Q&A with Fr. Scott – Baptism Questions from Parents

Q&A with Fr. Scott – Baptism Questions from Parents

Recently, I received a question regarding infant baptism. Actually, there are several questions. As it turns out, they are really common ones, too. Here we go: What would you like parents to know or do when they have their children baptized? There is so much ambiguity that surrounds the Church’s teaching on infant baptism, as far as practical considerations go. Is a donation required or is it even good manners? How long after a baby is born do most priests suggest waiting? What happens to her soul if, God forbid, the baby dies before she’s baptized? What should the role of godparents be and how should they be chosen? Let’s look at the questions one-by-one. As we go, I will cite individual canons in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. If you want to look these up, a simple search online will find what you are looking for. What would you like parents to know or do when they have their children baptized? I want parents to know four things. First, in marriage, you were asked, “Will you accept children lovingly from God and raise them according to the law of Christ and His Church?” If you are married, you said yes! You would keep this promise. So, you need to know the Faith. (Note, it’s not that you need to teach your children your faith, but the Faith.) My job and the parish’s job is to help you teach your children, but not to teach them in your place. You don’t have to teach your children math or biology to go to heaven. You do have to teach...
Q&A with Fr. Scott – Catholics Married Outside the Church

Q&A with Fr. Scott – Catholics Married Outside the Church

It seems like we’ll be unpacking the conversations around the recent extraordinary synod for quite some time. The conversation around the extraordinary synod revealed what we have anecdotally known for quite some time, namely, that in the Church, there are numerous and serious questions and misunderstandings surrounding the Church’s teaching on a wide variety of topics. The questions that I hear coming up over and over again are questions about marriage. I’m not speaking about the views being expressed by theologians and bishops, but the questions that I hear from my non-priest peers, friends, family, etc. It’s important not to pretend that these questions don’t exist. Certainly, Church teaching on marriage—which is rooted in divine law, and as such, is unchangeable—isn’t up for grabs. But, for whatever reason, many, many people lack a clear understanding of what the Church actually says. So, engaging their questions ought not to be viewed as a moment for defensiveness, but as a moment for explanation or education. Remember, the Church’s teaching is totally coherent and reasonable. It is systematic. If we don’t see the system, however, the body of teaching can seem like a loose set of connections or a terrible mess. So, I’ve received lots of questions about marriage. I’ll try to respond to the ones I hear most often in my next few posts. If you have any questions, just drop a comment below. The comments are moderated, so if you don’t want your comment posted, but just want to pose a question, let me know. How do we talk with Catholics who get married outside of the Church? This is...
Root, root, root for the home team…

Root, root, root for the home team…

Due to an engrossing children’s biography of Babe Ruth I read in the second grade, I began life as a Yankees fan. I still am, in spite of my more recent devotion to the Washington Nationals. You might say it was easy to be a Yankees fan in the late ’90s, and in some ways it was.  The World Series teams, Jeter and the famous flip, David Cone’s perfect game, season after season of total dominance.  But as with all things, it came to an end.  The crushing 2001 World Series defeat, PEDs, the insane contract signings of the waning George Steinbrenner years, and finally what was, in retrospect, the lowest point: the Alex Rodriguez signing.* This off-season, we contemplate the inevitable return of that lying, cheating, mediocre third basemen whose loyalty even to his teammates is so flimsy that he sold out his fellow Yankee, league-minimum-earning Francisco Cervelli, during the Biogenesis scandal and accused team ownership of trying to endanger his health late in the 2012 season. He’s an embarrassment to the Yankees and baseball and a living symbol of the very worst of the Steroid Era. But he’s still a Yankee. And a true fan knows that, even though on some level we hope he earns a Golden Sombrero in every game. One way or another, the Yankees will be the best, most storied franchise in baseball, no matter what. The Bronx Bombers will survive Alex Rodriguez. Maybe it’s even the price they have to pay for some past poor choices. And maybe, if his steroid-damaged joints can hold together, he could even help the ballclub bring...
Q&A with Fr. Scott  – States and Sacraments

Q&A with Fr. Scott – States and Sacraments

With the Extraordinary Synod on the family behind us and in anticipation of the Synod on the Family that is coming next year, there is a good deal of talk about questions relating to access to the Sacraments. This has been a regular topic of conversation among priests here in Rome, especially why it is that Church teaching on this topic has been poorly received. The central point of who can have access to the Sacraments is the state in which we find ourselves. Our question is: How does my state affect my freedom to receive the Sacraments? What do we mean by “state”? We use this word often in the Church, referring to the married state, the priestly state, the religious state, the state of grace, the state of sin, etc. For our purposes here, we are concerned with the last two—the state of grace and the state of sin. These refer to the effect of mortal sin. After a person has committed a mortal sin, and before having been absolved of that sin, that person is in the state of sin. After baptism until our first mortal sin, and then every time afterwards when we’ve committed a mortal sin and then gone to Confession, we are in a state of grace. So, the state of sin is when we have unconfessed mortal sins. The state of grace is when we don’t. Why are states important? States are important because they refer to our relationship with the Lord, with the Beloved. Because we are in the relationship, the relationship is a human relationship, so it works like other...
Four Ways You Can Help the Souls in Purgatory

Four Ways You Can Help the Souls in Purgatory

It was the hottest week of the year in St. Louis, and we were making our summer visit to my parents’ house. We slept in the nice cool air-conditioned basement bedroom that was my bedroom when I lived at home. One night towards the end of the trip I woke up with a chill over my body from a dream. It reminded me of waking from nightmares as a small girl in the same bed, praying for comfort. But my dream had not been a nightmare; it had been a reminder. I don’t remember the bulk of the dream, but at the end I had been outside with various members of my family in a mowed hilly field. A silver four-door sedan pulled across the grass and stopped with the driver’s side next to me. My deceased great-grandmother rolled down the window and asked me with a solemn face, “When are you coming to see me?” She then rolled up the window and drove away. I awoke, wondering how I was supposed to go back to sleep after that. When was I coming to see her? What did she mean? Was it actually her asking or was it just my imagination at work? I had not really thought about her for a while, so I am not sure why my subconsciousness would bring her to mind. But what I did realize was that we only had one day left in St. Louis, and during that last day, I could go see her. I could go to her grave, and pray for her soul. And in doing so, I could...
Protecting Faith from Pseudoscience:  A Review of The Principle

Protecting Faith from Pseudoscience: A Review of The Principle

Camille M. Carlisle is the science editor at Sky & Telescope magazine. I was recently asked to review a new movie called The Principle, being released this month. The film, produced by Catholic theologian Robert Sungenis, uses science to raise the specter of geocentrism — the theory that Earth is at the physical center of the universe. With breathtaking cinematography and intellectual one-two punches, it paints a compelling argument that geocentrism might be right and the world’s scientists are willfully blind to the evidence. Compelling, that is, if you know nothing about astrophysics. If you do, you’ll soon see that the movie is a combination of science, bogus science, and conspiracy theory, tied up in a Gordian knot that would take much more than a blog to fully unravel. The reason I’m writing about it in a Catholic blog is this: the movie has the potential to erode the scientific literacy of believers and convince nonbelievers that science and Christianity don’t mix. No doubt the movie’s creators are well intentioned. But good intentions make hell-bound paving stones. This isn’t me, a science journalist, merely ranting about the movie’s deplorable lack of fact-checking. This is me, a Catholic, worried about the error it will seed in the minds of God’s little ones. Because in watching the movie and having a dozen pages of e-mail back-and-forth with the producer and publicist, one thing became clear: the movie’s creators do not understand physics. Let’s take their argument about center of mass as an example. The movie correctly says that, according to Newtonian gravity, bodies in the solar system orbit around their common...