The Papists

Apologetics and Evengelization
  • June 3, 2014 8:03 pm
    Anonymous:  Any advice on how to take the sermon on the mount seriously without adopting a pacifist ethos?

    Is there a problem with adopting the pacifist ethos?  I think pacifism, correctly considered can be a legitimate expression of one’s Christian faith.  

    That being said, I don’t think the sermon on the mount demands pacificism to the exclusion of a “just war” or self-defense.  It does say “blessed are the peace makers” and it condemns violence and anger.  However, consider a situation where a dictator is committing genocide against one or more groups of people who are unable to stand up to the dictator themselves.  I don’t think Jesus is saying that we ought to let the dictator do that in order to preserve the peace.  The fact of the matter is that in such a situation, the peace is already broken, and in order to make peace again, it can be necessary sometimes to make war.  I think examples like this one shows that self-defense, or defense of another can be a legitimate reason to be violent, and this does not necessarily constitute a violation of the commandment.

    On the other hand, one should also note that there are legitimate peaceful responses to the situation.  So, violence should always be a last resort, and proportional to the threat presented and goal intended.  

    I hope this helped!  God bless!


  • June 3, 2014 7:12 pm
    Anonymous:  Re: Catholics and tattoos, at what point are you not bound to your parents? I want to get a tattoo at some point but my mom would be totally against it; however, I am legally an adult so...

    Well, at a certain point, it comes down to, “How much of honoring our parents includes obeying them?”  Obviously, when they ask us to do good things and refrain from evil things, we ought to obey them.  Obviously, if they were to ask us for some reason to do something that is wrong, or forbid us from doing something we ought to do, disobeying them honors them more than obeying them. (n.b. I’m talking about if a parent asks you to kill someone for them or something like that.  Please don’t use this as a catch all to justify disobeying your parents in everything.)  

    But, what about that grey area where they are forbidding you to do something that is not necessarily wrong?  There are a lot of factors that could go into deciding whether one can make a sincere decision that one can still honour their parents while disobeying them in these matters; age, maturity, are two big ones.  

    Ultimately, I think the biggest one is honesty, honesty with your parents and honesty with yourself.  If you want to get a tattoo, and your parents tell you not to, I’m not going to tell you to get it or not.  What I am going to ask though, is that if you choose to get it, before you do so, have a talk with your parents, explain to them why you want to get a tattoo, and explain that even though you are disobeying them, you still love and honor them.  Have that conversation, don’t try to hide it from them, and after that conversation, decide if getting the tattoo is what you want.  The reason for this, is that it should help you sort through your motivations, try to help you understand why your parents don’t want you to do so, and really ask the question, how can I honor my parents when I want something for myself different than what they want for me.

    Also, you should talk to your priest and see what he thinks.

    I hope this helps!  


  • June 3, 2014 2:08 pm
    Anonymous:  What is the Church's stance on body modification (piercings and tattoos to be specific)? I've yet to be baptized (I've just joined the RCIA program on campus), but I also have piercings and one tattoo. My piercings are three pairs of lobe piercings and my left nostril, and my tattoo is an outline of a dove just above my ankle that I got in memory of my father who passed away. They aren't necessarily vulgar, but I do understand that the body is sacred.

    Hi Anonymous,

    First of all, let me say I’m sorry for your loss.  It’s hard to lose a father.

    Regarding your question, there is no problem for a Catholic with tattoos or piercings unless:

    1. They would inhibit the function of that part of the body in some way.  (Not usually a big problem with tattoos or piercings, (unless they are seriously big piercings) but some body modifications inhibit certain functions of parts of the body.  These would be mutilations and would be wrong.)

    2. They are sinful or demonic in nature.  A pretty obvious one, but if for example you wanted to get a “hail satan” tattoo, that would be wrong.

    3.  If the tattoo is done to spite one’s parents or society.  For example, if my parents told me, don’t get a tattoo and I got one anyway, that would be considered wrong.  (Not necessarily because its a tattoo, but because I disobeyed my parents.)  Also, if I got something that would be obviously offensive to a lot of society, like say tattooed a hand with a raised middle finger on my chest, that would be wrong.  

    4.  If the tattoo is otherwise irreconcilable with Catholicism, a Catholic should not get it.  (Or if one gets one before becoming Catholic, they ought to cover it up, or maybe hide it behind another tattoo which is acceptable.)  The best example of this would be if a Hindu had a tattoo of one of the Hindu gods, but then converted to Catholicism, obviously it would be best for them to either remove the tattoo, keep it hidden, or somehow hide it behind another tattoo.

    It doesn’t sound like your tattoos and piercings fall under these categories, so you’re fine.  I hope this helped,

    In Christ,


  • May 31, 2014 10:30 am
    Anonymous:  Hi! I have a question on the salvation of non-Christians. I was under the impression that the Catholic Church considers Jewish people and Muslims to worship the same God as us. However, when I read 1 John 2:23 (Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also). I feel like that negates that idea. What is the correct interpretation of that verse in regards to non-Christians? Thanks!

    Well, there are different ways this can be interpreted.  I think the easiest way to understand it is that we understand the Jews and the Muslims to worship the same God as us because they accept the monotheistic God who’s essence is existence. 

    However, we recognize that their understanding of God is incorrect because (among other things) they reject the trinity.  Because our understanding of each person of God is shaped by each other person, one who fails to accept the trinity, has a mistaken understanding of God as creator.  Thus, because they deny the Son, (and Holy Spirit) they do not understand God the Father as He is.  It’s like, if you know someone, but do not know they have kids, and how their relationship with their kid affects them, you will misinterpret the way the parent acts.  Thus, the Jews and Muslims worship the same God as us, but we believe they have a mistaken understanding of Him.

    Another interpretation of that verse, is that rather than referring to our understanding of God, it could refer to how we practice the faith.  The idea is that one who acts and treats God and others as Jesus taught will obey the commands of God the Father as well.  However, one who does not act as Jesus taught, though he may strive to love God the Father, will ultimately fall short.  Thus, we ought to live as Christ lived, for doing so will be to live as God desires us to live, and those who do not live as Christ lived do not live as God desired us to live.

    I hope this helped,  God bless!


  • May 29, 2014 10:27 pm
    Anonymous:  Hi, this is probably a stupid question, but I will be going to Confession at a new church for the first time and the priest's English skills are pretty weak. He's hard to understand and I don't know how much he'll understand from me. What do you suggest I do? (Also, not sure if this is relevant but this church only offers face-to-face Confession, not behind a screen.)

    Well, there are really two options that I’m aware of in a situation where you can’t find a priest who speaks your language for confession.  

    1) If you know someone who speaks English and the language of the priest, and you are comfortable with it, (and it’s okay not to be,) that person can act as a translator for you.  This person would be bound by the seal of confession just like the priest is.  (That a translator can be used in confession is made clear in Can. 990: No one is prohibited from confessing throughan interpreter as long as abuses and   scandals are avoided andwithout prejudice to the prescript of  can. 983, §2.)


    2)  The other option is to simply go in there, and do your best using your English and hand gestures to try to help the priest understand as much as possible. Remember, if the priest gives you absolution, and you are sorry for your sins, then the sacrament is valid and your sins are forgiven.  That stuff is lost in translation doesn’t change that.  (Of course, if you truly cannot understand this priest or vice-versa, it would be best, if you have the ability, to find a regular confessor who’s English skills are stronger, so that you can receive spiritual direction about your specific sins.)

    Something that might help, is if you google translate some of the more important words in your confession so if need be, you can use those words in the priest’s language to help him understand.  

    Other than that, continue practicing the sacrament of confession regularly.  Aim for once a month at minimum, and if possible go more often, even once a week if possible, and you will be amazed how much your spiritual life grows!  

    God bless! 


  • May 17, 2014 10:32 am
    Anonymous:  I just want to say, firstly, that your blog is amazing at answering honestly and correctly (as far as I can see) the Church's teachings. My question is, why is the Church so concerned about the legalization of same-sex marriages/ unions on the civil level, such as in the United States. As two seperate ideological bodies, would it not seem appropriate for the Church to stay our of state issues? The state has the right to define marriage as it pleases.

    Well, there are two points to your question, first, it regards the nature of the state, second, it asks why the Church is concerned with civil marriage. 

    First of all, we have to ask, is the state an ideological body or is it merely a structure which secures the rights of the individuals in the state to secure their own ”self-actualization” (for lack of a better term) according to their own ideologies?  Essentially, are we going to live in a state that proscribes a particular way (or ways) of life, to the exclusion of others, or are we going to live in a state that allows for the pursuit of any way of life without promoting any of them, (so long as the way of life does not infringe on someone else’s freedom to choose their way of life.) 

    If it’s the first, then the government seeks to promote a certain way(s) of life because they believe those are for the good of the people.  The government can promote unions it finds “valuable” to promote, including same-sex unions.  However, that also means that all citizens in the state can petition the government to support or reject forms of life that the citizens consider worthy of support or rejecting based on whether they believe those ways of life to be good or bad for society.  Catholics believe same-sex marriage is not only wrong, but harmful for society.  Therefore, Catholics would petition, and have a right to petition the government to outlaw same-sex unions.  Thus, the state has the right to define marriage as it pleases, but if Catholics (or other people who oppose same-sex marriage) make up a majority of the people, or otherwise wield deciding political power, then they as the state have the right to outlaw same-sex marriage. 

    If on the other hand, we choose to live in a libertarian, “agent-neutral” society, where we seek to give individuals the right to decide what is good or bad for themselves, then it would be wrong of the government to promote marriage at all.  Thus, civil marriages, both same-sex marriages and opposite-sex marriages would have to be done away with.  The government would still allow people to get together to raise a family, live together, and everything else married couples do, and religious institutions would be allowed to marry people according to their own rules, but these people would not be considered married by the state, because the state wouldn’t consider marriage at all. 

    Thus, if we live in an “ideological” state, where “state craft is soul craft”
     then the Church, which believes that same-sex marriage is wrong, has a responsibility to seek legislation which opposes same-sex marriage.  If on the other hand we live in a libertarian state, then it would be wrong of the government to promote any kind of marriage, since that would be promoting one lifestyle over another.  Thus, no matter which political theory one adheres to, one has to concede the Church the right to oppose government sponsored gay marriage.

    As to why the Church opposes government sponsored gay marriage? Well, because the Church loves people with same-sex attractions.  And because it loves them, and because it believes sin is harmful, and because it believes sexual acts between people of the same sex are a sin, it tries to help people with same-sex attractions avoid temptation to commit that sin to which they are attracted to.  in other words, it is because we want to prevent harm to people with same-sex attractions, that we oppose same-sex marriage.

  • May 10, 2014 4:47 am
    Anonymous:  I was brought up in a RC family and taken to the RCC since I was little, however my mom baptized me Presbyterian, and I confirmed Orthodox (I wanted to me officially RC, mom didn't like it, so I went EO.) I'm now in college, leadership in the RC club, and ready to come home to the Church. I'm just worried about telling my Orthodox friends, and breaking from my old Orthodox Church. How should I go about this?

    Just tell your friends that you are joining the Catholic Church because you feel that is where God is calling you to join.  If they ask, you can choose to give other reasons for why your joining the Catholic Church, or not, and instead just say that that’s where you are called.  I am sure your Orthodox friends will understand.  You can also remind them that even though we are separated brethren, we are still brothers and sisters in faith, and that you still hold them in high regard.  You just have a duty to follow what your conscience tells you God’s will is, and if that is to join the Catholic Church, then that is what you must do.  I would also recommend you talking to a priest you know personally.  They can often give better advice than we can over the web.  I hope this answered your question! God bless, and good luck! 

    In Christ,


  • April 14, 2014 12:07 pm
    Anonymous:  I've been thinking a lot about holy days of obligation. The question I'm pondering is this: Why has the Church decided that not participating in Mass on such a day is a mortal sin? On what grounds?

    Obligatory Sunday Mass—the year-round holy day of obligation—stems from God’s commandment to keep holy the Sabbath. The Christian “Sabbath” moved naturally from the Jewish-observed Saturday to Sunday to commemorate the Resurrection, the “eighth day,” “outside time,” that celebrates our salvation and anticipates our final happiness, union with God in heaven. 

    Strictly speaking, the Sunday obligation is a discipline of the Church (see here.) Moreover, the obligation is dispensed with if you are, for example, in a situation where it is well and truly impossible for you to attend mass. For example, in earlier times (or still today in certain parts of the world) where there is no Mass near you and/or there is no transportation to get to the Mass. 

    Other holy days of obligation follow a similar logic. Apart from the commandment to keep holy the Lord’s Day, these imposed obligations carry the weight of the authority of the Vicar of Christ: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” The obligations exist for the good of souls: to engage us in the life of the Church and the liturgical year, to give us a tug forward by the hand when attachment to sin or spiritual weariness might see us ready to abandon our daily taking up of our cross and following Christ.

    Catholic Answers notes, “The precepts of the Church are not opposed to, nor are they outside of, the Commandments of God. They are within those Commandments and are intended to help keep the faithful within the Commandments.” [x]

    There is a good short article about feast days/holy days of obligation at the Catholic Encyclopedia.

    You may also be interested in:

    What are the holy days of obligation? 
    Worship the Way God Commanded 

    I hope this helps.

  • April 14, 2014 12:07 pm
    Anonymous:  Apparitions at Garabandal and three days of darkness; what is the Church's position ?

    Msgr. Jose Vilaplana, Bishop of Santander, Spain, issued this statement which confirms that “All the bishops of the diocese from 1961 through 1970 asserted that the supernatural character of the said apparitions, that took place around that time, could not be confirmed. [no constaba].*”

    In other words, this is not an approved apparition and it would be wise for the faithful to refrain from placing their hope or faith in it. 

    Sidebar: When the Church does approve an apparition, that means the Church has found it to be “worthy of belief,” but the faithful are not required to believe it.

  • March 7, 2014 1:49 am
    layingdownamess:  Hey, guys. Have any of you heard the whole 'Jesus was born in July and Christmas is actually a pagan holiday' thing? If yes, can you explain it to me? Please & thank you!

    There is some debate as to what time Christ was actually born.  While virtually all scholars agree that he existed,* we are not sure about when he was born.  Many scholars argue that given that the nativity accounts claim that shepherds were grazing their flock, a December birth is unlikely, and therefore, a summer birth makes more sense.  Others respond by noting that winters in that part of the world are mild, and that it might have been possible. 

    Christmas Day is also the date of several pagan holidays (probably because of its proximity to the winter solstice,) leading some to claim that Christmas is actually a pagan holiday, and that Christians who celebrate Christmas are actually celebrating the pagan gods.  This is of course silly.  My friends celebrate my birthday on March 4th.  There are hundreds of people who celebrate birthdays on March 4th, but we are not all the same person just because we share a birthday. 

    In the end, does it really matter when Jesus was born?  No, it doesn’t.  All that matters is that He was born, He died for our sins, and because of that, we love Him by obeying Him and His Church because that is what will bring us to heaven, that is union with God.

    Does that help?  God bless!