Some Questions that need Answers

Compiled by Catherine Fournier

Overseas Foster Children

Dear Mrs. Fournier, As a mother of two little boys (ages 3 yrs and 8 mos), I am taking very seriously the challenge of raising them to know and love God and our Mother Church. Here in Newfoundland, we've just lost our Catholic school system, which places an even fuller role upon Catholic parents.

I was thrilled to discover your site. It is an invaluable resource I shall be visiting often. As my older child is starting to understand more, one thing we want to do is to sponsor a needy child overseas, to help him to understand what it means to "Love your neighbour" and to learn about God's children around the world. There are so many organizations seeking funds.

Do you have any information (or do you know anyone we could ask) concerning such charities which are faithful to Catholic church teaching? (We don't want to unknowingly support abortion/birth control clinics etc.!) Thanks very much Sincerely, Gillian

Request for a hymn


We're looking for what we think is an old hymn, perhaps Lutheran. We heard it on Garrison Keilor's Prairie Home Companion, a 1996 Christmas radio show. We have the text, but no title and we can not find the music.

Could you be of any help? We want to use it Christmas Eve, so we're in a tight spot.

It begins:

A Child is born in Bethlehem, Bethlehem That gladdens all Jerusalem,.Halleluiah. Halleluiah.

And the Chorus is:

Along our way, the bright stars shine, The happiness of all mankind.

The angels teach us harmonies That echo through the centuries.

And someday angels we shall be And Jesus' gentle face we'll see.

We'll sing His praises without end, our brother, Savior and our friend.

Thanks for any help you might be,

Gary Bowman, Pastor
Paseo del Rey Church (Evangelical Free Church of America)
Chula Vista, CA

What is the significance of mistletoe

My son asked why mistletoe has been attached to Christmas and we knew no answer. Do you have one? Who was the first to use it and why? I haven't been able to find anything yet. Thanks! Jj


Hello, do you have any information on the churches teachings on this procedure. Thanks, A

The 'Answer Man' Paul Fournier answers:

A asks for information about the Church's teachings regarding in vitro fertilization.

Answer: There are two recent papal documents that deal with artificial insemination. These are: 'Donum Vitae' and 'Evangelium Vitae'. You can easily find both these documents on the Internet. Again, the matter is treated in: 'The Catechism of the Catholic Church'.

Here are the reasons given against these techniques:

Every child has a right to be born of a father and a mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage.

In the case where the couple are in fact man and wife, in vitro fertilization entrusts the life and identity of the child to doctors and biologists. So technology dominates over the origin and identity of the child. This is contrary to the dignity that belongs to the parents and their child.

A child is not something owed to one but is a gift. He is not a piece of property. He has to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.

In vitro fertilization reduces the man and woman to their purely biological functions, with the child treated as a research tool. Typically, such procedures involve the fertilization of several eggs, each with an immortal soul, and killing (murdering) all but the one most likely to survive.

In fact, the Church teaches against any treatment of any human being as an industrial product.

Finally, we can have a perfectly clear conscience when we receive treatment to correct a physical defect that prevents conception.

You will find these very useful documents at the Catholic Encyclopedia

Thanks A, for this question. More people should be aware of what the Church teaches in these matters.

Cordially, Paul Fournier

St. Elmo?

I'm trying to find out more about St. Elmo. I can't find him in any lists. Is he a saint? Is he a patron saint?

Thank you, P Lowell

The 'Answer Man' Paul Fournier answers:

Piper Lowell Fordham asks about Saint Elmo.

Saint Elmo's real name was Erasmus. Here is an account I found of him, not for those with weak constitutions:

Saint Erasmus, bishop of Antioch, must have died a martyr in the time of the emperor Diocletian (303?). The way the execution is done, dates back to a story that came into being centuries after his death. According to the hypothesis expressed by some -not all of them- iconographers, Saint Erasmus is portrayed as the patron-saint of sailors with a windlass and an anchor mooring rope.

Worshippers must have interpreted these attributes as instruments of torture around which the saint's intestines were wound up after he had been disembowelled. The theme, whatever its origin, has had a tremendous success north of the Alps since the middle of the 15th century. Around that time Erasmus was 'promoted' to one of the 14 Holy Helpers. The martyr was tied hand and foot on a plank, and quitely underwent his fate in a hilly country.

Cordially, Paul Fournier


Varela asks:
What is the Catholic Church's official teaching on the creation/evolution debate ?

The 'Answer Man' Paul Fournier answers:

In his 'Credo of the People of God', Pope Paul VI says that Catholics must accept that Adam and Eve were directly created by God, and that they were our first parents. After having said that much, we Catholics are free to use the theory of evolution as an instrument of research.

Keep in mind that evolution is a theory still, and it is useful if we consider it as such. In any case, there is no such thing as 'amoral science' - free from moral implications. Technology and Science are subject to the moral law always and everywhere and at all times.

As you research the question, you will find Catholic scientists on both sides of the evolution question: some will point to statistical analysis to give legitimacy to the theory and others will argue its absurdity. In any case, what we know for sure is neatly explained by Pope Paul VI in a sentence or two.

God created the Universe from nothing. He created Adam and Eve as human beings with the faculties you and I share, plus certain privileges, such as freedom from all suffering, knowledge and so on. The problem we have with those who push evolution in the moral sphere is that they contradict Catholic teaching in these matters and lead to fatalism. This fatalism is a deadly result of thinking we are programmed by forces beyond our control when in fact we are each of us intended to spend eternity in Heaven, face to face with God and all the angels and saints. We can only get there by using our freedom in accordance with God's Will.

Cordially, Paul Fournier


Ang asks about Marriage in the Catholic Church, especially, cases regarding a protestant marrying a Catholic man, and that of a Protestant converting to to Catholicism.

The 'Answer Man' Paul Fournier answers:

Run; don't walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy a copy of any Catholic catechism (except the Dutch catechism which is riddled with errors according to Pope Paul VI), and look up the teaching on Matrimony.

A basic papal document can be found at the EWTN web site
An article from the Catholic Encyclopedia explains a lot about the historical application of the laws governing mixed marriages.

This may seem to you to be a really hard teaching, but we Catholics are called by Christ to live heroic lives.

It's true that the Church finds there are many problems with mixed marriages, because the difference of cult creates great tensions within a marriage. Having said that much, a dispensation can be granted by the local bishop to allow a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic. You see, the more a man and woman love each other, the more these differences matter to them.

Keep in mind that Marriage is a Sacrament, and because of that you will derive all the graces you need to overcome all obstacles you will meet as a married woman if you will only ask for them. But you need to ask.

As for converting to the Catholic faith, you will find it isn't all that difficult. Living the faith is the challenge, believe me. First off, the faith is a gift - you can't earn it. Take your time to learn what She teaches, and you can start by praying in your own way. Do avoid setting any kind of deadline for yourself, such as your wedding day. Read good Catholic books and be careful of overly enthusiastic Catholics who talk without engaging the brain. I offer the same caution about those Catholics who feel there is no difference between religions - this is a false ecumenism and it's very dangerous.

There are many devotions available to a Catholic - hundreds of them. You can choose those that suit you best. I suggest you try to realize that the affetion you feel for the man in your life is a pale imitation of the affection Christ feels for you. God wants to give Himself entirely to you, if you will let Him.

By the way, I really like the Pope's expression: 'slithering errors'.

Cordially, Paul Fournier

Looking for an Advent House

I'm looking for an advent house. Could you please let me know where I can purchase one of these? I have been trying for the last three months to locate one and cannot find them anywhere.

Thank You, Gail

Our response:

Dear Gail;

I'm sorry to say, I've never heard of an advent house, at least not by that name. Could you give me a bit more information, a description of what it looks like or how it's used?

Catherine Fournier,

Gail replied:

The advent house is just like the advent calendar, it is just a house with windows that open.

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