Quick Questions and Answers

Why did God permit Jacob to trick Isaac into giving him Esau’s birthright?

Your question assumes that God acts in human time (past/present/future). God is not bound by such a limitation; all time is equally present to God. The Book of Genesis tells us that the choice of Jacob over Esau was intended all along. The Jacob/Esau story challenges the common assumption in patriarchal societies that God favors the oldest son. Other biblical stories such as the choice of David, Jesse’s youngest son, convey the same message. Similarly, Jacob chose Rebecca over her older sister, Leah.

My autistic son has chosen not to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation because he thinks he might join another religious group later.

I suggest that you not force the issue because you may well later regret doing so. His present faith level is probably the best that he can do now. Keep praying that his faith will grow.

Will I see my dog in heaven?

Yes, according to Father Jack Wintz, OFM, my fellow friar and longtime writer and editor for this publication. Paraclete Press published his book based on your question. If we think of heaven as exclusively where morally good conduct is rewarded, then animals are excluded because they are incapable of genuinely morally good or evil conduct. But if heaven is the culmination of God’s creation, how could animals, sunsets, and butterflies be excluded? The blessing of pets on or near the feast of St. Francis supports the heaven-as-the-culmination-of-God’s-creation approach.

What caused the split among Christians in AD 1054?

The mutual excommunications of the pope and the patriarch centered on the role of the bishop of Rome within the worldwide Church. Tensions had been simmering for centuries. For example, the Church in the East never accepted the West’s changing of the Nicene Creed to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father and God the Son. Those excommunications were formally rescinded by St. Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras on December 7, 1965. Relations between their successors have improved greatly since then.

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