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Who instituted the Sacrament of Penance ?

Jesus himself instituted the sacrament of penance when he showed himself to his apostles on Easter day and commanded them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn20:22a-23) Nowhere did Jesus express more beautifully what happens in the sacrament of penance than in the parable of the Prodigal Son. We got astray; we are lost and can no longer cope. Yet our father waits for us with great, indeed infinite longing; he forgives us when we come back; he takes us again, forgives our sins. Jesus himself forgave the sins of many individuals; it was more important to him than working miracles. He regarded this as the great sign of the dawning of the kingdom of God, in which all wounds are healed and all tears are wiped away. Jesus forgave sins in the power of the Holy Spirit and he handed that power on to his Apostles. We fall into the arms of our heavenly father when we go to a priest and confess. (Youcat- 227) God alone can forgive sins. Jesus could say “your sins are forgiven” (Mk2:5). Only because he is the son of God and priests can forgive sins in Jesus’ place only because Jesus has given them that authority. Many people say “I can directly go to God; why do I need a priest?” God though wants it otherwise. We rationalize our sins away and like to sweep things under the rug. That is why God wants us to tell our sins and to acknowledge them in personal encounter. Therefore the following words from the Gospel are true of priests: “if you forgive the sins away, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins away, they are retained” (Jn20:23) [Youcat-228]
 

These days watching pornography and related websites has become more common. Even the children have got access to it. How it becomes a sin ? How it affects the dignity of a human person ?

someone who misuses love by detaching human sexuality from the intimacy of a committed, loving relationship between two spouses and turns it into commercial goods sins seriously. Anyone who produces, buys, or consumes pornographic materials violates human dignity and seduces others to sin. Pornography is a degenerate form of prostitution, for here too there is the suggestion that man can get ‘love’ for money. Models and actors, producers and distributors are equally involved in this serious offence against charity and human dignity. Anyone who consumes pornographic materials, visits pornographic websites or participates in pornographic events finds himself in the wider circle of prostitution and supports the dirty, billion-dollar business of selling sex. (You cat-412) People who work in the media should always be aware of the fact that their productions have an educational effect. Young people must constantly examine themselves to determine whether they are able to use the media freely with critical distance or whether they have become addicted to particular media. Every person is responsible for his soul. Those who consume violence, hatred and pornography in the media become spiritually deadened and do themselves harm. (You cat-460)

ആത്മഹത്യയെപ്പറ്റിയ ക്രിസ്തീയ വീക്ഷണം എന്താണ്? ആത്മഹത്യയെപ്പറ്റി ബൈബിൾ എന്തു പറയുന്നു ? (Position of the Catholic Church on ‘Suicide’)

ആത്മഹത്യചെയ്ത അഞ്ചു ആളുകളേപ്പറ്റി വേദപുസ്തകത്തില് പറഞ്ഞിട്ടുണ്ട്. അബീമേലെക് (ന്യായാ.9:54). സാവുൾ (1സാമുവൽ.31:4) സാവുളിന്റെ ആയുധവാഹകന് (1 സാമുവൽ.31:4-6), അഹീഥോഫെല് (2 സാമുവൽ. 17:23), സിമ്രി (1രാജാ.16:18), ഒടുവില് യൂദ (മത്താ.27:5). സാവുളിന്റെ ആയുധവാഹകന്റെ സ്വഭാവത്തെപ്പറ്റി നമുക്ക് അധികം അറിഞ്ഞുകൂടാ. ബാക്കി നാലുപേരേയും ദുഷ്ടന്മാരുടെ പട്ടികയില് പെടുത്തേണ്ടവരാണ്. ചിലര് സാംസനെയും ആത്മഹത്യചെയ്തവരുടെ കൂട്ടത്തില് ഉള്പ്പെടുത്താറുണ്ട്. എന്നാല് സാംസന്റെ ഉദ്ദേശം ഫെലിസ്ത്യരെ കൊല്ലുവാനായിരുന്നു. ആത്മഹത്യ ആയിരുന്നില്ലല്ലോ (ന്യായാ. 16:16-31). ബൈബിള് ആത്മഹത്യയെ കൊലപാതകമായാണ് വീക്ഷിക്കുന്നത്. തന്നെത്താന് കൊല ചെയ്യുക. ഒരാള് എങ്ങനെ എപ്പോള് മരിക്കണമെന്ന് തീരുമാനിക്കേണ്ടത് ദൈവമാണ്. ദൈവം ചെയ്യേണ്ട തീരുമാനം നാം എടുത്താല് അത് ദൈവദൂഷണത്തിന് സമമാണ്. ബൈബിളിന്റെ അടിസ്ഥാനത്തില് ആത്മഹത്യ കൊലപാത്തിനു തുല്യമാണെന്ന് പറഞ്ഞല്ലോ. 1യോഹ.3:15 പറയുന്നത് ശ്രദ്ധിക്കുക: " കൊലപാതകിയിൽ നിത്യ ജീവൻ വസിക്കുന്നില്ല ". വീണ്ടും 1യോഹ.3:9 പറയുന്നത് ശ്രദ്ധിക്കുക. "ദൈവത്തില് നിന്നു ജനിച്ച ഒരുവനും പാപം ചെയ്യുന്നില്ല; കാരണം ദൈവ ചൈതന്യം അവനിൽ വസിക്കുന്നു. അവൻ ദൈവത്തിൽ നിന്ന് ജനിച്ചവനായതുകൊണ്ട് അവനു പാപം ചെയ്യാൻ സാദ്ധ്യമല്ല " 1യോഹ.5:18 വായിക്കുക. " ദൈവത്തില് നിന്നു ജനിച്ച ഒരുവനും പാപം ചെയ്യുന്നില്ല. ദൈവപുത്രൻ അവനെ സംരക്ഷിക്കുന്നു എന്ന് നാം അറിയുന്നു ". ഈ വക്യങ്ങളുടെ വെളിച്ചത്തില് ഒരു യഥാര്ത്ഥ ദൈവിക മനുഷ്യൻ തന്നെത്താന് നിഗ്രഹിക്കുവാന് കഴിയുകയില്ല എന്നു മാത്രമേ ചിന്തിക്കുവാന് സാധിക്കയുള്ളു. ഒരു ദൈവിക മനുഷ്യൻ തന്റെ ജീവിതം അവസാനിപ്പിക്കേണ്ട യാതൊരു സാഹചര്യത്തേയും വാസ്തവത്തില് നീതീകരിക്കുവാന് സാധിക്കയില്ല. ഒരാള് എപ്പോള് മരിക്കണം എന്നു തീരുമാനിക്കേണ്ടത് ദൈവത്തിന്റെ അധികാര പരിധിയില് പെട്ട കാര്യം മാത്രമാണ്. അതില് നാം കൈകടത്തുവാന് പാടുള്ളതല്ല. ഒരുപക്ഷേ ഒരു ക്രിസ്തുവിശ്വാസിയുടെ ആത്മഹത്യയെ വിശദീകരിക്കുന്ന ഒരു നല്ല ഉദ്ദാഹരണം എസ്തേറിന്റെ പുസ്തകത്തില് കാണുവാന് കഴിയും. പാര്സ്യ രാജധാനിയില് രാജാവിന്റെ അനുവാദമില്ലാതെ ആര്ക്കും കടന്നുവരുവാന് കഴിയുമായിരുന്നില്ല. അങ്ങനെ ആരെങ്കിലും ചെന്നാല് രാജാവ് ചെങ്കോല് നീട്ടി അവരെ സ്വീകരിച്ചില്ലെങ്കില് മരണം ഉറപ്പാണ്. ചെങ്കോല് നീട്ടുന്നത് രാജാവിന്റെ ദയയുടെ അടയാളമാണ്. ഒരു വിശ്വാസി ആത്മഹത്യക്കു ശ്രമിച്ചാല് രാജാധിരാജാവിന്റെ അനുവാദമില്ലാതെ രാജസന്നിധിയില് തള്ളിക്കയറുന്നതിന് തുല്യമാണ്. ദൈവം ചെങ്കോല് നീട്ടി ദയകാണിക്കും എന്ന് വന്നേക്കാവുന്നതാണ്. സ്വന്ത പുത്രന്റെ രക്തം കൊടുത്ത് വാങ്ങിയതല്ലേ; ഒരിക്കലും ഉപേക്ഷിക്കയില്ല എന്നത് സത്യം തന്നെ. എന്നാല് നീ ചെയ്യുന്നതിനെ അവന് അംഗീകരിച്ചു എന്നതിനര്ത്ഥമില്ല. 1കൊരി.3:15 ല് വായിക്കുന്നതുപോലെ തീയില്കൂടി എന്നപോലെ അത്രേ എന്ന് വായിക്കുന്നത് ആത്മഹത്യയെക്കുറിച്ചു പറയുന്ന ഭാഗത്തല്ലെങ്കിലും അതിനോടു ബന്ധപ്പെടുത്തി കാണാവുന്നതാണ്. ഒരു ക്രിസ്തുവിശ്വാസി ആത്മഹത്യ ചെയ്താല് അത് അവനെ നിത്യതമുഴുവന് ലജ്ജിതനാക്കിത്തീര്ക്കും എന്നതില് അല്പം പോലും സംശയമില്ല. സ്വര്ഗ്ഗത്തിലും ലജ്ജിക്കേണ്ട അവസ്ഥയിലേക്ക് തന്നെ കൊണ്ടെത്തിക്കുന്ന ഒരു കാര്യവും ഒരു വിശ്വാസിയും ഒരു കാരണത്താലും ചെയ്യുവാന് പാടില്ലാത്തതാണ്. അതിനു പകരം ദൈവത്തിലാശ്രയിച്ച് ജീവിതത്തിലെ ഏതു സാഹചര്യങ്ങളേയും തരണം ചെയ്ത് ഏതു പ്രശ്നത്തിനും പരിഹാരം കണ്ടെത്തി ദൈവനാമ മഹത്വത്തിനായി ഒാരോ വിശ്വാസിയും ജീവിക്കേണ്ടതാണ്.

(An attack on life is a sacrilege committed against God. Human life is sacred; this means that it belongs to God; it is his property. Even our own life is only entrusted to us. God himself has given us the gift of life. Only he may take it back from us. The Book of Exodus, translated literally says “you shall not murder” (Ex 20:13) [You cat-378] We have often been told, usually by someone who has fallen away from the Catholic faith that the Church teaches that a person who commits suicide automatically goes to hell. It's held up as an example of the Church's intolerance. Does the Church teach that committing suicide automatically results in hell? The short answer is “no”. The Church has NEVER said ANYONE is in hell. The Church has not even made a pronouncement on Hitler or Judas. Even the punishment of Excommunication does not mean the Church proclaims the sinner is automatically going to hell either. Excommunication is a serious warning that can only apply to a baptized Catholic. It warns them that they are on the wrong track, and they are in grave danger. However, that's a completely separate subject. The slogan “The Catholic Church teaches that suicide=hell” is a popular anti-Catholic slogan found in Quebec, where the suicide rate is among the highest in the world. In all fairness, they have good reason to think that the Church teaches this, due to bad formation of priests in the 50’s. But it’s just not like that. The Catechism has this to say: “…Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.”[CCC-2282] “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.”[CCC-2283]) [attachment=3]

Many of the Pentecostal churches say that, Holy Mary has got children other than Jesus and propagate that she is not a virgin as the catholic church teaching and not to be respected in that sense.

Let us examine the fact in the light of the Word of God. The Pentecostal churches teach that Mary had other children other than Jesus. Let’s examine the verses that speak about the “brothers” of Christ which created scandal to the Jews. “So that they were astounded and sad, ‘where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ And they took offence at him.”(Mt 13:54-56, Mk 6:2-3) “While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him” (Mt12:46-47, Mk3: 31-32, Lk8:19-20) Let’s examine what kind of brothers they are? In the letter to Galatians, we see Jacob who is one among the brothers of Jesus. “But I did not see any other apostle except James the lord’s brother”. (Gal1:19-20). Now let’s examine who is James among apostles, the brother of Jesus? “These are the names of the twelve apostles: first Simon also known as peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee and his brother John, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Mathew the tax collector, James son of Alpheus …….”(Mt10:2-4, Mk3:15-19, Lk6:13-15) There were two Jacobs among the apostles. One is the brother of John and the son of Zebedee-salomi couples named great Jacob. The second one is the son of Alpheus named small Jacob. There is no other Jacob among the apostles. And the father of both these Jacobs is not Joseph. From these verses we could very well understand that who is the father of Jacob the brother of Jesus? Now let’s try to find out his mother’s name. “Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” (Mt27:55-57) “There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses and Salome…….” (Mk16:40-41) “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome brought spices so that they might go and anoint him.”(Mk16:1) “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.”(Mk15:47) “Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.”(Lk24:10) From these verses it is clear that the mother of Jacob, Jose, Simon and Jude is Mary, the wife of alpaus. “Meanwhile standing near the cross of Jesus was his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clophas and Mary Magdalene.” (Jn19:25) How the mother of Jacob becomes the sister of the mother of Jesus. Those who know the history very well know that Anna and Joachim had no other sons or daughters other than Mary, the mother of Jesus. When we go through the apocryphal writings, we see that the Alpheus is the brother of Joseph, the upbringing father of Jesus. If the brothers and sisters of our parents have children, don’t we consider them as brothers and sisters? In that sense Jesus had ‘brothers and sisters’. It does not mean that Mary had other children than Jesus. When we humbly receive the word of God, Holy Spirit will inspire us to accept the truth.

Is homosexuality a sin? What is the position of the church in such related matters? These days some people argue for homosexual marriages and in some countries like America it has been legally acce

The church believes that, in the order of creation, man and woman are designed to need each other’s complementary traits and to enter into a mutual relationship so as to give life to children. That is why homosexual practices cannot be approved by the church. Christians owe all persons respect and love, however regardless of their sexual orientation because all people are respected and loved by God. (Ccc.2358-2359) There is no man on earth who is descended from a union of a mother and a father. Therefore it is painful experience for many homosexually oriented people that they do not feel erotically attracted to the opposite sex and necessarily miss out on the physical fruitfulness of the union between man and woman according to human nature and the divine order of creation. Nevertheless God often leads souls to himself along unusual paths; a lack, a loss, or a wound- if accepted and affirmed – can become a springboard for throwing oneself in to the arms of God: the God who brings good out of everything and whose greatness can be discovered in redemption even more than in creation.(Youcat-65) God created man as male and female and destined them for each other in a bodily way as well. The church accepts without reservation those who experience homosexual feelings. They should not be discriminated against because of that. At the same time the church declares that all homosexual relations in any form are contrary to the order of creation. (Youcat-415)

The Old Testament clearly states, “You shall not make for yourself a graven image”. But in the Catholic Church we see the statues of Christ and other saints. Is the Catholic Church denying the word

In order to protect the mystery of God and to set the people of Israel apart from the idolatrous practices of pagans, the first commandment said, “You shall not make for yourself a graven image”. However since God himself acquired a human face in Jesus Christ, the prohibition against images was repealed in Christianity. The knowledge of the patriarchs of Israel that God surpasses everything and is much greater than anything in the world lives on today in Judaism and Islam, where no image of God is or ever was allowed. In Christianity, in the light of Christ’s life on earth, the prohibition against images was mitigated from the fourth century on and was abolished at the second council of Nicaea. By his incarnation, God is no longer absolutely unimaginable. After Jesus we can picture what he is like: “he who has seen me has seen the father” (Youcat-358) Regarding the statues and images of saints and angels, they remind us about the lives and presence of saints and angels amidst us. A good example is that we put the pictures of our dead ancestors, relatives and friends in order to keep their memory for ever. Also to make known, that particular person to coming generations. In the same way when we put the statues and pictures of saints in our churches, that helps us to think about their great lives and to intercede with them for various intentions. We do not at all adore those statues rather respecting and thinking about those holy lives by putting them in our chapels and houses.

Normally we do practices like Yoga to have the physical fitness and refreshment. Are there any negative influences in such practices? Does it contradict our Christian faith?

Esotericism ignores the reality of God. God is a personal Being. He is love and origin of life, not some old cosmic energy. Man was willed and created by God, but man himself is not divine; rather he is a creature that is wounded by sin, threatened by death and in need of redemption. Whereas most proponents of esotericism assume that man can redeem himself, Christians believe that only Jesus Christ and God’s grace redeem them. Nor are nature and the cosmos. Rather the creator, even though he loves us immensely, is infinitely greater and unlike anything he has created. Many people today practice yoga for health reasons, enroll in a meditation course so as to become more calm and collected or attend dance workshops so as to experience their bodies in a new way. These techniques are not always harmless. Often they are vehicles for doctrines that are foreign to Christianity. No reasonable person should hold an irrational world view, in which people can tap magical powers or harness mysterious spirits and the ‘initiated’ have a secret knowledge that is withheld from the ‘ignorant’. In ancient Israel, the surrounding peoples’ beliefs in gods and spirits were exposed as false. God alone is Lord; there is no god besides him. Nor is there any technique by which one can capture or charm ‘the divine’, force one’s wishes on the universe or redeem oneself. (Youcat-356) The irrational assumption that certain sayings, actions, events and objects contain magic powers or produce magical effects is called superstition. In yoga practices we assume a kind of supernatural power for some actions or postures in it. So in that sense such practices become part of superstitions. Fr. Gabriel Amoth, the official exorcist of the catholic church, who has done approximately 70000 exorcisms and he could realize the satanic influences in different people and practices, clearly mentions about the satanic influences in practices like yoga.

We all say and admit that God is love. God establishes justice equally among human being. If so why is there nevertheless injustice among men ?

All men have the same dignity, but not all of them meet with the same living conditions. In cases where injustice is man-made, it contradicts the gospel. In cases where men have been endowed by God with different gifts and talents, God is asking us to rely on one another: in charity one should make up for what other lacks. There is a kind of inequality among men that does not come from God but rather originates in societal conditions, especially in the unjust distribution of raw materials, land and capital worldwide. God expects us to remove from the world everything that is plainly contrary to the Gospel and disintegrates human dignity. Yet there is another sort of inequality among men that is quite in keeping with God’s will: inequality in talents, initial conditions and opportunities. These are an indication that being human means being therefore others in charity so as to share and to promote life. (Youcat-331)