Church teaching articles and columns

Below are the latest columns from the St. Louis Review. Click on a title or the 'Continue Reading' link to read the whole story.

May 24, 2007

Not long ago my father died at home. When the priest arrived, he told my mother he could not anoint my father but would say the Prayers for the Dead. My mother was so upset over his not being able to grant my father the last sacrament that after the funeral Mass she has not been back to church.

First, I would like to extend my sympathy to you and your family on the loss of your father.

A priest or deacon who answers such a call s...

May 24, 2007

What does the Immaculate Conception refer to?

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception teaches and celebrates the truth that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was herself conceived without original sin, that is, she was free from inheriting the guilt of the first sin committed by Adam and Eve.

Unfortunately, many Catholics routinely confuse this teaching with that of the virgin birth, the declaration that Jesus was born to a virgin. The v...

May 24, 2007

What is a definition of theology and how are the various disciplines in theology understood and related to each other?

Theology may be defined as the science or knowledge of God. The word may be applied to the process of understanding God in the most general sense and applies to all religions and religious experiences.

When we Catholics speak about theology we address a reality more particularly defined: "the disciplined reflect...

May 24, 2007

Is it permissible for a Catholic to be a witness at the wedding of another Catholic who is marrying outside the Church?

It depends on what you mean by "marrying outside the Church." In a case like this, you want to make sure whether this marriage will be valid in the eyes of the Church.

It is possible that a marriage taking place in a Protestant church has been given a dispensation from the bishop. Also, if the Catholic in quest...

May 24, 2007

Why should I say, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed" when I am about to receive Communion if I have just been to confession?

Your question is an interesting one. It presumes after we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation one is "worthy."

In the Sacrament of Penance we receive the grace of Christ...

May 24, 2007

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?

The Church has always understood and fostered the significant relationship that exists between the study of philosophy and theology because philosophy allows for a deeper appreciation of the truths of our faith and better equips the individual to re...

May 24, 2007

During the last ice storm in December, I was in need of confession. Being unable to get to my rural parish, I called my pastor and asked him to hear my confession over the phone. He informed me that he could not hear my confession that way. The whole incident left me feeling hurt and disappointed since I had a serious sin weighing on my soul.

I am sorry that the whole incident left you feeling hurt and disappointed. But the telephone...

May 24, 2007

What are the formation stages a woman goes through in professing vows to the religious life? And, when a woman becomes a nun, why does she change her name?

Women religious, technically members of the various institutes and congregations of consecrated life, have a rich history and tradition of serving the Church with reverence and humility down through the ages.

Many people use the word "nun" to refer to all women who have consec...

May 24, 2007


May 24, 2007

After Communion Hosts are consecrated, is there a certain amount of time that they can be kept for distribution at other Masses, taken on sick calls and used for eucharistic adoration?

This is an interesting question because it provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the Church...

May 24, 2007

I have one big problem with the petitions presented after the Gospel in our parish. Our priest ends these petitions with "and for John or Jane Smith for whom this Mass is being offered."

As a family we look forward every week to participating in the sacrifice of the Mass. But it is very disturbing to us when the priest says the Mass "is being offered up for John Smith." Would it be more appropriate to say, "John Smith is remembered at t...

May 24, 2007


May 24, 2007

Why are the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael called "saints"? I thought only human beings could be saints.


May 24, 2007

Is it a mortal sin for married Catholics, for any reason, to use birth control? We hear that priests don’t preach enough about this; are there scriptural readings at Mass that would give priests a natural lead-in to preach about the topic in their homilies?

The Church...

May 24, 2007

Why do we make the Sign of the Cross when we begin or end our prayers?

In addition to the seven sacraments, sacramentals have been instituted by the Church for the benefit of the Christian faithful.

These sacramentals are sacred signs that communicate spiritual effects through the intercession of the Church to prepare the hearts of believers to receive the grace of Jesus Christ. Sacramentals likewise are prayerful intercessions w...

May 24, 2007

Recently I was told by friends and acquaintances that they are "Gnostic" Catholics or Christians. What are they talking about? What is Gnosticism and how is it different?

Gnosticism is a preChristian and early Christian religious movement teaching that salvation comes by learning spiritual truths that are understood by an initiated few. These so-called truths free humanity from the material world, believed in this movement to be evil....

May 24, 2007

Our teenage daughter has asked our permission to begin dating. What advice should we give her as Catholic parents?

In today...

May 24, 2007

Many times I have received help through the intercession of the saints, yet now their importance seems to be downplayed by many in the Church. Has the role of the saints changed, or do those responsible for Catholic education just not explain things as they should?

I agree with you that the saints are powerful forces for good in our lives, and they are probably not as well known and revered today as they deserve. I hope that this brief...