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Do you have a question about the Catholic faith, the spiritual life or the Bible. You can send a question to Fr. Ritchie through this electronic Question Box. These questions will be answered quarterly in our parish newsletter.

NOTE: This is an opportunity to ask questions about the Catholic faith. This is not a complaint corner. Complaints will not be addressed in this forum.

My question about the Catholic faith isÖ

Q: What will the impact of the Bishop's retirement be on our Diocese and our Parish? Will our entire Diocese become more conservative?

A: The impact that Bishop Trautmanís retirement will have on the Diocese and our Parish and whether we will become more conservative or not depends on who the New Bishop will be and at this time I have not a clue as to who that might be. See the Prayer for a New Bishop on page 2 of this Newsletter.

Q: If your children have Godparents who are not fulfilling their duties, what do you suggest parents do? Is it possible to reassign Godparents during a child's life?!

A: Once a Godparent always a Godparent. One cannot reassign Godparents. This just points out the fact that parents must be very diligent in choosing Godparents who live their faith and are examples of the faith and will stay connected to their Godchildren. That being said, as a parent, you can always introduce your children to people who are living their faith.

Q: What was the outcome of the Catholics Come Home program? Was it a success here at OLM? Was it a success in the diocese? Did the hoped for return of fallen-away Catholics materialize?

A: There have not been any reports published concerning the Catholic Come Home program. All I know is from what I have heard from other Pastors in the Diocese. I would say that all have seen some results of people coming back to church, entering the RCIA program, seeking information about the Church or celebrating Reconciliation. As far as here at Our Lady of Mercy, we have talked to some people who have been away for a while and we have seen some new faces and old faces in church. I donít know that it is possible to count the impact that the program has had on people in our Diocese, but I am sure it has had an impact.

Q: What are the main sins we should not do?

A: The main sins we should not do are the things we should do and donít. We commit more sins by omission than by commission. There are more sins committed by what we donít do than by what we do do. St. Paul reminds us that all sin is selfishness. Selfishness destroys our ability to love God or to love others as we should.

Q: Why do we Baptize at Mass when other churches donít?

A: We baptize at Mass because baptism is the rite of entrance into the Christian Community and should take place when the Community is present, which is at Sunday Eucharist. At this time, not only do the Parents and Godparents make a commitment to be living examples of faith for the child, but the Community of Faith makes a commitment to help them in this responsibility. Baptism at Sunday Mass is not unique to Our Lady of Mercy but is done in many parishes.

Q: If Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, why is the first person of the Trinity the Father?

A: The doctrine of the Trinity states that there are three persons in one God. There is only one God existing for all time. The names by which we identify the three person comes from the Scriptures and help us relate to God. The God who created all thing, God the Father. The God who took flesh, God the Son, Jesus. The Life giving power, God the Holy Spirit. However, the names may tend to limit our understanding of God to our human experience and limit our ability to comprehend the infinite mystery of God. All, as our Creed states, are one in being.

To your specific question, when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and she conceives, the Second Person of the Trinity is not brought into being. Rather we are speaking of another mystery, the Incarnation when the Second Person of the Trinity became fleshed. Fully human of Mary and fully God of the Spirit.

Q: How can I achieve more blind faith to not question so much about the Church?

A: One of the greatest gifts of our God is the gift to question. From childhood we know one of the best ways to learn is to ask questions. The same is true of our faith, the best way to learn is to ask questions. There are answers to all our questions. The problem lies in out ability to completely understand the answer. What is love? A good question, the answer to which varies according to age, experience and ability to comprehend the answer. The same is true of the Mystery of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Real Presence, they are so profound that a lifetime of pondering and learning will never allow our limited human minds to comprehend them.

On the other hand if we are asking about issues with Church laws and rules again we are welcome to question and challenge that which is inconsistent with the will of God.

Q: Are other faiths wrong: Mormons, Baptist, Lutheran?

A: The Scriptures tell us that faith is a gift. If we have faith it is a gift to us. How we perceive God or understand God is different as Hindus and Muslims. Others do not believe in the Divinity of Jesus as Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses. Others believe in the divinity of Jesus but do not believe in the teaching authority or the sacramental life of the Catholic Church as Baptists, Lutherans and Presbyterians.

In Acts St. Paul's speaking to the people of Athens, commends their religion as seen in their numerous temples, even one to the Unknown God. Paul also commends the longing of the human heart that causes all people to seek for God. In the numerous world religions, we see that desire of the human heart to know and draw close to God, to be pleasing to God and to serve and care for that which God has created. Because of that, there is a kernel of truth in nearly every religion.

We are called to respect all people of faith, not judge them, rejoice that they recognize a supreme being and follow their particular belief. But we should always celebrate the fullness of truth present in the Catholic Church.

Q: If the palms for Palm Sunday are used for the ashes on Ash Wednesday, where do you keep the palms?

A: Once the old palms are burned, the ashes will fit in a small jar and will last for several years. They are keep in the sacristy.

Q: Where do you buy the palms each year?

A: Palms are purchased through Hoffmannís Religious Goods.

Q: In the Creed what is meant by the Communion of Saints?

A: The Communion of Saints is the Church. There are two meanings:

The Church is a "communion of saints" refers to the faithful, who at Mass receive the Body and Blood of Jesus and form one body in Christ; we are brought together in unity.

The Church is a communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are on our pilgrim journey here on earth, the dead who are being purified (purgatory), and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church.

Q: If you die can you come back to earth?

A: That I donít know. What the church teaches is that at death, we pass over from one mode of existence to another. We find ourselves in the presence of God óthe ultimate good. Because we are part of the Communion of Saints we are still aware of the Church here on earth, and those in Purgatory, but heaven is so great we would not want to leave.

Q: If we genuflect at the tabernacle, what do we do when we come to Mass here?

A: When we enter the Worship Space, since the Blessed Sacrament is not reserved in the Worship Space, but in the Tabernacle in the Eucharistic Chapel, we simply reverence the Altar by bowing.

Q: What should an adult confession consist of, be like?

A: An adult confession should take into consideration who they are ó Catholic, somebodyís spouse, parent or child, teacher or student, employer or employee, friend. All of these relationships carry with them responsibilities. Therefore I must ask myself ďWhat does it mean to be a good Catholic, a good friend etc. In doing so I become more aware of what is required of me, (Reconciliation is the Sacrament of Christian Maturity) and I become aware of where I have failed in these relationship. Most of our sins are sins of omission rather than commission: that is what I havenít done. When I realize that my sins come from a failure in relationship whether with God, the Church, the Parish Community, my family, etc. then I will also realize that my sin was not just between God and Me, but it also involves those with whom I have entered into a relationship. Hence the need to be reconciled.

Q: How do you speak to and listen to God? How does God speak to us?

A: Speaking to God is called prayer. It is talking to God, including him in our daily life. Prayer makes God present to us and the more he is present, the more he influences our lives. As the presence of a friend influence our lives.

Our God speaks to us in many ways. God speaks to us through the Scriptures. God speaks to us through our Spiritual Reading. God speaks to us through creation, the beauty of nature, and God often uses the people around us to speak to us: a teacher, a coach, a priest or religious, a parent, a friend.

The important thing is that we listen.