Sunday Sermon

"Skippy stared blankly as Tessa explained Transubstantiation..."

Questions of Faith, Part IV

The Religious experience is diverse, even amongst followers of the same Faith. Today, Tessa gives us a different slant on Catholicism...


What faith do you espouse?
I am Roman Catholic, and though I love my Church I have issues with
some of the teachings. I remain Catholic because I believe that the
best way to effect change is from within.

Who was the founder of your faith? When did he/she live?
To the best of my historical knowledge, a man called Jesus of Nazareth was alive from around the year 4 BCE to the year 30 CE. His message was not "hey, I have this great new church" - that came later. He did seem to think that love was a good idea though.

What are the sacred texts of your faith?
There are several texts that the Catholic Church considers sacred. The most obvious would be the Bible, with an emphasis on the New Testament, where we find the stories of Jesus, and the letters establishing the meaning and way of life for Christians in the early Church. There are also the writings of the saints and the Episcopal Letters from various popes and bishops, addressing key issues in the world at the time when they were written.

What is the central teaching of your faith?
The central teaching can be found in the creed that we profess:
"We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.

He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen. "

This is the creed that was decided on initially at the Council of
Nicaea in 325. There was one line added later, "and the Son" which I
italicized and though philosophically the same, this insertion is one
of the primary acts that led to the split of the Western and Eastern
Rite Churches. The creed covers creation, the Trinity, the virgin
birth, and apostolic succession, and that is the core of what we believe.

The only primary belief that is not in some way mentioned in this
creed is the Eucharist (which actually falls under the auspices of
apostolic succession). That is our belief that the bread and wine
actually become the Body and Blood of Christ. This is tricky for a
couple reasons; first, if this were a physical actuality that would
just be icky. This is a spiritual process called transubstantiation,
and basically means we believe that though all we are able to perceive is the bread and wine, the Body and Blood are also present, not just represented.

How does your faith define sin? What are the major sins, and how is one absolved?

Catechism Definition: Sin is an utterance, a deed, or a desire
contrary to the eternal law (St. Augustine). It is an Offence against
God. It is an act contrary to reason. It wounds man's nature and
injures human solidarity. The kinds and the gravity of sins are
determined by the object. To choose deliberately - knowingly and
willingly - something gravely contrary to the divine law and the ultimate end of man is a mortal sin (the eternal death kind). A moral disorder that is reparable by charity is a venial sin.

I would agree that a sin is an offense against reason, truth and right
conscience - to sin you have to knowingly and willingly commit that offense. Everyone's conscience is informed to a different degree and in a different manner, and each case is specific unto itself, but as general broad definitions go, I guess that one is ok.

Absolution is a bit more complicated. This is one of the things that I
had a hard time coming to terms with, and I continue to struggle with
it. The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus gave authority to the
apostles to forgive sins, and that authority has passed down through
the priesthood. The process happens through the Sacrament of
Reconciliation. I don't believe that the only way sins can be
forgiven is through reconciliation (even mortal sins, which is a point
of difference from the Church). The value of the sacrament comes not from the list of sins I rattle of to the priest. God knows them and has already forgiven me. The value is in the vocalization of forgiveness. The words "I absolve you" are very powerful both spiritually and psychologically. That is what is important about
Reconciliation. It helps me to forgive myself and to work towards reconciling with those whom I have hurt.

Roughly how many adherents does your faith have?
1,050,000,000 according to I don't know them all either...

What does your faith teach about the afterlife? Is there heaven,
and how do you get there?

Catechism Definition: Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definite happiness, where we are all like God forever. The choices you make in this life effect whether you will see God in the next one. It is a state of being in perfect union with God.

There are lots of images given and speculation done, but it is ultimately a mystery until we die. I believe that we live out our afterlife now. Every moment we either live closer to God or farther away. The only moment you have is the present one and how you live it is what matters. Because "heaven" is a state of being, you can be there whenever you wish.

What are the practices of your faith? (Daily, weekly, etc.)
Holy days of obligation:
1) January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
2) Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the solemnity of the Ascension
3) August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
4) November 1, the solemnity of All Saints
5) December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
6) December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
[list numbers are not in original]

Whenever January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption, or November 1, the solemnity of All Saints, falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend Mass is abrogated. (Code of Canon Law)

Catholics are also supposed to attend Mass on Sundays and of course on Easter.

Devotions beyond that are according to your personal practices and beliefs.

How is your faith organized? Are there priests and bishops and
archbishops (oh my!)?
There are deacons, priests, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals all
organized hierarchically under the authority of the Pope. Currently,
all of those ordained ministers must be men. Interesting fact - all
Catholics are baptized prophet, priest, and king. Makes the debate on women priests slightly more heated.

Are there regular services available to you locally? If so, where?
I go to the Newman Center Catholic Parish. There is also St.
Laurence, for the more traditionally minded.

How did you come to be a believer?
I am what is affectionately (or not so) referred to as a "Cradle
Catholic" I was raised Catholic (read: forced to go to church and
other various activities until I left for college). At school though, I
started evaluating my faith and learning more than the answers that
had been fed to me all my life. I am still searching, but have come
to terms with my faith and will continue to struggle and grow.

What do you wish others knew about your faith?
We don't worship Mary. We don't believe that everyone but us is going to hell. I don't always agree with everything we are supposed to believe.


As usual, feel free to make comments here; if you have a more private message, send them to the Email address on my profile and I'll forward them on to her.


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