Why do Catholic churches have statues and icons, when most protestant churches avoid them?

09-17-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

In the Ten Commandments, it says “You shall not make for yourself an idol” (Ex 20:2) and the battle against idolatry was one of the central issues in Hebrew history. In Jewish theology, God is beyond all human comprehension and can not and should not be confined or limited by worshiping an idol, in the way that the Egyptians worshiped a golden calf, or the Philistines or Babylonians worshiped images of clay. Therefore, the use of images is strictly forbidden in the Jewish faith, and likewise in the Muslim faith as well.

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Why do we pause at the end of the Our Father for the priest’s prayer, and follow it with “For the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory…”? Why don’t we say the last part when we are praying by ourselves?

09-03-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

The Lord’s Prayer comes to us from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In the most ancient versions of these texts, the prayer ends with “deliver us from evil.” Within a couple of centuries, however, later versions of the Gospels, along with other ancient liturgical documents record the addition of the Doxology (“For the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory are yours, now and forever”). For almost 1900 years, then, there has been a debate about whether those additional words belong in the Our Father prayer.

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Why are there different Eucharistic Prayers?

08-27-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

Since our very beginnings, the Eucharist has been an essential part of what it means to be Church. After all, at the Last Supper, Jesus gave us his body and blood and said “Do this in remembrance of me.” But almost from the very beginning, there have questions about what “this” exactly is. As the Church grew and expanded, different local churches, in Jerusalem, Antioch, Damascus, Alexandria, Constantinople, Rome, and elsewhere had different variations on how to memorialize the Eucharist. These local practices evolved into rites, which most often took on the name of their geographic origin – the Byzantine Rite, the Antiochene Rite, the Roman Rite. For the first eight centuries of the Church, there was no perceived need to create a single, uniform rite.

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Why do we say the Mystery of Faith during the Eucharistic Prayer?

08-20-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

In the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, the people had two spoken or sung responses in the Eucharistic Prayer – the Sanctus (“Holy, Holy, Holy”) and the Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God). Notably, there was no Mysterium Fidei (“Mystery of Faith”) for the people to proclaim. So why did it get added to the post-Vatican II liturgy? It is the solution to a liturgical puzzle.

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Why do we believe in Mary's perpetual virginity?

08-13-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

One of the oldest debates in Christianity regards the perpetual virginity of Mary. All Christians agree that Mary was a virgin when she conceived by the Holy Spirit and became the mother of Jesus. What is unstated in scripture, however, is whether or not she remained a virgin after the birth of Christ, or whether she had normal marital relations with her husband, Joseph. As early as the 2nd century, theologians were debating this topic, and by the 6th century, the Second Council of Constantinople, declared the perpetual virginity of Mary to be dogma, and this teaching has been upheld by the Catholic Church ever since.

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Why do some people hold hands during the Our Father and other people don’t? Is there one right way to do it?

08-06-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

The Lord’s Prayer, the most ancient prayer of the Church, is how we conclude the Eucharistic Prayer. It symbolizes our unity as one Christian people, gathered around the one table of the Lord, sharing in the one, true presence of our Lord present in the Eucharist. To further emphasize this, after the Lord’s Prayer we have the Kiss of Peace, which deepens the bonds of communion among the people.

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What is holy water? What is it used for?

07-30-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

Holy water is water that has been blessed by a priest or deacon. It is a sacramental – not to be confused with a sacrament. Sacramentals are items or objects that have been blessed for a specific purpose – for instance, the oils used for initiation and the sick, the ashes for Ash Wednesday, or the rings for a wedding. These items are not themselves sacraments, but have the purpose of helping to make the mysterious love of God present in a tangible way.

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Why do we pray for the dead?

07-23-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

From the era of the first martyrs and the assemblies of believers gathering in catacombs, praying for the dead has been an essential part of the Christian tradition. As the Preface for the Funeral Rite from Roman Missal so beautifully expresses: “For your faithful, O Lord, life is changed, not ended.” And so just as we pray for the good of our loved ones on earth, we continue to pray for their souls after their bodily death. Each and every time we assemble for Mass, we include a prayer for the dead in both the Prayers of the Faithful as well as the Eucharistic Prayer.

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Why do we pause at the end of the Our Father for the priest’s prayer, and follow it with “For the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory…”? Why don’t we say the last part when we are praying by ourselves?

07-16-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

The Lord’s Prayer comes to us from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In the most ancient versions of these texts, the prayer ends with “deliver us from evil.” Within a couple of centuries, however, later versions of the Gospels, along with other ancient liturgical documents record the addition of the Doxology (“For the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory are yours, now and forever”). For almost 1900 years, then, there has been a debate about whether those additional words belong in the Our Father prayer.

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Why do we name our children after saints? Do we have to?

07-09-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

It has long been a Jewish tradition to name a child after an ancestor – a parent, grandparent, or another elder in the family. It was hoped that the child would take on the qualities that the parents honored and admired in that person.

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What is a pilgrimage? Why do people go on them?

07-02-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

A pilgrimage is a physical and spiritual journey to a place of significance to the faith. For generations, Christians have journeyed to the Holy Land to walk in the steps of Christ, or to Compostela in Spain to honor St. James, or Tepeyac in Mexico to pray with Our Lady of Guadalupe where she appeared to Juan Diego. As Benedict XVI put it: “To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art, or history. To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendor and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe.”

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