Anonymous: How should we respond to people who say that being a Christian is being in a relationship and not belonging to a religion? Thank you!
"Every time I hear a televangelist emphasize a personal relationship with Christ, I thank God that I’m Catholic. For only here can I receive the Lord— body, blood, soul and divinity. It doesn’t get much more personal than that."
Anonymous: Advice to one who is considering the Catholic faith but does not have the backing of their family and is confused?
Hi there, anon!
This is Caroline (heartallonfire.) That is great that you are considering the Catholic faith. The first thing I would tell you is the famous words of Blessed John Paul II: “Be not afraid!”
I don’t know your situation, but what you would probably want to start doing is visiting your local Catholic parish. Try to attend Mass on Sundays. Although you aren’t able to receive the Eucharist, you will learn so much about our faith simply through the Mass. Try to meet some people. Try to join a group suited to you: If you are a woman, a woman’s Bible study, or if you are young, a youth group etc. Many churches have various groups for various ages etc.
I’m pretty sure every Catholic parish offers the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults for those, like you, who wish to become Catholic. I’m not sure how it works, but feel free to research it. I can find some information for you if you really want it. Basically, what I know is you take classes with other adults who wish to become Catholic and you come to know what we believe and you grow closer to God in the process!
Try reading books by Catholic authors such as Scott Hahn, Peter Kreeft, and Catholic Saints.
Try learning about the Rosary and our Mother, Mary.
Just keep asking questions. Asking questions has opened my faith so much and has shown me such interesting things about Catholicism that I never would have known on my own. Just keep searching for Truth and searching for God.
As for the family thing, I sort of know how you feel. Although my family is Catholic, they didn’t really like when I started REALLY “acting religious” if you know what I mean. However, know you are in my prayers if your family does not agree with your religious beliefs. That is such a tough situation, but it should not deter you from following what you believe. Pray that you may have the strength to follow God no matter what kind of persecution or exclusion you may have to face. Pray for your family, that they may accept your religious beliefs and that they, too, may grow closer to God. It is tough to go against what your family believes, but it has been beyond worth it for me.
If you have ANY questions at all—about Catholicism, family issues, anything—feel free to send me a message at heartallonfire.tumblr.com. Be blessed, friend!
Anonymous: What is the proper way to act when entering a Catholic church during the day? What do you have to do? Is there clothing that should be avoided? Thanks.
Hi, anon! This is Caroline (heartallonfire.)
When entering a Catholic church, one should bless them self by dipping their fingers into the Holy Water founts that are usually close to the door the person is entering the church through, and performing the sign of the cross (touch forehead, chest, left shoulder, right shoulder “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”) They should respect the silence that is expected inside the Church. One should choose any pew, and genuflect to the Tabernacle, where Christ is dwelling in the Eucharist. To genuflect means to do a sort of lunge down on your right knee and perform the sign of the cross. It is important that we genuflect because it reminds us that Christ is our King. In Medieval times, soldiers would genuflect to the King of their land, and this meant: “Use me however you choose. I am willing to die for you. You are my King.” If you are attending a Mass, take some time to pray while kneeling before Mass.
If you are a woman, try to stay on the modest side for clothing. This means to definitely keep your shoulders, knees, and belly covered. Try not to wear any clothing that would accentuate body parts, such as tight or ripped clothing. Be comfortable, but try to look respectable, because it shows respect for the Person you’re visiting.
If you are a male, try to stay away from any clothing that may be distracting. I know I don’t really like to see football jerseys, which is something that people at my parish wear on game days. It takes away from what’s really going on at the Mass. Another item that is to be avoided is sleeveless shirts. It looks like you’re going to work out. Again, try to wear something respectable, like a polo and nice shorts or pants. You are meeting with God, not for a barbeque.
Let me know if you have any more questions! Be blessed.
(I already wrote this and didn’t want it to go to waste!)
Hey anon! This is Caroline (heartallonfire). I’m actually discerning (the process of coming to know) religious life too! First off, in the words of Pope John Paul II, “Be not afraid!”
Here are some steps you can take to discern this vocation a little better: 1) Stay in the state of grace. This means head over to confession if you are in mortal (grave) sin. You and I will not be able to hear His voice to discern our vocations if we are not in the state of grace! Pray, pray, and pray some more. Make sure you make time for quiet time, because God is already inside of you because of your baptism. He is gentle, He does not shout. He will whisper to you what He wants for your life. One of my favorite passages of the Bible is found in 1 Kings 19:11-13: The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before theLord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but theLord was not in the earthquake.After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” We often are looking for God’s voice in the huge, spectacular events in life, when really, He’s been talking to us all along but we haven’t been listening to the quiet.
One of the best ways to pray for your vocation is the Rosary. Our Mother, Mary, wants to help you in this and she will only lead you straight to Christ. She has helped me SO much in this process, and she will comfort and guide you as well.The other great way to pray is through going to daily mass. You don’t have to go every day, but try to go a few times during the week. Get to know Jesus in the Eucharist. Read books written by the saints, especially Introduction to Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales. I highly recommend it, since it is basically a compilation of letters written to a young woman discerning religious life just like you and me!
2) Seek spiritual guidance. You could ask for advice from a priest, a religion teacher, a nun, your youth minister…anyone who you know is mature in their faith. Priests and nuns obviously have experienced many of the trials or feelings you might be in discerning your vocation, and they’re great helpers! Often, God speaks to us through other people, and spiritual direction can help us to figure our way through. Try talking to your parents, as well. Although they may not take it well, they can be great advocates in this journey. 3) Make sure you are following God in the little things. Are you helping out around the house? Are you doing all your work and schoolwork or do you procrastinate? Are you making time for prayer? If we can’t be obedient to our small duties now, how will we be able to follow God when He asks big things of us later? 4) Check out vocational websites such as this one: http://www.vocation.com/QandAItem.aspx?id=1832. There are youtube videos, etc. as well. There is so many resources for people like you and I on the Internet alone so be sure to check it all out!
These are only a few tips I have for you. There is so much I could say, so please feel free to message me at www.heartallonfire.tumblr.com/ask . I will definitely be praying for you! Be blessed, sister. In Christ, Caroline
Anonymous: What reading do you recommend to people who are just starting in the faith? Thank you!
Hey anon! This is Caroline (heartallonfire)
What a great question! First off, I would suggest getting into your local parish. Go to Holy Mass each Sunday. Go to confession so you can be free of any sin you may have on your heart. Talk to the priest. Get to know some people. If there is a group that is special for you (if you are youth, youth group, if you are a mother, a women’s bible study etc), try to join! Learn about Catholicism. If you are youth, try to get the YouCat (the Catechism of the Catholic Church for Youth. I highly recommend it even if you aren’t young because it is much easier to read than the regular Catechism.) A big thing to do to grow in faith is ask questions. Ask any question. Ask us questions. Understand what you believe. Finally, a great thing to do is start some kind of devotional. This is a type of special prayer that you would pray in addition to your Sunday Mass. It could be learning to pray the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a spiritual Catholic book, or reading the Bible every day. Don’t take on too much, but try to step out of your comfort zone a little. Good luck to you! Please remember that we are always here for questions. You can always contact me at my blog heartallonfire for more help or just to talk. God Bless you!! Pax, Caroline
Anonymous: Hello, I have recently become more interested in the Roman Catholic Church. I was baptized as a baby but that is the extent of my relationship with any church. My father was raised as a Catholic however he now has a rather hardened view about religion in general and I would therefore not feel comfortable asking him any questions I have. My questions were whether anyone can just walk into a church and what would be the proper etiquette for attending Mass as a non-Catholic. Thanks,
Hello! This is Caroline (heartallonfire). That’s awesome, I’m very happy for you! Yes, anyone can walk into a Catholic church. Just make sure you are properly clothed (if you are a girl, no strapless or spaghetti strap shirts unless you have a sweater on, and no shorts or skirts that are very short. Keep it modest). When you walk in, dip the fingers of your right hand in the holy water font right by the door, and do the sign of the cross (touch your forehead, your chest, your left shoulder, your right shoulder). Then find a pew to sit in. Before you enter it, genuflect (do a lunge with your right knee touching the floor) and do the sign of the cross. Then, during the mass, just make sure you are following along in the booklet. When it comes time for everyone to go up for Holy Communion, because you are not prepared to receive Christ in the Eucharist, you will need to either walk up with your pew with your arms crossed in front of your chest, or stay in your seat in the pew and wait for others to come back. Other than that, I don’t think there is anything else to remember! Just remember to be respectful and quiet. If you have anymore questions, feel free to ask! In Christ, Caroline
Anonymous: I know that this isn't strictly a Catholic question..but what are some good ways to clear your mind when you feel overburdened with all your thoughts?
Hello, Anon! This is Caroline (heartallonfire). I would say for myself going to Adoration and asking God to help me clear my thoughts and how He would want me to deal with all of them. Or just sitting in my bedroom asking Him. Another would be to ask Our Mother, Mary, in the rosary or even just a few decades of the Rosary. Just prayer in general! I also journal a lot in a prayer journal, because that helps me to focus and really understand what I’m thinking. I hope this answers your question! -Caroline
Anonymous: What is a Novena? How do you pray it? How is it different than any other type of prayer?
A Novena is a prayer that is prayed at least once a day for usually 9 days. There are other novenas that take place within 18 days or higher multiples of 9.
This website states a novena to be “a nine-day period of private or public prayer toobtain special graces, to implore special favors, or to make specialpetitions. (Novena is derived from the Latin “novem”, meaning nine.) As thedefinition suggests, the novena has always had more of a sense of urgencyand neediness.
Anonymous: I'm not being patronising at all when I ask this but it seems an obvious question and one that'll plague me if I don't ask it. Catholics believe in transubstantiation, so does that mean if we were to take a biopsy of the Eucharist we would be able to confirm it is what Catholics claim it to be? Would there be a genetic code? Has this ever been done?
Yes! There have been MANY Eucharistic miracles in which the Eucharist has been studied. Google “Eucharistic Miracles” and you’ll find a bunch. The most influential is called the Miracle of Lanciano, Italy.
The Miracle of Lanciano, Italy
“An extraordinary miracle has lasted for over 1,300 years and is still taking place today, visible before our eyes.”
In the city of Lanciano, Italy, around the year 700 there was a monk who was a scientific scholar. Although he knew so much about worldly sciences, he was “ignorant in those of God,” and was not very strong in his faith. A doubt as to whether the consecrated Host was truly the Body of Christ, and the consecrated wine of truly His Blood, consumed him.
This monk was dedicated more to science than to wisdom, interested more in the material things of the world. In many ways, we can all relate to him; he resembles each of us to an extraordinary degree.
Regardless, he constantly prayed that God would remove this doubt from his heart, and, of course, God did not abandon him.
One morning, as he was celebrating Mass, after he had spoken the words of the consecration (“This is My Body … This is my Blood …”), his doubts weighed down his heart more than ever. And then, he witnessed the Bread changed into Flesh and then the wine into Blood.
Today, thirteen centuries later, these Holy Relics have remained practically in tact. The Host-Flesh, as can be very distinctly observed today, has the same dimensions as the large host used today in the Latin church; it is light brown and appears rose-colored when lighted from the back. The Blood is coagulated and has an earthy color resembling the yellow of ochre.
In 1970-71, and taken up again partly in 1981, a scientific investigation was conducted by Prof. Odoardo Linoli, a famous professor in anatomy and pathological histology and in chemistry and clinical microscopy.
The analyses of the Flesh and Blood were conducted with every amount of scientific precision and they were documented with a series of microscopic photographs.
These analyses came to the following conclusions:
The Flesh is real Flesh. The Blood is real Blood.
The Flesh and the Blood belong to the human species.
The Flesh consists of the muscular tissue of the heart.
In the Flesh we see present in section: the myocardium, the endocardium, the vagus nerve and also the left ventricle of the heart for the large thickness of the myocardium.
The Flesh is a “HEART” complete in its essential structure.
The Flesh and the Blood have the same blood-type: AB (Blood-type identical to that which Prof. Baima Bollone uncovered in the Holy Shroud of Turin).
In the Blood there were found proteins in the same normal proportions (percentage-wise) as are found in the sero-proteic make-up of the fresh normal blood.
In the Blood there were also found these minerals: chlorides, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium.
The preservation of the Flesh and of the Blood, which were left in their natural state for twelve centuries and exposed to the action of atmospheric and biological agents, remains an extraordinary phenomenon.
Local Church and Vatican officials have authenticated the Holy Relics on many occasions since the middle ages. Bl. Pope John Paul II called attention to the miracle at the beginning of the Year of the Eucharist in 2004.
Sources: [x], a pamphlet printed by Ave Maria Centre of Peace
Anonymous: In regards to communion, I know that it is acceptable to receive the Eucharist by either tongue or hand. Why do people tend to receive via the hand and why did we originally receive via the tongue?
Hello, Anon! This is Caroline (heartallonfire). From my understanding, the USCCB (the Bishops of the US) have said that it is acceptable to receive the Eucharist in the hand. However, this is to be avoided and only used in rare cases because it can cause irreverence to the Eucharist. In our country, it is seen as acceptable nowadays. However, Catholics believe the Eucharist is REALLY Jesus. Therefore, He should be reverently received on the tongue. The reason some people receive on the tongue is because that creates the least chance of crumbs of the Eucharist to fall on the floor, etc. If your masses are similar to the ones I go to, about 90% of the parish receives the Eucharist in the hand. Think of how high the chances are they Jesus may fall onto the ground and trampled on! Now, in the past more people received on the tongue. Now that most receive in the hands, only about 30% of Catholics actually believe in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. I believe this fact is mainly because of the fact that so many receive in the hand. If you receive the Eucharist in the hand, to your human mind, is that really going to help you believe that It is something divine and beautiful? No, it’ll seem like a snack. Just my two-cents. Please let me know if this didn’t answer your question!
I just want to add that I personally receive on the tongue and kneeling. I learned this from a friend of mine and he says it’s because his hands are sinful and are not worthy of carrying Christ in the Eucharist. I adopted that mentality but I want to emphasis that it is my opinion on how to receive, nowadays it isn’t very common to see people kneeling when they receive. I personally love it :)