Spirituality

Did Jesus baptize anyone? Lectors and the she/he problem

Q. I remember being taught, somewhere in my Catholic training, that the Bible never mentions Jesus baptizing anyone, because our sacrament of baptism commemorates the death and resurrection of Christ and he had not yet died and risen. But I recently came across this passage in John's Gospel (3:22-23): "After this Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them baptizing. John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim." In Matthew 3:11 though, John says that he is baptizing with water and Jesus will baptize with fire and the Holy Spirit. So my question is this: In John 3:22, isn't Jesus baptizing with water, or what else would that quote mean? (Milwaukee, Wis.)

At first Angelus, Pope Francis says God never tires of forgiving

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Citing a distinguished German theologian and an anonymous elderly penitent from Argentina, Pope Francis told an overflow crowd in St. Peter's Square never to despair of God's mercy to sinners. "The Lord never tires of forgiving," the pope said March 17, before leading his listeners in praying the midday Angelus. "It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness."

Reflection and rediscovery in the Year of Faith

Father Adolfo Nicolas, the superior general of the Jesuits, has, in response to Pope Benedict's invitation to a Year of Faith, asked Jesuits worldwide this question: "What do I experience as challenges or obstacles to faith, and what sustains and deepens my faith?" That is worthy of consideration by all Catholics and I'd like to provide some impetus for that reflection.

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)