Do Different Religious Backgrounds Affect a Marriage?
girlfriend is a Methodist and I am a cradle Catholic. I think that I would like
to marry her.
Up to now, whenever the question of
our different religions arose, we have said, “That’s a fight for another time.” Well,
the time is here.
What is the Church’s view on mixed
marriages? How can I discuss my religion and explain this part of my life? It’s
part of who I am and it’s very important to me to be married in a Catholic Mass
for asking. Perhaps the most important question you can ask now is, “How important
is religion to me and to my girlfriend?”
If a fervent Catholic marries a fervent
Methodist, there may be fewer problems than if a so-so believer marries someone very
serious about religion.
If two religiously lukewarm people marry,
formal religion will probably not influence that marriage significantly.
Are you ready for years of going to Sunday
Mass by yourself? Are you willing to assume responsibility for educating your children
as Catholics? What does your girlfriend think about this?
The Catholic Church encourages its members
to marry other Catholics. Why? Because of the spouse’s anticipated religious example
and assistance within the marriage and with the religious education of children.
Some mixed marriages work out much better
than the marriage of lukewarm Catholics. Why? Both partners in the mixed marriage
may take their religion seriously enough to face their differences and how those
will influence this marriage.
Marriage is the most beautiful, fundamental
and complex human relationship. Facing religious differences now may strengthen your
relationship tremendously—or reveal a problem bound to arise later. Now is the best
time to address this issue.
of Jesus' Last Hours
set up the 14 Stations of the Cross and why? When did this devotion begin?
the first century, Christians have been making pilgrimages to the land where Jesus
lived. St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, made a famous pilgrimage in the
fourth century, trying to identify where Jesus was born, died and was buried.
For a short time after 1099 when the
crusaders captured Jerusalem and nearby territory, visiting these sites was easier.
After the crusaders lost this territory in 1291, pilgrimages became much more dangerous
The Stations of the Cross, also known
as the Way of the Cross, bring the Holy Land both to people unable to travel there
and to those who have made that pilgrimage.
Francis of Assisi had two great devotions:
Jesus’ Incarnation and his passion, symbolized in the crib and the cross.
The Franciscan friars popularized the
Way of the Cross devotion, starting in the 14th century. People erected small stations
inside churches and sometimes life-size ones outdoors. Soon, almost all churches
had a Way of the Cross. A Franciscan wrote the Stabat Mater lyrics, often
used during the Stations in the original Latin or in translation.
The number of stations and the events
commemorated have varied over the centuries. Pope Clement XII (1730-40) fixed the
present number and list.
Whether you pray the Stations alone or
with a group of people in a parish church or outdoors, this devotion makes Jesus’ passion
and death very real.
Confession Based on the Bible?
cannot find anything in the Bible about Christians confessing to another human
being, like a priest.
My understanding is that we are to confess
our sins to Jesus and ask for his forgiveness, which he gives to those who are
Even though I was brought up Catholic, I haven’t
gone to Confession in years because I do not believe in telling my sins to anyone,
including a priest.
Why doesn’t the Catholic Church have open confession
during weekly Masses?
Sacrament of Penance has evolved over the years, always in harmony with its biblical
After his Resurrection, Jesus told the
apostles, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are
retained” (John 20:23).
The Letter of James says, “Therefore,
confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful” (5:16).
Confessing one’s sins to someone designated
by the Church reaffirms our belief that God can act through created things and through
people. That belief helps us understand Jesus’ Incarnation and the sacraments.
During his earthly life, Jesus was a
visible sign, a sacrament, of God’s love. After Jesus’ Ascension, the Church continues
that sign, although imperfectly this side of heaven. The Sacrament of Penance flows
from Jesus’ Incarnation and his followers’ sense of communion with God and each other.
“Open confession” may sound good, but
would it be the personal encounter which the present practice offers?
At a time when we see a tremendous flight
from personal responsibility, do we want personal repentance to become “...and for
whatever I may have done wrong”?
You may not intend that, but I suspect
that’s where the open confession you describe would probably lead.
Last August, approximately two million
young people attended World Youth Day in Rome. Many of them went to individual confession
in the Circus Maximus. Would they have had a stronger sense of God’s love for them as
individuals if a priest or bishop had given general absolution instead? Probably
Confession has been the occasion for
many people to appreciate how much God loves them and how much they have resisted
Most parishes schedule a Penance service
during Lent, with opportunity for individual confession. Why not participate in one
did the law about not eating meat on Fridays originate? When was this changed to
Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent?
in the fourth century, there was a Church law about abstinence (not eating meat on
certain days). Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays were once days of abstinence in
the Western Church. By the 12th century, this was required only on Ash Wednesday
and on Fridays—to remind Christians that Jesus died on this day. (Later, abstinence
was added in connection with a few feasts.)
The U.S. bishops decided in 1966 to require
fasting and abstinence only on Ash Wednesday, the Fridays of Lent and on Good Friday.
Earlier that year, Pope Paul VI allowed conferences of bishops to select days of
fast and abstinence.
Why abstain from meat? People like it
and notice its absence. Christian fasting regulations once included milk and eggs.
Fasting and abstaining show respect for God’s creation by using it more sparingly
Didn't Jesus Keep a Journal?
in our Bible study group recently asked: “Why didn’t Jesus keep a journal during
his ministry, writing to us in his own words, as St. Paul did?”
Our group found this question very
puzzling and would like your answer. Please explain it theologically.
is a very intriguing question! Let’s suppose for a moment that Jesus had kept a journal.
If it reflected the culture in which
he grew up, would some of that culture’s assumptions (for example, the sun goes around
the earth) tempt later readers to discredit Jesus’ entire message? Would such a journal
render the faith community unnecessary?
Could this journal have references to
nuclear weapons or cloning? Would Christians think that Jesus had nothing to say
about things not addressed in that journal?
What is to stop people from claiming
at any time that they have found the type of journal you describe? How could we prove
or disprove their claim?
Perhaps Jesus did not keep a journal
so that his disciples (then and now) could more wholeheartedly, day by day, accept
the Good News on faith. Keeping a journal might have hindered that goal because people
would be tempted to ignore living witnesses to the Good News in favor of Jesus’ written
words. To have their full effect, those words need to be incarnated in the lives
of people today.
Let’s assume that God considered all
the options and then picked the best one.
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