Anonymous: If I, an atheist, were to want to convert to Catholicism, where should I begin? What should I begin learning?
Sorry for the long wait. I hope I can answer your question well.
My first piece of advice would be to open the Bible and learn about Jesus. Plain and simple. Why? Because the whole of reality and the whole of humanity revolves around Him. I’d start with the Gospel of Mark, as it’s the shortest and most action-packed. You might want to try Luke or Matthew next (and if you read Luke, continue on to Acts of the Apostles, as it was written by the same person). It would also be good to read some letters of Saint Paul, perhaps after you read Acts of the Apostles. Acts is a history book that describes the apostles’ actions in the early Church after Christ returned to the Father and it really focuses on the power of the Holy Spirit.
The New Testament is the best place to start, I think. If you want to read the Old Testament, you should start with the Psalms. They are short and easy to read, and we can all relate to many of them in one way or another.
Scripture seems to me the one of the best places to begin in general. If you’re interested in other books, a few that come to mind are Confessions by Saint Augustine and The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. They are both conversion stories!
Also, do you have any Catholic friends? Perhaps this is the most important bit: become friends with a Catholic and see how God is working in their lives. Ask them if they can answer any questions you have about the Catholic faith. Ask them if they can take you to a Catholic church to see what it is like!
Anon, if I’m reading you correctly, I’m so excited that you’re interested in learning more about Catholicism! My prayers will be with you. I hope I’ve given you enough to dig into. If anyone else can contribute, please do!
nerdybeatlemaniac429: What does it mean when the Catechism asks us to, when possible, "publicly to make reparation for a wrong" we have committed against someone?
Hi there! Thanks for your question.
CCC #2487 says this:
Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven. When it is impossible publicly to make reparation for a wrong, it must be made secretly. If someone who has suffered harm cannot be directly compensated, he must be given moral satisfaction in the name of charity. This duty of reparation also concerns offenses against another’s reputation. This reparation, moral and sometimes material, must be evaluated in terms of the extent of the damage inflicted. It obliges in conscience.
So the Catechism is clear that public reparation is the general way of dealing with an offense.
In French, reparer simply means to fix. Simply put, we’re called to fix things after committing an offense against someone.
The first thing that comes to my mind is to simply say sorry and ask for forgiveness in front of the person. You tell them, “I’m sorry. Can you forgive me?” and then it’s on them to forgive you. If you did something that hurt them or damaged their property, you should offer to pay the medical bill or mechanic’s bill or contracter’s bill (or replace whatever you broke or damaged). Financial compensation is a good way to make public reparation for a wrong. Another way that comes to mind is to give of your time—your service to that person. If you, say, trampled your neighbour’s rose bushes because you walked outside and were angry, then you could offer to give an hour of your day during the summer helping your neighbour in their garden.
On a more serious note, public reparation could mean serving a jail sentence or paying a severe fine. Pleading guilty and accepting your jail time would be a good way to make public reparation. Remember, once you commit a wrong and you realize it is wrong, it is up to you to “make up for it” as best you can.
I hope I was able to answer your question. Take care!
Anonymous: [trigger warning: lust] Is the light, "butterflies in your stomach" feeling you get when you encounter an attractive person lust/sexual desire, or harmless "crushy feelings" (as I've seen it described on LifeTeen once)? (And "harmless" given that you do not mistake these feelings for love and turn them into an unhealthy infatuation)
I’d say at face value, they’re not lustful. Lust is a desire to use the other person for our own sexual gain or pleasure, and butterflies are simply feelings we get when we encounter someone to whom we’re attracted. I think that if you, as you say, turn the experience of those feelings into an “unhealthy infatuation,” then it could turn into lust. If you do encounter someone who’s really attractive, thank God for their attractiveness, tell Him He did a good job, and move on. As a guy, I can tell you this is really important and effective in making sure we respect and love women rather than using and lusting after them. Hope this helps.
Anonymous: My good friend is not Catholic. We are in college & I have known her since the first day. It is likely that when the time comes, she will be unable to have children. If it wasn't against Catholic teaching, I would be completely willing to be a surrogate for her. I see this as a huge act if sacrifice out of love for her, but because of the IVF and such involved, I can't and stay in good terms with the church. Other than praying she will be able to carry her own child, how can I deal with this?
Forgive me for assuming, but it seems like you might not have a real grasp of why the Church teaches against IVF methods. BadCatholic offers a nicer explanation than I could ever give, so I suggest you take a look at what he has to say. I just got a feeling that you saying “If it wasn’t against Catholic teaching…” might mean that you don’t know why the Church teaches against IVF. And that’s okay, of course. I myself have a long way to go when it comes to Church teaching.
Now, onto your question. In terms of concrete acts, I would highly recommend your friend to chart her cycles/start looking at NFP methods. Natural fertility methods are surprisingly good at helping women conceive children. Q or anyone else who’s familiar with NFP, would you want to offer a comment?
Finally, good on you for praying for her, Anon. Pray that whatever the circumstance, you and your friend will give glory to God.
Anonymous: I am a vegetarian, because I believe that animals are also God's creatures and to eat them would be a sin. It concerns me that that Catholic church does not also view this as a sin and, in a way, condones the consumption of animals. Please enlighten me as to why this is. Thank you!
Consider Acts 10:9-15:
The next day, while they were on their way and nearing the city, Peter went up to the roof terrace to pray at about noontime.He was hungry and wished to eat, and while they were making preparations he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all the earth’s four-legged animals and reptiles and the birds of the sky. A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat. But Peter said, “Certainly not, sir. For never have I eaten anything profane and unclean.”The voice spoke to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.”
God has given us the right to eat meat. I hope this answers your question.
Anonymous: As we are required to follow just laws, and as it is sufficient to receive under only one species for Communion, would it be a mortal sin for someone who is underage to receive the Precious Blood in states that do not offer religious exemption to the drinking age law? (And who does not have a health condition that would prevent them from receiving the Host?) Or would drinking laws not apply because it only has the appearance of wine?
Consuming a tiny sip of Precious Blood probably puts as much alcohol into your system as drinking an entire glass of fruit juice.
Besides, a law that does not allow religious exemption for (reasonable consumption of) alcohol, according to the First Amendment, seems to me unjust. It’s not that we should necessarily break such a law, but I feel we can break the letter of this law (no underage drinking without exceptions) because it does not properly represent the spirit of the law (to protect young people from getting smashed and hurting themselves or others).