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.
“Easter” was originally a pagan Spring festival. Why do Christians Celebrate it?
The English language word “Easter” may be pagan in origin. It has been applied in popular language to the Church feast whose proper name is Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord. The feast does not celebrate the reawakening of nature, as was the case with a pagan celebration, but the glorious Resurrection of Jesus which, together with his Passion and Death, achieved our salvation.
What does the Creed mean by “he descended into Hell?”
This is not a reference to the hell of the damned but to the abode of the just of the Old Testament, often called the “Limbo of the Fathers” or “Abraham’s Bosom” (Luke 16:22). In 1 Peter 3:19, we read: “In [the spirit] he [Christ] also went to the spirits in prison.” the prison referred to here is often taken to mean the abode of those who died in God’s grace prior to Christ’s resurrection. The visit of Jesus in spirit was to announce their liberation through his Passion and Death.
What does the Catholic Church teach in regard to the evolution of the human race?
If the bodily evolution of the human species is ever definitively established as fact, the Church could accept it, holding always that God is the Creator and that the process was always under his control. The evolution is question here would only be that of the human body. Every human person, as person, endowed with a unique soul, is created directly by God. Therefore, a Catholic may believe in evolution as long as it is seen as part of God’s design.
What are we to think of the many predictions about the Second Coming of Christ?
Jesus and the Apostles spoke of Christ’s Second Coming as the definitive final act of the world’s history (John 5;21-29). Our Lord explicitly taught, however, that only the Father knows the day and the last judgment and that neither the angels nor he himself (as man) has this knowledge. Hence even the most ingenious explanations of those who predict near or distant doomsday are simply meaningless speculation. Some would make God out to be a puzzle writer providing us with clues to the answers. The Scriptures support none of this. What they do support is the admonition to live every day as if it were our last. “Stay awake! For you do no know on which day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42).
What is the difference between a Christian and a Catholic?
In the ideal state of Christian unity there would be no difference: all Christians would be Catholic. In the first Christian centuries, this was the actual state of affairs. There was one Christian Church and because it was everywhere united it could be called Catholic or Universal. When the Church first began, the first believers were probably called “Nazarenes” or followers of Jesus the Nazarene. At Antioch, they began to be called Christians(Acts 11:26), possibly because Nazareth had no real significance for converts of non-Jewish origin. Saint Ignatius of Antioch writing in the first decade of the second century is our first witness to the use of the term “Catholic Church”. He used Catholic as a common adjective, meaning universal, but the adjective soon became a proper adjective since it applied to the then total Christian Church.
Unfortunately, with the Eastern Schism in 1054 and later with the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, divisions occurred in the Christian Church. Hence today, all Catholics are Christians, but not all Christians are Catholics.
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