If you’re a Catholic or are interested in the Catholic faith, maybe you’ve thought of questions like, “Why do Catholics have to marry in a church?” or “Do ghosts really exist?”
In his book A Priest Answers 27 Questions You Never Thought to Ask Father Michael Kerper tackles some of these questions. Fun, witty, and loving, he gives precise and solid answers to some of the most common questions. Here are five of our favorites:
1. Did Jesus actually give us the Lord’s Prayer?
While there are two slightly different versions in Matthew’s Gospel and Luke’s Gospel, Jesus did, in fact, give us the Lord’s Prayer! Fun fact – in the original prayer, the word for “Father” translates closer to “Daddy”. This calls to mind the intimacy and love between Christ and the Father. Jesus is inviting us into that relationship and closeness, too.
2. Can the divorced receive communion?
This one is a little more complicated and involves three interrelated matters: the state of divorced Catholics who are not remarried, the connection of Communion and reconciliation, and annulments. Since divorce itself is not automatically a sin, divorced, single Catholics are not banned from communion nor have they ever been. However, if a divorced Catholic remarries without receiving an annulment for the previous marriage, that Catholic is barred from receiving the sacraments. Father Kerper does an excellent job of navigating this topic gently in his book.
3. Why can’t women be priests?
Pope Saint John Paul II said in 1994, “I declare that the church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and this judgement is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” This is an extension of Christ not ordaining women but only men in the Gospels. Furthermore, in regards to the excommunication of “ordained women”: excommunication does not automatically imply sin but rather that a person has acted or believes in ways that directly contradict the Church. Women priests are not acting or believing in accord with the Catholic faith and are, therefore, not Catholic by definition.
4. Do ghosts really exist?
Yes! There are some examples in the Old Testament, such as 1 Samuel 28:8-20 and 2 Maccabees 15:1-16. Saint Thomas Aquinas states that souls in heaven can manifest themselves on earth but not as hauntings, rather, to bring comfort. Thomas also said that spirits of the dead who are not in heaven are not permitted to make their presence known on earth without the consent of God. So why would God permit this? Either as a warning, or to seek spiritual assistance from the living in the form of prayer or good deeds (this can be annoying but is not harmful). Father Kerper points out that destructive hauntings are most likely demons pretending to be spirits or ghosts.
5. Do guardian angels exist?
Another resounding yes! The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraphs 326 and following affirms their existence and purpose. “Beside each believer stands an angel protector and shepherd leading him to life,” Saint Basil the Great writes. This belief in guardian angels affirms the dignity and worth of each human person. Human beings are infinitely valued, and guardian angels remind us that creation is essentially good and that the general direction of the universe is toward the fulfillment of God’s plan.
For the answers to 22 other questions you’ve never thought to ask about Catholicism, pick up a copy of Father Kerper’s latest book A Priest Answers 27 Questions You Never Thought to Ask!