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  1. Commenting from the point of view of a catholic, there exists no prohibition to my knowledge against purchasing goods/services from a Muslim individual. Perhaps surprisingly, the official position of the church recognizes the commonality with the Mohammedans in that they recognize Abraham. In general, Catholicism (meaning universal) seeks to reach out to all people worldwide as commanded by Jesus Christ. Of course, exercise of prudence is always advised. If an individual or a business is known to have ties to extremist organizations, then the potential for funneling of money to these nefarious ends must be taken into consideration and all due diligence must be exercised. A little common sense should go a long way in these matters.
  2. A good question. It touches upon a teaching that is at best quite difficult to comprehend. The orthodox teaching is that of the trinity. According to this teaching "God" is defined in the trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is believed that the one God eternally exists in three persons; and that these three are one God, co-equal and co-eternal, having precisely the same attributes and natures, and worthy of precisely the same worship, confidence, and obedience. Broken down into smaller statements it can be said regarding the trinity: there is one God only, He exists in three persons, they are equal and eternal, they are worthy of equal praise and worship, they are distinct yet act in unity, they constitute the one true God of the bible. Struggling with these difficult ideas the early church distilled them down into two basic premises: one in essence, and three in person. When we say these things we mean that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but they are not three gods but only one God. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father, but each is God individually and yet they are together the one true God of the Bible. Is your head hurting yet? Perhaps defining what the trinity is not may help to clarify. First of all, Christians don't believe in three Gods. That's a heresy called Tritheism. Second, we don't believe that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are three "forms" of God—like, steam, water and ice. That's the heresy called Modalism. Third, we don't believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are "parts" or "pieces" of God. That would imply that Jesus is 1/3rd God, the Father is 1/3rd God, and the Holy Spirit is 1/3rd God. If you're like me, by now your head might be spinning. After all, if we could explain God, he wouldn't be God. I have no doubt that God is much more than "one in essence, three in Person," but since I can't even understand those simple phrases, I don't worry at all about what else might be true about God. If you feel baffled by the Trinity, join the crowd. The greatest minds of history have stood in amazement before a God so great that he cannot be contained by our puny explanations.
  3. My understanding is that our forgiveness of others is to be unconditional. We are told to forgive 70x7; essentially extending the same forgiving mercy to others as Christ extends to us through His infinite mercy. When we forgive we reorient ourselves not only to the insulting party being forgiven, but we also reorient ourselves to the Father by not allowing the insult of another's treatment of us to fester within us so as to destroy our peace and joy. We must be aware of the potential for sin following anger. Forgiving another, even one deemed to be unworthy of forgiveness by virtue of their sin or refusal to contrition and/or reparation is actually an act of self-preservation. Through love of our fellow man we find ourselves protected by the grace of the Almighty. We remain clean in a sinful world. We must have faith in the perfect administration of God's justice in the context of His infinite mercy. Remembering the Lord's prayer, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us". Our act of forgiveness will assure us of the best possible treatment regarding our own sinfulness.
  4. What would Christ do? Would He cast the sinner away forever unforgiven, eternally lost? Or would He lovingly embrace the sinner extending forgiveness 70 x 7 while commanding repentance and contrition, absolving all sin (even the abhorable sin of abortion) releasing the sinner from the hold of the netherworld to "sin no more"? We Christians must always try to imitate Christ in our lives; a truly tall order to say the least. I believe it would be best to maintain a loving relationship with your friend, acknowledging the gravity of her sin of abortion, but always being supportive of her ability to choose to accept the infinite mercy of Christ. We must never judge the condition of another's soul. Ultimate judgement is the sole domain of God the Father. Hate sin, love sinners; not for their sinfulness but because they are human souls created by God. Judge not; lest ye be judged. Pretty sound advice I believe. Finally, in seeking an answer to your question I advise that you pray, pray, pray. Then sit quietly, patiently open to the divine inspiration that will be given to you in God's good time. He will speak to your heart on a personal level. He wants to guide you, to comfort you, to save you. We are all precious to Him beyond our ability to discern. Forgive others; forgive yourself and trust totally in God's grace. He will not abandon any of us if we open ourselves to Him despite our dreadful sinfulness. To believe otherwise is to disrespect our creator and our precious savior.
  5. It is possible to follow the law (the Torah-the teachings) and not accept Christ. Paul states with great elegance the relationship between adherence to the law and justification through belief and acceptance of Christ in the book of Romans. It is not by our own works in following the law that we may be saved. Not even the best of us can adhere to the tenets with the degree of perfection required for salvation. Only through faith in Christ's salvific work can we be lifted from the profanity of our current state. He tells us His yoke is light. Our salvation is our birthright. Of course, we should attempt our best effort in good faith to keep God's commandments, knowing however, that we will stumble. In humility, we can take great comfort in knowing that God's mercy is infinite, far beyond anything we can imagine. He will never let us become lost as long as we aspire to His call. Pray always and keep yourselves open to divine inspiration.
  6. Great question. My comments are based upon a perspective of Catholicism. Aside from the issue of identifying homosexuality as being a sin or not (quick review of biblical text can clarify this point), the church teaches a non-discriminatory stance toward these individuals with regard to inclusion. If homosexuality is a sin, those guilty of practicing this must be treated as any other individual guilty of sin. We must remember that all are guilty of sin. If one were to be cast out from a church due to the presence of sin, churches would be empty. Christ through His selfless sacrifice has purchased our redemption. He invites us to reject sin and trust in Him solely for our forgiveness and salvation. Yes, we are a church of sinners, including the church leaders. If any deny this, the spirit is not in him. Non-discrimination in no way offers justification of sin, but rather continues to invite the sinner to repent and accept the forgiveness and salvific offer of Jesus Christ. Love the player, hate the game.
  7. Dear Billiards Ball (love the moniker), thanks for commenting on my post. Yes, discernment of Truth vs what we may believe to be truth can very well lead one down a difficult path. Stepping out into the unknown is a scary thing. The receipt of the holy spirit requires an act of faith on our part. It is vitally important to maintain purity of intent and a sense of deep trust in God. He who knows our every intent will not forsake us. However, we live in the natural world and are prone to question and doubt. It believe that if truth and revelation need be tested, examining them within the context of the two great commandments can help to ally our fears of misinterpretation. If our notions do not conflict with the tenets to love God with our whole mind, heart, and soul and to treat our neighbor as we would have him treat us, then we may rest assured that we should be heading in the right direction. It's a journey, the greatest one we'll ever take. Yes, it will be fraught with danger, but He will always provide the necessary grace to those who pursue with purity of heart.
  8. I see that you have already obtained many excellent answers to your question concerning Jesus receiving punishment for our sins. I'll not reiterate this point further. I would like, however, to invite you to pray daily for openness to the holy spirit - the spirit of truth. Of course, written scripture as always is the primary usual source for our information regarding spiritual matters. But, daily prayer and the fostering of an openness to God's truth rendered in a direct manner (the basis of mysticism) will give you an insight not readily obtainable through intellectual avenues. In my experience this does take time and requires a fundamental change in the way we perceive truth. It is worth the effort though to be able to say we "know". May the peace and joy of Christ be with you.
  9. In my experience, being touched by the Holy Spirit can be recognized by a deeply peaceful joyous perception. For me, occasionally, the proverbial clouds break and a ray of light comes shining down. At those times, which are unfortunately too few at present and hopefully to become more frequent, I sense deeply the aforementioned peace and joy I believe to be a tiny glimpse of heaven. It's different from the typical sense of happiness associated with created things. It's easy to understand the happiness that comes with maybe getting a new car, or having a good meal, or maybe even having good friends and family. But, the peace and joy to which I refer seems to be dependent on nothing of this world. It just is. I believe this is where our true God given joy lies. It is the spirit of truth and of joy and of an abiding peace which is indescribable. It's what He wants for us. Always trust in Christ. He asks us to reject sin and to trust in Him solely for our forgiveness and our salvation. You'll know when the Holy Spirit is in you. It's not something you will have to figure out. In that state of communion there will be no doubt. Only peace and joy dependent on no created thing. Pray for the faith and hope that someday that communion will be eternally present for you. Let me know what you think about this if you get the chance. Thanks
  10. We were created by God to exist in a free, perfectly loving, eternal relationship with Him. That relationship was severed when the decision for sin was made. In His infinite love for us God became manifest in the world in the person of Jesus Christ for the purpose of reestablishing that relationship for us. During His time on earth He served as a mediating priest, as well as, a priestly sacrifice. He lived a sinless life, died on the cross in accordance with the scriptures, taking upon Him the punishment for the sins of mankind. He was raised as a new non-corrupted being signifying the satisfaction of God's wrath with humanity. He invites us to reject sin and to trust in Him solely for our forgiveness. By rejecting sin and trusting in Him we are ushered into a new life, imperfectly while here on earth, and perfectly after death in heaven . What a joyous message! In a few hours we Christians will acknowledge the reality of the miraculously risen Christ; our very salvation. I wish you all joy and peace in Christ's spirit this Easter.
  11. I'm sorry to read that you are having trouble getting along with your family. Someone very close to me has had similar problems. They grew up in an alcoholic family with many siblings (4 sisters and two brothers). As time passed some of them grew further apart and harbored resentments and anger for the others. All well on in years now and facing the reality of watching their mother slowly wind down in old age, they are beginning to see in some small way that life is short and we will not always have the opportunity to make amends or extend forgiveness. I don't know what the situation is with you and your family, but try to heed Christ's teaching regarding the necessity to forgive 70 x 7, basically forgive always and subsequently leave the door to reconciliation open. We can't always have the type of family life we'd like to have. Sometimes others make that impossible. Try to see the other's point of view. If possible, try to compromise when both people have valid perspectives. Pray for the strength to work through problems rather than walk out. Sometimes, despite our best efforts no agreement can be reached. At that point we can try to be as kind and loving of the other person as they will allow while not necessarily adopting their point of view. Life gets messy. Work to establish a personal relationship with Christ. Talk to Him every day. Open your heart to Him just like you would to an earthly trusted friend. It will change your life and show you things that you could not have imagined.
  12. As we near Easter I pray that you will all grow in faith of the risen lord who selflessly gave Himself up in a most costly manner for our salvation. I wish the peace and joy of Christ for you as we approach holy week. May we take a moment to reflect upon the great gift that has been offered to us; not because we deserve it, but because we are so infinitely loved. Thanks you Jesus.
  13. Yes, I believe that our current society poses significant hardships for those individuals attempting to bridle their concupiscent sexual appetites. Technology may be partly responsible for this in your face sort of 24 hour a day barrage of stimuli. However, this phenomenon has been present since man has walked the earth. The good news is that although seemingly difficult, we can master our domain to coin a Seinfeldian phrase. The age old practices of prayer, fasting, and doing acts of charity/alms giving can serve to function as the foundation for building a string shield. Ask for the grace of Christ in keeping centered. We will stumble on occasion by our very nature, however God will never stop loving us and supplying us with the tools we require. In time we will be strengthened in our ability to resist the onslaught. He will never abandon us.
  14. Thank you Mike 2 for your well thought out comments. These present a quite logical premise. Each time I observe a seeming contradiction in the bible I assume that I've misinterpreted or missed something somewhere. It is a deep book. Thanks again for the input.
  15. Justification by faith vs works. An age old question by now. It is true that by our own works we cannot attain salvation. Paul is quite clear on this concept in Romans and Galatians. However, we must reconcile James statement that faith without works is dead. Any thoughts?
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