Jegsy Scarr

Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

300 posts in this topic

In a sense, yes, we are all priests, in the sense that we are are part of a kingdom of priests through baptism. But there's a difference between the universal priesthood of believers and the distinct ministerial priesthood. In 1 Peter 2:5, 9, there are references back to Exodus 19:6 "...and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." In Exodus 19:22, it says, "And also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves..." So in the old covenant, there's both the universal priesthood (e.g. priesthood of the faithful) and the ministerial priesthood (men specifically called to serve as priests). Peter refers to this passage when describing the new covenant "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people". Like I said, the new covenant doesn't get rid of the old one, it fulfils it. 

 

Now, you won't find the actual term "priest" (Greek: hiereus) used to describe a new covenant minister, probably to avoid confusion between new covenant ministers and the Jewish and pagan ministers who used the name "priest". But it's not the name that's important: it's the function served by the new covenant ministers. As I already said, the apostles and the church elders both had the ability to forgive sins. That's a priestly function. You also have Paul in Romans 15:15-16 "But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service (hierourgounta) of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit." Here, he's specifically referring to a "priestly service", and he uses the verb "hierourgounta" = priestly. New covenant ministers reveal their essence as priests by their priestly functions. We don't find this priestly function ascribed to deacons, but we do in the cases of apostles, bishops, and "elders".

 

xxx

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If priests had the power to forgive sins...then why did God send his son in the first place? Couldnt he have just given the authority to the priests? Saints need salvation too

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If priests had the power to forgive sins...then why did God send his son in the first place? Couldnt he have just given the authority to the priests? Saints need salvation too

I was gonna ask that D: you stole my question ;_;

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What if the priest is a "sinner"? Can he still forgive your sins? Because you would go in unknowingly with the intention of confessing and you confess, but he isn't a "true" priest. So in your eyes you'd be forgiven, but in "Gods" eyes, would you be?

Apologies if I didn't word this well, or if its already been asked.

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If priests had the power to forgive sins...then why did God send his son in the first place? Couldnt he have just given the authority to the priests? Saints need salvation too

 

Well, priests don't have any power except what God has given them. Like I said, God works through them. But the only reason we can have forgiveness at all is because Christ died for us. It's by His death and resurrection that our sins are forgiven. Confession isn't a replacement for Christ's sacrifice. It's just the means by which we access His forgiveness. Remember that God wants to forgive us and forgiveness is available to us through Jesus's death and resurrection, but we can only be forgiven if we're actually sorry for what we've done, we want to be forgiven, and we ask God to forgive us. Confession is just the means God gave us to do that.

 

Why didn't God just give priests the power to forgive sins and not bother to send His son? In that case, why not just have God say the word "I forgive all your sins", and be done with it? That's one of the mysteries of our religion: why He chose that way to redeem us instead of some other way. We can understand from the fact that Jesus chose to become man, chose to suffer, and chose to die for us that He loves us more than we could ever imagine. But that explanation only begins to cover the reasons why. We have an eternity to contemplate it all.

 

xxx

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What if the priest is a "sinner"? Can he still forgive your sins? Because you would go in unknowingly with the intention of confessing and you confess, but he isn't a "true" priest. So in your eyes you'd be forgiven, but in "Gods" eyes, would you be?

Apologies if I didn't word this well, or if its already been asked.

 

Well, we're all sinners, including priests. Most priests are pretty decent men, some are not. But either way, your sins would be forgiven. The ability to forgive sins is not something which depends on the state your soul is in. You'd still be a "true" priest if you were a sinner. Ordination, like baptism, is something which once it happens is there for life. When you are baptised, you're baptised forever. You might be the worst Christian in the world; you might lie and cheat and steal, even kill people. But that wouldn't mean that your baptism had "expired", or you weren't baptised any more. If you decided you didn't want to be baptised any more, that's too bad: you can't take it away. Same thing with ordination. Once you're ordained, that's it. Like baptism, it can't be undone, no matter what you do. Sometimes, you'll have priests who behave so badly that they are "defrocked": they're not allowed to say Mass, or administer the sacraments, or work in the Church as a priest. But the ability to administer the sacraments is still there, and can't be taken away.

 

If you go to a priest who's a sinner (which will be every priest to some extent, because everyone sins), then that's okay: the validity of the sacrament doesn't depend on the state they're in. I've heard it described like this: If you have a doctor who is an obese chain-smoker, then that doesn't mean he can't diagnose illnesses or prescribe medicine that will make you better. He might be physically unhealthy, but he can still cure other people's health problems. The same goes for priests and spiritual health.

 

xxx

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And what exactly is baptism? I was baptized when I was born.

 

Oh, cool! Well, basically, baptism is how we enter into a covenant (relationship) with God. Catholics believe that you have to be baptised to be able to go to Heaven, but that doesn't mean that once you're baptised, you're guaranteed to go to Heaven. (In other words, everyone who goes to Heaven is baptised, but not everyone who is baptised goes to Heaven).

 

Baptism replaces the old covenant of circumcision, which applied before Jesus came. Basically, to baptise someone, all you have to do is immerse them in water or pour it over them, and say, "[Name], I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". Usually, this is done by a deacon or priest, but in an emergency, anyone can baptise. 

 

Baptism is the foundational sacrament, and it's needed before you can access any of the other sacraments in the Catholic Church. It's like another "birth" into your new life as a Christian. When you're baptised, you receive God's grace, and you're also washed clean of any sins which you've committed up till that point in your life, including the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, which everyone inherits at conception.

 

Now, I told you that baptism is necessary to be saved and go to Heaven. So what about everyone who dies without being baptised? Well, the Church believes that as well as being baptised with water, there are two other ways to receive the sacrament of baptism: baptism by blood, and baptism by desire.

 

To be baptised by blood means to die as a martyr for Christ. This was very common in the first few centuries of the Church, where people were often killed for being Christians. Usually, people would study the faith for several years before they were baptised, so if you were martyred before then, that was okay: you'd still be saved, as a martyr's death is another way to be baptised. Another example of this is the thousands of baby boys killed by King Herod in his attempt to kill the newborn Jesus. These babies are known as the Holy Innocents: martyrs for Christ, and baptised by blood.

 

We also know that God wants everyone to be saved. There are still places in the world where people have never heard of Jesus, and therefore would have no way of knowing that they had to be baptised. In this case, we believe that God knows whether or not a person would have accepted Jesus or not if they'd known about Him. As long as a person doesn't explicitly reject Christ and the Church and refuses baptism, then we believe that there's a chance they can be saved. But this is something only God knows for sure, since only He can know a person's soul. This goes for people of other religions, too: as long as they don't deliberately reject Christ, then there's the possibility they can be saved.

 

xxx

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Well what if your born ln a deserted island and can't be baptized?

 

That would come under "baptism of desire". As I said, God is all-knowing, and He can tell if you'd be the kind of person who, if you'd learned about Christ and were able to be baptised, you'd want to be baptised. If that's the case, then it's possible for you to go to Heaven, if you've lived a good life. But, like I said, only God would be able to know something like that.

 

xxx

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But what about a baby who's parents never had him or her baptized? A baby can't be religious at a few months or year if they were to pass on.

And another question! What if a baby (not trying to start an abortion debate) was aborted? Now some people see that as if their life taken away, that baby has never had a baptism, or any religious feeling or thought, what happens to that baby? Or would the "sins" of the parent be passed on to the baby and the baby would be damned as well? Or do you see it as damned?

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But what about a baby who's parents never had him or her baptized? A baby can't be religious at a few months or year if they were to pass on.

And another question! What if a baby (not trying to start an abortion debate) was aborted? Now some people see that as if their life taken away, that baby has never had a baptism, or any religious feeling or thought, what happens to that baby? Or would the "sins" of the parent be passed on to the baby and the baby would be damned as well? Or do you see it as damned?

 

Technically, you're right: if you die as a baby or as a young child, then you're not religious, you're too young to know right from wrong, and you've had no opportunity to choose whether or not to live a good life. So what happens when you die?

 

This is one issue where there's been a lot of debate over the years in the Church. You may have heard of something called "limbo", which was one idea proposed by theologians to answer that question. If someone dies without being guilty of any personal sin, then they don't deserve Hell, but there was question over whether or not they could go to Heaven since they were unbaptised and had never had the desire for baptism. It was suggested for several centuries that perhaps there could be a third place, which they called "limbo". If there was such a place, then there would certainly be no suffering there, as in Hell, since the people there had done nothing to deserve it, but it wouldn't be like Heaven, where people can see God and know Him in a deeper way. Instead, it would probably be a place of great natural happiness, so the people there would be quite content for eternity. Limbo was never a defined doctrine of the Church, but it was the most widely accepted theory of what could happen to the souls of unbaptised children.

 

However, this theory is somewhat problematic, since we know that God desires all people to be saved, and if a person never had the chance to be baptised or to desire baptism, that's not something that they chose or is their fault. We also know that when Jesus was on earth, He showed love to all, but especially to children. He told His disciples, "Let the children come to Me, do not hinder them", and told the disciples that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven are those who humble themselves like little children. This gives us some hope that there could be a way for babies and children who die without baptism to be saved.

 

There are several speculations as to how this could happen. One is that there would be a kind of baptism of desire because of the desire of the Church or the desire of the baby's parents to have the child baptised. If parents intended to have their child baptised but never had the chance to, then perhaps this would be enough to save them. Another theory suggested is that with aborted babies, this could constitute baptism by blood. That theory is pretty problematic, though, since an aborted baby is not a martyr for the faith. Baptism by blood requires giving your life for Christ, a martyrdom.

 

Another theory which is pretty popular, and is the one I personally favour, is that babies who die without baptism are, in their last moments of life, given a choice for or against God, and that God gives them in some mysterious way the ability to make that decision. I favour this theory because overall, I think it's the one which makes the most sense. There's no guarantee or "Get Into Heaven Free" card for someone just because they died or were killed as a baby, but neither are they denied a chance to go to Heaven through no fault of their own. It's also not that unlike what happened with the angels. Angels, being purely spiritual beings, have what's called infused knowledge. In other words, because they don't have physical brains or bodies with which they can acquire knowledge, they have all the knowledge they'll ever need at the time of their creation. The angels, once created, were then given a test, for or against God. We know that about one-third of the angels (including the angel Lucifer) refused God, and were therefore denied a place in Heaven, and cast into Hell. So with that in mind, I don't think it's too out there to have a similar test for unbaptised babies.

 

But the Church doesn't have a definitive answer on this question. We entrust all children who die without baptism to a merciful and loving God, and we have hope that there is a way for them to be saved, but we can't know for sure. 

 

xxx

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So many interesting questions have been posed! I will certainly come back and read through the rest of them. I love you answers, Jegsy!

 

Here's something I have been wondering about. I did some research on it and could not figure out a definite answer. I'm hoping you can shed some light on it.

 

I am Catholic as well and part of my reason for waiting is religious. I was always resolved to marry another Catholic for both cultural reasons and for the reason that only once my marriage was blessed by God will I share myself fully with my spouse. HOWEVER, recently I told a friend I was WTM and after her initial shock and surprise she asked me about it and she brought something up that really made me think. She asked what would happen if I fell in love with a non-Catholic and really wanted to marry them. I really hadn't thought about it; as I mentioned before, I was simply resolved to marry a Catholic man. This was a struggle in my mind so I looked up specifics on marrying non-Catholics in the Catholic Church. I found that a Catholic person can marry a baptized Christian and still have their marriage be sacramental if you seek permission from the local bishop . This opened up the possibility for me to marry a non-Catholic Christian! But then I looked into the possibility of marrying a non-Christian and found that also with permission the marriage could be conducted in the church and it would be a valid marriage but not sacramental.

 

So here's my question, in Catholic teachings, is it necessary to be in a sacramental marriage in order to have sex and for it not be a sin? If I were to end up marrying a non-Christian and only obtain a valid and not a sacramental marriage under the church and I had sex with my husband, would I be living in sin?

 

Sorry about the long background but I just thought I'd let you know what I've found so far. Let me know if any of it is incorrect. Thanks! You seem to be much more knowledgeable about Catholicism than I am. I must sharpen my Catholic skills!

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So here's my question, in Catholic teachings, is it necessary to be in a sacramental marriage in order to have sex and for it not be a sin? If I were to end up marrying a non-Christian and only obtain a valid and not a sacramental marriage under the church and I had sex with my husband, would I be living in sin?

 

A marriage between two Christians is considered a sacramental marriage, because the husband and wife are both baptised. A marriage between two non-Christians, or between a Christian and a non-Christian, whilst not sacramental is still valid, and is considered to be a "good and natural marriage". Remember that marriage is a natural institution that pre-dates the Church. If you were to marry a non-Christian, then your marriage is still completely valid, and no, it wouldn't be a sin to have sex with your husband in it. 

 

xxx

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Is it considered a "sin" to be with someone who isn't religious like you? And is it considered a "sin" to read other religious artifacts for example, the Q'uran (if that's how it's spelled) if you were Catholic or Christian?

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Is it considered a "sin" to be with someone who isn't religious like you? And is it considered a "sin" to read other religious artifacts for example, the Q'uran (if that's how it's spelled) if you were Catholic or Christian?

 

When you say "be with someone", I take it you mean, be friends with someone who isn't Catholic. That's not a sin. It's always good to have friends! If they're good people, then it's no problem being friends with them, no matter what religion they are. The only issue would be if they weren't particularly moral people, e.g. they were disrespectful, they were into crime or drugs, etc. In which case, it wouldn't be a sin exactly to be friends with them, but it'd be highly unwise. But that's pretty much common sense...

 

And it's fine to study other religions, or read other religious texts, provided you're secure in your own faith. You want to be able to question what you read, see what's compatible with what you believe, and what isn't. 

 

xxx

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Another question! I've got many of them, this is better than Google :DD

Now many people have sex before marriage, if you had sex before marriage and became pregnant, but married the person that got you pregnant when you both learn you're pregnant, would that in a way right the "sin", or make it better in anyway?

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Another question! I've got many of them, this is better than Google :DD

 

Wow, that's high praise indeed!

 

Now many people have sex before marriage, if you had sex before marriage and became pregnant, but married the person that got you pregnant when you both learn you're pregnant, would that in a way right the "sin", or make it better in anyway?

 

No, it won't make the sin "better", or undo it in any way. If the people go to confession (if they're Catholic), and confess having sex outside of marriage, then providing they're sorry for what they've done, the sin will be forgiven. It's also not required by the Church that they get married. If they love each other, and they want to make that kind of commitment, then it would be a very good idea, but if they don't love each other and don't get along, it's probably not wise. Ultimately, they need to make a decision which will be in the best interest of the child, whether that's to get married, share custody, or give the baby up for adoption. 

 

xxx

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(Sorry to intrude, but Jegsy you're doing an awesome job answering these questions!! And what Josh said, this is better than looking on google!)

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Another baptism question, what if a person wishes to be baptized but never gets the chance to become baptized and they are religious, what's happens to them when they pass away?

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Another baptism question, what if a person wishes to be baptized but never gets the chance to become baptized and they are religious, what's happens to them when they pass away?

 

If someone wanted to be baptised but died before they were able to be, then that would be considered baptism by desire.

 

xxx

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Does a Catholic or just religious person have to follow the bible 100%? Like if they even disobey one small thing will the be in the sense, "damned"?

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Does a Catholic or just religious person have to follow the bible 100%? Like if they even disobey one small thing will the be in the sense, "damned"?

 

Certainly, some sins are more serious than others. In the Catholic Church, we class sins as being either "mortal" or "venial" sins. A mortal sin is when someone commits an action (including in their thoughts or in words) where they basically reject God and turn away from Him. Mortal sins are so serious that we believe if you commit a mortal sin, and don't later seek forgiveness from God, then when you die, you'll go to Hell. You've committed a serious sin and in the process rejected God, and you've never went back to Him.

 

For a sin to be classed as a mortal sin, it has to satisfy three conditions:

 

1. The act you've committed has to be intrinsically evil. Examples would be murder, rape, incest, adultery, and so on.

 

2. You have to have full knowledge that the act is evil and immoral. If you genuinely don't know that something is wrong when you do it, then you're not committing a mortal sin. 

 

3. You have to fully consent to the act for it to be mortally sinful. If you steal a car because you think it's a nice car and you'd like to have it, that's a mortal sin. If you steal a car because someone sticks a gun to your head and says, "Steal this car, or I'll shoot you", then obviously that's not a mortal sin.

 

Any act that meets all three conditions is a mortal sin. If it only meets one or two of these conditions, then it's a less serious sin, known as a "venial" sin. These sins aren't serious enough to send you to Hell, but they still damage your soul. If you commit venial sins, you might also be more inclined to commit more serious sins in the future.

 

xxx

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A lot of bible text is unclear or possibly interpreted incorrectly, so if you interpret it in your own way and try to follow that, if you were to find out your interpretation was also wrong, would that be considered a sin even though you were trying to follow the bible?

(Sorry if this is worded poorly)

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A lot of bible text is unclear or possibly interpreted incorrectly, so if you interpret it in your own way and try to follow that, if you were to find out your interpretation was also wrong, would that be considered a sin even though you were trying to follow the bible?

(Sorry if this is worded poorly)

 

Well, here's where Catholics and Protestants differ. The Bible isn't always easy to understand. You can interpret passages in different ways. A lot of Protestants (I won't say "all", because I don't know every Protestant) will say that anyone can read the Bible for themselves and understand what it means, because the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth to you as you read. Problem with that idea is that there's about 30,000 different Protestant denominations in the world, all claiming to interpret the Bible "correctly", but they all have slightly different beliefs. So either the Holy Spirit is very confused and doesn't understand His own book, or interpreting the Bible for yourself doesn't work. Other Protestants say that you can't just interpret the Bible yourself because it isn't so straightforward, so you have to study theology very carefully, or get someone else who's studied theology (e.g. a minister) to interpret the Bible for you. But that still results in different opinions between denominations. So who has the final say?

 

Catholics don't believe that you can just read the Bible alone and have all the answers. Christ didn't leave us a Bible: he left us a Church. He promised that His Church would be guided by the Holy Spirit, and would therefore be able to speak the truth on matters of faith. In the first century or so of Christianity, we didn't even have a Bible yet. We just had the apostles and their successors, who were able to figure out matters of faith based on what Christ taught when He was on earth. We also had what's called Sacred Tradition, which are teachings passed down by the apostles, but not written down anywhere. Eventually, the Church also compiled a collection of writings which were judged to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, including the Jewish Torah, psalms, the Gospels, letters by St Peter and St Paul, and many others. This was the Bible.

 

So when it comes to interpreting the Bible, Catholics don't believe we have to just read the Bible alone and try and work out what it all means. We have the Church, and we have Tradition, which guides how we interpret it. 

 

If someone were to interpret the Bible wrongly, and therefore do something wrong, I think it'd depend on who they were. If they were a Protestant, and were just interpreting the Bible as they felt was correct, then I don't think it would be a sin, within reason. If you were trying to justify something like murder, then that wouldn't really be an excuse: you know murder's wrong. If it was a Catholic, and they did something wrong because they'd interpreted the Bible wrongly, then there'd be less of an excuse: they really should have knowledge of Tradition and Church teachings, and use that to guide their interpretation.

 

xxx

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