Theology Q and A

Ask any question on theology. I’ll answer within reason, if I can. Use the comments below for the Q and the A.

This entry was posted in commentary. Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to Theology Q and A

  1. Matt says:

    I gravely sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do…

    As you know, this is stated by the congregation at start of every Mass.

    So if I have lustful thoughts about other woman but won’t cheat on my wife, or if I neglect attention to the children but rather scroll through social media, aren’t these grave sins?

  2. Matt says:

    Our metropolitan city is overwhelmed with the chronically homeless. The population of the homeless has significantly increased in the past several years. There are stories of homeless sucker punching residents, urinating and defecating on sidewalks or on private property, and using illegal street drugs.

    Our politicians are either clueless or helpless in containing the growing amount of homeless on the streets or parks. The politicians claim that there is a housing shortage and its unaffordable. I disagree.

    The Police are told to stand down. Let them be unless they are a danger to the public.

    As a Catholic, I have compassion for the homeless. I say quick prayers whenever I drive by a homeless person or a homeless encampment. However, I am afraid I am may risk my life if I approach them to help them with food or water. There are resources for them for food, water, and temporary shelter, in the community. Most of the homeless stay in temporary shelters for a short period of time and are back out in the streets..

    I’ve offered Masses for the homeless.

    It is a complex issue. Many of the homeless have mental health issues. In my opinion, the homeless must be forced to undergo rehabilitation.

    What more can Catholics do other than prayer and charity to help the homeless? What is our moral obligation as Catholics to help the homeless?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I used to work with the homeless, many years ago. It is a complex problem, and there is no easy fix. I would discourage persons from approaching individual homeless persons to try to help them. Let those persons who are working with a program for the homeless do their work. You can pray, and can donate to a homeless shelter, and vote. Trying to help the homeless by yourself, without experience or training is dangerous to you and will likely not help them.

  3. Gabriel N. says:

    I saw an article of yours from 2006 where you say that it would not be possible for the Antichrist to have already been born. Has anything changed in your view since then? There is a lot of confusion about the chronology of the end times, including due to dubious private revelations.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I am certain that the Antichrist will not be born for hundreds of years. There are clear predictions in Scripture, including the rise and fall of great kingdoms, that have not yet occurred, that cannot be fit into less than a few hundred years, and that must precede the Antichrist. Then the secrets of La Salette also necessitate this view that the Antichrist is in the distant future.

  4. A Recent Reader says:

    Dear Mr. Conte,
    Thank you so much for doing this, and to those who’ve posted questions.

    Knowing that clergy are sinners like all of us, yet, have willingly taken on and are carrying an enormous extra load of responsibility for our eternal benefit by their vocation- is it a negative indication when a clergyman- pastor or bishop- gets themselves very portly?
    Does it give some degree of scandal, by undermining the impact of their ability to demonstrate and showcase ‘not my will, but Thy will be done’? Or is that entirely too superficial of an orientation in the great scheme of things?

    Thank you.

    • Ron Conte says:

      St. Thomas Aquinas was portly. He had a vision of two angels approaching him with a belt. They wrapped the belt around his portly waist, and pulled in opposite directions, causing him severe pain. Then the vision and pain ended. This was perhaps a correction from God for not fasting enough and not practicing temperance (moderation) in food enough. But there are many factors that can lead to a person being overweight, especially that modern society gives us jobs and roles that are mainly sedentary, and that metabolism decreases with age. Then it becomes impossible with old age and a sedentary lifestyle to take in enough nourishment (without vitamin supplements) to be healthy.

      Typically, such a fault is an imperfection or perhaps a result of venial sin. The mortal sin of gluttony does not necessarily mean that one is overweight.

  5. Vít Lacman says:

    I’ve asked the same question before, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask for a longer explanation.
    Is researching, reading, watching or listening to material that could possibly destroy my faith in God seriously sinful. For example, I like to listen to atheists and skeptics who deny the existence of God, try to disprove miracles, or point out supposed contradictions in the Bible. I want to know what they can offer against the existence of God. I believe in God, but I also want to know if I might not be wrong about my beliefs. I want to be sure of what I believe.

    • Ron Conte says:

      No, it is not seriously sinful. There’s no long explanation. The metric is whether God would refuse to be friends with someone who behaved that way (grave matter), and whether the sinful act was committed with full knowledge of its grave immorality and full deliberation. I don’t see anything sinful in what you are describing, and nothing can destroy faith except one’s own decision not to believe.

    • Vít Lacman says:

      Thank You, for explanation.

  6. Matt says:

    As you know, inflation is widespread in USA. In fact, I know that the reported inflation numbers are lower than what I see in everything I buy in the stores. Wages are not really going up much as businesses are struggling to stay afloat.

    Our Catholic Parish is depleting cash reserves about $20,000 a month. Two of the four priests were let go. Several staff were laid off. The Church has fewer Masses. Donations have dropped as the parishioners are struggling to pay bills with the high inflation. I am afraid that if this continues the Parish may go to the bare minimum or even close.

    The worst part about donations is that there are 3000 registered parishioners but yet about 300 actively give donations and even fewer regularly attend Mass. Mass attendance has dropped post-pandemic.

    I’ve not researched this matter but can imagine that Church finances are hurting across the Country. This may be the same for Christian Churches too.

    What is our moral obligation to give to the Church? The Priest states 10% of our earnings. However, with inflation running at least 10% (I think it 15% to 20%), how can I possibly continue to give 10%? We’ve cut back on purchases and other items. God help us all!

    • Ron Conte says:

      The Old Testament tithing of 10% is no longer in effect. All the OT disciplines have been dispensed by Christ and His Church (per the Council of Florence). Christians are to support their churches, but to whatever extent they decide, based on their circumstances and their own judgment.

  7. Vít Lacman says:

    Acting with a doubting conscience is a sin but I have read in the writings of St. Alphonsus that when a person is unsure if a particular course of conduct is lawful, yet he would never act if he knew for certain that the thing in question is actually sinful, that that person may act however he likes, because his doubt is not true doubt but a “vain fear”. Was st. Alphonsus right in this view?
    I am also a little bit fearful that I am misinterpreting his teachings. Did the saint actually teach the thing I think he did? May I lawfully “do as I please” if I am unsure about the morality of a particular action, but I would never act if I knew it’s displeasing to God?

    I have included the mentioned passage from st. Alphonsus:

    “A formed conscience is, when, after discussion and deliberation, a definite sentence of the reason judges that a thing is to be done or to be avoided; and to act
    against this is a sin: but fear or scruple of conscience is, when the mind wavers in doubt, not knowing which of two things it is bound to do, and yet would not omit
    whatever it could ascertain to be agreeable to the divine will; and this fear is as much as possible to be cast away and quenched.
    In fact, then, Gerson says that a person sins by acting under a practical doubt, when the doubt proceeds from a formed conscience; but that this formed conscience exists when, after examining the circumstances, he deliberately judges with a definitive sentence on what he is obliged and what he is forbidden to do; and he sins by acting against such a conscience as this.
    But that, when the mind is doubtful and wavering, and yet would not do anything that was displeasing to God, this, says Gerson, is no true doubtfulness, but a vain fear, which ought as much as possible to be cast away and despised. So that when there certainly exists in the scrupulous person the habitual will not to offend God, it is certain (according to Gerson) that while he acts in his doubtfulness he does not sin; and with reason, since it is then not a true doubt, although he may apprehend it to be a doubt, but a vain fear.”

    Sorry for such a long text.

    • Ron Conte says:

      This is not a helpful text for you. Please stop reading all over the internet about morality and sin. Read the Catechism and Veritatis Splendor.

      “May I lawfully “do as I please” if I am unsure about the morality of a particular action, but I would never act if I knew it’s displeasing to God?”
      No, absolutely not.

  8. Alessandro Arsuffi says:

    Dear Ron,
    My wife and I are married since June 2019.
    I have heard about Josephite marriages and I would like to know something more about it. Despite the fact that we didn’t know anything about it, we essentially embraced its concept from the very beginning of our life together: we are living chastely and lovingly. I have a few questions:
    1) Is it wrong to abstain from intercourse, even if we both agree? Is it still a valid marriage?
    2) If our marriage is valid, is it possible for us to adopt a child in the future, or are we even obliged to do it?
    I believe that Yes is the answer to Point 1, while Point 2 is uncertain. After all, the only example is the Holy Family, where both points have been satisfied.

    • Ron Conte says:

      The marriage between Joseph and Mary was not the Sacrament of holy Matrimony. For marriage in the Catholic Faith to be the full Sacrament, which is dissolved only by death, there must be consent (ratification) and consummation (marital sex). Without consummation, the marriage can be dissolved and does not have all the benefits of the full Sacrament, especially the primary purpose of marriage: conceiving and raising children (“generatio et educatio prolis”). Adopting a child is praiseworthy in general, but does not substitute for procreation.

      Read “Address to Midwives” by Pope Pius XII: “that unique great law of the ‘generatio et educatio prolis,’ namely the accomplishment of the primary end of matrimony as the origin and source of life.” The same document also says: “Now the truth is that matrimony, as an institution of nature, in virtue of the Creator’s will, does not have, as its primary and intimate end, the personal perfection of the spouses, but rather the procreation and education of a new life. The other ends, inasmuch as they are intended by nature, are not equally primary, but are much less superior to the primary end, and essentially subordinated to it.” So it is not sufficient that you have a loving and chaste relationship.

      The Church does not recommend to married persons that they refrain from marital union continuously. Neither does Scripture:
      [1 Corinthians 7]
      {7:3} A husband should fulfill his obligation to his wife, and a wife should also act similarly toward her husband.
      {7:4} It is not the wife, but the husband, who has power over her body. But, similarly also, it is not the husband, but the wife, who has power over his body.
      {7:5} So, do not fail in your obligations to one another, except perhaps by consent, for a limited time, so that you may empty yourselves for prayer. And then, return together again, lest Satan tempt you by means of your abstinence.

      See also Casti Connubii:
      “17. Since, however, We have spoken fully elsewhere on the Christian education of youth, let Us sum it all up by quoting once more the words of St. Augustine: “As regards the offspring it is provided that they should be begotten lovingly and educated religiously,” – and this is also expressed succinctly in the [older] Code of Canon Law – ‘The primary end of marriage is the procreation and the education of children.’ ”

      See the new Code of Canon Law:
      “Can. 1141 A marriage that is ratum et consummatum can be dissolved by no human power and by no cause, except death.” The Latin expression means ratified, by consent at the wedding ceremony, and consummated by marital relations.

      “Can. 1061 §1. A valid marriage between the baptized is called ratum tantum [ratified only] if it has not been consummated; it is called ratum et consummatum if the spouses have performed between themselves in a human fashion a conjugal act which is suitable in itself for the procreation of offspring, to which marriage is ordered by its nature and by which the spouses become one flesh.”

      Omitting the primary purpose of marriage, without a grave reason, is sinful, as it deprives the Sacrament of the primary purpose decided upon by the Creator, the procreation and education of children. Joseph did not have the Sacrament of Marriage with Mary; their Old Testament marriage was also unique, due to Mary’s role as the Mother of Christ. The Church have never recommended the so-called “Josephite” marriage to the Christian faithful.

  9. Vít Lacman says:

    Could You please explain to me how to properly use and in what situations to use the moral principle “doubtful law does not bind”. When is a law doubtful?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Do not use that principle. Learn the moral teachings of the Church (which I assume you mainly already know) and follow them. If you have doubts about important moral questions, ask your confessor.

  10. Is the Holy Trinity in the Eucharist too?

    It is assumed that where God the Son is, there is the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

    • Ron Conte says:

      The Eucharist is Christ: body, blood, soul, and Divinity. The Divine Nature is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So the Trinity must be present in the Eucharist, since the Divine Nature of Christ is certainly present, but the Divine Nature is all three Persons. However, it seems that the Trinity has chosen to have only the Second Person be incarnated as the Christ. So the human nature of Christ is only of the Second Person, while the Divine Nature is all Three Persons.

Comments are closed.