New here, many questions about Catholicism


#1

Hi everyone. I hope I’m posting this in the right sub-forum. If not, feel free to move it to the right one. This is gonna be a very long post, with quite a lot of questions, I’ll be grateful for any answers, even if they don’t address all the questions. Also, remember that I am absolutely not here to criticize anyone’s beliefs, please don’t interpret my questions like that, I’m simply interested and curious. Please only read on if you’re okay with questions about your faith.

I’ve recently become interested in Catholicism, especially after discovering the videos of Father Barron on youtube, a very wise and likable Catholic priest. Further, considering that almost all Catholics I’ve met (who are mostly also from other cultures, as I’m Scandinavian) have been very happy, humble, kind-hearted and confident people. So, I thought there must be something great about this religion, or branch of Christianity.

Upon further reading, there are many appealing things. Like the seven holy virtues and the seven deadly sins, I nodded myself through them when I read them, there’s so much wisdom in that. How it captures the essence of the primitive animal parts of us who should be controlled, or else it will devastate both ourselves and society, and the noble altruistic things that are above that, which make us human. And the stability of the Catholic Church, the rites, the art, it’s all very appealing. Also, the fact that most Catholics accept science and feel it’s compatible with belief.

I’m curious to learn more, so I have many questions, both on morals and theology:

One thing is contraception, while it seems that most Catholics don’t have any problem with it, Catholic priests and the Pope condemn it, don’t they? I agree that it’s not a good thing to have sex with strangers, but I don’t think sex should only be for making kids, after you’re married. As long as you are in a serious relationship with someone you deeply love, shouldn’t sex be a natural part of that? And isn’t availability of contraception a good thing? I think both pro-choice and pro-life people can agree that the ideal thing is as few abortions as possible, and a solution to that is contraception.

Another thing is homosexuality. Is that really a sin? I know Paul condemns it, but he also condemns women speaking in church, and men having long hair (too bad for Jesus). As far as I know, Jesus and the other disciples didn’t condemn these things, couldn’t it just be that Paul had a personal bias against that? Actually, I find it hard to believe that Jesus, who was such a great man, would have a problem with homosexuals loving each other.
I can understand that it doesn’t feel right that a church or other religious institution should be forced to marry homosexuals, if they believe marriage should be between one man and one woman, but don’t you guys agree that they should have the same legal rights, both financially and for adoption?

On a similar note, can women become priests, bishops, etc? Even pope, for that matter? If not, why not?

Then, there’s some theological questions. First of all, free will seems to be a very definite part of the religion? Or is it really? But isn’t free will very unlikely from a scientific perspective? As far as I’ve read, from science’s perspective, everything is either pre-deterministic, or there is some chance involved, at quantum level, which can sometimes affect things on bigger scales, and thus “change what is destined to happen” so to say.

Then, there’s life after death. This is the big one. I don’t think that we will cease to exist, like some people believe. To me, reincarnation has always seemed like the most logical thing. And maybe also that we are all the same consciousness, experiencing one life at a time. But maybe not.
What is the most convincing reason to believe in heaven and hell, instead of, for example, reincarnation?

And what exactly are Heaven and Hell? Did we exist in heaven before our earthly life? Was this the Garden of Eden? It is said that we cannot fully enjoy joy without agony, so was the fall from grace our own choice, to experience an incomplete world (this), to better enjoy Heaven once we return? If so, will every soul eventually get to Heaven? Could this cycle have been repeated an infinite number of times? Like the Hindu belief that there have been an endless number of universes and life cycles before this one?

Are angels real? If so, are they spirits they didn’t choose to have an earthly life? Can angels, saints and other dead people who go to Heaven watch over us? What about demons and Satan, are they also conscious spirits, or simply symbols for the animalistic and evil sides of us?

What about hell? Do you believe it is a place of eternal torment, temporary torment before coming to heaven, eternal extermination (sort of like what atheists believe), or simply a place without God and the parts of us that make us do good? Sort of like Earth, but with only sociopaths? It seems like this latter thing is what CS Lewis believed, and that the door to hell was locked from the inside? So is hell a place simply without God, but anyone can leave it, if they let themselves be filled with God and his attributes? And then, will they go right to heaven, or have a new life on earth first?

Continued, in reply number 1


#2

I also understand that many Catholics believe that a person’s character is the most important thing that determines where they will go? For example, a power-hungry sociopath calling himself a priest will go to hell, and a kind-hearted non-Christian (who may actually be filled with God, as in love and compassion, humbleness, forgiveness, etc) would go to heaven? Or do you have to believe in Jesus as a savior, and his ressurection etc to go to Heaven?

What about purgatory, and limbo? Do a person go to either of these places or heaven or hell right after death, or will they wait until a judgment day? I’ve read that the Revelations actually predicted something about a Roman emperor, and not the Judgment day, or maybe it has a whole nother meaning entirely? What are the different interpretations of this book, and what is the Vatican’s stance?

Are these realms of the afterlife purely spiritual? Or are they physical places where we have physical bodies? Do animals go to heaven? Surely, they are conscious, just like us, so why not? Or will they be reborn as humans first? I’ve come to understand that some Catholics do actually believe in a form of reincarnation, at least partially?

What are your views on the Pope, and the council who chooses him? I like how in “Angels and Demons”, one of the cardinals say “Every human is flawed, including this one”. Do you think the Pope is necessarily a special person chosen by God? Or is he simply a person chosen by other people for his wisdom and ability to symbolize the Catholic faith in a good way? I think South Park once made fun of one of the popes because of something controversial about him, and one of the South Park staff members, who is Catholic, was okay with that, and agreed that the Pope should be able to be criticized.

Why was some texts left out of the bible? I know that especially The Gospel of Thomas is revered by many as an important text? What translation of the bible is the most accurate? I know, for example, that there are at least 4 different words for “Hell” in the original scriptures, right? Sheol, Gehenna, Hades and Tartarus, so translating all of them with one word seems a bit fishy. Even though some might interpret them as having the same meaning.

The early prophets received visions and revelations from God, so why aren’t people still getting that? Or are they? Has it something to do with before and after Jesus? But John got his revelation after Jesus was dead, right? Was this because Jesus didn’t get to deliver his whole message?

Why did Christ come at the point in history that he did? Was it because that’s the point when we humans were evolved enough to understand him? Was it because things had gotten so out of hand that we needed him, to set us straight? If so, if the world turns out really bad in the future, will God, as Christ, be incarnated on Earth again? There are probably countless other planets with life in the universe, do you think Christ has come to them too?

Also, I know most of the things in the Bible are not to be taken literally, but rather symbolically, and as ways to understand God? But what about all the miracles in the new testament? Mary, was she really a virgin? Or was Jesus conceived in a natural way? What about Jesus’ miracles, were they really miracles, that couldn’t possibly have been explained scientifically? What about Jesus’ ressurection? Is that only meant in a spiritual way, or physically? I know his body wasn’t found in the tomb, but maybe someone placed it somewhere else? Or, if he was actually physically revived, is he still here today? Or did he kind of evaporate after a while?

I’m just curious about this faith, that’s all. I hope noone takes offence, like I said, I’m not here to criticize anyone’s beliefs, I’m just very curious about Catholicism, and trying to get answers, I know Catholics have different interpretations and views on things too, so it’s interesting to hear what people think. Thanks in advance. :slight_smile:


#3

First, welcome to the forum. :wave:

Second, you can probably find the answers to most of your questions by doing an advanced search of the forum and using keywords.

Third, you have far too many questions for us to adequately answer them in one thread. Please take the questions you feel most strongly about and open an individual thread for each of them. That way it would be easier for us (and you!) to have a fruitful discussion.

Hope you enjoy your time here!


#4

Welcome.

I suggest you browse the "rules of the road" section, which discusses placing only one topic per thread. The forum rules area also gives you information on topics that are are not allowed.

You can start as many different threads as you like, but threads get unwieldy and unmanageable with multple topics on one thread. You can break this one apart into several for easier discussion, you can get help from the Moderators for that.


#5

Hey man, and thanks. :slight_smile:

I understand that this turned out to be quite a lot of questions. I see the benefit of having one thread for each questions, or maybe a few ones who are similar. I can read through already existing threads here, which I was gonna do anyway, and then post some new ones for the questions I feel like haven’t been addressed. :slight_smile:

I can see the convenience of not having too many topics in one thread. Still, if anyone wants to answer these questions in this thread, feel free to do so, I’ll read as much as I can here. :slight_smile:

Edit: 1ke, I didn’t see your reply until now… The mods can split this into many threads? That would be convenient, but then again, I’m worried that it will be too many, that the forum will be flooded with just my questions. :stuck_out_tongue: I’ll try reading on already existing threads, and then maybe add some threads afterwards. :slight_smile: And still, if anyone wants to reply to it in this thread (if that’s allowed), I’ll of course read and respond to that too. :slight_smile:


#6

“interested in Catholism”. Is that interested in becoming a Christian, or interested in attacking Christian beliefs? You seem well versed in criticism of the Church.
Drogba has just scored :slight_smile: ah yes, i was saying, welcome to the forum. God bless


#7

[quote="Kay_Cee, post:3, topic:280873"]

Third, you have far too many questions for us to adequately answer them in one thread.!

[/quote]

:D. Yes far too many Qs :)


#8

As I wrote in the opening statement, I’m not here to criticize or attack, but to learn.


#9

Welcome to the Forums!

Learning is a constant process. Whether you have never picked a faith or have been Catholic since birth, we never stop learning.

As others had said, let’s start with one question (you pick), and we’ll work to answer. You have many commonly asked questions, but we’ll be happy to answer them!


#10

You have many legitimate questions which deserve answers. Fortunately, ALL the answers are found in depth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You can purchase a copy at a small expense, and satisfy your hunger for the truth. You can also read the book on the internet. Good luck and God bless.


#11

Thanks man! I will check it out. :slight_smile:


#12

Welcome to CAF!

(And Go Father Barron! :slight_smile: )

The Church doesn’t believe that the point of (marital) sex is to have children. But the fullness of marital love requires the couple to be open to new life.

Please read Pope Benedict’s first encyclical,* Deus Caritas Est*:
vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est_en.html

As for homosexuality, please read* Deus Caritas Est*.

No, women cannot become priests, bishops or even the Pope. Priests act as representatives of Christ.

I can’t address these other things you’ve brought because they require threads of their own. Angels are real but they’re different from us. And yes, angels, saints and those who’ve passed on watch over us from Heaven. Demons and Satan are definitely real and they’re not merely symbols.

Don’t worry, no one is taking offence. We’re happy to see that you have interest. It’s just overwhelming to see all these things in one thread.


#13

I am recently a new convert, with some of the exact same questions you are asking, so I hope I can give you a "new" perspective.

Your first question was contraception. Of course, being that I all ready have 4 children myself, this was a big one for me. But there are several reasons why Catholics do not support contraception, nor the use of "pull and prey" or condoms. I know, it seems extreme. Family planning by use of using a calendar by avoiding sex during the most fertile days is permitted. Yes it works. But let me explain a few things. In the world outside the Catholic faith, male "seed" (seems to be the most appropriate way to say it :)) has no particular importance. I mean we all know a single seed provides half of the genes for human beings, but it seems men are demoted into being just the most important part of conceiving. Because once a human is form, the woman has the responsibility until the baby is born. To Catholics, male seed is more then just that. It is life. It has the same importance as when the seed meets the egg. So when it doesn't go, where it was made to go, its actually much of a disrespect to God, who blessed us with the Gift of creating, as he created us. Many Catholics are not "strict" on this, but they should be.

Second of all, Catholics view life as a *blessing
* not a burden. If you conceive a child with your husband/wife, when you did not intend to, you should have enough faith in God that even though you were not prepared for the baby, he will take care of you and your family. It reminds me a little bit of how St. Francis of Assisi preached to the birds (Mathew 6:26) "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" And on a side note, conceiving a child with anyone, including just your boyfriend/girlfriend or through non-consented sex, they believe that the actual life of the child should not be punished through abortion, because clearly it is not the child's fault.

Catholics in no way view that sex is only for conceiving children. In fact, Father Maxwell, from our local Church told me that the marital bed is the 2nd most Holy place next to the Altar. And most married women I know that are active with they're husbands avoid they're fertile days, unless they are attempting to conceive (if they conceive by "accident" the child is extremely welcome, just the same is if you were intentionally trying to conceive).

Pre-marital sex: Now, most people I know, including myself, and everyone I personally new in my age group is completely guilty of this. There are several reasons why pre-marital sex should not be practiced even if not just for faith based reasons. There is actually a chemical in a woman's brain that is released, when she has intimate relations with a man, that makes her fall in love. Can you imagine how destroyed a woman must feel, when she goes through 10 partners before she reaches marriage? Not just that, but the actual meaning of "LOVE" is so much more deeper then us little humans make it out to be. Love doesn't just mean caring for that person for a max amount of time of maybe 5 years, or the feeling that you get when you kiss for the first time. Love is caring about that person, enough that you want to go to heaven. Yeah seems a little odd if you think about it...but how selfless is that? How hard would you have to work, to help your very own spouse make the right decisions? How good of friends, parents, siblings would you have to be, to love that person enough, that you care about they're salvation. Does that mean telling them they are going to hell because they don't share your faith? Not even close. From experience, leading by example works best. If you want your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend/child/friend to see the love that you witness, and share the faith that you have, you have to let them see how it lives in you. Re-marital sex leads to a lot of difficulties, and devaluing both blessings of man and women. Also understand that Marriage is not viewed as a "obligation" of the Catholic church. It is a Holy Sacrament, just like the Holy Sacrament of Consuming the Body and Blood in Communion.

Homosexuality as a broad is not evil. The actual sex between couples of the same gender are forbidden. Simply because a man and another man, or a woman and another woman, can not be married in the eyes of God, then there sex is not permitted. It is just the same sin as a man and woman who are not married, having sex. Simply put. Does it mean you cannot have feelings of love for a person of the same gender? No. When it comes to legal Marriage of people of the same gender, I think this is a personal choice for all Catholics, more of a "political" choice. I myself believe that if two of the same gender want to get married for tax reasons, or something of the sort, the Marriage would be invalid in the eyes of God. Simply because marrying someone for "money", is never a good reason. I also feel that forcing people into my own faith, is cruel and wrong. God himself gives us a choice. Also, marriage between two non-baptized people is invalid in the Catholic church (not to mention it would not be between man and women). But for to people of the same gender, I don't really think they would much care if the Catholic church, or God, viewed their marriage as legitimate or not.


#14

Women do not become priests nor bishops, and they shouldn’t. I actually posted a reply fairly recently to this same subject. This is what i put:

"Why would a woman want to be ordained? I think some feminist women use this argument to make women of catholic faith seem less important. But really, God blessed us with the most important blessing of all: to give life. In a way, God the Creator of heaven and earth, gave us women the ability to create as well. Obviously men have half a part in the actual creation of humans () but we are the ones who carry our little humans for month, and even after birth are made to be able to give life to infants through milk! Aren’t we special

Also, if we take a look at a woman we know that woman are full of mercy, love, compassion and tend to lead with our hearts. Often times our hearts lead us astray from what is true. Not that men are less at fault then women (although we sure like to hold ourselves at a higher place …

If you really thing of how amazing and graceful and wonderful it is to be a women…you start to really realize why it would be inappropriate to be ordained as a priest…

Everyone has they’re job. Catholic men aren’t making any attempt to take away our women rights like the rights to bear children, breast feed and such (and make attempts to do that themselves…), so perhaps we should show a little humility and let them take there place as well.

There is always a way to serve God though, being a nun isn’t an old way of life. If you want to dedicate your life to God and the saving of others, there is other ways you can serve :)"

Free will is a part of life. God gave us free will, because there is no such thing as love by force. In fact, God gave us an alternative to heaven, if we do not wish to be with him in Heaven. From a science perspective, free will is definite. Me as a physics freak myself, i find it very comforting in the fact that the Catholic Church started Scientific research. Most famous scientists of our history were not only a part of the church (or a faith) but at the end of they’re life instead reached a point in which they stopped diving into Gods Genius and into the love itself. Physics is what actually first made me feel that God truly exists. When you can spend 3 days, or 3 years on a single equation to solve something that you can merely “observe” it makes your realize that it is only possible to be written. Surely something of chance, would have no exact equation, because it would be ever changing.

On the subject of Hell and Heaven, Catholics believe it exists now. They also believe in purgatory. Infact the reason why we believe in communion of saints is because we believe that person lived such a life, they are with God now. So as you would as your friends or family to pray for you for a tough situation, we also ask the saints to pray for us as well. Reincarnation would be difficult. Seems like the amount of life forms would have to be constant, and equal (all plants, animals, people life forms would have to stay the same amount for all the years of time Which is impossible).

But in all honesty, if you are very curious about the faith itself, your local Priest can happily answer your questions. Let him know that you are not of the faith, but you are curious. Go to the office and make an appointment. He will not make an attempt to convert you, nor condemn you. In fact my first meeting was just the same. I was just “curious”. Also know that I personally do not have all the answers. I know some are far more informed then I am. And If I gave you any “wrong answers” understand that I too am learning every day. I hope some of my information sparks a little bit for you. I would also research if that is what you feel you need to do. You may hear many opinions, but honestly, an ordained priest of the faith can answer all these questions more appropriately then anyone else can. Also, know that there are many people who are bad examples of Catholics. Not everyone practices as we should, we all sin.

Hope that helps!


#15

Thanks for all the answers guys, I really appreciate it. :slight_smile: There were also many important points there I hadn’t thought about. There is no Catholic church in my town, but I think there is one in my neighboring town, so I’ll see if I can visit that and talk to the priests and people there. :slight_smile: Thanks. :slight_smile:


#16

Don’t feel that you are being shooed away here. We’re happy to discuss the True Faith (OK, we admit our bias :)) with anybody who is sincere and charitable. So post perhaps the 2 most important questions as separate threads, and perhaps we can pass along 2000 years of Church teaching on the matters.


#17

#18

#19

[quote="Cityofdreams, post:15, topic:280873"]
Thanks for all the answers guys, I really appreciate it. :) There were also many important points there I hadn't thought about. There is no Catholic church in my town, but I think there is one in my neighboring town, so I'll see if I can visit that and talk to the priests and people there. :) Thanks. :)

[/quote]

Do you have access to Cable? EWTN is a catholic station...check it out...also radio....this site has Catholic Answers Live, monday to friday...3 to 5 pm pacific time...you can also use the internet to listen. Click on radio of this website.


#20

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.