Random Questions and Answers about the Teachings of the Catholic Church.


Random Questions, Answered will be an ongoing section with several phases aimed at solving those issues that many Catholics and non-Catholics have with our faith.  My goal is to ask and answer some of the most common questions about the Catholic Church teachings.  You may not agree or like the answers but you can count on it being truthful teachings of the Church.


How was Mary always a virgin when Jesus had brothers and sisters?

The Scriptures (Matthew 13:55) only seem to say that Jesus had blood brothers and sisters.  The original Greek text reflects the Aramaic usage.  In the Aramaic language which Jesus used, the words “brother and sister” can refer to cousins as well as blood brothers and sisters.  Hence, the passage in Mathew 13:55 cannot be taken to mean that Mary had other children.  The four men mentioned in this passage are James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude.  The father of James was Alphaeus and he is presumable also the father of Joseph since both had the same mother, Mary, wife of Alphaeus.  We know nothing of the family of the other two.  Something that seems to indicate that they were also cousins and not brothers of Jesus is the fact that, on the cross, Jesus entrusted his mother to the Apostle John.   Why would  he have done this if there were other sons to care for her?  And further, if there were other sons, why were they not on hand when their “brother” was being executed?  In a word, there is no biblical evidence that Mary had other children or that Jesus had blood brothers and sisters.


If Cain and Abel were the only children of Adam and Eve when Abel was murdered, where did Cain find a wife (Genesis 4:13)?

This is a problem only to those who take everything in the Scripture at face value.  Studies of ancient literature of the near East show that the Cain and Abel story in one form or another was already long in existence when the inspired author wrote this portion of Genesis.  He was writing, incidentally, not as an on-the-spot reporter but as a member of the Hebrew community centuries after the early days of creation.  His purpose is not to give a detailed history of genealogy of the human race but simply, in the part of Genesis following the fall of Adam and Eve, to show how the effects of their sin appeared in a whole plague of human sins:  jealousy, deceit, and even murder.  One must learn to look for the religious teaching  intended by the authors of Scripture and not for answers to problems they did not consider.


What is the significance of burning candles at religious services?

Candles were an advance over oil lamps as men learned to use wax in place of oil.  Whether as lamps or candles, these light sources were no doubt originally used simply as illumination so that worshippers could see and read in dark places.  Eventually the utilitarian purpose became combined with symbolism of self-offering.  As oil and wax in burning eventually are consumed in service, so the worshipper wishes to consecrate himself wholly to God.  A secondary symbolism also developed–that of the lamp/candle representing the continuing prayer of the person who lit it.


What is meant by the Captivity Letters?

These are letters written while Saint Paul was in prison for the first time in Rome.  They are Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.


What are the cardinal virtues?

These have their name from the Latin word “cardo,” meaning “hinge.”  They are the moral virtues on which hinge all truly religious and virtuous behavior.  They are a participation in divine wisdom according to the Book of Wisdom (8:7):  “or if one loves justice, the fruits of her works are virtues; for she reaches moderation and prudence, justice and fortitude, and nothing in life is more useful for men than these.”  Hence the traditional enumeration of the cardinal or moral virtues:  prudence justice, fortitude and temperance.


What are your thoughts on these questions and answers about the Catholic Church teachings?  Please leave me a comment below.

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