By Mark Shea - OSV Newsweekly, 1/23/2011
1. B — from nothing by the word of God — is correct. (Although D might work if you are not Catholic and define “Scripture” as “the writings of Stephen Hawking,” as, for instance, some Stephen Hawking devotees appear to.)
2. A — the conception of Jesus Christ in the womb of Mary — is correct (the false answer). It’s also something a huge number of Catholics mistakenly believe, which is why this question is included — to correct that. The doctrine that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit by the Virgin Mary is called the Virgin Birth.
3. C — “You shall love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” — is correct. A is a trick answer since these are the first two of the Ten Commandments, but not the two greatest commandments. B refers to the two greatest commandments of secular liberalism. D refers to the two greatest commandments of secular pagan suburbanites as discovered by archaeologists exploring the ruins of ancient “Blockbuster” temples.
4. D — that sex is a blessing intended solely for the Sacrament of Marriage between a man and woman — is correct. The first three answers are all species of the condemned moral theory known as “consequentialism.” We may never do evil in order to achieve some good end.
5. D — the assertion of the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict — is correct. The first three answers are all species of the condemned moral theory known as “consequentialism.” We may never do evil in order to achieve some good end.
6. D — God, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity — is correct. The Holy Spirit is not a warm feeling, but a person. He was not created by anybody since he is God. The New Testament writers merely report the full revelation Jesus made of God’s Trinitarian nature. Similarly, he is not a creature like an angel, because angels are created and God the Holy Spirit is the Creator.
7. D is correct. A, B, and C refer, respectively to Reincarnation, Adoptionism and Sabellianism — all heresies the Church has long rejected. God the Son became incarnate only once. Jesus is not an ordinary man who was “adopted” and made into the Son of God. And the Son, not the Father, became incarnate.
8. A — the inspired and inerrant word of God — is correct. The other answers, while popular, reflect views of Scripture that B) reduce it to a purely human work; C) exalt it to a Divine Codebook that is no longer about revealing Christ but merely God’s Puzzle Book for Divination of the Future; and D) remove it from Christian life rather than making it the source of revelation and wisdom God intends it to be in the life of the Church.
9. The correct answer is D, the true body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ fully present under the appearance of bread and wine. A and B essentially reduce the Eucharist to a form of psychological projection on our part, not a miracle on God’s part. C reduces it to a mere audiovisual aid.
10. B — the fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead in a glorified body on the third day and seen by many witnesses until his glorious ascension — is correct. Alternative explanations for the Resurrection are easy to invent. Good alternative explanations are extremely hard to invent.
11. The correct answer is E, the body of Christ, founded by Jesus himself. A through D, while popular myths, are false. The Church is a window, not a barrier. It was founded by Jesus, who was raised from the dead and proclaimed to be so from the start of the Church on Pentecost. The bishops, while celibate and generally older, do not constitute the entirety of the Church and are commanded by Jesus to teach the faith, so they can hardly be blamed for doing so. Similarly, the Church is more than you and your friends. It also includes all the rest of the baptized who hold the Catholic faith, including that guy you can’t stand and that woman who you find so irksome.
12. E, all. These are, by the way, the only dogmas the Church has about Mary.
13. The correct answer is B, a theological theory currently in eclipse. Limbo is basically a theory that attempts to wrestle with the question of what becomes of unbaptized babies who die, never having committed an actual sin, but without having received the Sacrament of Baptism. It has never been a doctrine of the Church, but neither has it ever been condemned. So Catholics can speculate about it if they like, though most theologians (including Pope Benedict XVI) are skeptical about it. And no, Dante didn’t invent it.
14. C — that the Trinity is one God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit — is correct. A, B, D and E are all popular heresies that suppress, exaggerate or distort the record of the New Testament in various ways. So, for instance, Jesus himself is adamant that there is one God. Similarly, all the Persons of the Godhead are involved in creation, redemption and sanctification. Likewise, all the Persons of the Godhead exist from all eternity, so God does not evolve from Father to Son to Spirit over time, nor does the Father create the other two Persons.
15. D is correct. The faith does not teach that the dead are asleep but instead insists that we remain in communion with those who have died in Christ, both praying for them and asking their prayers. It also denies that we become angels (since angels are a different species than humans) and teaches that our final destiny is to be embodied as Christ is, in a glorified body. Additionally, the Church teaches that hell is the “definitive self-exclusion” of a soul from the society of God and his saints. As such, there is no escape from hell because the damned soul does not want to escape from hell. Purgatory is not hell by another name, but is the process whereby a soul finishes cooperating with grace in order to be fully conformed to the image and likeness of Christ. We can help the souls in purgatory with our prayers and sacrifices in union with Christ.
0-3 correct answers: Yikes! Were you asleep during religious-ed classes? Buy yourself a United States Catholic Catechism for Adults and read it from cover to cover. Stat!
4-7 correct answers: Not bad, but not necessarily good. You may want to see if your parish has a study group you can join.
8-11 correct answers: You’re on the right track, but there’s always room for improvement.
12-14 correct answers: Good job.
15 correct answers: Have you ever thought of being a catechist at your parish?
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