The Papists

Apologetics and Evengelization
  • August 26, 2013 8:37 am
    Anonymous:  Hello. I am a female college student, baptised and raised as a non-Catholic Christian, but I attended Catholic school for most of my life and am fairly certain that I would like to convert and become a member of the Church. I am in a relationship with a fellow student, also raised Christian but not Catholic. He is mildly interested in Catholicism, and goes to mass and adoration with me sometimes. We have both acknowledged that it is likely that we marry. However, the thought of our (continued)

    denominational situation is a little confusing to me. Though I would very much like to be married in a Catholic ceremony, I feel as though it would be awkward and cause tension, since no one in either of our families is Catholic and his father is a non-Catholic pastor. I know there is Church law on “mixed marriages” and all, but I also know there are exceptions and nuances in certain cases. What would be the best course of action for someone in my position?

    I’m so glad to hear you’re considering converting!

    Unfortunately, there is no one “best way” to handle a complicated situation like this. 

    First, it might help to consider your situation some more:

    In order to be married in the Catholic Church, at least one party must be Catholic. One or both of you would need to convert, complete RCIA (the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) and receive the sacraments of initiation. If you are already validly baptized, that would mean First Communion and Confirmation. Then, there would likely be a six to nine month waiting period as you complete, as a couple, whatever marriage preparation program is required in your diocese. 

    If both of you convert, you would have two options for your wedding: the full Catholic wedding mass, complete with celebration of the Eucharist; or, the Catholic wedding ceremony without mass (no celebration or distribution of the Eucharist.) This second option is sometimes chosen by couples in your position. For example, I know a Catholic man who  converted from an entirely Protestant family, and his wife converted from an entirely Buddhist family; they chose not to have mass celebrated at their wedding. 

    If only you convert before your wedding, then having mass will not be an option, because that will be a “mixed marriage.”

    Please note that if you do convert, go through RCIA and receive the sacraments of initiation, it would be a grave sin to get married outside of the Church. Catholics are required to have their marriage witnessed and solemnized by a priest according the norms that apply to them. Also, if you get married and later convert, you would need to have your marriage blessed by the Church. (As long as there are no other factors, such as prior divorces, regularizing a marriage in the Church for converts is not usually a difficult process.)

    Second: Only you are in a position to know whether it would be unnecessarily harmful and divisive to ask your families to attend Catholic wedding with mass (assuming you have both converted before the wedding and it’s an option.) However, here are a couple of things to consider: 

    - You will be living and practicing your faith anyway, and bringing your children up in it. If left unaddressed, the issue of your faith might cause tensions and divisions down the road as other important issues come up, especially regarding the children. For example, baptism. Catholics have a grave obligation to raise their children in the faith, and to chose godparents for the children who are practicing Catholics. Preparing to have a Catholic wedding with mass, as is the norm for Catholic couples, could be a good way to ease your families into the transition of your conversion and help them to accept your decision, even if they don’t agree with it. 

    - Introducing non-Catholic family members to the mass through a wedding is a great opportunity for evangelization and education. They may not convert, they may not like that you’ve converted, but when someone you love is explaining why they love something, why it’s not the terrible thing the other has always imagined, if both parties are patient and generous with each other, that’s the kind of encounter that changes hearts. 

    - It’s vitally important that you consider the state of your own souls. Deciding not to get married in mass solely because of what other people think could deprive you of a great spiritual opportunity. There are manifold graces and blessings for you individually and as a couple that come from receiving the Eucharist, and especially from receiving the Eucharist as part of a sacramental wedding. Beginning your marriage, your new life as one flesh, together  in the One Body of Jesus Christ and His Church, is very powerful and beneficial both to you and as a witness to the world.

    Beyond all this, though, what I would recommend first and foremost is finding a trusted priest you can talk to about all this. If there is a parish you attend regularly, or you hope you might get married in, start there. Talk to him about all your questions. I would imagine that he would recommend you begin the RCIA process first, since most dioceses have set times for that; and while you’re going through the process, remembering that should you change your mind there is no obligation to enter the Church at the end, continue to discern your relationship and wedding questions with your significant other and trusted spiritual guidance. 

    I hope that helps. You’re in my prayers!

  • March 26, 2013 9:33 pm
    Anonymous:  If someone had said "a girl with a dressed in - that has a - on her face confessed -" is that breaking the seal of confession?

    Yes. The priest cannot give any identifiable information about a person from a particular confession. Priests take the seal of confession extremely seriously, because it is an extremely serious matter! Breaking the seal of confession is grounds for excommunication and being stripped of one’s duties as a priest for life. 

    As a side note, I have heard that priests often have a difficult time remembering what people confess to them, likely one of the graces of the sacrament. And they hear so many confessions, there’s almost no way they would remember who said what. 

    When talking about things they hear in the confessional, the most I have ever heard a priest say are things along the lines of, “People who struggle with anger and lust usually are dealing with an underlying problem, which just manifests itself in that way,” for example.

    Thank you for your question!

  • November 13, 2012 9:33 am
    Anonymous:  If I failed to mention a sin because I was embarrassed, does that make my confession not valid?

    Refraining from admitting a sin in Confession is actually committing another sin. 

    I first learned this from Nuns when I was in CCD and I didn’t want to believe them. But when you think about it..who are you going for Confession? You’re confessing to God! If you refrain from admitting a sin you are still trying to hide from God. Does He know your sin? Well yes of course He does. He also knew Adam’s sin, but Adam still hid:

    The Lord God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you?

    He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked so I hid”.

    Genesis 3:9-10

    God went looking for Adam even though He knew Adam sinned. It is just for us to go before God and admit we failed so that He can smile at us and say “Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more”.


  • July 23, 2012 10:52 pm
    Anonymous:  Are non-catholics allowed to go to reconciliation? why or why not?

    Code of Canon Law 844 §4 says:

    If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.

    If you’re a baptised Christian (baptised with water and in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), you may licitly receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation provided it is a grave circumstance (it’s usually the case that death is imminent) and you truly believe in the Sacrament (i.e. you must believe that the priest who is hearing your confession has the authority to forgive sins in persona Christi, and that forgiveness only comes with true guilt and a resolve to sin no more). 

    God bless.


  • July 19, 2012 5:39 pm
    Anonymous:  How does one break free from an addiction of pornography and masturbation?

    Start here. And here.

    In a nutshell, you’ll be able to break from this addiction most easily through dedicated prayer (especially to Mother Mary, and Saint Philomena and Saint Maria Goretti, patronesses of purity), frequent reception of the sacraments (Reconciliation and the Eucharist), and having an accountability partner (this is where X3watch comes in).

    We will be praying for you, or whomever on behalf of you’re sending this message!


  • July 18, 2012 8:31 pm
    Anonymous:  Say intelligent aliens land on our planet. After a few years, they've decided they want to willingly become Roman Catholics. Do we put them through RCIA and sacramentally initiate them?

    Yes, we do. As long as they are cognizant (have an eternal soul) and want to be baptised, then we baptise, catechise, and minister sacraments to them!

    Brother Guy Consolmagno, from the Vatican’s astronomical observatory, says more in these articles

    (Ignore the part where it says “The discovery of aliens would raise huge theological problems for the Roman Catholic church that would make the debate over women priests, clerical abstinence and contraception pale into insignificance.” I don’t see what “theological problems” there are, and it’s funny that they didn’t point any of them out…)

    Pax vobiscum!


  • June 21, 2012 11:38 am
    Anonymous:  There was recently an Irish Times poll which revealed 62% of the polled Catholics didn't believe the bread and wine actually became the body and blood of christ. Would you agree there is a growing trend amongst nominal Catholics to reject certain central tenants of the faith? Why is that?

    I don’t think it’s so much an outright rejection as it is just a lack of knowledge. Even Jesus’s disciples didn’t understand the teaching, because it is a very difficult teaching to understand. 

    I think somewhere in time people weren’t taught well enough what the Eucharist is, or maybe they forgot. I personally never really believed in the true presence of the Eucharist until I was about 16 or 17 (I’m currently 19). The only reason I began to believe is because God ignited a desire in me to know Him so I searched for Him and learned from a talk on a disc that the Eucharist is not a symbol. Had it not been for my own effort to seek the Truth, who knows when or if I would have believed in it. 

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame the Church, it’s not their fault. But I do think in light of the growing trend, the Church should try and do something about it. Maybe not the whole Universal Church, but individual Parishes should address the situation in their community. Thank God we have people like Scott Hahn and Matthew Kelly who have devoted their lives to bringing lukewarm Catholics back to the Church. 

    But at the end of the day it boils down to us. I heard a story about Mother Teresa once, a reporter asked her “What would you change about the Church?” her response was “you and me”. We need to be witnesses to others that going to Mass can be—dare I say—enjoyable;we need to express our love for the Eucharist. That love is what will attract others to yearn for the same kind of love. 
    I hope I didn’t get too off topic haha, have a blessed day!

  • May 24, 2012 2:56 pm

    Being Catholic vs. Being in Communion with the Catholic Church

    There’s a lot of talk about this issue on Tumblr today, so I thought I’d post Fr. Shane’s commentary on the issue:

    What makes us Christians is Baptism. It’s the only way that we can draw a clear black/white line between who is or who isn’t Christian.

    But things get blurrier after that. Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium talks in terms of communion: You’re in “communion” with the Church in differing degrees. If you read #14-15 of that document, you’ll see how the different intensities of communion are described for Catholics living in grace, Catholics in a state of grave sin, catechumens who desire to be united to the Church, Orthodox, Protestants, and even those who aren’t yet Christian.

    Let’s look at the “Catholic” part:

    The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion.

    So if any of us choose to disagree about an element of our profession of faith, our communion with Christ’s Church is imperfect; it’s not what it should be, and it’s not what God desires for us. Ultimately, of course, it’s not really about our “opinions,” but about God’s will for us. Our attitude with our Heavenly Father has to be one of desiring ever more to fulfill his will, and seeking that our desires be aligned with his more than the other way around.

    So the question about becoming a nun is a complicated one for you right now. If you don’t feel that you’re ready for that full communion yet, it’s probably better to take some time to reflect on it. Don’t assume that your views are immutable; we’re never that “calcified.” I’ve found, for example, that a lot of my views have changed during my own faith journey, hopefully for the best.

    God bless you!

    - Father Shane

  • April 26, 2012 5:44 pm
    Anonymous:  If someone was raised Catholic and was confirmed, but "fell away," and wants to come back years later, what do they have to do?

    Praise God! In order to return to full communion all that’s necessary is to go to Confession. It would help if you scheduled one by calling your local parish priest; that way you wouldn’t be restricted by time restraints. Then, lead a regular sacramental life!

    Be holy! Be happy!

    - Phillip

  • April 26, 2012 3:31 pm
    Anonymous:  Explain hardness of heart. What is it? How does one have a hardened heart? How can one tell of (s)he have a hardened heart? How can one cure a hardened heart? and the like.

    Excellent question! Sorry for taking so long to answer it.

    Christopher West provides a more accurate English translation than what we usually render “hardness of heart” in his book Theology of the Body Explained:

    In the Hebrew, what we translate “hardness of heart” actually meant “non-circumcision of the heart.” Since circumcision was the sign of the Old Covenant, John Paul notes later in his catechism that non-circumcision meant “distance from the covenant with God” and “expressed indomitable obstinacy in opposing God” (TOB 34, n. 47).

    Knowing this, we can suppose that one can harden their heart by sinning and not seeking repentance, by not following the will of God, and by ignoring God’s moral law written on their heart.

    St. Augustine said, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” We all want to be happy and we all want to calm that restlessness of our hearts. So we fill ourselves up with worldly pleasure, and money, and honor, and material goods, but we find that these things can never finally satisfy us. Only God, as St. Augustine said, will give us perfect rest.

    You asked how you can tell if you have a hardened heart? Look within yourself, and ask yourself honestly: are you pursuing God or are you pursuing those things that will not make you happy?

    Finally, the hardened heart is cured through perseverance in prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist.

    I hope this helped. Be holy! Be happy!

    - Phillip