers, or other priests who are concelebrating the Mass, approach the celebrating priest during any time of the Mass they bow, to show their reverence to Christ—represented by the priest.
The second important thing to know about Jesus in the Mass is the Catholic theology of transubstantiation.
This doctrine, which was believed by the earliest Christians, understands Jesus to be actually present in the consecrated Eucharist. In other words, at a certain point in the Catholic Mass, we believe that the bread and wine actually become Jesus. At that point, Jesus is actually present in every way except his physical appearance. The bread and wine appear as bread and wine—while actually becoming the real body and blood of Christ.
Again, nothing new, but this belief explains a lot of why Catholics sit, stand, and especially kneel, during the Mass.
Why Catholics Sit During the Mass
For Catholics, the sitting position is the base of worship. This is our beginning position from which we can only ascend, to stand, or descend to kneel.
In Mass, we begin by sitting.
We sit, likewise, when we're listening to the first two readings during the Mass. These two readings, chosen according to the Lectionary which is followed by the entire Catholic Church, will typically come from the Old Testament and the New Testament epistles. We sit to listen to these readings, to take them in and learn from them, and to be able to relate them to what we hear later, the Gospel, for which we stand.
We sit again, after the Gospel reading, for the priest or deacon's homily and as the celebrant prepares the Eucharistic elements to be consecrated. This is a very expectant time, charged with meaning, because as soon as the priest is ready, we rise to our feet.
Why Catholics Stand During the Mass
A Catholic Mass, as has been done for over two thousand years, begins with what's known as the Penitential Act immediately after the priest, in the person of Christ, processes down to the sanctuary. In this profoundly rich act Catholics acclaim the ancient Kyrie eleison, asking Jesus, in English, "Lord, have mercy." In the Kyrie eleison we join in the tradition of the most ancient Christians by confessing our sinfulness to both God and each other—an act which fulfills the New Testament command to confess our sins to one another.
For the Kyrie eleison, and most other prayers during the Mass, Catholics stand. Standing has been the proper posture for prayer since before the time of Christ. By standing, we carry on this tradition, and highlight the importance of our prayers.
We stand, likewise, to show reverence and respect to Jesus, who is present in the person of the priest, and to whom we pray. This is the same reason why we stand in the presence of dignitaries and important people. Who, after all, is more important than our God and King?
After the Penitential Rite and opening prayers are the first two readings from the Bible. As mentioned above, for these we're seated, we're listening and learning and taking it in. But then we rise, and rise we do, because next the priest or deacon reads from the Gospels.
And reads the very words of God.
We stand, rising from our base position of worship to mark the importance of this event. To acknowledge that, seriously folks, this is what God said. And that's fairly profound. During this encounter with the Word of God we also make a small cross with our thumb on our forehead, lips, and over our hearts to ask God to help His Word dwell in our minds, on our lips, and in our heart.
Once the priest finishes the Gospel reading he'll kiss the Gospel, again to show reverence and respect for the very Words of God, and then begin his homily. Like the first two readings during Mass, we sit during the homily, listen and learn. We synthesize what we heard from the first two readings with what we heard in the Gospel proclamation and what the priest or deacon is now expounding upon.
Following the priest or deacon's homily we rise again, this time to recite our Profession of Faith which takes the form of the ancient Christian creeds—either the Nicene Creed or the Apostles' Creed.
Then, we kneel.
Why Catholics Kneel During the Mass
Kneeling is, by its sheer physical appearance, the most reverent and surrendered of all the ways we express our worship—apart from proselytizing ourselves, which isn't really appropriate or possible during a normal Mass.
By kneeling, though, we're completely surrendering ourselves to God and humbling our spirits before Him. It's incredibly profound.
Following the priest or deacon's homily and the Profession of Faith, Catholics spend most of the rest of Mass on their knees, and there's a simple reason why: Because Jesus is really coming.
Remember, in Catholic theology, and the theology of the whole Christian Church for more than 1,500 years, we believe that Jesus becomes really present in the Eucharistic elements once the priest prayers the Eucharistic Prayers which Christ taught us during the last supper.
We kneel because we know what's about to happen and in a Mass where Catholics really know their stuff, the atmosphere can be palpable.
Jesus is on His way.
And while Catholics in the pews will remain kneeling for most of the rest of Mass, the priest will do any number of things, all of which are profoundly meaningful.
First, you'll see him making the sign of the cross over the elements at various stages. Here he's praying for Christ to truly come and help these gifts to strengthen us, as Christians. Then you'll hear him proclaim the very words of Christ, "This is my body," and, "This is my blood." Remarkably, the priest proclaims these words as Christ Himself, if you remember.
At this point, if you're lucky, you'll hear a bell ring. The ringing of this bell, an ancient practice, alerts the congregation that Jesus is really here in those elements. Despite their appearance, they miraculously have become Christ's very body and blood.
Then, you'll see the priest and anyone else concelebrating with him, genuflect, or kneel, in reverence to the consecrated body and blood.
And, I'll tell you, it's profound to see grown men kneel before a piece of bread and a chalice of wine but if you really know what's going on—if you really believe, like Catholics do, that Jesus is right there in front of you, you'd be dropping to one knee faster than you can say transubstantiation.
Once we're kneeling we only rise again for two things which happen back to back: The Lord's Prayer and the Sign of Peace.
The Lord's Prayer and the Sign of Peace
With the consecrated bread and wine on the altar at the front of the Church—with the Passover meal, the Last Supper being re-presented before the whole congregation—we stand to recite the prayer that Jesus taught us, and then to offer each other peace in the phrase, "Peace be with you."
The meaning and history behind both of these actions is incredibly profound.
Because Jesus, and the apostles in their later writings, made it abundantly clear that we should hold no grudges or sins against our fellow Christians if we're going to approach the Lord's Supper, the Eucharistic Table.
Early Christians took this very seriously.
In fact, in the Didache, an artifact amongst the most very ancient of Christian writings, outlines an early Christian worship service—a Mass. A Mass which, profoundly, is incredibly unchanged in its present form.
In the Didache, as instructed in the Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament, room is given for fellow Christians to forgive and ask for forgiveness from each other before receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.
The Lord's Prayer, in which we ask for forgiveness and to forgive those who've wronged us, helps in this important, ancient process as well. We also bid, "Peace be with you," which are the very words that Christ first spoke—the forgiving and calming words He told His apostles immediately after He appeared to them in His risen form.
These apostles, who had all, every one, fallen away from Him, are bid to have, "Peace," and not to worry. They're forgiven. In the same way, we forgive those around us, who have wronged us, an incredibly ancient practice, before meeting Jesus in the Eucharist.
The Rich Meaning of the Motions of the Mass
When I speak to evangelical Protestants who were raised Catholic I often hear, at least in passing, a kind of bemoaning of the lack of reverence in the typical evangelical worship service. I agree, which might be an obvious thing to say. In an evangelical worship service I'm undoubtedly encountering God—especially in the often lively worship—but then, following the music, I'm there to learn, since the sermon (called the homily in Catholic Mass) is often the high point of the service.
In the Mass, the high point is the coming of Christ, and much reverence and respected are aimed that way. And, in the priest, you have the person of Christ memorializing His actions while on earth.
The Mass is full of meaning and our physical aerobics, while also being good for the body, can, if properly understood, have a profound resonance in the soul too.
Question: Why is incense used during Mass?
Submitted on 07/01/2016 at 09:49:09 AM by Anonymous
The purpose of incensing and the symbolic value of the smoke is that of purification and sanctification. The usage of incense adds a sense of solemnity and mystery to the Mass. The visual imagery of the smoke and the smell remind us of the transcendence of the Mass which links heaven with earth, and allow us to enter into the presence of God.
Actually, the use of incense is an expression of prayer, and it is in fact very scriptural, very Roman Catholic, and very Judeo-Christian. There is a recipe for incense in Exodus
(30: 34-36), and incense is associated with divinity and reserved for God (Ex: 30: 37-38). When we use incense and why:
According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal incense may be used during the entrance procession; at the beginning of Mass, to incense the altar; at the procession and proclamation of the Gospel; at the offertory, to incense the offerings, altar, priest and people; and at the elevation of the Sacred Host and chalice of Precious Blood after the consecration.
Incense the Altar:
The Altar represents Christ and his five wounds indicated by the five crosses on the altar top. When we incense the Altar it also reconnects us to the original dedication of our church and to the angels and saints in heaven. If you attended the dedication of our church 24 August 2008, perhaps you remember after the Bishop covered the altar with the Sacred Chrism, he placed five braziers on the five wounds (crosses) on the Altar top. He poured much incense into the five braziers. This is a visual connection to the use of incense in the Book of Revelation. Just as the angels offer incense as a sacrifice at the altar of God, so to do we offer our prayers and sacrifices upon God's new altar. Not only is this the final step in the consecration of an altar, it also connects us, in the most perfect sense, to those gathered around the great altar in heaven. Furthermore, when we incense the altar at the beginning of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we directly connect with Christ's Holy Sacrifice, for this is Christ's Altar of sacrifice containing his five wounds upon which his precious body and blood will be offered.
Proclamation of the Gospel:
What are we expressing with this incensing of the Gospel Book? It is a sign of devotion toward these holy words of and about our Savior, which have been preserved for nearly 2000 years, in reverence and love. Catholics firmly believe Christ is present in His word proclaimed, and so we bless and honor that Word who will imminently be present through His words, the Holy Gospel. As the sweet smoke (always first blessed by the priest) rises toward and surrounds the holy book, we are acknowledging: these are the words that God spoke when He became man and walked on this earth; this is the story of our salvation; here is the promise of everlasting life; here is the testimony of God's love for us.
Question: Why do Catholics worship Mary?
Submitted on 09/13/2014 at 05:43:02 PM by Anonymous
Catholics DO NOT worship the Blessed Mother of God. In fact, Catholics are forbidden to worship anyone but God. There is some confusion about "pray" and "worship". To worship someone is to acknowledge that the one who is worshiped is divine, is God. Catholics hold the Virgin Mary and saints in esteem because they are such wonderful images or mirrors of Christ. Catholics pray to Mary and the other saints to intercede on our behalf. If you look at any social network website you constantly see people asking to pray for them, their loved ones or friends. That is called "intercession". That is exactly what we are asking for from Mary and the saints, is that they pray for us.