Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
Continuing from last time in this space...
9. The Eucharist is
A) a beautiful symbol of our togetherness which we invest with the spirit of Love and thereby transform into the “body” and “blood” of Jesus in a process called “transsignification”
B) whatever you believe it in your heart to be
C) merely a reminder of something that happened a long time ago when Jesus suffered
D) the true body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ fully present under the appearance of bread and wine and offered in sacrifice to God the Father. It is also a meal whereby we feed on Jesus and become participants in his divinized human life and are graced to live as members of his one body. Finally, it is a living participation in his ongoing work of salvation whereby we “make present” the one sacrificial offering of his passion, death, resurrection and ascension.
10. The Resurrection is
A) a wish fulfillment fantasy that early Christians gradually incorporated into the story of a gentle rabbi they loved and missed
B) the reality of the Christian faith, without which absolutely none of Christianity makes sense, founded on the fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead in a glorified body on the third day and seen by many witnesses until his glorious Ascension. Virtually all these witnesses went to violent deaths after lives of extreme hardship, bearing witness to the Resurrection
C) a hallucination experienced by over 500 people at once, on multiple occasions, involving hearing, sight, taste and touch
D) a blunder due to the fact that Jesus merely swooned on the cross, then woke up three days later in a freezing tomb dressed in winding bandages welded to his skin by his countless scourging wounds. Then he stumbled over to a multi-ton rock on his wounded feet, shoved it aside with his wounded hands and, gasping in agony from the wound to his heart, overpowered the sleeping guard and staggered through Jerusalem unnoticed till he banged on the door of the apostles and, bleeding from almost every pore and in desperate need of immediate medical attention, convinced them he was the Conqueror of Death.
11. The Church is
A) a purely human institution standing between man and his Savior
B) the invention of the Emperor Constantine, who took an obscure religion that honored the memory of a dead rabbi, and turned it into a tool of Empire by proclaiming the dead rabbi to be a “god” at Council of Nicaea.
C) a collection of celibate old men who want to tell us what to do.
D) me and my like-minded friends
E) the body of Christ, founded by Jesus himself to be the temple of the Holy Spirit, made of baptized Christians as of living stones, in union with one another through faith and the sacraments and built on the Rock who is Peter and on the apostles as the foundation, visible in the world and in union with the bishops and Pope, particularly in the celebration of the Mass.
12. Mary is
A) Mother of God
C) Immaculately Conceived
D) Assumed into Heaven
E) All of the above
F) None of the above.
13. Limbo is
A) a dogma the Church discontinued at Vatican II due to popular demand
B) a theological theory that is currently in eclipse among most Catholic theologians
C) a doctrine all true Catholics are bound to hold
D) an invention of Dante Alighieri that illiterate medieval Catholics came to believe because they don’t know anything about the Bible.
14. The doctrine of the Trinity means
A) that we believe in three Gods
B) that we believe in the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier
C) that we believe in one God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
D) that we believe God was called the Father before the Incarnation, then became the Son during the lifetime of Jesus, then turned into the Holy Spirit when he went back to Heaven.
E) that the Father created the Son and the Holy Spirit.
15. Concerning the afterlife, Catholics believe
A) that the dead are asleep and have no consciousness of things on earth
B) that the goal of the Christian life is to strip off our sinful bodies and become angels
C) that people who go to Hell can work hard and get out of it, and that’s what Purgatory is
D) in life after life after death: that is, that the goal of the Christian life is not to be a disembodied spirit in some empty void, but (on the Last Day) a resurrected human being with a glorified body like Jesus’ in a new heaven and new earth.
9. D. A and B essentially reduce the Eucharist to a form of psychological projection on our part, not a miracle on God’s part. C reduces it to a mere audio-visual aid.
10. B. Alternative explanations for the Resurrection are easy to invent. Good alternative explanations are extremely hard to invent.
11. E. A through D, while popular myths, are false. The Church is a window, not a barrier. It was founded by Jesus, who was raised from the dead and proclaimed to be so from the start of the Church on Pentecost. The bishops, while celibate and generally older, do not constitute the entirety of the Church and are commanded by Jesus to teach the faith, so they can hardly be blamed for doing so. Similarly, the Church is more than you and your friends. It also includes all the rest of the baptized who hold the Catholic faith, including that guy you can’t stand and that woman who you find so irksome.
12. E. These are, by the way, the only dogmas the Church has about Mary.
13. B. Limbo is basically a theory that attempts to wrestle with the question of what becomes of unbaptized babies who die, never having committed an actual sin, but without having received the sacrament of Baptism. It has never been a doctrine of the Church, but neither has it ever been condemned. So Catholics can speculate about it if they like, though most theologians (including Benedict XVI) are skeptical about it. And no. Dante didn’t invent it.
14. C. A, B, D, and E are all popular heresies that suppress, exaggerate, or distort the record of the New Testament in various ways. So, for instance, Jesus himself is adamant that there is one God. Similarly, all the Persons of the Godhead are involved in creation, redemption and sanctification. Likewise, all the Persons of the Godhead exist from all eternity, so God does not evolve from Father to Son to Spirit over time, nor does the Father create the other two Persons.
15. D. The faith does not teach that the dead are asleep but instead insists that we remain in communion with those who have died in Christ, both praying for them and asking their prayers. It also denies that we become angels (since angels are a different species than humans) and teaches that our final destiny is to be embodied as Christ is, in a glorified body. Additionally, the Church teaches that Hell is the “definitive self-exclusion” of a soul from the society of God and his saints. As such, there is no escape from Hell because the damned soul does not want to escape from Hell. Purgatory is not Hell by another name, but is the process whereby a soul finishes cooperating with grace in order to be fully conformed to the image and likeness of Christ. We can help the souls in Purgatory with our prayers and sacrifices in union with Christ.