Monday, September 05, 2011

Catholic Q&A: Part 15

This post continues my series of short answers to common questions about Catholicism. For the previous parts in the series, see the "Catholic Q-A Series" blog label.

What is the teaching of the Council of Ephesus?

The Council of Ephesus, which took place in 431 AD, is known for three things:
  • It defined the true personal unity of Christ. In other words, He is not the mixture of a human person and a divine person. He is one person, the Son of the Blessed Trinity, who has united within Himself the divine and human nature.
  • It declared Mary the Mother of God. The Greek word that the Fathers of the Council used was theotokos, which literally means, “God-bearer.”
  • It renewed the condemnation of Pelagius, who taught a works-based salvation. If anyone tells you that Catholics believe in salvation by works, tell them that we condemned that heresy almost 1600 years ago!
You can read the proceedings of the Council here.

How would someone start the process for canonization for a deceased person?

After the person in question has been deceased for at least 5 years, then a request can be made to his or her bishop to begin an investigation of the person’s life to discern if he or she is a worthy candidate for canonization.

If a Catholic goes to Confession and then dies as he walks out of the confessional, will he go straight to heaven? What is the difference between temporal punishment and other types of punishment?

That person would go to heaven, but "right away" we cannot say. He may have to experience Purgatory first, if he has not adequately atoned for the temporal punishment that is due to his sin. This leads to your second question.

"Temporal punishment" is the effect that one's sin causes in this life to oneself and to the Body of Christ and the world. When one sins, he must ask the Lord for forgiveness, but he must also rectify the harm that his sin has caused to others. This is the purpose of the penance that one receives from the priest when he goes to Confession. Penance rectifies that harm, heals the wound that one's sin inflicts upon the Body.

If one has not healed all the wounds that his sin has caused, then this remains as a sort of blotch on his soul when he stands before the Lord to receive His Judgment. Purgatory is God purging that blotch away, refining souls through the fiery furnace of His love.

Other things cause "blotches" too, specifically attachment to sin and any venial sins of which we have not sought out the Lord's forgiveness.

Pax Christi,

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