Monday, December 07, 2009

Catholic Q&A: Part 5

Here is a recent batch of questions that I answered in the "Catholicism" category at WikiAnswers. Also see Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
  • Who wrote the letters in the Catholic Bible?

    There are many letters in the Catholic Bible and they weren't all written by the same person. Paul, the great evangelist from the Acts of the Apostles, wrote Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Traditionally, Paul was also considered the author of the letter to the Hebrews, but his authorship of that letter is widely disputed. James, the Lord's "brother" and bishop of Jerusalem, wrote the letter of James. Peter, the Apostle, wrote 1st and 2nd Peter. John, the "beloved Apostle" and the Gospel writer, wrote 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. Jude, the Apostle, wrote the letter of Jude.

    Why is the resurrection essential to our faith?

    The resurrection is essential to our faith because, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then He did not conquer death. If He did not conquer death, then He did not pave the way for us to conquer death (and sin, the wages of which is death). If we cannot conquer death then this life is all that there is. There is no hope for an afterlife with God. There is no resurrection of the body on the last day. There is no definitive end to suffering, and evil, and death. There is no union of man with God. There is no grace. There is no Church. There is no sacraments. There is no Pentecost. Without the resurrection, the devil has won and mankind is finished.

    Why is the Catholic Church based in Rome?

    The Catholic Church is "based in Rome" because St. Peter, the head of the Apostles and the Rock upon whom Jesus Christ founded His Church, lived and died in Rome. His successors, who are the popes of the Catholic Church, maintained their residency in this city in his honor.

    Why is a flame significant to Confirmation?

    The flame is significant to Confirmation because it is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, particularly as He was poured out upon the Apostles on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. Scripture notes that on that day, tongues of fire appeared over their heads as the Holy Spirit was given to them and they were emboldened to go out and preach the Gospel. The Sacrament of Confirmation is a sort of Pentecost event in the life of a Catholic because it results in the Holy Spirit being poured out upon that person, and him being strengthened to live his faith with boldness and to be a soldier for Christ.

    In Baptism, what is the meaning of the anointing on the chest?

    The anointing with oil on the chest is meant to give the child the grace and the strength to live the Christian life. In ancient times, athletes would massage their muscles with oil to prepare themselves for competition. Soldiers would do the same to prepare themselves for battle. In Scripture, the Christian life is equated with both of these things: a race to be won (cf. 1 Cor 9:24; 2 Tim 4:7; Heb 12:1) and a spiritual war to be waged (cf. 2 Cor 10:3-4; Eph 6:12). So, in baptism we give the new Christian his or her adequate preparation.

    What was Mary’s childhood like?

    Scripture makes no mention of the childhood of Mary, so it is difficult to say with certainty what her childhood was like. The Protoevangelium of James, an ancient Christian writing, says that Mary was raised in the Temple and that, at an early age, she consecrated herself to the Lord as a perpetual virgin. Since Catholics believe that Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin and that she committed no actual sins throughout her entire life, it is safe to assume that her childhood was a truly holy and precious one.

    What does “INRI” stand for?

    INRI is the acronym for the Latin phrase, "Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm," which means: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Pontius Pilate had this phrase written in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew and placed on the cross upon which Christ was crucified (cf. Jn 19:19-22).

    Does every saint have a feast day?

    No. There are thousands of saints, so it would be impossible for every single one of them to have their own feast day (unless we decided to devote each day of the calendar to several different saints). Instead, only those saints who had the greatest impact on the Church or around whom a fervent devotion has grown are celebrated with feast days in the liturgical calendar.

    What is the importance of apostolic succession?

    Apostolic succession is important because it preserves for the Church the power to teach, to sanctify, and to govern that was first given to the apostles by Jesus Christ. Bishops receive this power and priests participate in it through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. In this way, the Catholic Church continues to be a truly apostolic Church, both in her teaching and in her authority.

Do you know your faith? Help me tackle some unanswered questions. Of course, if you have any questions of your own, just leave me a comment or send me an email.

Pax Christi,

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