"Should Catholics Join Non-Catholic Bible Studies?"

By Paul Dion, STL

Bible studies for Catholics are neither numerous nor well appreciated. Catholics are generally satisfied with complying with the obligation of attending Mass once a week on Sunday and then going on their way.

Many Catholics (dare I say MOST?) don't know the difference between John 1;1 and Genesis 1;1. Careful, you all, that's a trick question. I do know that most Catholics know the basic Bible stories.

I also know that if you ask them whether or not the story that they have just identified is from the Old Testament or the New Testament, they would hem and haw and venture a guess, but not produce a solid, assured answer.

I also know that Catholics generally will not set time aside to participate in a neighborhood Bible Study Group. They have "too many other things to do." Besides, they go to Mass, don't they? They'll hear what the priest has to say about it on Sunday. It's the Church's job to tell me what the Bible means.

It is also true though, that there are Catholics who seek Catholic Bible Study Groups and often to no avail. These are the same Catholics who will ultimately find a Bible Study Group composed of spiritually minded people from other religions. Since it is essentlally the "same Bible", isn't it?
These Catholics will attend, with a slight twitch of conscience, but with the rationalization that it is better than what they could find in their own Catholic Community.

All of this having been said, the burning question is: SHOULD CATHOLICS JOIN NON-CATHOLIC BIBLE STUDIES?

We want your response. Now is your chance to sound off. If your response includes a commitment, rest assured that this is the place where your sacrifice will be accepted and offered to God and Community.

Stay tuned.


Why do we pray for the dead?

Burning Question of the Week
By Paul Dion, STL

It is the month of November. This is the month when we Catholics are reminded by the Church to keep the welfare of our departed loved ones in our prayers.

Ah, yes, Catholics. We sure have a lot of things to think about. One of them is that we pray for our dearly departed, actually pray for them. It is one thing to pray for one another. We do that often. Please pray that I get that job. Please pray so that my mother will get better. Please pray that my son will go back to church again. Please pray that my husband will stop drinking. We are sure that you have heard all these, and even more.

It is a big part of our lives as Christians, not only Catholics. We do it and we do not connect it to what the Israelites of three thousand years ago believe about this sort of prayer. It is in our Bible. People offered sacrifice for one another so that God would look favorably down on those for who they prayed. So, we do the same.

In fact, we go one further, we pray for the dearly departed souls. We pray that they will be greeted heartily into heaven after their life of travail and hardship. But, they are already dead. They are no longer here. What effect will our prayers for them have? All of you reading this pray for your dearly departed relatives. You pray for the repose of the souls of your relatives and friends. So, what do we mean when we say "repose of the souls"?

Think about it. Why do we pray for the dead? Post a comment below.

Click here to view the answer to the Burning Question


"What is Conscience?"

By Paul Dion, STL

This will take us down some rather interesting paths. Go for it!

A great many of us consider a lot of things when we consider behavior, ours and that of others. We look around to see if anyone is watching. We review the ten commandments, the civil law, the rules of the "game", the "political" impact of our actions.

The question for this week then is:

"What is conscience, and what role does it play in our Christian lives?"

This is not a pop quiz - there are no pass or fail marks. Nor is this an intellectual exercise. It is a mere opportunity to look into your hearts and let your spirituality speak out. If you are too shy, you can always post anonymously.

So let us know what you think. Post a thought today.

"Does God Want You to be Rich?"

"Does God Want You to be Rich?"
By Paul Dion, STL

Most of us think that it would be a lot better to be rich than poor. We would much prefer to be healthy than ill. We would much prefer to have high-achieving children than "street corner slugs."

We are all familiar with some of the heroes of the Bible who thought that they were in high favor with God because they had 1,000 sheep, 500 cattle, 100 hectares of active and healthy vineyard and at least 350 camels. Is that really the world in which we live today?

A quick look at the Beatitudes reveal how Jesus exulted the poor. And the Bible is filled with references to poor people finding it easier to make it to heaven.


Are you sure?

Tell us what you feel about this simple but deep-rooted question. Share it with us. If you feel too shy to post your name, you can sign it Anonymous.

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )


Is Superstition a Sin?

By Paul Dion, STL

Superstition a sin? Why, that's silly! Everyone knows that it doesn't work, it's just a silly practice that doesn't mean anything.

Think back a little bit and you'll remember hearing ( or thinking )words to that effect more than once in your life. Some of you may remember an older member of your exended family reminding everyone of a quasi-religious practice that had to be followed in order to avoid something bad from happening in the near future. Maybe you remember being reminded to observe a certain "religious" practice so that you can count on something good happening to you. How many of you always forward e-mails that promise you something if you send "this to 12 of your friends in the next 6 minutes you will be the happy recipient of good economic news in the next week"?

How many of you drop a fork from the table and exclaim, "Yikes, we're going to get company?" Then someone will say, "No, a fork doesn't mean company, it means good luck."

My mother had a habit of knocking on wood whenever she or someone else mentioned a wish that was generally considered to be an item of good luck.

Finally, in my family it was considered to be out of the question to have the body of a newly deceased relative exposed for waking on a Sunday. I witnessed some rather uncomfortable gyrations around social schedules to avoid that situation.

Which brings us to the question: Is including these practices and others of like nature in the behavior of our lives a sin? If not, why not? If yes, why "yes"? If "yes", what commandment are we breaking?

Leave your comments and thoughts below.

Or Click Here to view the theological answer to this Burning Question.


It it more noble to volunteer for secular work or for church work?

By Paul Dion, STL

Welcome to the United States, the volunteer capital of the world. Statistics tell us that there are more volunteers per capita in this country than in any other country in the world. Volunteerism is a dynamic part of our culture. It seems that each and every one of us volunteers for something.

As you read this, you are perhaps saying, "I don't."

Really now? Are you sure? Before you go to bed tonight, examine your conscience and I am willing to say without fear, that somewhere in your life there is a cause for which you dedicate some of your precious personal time.Would you like a little help with your examination of conscience concerning this matter?

Sure you do. Here goes:

Are you the favorite baby sitter in your family/extended family? Are you the one who has the knack of caring for the sick, young and old, so you get called a lot? Are you the one who is always cleaning the house along with the housewife after parties? Are you the designated driver of the old person down the street when it is time to do the weekly shopping? Are you the one poll worker who is always there at every election? Are you the one who still has three space heaters stored in the garage waiting for your friends to claim them back? Are you getting exasperated with these silly questions? Say, "yes."

I haven't mentioned the real professional volunteer yet, but I don't think I have to because we all know one or more of those. You, dear reader are perhaps one of them.

I will only take a passing swing at some of the things that volunteers do in this sweet homeland of ours: Blood bank workers, catechists, church cleaners, Red Cross workers, readers for the blind, tutors for children with special needs, Girl Scout troup leaders and Boy Scouts too, church community leaders of all stripes and colors...I don't have to continue.

It is generally conceded that volunteering is a good thing. It falls well into the call of God through St. Matthew, chapter 25, to "feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners..." etc.

The burning question is; "Is it more noble to volunteer for the benefit of secular communities, like hospitals, city halls and such. Or is it better to volunteer for Church work, like teaching catechism, reading the Scripture at Mass, carrying communion to the sick, etc.?"

What do you think? Share your thoughts with the community.


"Who is the Church?"

By Paul Dion, STL

We are staying with the Apostles' Creed for this week's Burning Question.

The bishops who gathered in Rome for the Ecumenical Council of Vatican II, the only such event of the 20th century, had a lot to say about the Church. In fact that actually spoke from a position of collegial infallibilty about the Church in what is called "DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH."

This question then has a telling difference in its formulation, so be careful how you consider it before you answer.

Here is the question: "WHO IS THE CHURCH?"

It's all yours. Tell us what you think. Post a comment today.

(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )