Dear Father

‘Dear Father’

I always pray for divine help to make us be of one faith, one Lord, living together in love as brothers and sisters of Christ.

‘Dear Father’

I usually have lunch with a fellow worker, who happens to be a fallen-away Catholic. The other day he mentioned that he believes Jesus was a great human teacher but was not God. Could you help me to present the case for Jesus being God to him in an intelligent manner?

'Dear Father'

Why do Catholic Bibles have a different number of Old Testament books than Protestant ones?

‘Dear Father’

Diocesan priests take a vow of celibacy while religious order priests take a vow of chastity. What, if any, differences are there between the two?

'Dear Father'

Whatever happened to the use of indulgences?

Could you explain indulgences, what they are and how one acquires them?

Indulgences are still in use today although many Catholics have put them on the backburner since Vatican II.

The "Catholic Encyclopedia" tells us:

"Indulgences — Remission of the temporal punishment for sins and therefore the giving of satisfaction owed God for one’s sin. Indulgences are granted either after the Sacrament of Penance or by perfect contrition. Indulgences are either plenary (when all punishments are remitted) or partial (only when part of the punishment is remitted). Plenary indulgences demand that one be free of all venial sin, but partial indulgences do not require this ... Indulgences can be gained only for oneself or for those in Purgatory, but not for other living human beings.

"Since Vatican II, the overall view of gaining indulgences has moved from the notion of devotional works themselves (the opus operatum), and more emphasis has been placed on the action of the Christian faithful (the opus operantis)."

In other words, the Christian faithful are urged to live their lives according to Gospel values and to practice the theological virtues — there should be no dichotomy between their religious life and their professional/social life in the world.

In fact, the 1991 edition of "The Handbook of Indulgences" places more emphasis on living life as a Christian and on the formation of "spiritual attitude toward prayer and repentance," rather than the "repetition of prayer formulas and actions."

The main concern on this whole issue on the use of indulgences is just how many Catholics may be under the impression that since they confessed their sins that this ends the whole matter. It is important for Catholics to realize that although the culpable element of sin has been taken away in the Sacrament of Penance — there is still the temporal punishment due for those sins which indulgences can do away with completely or partially.

Since the space here does not permit me to go into all the norms and grants for gaining an indulgence you will find complete information in "The Handbook of Indulgences" available at Catholic bookstores.

Father Lombardi, a priest of the Missionary of the Holy Family order, is associate pastor of St. Wenceslaus Parish in South St. Louis.

Address questions to Dear Father, St. Louis Review, 20 Archbishop May Drive, St. Louis MO 63119. You can also fax them to (314) 792-7534 or e-mail them to

‘Dear Father’

How influential in the life of the Church today are the writings and thought of St. Thomas Aquinas? Is there a guide to his writings that would help the average layperson understand Aquinas?

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