If you’ve had questions about the Catholic faith, you’re not alone. Everyone has had moments where they’ve questioned what Catholics are doing and why. And just when you’ve thought you know everything there is to know about Catholicism, a new question springs up begging to be answered.
If you have questions about Catholicism, there’s a book you need to see. Father Michael Kerper’s new book, A Priest Answers 27 Questions You Never Thought to Ask is a great read for inquisitive minds who want to know more about the faith.
We picked our five favorite questions to give you a teaser of the book’s content. Here’s what Father Michael has to say about the questions Catholics never thought to ask:
1. How should we fast?
Lent brings up plenty of opportunities for this fasting business. If you’ve ever wondered what fasting includes, what you can’t eat, and on what days to fast, you’re not alone.
Father Michael tells readers to look to Christ for the ultimate way to fast – and it involves more of the heart and less of the letter of the law. While on earth, Jesus honored the religious practice of fasting while still inviting his followers to dig deeper for a more spiritual experience. In the times of Christ, the food not eaten by those fasting was given to the poor. The poor were considered to be on a permanent fast.
Father Michael writes, “Fasting, thus, draws people closer to one another by allowing the well fed to taste the hunger of the poor, and the poor to enjoy the food of the rich. In a small way, fasting promotes social justice.”
2. Why don’t we hear ‘Yahweh’ in church anymore?
Father Benedict removed the use of the word ‘Yahweh’ in the liturgy back in 2008, but why? Father Michael gives his readers two answers.
The first is that “Yahweh” first came onto the Catholic hymnal scene in the early 1970s, mostly due to the new English translation of the Jerusalem Bible. Some song writers begin substituting the word “Yahweh” in for “God” because they felt that it helped church goers appreciate the Hebrew Scripture translation better. But Father Michael writes that from the very beginning of the “Yahweh” use trend, “some liturgy experts objected to using the word in public worship. Some considered it nontraditional, while others appealed to practice considerations, namely, that many people have no idea that “Yahweh” and “God” are the same.”
The second answer takes respect of tradition into account. Father Michael writes, “The actual oral pronunciation of ‘Yahweh’ is considered potentially offensive to Jewish people. Recognizing the long standing prohibition among Jewish people against uttering the Divine Name, some argued that Christians should not do what Jewish people consider objectionable, indeed, even sacrilegious.”
3. Whatever happened to Limbo?
No, not that kind of limbo. You can probably still find that at your next Luau party. But what about the Limbo that the Catholic Church taught about?
Growing up, you may have heard that Limbo was the place where non-baptized children. Father Michael says that Limbo was one way that resolved the seeming contradiction between two authentic Church teachings – we need Baptism, and God wants everyone to be saved and with Him in Heaven. But Limbo has never been an official teaching of the Church. We don’t know how God saves souls with his mercy, but we know He has a plan for each of His childrens’ souls. How each soul is saved is a mystery to us, but that mystery doesn’t hinder us from believing God has everything under control.
Father Michael writes, “If you study Scriptures and key Church documents you will find that nothing proposes Limbo as a settled and indisputable teaching. Indeed, it has none of the markers needed for permanent teaching.”
4. Why are the Psalms so violent?
If you’ve ever prayed the Divine Office, you may have been a little put off by the violent language. Death, graves, enemies, not the most pleasant things. Why would the Church encourage her children to pray with these Psalms?
Mainly, because Jesus prayed with the Psalms – often word for word. For example, Christ uses Psalm 22 to pray on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
But there are other reasons to pray the Psalms, despite the blood and gore. Father Michael writes, “We use the Psalms so much because they pull us away from ourselves and compel us to embrace the whole experience of humanity, which Jesus entered, endured, and redeemed.” This can help us understand why there is so much violence, passion, and emotion. At any point in our prayer life we could be going through these emotions and Christ offers solidarity through the Psalms – a way to make our emotions make sense. The Psalms are messy because human life is messy, too.
5. Why can’t we have our Catholic wedding at our favorite inn?
A beach, a lake house, an inn, or your favorite restaurant are all places that hold personal meaning to you. So when it comes time to tie the knot, those places may come up as options for the wedding ceremony. But when planning a wedding, Father Michael reminds his readers that a wedding is not a private ceremony, but a public act of worship to God.
Why does the Church want the wedding to happen in a church? Father Michael writes, “The Church’s clear preference for weddings within familiar churches is meant to stress the interconnection among all the sacraments. For example, years ago many brides celebrated their weddings in the churches where they received Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion. In those cases the spiritual connection was abundantly clear. Now of course the mobility of families makes this somewhat rare. However, it is praiseworthy – and beautiful – to have your wedding in the place where you regularly partake of the Eucharist. After all, your ‘spiritual home’ is your true home. . . your living relationship with the Lord.”
What a joy to be able to publicly worship God and say your marriage vows in the house of the third person in the marriage – Christ Himself!
To read the other twenty-two questions that you’ve never thought to ask, check out Father Michael Kerper’s newest book, published by Sophia Institute Press. Some of the questions to look forward to reading about are:
– Why do priests get moved?
– Is it okay to be cremated?
– Do ghosts really exist?
Find out the answers today in A Priest Answers 27 Questions You Never Thought to Ask!