Saturday, May 17, 2008

Q&A Potpourri

I recently answered the following questions over at WikiAnswers. If you are knowledgeable in the faith, I suggest joining WikiAnswers and answering some questions yourself. It's a great way to witness to our Catholic faith. Now, on to the Q&A:

What is compline?
The Modern Catholic Dictionary, defines compline as:
  • "the concluding hour of the Divine Office. Its origins in the West are commonly ascribed to St. Benedict (480-547). At first it was recited after the evening meal or before retiring. It now follows Vespers. As Night Prayer, it consists of a hymn, one or two psalms, a short reading from Scripture, a versicle and response, the Nunc Dimittis of Simeon, and a concluding prayer. (Etym. Latin completorium, complement)"
When did the Holy Spirit originate?
The Holy Spirit is God. This means that He has no beginning or end. Thus, there is no point in time in which we can say that the Holy Spirit first came to be and there is no point in time in which we can say that the Holy Spirit did not exist.

How many Catholic universities are there in the U.S.?
According to the Cardinal Newman Society, there are 224 Catholic colleges and universities in the United States.

When was Purgatory first talked about?
The earliest reference to Purgatory that scholars have found so far comes from The Acts of Paul and Thecla, which was written around 160 AD. In that work, we read the following:
  • "And after the exhibition, Tryphaena again received her [Thecla]. For her daughter Falconilla had died, and said to her in a dream: 'Mother, you shall have this stranger Thecla in my place, in order that she may pray concerning me, and that I may be transferred to the place of the righteous'"
Notice how Thecla will be praying for Falconilla, even though Falconilla has already died. Prayers for the dead implies the doctrine of Purgatory b/c Purgatory is the only place or state where a soul could reside in which prayers would be necessary or beneficial. Souls in heaven have no need of our prayers and there's no point in praying for the damned, who can never be freed from Hell.

Note also that the doctrine of Purgatory wasn't invented in 160 AD, it's just that the earliest reference to Purgatory that we have comes from that period. For more early Christian witness to the doctrine of Purgatory, see the following links:

What is the stand of the Church on contraception?
The Catholic Church has always been against all forms of contraception. Article 14 from Humanae Vitae (Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI on the Regulation of Birth) articulates this teaching [emphasis mine]:
  • 14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)

    Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation-whether as an end or as a means. (16)

    Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good," it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)-in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.
Also see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2370:

What was the name of the Catholic Church's response to the Protestant Reformation?
The response in question is commonly referred to as the "Catholic Reformation" or the "Counter Reformation." Historian William V. Hudon has also suggested the term "Tridentine Reformation." Christopher M. Belllitto, in his book Renewing Christianity: A History of Church Reform from Day One to Vatican II, chooses the term "Catholic reformations" (note the lower-case r and the plural) so as to refer not to one specific response but to all of the attempts to reform the Church that took place just before, during, and after Martin Luther came on the scene.

What religious community did St. Ignatius Loyola begin in?
St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, more commonly referred to as the Jesuits. For information about the Jesuits, go here:

What is venial and mortal sin?
As defined by the glossary to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a venial sin is "sin which does not destroy the divine life in the soul, as does mortal sin, though it diminishes and wounds it. Venial sin is the failure to observe necessary moderation, in lesser matters of the moral law, or in grave matters acting without full knowledge or complete consent." See the Catechism, nos. 1855 and 1862.

A mortal sin, as defined by the same glossary, is "a grave infraction of the law of God that destroys the divine life (or sanctifying grace) in the soul of the sinner, constituting a turn away from God. For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must be present: grave matter, full knowledge of the evil of the act, and full consent of the will." See the Catechism, nos. 1855 and 1857.

How many Presidents were Catholic?
Only one: John Fitzgerald Kennedy. For an extensive biography, go here:

What does Roman Catholicism teach?
The Catholic Church teaches many things, so this is a difficult question to answer succinctly. The best thing to do would be to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which you can find online here:

Another helpful source is Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, by Dr. Ludwig Ott. A list of the dogmas presented in this book can be found here:

Who is the patron saint of siblings?
As far as I know, there is no patron saint of siblings. There are, however, patron saints of similar causes. So, for example, the patron saints of families are Francis of Assisi, Joseph, and Maximillian Kolbe. The patron saint of dysfunctional families is Eugene de Mazenod. The patron saint of family happiness or harmony is Dymphna. Finally, the patron saint of family life is the Infant Jesus of Prague.

Pax Christi,


Anonymous said...

Fantastic Blog...thank you. I am praying for your intentions today.

phatcatholic said...

Thanks Mary!

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