Two-Minute Answers to Your Questions about the Catholic Faith

The Church and the Papacy

AnswerWhy do Catholics believe the Catholic Church is the one true Church, founded 2,000 years ago by Jesus Christ Himself?

The Catholic Church is the only church today that can claim to be the one church founded by Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago. Other denominations can trace their origins back to various human founders at a later date in history.

AnswerWhere does the Pope get his authority to lead the Church on earth? What do Catholics believe about ‘apostolic succession’?

Again, Matthew 16:18 is key to understanding Christ’s intent to pass on the authority to lead the Church to Peter and the apostles. Christ tells Peter that he is the rock on which He will build His church.When Catholics use the term apostolic succession, they are referring to the line of bishops that stretches all the way back to the apostles—to Peter—the first Pope. Apostolic tradition (the authentic teaching of the apostles) was handed from Christ to the apostles, and from them to their successors. This unbroken line of popes (the bishops of Rome) and all other bishops have guided the Church for the past 2,000 years, just as Christ intended (Matthew 28:19-20).Christ sent His apostles out into the world with authority to teach and heal (Luke 9:1-2) and to forgive sins (John 20:23). This God-given authority is exercised by the bishops within the Catholic Church to this day.

Mary and the Saints

AnswerDo Catholics worship Mary? Why do Catholics emphasize Mary so much?

Catholics believe that worship is due to God alone. Catholics do, however, venerate Mary. In other words, we honor our Blessed Mother with great reverence and devotion because she is the Mother of God.

Mary is the model of perfect love and obedience to Christ. God preserved Mary from sin, and she conceived our Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing Christ into our world. Catholics can’t help but honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is full of grace, the Mother of God and our Mother, for her “yes” to God that made the Incarnation possible. And without the Incarnation, we would not have salvation.

Mary is the most beautiful model of total submission to the will of God. Catholics do not view Mary as equal to Christ, but rather venerate Mary because of her relationship to Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it” (CCC 964).

As Catholics, we pray that we can respond to God’s call to holiness for our lives in the way that Mary did. Mother Theresa prayed to emulate Mary’s devotion to Christ:

“Mary, Mother of Jesus, give me your heart so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate, 
so full of love and humility that I may be able to receive Jesus in the Bread of Life, 
love Him as You loved Him, and serve Him as You served Him….”

AnswerIn 1 Timothy it says Jesus is our sole mediator, yet we pray to Mary and the Saints. Is that going against the Bible?

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1 Tim 2:5 reads as follows: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…” “You see,” we Catholics are told, “there is only one mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ. Therefore, praying to the saints goes against the Bible because you are making them mediators between God and man, you are diminishing Jesus‘ role as the sole mediator!”

Is that an appropriate interpretation of that passage? No, it‘s not and let‘s see why not.

In the O.T. we see that Moses, Abraham, and Job interceded on behalf of others… that’s mediating between God and man. We know that it is okay to ask others here on earth to pray and intercede for us…. that’s mediating between God and man. So, I think, once again, we have a situation where a passage of the Bible is being misinterpreted and misunderstood.

There is only one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ, but as members of the Body of Christ, He allows us to share in His mediation.

Also, Scripture tells us that we have only one foundation, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11); but, Scripture tells us that there is more than one foundation (Eph 2:19-20). Scripture tells us that we have only Lord, Jesus Christ (Eph 4:4-5); but, Scripture tells us there is more than one lord (Rev 19:16). Scripture tells us that we have only one Judge, Jesus Christ (James 4:12); but, Scripture tells us there is more than one judge (1 Cor 6:2).

Contradictions in Scripture? No! Not when these passages are all properly understood in context. Jesus is the only foundation; Jesus is the only Lord; and Jesus is the only Judge. But, we are members of Jesus‘ Body. Therefore, we are able, according to the graces given by Christ, to share in Jesus‘ role as foundation, as lord, and as judge, and in other aspects of Christ, as well. Another example, as a father I share in God‘s role as Father, by His grace. And, so also, we, and the saints in Heaven, and the angels in Heaven, can share in Christ‘s role as Mediator.

*This two-minute apologetic question is courtesy of the Bible Christian Society.

AnswerIn Romans, chapter 3, it says that none is righteous and that all have sinned, but the Catholic Church teaches that Mary is without sin…could you explain that in light of Romans 3?

Romans 3, verse 10 says, “…as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one.’” Yet, James 5:16 says that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much. If absolutely no one is righteous, then who is James talking about? Luke chapter 1 says that Elizabeth and Zechariah were righteous before God. If absolutely no one is righteous, then how can that be? Is Scripture contradicting itself? No, the folks who interpret Romans as saying absolutely, without exception, no one is righteous, are misinterpreting that passage. They are failing to realize that the key to understanding Romans 3:10 is the phrase, “it is written.”

Here in Romans, Paul is quoting from the O.T., Psalm 14 to be exact. In Psalm 14 it says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God. They are corrupt…there is none that does good.’” But then that same psalm goes on to talk about the “righteous.” Well, if none has done good, who are these righteous the psalm is talking about? Obviously, when the psalmist says that none has done good, he is talking about the fools who say there is no God. He is not talking about absolutely everyone.

Just so Paul when he quotes from this psalm. Paul is not saying absolutely no one is righteous, if he was, then how do you explain all the Old and New Testament passages that refer to the righteous? In Romans 3:11 it says that no one seeks for God. Does that mean that absolutely no one is seeking God? No, to interpret it that way would be ludicrous!

Just so verse 23 which says that “all have sinned”. Babies haven’t sinned, have they? Little children haven’t sinned, have they? No! This is not an absolute. There are exceptions. What about John the Baptist? Did he sin? Scripture says that he was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. Can someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit his entire life ever sin? It’s something to think about.

So, it is perfectly legitimate to say that these passages from Romans, when interpreted in context, in no way conflict with the Church’s teaching on Mary being without sin.

*This two-minute apologetic question is courtesy of the Bible Christian Society.

AnswerWhy do Catholics call Mary the Queen of Heaven? Doesn’t God rebuke the Israelites in the O.T. for worshipping a false goddess called the Queen of Heaven? Should we not refer to Mary with that title, therefore, since it is the title of a false goddess?

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In Jeremiah 7:18, God is indeed upset with the Israelites for worshipping a false goddess called the “queen of heaven”. However, just because God rebuked them for worshipping the false queen of heaven, doesn’t mean that we cannot pay honor to the true Queen of Heaven…the Blessed Mother.
That type of thinking would lead you to believe that just because people worship a false god that they call “god,” we, therefore, should not call the true God, by that same name…God…because that’s the same title the idolaters use for their god! That is faulty logic and it makes no sense whatsoever.

Again, the fact that there is a false “queen of heaven”, does not lead to the conclusion that we worship a false goddess when we call Mary the “Queen of Heaven.” Just as the fact that there is a false “god”, does not lead to the conclusion that we worship a false god when we call our Father in Heaven, God.

And there is a true Queen of Heaven, we see this quite clearly in Revelation 12:1, “And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars…” Let’s see. There’s a woman…she’s in Heaven…and she has a crown on her head. I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s the maid! No! It is the true Queen of Heaven, Mary, the mother of the male child who is to rule the nations.

We do not worship Mary, we honor her, just as Jesus honors her. So, there is absolutely nothing wrong, from a scriptural point of view, in calling Mary the Queen of Heaven, and in honoring her just as Jesus honors her.

*This two-minute apologetic question is courtesy of the Bible Christian Society.

AnswerThe Bible clearly says that Jesus had brothers and sisters, but the Catholic Church teaches that Mary was a perpetual virgin…how can you reconcile those seemingly different positions?

Mk 6:3 says, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses, and Judas and Simon, and are not His sisters here with us?” We need to realize a few things here about these “brothers and sisters”: #1, there was no word for cousin, or for nephew or niece, or for aunt or uncle in ancient Hebrew or Aramaic – the words that the Jews used in all those instances were “brother” or “sister”. An example of this can be seen in Gen 14:14, where Lot, who was Abraham’s nephew, is called his brother.

Another point to consider. If Jesus had had any brothers, if Mary had had any other sons, would the last thing that Jesus did on earth be to grievously offend his surviving brothers? In Jn 19:26-27, right before Jesus dies, it says that Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to the beloved disciple, John. If Mary had had any other sons, it would have been an incredible slap in the face to them that the Apostle John was entrusted with the care of their mother!

Also, we see from Mt. 27:55-56, that the James and Joses mentioned in Mark 6 as the “brothers” of Jesus, are actually the sons of another Mary. And, one other passage to consider is Acts 1:14-15, “[The Apostles] with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and with His brothers…the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty.” A company of 120 persons composed of the Apostles, Mary, the women, and the “brothers” of Jesus. Let’s see there were 11 Apostles at the time. Jesus’ mother makes 12. The women, probably the same three women mentioned in Matthew 27, but let’s say it was maybe a dozen or two, just for argument’s sake. So that puts us up to 30 or 40 or so. So that leaves the number of Jesus’ brothers at about 80 or 90! Do you think Mary had 80 or 90 children? She would have been in perpetual labor! No, Scripture does not contradict the teaching of the Catholic Church about the “brothers” of Jesus, when Scripture is properly interpreted in context.

*This two-minute apologetic question is courtesy of the Bible Christian Society.

Salvation

AnswerMany Protestants believe we are saved by Faith Alone and they say Catholics believe they can “work” their way into Heaven. How do you answer that?

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First of all, I ask them to show me where in the Catechism, the official teaching of the Catholic Church, does it teach that we can “work” our way into Heaven? They can’t, because it doesn’t. The Catholic Church does not now, nor has it ever, taught a doctrine of salvation by works…that we can “work” our way into Heaven.

Second, I ask them to show me where in the Bible does it teach that we are saved by “faith alone.” They can’t, because it doesn’t. The only place in all of Scripture where the phrase “Faith Alone” appears, is in James…James 2:24, where it says that we are not…not…justified (or saved) by faith alone.

So, one of the two main pillars of Protestantism…the doctrine of salvation by faith alone…not only doesn’t appear in the Bible, but the Bible actually says the exact opposite – that we are not saved by faith alone.

Third, I ask them that if works have nothing to do with our salvation…then how come every passage in the N.T. that I know of that talks about judgment says we will be judged by our works, not by whether or not we have faith alone? We see this in Rom 2, Matthew 15 and 16, 1 Ptr 1, Rev 20 and 22, 2 Cor 5, and many, many more verses.

Fourth, I ask them that if we are saved by faith alone, why does 1 Cor 13:13 say that love is greater than faith? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

As Catholics we believe that we are saved by God’s grace alone. We can do nothing, apart from God’s grace, to receive the free gift of salvation. We also believe, however, that we have to respond to God’s grace. Protestants believe that, too. However, many Protestants believe that the only response necessary is an act of faith; whereas, Catholics believe a response of faith and works is necessary…or, as the Bible puts it in Galatians 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumsion is of any avail, but faith working through love…faith working through love…just as the Church teaches.

Scripture and Tradition

AnswerMy Protestant friends say that their church goes by the Bible Alone, but that the Catholic Church has added a lot of man-made traditions to the Word of God…Is that true?

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No, it is not true. Protestants have as their sole rule of faith the written Word of God, which we find in Sacred Scripture. The Catholic Church has as its sole rule of faith, the entire Word of God, as it is found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.All of the Word of God was at one time passed on orally…Sacred Tradition. Eventually, some of Sacred Tradition was written down…this became Sacred Scripture, which is written tradition. However, Scripture itself tells us that not all of the things that Jesus said and did were written down. And listen to what Paul says about “tradition”:2 Thes 2:15, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” Traditions! Traditions taught by word of mouth, in other words, oral tradition, and traditions taught by letter. Traditions which they are being told to “stand firm and hold to”. Sacred Scripture and

1 Cor 11:2, “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.” The Corinthians are being commended by Paul because they maintain the traditions that he passed on to them. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

2 Tim 2:2: “and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” What we have here in 2 Timothy is an instance, in Scripture, of Paul commanding the passing on of oral tradition.

1 Thes 2:13, “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers.” So, they received as the Word of God that which they heard, not simply that which they read in Scripture.

In other words, the Bible clearly supports the Catholic Church’s teaching that the Word of God is contained in both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

AnswerWhy are Catholic and Protestant Bibles different? Who originally compiled the Bible?

Catholic Bibles contain—and have always contained—all of the books of the Bible that have been traditionally accepted by Christians dating back to the time of Jesus. These accepted books total 46 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. Protestant Bibles, however, have seven fewer books in their Old Testament. These seven books excluded in the Protestant Bible are Baruch, Sirach, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith and the Wisdom of Solomon, plus portions of Esther and Daniel. These books were rejected by Protestant Reformers in the 1500s because elements in these books did not support certain Protestant theology and doctrines. Prior to the sixteenth century, however, all Christians used Bibles containing all 46 books of the Old Testament.

During the first century, there was much debate among the early Christians as to what made up the canon of Scripture. The Church, having been given authority by Jesus Christ and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (see The Church and the Papacy), compiled the Bible in the form that it exists today.

AnswerA friend of mine said that his church takes the Bible literally, but that the Catholic Church doesn’t…is that true?

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Actually, there is no truth to that, whatsoever. Catholics interpret the Bible in a “literal” sense, while many fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and others interpret the Bible in a literalist sense.

The “literal” meaning of a passage of Scripture is the meaning that the author of that passage of Scripture intended to convey. The “literalist” interpretation of a passage of Scripture is: “that’s what it says, that’s what it means.”

Let me give you an example to illustrate the difference. If you were to read a passage in a book that said it was “raining cats and dogs outside”, how would you interpret that? As Americans, in the 21st Century, you would know that the author was intending to convey the idea that it was raining pretty doggone hard outside. That would be the “literal” interpretation…the interpretation the author intended to convey. On the other hand, what if you made a “literalist” interpretation of the phrase, “it’s raining cats and dogs”?

The “literalist” interpretation would be that, were you to walk outside, you would actually see cats and dogs falling from the sky like rain. No taking into account the popularly accepted meaning of this phrase. No taking into account the author’s intentions. The words say it was raining cats and dogs, so, by golly, it was raining cats and dogs! That is the literalist, or fundamentalist, way of interpretation.

If someone 2000 years in the future picked up that same book and read, “It was raining cats and dogs outside,” in order to properly understand that passage in the book, they would need a “literal” interpretation, not a “literalist” interpretation. Now, think about that in the context of interpreting the Bible 2000-3000 years after it was written.

Literal, or Catholic, interpretation vs. literalist, or fundamentalist, interpretation.

End Times

AnswerA friend of mine has been reading the “Left Behind” series with all this stuff about the ‘Rapture’ in them…is there really going to be a ‘Rapture’ like these books talk about?

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No, there’s not. The “Rapture” refers to a passage in First Thessalonians, chapter 4, which talks about Christians being “caught up” in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Many Christians believe, and the “Left Behind” books promote, that this being “caught up” to meet the Lord will occur before the Great Tribulation which is headed our way in the near future. Christians will simply vanish, meet Jesus somewhere in the air, and then return with Him to Heaven to await the end of time.

But notice, in verse 17, Paul says that “…we who are alive, who are left,” shall be caught up. Remember that…those who are “left” get caught up to meet the Lord.

The “Left Behind” books get their name from a passage in Luke 17 and a similar passage in Matthew 24 which talk about the coming of the Lord being like the days of Noah and the days of Lot. Matthew 24 puts it this way: “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man…they ate, they drank, they married and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field, one is taken and one is left. Two women grinding at the mill, one is taken one is left.”

“See,” Rapture enthusiasts say, “One is taken, one is left…the Rapture! Jesus takes the Christians and leaves behind non-Christians!” Two problems with that interpretation: First, Jesus’ coming is being compared to the days of Noah and the days of Lot. After the flood, who was left? Noah and his family…the good guys…the bad guys were taken! After Sodom and Gomorrah went up in smoke, who was left? Lot and his daughters…the good guys…the bad guys were taken! Second, remember 1 Thessalonians? It says that those who are “left” get to meet Jesus in the air. The good guys are left behind to meet Jesus.

In other words, you want to be left behind so that you can get caught up in the clouds to meet Jesus in the air and accompany Him back to earth at His 2nd and final coming. There will be no Rapture like the one the Left Behind books talk about…that view is not scriptural.

AnswerWhy does the Catholic Church believe in Purgatory?

The Catholic Church’s belief in the existence of purgatory is indeed scriptural!

First of all, it is important to understand what the Church believes purgatory is. The Catechism describes purgatory like this: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030).

Note that the Church believes that purgatory is not an eternal state, but rather a state of purification before entering eternal life with God in heaven.

Scripture teaches us that nothing unclean can enter heaven (Revelation 21:27). Scripture also describes a place where a man goes and suffers loss, yet is still saved, but only through fire (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). Purgatory is this place that cleanses us of whatever impurity we have when we die, allowing us to enter into God’s presence without the stain of sin.

Sacraments (Eucharist, Confession, and Baptism)

AnswerWhy does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?

The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:48-56).

Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

More Scripture about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist
“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood”

• (John 6:53-56 RSV) So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; {54} he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. {55} For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. {56} He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

• In the Aramaic language that Our Lord spoke, to symbolically “eat the flesh” or “drink the blood” of someone meant to persecute or assault them. See the following… (Psa 27:2 KJV) When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

• (Isa 9:18-20 RSV) For wickedness burns like a fire, it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke. {19} Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts the land is burned, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no man spares his brother. {20} They snatch on the right, but are still hungry, and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied; each devours his neighbor’s flesh,

• (Isa 49:26 RSV) I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the LORD your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

• (Micah 3:3 RSV) who eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them, and break their bones in pieces, and chop them up like meat in a kettle, like flesh in a caldron.

• (2 Sam 23:17 RSV) “Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things did the three mighty men.

• (Rev 17:6 RSV) And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her I marveled greatly.

• (Rev 17:16 NIV) The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.

Thus, if Jesus were only speaking symbolically about eating His flesh and drinking His blood, as the Protestants say, then what He really meant was “whoever persecutes and assaults me will have eternal life” — which, of course, makes nonsense of the passage!

Bread and wine are not normal or natural symbols of flesh and blood. To call a man a “fox” is an understandable symbol for cleverness. To call a man “bread” is not an understandable symbol, without some explanation. Either the symbols would have been clearly explained (which is not the case) or Jesus spoke literally (which is the case!).

AnswerWhy can’t non-Catholics receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church?

This is a common question asked by both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Many non-Catholics, when attending a Mass at a Catholic wedding, find themselves being gently told that they should not come forward to receive Holy Communion. Of course, they wonder, “Why? Catholics are allowed to receive communion in our church, so why can’t we receive Communion with the other Catholics here?”

Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, meaning that what appears to be bread and wine is really Jesus’ body and blood—not just a symbol of his body and blood. When Catholics receive Holy Communion, it is an expression of the unity among all those in communion with the Catholic Church throughout the world, who maintain the belief in the Real Eucharistic Presence of Christ. Therefore, only those who believe in the True Presence may participate in this sacrament of oneness with Christ and his Church. “… [T]he celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion” (CCC 1382).

Ultimately, Catholics believe that we cannot celebrate this unifying sacrament with other Christians while there are disagreements about the Eucharist itself. However, Catholics pray for the day when we can reconcile with other Christians and share in the unity of God’s people through the Holy Eucharist.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expresses this desire for unity:

“We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ’s prayer for us ‘that they may all be one’” (John 17:21).

AnswerWhy do Protestants not believe John 6 when it says that Jesus’ flesh is real food and that His blood is real drink?

I don‘t know! In Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22, Jesus says of the bread, “This is my body.” He says of the wine, “This is my blood.” Not “this is symbolic of,” or “this represents,” He says “this IS.” In John 6, He repeats Himself, like He does nowhere else in Scripture, to emphasize the fact that He expects us to eat His flesh and drink His blood and that His flesh is real food and that His blood is real drink.

Anyone who says He is speaking symbolically, and not literally, simply is refusing to look at all of the facts. Fact #1: The Jews took him literally, verse 52. Fact #2: His disciples took him literally, verse 60. Fact #3, the Apostles took him literally, verses 67-69. If everyone who heard him speak at the time took Him literally, then my question is: Why does anyone today, 2000 years after the fact, take him symbolically?

Also, in verse 51, Jesus says that the bread which He will give for the life of the world is His flesh. When did He give His flesh for the life of the world? On the cross. Was that symbolic? If you think Jesus is speaking symbolically here when He says that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood, then you must also conclude that Jesus’ death on the cross was symbolic…it wasn’t really Jesus hanging up there…it was symbolic flesh and symbolic blood.

Jesus is clearly talking about the flesh that He gave for the life of the world…He did that on the cross. Those who believe He is talking symbolically here in John 6, have a real problem when it comes to John 6:51. Did Jesus give His real flesh and blood for the life of the world, or was it only His symbolic flesh and blood?

AnswerWhy do Catholics confess their sins to a priest rather than going directly to God?

1-confessionWell, the quick answer is because that’s the way God wants us to do it. In James 5:16, God, through Sacred Scripture, commands us to “confess our sins to one another.” Notice, Scripture does not say confess your sins straight to God and only to God…it says confess your sins to one another.

In Matthew, chapter 9, verse 6, Jesus tells us that He was given authority on earth to forgive sins. And then Scripture proceeds to tell us, in verse 8, that this authority was given to “men”…plural.

In John 20, verses 21-23, what is the 1st thing Jesus says to the gathered disciples on the night of His resurrection? “Jesus said to them, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’” How did the Father send Jesus? Well, we just saw in Mt 9 that the Father sent Jesus with the authority on earth to forgive sins. Now, Jesus sends out His disciples as the Father has sent Him…so, what authority must Jesus be sending His disciples out with? The authority on earth to forgive sins. And, just in case they didn’t get it, verses 22-23 say this, “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”

Why would Jesus give the Apostles the power to forgive or to retain sins if He wasn’t expecting folks to confess their sins to them? And how could they forgive or retain sins if no one was confessing their sins to them?

The Bible tells us to confess our sins to one another. It also tells us that God gave men the authority on Earth to forgive sins. Jesus sends out His disciples with the authority on earth to forgive sins. When Catholics confess our sins to a priest, we are simply following the plan laid down by Jesus Christ. He forgives sins through the priest…it is God’s power, but He exercises that power through the ministry of the priest.

AnswerWhat is a sacrament?

The sacraments are “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us” (CCC 1131). In other words, a sacrament is a sacred and visible sign that is instituted by Jesus to give us grace, an undeserved gift from God. (See also CCC 1084).

Christ was present at the inception of all of the sacraments, which He instituted 2,000 years ago. Christ is also present every time each sacrament in celebrated.

The Catholic Church has all of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ, which include Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that “the seven sacraments touch all the stages and all important moments of the Christian life” (CCC 1210).

AnswerWhy does the Catholic Church practice infant baptism?

The Church’s practice of infant baptism stems from her teachings regarding original sin (what we have) and baptism (what we do about it).

After the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden, all people are now born with original sin due to our fallen human nature. Through the gift of grace in Baptism, God washes away this stain of original sin and makes us a part of His family and offer us eternal life.

Children, who are born with the stain of original sin, are also in need of Baptism, in order to free them from the bondage of original sin and make them children of God. Our loving Father does not wish to withhold His love and grace from anyone, including children. Baptism simply requires openness.

“The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth” (CCC 1250).

AnswerI have a friend who says Baptism is a symbolic act and that it has nothing to do with salvation…how can I answer them?

Simple. By showing them what the Bible says. First, nowhere does the Bible say that Baptism is merely a “symbolic” act…that passage simply does not exist. Second, let’s see what the Bible does say about Baptism: Ezek 36:25-27, it says, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses…a new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you…and I will put My spirit within you…” Here, in the Old Testament, we have a foreshadowing of New Testament baptism.Now, let’s see if the New Testament corresponds to what we just read in Ezekiel. Acts 2:38, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Note that there is no symbolic language here…this is real! The Book of Acts says, “Be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.” Ezekiel says, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean from your uncleanness.” The Book of Acts says, “…and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Ezekiel says: “…and I will put My Spirit within you.” Do you begin to see how God, in the Old Covenant, was preparing us for what He gives us in the New Covenant?

Acts 22:16 – “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins…”. 1 Cor 12:13 – “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” What body was that? The Body of Christ. 1 Ptr 3:21: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you…”

Scripture simply does not support the non-Catholic notion that Baptism is symbolic. Scripture does very directly and very clearly support the Catholic teaching that Baptism saves us; that Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ; that Baptism washes away sin; and that through Baptism we receive the Holy Spirit…just as the Catholic Church teaches!