Knowledge isn’t just power, but life. We can’t live what we don’t know, and we can’t practice what we can’t understand. That’s why we should never stop learning our faith. Faith formation and development for Catholics shouldn’t stop after Confirmation but should continue by reading books, watching Catholic videos, or attending Fr. Marc’s new Catholic 101 classes on Tuesdays (all are welcome!). Learning is how we grow as human beings because we are naturally a learning species. Learning is also how we grow in holiness because through the enlightenment of the mind, our will becomes more empowered, and we are, therefore, more ordered to holy acts and more capable of holy living.
With that in mind…
How well do you know our Catholic faith? Take a look at these questions and see if you can answer them. The correct answers are at the end of this post. No cheating!
- What is the hypostatic union?
- Why is the sacrament of Confession categorized as a sacrament of healing?
- What is the Immaculate Conception?
- What is Transubstantiation?
- Does a person have to be worthy to receive communion, or can just any baptized Catholic receive Holy Communion?
Many Catholics don’t know—or have forgotten—the correct answers to most of these questions. So if they stump you, don’t kick yourself. Now on to the answers!
- The hypostatic union is the combination of divine and human natures in the single person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is true God, and true man; fully human and fully divine. That is the Hypostatic Union.
- Confession provides a type of mental and emotional relief from guilt. But that isn’t why the Church categorizes it as a sacrament of healing. Confession heals the soul of spiritual damage. Sin inflicts spiritual harm and injures the soul in the same way that a body is injured when physical harm is done to it. Spiritual harm is real, the soul is real, and the harm of sin injures the soul. Whether the injury is serious (mortal sin) or mild (venial sin), this spiritual harm to the soul progressively disfigures the soul and darkens its connection to God, gradually severing our connection to his grace (which is like cutting a lifeline). Confession restores the soul mostly to its right condition. To give the soul some added polish and restore it to the glow of the soul of a saint, you can choose to do additional penances beyond your post-confession penance. More on that in another post.
- Some mistakenly believe that Jesus is immaculately conceived. But the Immaculate Conception isn’t about Jesus’s conception or birth, it’s about Mary’s conception. The Immaculate Conception is a doctrine stating that the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived free from original sin. This special grace was won by her Son’s crucifixion (which would happen later in time) to prepare her to be the mother of God. Why did Mary need this unique preparation? Because if Our Lady had been born with original sin, Jesus, conceived in her womb, would have inherited original sin, and he would not have been an acceptable sacrifice to atone for the sins of man.
Consider This: If Mary had original sin, God couldn’t have become incarnate in her womb in the first place, since God, who is perfectly holy, can’t intermingle with sin. But even if he did, Jesus’ human nature would then have been stained by sin, and he would not have been the unblemished lamb of God to take away the sin of the world.
- Transubstantiation is when the substance of the bread and wine offered at mass changes into the body and blood of Christ. The accidental form remains that of bread and wine, yet the substance, or essential essence changes. Hence the word segments trans (which means to cross) and substance (that which makes a thing what it truly is) come together to explain the sacramental change that happens during the eucharistic celebration.
- While it is true that no one is perfect, that we are all sinners, and that only Our Lord and Our Lady were sinless, both scripture and Church teaching make it clear that even sinners have to be in a worthy state, which is called a state of grace, before receiving Holy Communion. Saint Paul wrote “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Corinthians 27-29). This doesn’t mean that a person has to be perfect and free of all sin before they can receive communion. But they should be in a state of grace, free of mortal sin.
Those in an “unworthy” state (those who are not in the state of grace) should refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they are reconciled with God and the Church through the sacrament of Confession. It’s a good practice to go to Confession at least once a month or so anyway. Confessions are heard at Our Lady of Grace on Saturdays at 11AM until 12PM