‘Fear the Lord,’ but don’t be afraid — there’s a difference

Q. I often hear references, both in worship and in religious teaching, to "fear of the Lord." I struggle with this because I think of God as so forgiving and passionate in his love for the people he has created. Do we really mean "fear," or just the highest respect? (Farmington Hills, Mich.) Q. Regarding vocations to the priesthood, what is the church's stance on whether to let a homosexual person enroll in the seminary? (North Plainfield, N.J.)

Resist sleek cars, ‘living on the edge,’ Pope tells future priests, nuns

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Be joyous, authentic and loving while resisting fly-by-night commitments, catty gossip and sleek cars, Pope Francis told future priests, brothers and nuns. Vocations don’t come from catchy campaigns or pursuing personal goals; the consecrated life is the result of prayer and answering an “unsettling” yet loving invitation from God, he told […]

Pope: Escape from sin, don’t be afraid of where God will take you

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Don’t let sin and temptation be a trap — flee from evil and don’t look back, Pope Francis said. Sometimes “the only answer is to flee and not be embarrassed about fleeing. Recognize that we are weak and we have to run away” from harmful sins, he said July 2 during […]

Closing of consecrated church; Catholic funeral if divorced

Q. What is your opinion on consecrated churches? Can these buildings be closed and torn down? (Brookville, Ind.) Q. I have been a practicing Catholic for the past six years. My husband is not Catholic. Both of us were married previously, and both marriages ended in divorce. I want to know if I would be denied a Catholic funeral Mass because of our present circumstances. (Virginia Beach, Va.)

Pope Francis’ prayer intentions for July

General intention: “That World Youth Day in Brazil may encourage all young Christians to become disciples and missionaries of the Gospel.” Mission intention: “That throughout Asia doors may open to messengers of the Gospel.”

Vengeance of God versus mercy; killing animals

Q. The pastor of my church has preached for years about how loving, forgiving and merciful God is. But in the Old Testament, there are many occasions in which God destroys men or threatens their destruction (Noah's ark and the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the avenging angel with the firstborn in Egypt, etc.). So did the nature of God change after the birth, death and resurrection of his son? Or am I supposed to disregard the readings of the Old Testament? (Cherry Hill, N.J.) Q. What is the church's teaching on killing insects, rodents or any of God's creatures if they are doing you no harm? (I've seen children try to burn ants with a magnifying glass.) (Morrilton, Ark.)

The superficial and the rigid ‘masquerade’ as Christians, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christianity isn’t a school for teaching a superficial form of being nice to everyone, but it’s also not a boot camp where everything is rigidity, rules and long faces, Pope Francis said. “The Lord calls us to build our Christian life on him, the rock, the one who gives us freedom, […]

Saying ‘our Father’ means seeing others as brothers, sisters, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When Christians address God as “our Father” they acknowledge that God created and loves them, but they also recognize that all people are their brothers and sisters, Pope Francis said. “We have a Father who is very close to us, who embraces us,” the pope said June 20 during the homily […]

Catholic services at a funeral home and Communion wine for children

Q. I am 83 years old. All my life I've been taught that when a Catholic dies the body must be brought to the church for a funeral Mass. Now some of my friends are telling me that it's all right, instead, to have a priest conduct a funeral service in the funeral home. Which is correct? (Richmond, Va.) Q. I teach CCD to children preparing for their first Communion. Can you explain to me how the Catholic Church can allow 7-year-old children to receive from the chalice? The law does not allow them to consume alcohol, and the church should not be encouraging children to break the law. (Port Republic, N.J.)

Conflicts among Christians harm the body of Christ, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The church is the body of Christ, but when Catholics fight among themselves or Catholics and other Christians are in conflict with one another, they make Christ's body suffer, Pope Francis said. "Don't make the body suffer with our divisions and conflicts," the pope said June 19 at his weekly general audience.