- How can I actually talk to God and hear His voice? How do I know if God is talking to me?
You may hear me or a number of us say in our responses “we have a class for that”. Please take it as not an avoidance of the question but to let you know we will address everything in more depth in an upcoming class.
To answer this particular question, I am going to give you a simple answer which will require homework on your part and everyone’s part if they desire a relationship with God. A priest once told me that all things begin in prayer and he’s right. Each of us human beings are relational, meaning we relate to each other in many different ways. Think of all of the relationships you have with your parents, friends, girl/boyfriend, and/or spouse. These relationships cannot be maintained or cannot be healthy or fruitful if you do not communicate with one another. Being in relationship with someone requires some sort of communication.
Prayer is like a conversation, and with that conversation leads to communication and communication leads to a deepening of our relationship with God. There are so many ways to pray. It can be simply just talking to God, or giving a daily thanksgiving, some just speak from the heart, some say petitions asking for help, and so forth. The big question is how do I know what God is trying to tell me. This is the hard part (for some…for me). Communicating also means having to listen and with God, sometimes you have to listen in the silence of your prayer. God will speak to you but not in the way we speak to each other as humans one on one. He may speak through the Body of Christ and most especially through his Word or Kerygma (to be explained below in a latter question if you do not know what that means). We just have to open and hearts and our minds to listening, working on this relationship and starting all things in prayer.
- While we have intellectual and volitional faith, what do we do when our emotional faith is really shaken? How does one stay faithful in that situation? How do we prevent ourselves from falling?
This is a situation that I think more people face than they are willing to admit. I think the person who most exemplifies this is Mother Teresa of Calcutta. While she accepted and believed in the faith, she admitted that for many years she experienced “spiritual dryness” or as it is sometimes referred to as the “dark night of the soul”. This “dryness” or “dark night” may lead one to have the intellect and understanding of the faith but one feels abandoned or feels lack of any emotional connection with God. Some have described it as feeling as if one has lost God in their lives. What do you do in such a situation? That’s hard to say because each of us in different and unique. However, whenever my emotion faith has been shaken or feels lacking, I look to Mother Teresa’s example. Despite feeling this loss of God, she made the choice to dedicate herself to God’s call for her even if she could not feel him in her prayers and in her meditations. How amazing is this wonderful woman who instead of hiding or abandoning her faith, turns instead and decides to see God in every face she served and cared for the poor and sick in India. She could have turned her back but instead she persevered and in spite of not feeling God personally, she offered herself up to serve for Him. Look at how much good she brought to world by simply answering his call and seeing Christ in others.
- What keeps people from believing in the 2nd coming of Jesus if there is an individual who proclaims he is the Son of God and can perform miracles similar to Jesus did back then? Would we first label him as a a magician? Psycho? If proof is what we are looking for, doesn’t that take away the “faith” aspect?
In the Gospel of Matthew and Luke, Jesus says no one but God will know when Christ will come again on Earth. The only thing we are really told it to keep watch and be prepared, because he will come when he is not expected. In Revelations, we are asked to grow in holiness and be patient for when that day comes.
No one knows how Jesus will come or whether he will need to perform miracles to prove who he is. So to answer this question, I don’t know. I’m sorry if that is not a satisfying answer but I will say this, I personally believe that when Jesus comes again there will be no question of who he is and why he has appeared. For my part, I will continue to grow in faith and love and hopefully be prepared for when that day comes.
- How can we be forgiven for our sins?
While we have a class for this one coming in January, I will answer this one briefly and we can go into more discussion about one on one if you would like.
When we sin, we are wounding our relationship with God and our Christian Community by choosing the pleasures of worldly goods over God. Sin in never just a purely private matter and “no man is an island”. To sin involves something we choose – it is an act of free will. While we will get into the details of sin, moral evil, following your conscience, and culpability later, I will simply say that God always desires to be close to him. You can see in the whole history of salvation in the Old Testament of God trying to regain the relationship that was lost when the fruit of the tree was eaten. Through the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, the sacrifice Jesus makes to die for our sins, and Jesus passing the authority to forgive sins to apostles through the Holy Spirit, we are given a powerful source of spiritual healing through the sacrament of Confession (which of course we will go into more detail later).
- The 1st Native American Saint took 6 years to validate her sainthood. How then did the story of Adam and Eve get told over and over again, and later was written down and put into the bible. How did the Church validate this story?
This is a good question and kind of a difficult one to answer briefly but I will try. In essence, I think you are asking how did the Church come to validate the story of Adam and Eve or Moses or Noah and all the stories in the Old testament as being true. Given that you just learned about what it takes to become a Saint, this is not a far off question. In order to answer this question, we have to go back to the beginning…seriously the beginning, beginning. God reveals himself in human words which we refer to as Sacred Scripture. Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God, “because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ”. God is the author of Sacred Scripture because he inspired its human authors and speak God’s truth. As the word was passed down through the Hebrews as God revealed himself to the people, the word was written down. It was compiled and passed down through the centuries but it’s true meaning did not come to light till the “word became flesh” in Jesus.
You will hear us use the word “kerygma”. Kerygma is a Greek word and it means preaching. The Kerygma is the preaching of the apostles, the good news that Jesus asked them to preach to all the nations (Matthew 28:18-20). The Kerygma existed before the Bible or doctrine or theology. Think of it like the acorn from which grows the tree that is the Catholic faith. It is the origin upon which lies our Christian faith. The subject of this preaching/kerygma is not a doctrine or a way of life. The subject of the Kerygma is Jesus Christ himself.
Therefore, Sacred Scripture, written by human authors but inspired by God, teach the truth. However in order to interpret Scripture, we must take into account the Spirit who inspired it by being attentive to the content and unity of the whole Scripture, read the Scripture within the living tradition of the whole Church, and be attentive to the analogy of the faith within the whole plan of Revelation. Also note the Christian faith is note a “religion of the book”, but is the religion of the “Word” or Kerygma and the Word is incarnate and living. “The eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, open our minds to understand the Scriptures”. (Catechism 101-141)
- In regards to Archangels Michael and Gabriel, who we sometimes call them Saint Michael and Saint Gabriel, why do we use the terms “archangel” and “saint” interchangeably? Why call them saints when they are not human and never died, even though we know they are in heaven?
The word “saint” comes from the Latin word “sancta” which means “holy one”. Therefore all the angels that follow God and everyone in Heaven with God are holy aka sancta/saint. Special significance has been given to Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. The early Church venerated these angels by naming churches after them and invoking their name in formal prayer. While they have never been formally canonized, through time and practice, these three angels in particular have been recognized as “saints” for their place in history and God’s message being carried out by them.