Finding the answers
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We view this as an important component of our mission as a Catholic publishing company: To help all who are interested learn more about what the church teaches and why.
Msgr. M. Francis Mannion has been Our Sunday Visitor's Q-and-A priest for a number of years now. With knowledge and a bit of humor, he has diligently responded to the hundreds of questions that come his way. This week we asked him to highlight the most frequently asked questions that he has received. There are some very basic questions that continue to puzzle and provoke: Is the Catholic Church the one true church? Why can't non-Catholics receive holy Communion? What about annulments?
In looking at the list, we realize that basic catechesis on the teachings and practices of the church is still sorely needed for adults. Yet it is easy to complain, and to pass off the responsibility for our education in the faith to others: Our pastor or bishop or director of religious education. In truth, it is our responsibility as baptized members of this church.
So, get out your pencils and paper for a pop Q-&-A quiz:
Q.: Do we have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in our house?
A.: Learning the truths about what the church teaches does not come by osmosis. The Catechism is the single biggest gift to the faith since the Second Vatican Council. It is as valuable a reference work as any dictionary or encyclopedia, and it should be in every Catholic home.
Q.: When someone asks us why the church teaches what it does, do we simply say "I don't know," or do we go find the answer?
A.: Over and over again, we Catholics talk about how we are unprepared for questions from non-Catholics, or even our own children. While we may not have the answers on the tip of our tongue, there are many ways that we can find those answers. This is a fundamental part of our Catholic responsibility, and when we simply say we don't know, we make both ourselves and our church look bad, while denying that questioner an opportunity to learn more about our faith.
Q.: When we find ourselves unsure of, or even in disagreement with, a teaching of the church, do we make a sincere effort to understand what the church teaches on that subject and why?
A.: It isn't enough to say we are following our own conscience if our conscience has not been properly formed. We are duty bound to study, and wrestle with, the hard teachings of the faith. There are many resources for anyone who is sincerely interested in answering his or her own questions about what the church teaches.
This is why Our Sunday Visitor exists. On our Web site and in the pages of our publications and books, we strive to inform Catholics about their faith. In the end, however, it is the responsibility of each of us to make sure we find the answers to the questions we have.
Our Sunday Visitor
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