September 14, 2007


Q & A about Catholicism

We call your attention to our annual Religious Education Supplement that begins on page 11 of this issue.

Whether we’re children, adolescents, youths, mature adults or seniors, we believe learning more about our faith is important for all of us.

We thought it might be fun and useful, therefore, to devote this editorial to questions and answers about Catholic doctrine, practice and history. Most of the questions are pretty basic, although some are tougher.

Use it as a catechetical tool, and share it with family and friends. We hope you’ll get 100 percent. The answers are below.

1. What do we mean by the Incarnation?

2. True or false: The Immaculate Conception means that Mary remained a virgin when she conceived Jesus.

3. True or false: Mary delivered Jesus the same way that all mothers deliver their babies.

4. Name the theological virtues and the cardinal virtues.

5. What century produced the greatest number of saints who were later recognized as doctors of the Church?

6. True or false: Transubstantiation is the term given to the belief that Christ is made present in the Eucharist by the change of the substance of bread into his body and of the substance of the wine into his blood.

7. What are the precepts of the Church?

8. What are the holy days of obligation observed in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis?

9. What are sacraments and what are their names?

10. Match the following numbers with the appropriate letters:

1. St. Augustine 2. St. Francis de Sales 3. G. K. Chesterton 4. Thomas a Kempis 5. John Henry Newman

A) The Everlasting Man B) The City of God C) Essay on the Development of Doctrine D) Introduction to the Devout Life E) The Imitation of Christ

11. What are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit?

12. In the entire Bible (Old and New Testaments), only one book was not written by a Jew. Who was he?

13. What’s wrong with the designation “a lay deacon”?

14. True or false: Purgatory is a place where a soul goes after death to be purified.

15. The Church lists 37 antipopes, men who claimed the papacy in an uncanonical manner. Nevertheless, one of them is honored as a saint. Who was he?


1. The Incarnation means that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, while retaining his divine nature, assumed our human nature, body and soul.

2. False. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, when she was conceived by her parents, was preserved from all stain of Original Sin.

3. False. The Church teaches that Mary remained a virgin before, during and after the birth of Jesus. “During” means that she remained physically intact (her hymen wasn’t broken). It was, therefore, a miraculous birth.

4. The theological virtues are faith, hope and charity. The cardinal virtues are prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice.

5. Ten of the 33 doctors of the Church were born in the fourth century (with Athanasius only three years earlier). The 16th century takes second place with six.

6. True.

7. The precepts, sometimes called the Commandments of the Church, require us to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, confess mortal sins at least once a year, receive Communion during the Easter season, keep holy the holy days of obligation, observe the prescribed days of fast and abstinence, and provide for the material needs of the Church.

8. The feasts of Mary, mother of God (Jan. 1), Assumption of Mary into heaven (Aug. 15), All Saints (Nov. 1), Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8), and Christmas (Dec. 25). Some former holy days have been transferred to Sundays.

9. The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. They are baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance or reconciliation, matrimony, holy orders, and anointing of the sick.

10. 1-B, 2-D, 3-A, 4-E, 5-C.

11. Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

12. St. Luke.

13. Once a man is ordained a deacon he is no longer a layman.

14. False. Purgatory is not a place. It’s a process of purification whereby every trace of sin is eliminated and every imperfection is corrected.

15. St. Hippolytus, the first antipope and a great theologian, was reconciled to the Church before he died.

How did you do? Whether you got them all correct or missed some, we believe one thing is certain: You’re never too young or too old to learn about the faith.

— John F. Fink

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