Q: My husband and I are now married
in the Catholic Church. Our previous
marriages were not Catholic marriages.
Between the two of us, we have three
After his divorce, my husband returned
to the Catholic Church. He says that one of
his mistakes was not introducing religion
to his daughters, who are now 19 and 24.
They live with us but do not understand or
want to know about the “Catholic Dad”
they suddenly have.
Because of their questions and disagreements
with the Catholic Church’s
teachings, my 12-year-old daughter is now
questioning the upbringing that I have
been teaching and living as I promised
to do when she was baptized in the Catholic
This is perhaps our biggest challenge as
a blended family. Any advice or suggestions
would be appreciated.
A: I think it is important to begin
by saying that the “one-size-fits-all” approach does not fully respect
how a person grows in faith. True, the
object of our faith (God) does not
change, but our ability to understand
and appreciate God develops. Faith has
content (truths about God and revelation)
but faith is also a relationship,
which must either grow or decline.
Different issues become urgent at
various points in a person’s life. What
someone learns about God at age five
is true as far as it goes, but by itself it
cannot fully support that person’s faith
at age 12, 19, 24 or 67.
The best approach may be for your
husband to explain to his daughters
why faith in general and being a Catholic
in particular have become so
important to him in recent years—what
was lacking before and how his life
This may be difficult for him to do
without seeming to run down their
mother. He probably needs to speak
about his own blindness regarding faith
when the daughters were growing up.
You may be able to help him prepare
for this talk.
If their birthmother is in their lives,
he should probably encourage them
to ask her to explain how she came to
whatever faith she now has.
Your 12-year-old daughter has her
own challenges to faith. She is certainly
influenced by her stepsisters, but the
situation is not likely to improve until
she more fully “owns” her faith issues
and begins facing them seriously. Her
stepsisters’ questions and disagreements
are exactly that—their questions and
If you talk to other Catholic mothers
who now have or recently have had
12-year-old daughters but are not in
blended families, you will probably
hear some of the same doubts and
objections that your 12-year-old daughter
is voicing. Her situation has been
influenced by her stepsisters but was
not completely created by them.
You can help your daughter in her
faith growth, but you cannot do that
work for her. You might want to begin
by acknowledging that some faith
matters that seemed very clear to you
at age eight, for example, became much
less clear at age 12—and how you dealt
Your goal is not to give her the total
faith that sustains you today but to
help her believe that her current faith
issues are not insurmountable. In some
ways, doubt can be an invitation to
deeper faith. Perhaps that is what the
father of a boy from whom Jesus
expelled a demon understood when
the father said to Jesus, “I do believe,
help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
Your daughter is regularly observing
how deeply faith is influencing your
life. You are probably giving her more
good example than you suspect. Being
ready to speak about your own faith
journey in a way appropriate for her age
is probably the greatest help that you
can offer her now.
Why Isn't There a Saint for Each Day?
Q: Although several Catholic Web sites
have a “Saint of the Day” feature,
the Roman liturgical calendar does not
have a saint for each day. Why hasn’t the Church designated at least one saint for
each day of the year?
A: The 2001 edition of the Martyrologium
Romanum lists over 6,500
saints, only a fraction of the “great cloud
of witnesses” mentioned in the Letter to
the Hebrews (12:1). All saints point us to
God’s saving love. Perhaps because the
saints are mentioned collectively in each
approved Eucharistic Prayer, the Church
has not assigned one saint for each day
of the year. Some days already have other
celebrations assigned anyway (December
25, for example).
Although the Roman liturgical calendar
does not assign a saint for each
day, bishops’ conferences and individual
dioceses can have supplemental
liturgical calendars, honoring selected
saints and blesseds. The general calendar
for the United States currently
includes Saints Elizabeth Ann Seton
(January 4), John Neumann (January
5), Katharine Drexel (March 3), Peter
Claver (September 3), Isaac Jogues
and Companions (October 19), Frances
Cabrini (November 13) and Rose
Philippine Duchesne (November 18).
Mother Theodore Guérin, recently
canonized, will be added to this list.
There are also days assigned for
four blesseds with a U.S. connection:
Damien Joseph de Veuster of Moloka’i
(May 10), Junipero Serra (July 1), Kateri
Tekakwitha (July 14) and Francis Xavier Seelos, C.Ss.R. (October 5).
When the worldwide liturgical calendar
was revised in 1969, celebrations
for several saints were moved to dates
outside the Lenten season.
Not all saints in the Martyrologium
Romanum are martyrs. Only six of the
18 entries for November 3, for example,
are martyrs. Some of those saints are in
the 12-volume Butler’s Lives of the Saints (Liturgical Press, 1995-2000).
Q: My husband and I are in our 80s,
both cradle Catholics and practicing
despite our limitations. We are now spending
a lot of time “cramming for our finals,”
so to speak.
One thing that bothers us is how God
can judge individually the large number
of people who may die in a single instant,
say during a plane crash or a flood. Does
each person appear before God at that
A: God is not limited by time the
way that you and I are. God is
limited only by whatever would contradict
what being God means. Thus,
for example, God cannot be a racist
because that would contradict what
being God means.
Over six billion people on this planet
are now alive because God wants each
of them to be alive. If that is true and
if God knows the hearts of each of
those people at every moment, then
God can certainly judge hundreds
or thousands of people who die in
The logistics of God’s judgment
have been a subject of speculation or
worry for centuries. That concern is a
significant part of First Thessalonians,
the first New Testament writing to be
Some Christians in Thessalonika
(northern Greece) worried that those
who were alive at the time of the
world’s final judgment would have an
advantage over the people who had
already died. St. Paul wrote: “For the
Lord himself, with a word of command,
with the voice of an archangel and with
the trumpet of God, will come down
from heaven, and the dead in Christ
will rise first. Then we who are alive,
who are left, will be caught up together
with them in the clouds to meet the
Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be
with the Lord. Therefore, console one
another with these words” (4:16-18).
Salvation is through God’s grace with
which we need to cooperate. Your good
decisions and your husband’s are the
best preparation for your “finals.”
Q: Can saints in heaven hear our prayers? According to a former
Catholic, people are wasting their time praying to the saints. Is there
any help from Scripture on this issue?
Saints in heaven hear us but cannot answer prayers independently
of God. We do not pray to saints because they are
an alternative to God, for example, the way a child may
seek to obtain from one parent something that the other
parent has turned down.
We pray to saints because they are outstanding examples of how to
cooperate generously with God’s grace. Their example helps us do the
same. That is the spirit in which Chapter 11 of the Letter to the Hebrews
praises holy men and women in the Hebrew Scriptures.
In praying for saintly intercession, we are asking that the saints join
their prayers to ours. They encourage us to join them at the river of life-giving
water that flows from the throne of God (see Revelation 22:1).
If you have a question for Father Pat, please submit it here.
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