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  1. Purgatory is the place where the righteous who have yet to attain perfection go. Although it is officially part of Heaven, one could view it as being on the outskirts or borderlands between Heaven and Earth. Because of its proximity to our own world, redemptive suffering can still occur in that place. The inhabitants of Purgatory are fulfilling the Scripture, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). They have already made a definitive choice for Jesus Christ during earthly life, are now sealed for life everlasting, and enjoy the fulness and happiness of the beatific vision with the rest of the Saints. They have the blessed knowledge of the truth about all things. Indeed, it is the very experience of Heaven which compels them to remain at the borderlands and strive for a higher degree of holiness. Therefore, Purgatory would be more similar to the Mormon concept of the Telestial or Terrestrial Kingdom, but with the Holy Trinity fully present along with a means to ultimately work one's way up to the highest degree of glory that is possible for a given individual. It would not be at all similar to spirit prison, which is a place where those who have rejected the Gospel or have not heard of it go. One makes their choice for or against God, according to whatever lights they are given, in this life only.
  2. Jason is right. And the restriction on receiving Holy Communion has to do with pragmatic concerns, like preventing priests from over-exerting themselves by celebrating too many Masses in one day. It also helps combat the scrupulous tendencies of certain individuals who would turn Christianity into a numbers game of attending more and more Masses (you know someone would do it). The reasons behind the restriction are similar to those behind secular university policies that cap the number of hours a student can take and the number of sections a professor can teach. These rules are in place to make sure the student has time to assimilate and apply what they've learned to situations outside the classroom. The spiritual life is analogous: you get fed at Church so you can go out and feed others.
  3. Well, besides that site, of course. Look, bottom line is, if you quiz me, I promise I won't use any sources whatsoever. I'll shoot straight from the hip. I'm actually kind of curious just how much I really know about you all.
  4. I like to think I have a general working knowledge of basic Mormon doctrine. But I wouldn't know unless it were put to the test. If you're proposing a religious quiz game, count me in! And you know I can't cheat because all the information online about your church appears to be rather inaccurate at best.
  5. Well, yeah. Anachronisms are intrinsic to the act of translation. If you said "ears of corn" to a British guy, he may think of a sheaf of wheat rather than maize. It's mainly about how the meaning of words change as language evolves over time. Assuming Joseph Smith actually translated an ancient text, it's very conceivable that he would select English words that would have meanings somewhat anachronistic to the original text. For example, the NLT Bible translates Song of Songs 1:3, "How fragrant your cologne; your name is like its spreading fragrance. No wonder all the young women love you!" Now, that's fine as far as it goes, since cologne is what we call male perfume nowadays. However, that name for male perfume traces back to fragrances manufactured in Cologne, Germany, which obviously didn't exist in Biblical times. Thus, no Jew would call male perfume cologne. But our act of translation always introduces some necessary anachronisms like that. Indeed, the entire English language, from a certain viewpoint, is anachronistic. That's why knowing dead languages is actually a pretty valuable skill. However, unlike Muslims, most Christians believe that the full integrity of Divine Inspiration is preserved in translation, assuming such a translation follows a sound translation philosophy. That's due, of course, to the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit. And mystic dictation by God would certainly qualify, should it have happened in the case of Joseph Smith.
  6. That's simply because the English word "meat" once encompassed foods like grain, but is now restricted to solely animal flesh in common usage. Hence, you have verses like Genesis 1:29, "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." You can also see this more general meaning of meat in Matthew 3:4, "And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey." From the context though, grain offerings are being discussed in Leviticus 2:13. Looking at the whole chapter, we have: "And when any will offer a meat offering unto the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon: And he shall bring it to Aaron's sons the priests: and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord: And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons': it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire. And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil. And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil. Thou shalt part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon: it is a meat offering. And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in the fryingpan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil. And thou shalt bring the meat offering that is made of these things unto the Lord: and when it is presented unto the priest, he shall bring it unto the altar. And the priest shall take from the meat offering a memorial thereof, and shall burn it upon the altar: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. And that which is left of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons': it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire. No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the Lord, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the Lord made by fire. As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the Lord: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savour. And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt. And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto the Lord, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears. And thou shalt put oil upon it, and lay frankincense thereon: it is a meat offering. And the priest shall burn the memorial of it, part of the beaten corn thereof, and part of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof: it is an offering made by fire unto the Lord." And of course, you have other oddities to the modern ear in this chapter, such as "corn," which of course is native only to the New World. But in British usage, corn refers to cereal grains like wheat or oats. Maize is what the British use where we would choose the word corn. With all this in mind, the NRSV-CE has perhaps the most natural rendering of the passage in modern English. "When anyone presents a grain offering to the Lord, the offering shall be of choice flour; the worshiper shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense on it, and bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests. After taking from it a handful of the choice flour and oil, with all its frankincense, the priest shall turn this token portion into smoke on the altar, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord. And what is left of the grain offering shall be for Aaron and his sons, a most holy part of the offerings by fire to the Lord. When you present a grain offering baked in the oven, it shall be of choice flour: unleavened cakes mixed with oil, or unleavened wafers spread with oil. If your offering is grain prepared on a griddle, it shall be of choice flour mixed with oil, unleavened; break it in pieces, and pour oil on it; it is a grain offering. If your offering is grain prepared in a pan, it shall be made of choice flour in oil. You shall bring to the Lord the grain offering that is prepared in any of these ways; and when it is presented to the priest, he shall take it to the altar. The priest shall remove from the grain offering its token portion and turn this into smoke on the altar, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord. And what is left of the grain offering shall be for Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the offerings by fire to the Lord. No grain offering that you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you must not turn any leaven or honey into smoke as an offering by fire to the Lord. You may bring them to the Lord as an offering of choice products, but they shall not be offered on the altar for a pleasing odor. You shall not omit from your grain offerings the salt of the covenant with your God; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. If you bring a grain offering of first fruits to the Lord, you shall bring as the grain offering of your first fruits coarse new grain from fresh ears, parched with fire. You shall add oil to it and lay frankincense on it; it is a grain offering. And the priest shall turn a token portion of it into smoke—some of the coarse grain and oil with all its frankincense; it is an offering by fire to the Lord."
  7. Dear Friends in Faith, No, I'm not asking who would win in a Father-Son arm wrestling match...but, it is my understanding that the LDS Church teaches that Jehovah and Elohim are separate individuals, namely, God the Son and God the Father, respectively. Is this true? If so, how do Mormons interpret verses such as Isaiah 43:10-11? "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord [Jehovah or Yahweh], and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God [Elohim] formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour." In the King James OT, I am told that "the Lord" translates Jehovah [or Yahweh as it is more probably pronounced] and "God" translates Elohim. Thus, the above Scipture citation would seem to suggest that Yahweh and Elohim are the same entity. Indeed, Elohim, I have been taught, is just the generic Hebrew word for God or "the Divinities," so it would only make sense for the Israelites to say, "Yahweh is Elohim alone," just as a modern English speaker might say, "The Lord is the only God." Indeed, this is said explicitly in Deuteronomy 4:35, "Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord [Jehovah or Yahweh] he is God [Elohim]; there is none else beside him." Therefore, how would a Mormon respond? Sincerely in Christ, Geoffrey
  8. The use of blessed salt traces back to Judaism, "You shall season all your cereal offerings with salt; you shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be lacking from your cereal offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt" (Lev. 2:13, RSV-2CE). Other places where the use of consecrated salt is mentioned are 2 Chron. 13:5, Num 18:19, Ezek. 43:24, and Gen. 31:54. And Elisha used blessed salt to bless and purify water in 2 Kings 2:20-22. In Catholicism, blessed salt is created for consecrating buildings and places for sacred use. It can also be used in cooking meals, and it is used in exorcisms and for warding places against evil spirits. In the Roman ritual, the blessing of salt is as follows (the Maronite version employs much more flowery speech and alludes to more Biblical episodes, but the substance of the prayer is the same, and that's what counts): “Almighty God, we ask you to bless this salt, as once you blessed the salt scattered over the water by the prophet Elisha. Wherever this salt (and water) is sprinkled, drive away the power of evil, and protect us always by the presence of your Holy Spirit. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.” Because of the prominent use of salt in sacrifices and rituals, Our Lord Jesus Christ metaphorically referred to his followers as "the salt of the earth" (cf. Matt. 5:13). This alludes to the Christian duty to give flavor to the whole world and offer all of creation back to Our Heavenly Father as a sacrifice. Salt is a symbol of wholesomeness and richness (cf. Col 4:6). Indeed, the Latin word for wisdom, sapientia, is the same as that for salty taste.
  9. Catechist: Someone who is certified to teach religious education in an official capacity. In other words, I'm a glorified Sunday school teacher. But, you have the guarantee that I will accurately present Church teaching to you, and not just my own opinions and interpretations. Cantor: Lead singer during worship, in much the same manner that a Jewish cantor functions. Subdeacon: The lowest rank of Holy Orders. I will sub for the deacon when he's sick (I'm only half-kidding). I will be in charge of prayer ministry, taking communion to the sick, blessing objects such as salt and water, etc. Camaldolese Benedictine Oblate: Camaldolese Oblates
  10. Yes, Connie. I would recommend, The Catholic Church: The First 2000 Years by Martha Rasmussen, printed by Ignatius Press. The text is extremely accessible. It is written for a popular audience. It assumes zero prior historical knowledge. That said, I have seen very few Church histories that are as informative as this one. The book may not be very widely known, but it seems like a general principle that the best resources in any field often tend to be somewhat obscure. If you should decide to purchase the book, I'd love to hear your feedback.
  11. Greetings, Friends! My name is Geoffrey Miller, Obl OSB Cam. I'm a catechist, cantor, and subdiaconate candidate at Our Lady's Maronite Catholic Parish in Austin, TX. I'm also a Camaldolese Benedictine Oblate, hence the funny letters after my name. As a twenty-five-year-old graduate student at Texas State University-San Marcos, I live the evangelical counsel of poverty by force of circumstance, not by choice. When not consuming ramen noodles or writing papers, I enjoy learning about theology, especially as it pertains to living out an authentic Catholic spirituality in the modern world. I blog at: Austin CNM | Author Archives Pomeranian Catholic Anyway, I noticed another thread had been started in which Mormons could ask a Catholic questions, so I figured, why not two threads? I'm an Eastern Catholic (Maronite), so my perspective may be slightly different. I also have formal experience in comparative religion, so hopefully, that will provide me with some unique insights to address your questions. Moreover, as a professional mathematics educator, I have learned to explain very difficult and confusing concepts in a straightforward and understandable manner. Please, ask away! Sincerely in Christ, Geoffrey
  12. Yeah, what Loudmouth_Mormon a much more civil manner than I did.
  13. If you presume to know the interior state of someone's soul, you know neither God nor his Son, who has commanded us not to make such judgments. The kind woman who started this thread only has the best interest of her children in mind, and first and foremost, that is her tithe to The Lord. The fact that she can't pay the tithe asked of her by her church is not her fault, but her husband's. You're blaming the victim here, and accusing the hero of being the villain. Take a step back, draw a deep breath, and consider that Scripture cannot be blindly applied in the same way to every problem. Pray, relax, and check yourself before you wreck yourself.
  14. Thank you for all the excellent, thoroughly detailed sources. I will peruse them over the next week. :)