The Papists

Apologetics and Evengelization
  • March 19, 2012 1:39 am

    Re: “Why is a priest necessary for confession?”

    Olivier did a great job of answering, but I wanted to add:

    Because Jesus said so! :) He instituted the priesthood and the sacrament of confession. 

    Further recommended reading:

    Confession is not a private affair in the Bible 
    More Scriptural Basis for Confession
    The Forgiveness of Sins 
    The Question of Confession 

    - Q

  • March 18, 2012 9:10 pm
    Anonymous:  If someone goes to confession and doesn't confess a certain sin but receives absolution for other sins, is the unspoken sin still forgiven?

    Not if it’s deliberately concealed. Deliberately concealed sins invalidate the entire confession.

    But if you sincerely forget something, don’t sweat it—you’re still forgiven. You are supposed to mention the forgotten sin the next time you go to confession, though. Many priests will blow that part off these days, but they’re not supposed to.

    If, like me, you have trouble remembering everything you want to confess, I recommend making a list, or better yet just bringing a list of the 10 Commandments with you. Then you can run down the list and remember everything. There are “examinations of conscience” lists you can find that ask questions pertaining to each of the commandments meant to help you apply them to your life, too. I use the one in my 1962 Roman Missal, and it’s a great help.


  • March 11, 2012 8:08 pm
    beholybehappy-deactivated201206:  Q - my friend rejects the notion that the first sin was pride, since Adam and Eve would need to have been in violation of a specific command from God, which he defines as making an idol of whatever that command forbids. Ergo, the first sin would have been a form of idolatry. How would you respond?

    The first sin is defined in the Catechism as Adam and Eve having let the trust in their Creator die in their hearts: they stopped trusting God and set themselves up as the judges of good and evil in place of God. (#397)

    From the glossary:

    ORIGINAL SIN: The sin by which the first human beings disobeyed the commandment of God, choosing to follow their own will rather than God’s will.

    That’s all about pride. We are called to be obedient to God’s will. Disobedience, in whatever form it takes, is powered by pride. A good, simple definition of pride is trusting yourself rather than God. (It often manifests as fear, doubt, etc, rather than unmitigated arrogance; that kind of arrogance usually occurs in human relationships, rather than the human-Divine relationship, and can be characterized as setting oneself as the standard of all good/perfection/etc to which no other human being measures up.)


    In that [original] sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good.

    You could call it self-worship, which is a form of idolatry, but “idolatry” in itself isn’t a motivation to disobedience. Only pride (trusting oneself above God) does that. So I stand by my first argument: pride is the more fundamental sin, since idolatry is only a manifestation of it. Pride comes first.

    Hope that helps!

  • March 3, 2012 8:05 pm
    Anonymous:  What is the purpose of the contrition at the beginning of every mass? Don't Catholics have to go to confession, so why do we do this?

    In his excellent short book A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do in the Liturgy, Dr. Edward Sri explains:

    Throughout the Old Testament, when God manifests his divine presence to his people, it is usually quite unexpected. […] However, when the people were given advance notice of God’s coming among them, they took time to prepare carefully for this holy encounter. For example, at Mount Sinai, Israel had three days to get ready to meet the Lord, who would come to them in thunder, lightning, and cloud and speak the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments—directly to the people. In those days of preparation, they were instructed to consecrate themselves to the Lord and to wash their garments (Ex 19:9-19).

    We, too, are called to prepare ourselves for a sacred encounter with the Lord every time we go to Mass. Yet our meeting with God is more profound than anyone in ancient Israel ever imagined. For, in the sacred Liturgy, we draw near not just to a manifestation of God’s presence in the form of a cloud, but to the very body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. And we will receive our divine Lord sacramentally within us in holy communion.

    We truly are not worthy to participate in all this. Indeed, our sinfulness stands in stark contrast to what we are about to do in the Mass. And so, the priest invites us to “prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries” by humbly confessing our sins publicly before almighty God and the congregation. Just as the people of Israel needed to wash their garments before approaching the Lord at Sinai, so we need to cleanse our souls from sin before we approach God in the Mass. Indeed, washing is a biblical image for the removal of sin (Ps 51:2, 7).

    The prayer known as the Confiteor—the first word of this prayer in Latin, meaning “I confess”—stands in a long biblical tradition of confessing one’s sins. 

    Sri cites Neh 9:2, Ps 32:5, 38:18, Prv 28:13, Sir 4:26, Lv 5:5, Nm 5:7, Dn 9:20, Neh 1:6, Mt 3:6, Mk 1:5, 1 Jn 1:9, Jas 5:16, and 1 Cor 11:28, 27 as examples of the different ways, publicly and privately, communally and individually, Jews and Christians confessed and were commanded to confess before partaking in acts of worship. 

    In other words, this kind of public, communal prayer for forgiveness from God and from each other has a long history in the Judeo-Christian tradition. It is not meant to replace and cannot substitute for sacramental confession, which absolves us of our sins in a particular and immediate way, but it is an instance of the many times we should make such prayers to God between confessions. It is an inherent part of the public, liturgical act of worship. 

    God bless you!

  • March 3, 2012 7:43 pm
    Anonymous:  What goes into deciding whether to receive by the hand or by the tongue?

    According to the Didache, an ancient Christian account of celebrating the Eucharist, in the very beginning the Eucharist was received on the hand. Tradition developed as times changed, more people converted, the liturgy was formalized, and moved away from Jewish passover customs (where, of course, the Eucharist was instituted.)

    In the Eastern Catholic Church and among the Orthodox, Communion is distributed by intinction (the Host is leavened bread soaked in the Precious Blood) on a small spoon directly into the mouth of the person. In the Roman Rite, where the Tridentine liturgy was celebrated until 1969, the faithful received only the Body of Christ on the tongue while kneeling on the communion rail before the altar. This developed at least in part out of concern for accidental profanation of the Body and Blood of Christ. Profanation includes accidental dropping or spilling of the Host or Blood. It’s a very serious problem and to be avoided at all costs. 

    After the Novus Ordo, the mass we celebrate most often today, was instituted following Vatican II (although please note that none of the official documents of Vatican II approved or called for such a change), receiving on the hand was declared a valid practice for the Latin Rite as part of those liturgical changes. 

    In my experience, receiving on the tongue is the best way to go. You don’t have to worry about pieces of the Host crumbling on your hand and being brushed onto the floor to be trampled—and it happens, without us even noticing, as a priest demonstrated just how easily (with unconsecrated hosts) in a video that you can find on youtube—and it’s such an unusual act of humility and reverence in our modern culture that it truly heightens your awareness that is the Body of the King of Kings which you are receiving, that you have been brought into the eternal moment of Christ’s Sacrifice.

    I’ve also found that the ubiquitous “Eucharistic Ministers” are hard to surprise, so if you want to start receiving on the tongue, don’t be nervous: just keep your hands folded low, and after you say Amen, stick out your tongue. Most likely, they won’t even blink.

    Since both practices are valid today (although personally I am convinced that there is a solid theological case for the superiority of receiving on the tongue, as evidenced by the Tridentine and Byzantine liturgical traditions,) today it comes down to personal choice. Personal comfort is a factor, I suppose, although it is worth noting that we are called to worship God the way He deserves, not in the way that makes us the most comfortable. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to decide which way of receiving allows them to participate most reverently in the Holy Sacrifice and worship our Lord in the fullest possible way.

    God bless you!

  • March 3, 2012 7:22 pm
    Anonymous:  Is it okay to participate in a "love feast" with non-Catholic Christians? Meaning, in the context of a meal, we break bread, pass it around, and do the same with grape juice or wine in remembrance of what the Lord did?

    No, for the same reasons that it is not permitted for non-Catholics or Catholics in a state of mortal sin to receive the Eucharist.

    CCC #1400:

    Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, “have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders.” It is for this reason that, for the Catholic Church, Eucharistic intercommunion with these communions is not possible

    Catholic Answers uses this passage to answer a similar question. They also say this: 

    Protestant communion is a subjective experience. The bread and wine only symbolize the body and blood of Christ. The communion will affect the person to the degree that he is devoted to the Person of Jesus. If the communicant is devoted to Jesus, the experience becomes an act of devotion and can even be an act of the person’s love. For those not devoted to him, the experience will mean little. For those who receive the Eucharist in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the experience is more than merely subjective. The eucharistic elements (over and above their symbolic value) have an objective reality apart from the recipient’s religiosity. These recipients have the inexpressible experience of the intimate visitation of Jesus within their very bodies. Nothing on the face of the earth can equal this.


    Consider this: the Eucharist is, as Scripture affirms again and again, a wedding feast, where the Church is the bride and Christ is the bridegroom. That is reality. Christ is really there. Would you want to attend a “wedding feast” where the participants don’t realize that’s what they’re celebrating, where no spiritual marriage is actually taking place, and the Divine Bridegroom isn’t even there? 

    There are Protestant denominations who take the Eucharist seriously, but because they do not have valid sacraments, especially Holy Orders, the Bridegroom is still not present. You would not be celebrating the Holy Sacrifice in the way Jesus commanded that we celebrate it. 

    Moreover, the Eucharist can never be reduced to mere hospitality. There is always the question of Truth: Are we one in Truth? If everyone participating believes contradictory things about Revelation, Faith, and Morals, are they truly celebrating the same feast and Lord, the same faith, or is each person celebrating their own personal vision of truth? For more on the importance of unity in faith and morals in the Eucharist, click here.

    ETA: Also this:

    Because the Lord’s body and blood are not substantially present, a Catholic is never permitted to partake of the communion services in such [Protestant] celebrations of the Lord’s Supper.” [x]

    God bless you!

  • March 3, 2012 6:26 pm
    Anonymous:  Why does the Catholic church believe that children must understand the Eucharist before being able to receive it? In Orhtodox churches, infants even receive. Some argue that the Lord does not exclude anyone from his table.

    Eastern Catholics also practice infant communion. It’s simply a difference in the theology of East and West. It’s important for individual Catholics to abide by the customs of their rite. (Although if Roman Rite parents visit a Byzantine Catholic church, there is nothing wrong with having their infant receive the Blessed Sacrament there.)

    The Western theo-philosohpical tradition is that children should have an understanding of the theology, importance, and holiness of the Eucharist when they first receive. Accordingly, when a child is old enough to have that understanding, they are likely old enough to sin, that is, they have reached the “age of reason.”

    It’s a straw-man argument to say the Roman Church believes there’s some “magical” age where children “instantly” become capable of reasoning (and therefore sinning) just as adults do. The Church has posed the age of seven as that age after which children become accountable simply as an average, pastoral age that often applies to most people, but the process of reasoning, understanding Christ, and being able to choose sin is a gradual one that all people go through. I recommend this for clarification, and this is related.

    As for guidelines for receiving Communion in general: It is true that the Lord excludes no one, but people who do not assent to the Catholic faith in its entirety exclude themselves from properly receiving the Eucharist, even if they physically eat it. Here and here are some more on that. Essentially, the Eucharist cannot be reduced to hospitality or a “nice gesture” of “inclusion.”

    Here and here are relevant Catholic Encyclopedia articles, and these are the relevant CCC passages:

    Eucharistic communion:
    access to Eucharist prohibited, 1650
    first Holy Communion, 1244
    frequency of, 1388-89
    minister of, 1411
    necessary preparation for receiving, 1385-87
    requirements for receiving, 1355, 1415
    sacrilege against, 2120
    under two species, 1390

    God bless you!

  • February 22, 2012 11:07 pm
    reelaroundthesun:  Another question- I'll admit that homosexuality is advised against in the Bible, but it's in the book of Leviticus, along with other Jewish laws that we no longer follow (eg Kosher, regulations surrounding hair cutting, menstruation, childbirth, etc.) Out of the 600-odd mitzvoth contained in the Pentateuch, why is the one forbidding homosexual acts the ONLY one that the Catholic Church still follows?

    The Old Law contains two different kinds of laws: moral laws and cultural laws. Christians are not bound by the cultural laws, but are always bound by the moral laws which transcend culture because they are eternal truths. We still hold to the Ten Commandments, too—they’re moral laws.

    This article does a great job of answering your question.

    God bless you!

  • February 20, 2012 10:25 pm
    gaychristian:  The Catholic Church has admitted it's fault before on certain stances (evolution, geocentric orbit, etc), is it impossible that Rome could change it's doctrine to fully accept homosexuals and their relationships (as they do with heterosexuals)? And if Rome changed it's policy tomorrow (just bear with me), how would you each react on a personal level? On an entirely different topic, what do you feel about the veneration of saints (or 'saint worship)'? -Ian

    The Church has never changed its doctrine. Some popes have apologized on behalf of the Church for misunderstandings and whatever unintended hurt has developed out of certain historical situations. As far as geocrentrism goes, here’s what really happened with Galileo. Further, evolution in itself is not a problem—evolution used in exclusive support of atheism is.

    It is, in fact, impossible for the Magisterium to change it’s position on any defined teachings of the Church, because the Church cannot change what God has decreed. So I’m afraid your question as to our personal reactions is moot.

    For an excellent primer on the due honor and reverence accorded the living souls in full union with God in heaven, who have been Biblically shown to intercede for those of us here on earth, please click here. You might also be interested in these articles or these.

    God bless you!

  • February 20, 2012 3:25 pm
    thespiralboundmastermind:  I had a question about your response to the angels question. I was under the impression that angels did NOT have free will, hence the creation of humans who could choose to love God (which was more pleasing than simply being forced to love God). I suppose this does start getting confusing when you remember that Lucifer was an angel though, so I guess I'm still confused. Think you could offer some more clarification on the issue?

    Angels do have free will. Love can never be forced—if it is, then it is not love. If angels didn’t have free will, there would be no point to them. As the original answer indicated, however, their choices for good or evil are eternal. Like God, they exist outside of time and are completely made up of spirit, without bodies. (Although since the Incarnation, God also has a human body, Jesus.) Tradition tells us that because of their eternal and bodiless nature, angels had one choice to make for eternity, at the moment they were created, to either choose God or to reject him. In other words, because they exist outside of time, they do not have the capacity to repent; that’s just part of the nature of eternity. One day, we’ll be the same: once we die, we will exist in eternity, and the final choice we made in life will be our eternal choice, either for heaven or hell.

    Some recommended short readings that have relevant information:

    How could Lucifer have rebelled? 
    Why pray to angels? 
    Are angels beings or just symbols? 
    Can angels be male or female? 
    The angels and us (audio) 
    The biblical roots and roles of angels (audio) 
    Must we believe in angels? 
    Other articles

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church on angels:

    in the anaphora, 1352
    birth of Christ and, 525, 559
    Christ and, 331, 538, 954, 1038, 1161
    in the Church’s life, 334-35
    cosmic order and the guardianship of, 57
    existence of angels as a truth of faith, 328
    fallen, 391-93, 414, 760
    Gabriel announcing, 148, 2676
    gone astray, 311
    guardian, 336
    heaven and, 326, 1023-29, 1053
    identity and duties of, 329, 332-36, 350-52, 1034, 1352
    images in art, 1192, 2131, 2502
    protectors of men, 336 

    Hope that helps!

    - Q