Why was Jesus born in a manger?

By Paul Dion, STL

What is the symbolism of Jesus being born in a manger?

This is the Christmas Season and of course we have a lot of questions floating around in our heads. I hope that none of you has to figure out how to balance your check book so early in the month.

But because this is a seriously spiritual season, let's consider the story of the Nativity and some of the symbolism that the Gospel Story of Luke holds. I suggest that you find a quiet corner, your favorite "dog-eared" Bible and read the first two chapters of Luke's gospel meditatively.

Luke calls the mother of Jesus, MARY. This name means "Excellence." Or, in the words of the angel Gabriel, "Full of Grace."

The carpenter who saves Mary's honor is called JOSEPH. This means "May Yahweh add."

The mother of John the Baptist is ELIZABETH. This name means "My God is fullness."

His father carries the name ZECHARIAH. This means "Yahweh has remembered."

Finally, the name JESUS means, "God saves." The same as Joshua, the successor of Moses who led the Chosen People of God into the Promised Land, thus saving them from Egyptian slavery for good. Jesus saves us from the slavery of sin.

Amidst all this symbolism we have the symbolism of the 100 mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census, three Magi, the three gifts which they brought, the visiting shepherds, the singing angels and the swaddling clothes.

I could bring up a lot more, but that should be enough for now, except for the question:



Do Catholics "worship" Mary as we do Jesus?

By Paul Dion, STL

Dear readers, it has happened to again. We have been asked for the "x"tieth time the question, "Why do Catholics worship the Virgin Mary as much as Jesus?"

This question used to really get to me. It doesn't send me up the wall so much any more.

I have just returned from the Holy Land and Italy and France. I have returned from the world of the churches that are built in the name of the Virgin Mary. I have come from a country in which I personally entered three churches named St. Mary Major. I entered and visited numerous Crusader churches that carry names like, Annunciation, Visitation, Immaculate Conception, Mary, Mother of God, Birth of Mary, Dormition of Mary and Assumption, just to name a few.

Those who ask the question about worship of Mary see the same churches and monuments that we do. They know about Lourdes, La Salette, the Miraculous Medal, Medjugorie and the rest. For the most part they have The Lord and their Bible.

This is a serious question. How do you answer the question, "Why do Catholics Worship Mary as much as Jesus?"

Share your thoughts and ideas with us. Post a comment here.

What is the Old Testament root of the sacrament of Baptism?

By Paul Dion, STL

This week we bring you the easiest question that you will ever encounter here. But because it is so easy, we are going to ask a related question that will help you to stretch your minds a little bit. This will also send you to the shelf or the table upon which your Bible rests.

As you all know, the teachings of Jesus and of the Apostles find their roots in the Old Testament. This does not mean that we follow the teachings of the Old Testament word for word. It means that God revealed His wishes to His human creatures many thousands of years ago. As time went on, through the Patriarchs, the Prophets, the Kings, Jesus and the Apostles, His wishes and His commandments became clearer and clearer to us.

Now that Jesus and the Apostles are no longer on earth, Jesus left us with the Church. It is through the Church that we continue our relationship with God the Father, The Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. The Church provides us with ways to get in touch with God and to stay in touch with Him. The clearest way, and the easiest is through the sacraments. To go back to what I said before, what we believe in today had its roots in the Old Testament. We will therefore give you references to the Old Testament when it is proper to do so in this study of the sacraments.

Therefore, this week's BURNING QUESTION is: What is the Old Testament root of the sacrament of Baptism? To whom did God give it?

CLICK HERE to see the answer and a short lesson about Baptism.

Click the Comments link below to post a comment.

What is "Holiness?"

By Paul Dion, STL

This week's burning question is short and sweet. It's about a term we have often heard and used since we were small children.

But do we really know what it means?

Please reflect on the following the Burning Question:
As the people of God, we are all called to holiness. What is holiness? What does it mean to be holy?

Share your ideas and thoughts with us.

What is "The World?"

By Paul Dion, STL

I try to make the Burning Question one that has a doctrinal core to it. Something very Catholic. This week I stumbled across something that caught my fancy for two reasons:

1. It is a very traditional Catholic topic.
2. It is also a topic that has challenged the followers of Jesus for centuries.

Believe me, the positions that are taken about this fill the spectrum of spiritual human activity in the pursuit of perfection (sanctity) from left to right and back again. I am presenting this to you because I want you to get the idea of what I mean when I say that "THIS is not an intellectual exercise."

The Introduction:

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God And the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their aflictions and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (Letter of James, Chapter 1, verse 27)

The Challenge:

Comment on the bold type phrase as you see it connected the meaning of religion and the requirement(s) that it presents to the practitioners of that religion, namely, in this case, Roman Catholicism.

Let us know what you think. This is not a sit-down Catechism class so we don't grade your answer. And you can always post anonymously if you want. We merely want you to dig into your hearts and explore your Catholic faith, as you truly know it.

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


"Is Religion for the weak of heart and mind?"

By Paul Dion, STL

This week, you get a chance to comment on the following quotes:

Karl Marx: "Religion is the opiate of the masses."
Jesse Ventura: "Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers..."

Surely you have heard similar statements in your daily routine. Therefore, what is your reaction to the question, "Is religion for the weak of heart and mind?"

We would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Post them below. Dig deep into your hearts and let us know what you really think. You can even post an anonymous comment if you're too shy to sign your name. It's your thoughts that count.

And as usual, we will give a recap of your answers and the actual Church teachings related to the burning question by Tuesday of next week.

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


If no candidate is 100% by Catholic moral teaching, is it OK to just not vote?

By Paul Dion, STL

Faithful Catholic, Faithful Citizen.

The other day the Publisher and the Theology Editor of attended the joint vicariate meeting of the San Bernardino Diocese. It turns out that this is an annual event when at least one priest and the staff of every parish come together at the Diocesan Pastoral Center and have a day of conviviality, informational get together, constant light snack buffet and two
solid conferences/presentations as food for thought.

This year Bishop Gerald Barnes decided to make the fourth Episcopal Letter to voters the center piece of the event. To make the event all the more attractive, he invited Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington D.C. to discuss the election year document from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). has another section dedicated to the Cardinal's presentation of the contents of the document. But this is the Burning Question Section and we intend to challenge you with a tough one this time.

Voting is not easy. It is a difficult task because it calls our conscience out and demands that it make a correct decision. If there is an activity that requires Catholics to put their moral behavior thinking caps on, it is voting. There are just so many moral variables to consider.

We ask ourselves so many questions about the candidates. Is this person pro-abortion? Is this one pro-war? What's her position on taxes? What's his position on torture? Is this guy going to really provide good, affordable health-care to everyone? What's this we hear about her wanting to privatize Social Security?, etc., etc.

You know as well as I do that the questions go on and on. What do we do? Do we zero-in on abortion? Embryonic Stem-cell Research? War? Negotiating prescription drug prices? Medicinal marijuana?

The fact of the matter is that there is never a perfect Catholic candidate in the race. We have found in the past that making the candidate's stance on abortion the center-piece of our voting decision can have some disastrous results. So, the temptation is to wring our hands, make a short visit to the Blessed Sacrament at the church down the street, return home, sit back, have a beer and watch the results on TV, without stopping by the polling booth vote at all.

Is that the moral thing to do? So because there is no one who is pro-life in the running, do you stay home? Since no one is willing to stop the war, do you stay home? asks, "Is it appropriate Catholic behavior to refrain from voting because no one
candidate conforms to the serious part or some serious parts of the moral code?"

This is not an easy question. Let's try to enlighten one another. There is an answer. Hints of it can be found in the other article about the formation of consciences for faithful citizenship.

We will provide quasi immdiate feedback to your contributions and a fuller answer to the question as we go forward.

Is Divorce a sin according to the Catholic Church?

By Paul Dion, STL

This is a question that I have to answer because a) one of you asked it, and b) there is so much misunderstanding about this question in the Catholic Community.

Therefore, don't dodge this question. Read it.

Ask your Catholic acquaintances what they think, ask yourself what opinion you want to throw out on the table and we'll all be enlightened by the results.

Is divorce a sin, according to the Catholic Church? What are the consequences of divorce for a Catholic?

Ready, get set, GO -----

Go ahead and post your comments below.

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


"Does the Church allow abortion if the mother's life is at risk?"

By Paul Dion, STL

On the April 30, 2007 episode of the "The Sean Hannity Show" on the Fox News Channel, Republican presidential hopeful Sam Brownback cleared up his position on the abortion issue.

Normally this is not an issue which discusses very often, but given the circumstances and the belief that there is much for us Christians to learn from this interchange between Hannity and Brownback, is convinced that a thoughtful discussion about what Sam Brownback said in response to Hannity's question is in order.

Toward the end of the interview, Hannity asked Brownback if he believed there should be any legal exceptions for abortion such as rape, incest, or saving the life of the mother. Brownback clearly stated that there should be absolutely no legal exceptions for abortion. He admitted that such a situation would be tragic but also said that "it's not the baby's fault."

The burning question of the week is simply this: "Do you, dear reader, agree with Senator Sam Brownback that there should be absolutely no legal exceptions for abortion, including saving the mother's life?"

Please state the reasons for your position. will keep itself engaged in the discussion.

You can also check out this related article I wrote on the topic: Thalidomide, Rape, Abortion, God.


"What is Sacrifice?"

By Paul Dion, STL

We Catholics are big into sacrifices. We use the word a lot, and rightly so. Well, this is Thanksgiving, the opening of the Holiday Season. It is the Magnificent American Harvest Festival.

We at have chosen this time to present the concept of sacrifice to you because it is fitting and challenging.

The question therefore is, "What is sacrifice? Why consider it now? What does this have to do with us Catholics?"

Go for it, brethren!

"What is the Worst Sin?"

By Paul Dion, STL, ParishWorld Theology Editor

Rarely do we at dedicate so much space to "sin". This time we do. Since we celebrate the mystery of the breadth and the depth of God's love and glory, we grow up with the deep faith that He has the power to create, to support and to save anyone. is a part of that faith and we are happy that you accompany us down the road of faith.

Interestingly there are other forces on the Internet that are not as positively dedicated as we are. Sometimes questions do arise about sin and its consequences. Lately there has been a discussion about the worst sin. It seems to be a strange question.

Every sin insults God, and what could be worse than that? In the same thought, every sin insults His creatures too, including the sinner himself. So often, when we consider the concept of sin, we don't include ourselves as being the object of our own insult. We insult our souls, our heart, our mind, our body, our family and the wider community of those with whom we keep company every day.

So, allow us to ask the question, "What is the Worst Sin?" Consider this question not only in the context of an insult to God, but in the context of the greatest possible damage that we could do both to God and to ourselves through sin.

What do you think it is? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Share your comments with the rest of the world.

CLICK HERE to view the answers to this burning question.

Must we believe the Church 100% to be Catholic?

Must we believe the Church 100% to be Catholic?
By Paul Dion, STL

Living the Catholic life is a life of penance, prayer and missionary zeal. It is about giving-up some things and for giving some things too. As Catholics, we hear a lot of teachings about our religion and we pray for all souls including those people who are going to be baptized into the Catholic religion each Easter Vigil.

But recently, a Catholic friend told me how he's been facing his own Catholic friends and family who seem to disagree with certain specific tenets of our faith. So maybe now is a critical time to ask ourselves an important question about our religion and our faith. It is not a "stupid" question, nor is it an idle one. It is a question that I have been asked several times by Catechumens. I even hear it now and then from life-long Catholics who are attending Faith Growth Sessions for Adults.

We hope that all of you who read this would consider the depth and the value of the question. We want to hear your opinion about what the answer is. We are sure that you will have deep seated opinons about this one. Share them, please. We are sure that the sum of all of them will add up to the true answer.

"In order to be Catholic, do you have to believe 100% of what the Church teaches?"

Please pray over it and then chime in with your opinion. We will provide a comprehensive answer as part of the comments. In the meantime, we will join you in the running comment exercise.

Let us know what you think. Post your comment below.

Who can receive Communion?

By Paul Dion, STL

Who Can Receive Communion? These are the words of Jesus as presented to us by St. John the Evangelist.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever" (John 6:53–58).

Because of this teaching about the Eucharist, we know that receiving this Sacrament is very important to our lives as Catholics.

The burning questions is: What are the pre-requisites for receiving the eucharist for the first time? What are the requisites for receiving the eucharist every time after that?

Click here to view the answer to this Burning Question

"Half a Eucharist?"

By Paul Dion, STL

In this time when communion under both species is not reserved to the priest in our Western, Latin Catholic Church, it is possible that even some fairly mature participants at the Holy Mass could sometimes ask themselves a similar question.

For this reason, we reproduce the question of the neophyte in the hopes that you will share your answer to this person with the rest of us:

"I have a question. Last Sunday I attended the 7 AM Mass. When it came time for me to receive the Blood of Christ the cup was empty. This is the 3rd time I've been denied the full Eucharist. Is my Eucharist valid or am I in sin for taking half a Eucharist? The Catechism says that the "Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life." I really want to celebrate the whole Eucharist and look forward to Mass because of it. Why can't the Extraordinary Ministers prepare an extra cup or at the very least direct us to someone else?"

What do you say? What do you think it is? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Post a comment below.

CLICK HERE to view the answers to this burning question.

Is the Mass a Eucharistic Banquet or a Holy Sacrifice

Is the Mass a Eucharistic Banquet or a Holy Sacrifice
By Paul Dion, STL

1. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
2. a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3. a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
4. a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5. a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6. a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7. a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8. a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace
(Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3)

There is also a time for naming things and a time for remembering what the name was before the name we now use. I am giving you the opportunity to participate in this exercise in the following manner.

What is the name that defines our central act of worship, the Mass? Is the Mass a Sacrifice or is it a Banquet?

Tell us what you think and please elaborate on your answer.

Eucharist? Communion? Which is it?

By Paul Dion, STL

We are continuing our investigation into the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Your participation in the discussion of the "applause in church" was very enlightening. encourages you to click back on this related blog so that you will not miss any of the "action".

This week we will address ourselves to a topic that is a lot more directly focused on the Eucharist. The Church honors the Eucharist as one of her most exalted mysteries, since for sublimity and incomprehensibility it is right up there with the allied mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation.

These three mysteries constitute a wonderful unity, which causes the essential characteristic of Christianity, as a religion of mysteries far transcending the capabilities of reason, to shine forth in all its brilliance and splendor. It elevates Catholicism, the most faithful guardian and keeper of our Christian heritage, far above all pagan and non-Christian religions.

Eucharist is the name given to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar which is a coin with two sides, one is the Sacrament and Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the same coin presents Jesus Christ in His divine presence under the form of bread and wine. asks, "Why then do Catholics call this wonderful divine mystery, COMMUNION?"
CLICK HERE to take a peek at the answer to this Burning Question.

What is the Communion of Saints?

By Paul Dion, STL

You will find the Apostles Creed just below this short introduction. This is a very old formulation of the essential Doctrines of the Catholic religion.

This creed was developed as a guide to doctrine catechumens preparing for baptism. It developed into one of the most recited prayers in the Catholic Church. It is even accepted by other churches, some quite fundamentalistic in their outlook. It is also so basic and so essential that it does not raise hackles About the Trinity and other technical doctrinal issues. The question unsder consideration this week is one that was posed to me two Sundays ago. I have highlighted the number nine line for your guidance.

The question is: What is the communion of saints?


1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
10. The forgiveness of sins:
11. The resurrection of the body:
12. And the life everlasting. Amen.

Tell us what you think and post a comment today. We would love to hear your thoughts. And as usual, we will post our ParishWorld Recap of all your comments and question.

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

Why don't Catholics evangelize door-to-door?

Door to Door Anyone?
By Paul Dion, STL

This week has decided to break the trend of asking a question and giving an immediate answer. This week we are asking a question and we are counting on you to give the answer that you have in your heart. We know that you have one. We want to hear it. We will stay on top of your comments and we will participate along with you in the development of the truth as it gets put out on the table.

One of the first methods of evangelization as we read in the Bible was going from dwelling to dwelling to share the Good News. Jesus is pictured many times at the table of some sinner or other. His favorite stop-over in Bethany must have come about as a result of visits that He made during his annual prayer pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

When we read the history of the Church as recounted by St. Luke in the Book of Acts, we follow Peter from house to house along the beautiful seashore region to the west of Jerusalem. It was beautiful country and because it was mainly Roman, the opportunities for presenting the New Way to the Gentiles were certainly very alluring.

The history of the Church takes us through the times when the Eucharist was celebrated in Home Churches in Greece and in Rome. This certainly presupposes a ministry that was essentially a visitation of "apostles" to the particular houses of the residents in a given area. We also should consider the ministry of St.Francis. He was never ordained a priest, just as most monks of the early centuries did not. They would work at the monastery and got into town and work with the families there while living an intense spiritual life. In Assisi, St. Francis and his brothers were dedicated to covering the town with their presence. This was imitating Peter and Paul as they spread the Gospel story in Caesarea, not far from Jerusalem.

So many saints throughout the ages did the same thing with their disciples, John Bosco, Martin de Porres, Vincent de Paul, Mother Cabrini and countless others.

Given all this history and given the tremendous growth that it has brought to the Catholic Church, "Why, oh why do we Catholics not dedicate ourselves to go door-to-door to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ?"

What do you think? What do you suggest we do about it?

Remember, your answer will be read by thousands. Pray about it, and put your inspired answer out in front of God's people. You might be instrumental in the re-constructing of a traditionally powerful method of evangelization.


What is freedom? What does it mean to you?

By Paul Dion, STL


Ah, yes, FREEDOM! Let me count the ways. We talk so much about freedom in this country of ours. We sing it in our Anthem, ..."the land of the free and the home of the brave." When we look around we see hundreds of people who have come here from other shores in search of freedom.

In the same sweep of our eyes and our minds we also see hundreds in hospitals, jails, jobs that they hate and in oppresive human relationships. We see people in addictions that ruin their lives and we see people who seem to be happy and free, until we talk to them for 10 minutes in the supermarket line and discover that they too are suffering in captivity.

Listen to the readings of this Sunday, July 8 and you will experience the joy of the freedom that Jesus gave to His disciples as He sent them forth. You can also read the wonderful passage in John's gospel, chapter 8, verses 30 to the end of the chapter. It starts with the wonderful lesson, "I am the truth and when you know the truth, the truth will set you free..."

During this season of Independence, encourages everybody to ponder the meaning of freedom. Seek the truth that sets us free, pray over it and express it in a personal definition to share with other readers of by answering the following question:


God bless you. We'll talk more about freedom later in the week.


Did John the Baptist go to heaven right after death?

By Paul Dion, STL

Read these words of Jesus which you will hear in this Gospel story about John the Baptist: "History has not known a man born of woman greater than John the Baptizer. Yet the least born into the kingdom of God is greater than he" (Matthew 11:11).

We're talking about Jesus' first cousin here. This is the precurser of the Messiah. His father was a priest. He was still in the womb of his mother when he leapt for joy when Elizabeth and Mary met when Mary was in the early stages of her pregnancy with Jesus. John dedicated his entire life to the mission of spreading the word and the love of God. John was a straight talking prophet calling for the repentance of the Chosen People. John himself washed Jesus in the waters of baptism from the Jordan.

How then can Jesus say, "Yet the least born into the kingdom of God is greater than he."? So, when John died, the greatest of all prophets, he didn't go to the kingdom of God on the Archangel Express?

That's right. Although John had seen the Anointed One and heard of his wonderful works, he, like Moses, did not enter into the Kingdom during his lifetime. Why not? Let it all hang out. You know that you have an answer and you also know that you have questions. Fire away. Let us know.

Of course if you don't want to do that, check out the article "Rejoice in Hope - John the Baptist: "Gaudete Sunday" and you will find the answer.

If you still need to get something off your chest, we await your sentiments with open arms and a sharpened pencil. Post your comments below.

God bless you all.


Do you really believe in the True Presence of Jesus at Communion?

By Paul Dion, STL

The true presence of Jesus in the form of Bread and Wine is the burning question this week. It is addressed to all of us who receive communion as Catholics. We approach the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist easily and sometimes without much reverence and consciousness about what we are doing.

We even forget sometimes that we may not be in the proper state of soul to approach the Sacrament. We have come to listen to the ideas that are floated around that the Eucharist is a reality so full of love that God would not want us to miss out on it.

We have listened to the "popular" wisdom that says that "after all, there are a lot of people worse than I. I am OK for communion because I really don't do any really, really bad things."

We talk ourselves into thinking that if St. Peter could deny Jesus three times and get to be the Head Man, then we too have the right to approach the Sacrament.

Think about it a little bit. Are we softening Jesus? Are we forgetting that He is the person who told Pontius Pilate, "You wouldn't have any power if it had not been given to you from above."
Are we forgetting that this is the person who told us, "If you do not eat my flesh and drink my blood you will not have eternal life."?

These are not words that should make us think that Jesus is the negotiating type. If we do not behave according to His expectations of us, we have no right to approach the communion rail.
Why do so many of us seem to have forgotten this?

"Do you really believe in the TRUE PRESENCE of Jesus Christ in the consecrated Bread and Wine of the Eucharist?"

Think about it. This is an anonymous opportunity for you to speak the truth from the bottom of your soul about this question.

DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS PRESENT BODY AND BLOOD IN THE HOST AND THE CHALICE OF COMMUNION? Do you really keep your soul clean before receiving communion? Do you really believe that Jesus is present, Body and Blood and Soul in the Tabernacle?

We at think that we have to talk about this in the open for the good of the Church Community. Help us out. Post your innermost and honest thoughts - in complete anonymity if you wish.


"What are the four marks of the True Church?

By Paul Dion, STL

Brothers and sisters, it is a catechetical teaching that there are four marks of the true Church. These marks are rather easy to memorize because they are contained word for word in the Apostles' Creed. That's your clue.

You may already know them off the top of your head, but you may not know what the deep significance of each one is.

The question is, "What are the four marks of the True Church?"

The challenge is, take a guess at what the one(s) that you don't quite get are really meant to signify. Is one of them that the true Church has always kept Latin as the sole and unique language of its public liturgy, i.e., the Mass?

Share your thoughts with us. Post a comment.


Is there such a thing as sinning by omission?

By Paul Dion, STL

Most of the time when we seek guideposts for our behavior, we look for guidance concerning the acts that we should do to be righteous.  By the same token we seek to name the acts that we should not do so as not to commit sin.  It is therefore common practice to run to the Ten Commandments in our mind thereby reminding ourselves to do the acts that they dictate to us.  When we have done that we also tend to realize that these same commandments tell us to avoid certain behaviors because they are bad.

The question before us now though aims at something different.  The question is, “Is it sinful to refrain from doing good things that are expected from us by God?”  To be practical, the question could be:

“Is it sinful not to pray?”
“Is it sinful not to go to confession for long periods of time? [Years, for example]
“Is it sinful to avoid helping someone who needs help when it would be possible, in fact, to render aid?
“Is it sinful to stay away from visiting parents confined in a nursing home?
“Is it sinful to refrain from supporting the parish where we attach our religious practice?
“Is it sinful to not instruct our children about God and about praying to God?

In short, is it sinful to lurk in the shadows and not be a participating member of the Communion of Saints?

Click here for the answer to the Burning Question.


"What is Faith?"

By Paul Dion, STL

How many times you have heard from me, "This is not an intellectual exercise."

Now is the time to put this axiom to the test. We are not looking for left-brained answers this week. (OK, you lefties, stop gloating!) We are getting really basic and fundamental here, but the simplicity of the question may stun you, so think it over.


I beg of you to refrain from "Googling" this one. If you've thought of this before, you have an opinion. If this is a new question, thank God that you are getting a chance to delve into your conscience about it.

Post a comment today. Share your thoughts with us about this very incisive topic. And see what we others are saying as well as our recap of this important question.



"Do Catholics believe our salvation is a sure thing?"

By Paul Dion, STL

Lk 18:9-10: "Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else. "

This is a very powerful lesson from Jesus Himself. He has jumped into the argument two millennia before many of us have either heard it or used it ourselves. We usually hear it when someone says, "Lord, you can take me now, I'm ready." Or as I have heard a few times before in my life, "My father died suddenly but he told me that he was saved, so I don't worry about him." Lately we hear declarations like, "I'm glad that I am a Christian (Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, etc.) it sure is easier to get to heaven from here."

That is not the lesson that Jesus gives us in this Gospel story as told by St. Luke. The question is:

"Do we as Catholics believe that we can ever be sure that we are saved and therefore a lock to get to heaven?"

CLICK HERE to see the answer to this Burning Question.


"Is it a sin to look to the horoscope for serious "guidance" in our lives?"

By Paul Dion, STL

Hey, Bro, what sign are you?
Aquarius, dude. You?
Pisces. Slick and smoothe in your wave.
What's your lady's sign?
She's a Scorpio. Good fit, I'll say.

My, my, what is going on here? This is a conversation that I overheard just outside the door of the Adult Confirmation catechism session. Two nice Catholic young men sizing one another up to see if they were going to be able to have a stable and friendly relationship if their Zodiac signs were right. I just shook my head and made a note that the next time I am in the room with this group that I would have a little fun with them about star alignments and what they mean to us...and what they don't mean.

Why would Catholics be intrigued by such fantasies? Would western Catholics have the same "matches" and "mismatches" as eastern ones? Would I be in in trouble if my western "pisces" were to be in conflict with my eastern "ox"?

When I was in parochial school some years ago, we were warned by the nuns that believing in the dictates of the Zodiac was against the first comandment. That didn't stop some of us from checking the horoscope in the newspaper every day to see what was going to happen to us the next day. (We had an evening newspaper.) Our big excuse was that it was only fun. Our big reason was that the stuff we read never happened anyway. I have to admit that a couple of us were more serious about checking out the stars than others.

Our question this week therefore is: "Is it against the first commandment to look to the horoscope for serious "guidance" in our lives?

Don't just say "yes" or "no", give us a reason why you have the opinion that you throw out on the table.

Click here to read the answer to the burning question.


Do you applaud after the homily?

By Paul Dion, STL

I am 70 1/2 years old. I have an advanced degree in Theology. I don't think that I have missed a Sunday Mass 10 times in my life. I have participated in the Holy Mass hundreds of times on Sunday and during the week. I have done this in hundreds of churches in at least 10 countries plus the West Bank.Needless to say I have listened to countless homilies and slept through more than I can count.

But last Sunday, four days after the 70.5 point of my first glimpse of the light of day, I had a new experience. After the homily, the church broke out in applause. Please notice that we are not talking about applause that happens at the beginning of Mass as the bishop walks into the Church. It is not the applause that spontaneously happens as the Bishop or some other dignitary walks out of the church after Mass. We are talking about applause immediately after the homily. could not help but investigate to see if this was against Church law or maybe even against the common morality. We did find out that the question is not a new one. In fact we discovered some quotes from some of the Old Testament Prophets. is asking why people would applaud after a homily. We are sure that those of you who read have opinions about this question. Please let us know what it is.

Would you applaud after the homily? What would you signify by your applause?

The liturgical correctness of the delivery?
The theological content of the speech?
The oratorical brilliance, the grammatical quality?
The linguistic mastery?
The magnificence of Biblical understanding and communication?
The sharpness of the priest's wit and the ability to manipulate secular and religious punditry?

Please let us know. Also here's a related article on applause at Mass that is sure to interest you.

Why don't we invoke saints from the Old Testament?

By Paul Dion, STL

To the members of the Communion of Saints, the hands, feet, eyes, ears and hearts of the Mystical Body, in the name of Jesus the Resurrected Lord and Savior through His very own Lifestyle Magazine,, blessings and prayers to you all.

This is a question that I have been asked twice in the last six or seven weeks. If you would like to share your thoughts or answers, we welcome you to do so. Please click here to post an swer.

I gave an answer that was similar to the one that you can find here. I have to say that this answer is very complete, short, clear and easy to understand. Please enjoy it. offers it to you as one of the small gifts that the Church offers you for the month of All Saints.

CLICK HERE to view the answer to this Burning Question.