Can I defend my faith?
All Catholics are called by Christ and His Church to evangelize the faith. Our Catholic faith is not an easy faith to understand or share.

Unfortunately, many very faithful Catholics have lacked the depth of knowledge to adequately share or defend the truth of the Catholic faith. At a minimum, all Catholics should be able to respond to some common questions about our faith with accuracy and credibility. We offer some common questions here and add new ones periodically.

What Does Our Catholic Faith Teach Us About Violence?

In general, society has been so desensitized to it that we forget the horrific consequences of violence and its devastating effect on human life and dignity. In this context of a casual view of violence, the Catechism deals with it under the section on “Safeguarding Peace” 2302ff.

At the heart of the teaching on peace and violence is the preservation of the rights and obligations of all people. The value of human life and dignity is paramount and we are not excused from the difficult and weighty responsibility that it entails. Our best recourse is to pray for peace and justice and the grace of God to preserve it.

Bishop Matano has asked that prayers continue to be offered for an end to the violence now plaguing our country and our world. While renewing our prayers for the victims of the horrific violent tragedy in Orlando and united in prayer with the families of all who mourn their loss, we also pray for the victims and families of the terrorist attacks in Istanbul, Bangladesh and Baghdad, and throughout the world where the family of God is being torn apart because we do not acknowledge that all life is sacred and we are all God’s children.

This week consider the following:  Marriage . Divorce . Annulment
About one-third of marriages end in divorce in the United States. The reasons for such an outcome are as varied as the individuals involved. The Gospel this weekend tackles the closest of human relationships: the marriage of a man and a woman. In Mark’s story, Jesus quotes the Book of Genesis, pushing together verses from the first and second chapters. In the first chapter of Genesis, humankind is created male and female in the divine image. In the second story of creation in chapter 2, the creation of woman is described as coming out of man, which is why the man now clings to his wife and the two become one. In reflecting this biblical understanding of marriage, the church expects that a sacramental marriage between a man and a woman is permanent, a sign of the union between Christ and his people. At the same time, for a variety of reasons, the church recognizes that not every marriage may be a full and complete sacramental union. Sometimes the love that was professed on the wedding day was not a full and freely given consent to be joined together as one. That is why after a divorce, one or the other party may seek an annulment through the church, recognizing that the first union was not the full and complete sign of unity that is an example of Christ’s complete love for us. If you, or someone you know, are divorced, please be a part of Sunday worship with the community of faith. If you’ve not yet spoken with a priest about your situation, call the parish office to make a confidential appointment. As the Gospel suggests, Christ wants to embrace all his children.

©2012 Liturgical Publications Inc

How do we know if those who act in Christ’s name really belong to Christ or are leading us astray?
For or against us Mk 9:38-40 The disciples are trying to stop (not welcoming?) someone who is acting in Jesus’ name. Their complaint against him is that “he was not following us.” They know that he is acting in Jesus’ name. The problem is that he doesn’t belong to our church, our group. Witherington (The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary) writes: “In short, this passage may tell us more about how the Twelve saw themselves as the only ones authorized to do such things than about the unknown exorcist.” [p. 271].
At this point in the story are the disciples “insiders” or “outsiders”? They don’t understand what rising from the dead means. They are unable to cast out a demon. They don’t understand Jesus’ passion/resurrection prediction. They argue about who is the greatest. Does their lack of understanding make them the “outsiders,” while this unnamed exorcist may be an “insider,” even though he doesn’t belong to the group?
“In Jesus’ name” seems to indicate the motivation by which one does something -- welcoming a child, casting out demons, doing deeds of power. Bearing the name of Christ and acting in Christ’s name seems to indicate belonging to Christ or acting as a representative of Christ or perhaps even, being Christ’s presence.
However, Mk 13:6 states: “Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.”
When we look at v. 40 and its parallels, we have some opposing views.
For who is not against us, is for us Mk 9:40
For who is not against us, is for us Lk 9:50
The one not being with me is against me Lk 11:23a
The one not being with me is against me Mt 12:30a
What about the “luke warm” people who are neither for nor against Jesus? How should we treat the unchurched majority in our neighborhoods? Do we need to try and convert these people who, because they are not for Jesus, must be against him and need to be converted? Should we leave them alone because, since they are not against Jesus, they (unknowingly) must be for Jesus? (However, God may want us to tell them the news that they are serving Jesus or that Jesus is working through their lives even without them knowing or believing it.)
One possible resolution is to note that the first two are concerned with “us,” while the second two are concerned with “me,” i.e., Jesus. Being with or against Jesus is not the same as being with or against us. Edwards (The Gospel according to Mark) summarizes: “Theologically speaking, the church should be unambiguous in its proclamation of Christ but tolerant of those who differ from it” (p. 291).

Excepts from Brian P. Stoffregen Exegetical Notes at CrossMarks Christian Resources

Question: What did Jesus mean when He said, “to be His disciples, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and give our lives for Him”? 
We must live lives of complete and total submission to the will of God.
Denying self requires us to give up anything that we would want or seek that would hinder our doing the will of God.  It means we must place Jesus and His will as the governing power in our lives.
Taking up your cross and following Jesus refers to giving your whole life to God. It is a total dedication of life. Whatever He wants with my life is what must be done with it. He gave Himself for us despite the fact His human nature did not want to have to do it.
Lose your life for Jesus—Anyone who loses his life for Jesus’ sake - gives it in service and sacrifice to God by denying himself, as described above - such a man will save his life by gaining eternal life.
Excerpt from article by David E. Pratte (c) 2005

Question: How do my sins defile me and put my salvation at risk?
The concept of mortal sin has been an integral part of the Christian message since the very beginning. Literally dozens of passages in the New Testament proclaim it a fearful reality.
It was not until the time of John Calvin that anyone would claim that it was impossible for a true Christian to lose his salvation. That teaching would have been condemned as a dangerous heresy by all previous generations of Christians. It would drive people into thinking that their grave sins were really not grave at all, for no true Christian could have committed such sins.

In time the “once saved, always saved” teaching even degenerated in many Evangelical circles to the point that some would claim that a Christian could commit grave sins and still remain saved: sin did not injure his relationship with God at all.
Fortunately, most Christians today reject Calvin’s error, acknowledging that there are at least some mortal sins—sins which kill the spiritual life of the soul and deprive a person of salvation, unless he repents.
The early Church Fathers, of course, were unanimous in teaching the reality of mortal sin. They had to embrace the doctrine of mortal sin precisely because they recognized not only the salvific power of baptism but also the damning power of certain serious sins. The Church taught that “ saves you” 1 Pet. 3:21. However, since during the persecutions some baptized people denied Christ, and since Christ taught that “whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” Matt. 10:33, the Church Fathers recognized that it was possible to lose the grace of salvation after baptism.
The idea that one could never lose salvation would have been unimaginable to them, since it was evident from the Bible that baptism saves, that the baptized can deny Christ, and that those who deny Christ will not be saved unless they repent, as did Peter.