6 Most Misunderstood Beliefs and Practices in the Catholic Church

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1. Venerating the Saints is Idolatry.

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Venerating the saints is not idolatry. Catholics are not actually praying to the saints but only honoring them as heroes of the Catholic faith and asking them to intercede for them to Christ. Catholics only worship God and not the saints according to official Church teachings. It’s true that worshiping material things is idolatry and a serious sin against God. But the statues inside the Church are mere symbols and representations of their personhood of the saints as true disciples of Christ, worthy of emulation. They help Catholics to recall their heroic deeds for God. A symbol, such as the statue, only points to the reality. The piece of wood or cement of the statue is not being worshiped by Catholics but only served as a visual aid to remind Catholics to imitate their extraordinary faith in Christ..

2. The Sacred Host in the Mass is only a Symbol.

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For some Protestant Churches which use the sacred host in their public rituals, the consecrated host is only a symbol but not the reality itself. This is not the Catholic Church’s official teaching. For the Church, the consecrated host during the Mass is not just a symbol but the reality itself. Under the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, the ordinary unleavened bread is transformed into the real Body of Christ after the consecration in the Eucharist.

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“Transubstantiation is the process by which the bread and wine of the Eucharist is transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Catholics believe that through transubstantiation, the risen Jesus becomes truly present in the Eucharist. The word transubstantiation is made up of two parts: ‘trans’ and ‘substantiation.’ The first part is a prefix that means ‘across’, ‘beyond’, or ‘through’. It suggests that some kind of change has taken place. The second part of the word, ‘substantiation,’ refers to the philosophical term substance. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, substance is a thing’s deepest being, what it is, in and of itself. The substance of a thing is what it really and truly is beyond all appearances” (Troolin). After the consecration of the priest, the substance of the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

3. The Personal and Moral Life of the Priest can Affect the Sacredness of the Mass He is Celebrating!

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It is true that persons who are ordained by Catholic bishops as priests remain human beings and sinners. But the sacrament of ordination has transformed them into ministers of Christ and the Church. What they are administering in the Church, such as the Eucharist and the sacraments, are not affected by their personal and immoral life as sinners. These public rituals are done by priests in the name of the Church of Christ and not in their own name and power. As ministers, they are only instruments, the real dispensers of divine grace in the sacraments is Christ Himself. Of course, it is ideal that the priest who administers the sacraments is also a holy person and a worthy human instrument of grace.

4. Direct Confession to God is Better than Confessing to the Priest.

confess hands up GIF by Andrew and Pete

Direct confession to God is usually done by Protestant and Christian churches. But the Catholic Church only allows direct confession for venial or minor sins. Grave or serious sins must be confessed to the priest in the sacrament of reconciliation. In the Gospels, following his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples. After breathing upon them, he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:22-23; see also Mt 18:18). The sacrament of reconciliation encourages us to go and to try to sin no more. This teaching is found also in Ephesians 4:25-32 and 1 John 1:5-10. By virtue of his ordination, the priest is authorized by the Church to forgive sins in the name of Christ.

5. Unbaptized Babies will go to Limbo!

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“It is clear that the traditional teaching on this topic has concentrated on the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin. This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium….” (ITC).

“However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the theory of limbo is not mentioned. Rather, the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children. The principle that God desires the salvation of all people gives rise to the hope that there is a path to salvation for infants who die without baptism (cf. CCC, 1261) (Ibid).”.

6. Praying is Asking God’s Favor!

pray praying hands GIF by LL Cool J

Prayer is God’s gift. It has different forms. It is not always asking God’s favor. Not all prayers are petition or intercessory prayers. The Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2259) describes the Church’s teaching on prayer as follows:

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”2 But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?3 He who humbles himself will be exalted;4 humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”5 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”6

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

References

Troolin, A. (n.d.). Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation: Definition & Overview. Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/lesson/catholic-doctrine-of-transubstantiation-definition-lesson-quiz.html.

International Theological Commission (ITC) (n.d.). “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized”. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html.

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6 Most Misunderstood Beliefs and Practices in the Catholic Church

confused GIFjesus church GIF

1. Venerating the Saints is Idolatry.

catholic GIF

Venerating the saints is not idolatry. Catholics are not actually praying to the saints but only honoring them as heroes of the Catholic faith and asking them to intercede for them to Christ. Catholics only worship God and not the saints according to official Church teachings. It’s true that worshiping material things is idolatry and a serious sin against God. But the statues inside the Church are mere symbols and representations of their personhood of the saints as true disciples of Christ, worthy of emulation. They help Catholics to recall their heroic deeds for God. A symbol, such as the statue, only points to the reality. The piece of wood or cement of the statue is not being worshiped by Catholics but only served as a visual aid to remind Catholics to imitate their extraordinary faith in Christ..

2. The Sacred Host in the Mass is only a Symbol.

amor GIF

For some Protestant Churches which use the sacred host in their public rituals, the consecrated host is only a symbol but not the reality itself. This is not the Catholic Church’s official teaching. For the Church, the consecrated host during the Mass is not just a symbol but the reality itself. Under the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, the ordinary unleavened bread is transformed into the real Body of Christ after the consecration in the Eucharist.

catholic the exorcist GIF

“Transubstantiation is the process by which the bread and wine of the Eucharist is transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Catholics believe that through transubstantiation, the risen Jesus becomes truly present in the Eucharist. The word transubstantiation is made up of two parts: ‘trans’ and ‘substantiation.’ The first part is a prefix that means ‘across’, ‘beyond’, or ‘through’. It suggests that some kind of change has taken place. The second part of the word, ‘substantiation,’ refers to the philosophical term substance. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, substance is a thing’s deepest being, what it is, in and of itself. The substance of a thing is what it really and truly is beyond all appearances” (Troolin). After the consecration of the priest, the substance of the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

3. The Personal and Moral Life of the Priest can Affect the Sacredness of the Mass He is Celebrating!

filipino GIF

It is true that persons who are ordained by Catholic bishops as priests remain human beings and sinners. But the sacrament of ordination has transformed them into ministers of Christ and the Church. What they are administering in the Church, such as the Eucharist and the sacraments, are not affected by their personal and immoral life as sinners. These public rituals are done by priests in the name of the Church of Christ and not in their own name and power. As ministers, they are only instruments, the real dispensers of divine grace in the sacraments is Christ Himself. Of course, it is ideal that the priest who administers the sacraments is also a holy person and a worthy human instrument of grace.

4. Direct Confession to God is Better than Confessing to the Priest.

confess hands up GIF by Andrew and Pete

Direct confession to God is usually done by Protestant and Christian churches. But the Catholic Church only allows direct confession for venial or minor sins. Grave or serious sins must be confessed to the priest in the sacrament of reconciliation. In the Gospels, following his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples. After breathing upon them, he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:22-23; see also Mt 18:18). The sacrament of reconciliation encourages us to go and to try to sin no more. This teaching is found also in Ephesians 4:25-32 and 1 John 1:5-10. By virtue of his ordination, the priest is authorized by the Church to forgive sins in the name of Christ.

5. Unbaptized Babies will go to Limbo!

hip hop happy dance GIF

“It is clear that the traditional teaching on this topic has concentrated on the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin. This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium….” (ITC).

“However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the theory of limbo is not mentioned. Rather, the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children. The principle that God desires the salvation of all people gives rise to the hope that there is a path to salvation for infants who die without baptism (cf. CCC, 1261) (Ibid).”.

6. Praying is Asking God’s Favor!

pray praying hands GIF by LL Cool J

Prayer is God’s gift. It has different forms. It is not always asking God’s favor. Not all prayers are petition or intercessory prayers. The Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2259) describes the Church’s teaching on prayer as follows:

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”2 But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?3 He who humbles himself will be exalted;4 humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”5 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”6

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

References

Troolin, A. (n.d.). Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation: Definition & Overview. Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/lesson/catholic-doctrine-of-transubstantiation-definition-lesson-quiz.html.

International Theological Commission (ITC) (n.d.). “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized”. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html.

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Who is the Real Author of the Bible? How Did God Inspire the Human Writers?

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Introduction

There seems to be a confusion among Christians and Catholics regarding the true author of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Some believe that these books are written by human authors and thus may contain errors. Other believe that the writers of the Bible were dictated by God what to write in the Sacred Scriptures. The human writers were mere instruments of God’s hand in describing the divine message to humanity.

So, who is the real author of the Bible? How did God inspire the human writers to jot down His message to humankind if He is the real author?

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The following  passages from the the Catechism for Filipino Catholics (CFC, #85-87) constitute the Catholic Church’s teaching on divine inspiration. They explain how writers of the Old and New Testaments  were inspired by God to write the Sacred Scriptures:

The Church’s Teaching on Divine Inspiration

“The Sacred Scriptures are said to be “inspired” in a special sense — not just as some artist or author may be “inspired” to paint or compose.

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Rather, biblical inspiration means that the sacred and canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, whole and entire, were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so that we can call God their “author” and the Bible “the Word of God” (cf. DV 11; CCC 105-6).

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God chose certain human authors, who as true authors made full use of their human powers and faculties, yet were so guided by the Holy Spirit who so enlightened their minds and moved their wills, that they put down in writing what God wanted written” (CFC #85).

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Biblical inspiration, then, is a charism referring to the special divine activity, communicated to individual authors, editors, and compilers belonging to the community, for the sake of the community. It produced the sacred texts both of the Old Testament and the New. These texts ground the apostolic Church which remains uniquely authoritative for us and for all generations of Christians” (CFC, #86).

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But the Holy Spirit’s work in Scripture touches more than its human authors: in some fashion it also touches both the proclaimers and the hearers of the word. “In the sacred books the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet His children, and talks with them” (DV 21). Scripture thus supports and invigorates the Church (cf. CCC 131-33). It strengthens our faith, offers food for our souls, and remains a pure and lasting fount for our spiritual lives.

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Through the Spirit “God’s word is living and effective” (Heb 4:12). But we realize that what was written in the Spirit must be proclaimed and heard in the Spirit” (CFC #87).

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

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