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

A good friend who is a practicing Lutheran says that they also believe in the Real Presence just as we Catholics do. Is this true and could you explain the differences between their belief and our belief in the Real Presence?

We Catholics believe in the "transubstantiation," that is the change of substance into the Body of Christ, and wine into the Blood of Christ at the Consecration at the Mass.

The Catechism of the Catholic Ch...

May 24, 2007

Can you explain the different kinds of indulgences?

The Church...

May 24, 2007

May the deacon who presides at a marriage without Mass give the nuptial blessing and also bless the congregation? (Sent by a reader in Wisconsin).

When a deacon is celebrant for a wedding, he follows the same Roman ritual for that ceremony as a priest would, including the nuptial and closing blessings.

This is generally true for all rituals celebrated by a deacon. The Church...

May 24, 2007

Why is it that Catholics don...

May 24, 2007

In your book "Catholic Q and A," I read with great interest your explanation about "maturing heterosexually." You describe adolescents in an autoerotic phase of development and tell how some men and women never move beyond this level of sexual awareness and maturity.

This describes my ex-husband perfectly. After 28 years of living with such selfishness, I gave up hope, and we split. Would this be grounds for an annulment? How could per...

May 24, 2007

What does the Church say about celebrating Halloween?I recently was disconcerted to find a Jack-O-Lantern in the vestibule of our parish church.

Halloween or All Hallow...

May 24, 2007

Is it permissible for family members or friends to offer a eulogy at a Catholic funeral Mass?

The Order of Christian Funerals, the official ritual governing the proper celebration of the Catholic funeral ritual, clearly states that the homily that follows the proclamation of the Gospel is not to be a eulogy. The homily is to reflect upon the experience of human death and relate it to the Paschal Mystery of Christ...

May 24, 2007

I read your column ("Please explain the Catholic, Lutheran belief on the Eucharist") in the Sept. 15 Review. My question is since Lutherans believe in the Real Presence why are they not permitted to receive the Eucharist at a Catholic Mass if perchance they go to church with a friend? Also, why cannot Catholics receive the Eucharist in the Lutheran Church as the service is almost identical?

In answer to your question about intercommunio...

May 24, 2007

Can you tell me a bit more about episcopal conferences in general and about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in particular?

In the Catholic Church, an episcopal conference is a national consultative body which consists of all the bishops within a given territory.

Conferences of bishops were first organized rather informally for the purposes of establishing dialogue and cooperation among the members.

The Fathers of...

May 24, 2007

Is it true that heaven was closed after the original sin of Adam and Eve and not opened until Christ ascended to heaven? If so, then where did the souls of the just go in the meantime?

Yes, it is true that no one, not even the just men like Abraham, Joseph and John the Baptist, was able to experience the beatific vision of heaven until Christ had restored it through his passion, death and resurrection.

Such was the completeness...

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...