Dear Father

DEAR FATHER | Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in reading the Bible

All of us probably have a Bible somewhere at home. It sits, quietly calling us whenever we see it or think to pick it up and to read its Good News.

Before reading it, examine it to make sure it is a Catholic Bible. If it isn't, some books might be missing that the Catholic Church accepts but other denominations of Christianity don't.

DEAR FATHER | Finger positioning in the Church has several meanings

Why is Jesus often depicted in images and statues only holding up three fingers?

In images with Christ, He is often pictured with His right hand lifted in blessing. In that pose, He has three fingers up and two down.

The three fingers pointing up symbolize the three persons of the Blessed Trinity. The two fingers joined together point to Jesus' two natures: that He is fully human and fully divine.

Why do priests often put their pointer finger and thumb together during consecration, leaving only three fingers up?

DEAR FATHER | Importance of Church Fathers remains formative for our Church today

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman began life as a High Church Anglican. At Oxford, he became a leader within the Oxford Movement, which emphasized the Catholic elements of the Church of England to help reform it. Through his studies in this movement, particularly of the Church Fathers, he converted to Catholicism, eventually becoming a cardinal.

DEAR FATHER | Preparing to receive Communion starts at home

Preparing to receive Jesus' Body and Blood starts at home — well before Mass. The Church teaches that Catholics should abstain from food or drink, except water, for one hour prior to receiving Communion. As we long for a drink or something to munch on while waiting for Mass, we should be reminded of our spiritual hunger to receive Jesus into our souls.

DEAR FATHER | Holy Spirit found in inspiration of Old Testament

We first find the Holy Spirit's presence in the Old Testament, and throughout the Bible, in His inspiration of the sacred authors of the text. The Spirit inspires the prophecies of the Old Testament, sees their fulfillment in Christ and confirms the Church in the truth of Christ through the writings of the New Testament. While He inspires the biblical authors, He is also actively at work in the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments.

DEAR FATHER | Church leaves frequency of Confession up to individual decision

Since we are all in different places on our spiritual journey, it's hard to set one number for all and say that this is the perfect number of times to go per year to remain in good standing. It varies by the person and the work God is doing in the soul.

At the bare minimum, Catholics should receive the sacrament once per year. This is known in the Precepts of the Church as the "Easter Duty." Sometime between Ash Wednesday and Pentecost, each Catholic is asked to receive both the sacrament of confession and Communion.

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