An answer to non-Catholic son’s question, why is confession necessary?

Q. My son, who is 20 years old, has left the Catholic religion for a Bible-based faith. We have had many lively discussions which we both enjoy, and it has actually helped to reinvigorate my own Catholic beliefs. There is one of his questions, though, which I'm not sure how to answer. He wants to know if the death of Jesus paid in full for the sins of all believers past, present and future, why would God punish someone if they fail to go to confession? (Chesapeake, Va.)

Jesus is the Son of God, so why does he call himself Son of Man?

Q. We refer to Christ by various titles: the Messiah, the Lamb of God, Son of the Father, etc. But I have never understood why, in the Scriptures, Jesus refers to himself as the "Son of Man." That sounds, to me, a little less than divine. Why does Christ call himself that? (San Francisco, Calif.)

Confessors called to help Catholics recognize truth of God’s love

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The sacrament of penance, or reconciliation, helps Catholics recognize “the truth about themselves: that they are beloved children of the Father, who is rich in mercy,” said Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro. The cardinal, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican court that deals with the sacrament of penance and matters […]

There’s a deep meaning to the phrase, ‘descended into hell’

Q. In the creed at Mass, it says that Jesus descended into hell. I feel terrible even saying that Jesus went to hell. What does that mean? (Selkirk, N.Y.)

Living in holiness is saying ‘yes’ to God

When you emphasize the idea of pleasing God, then all the sacrifices you make in life will serve to improve your relationship with God. You will no longer be afraid of him, and your sense of union with God will be more intimate.

Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer intentions for March

General intention: “That respect for nature may grow with the awareness that all creation is God’s work entrusted to human responsibility.” Mission intention: “That bishops, priests, and deacons may be tireless messengers of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.”

Q&A: Sign of cross at start of Gospel; Praying for the deceased

Q. When I visit my mother in the town where I grew up, the priest there regularly omits what I think is an important gesture at the beginning of the Gospel reading. He does not use his thumb to sign himself with the cross on his forehead, lips and heart. I had understood that by making that gesture you were demonstrating your intention to take the Gospel into your mind, proclaim his word to others and keep his message in your heart. Because the priest has foregone that important sign, his parishioners omit it, too. Has this gesture been declared optional now or perhaps dropped altogether? (City and state withheld)

Penance recognizes our inadequacy, helps us face future with hope

A priest counselor tells of how one man made it clear that he finally wanted to stop the battling and to be rid of the past. The sacramental ritual seemed to support that hope, for it shifted the focus from where he was to where he could be.

New books offer wealth of options for spiritual reading during Lent

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Here is a selection of recent releases that might be suitable for your spiritual reading during Lent and the Easter season:

What’s the difference between work and rest on Sunday?

Q. My grown children often work on Sunday, and I believe that they don't feel that it is sinful. Sometimes they ask me to babysit their children while they work -- anything from farm work, remodeling their house, mowing the lawn, etc. Am I guilty of aiding and abetting them if I babysit, or am I exempt from guilt because they don't think they're sinning? (I'm a little scrupulous and worry a lot about this.) (Morrilton, Ark.)