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David Duplessis wrote:

Hello, Everyone!

I have always tried to follow the Catholic ideology to the best of my ability.

  • I repent of my sins
  • I regularly volunteer, and
  • I attend Mass every Sunday.

I love the Church I go to, but lately I have found myself questioning a lot about the Bible.
I was hoping you could answer some questions for me.

To start, my first question is about the Vatican.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was born in Bethlehem, in a small village among all the people of Judah. Though He was the known Son of God, He was born in a manger, in a city known by relatively few people. I always thought this expressed the humble, modest aspect of Jesus, who chose to be born in a location which was not at all vainglorious.

That said, the superfluous spending and extravagant architecture which surrounds the Vatican seems to contradict the milieu surrounding the reputable nature of Jesus.

  • So why is the atmosphere surrounding the Vatican so prestigious?

Secondly, I have noticed that the Bible contains many decrees against things which are commonly practiced today.

  • How do we, as Catholics, know which laws in the Bible should be abided by and which are no longer relevant in today's society?

For example:

  • Leviticus 11:10 considers eating shellfish an abomination
  • Leviticus 19:27 denies men the right to cut the hair around their temple region, and
  • Leviticus 19:19 says that wearing fabric of two separate types of material is a sin.

  • Why are these rules often overlooked, while things such as homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22) considered grave sins?

My last question is about my mother. I am a Catholic because I was born to a Catholic home. My mother however, is an Agnostic. I love my mother so much and I know she is a good person at heart but I feel as though I may be losing her in the after life. I love her and I feel as though Heaven will be so much less wonderful without having her there with me. Being born in a family of Atheists, my mother has never truly been a Christian and I unsure if she ever will be.

Nevertheless:

  • she has adopted four children
  • she has donated her hair to Locks of Love every year, and
  • she is a large contributor at charity events at my school.

I feel as though her ethics are right and that she does not deserve to be placed at the same level of sin as murderers or serial killers.

  • What is your opinion?

Thank you for your patience.

I truly pray that you answer my questions and help me to be the best Catholic I can!

Sincerely,

David

  { How can the Vatican be so esteemed, which biblical laws do we obey, and what about my mother? }

Mike replied:

Hi David,

Thanks for the questions.

You said:
To start, my first question is about the Vatican.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was born in Bethlehem, in a small village among all the people of Judah. Though He was the known Son of God, He was born in a manger, in a city known by relatively few people. I always thought this expressed the humble, modest aspect of Jesus, who chose to be born in a location which was not at all vainglorious.

That said, the superfluous spending and extravagant architecture which surrounds the Vatican seems to contradict the milieu surrounding the reputable nature of Jesus.

  • So why is the atmosphere surrounding the Vatican so prestigious?

This is a common question; it's even in our searchable knowledge base:

http://www.AskACatholic.com/SiteSearch

There are a lot of quick answers there, so give it a try.

I searched the knowledge base for you and found these web postings that should help:

You said:
Secondly, I have noticed that the Bible contains many decrees against things which are commonly practiced today.

  • How do we, as Catholics, know which laws in the Bible should be abided by and which are no longer relevant in today's society?

For example:

  • Leviticus 11:10 considers eating shellfish an abomination
  • Leviticus 19:27 denies men the right to cut the hair around their temple region, and
  • Leviticus 19:19 says that wearing fabric of two separate types of material is a sin.

  • Why are these rules often overlooked, while things such as homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22) considered grave sins?

The Bible covers more that two covenants. All the covenants in the Old Testament are fulfilled in the New Testament. For that reason all the covenants in the Old Covenant are fulfilled in the New Covenant. The New Covenant is the Messiah, Our Lord Jesus Christ and He established one Church on St. Peter and His successors to safeguard, protect, and preserve His, not our teachings.

This is the purpose of the Pope and Magisterium of the Church. The Pope, the successor to St. Peter, is the icon of unity for all Christians worldwide. His role is to clarify Christian teaching while safeguarding and protecting others. He does this with the help of the Holy Spirit (which guides him), all the bishops in union with him, as well as faithful Catholic Christians who are called to:

  • know the faith
  • know the Gospel, and
  • preach it to the world by our words and actions.

Jesus told us to do as much before His glorious Ascension into Heaven. (Matthew 28:16-20)

  • Does this make sense?

You said:
My last question is about my mother. I am a Catholic because I was born to a Catholic home. My mother however, is an Agnostic. I love my mother so much and I know she is a good person at heart but I feel as though I may be losing her in the after life. I love her and I feel as though Heaven will be so much less wonderful without having her there with me. Being born in a family of Atheists, my mother has never truly been a Christian and I unsure if she ever will be.

Nevertheless:

  • she has adopted four children
  • she has donated her hair to Locks of Love every year, and
  • she is a large contributor at charity events at my school.

I feel as though her ethics are right and that she does not deserve to be placed at the same level of sin as murderers or serial killers.

  • What is your opinion?

Guess what David?

I had the same type of mother, Dorothy Humphrey. She passed to her particular judgment on January 31, 2011.

My opinion is this.

  • Your mother and my mother are only culpable for what they knew was right and what they followed to the best of their ability.
  • They are also culpable for those things they knew were wrong, but did anyway.

Many people make rash judgments without ever thinking of how the person was brought up.

  • What was their education background?
  • What was their religious training?
  • How good was it?
  • Were they brought up with Catholic Christian values or not?
  • Were they brought up with Christian values or not?

    • and if they were, did they understand and appreciate those values, or were they just told to believe what they heard in a coercive manner without a respect for their intellect?

Take my mother. I knew she was brought up in a weak Christian household. Sure they had a Bible but it was only because back then everyone had a Bible whether they used it or not. She never really heard anything in-depth about Christianity to my knowledge. The only thing I really knew about my mother’s father was that he was a very hard worker in the ship building business. Six months before she passed I ask about her parents and she said, in passing, she remembered her father reading WatchTower magazines.

For those unfamiliar with this magazine it is from the Jehovah Witnesses, a non-Christian cult. At that point, I realized why she never had any really foundation in Christianity and just became Catholic, because back then, one would become Catholic before marrying a Catholic fiancé.

This is no longer the case and the Church has changed that process today, though cautions mixed-faith married couples about the importance of ensuring the children are raised Catholic. [The non-Catholic spouse makes no promise; only the Catholic spouse. The non-Catholic spouse is a witness to the promise made by the Catholic spouse: to raise the children of their love as Catholic to the best he or she can.]

I applaud that you want to be the best Catholic you can be. In your situation, what I would do is occasionally ask your mother if she would like to join you for Church services on Sunday. Don’t be coercive but just ask. I asked my mother this question, on and off for about two years prior to her death and she always said no, but I think she appreciated that I respected her decision either way. Also share with her good reasons to become a Catholic. This page might help:

You also may want to share with her St. Thomas’ proofs for the existence of God:

I hope this helps,

Mike

John replied:

Hi, David —

You said:

  • How do we, as Catholics, know which laws in the Bible should be abided by and which are no longer relevant in today's society?

For example:

  • Leviticus 11:10 considers eating shellfish an abomination
  • Leviticus 19:27 denies men the right to cut the hair around their temple region, and
  • Leviticus 19:19 says that wearing fabric of two separate types of material is a sin.

  • Why are these rules often overlooked, while things such as homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22) considered grave sins?

We distinguish between:

  • the Moral law which is based on the both the Natural Law and the Ten Commandments and,
  • the Ceremonial law which was only there to serve a particular purpose at a particular time.

The former is based on immutable truth where is the latter is either meant to teach or make a pastoral provision.

We still have our own ceremonial laws today that we observe. For instance during Lent we don't eat meat on Fridays. Well, there is nothing immoral or intrinsically wrong with eating meat ever . . . no matter what day of the week. That's a rule we observe for particular purpose and the Church can change it anytime She sees fit because it doesn't pertain to doctrine or what we call faith and morals.

Now official teachings that are rooted in faith or morals are infallible. Homosexual acts are acts outside of marriage and, on that basis, they are sinful. Marriage is what it is, no matter how societies try to redefine it.

In terms of the Scriptures, Marriage has always been between a man and women. It is true that at periods of time, polygamy was practiced and accepted in the ancient Hebrew tradition but it never involved marriages between people of the same sex. Men were allowed to have multiple wives. It was a loosening of what God's Perfect Law was and was eventually done away with so homosexual acts, right of the bat, violate the moral code against adultery (which includes all sex outside marriage of any kind).

Secondly, homosexual acts by their very nature deny the purpose of marital love . . . which is both love and pro-creative so, like artificial birth control and masturbation, it is deviant behavior.

There are other laws that won't and can't change. We will always believe in one God. We will always believe it is wrong to: murder, envy, covet, and so on.

This is very different then laws about eating food, shaving, or what festivals to keep.

  • The former is about morality and faith.
  • The latter is about ceremony or purposely not practicing the things practiced by other pagan cultures in order to remind yourself that you are call by God to be separate and different. [That is what the word holy means: to be set apart.]

John

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