Ask Domestic Church.

compiled by the editor

This new regular feature is created in response to the overwhelming number of letters we receive asking for information ranging from the copyright of a song to the differences between Christians and Catholics, and the implied trust that we can answer your questions accurately. We take such a trust seriously and will endeavour to answer each question, no matter how small, with care.

We are very fortunate to know a number of wise and knowledgeable people who have volunteered to help us in this role. We are always interested in your answers, if you have anything to add or an answer to offer, please let us know and we will gladly use your information.

Why Do We Call Priests 'Father'?

I have been a Catholic for 33 years. I have always been challenged by a question, and I hope you can answer me.

In Scripture it is said that we should call no one on earth our father. Yet, as Catholics we call our priest "father" can you tell me why. Please, send me as much information as possible on this topic.

Thanks Ray.

Dear Ray;

Here is the link to 'Catholic Answers', specifically to the question posed by Christ's admonition to Call No Man Father...

Cordially, Paul

Interested in Incense

Where did it originate?

Also, why was it brought to the baby Jesus?

And now used in catholic churches.


Dear Reader;

A good treatise on incense is at Catholic Liturgy

Cordially, Paul

Friday Abstinence

Are you aware of information on the internet re: Friday Abstinence? I thought I saw something out there awhile ago, but can't find it.

The Code of Canon Law indicates that we are supposed to abstain from meat on all Fridays during the year, not just during Lent. I understand that the US Bishops never issued a formal document to the contrary.

If you can help with a reference, please email me. Tim S.

Dear Tim;

Since we're in Canada, I'm not too clear on what the US Bishops have said on the matter, though I'm sure I remember hearing that they had had a vote on re-recommending Friday Abstinence in penance and reparation for the scourge of abortion in the nation. Surprisingly, I even heard that some very liberal guys were supporting this initiative, but I haven't heard whether the suggestion was formalized or not. Sorry. If you find out anything definite please let me know, I'd like to add it to the Sacraments column.

I've never heard the distinction between Fridays of Lent and other Fridays. I always thought it was that you were supposed to abstain from meat everyday but Sundays in Lent, and Fridays the rest of the year.

In Canada, the recommendation is that you abstain from meat 'or perform some other act of penance, charity or mortification.' on Fridays and other days of abstinence. It sounds good, like it is encouraging people to go beyond rules to true devotional activity, but I suspect more often than not, it's used as a loophole. In our family, we abstain from meat and dessert every Friday, and from meat and dessert all through Lent.

Hope this helps! Catherine

Question about Saints

I am interested in any stories or information about Saint Genesius you may have. Please send whatever you can put together.

Thank You, God bless, Michael.

Dear Michael;

Saint Genesius is a new one to me, thanks for the opportunity to do a little research.

I found some answers at Catholic Encyclopedia and Catholic Online Saints

Good luck, Catherine.

I was just wondering if you could send me some information on Joseph of Cupertino or if you knew where I could get some.

Thanks Jessica

Dear Jessica,

Here's a link leading to a brief account of Saint Joseph Cupertino.

Born of devout parents, as a young man Joseph of Cupertino was outstanding for his purity. In the convent of the Friars Minor at Grotella, he was first enrolled among the lay-brothers because of his lack of learning, and then, by a disposition of divine Providence, he joined the clerics and was ordained. He chastised his body with a hair-shirt, with scourging and all kinds of austerities, and nourished his spirit continually with the food of holy prayer, so that he was called by God to the highest degree of contemplation. Outstanding for obedience and poverty, he cultivated chastity above all, and preserved it unharmed, conquering great temptations. He honored the Virgin Mary with a wonderful love and shone for his great charity toward the poor. His humility was so deep that he thought himself a great sinner and earnestly prayed God to take away the remarkable gifts he had been given. He journeyed through many places at the command of the superior of the Order and of the holy Inquisition; finally, at Osimo in Picenum, in the sixty-first year of his age, he made the last journey, to heaven.

Cordially, Paul

Could you please tell me if there is a Saint Michelle or Saint Michelina.

Thank you. Karen O.

Dear Karen,

No dice on finding a saint by either of these names.

Here is a site which offers a Search engine for Saints. Note that they also advertise, at the top right hand corner, a site for single Catholics to meet. I think the best answer for the widow is to commend her to Ste Anne, who specializes in finding good husbands.

Cordially, Paul

Cancer Victims:

I am looking for the patron saint for those who suffer with this disease. If there is such a saint, could you please contact me.?

Thank you!!! Dolores

Dear Dolores;

According to my resources, the specific patron saint of cancer victims is Saint Peregrine Laziosi. In addition, patrons of the sick are: John of God,and Saint Camillus de Lellis

I hope this is of some assistance, Catherine

For the Musically Knowledgeable

I need some of your expertise. I have a friend who is aged and sick, she would like the words to a Hymn that she once knew.

She doesn't remember much anymore but I would surely love to find the word to this Hymn for her. "If you know the Lord" is a phrase from her favorite Hymn. Could you tell me the name of this Hymn or possibly send me the words?

Thank you Kindly. Carole

Apparition Questions


I am from Conyers, Georgia and my group and I are doing a school project on Nancy Fowler. Nancy Fowler is the lady in Conyers who claims to see the Virgin Mary. I got your address off of a religous website, and was wondering if you had any opinions or stories about her or heard any stories about her. We would really appericate your feedback.

Sincerely Carey

Dear Carey,

This is in reply to your question about the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin and Christ to Mrs Nancy Fowler.

There was a movie made in the 1940's about Bernadette Soubirou and the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes. It was called: " The Song of Bernadette". The movie shows how the bishop insisted on getting proof of the authenticity of these apparitions. He's shown first, with a few papers on his desk, and he says: " I need more proof!" Later, he's shown again with a pile of paper on his desk, insisting on more proof. Finally, he's shown with a huge pile of paper, overflowing his desk, and still insisting on more proof. It's well done and funny.

The point is you need to look to what the bishop has to say, and not to hearsay. It doesn't matter what even the most sincere person tells you - you have to wait for the bishop to speak on the matter.

I've scanned the web page that is dedicated to the Conyers apparitions, and I'm quite sceptical of them. Our Lady doesn't chat, nor does Christ, in real apparitions. The miracles they describe there don't move me to believe in them. Those mentioned could be psychological manifestations.

Bernadette's mother worried that she could be dealing with the devil, and asked Bernadette to sprinkle holy water on Our Lady, just to be sure.

You already know that someday you will die and be judged by Christ. You know already know all that is needed to save your soul and be happy in Heaven with Christ and all the saints and archangels.

So be very careful about where and who you follow, who say they speak for Christ.

Cordially, Paul

Looking for All Saint's Information.

Good evening! I am making a search of the net via Catholic Resource Network and came upon your site; you are 'familiar' in that I have read your articles in the Nazareth Journal!

I am trying to find our more information about All Saint's Day, as we are hoping to host an alternative to Halloween Trick or Treating in our parish. I would like to find out more about the religious origins to this very commerciallized and spooky event it has become. Did it begin as All Hallows eve, or something to do with All Soul's Day?

We would like to have children and families come on Saturday evening to Mass dressed up as a saint (or come as you are for those unsure about what a 'saint looks like', besides we hope to all strive to become one, right?!) and then after Mass, offer potluck food, introduction of Saint's game and other games (Find Saint Joseph in the Clouds, Pin the Halo on the Angel), movies about Saints (Bernadette and Francis of Assisi) and leave with a bag of treats and include a saint prayer card or religious article.

Looking forward to your response and God bless you and your family Catherine!

From Jane and Doug Downey family

Dear Jane;

For some suggestions on how to handle the holiday we love to hate, click on Hallowe'en.

Catholic or Christian?

My name is Ashley and I'm working on a project for a class at my school, Assumption High School, in Louisville, KY. I am looking for any information anyone might have on the specific differences between The Christian Religion and the Catholic Religion. I know they are very similar, but a few of the beliefs are different. I need to know what these specific different beliefs are.

Thank You for your help,Ashley

Dear Ashley,

Thank you for your letter, I hope you get an answer from each person you sent it too, because what you ask is a very large question that has kept people occupied for several centuries now. If we all answer, we will all give you a piece of the answer.

I am a convert from Presbyterianism to Catholicism, so I have a particular viewpoint on your question - it is the question that I had to answer in my conversion.

I'll go through this in point form.

1) Catholics _are_ Christian. Christian means: believes in Christ and follows His teachings. Catholics are the first Christians.

2) I say Catholics are the first Christians because you can prove by reading Church documents and studying church teaching and Tradition, that the Catholic Church is descended in an unbroken line from the first apostles. It is the historical church founded and maintained by Christ.

3) What are _called_ Christians now, to distinguish them from Catholics, are the Protestant sects, founded by people who thought (for a variety of reasons) that the Catholic Church of the 1500's and 1600's had deviated too much from what Christ created and intended. They 'protested' some church practices and tried to return the Church to a simplier and 'purer' form. So they are called Protestants.

4)So yes, we believe many of the same things such as, well, everything in the Apostle's Creed at least.

5) Protestants and Catholics do not disagree on a few things, they disagree on a great many things. Such as i) the communion of saints. Most Protestant sects believe that the only saints are/were the apostles. They name no saints other than those ii) the honouring of Mary as the Mother of Our Redeemer. This is related to the first point, most Protestant sects confuse honouring Mary with worshipping Mary iii)the number of sacraments. Most Protestant sects use only the sacraments which Christ specifically talks about in the version of the Gospel that they use (a whole 'nother topic -see, I said it was a big question!) So, while they will have Baptisms and Marriage and Ordination, they do not have the sacraments of Confession, Extreme Unction and in some cases, Confirmation. iv) I left Communion out of the list above, because most Protestant sects do not recognise Transubstantiation, the belief that at the moment of Consecration, the bread and wine is literally and miraculously transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, that the Real Presence of Christ is on the altar everytime a Mass is celebrated. They believe that when Christ said 'Take and eat, this is my body' He was speaking figuratively, that He meant, "this_represents_my Body." But Catholics know that He always meant what He said. v) most Protestant sects do not believe in Purgatory, the indissovablity of marriage, the sin of contraception, the sin of pre-marital sex, and lots more.

You will notice I have always use the words 'most Protestant sects.' This is because, when the movement to 'reform' the church began (try looking up the Reformation - the movement I referred to that 'protested and tried to return the church to a simplier and purer form) several different men had several different ideas on how the church should be reformed. They all began their own churches or faiths. Luther began Lutheranism. Calvin began Calvanism Knox began Presbyterianism Wesley began Wesleyanism in addition, there were Methodists, Baptists (who thought only adults who had decided to follow Christ should be baptised) and many many more. As time as gone on, people in _these_ churches decided that _they_ had a better idea of what Christ's Church should be like and teach so they started their own churches. there are now over 200 Protestant sects, each with similar but different beliefs.

Ashley, I hope I have begun to give you an answer to your question. I am

Thank you for writing Catherine

Dear Ashley,

Whenever we want to study a question seriously, the first thing we need to do is examine the meaning of the words we use, and how they came to exist in the first place. Saint Thomas Aquinas was very careful to teach his students to distinguish, because a very subtle difference in meaning can represent a flat contradiction.

Christian: Believing, or professing, the religion of Christ (Oxford). At the time of the Apostles, Christians were considered to be a Jewish sect by everybody, including the pagans.

Catholic: This is a Greek word, originally, and was used long before Christ, to mean: 'universal'. In context of the Catholic Church, it is first recorded in a letter of Saint Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, about the year 110.

One of the marks of the Church founded by Christ is that it is universal, that is, Catholic. It is intended by God as the way and the door to perfection and so to Heaven. Everybody in Heaven is a Catholic. These people are referred to as the Church Triumphant.

The Byzantines are Catholic, as are all the churches subject to the Pope; - the Coptic, the Rumanian, the Ukrainian, the Ruthenian... and so on.

The churches that do not follow the Pope yet profess to be Christian are of three kinds; the Orthodox, which accept the Pope as the 'first among equal patriarchs'; those churches that were established at the reformation and finally all the little sects that have the life span of generation or so. None of these are universal. The Anglican Church has nothing to say to the French; Calvinists do not evengelize.

Being Catholic means universal, so the Catholic Church is established by Christ for all peoples and all men of whatever age. It is meant for the mentally defective, for the geniuses, for the working man and for the rich. It perfects sinners and produces saints.

A Catholic is a Christian, but one who calls himself Christian may not be a Catholic, but just make up his own religion, based on Christ's according to his own preferences. Thomas Jefferson's bible was a cut and paste job, which included only those parts of the Bible with which he agreed or felt comfortable.

Saint Peter nearly became a Christian rather than a Catholic, because he felt that to become a follower of Christ, one needed to become a Jew first. Saint Paul argued with him publicly on this point, and Christ sent Peter a dream where He insisted that His Faith was for all men - forever.

I trust this answers your question, Miss McGee.

Cordially, Paul


Who answers our questions?

... Paul F. is the father of three children, who are now fully grown. As a single father, he became very active in correcting to the degree possible, the defective the religious teaching his children were receiving at Catholic schools. He also served as secretary to Una Voce-Canada, an international organization dedicated to the preservation of the traditional rites of the Catholic Church.

Catherine is the Editor of Domestic-Church.Com, a convert from Presbyterianism and the mother of six children.

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