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Paula Whitens wrote:

Hi, guys —

My friend recently came over and was telling me that she attended a Bible Study class. We both are Catholics. She mentioned that the instructor told the class that drinking coffee was a sin. Someone else said it was not a sin if you drink only one cup. Then the instructor's helper said it's not a sin to drink coffee, its a sin when you use sugar in your coffee.

  • Can you believe this?

The topic was on the Scriptures and about our bodies being temples of God. I asked my friend if they even went to explain this abuse or overindulgence but she said no. She said they didn't even show the class where in the Bible it spoke about drinking caffeine or where it said using sugar was a sin.

  • Can you direct me to where I can find an explanation for my friend and do you have any opinions about these instructors or advice for a good Catholic Bible Study?

Thank you,

Paula Whitens

  { Can you provide advice on Bible Study, personal, and family issues I am having? }

Mike replied:

Dear Paula,

My colleagues may have a different view, but I would recommend finding another Bible Study . . . or ask the pastor for a recommendation for a good instructor to lead your current Study.

I know of no place in the Old or New Testament where there is any prohibition for coffee or caffeine.

The Old Testament does talk about not drinking strong drinks. See this list of Google results for passages.

That said, the Bible is not a Catechism, nor was it ever intended to be a Catechism or book of beliefs. The Bible is a liturgical book, meaning it is a book that was written (and whose books were complied) for use in the Catholic Mass, our worship service.

You said:
Then the instructor's helper said it's not a sin to drink coffee, its a sin when you use sugar in your coffee.

Ask him/her where in the Scriptures or in the Catechism of the Catholic Church it states this ridiculous claim. This instructor should know the faith first before he/she instructs others in the faith.

If you want good guidance and ideas for a Catholic Bible Study go to:

I think they offer freebies too.

Mike

Paula replied:

Dear Friends,

When I was younger, I made a lot of bad and wrong choices. I was lost in the world but I believe through my mom's prayers, I found myself back to the Church. I didn't know much at all about why I was Catholic nor did I know anything about the Catholic faith. I made a lot of bad choices because I feel I didn't really know God or about the Catholic Church. I was just living my life the way I wanted to live it but for the past eight years I have learned a lot — more than I even imagined. I learned:

  • by constantly watching EWTN and listening to the Catholic radio.
  • by reading the Bible
  • by going to Mass, though I do go through some periods where I get weak and fail to attend Mass and I still am a sinner.
  • Oh, and I can't forget what you all have provided in answers

Abortion is the least thing I never really understood or had an opinion about but since my returning to the faith, I know now.

That said, this is what I run into and I would like to know, how to answer, when I am faced with these kind of issues.

First, I lived for many, many years without getting married in the Church. After I returned to the Church, I told my partner, the father of my children, about how I felt about living in sin and so we got married in the Catholic Church after what? 30 years.

Now, when I attempt talk to some of my family members about why we people should not live together, they always throw this in my face:

You lived with someone for years now you want to act like your so good.

  • What is the best way to respond to this?

Second: When I talk about abortion, some people say:

  • Why should women have a bunch of children so they can run around with no shoes, no food, and no good clothes?

Or, some will say, women should not have babies if they are not ready because they will end up being abused, molested, and abandoned.

  • How can I respond to those kinds of comments?

Thank you for your help,

Paula

Mike replied:

Dear Paula,

You said:
Now, when I attempt talk to some of my family members about why we people should not live together, they always throw this in my face:

You lived with someone for years now you want to act like your so good.

  • What is the best way to respond to this?

First, be compassionate, reaffirm that you are a sinner, admit you have made mistakes in the past, and that temptation and sins of the flesh are not easy to overcome.

Jesus did say: The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41), but He didn't justify the sins of the flesh. The only time we will not struggle in this area is when we are 6 feet below the earth.

I would ask your family members if they would say it is good that an alcoholic is now sober.

Change is good and holy if it conforms us more to Jesus and the teachings of His Church. The Church teaches what She does on dating, sex, and the sacrament of Marriage because our bodies were created to work a certain way at a certain time. That's why I find rationalizations of homosexual behavior laughable. They contradict the physiological complementary of the opposite sexes. Physiology is a subset of biology which studies how living organisms work with other living organisms. When we get involved in behavior that contradicts our own physiology, illness can set in.

Check this CD out too:

As someone who has returned to the Church, you don't want to make rash judgments that will push your family members away from the Church.

  • Do you remember how you were turned off by them?

    Correct in charity, and as my mother taught me: Michael, kill'em with kindness.

Jesus told us not to throw pearls before swine so we indeed have to make judgments as to what are swine and what are pearls.

What we can't do in impute a motive behind sinful behavior. Sadly, many in our Church have not been catechized correctly so some may just be ignorant of basic Christian teaching.

After we correct those who don't know better, once in charity, our consciences should be clear.

For example: I can't force my brother's family and my sister-in-law to go to Mass every Sunday. I can:

  • encourage them
  • remind them it is a mortal sin to deliberately skip Mass, and
  • give them good reasons to renew their covenant with the Lord each Sunday

but it is their choice whether to renew it or not.

You said:
Second: When I talk about abortion, some people say:

  • Why should women have a bunch of children so they can run around with no shoes, no food, and no good clothes?

My colleagues may have a different view, I would say this view comes right from feminists and uncatechized Christians who were never taught to value family life.

Sadly, the Church and/or their parents never instilled in them the foundation of society: the Christian family, which brings forth the image and reality of Christ for succeeding generations to come in children through a combination of:

  • love
  • suffering
  • caring, and
  • fostering big Christian families when possible instead of discouraging them.

Though today's culture and the main steam media reject it, it is good and health for Christian parents to desire having a big families with lots of children. Here I mean 5 or more children. (I know a family with 10 children.) That said, Christian spouses have to talk among themselves and proceed with responsible, practical, medically safe, and financially appropriate child-rearing goals.

There is no such thing as a bunch of children running around with no shoes, no food, and no good clothes. This is feminist propaganda.

To women with unexpected pregnancies: Any woman, of any age, who has an unexpected pregnancy can always go to any local Catholic diocese and that diocese will have an array of services to help and assist her and her child so they will have the basic necessities of life.

You said:
Or, some will say, women should not have babies if they are not ready because they will end up being abused, molested, and abandoned.

  • How can I respond to those kinds of comments?

I would agree that women, especially young women, should not be promiscuous. When they are, it can lead to other painful situations.

When the parents, the primary educators of their children, don't talk with their children about the importance of saving oneself until marriage but inculcate permissive sexual behavior among their children and those of the opposite sex, their children will inevitably get hurt.

If you are interested in defending the Pro-Life argument, check out my editorial here:

I hope this helps,

Mike

Paula replied:

Thanks Mike,

  • What are your thoughts and what advice can you give me on this situation that I thought was over and done with?

I have two sisters, each one has an adult child who are both on drugs. One sister has a son and the other has a daughter. The daughter struggled with drugs for many years. She finally went to Rehab while my sister took care of her five grandchildren for a few years. This daughter came out of Rehab, clean and started doing good things with her life, got her kids back and ended up marrying a pastor which we all knew she didn't even love . . . that's another story.

After about a year or so, this daughter, my niece, started using drugs again and left her husband and just started messing up all over again. At a Rosary, my sister began to cry because of my niece had gone back to drugs. I hugged her and told her not to be ashamed, that we were here for her, and that she did not have to go through this alone. I told her, that I have been in her shoes, and thank God, through much prayer on my knees, that my son was healed and has been clean for over five years.

I told my sister this is what family is for:

  • to listen to her
  • to have compassion, and
  • to lift her and her daughter up.

Knowing what she is going through with her own daughter, she still insists on:

  • putting my nephew down
  • telling him how he should live, and
  • who he should like or not like — she doesn't like the girl my nephew is with.

She is constantly tearing him down. To me, she has no compassion for her own sister's pain, which is the same as hers. My sister, my nephew's mom, never says anything negative about my niece or to her mom. I just can't understand how my sister can continue to kick my nephew down every chance she gets.

I have all ready used the Scriptures about loving your enemy, the speck in your own eye and though it's not Scripture that, we all live in glass houses and we all have dirty windows. I do not know what to do or say, short of praying a lot. I told my sister once, that she needed to go to an (NA) Narcotics Anonymous meeting to better understanding how a drug addict thinks.

  • What suggestions do you have on this?

Sometimes, I just want to see Jesus, so I won't have to be dealing with all this drama.

Thank you,

Paula

Bob replied:

Paula,

Your sister is possibly redirecting all her feelings concerning her own daughter to her nephew (transference) and therefore finds in him a safe place to unload. She cannot unload on her daughter because she is afraid; afraid of her loss, being cut out etc. This is her pain speaking.

Try to encourage in gentle ways to get the help at a NA or Al-Anon meeting but be compassionate with her in the meantime.

This is going to be a long journey, hang in there.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Paula replied:

Thanks for the reply Bob,

Sometimes I don't know how to discern if I am doing the correct thing or not in certain simple situations.

For instance, I have a 5-year-old that I buy certain things for and when the family comes over, she wants to share everything which I know is good because she is learning to share but at times she gets into things I don't want her to touch or she shares thing I really didn't intend for her to share.

  • What is your thought and opinion on these situations?

In another instance, every now and then, my neighbor's grandchildren go to visit her. She lives across the street. The girls have come over many times and many times I go out and tell them not to be getting into this or that and to clean up their mess.

Well, every time, it's the same old thing and before I know it, they are gone, there is a big mess, and they have not done what I asked them to do.

I also don't want my daughter crossing the street to come home so now when the girls come over to play, I don't allow my daughter to go out and play with them, unless I know I will be outside. I just tell the girls that she cannot go out and play at the time.

  • What is your thought and opinion on these situations?

I don't dislike the girls; it's just that I am the only one that does all the chores, inside and out.
I am a widow and I also take care of my 87-year-old mother so I have enough to do all ready.

Thanks,

Paula

Bob replied:

Paula,

You're the parent. You set the rules. Make it clear to your daughter:

  • What she can help herself to
  • What she can share or touch, and
  • What she cannot share or touch.

The same goes with going out with her friends. Tell her it is OK to do whatever, as long as you supervise or set the limits.

The problem you are feeling and struggling with is from the lack of support from other parents and the culture in general. God set you in charge, don't back down or give in just because other parents don't do it your way.

You have good instincts, just keep using them.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Paula replied:

Hi guys,

It wasn't so long ago that I was talking to my sister about watching soap operas, programs about men being with all kinds of women showing them in bed, and shows that promote homosexuality.

I was telling her if she watches those kinds of programs she is saying that she approves of such things. She says she watches them because they are funny. I told her, regardless of whether they are funny or not, by watching them, she was condoning those lifestyles and if she didn't approve of them, she wouldn't be watching them.

By the way, a Catholic parish in the next town has an event called, Casino nights and some of the girls are dressed in short dresses.

  • Is this not the same thing?
  • Isn't the Church conveying the idea that gambling is acceptable and these girls are being a source of temptation?

I surely don't understand this kind of reasoning by my parish. Surely there are a more family-oriented ways to make money for the Church.

  • What are you thoughts on this?

Thanks,

Paula

Mike replied:

Hi Paula,

We are not a perfect Church, though Our Founder, Jesus, is.

You are correct in both cases that you have mentioned in your previous reply. That said, even some of the most well-known saints in the Church had no so holy periods in their life.

I'm going to give you a general guide that should address current and future situational questions you have been asking. Though we occasionally provide personal advice, it is not the focus of what we do, which is:

To clarify misperceptions about the Catholic faith — teaching-wise.

See # 2 under questions we won't answer.

My advice:

  • Always distinguish between doctrine and bad behavior.

    Doctrine will never change but sadly bad behavior can scandalize the faith.

  • Everyone in your family and who you will encounter comes with various:

    • educational backgrounds
    • religious educational backgrounds
    • emotional make-ups
    • physiological and biological needs, and
    • spiritual needs . . . including yourself.

Keep this in mind and do your best to encourage others to live a daily prayerful, sacramental life and to follow their vocational calling.

Distinguish between correct judging and incorrect judging. Jesus told use not to throw pearls before swine so we first have judge what are swine and what are pearls.

What we can't do is make a judgment of conscience as to what motivated a person to do something bad. We are to inform on correct teaching, once, in charity (like making our Sunday Mass obligation), but after that, others are responsible.

Remember what Jesus said to the women caught in adultery: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Are you without sin?

If you have suggests that would spiritually help your parish, get involved!

It's only when you get involved that the pastor can get to know you and maybe with time, take some of your suggestions and implement them in the parish. It will also give you the opportunity to change some of the spiritually unhealthy practices your parish may have adopted.

I hope this helps,

Mike

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