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Ann Naffziger :
123 article(s)

Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
January 23rd, 2015

Q: The gospel reading from Luke 20:34-36 says:
Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.”
I’m really confused about this. Is Jesus stating that only those that don’t get married will be resurrected?
A: The language order of this passage is confusing. Jesus is speaking to a point about those who will be resurrected and will not then need the institution of marriage. He is not stating which marital state is…

January 16th, 2015

Question: Where in the Bible does it say one must go to confession? I believe it was made up at some time so the “church” could know what its parishioners were doing. I pray daily to God and ask forgiveness of sins personally. They are forgiven. Why would I want to tell them to someone else? Priests are no “closer” to God than I am. What say you?
Kudos to you for praying daily and asking God for forgiveness for your sins. These are vital steps in healing wounds caused by human failings. Yet there is more to the healing process…
Although the Bible doesn’t spell out the rubrics for going to confession — aka the Sacrament of Reconciliation — the Church practices it. The Sacrament…

September 12th, 2014

According to the Bible, yes, Eve was Adam’s only wife. There is no other reference to Adam having an intimate relationship with another woman than Eve, the woman formed from his rib (Genesis 2:18-23).
Many centuries after the Bible was written and compiled, a Jewish legend grew up about a woman named Lilith who was said to have been Adam’s first wife, created from the same ground and at the same time as Adam. In the Middle Ages this legend was greatly developed, especially the notion that Lilith left Adam and the Garden of Eden when she refused to be subservient to her husband. Sometimes today, this Lilith figure still shows up in cultic and literary references.…

September 9th, 2014

Q: In spiritual law, men leave their mothers for their wife, when they marry. But if a man chooses to love and cherish the mother OVER the wife, isn’t this a conflict that God would not encourage?
There is nothing in scripture that declares that a man should love or cherish his wife more than his mother, but it simply points to a change in the relationship that marriage occasions for the man (Gen 2:24). A man is called to a different manner of loving his mother than his wife, and these different kinds of loving can’t be compared quantitatively. Once a man marries, his relationship with his mother will necessarily need to be reoriented, not lessened. If he finds that he can’t find it in himself to love another woman…

September 4th, 2014

There is a distinction here between believing in the Bible and believing in the God that is revealed in the Bible through Jesus Christ. As Catholics, we affirm that the Bible contains sacred scripture which was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but that “in sacred scripture, God speaks through human beings in human fashion.” (Dei Verbum, Vatican II).
The Bible was written and compiled over more than a one thousand year period with influences from cultures very foreign to our own. Human culture and societies have developed and changed since then. So although slavery and the treatment of women as property rather than persons is abhorrent to us in America in the year 2014, it must be understood…

August 20th, 2014

The assumption that everything in the Bible has been “rewritten” by modern men is incorrect. The Bible has been translated innumerable times since the last book of it was penned 1,900 years ago, but it has not been “rewritten.” The common English translations we use now — for example, the New American Bible – have been translated directly from the original Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) texts. They have not been corrupted like a phrase in the game of “telephone” in which the original message is distorted by many participants consecutively. In fact, when we compare the content of today’s Bibles with the most ancient copies in existence, they are remarkably consistent.…

August 14th, 2014

Q: How do you reconcile the commandment to “love thy neighbor” when he/she is not living in the image of God without become too judgmental so as act like the elitist high priests that Jesus spoke out against?
Saint Augustine’s well-known axiom “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” may be helpful here. All people are deserving of love, precisely because they are created in the image of God. However, that doesn’t mean that we should be accepting of sinful behavior. Depending on your relationship to the particular person and your role in his/her life, it may be appropriate for you to challenge the person and sound a call to conversion. If you decide to do so, the impetus should be to “speak the truth…

July 31st, 2014

Purgatory is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, and in fact the word did not come into common parlance until the twelfth century. However, the concept of a process whereby souls are purified before they enter heaven was evident in very early Christianity. Going back even further, there is a Jewish tradition that praying for the dead furthers the purification of a soul(s). Although sometimes Purgatory is imagined as a physical place, the Catholic teaching is that Purgatory is the “final purification of the elect.” The Catechism of the Church describes it this way;
“All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assure of their eternal salvation; but after death…

July 17th, 2014

Q: I would like to know where and what type of Bible that is written in Layman’s terms that I can fully understand and remember. I have to reread my bible and still cannot understand some of the scriptures.
Perhaps the best way to go about finding a Bible with a translation that you like and feel comfortable with is to go to a bookstore and peruse their shelf of Bibles. There are many to choose from. Flip through to see what language is most appealing to you. While the New American Bible (NAB) and the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) are two of the most common translations read in the United States, you don’t necessarily have to choose one of them. A contemporary idiomatic English version that is gaining more appeal…

July 10th, 2014

How does the person doing the reading know to say ‘letter from Paul’ when in the prayer book it just says Corinthians etc.? I’d like to do the readings but I don’t know these details.
Lectors who are doing the readings from the Bible at mass read them from a book called the lectionary. The lectionary is formatted to show the lectors which Bible passages to proclaim in which order on which day. Printed above each reading is the preface, for example, “A letter from Paul to the Corinthians.” After the Bible passage the lectionary prints a conclusion such as “The Word of the Lord” or “The Gospel of the Lord.”
If you are interested in doing the readings at mass, simply approach the priest or any…

July 3rd, 2014

Q: Can you help me understand why in Mathew 6:5-15 it states do not pray in repetitions as the heathens do? But yet it appears that the rosary is said in repetitions? And each week seems to be repetitive prayers in the Catholic church (such as the Lord’s prayer)?
I’m unsure which biblical translation you are reading from that refers to praying in repetitions. A couple of good renderings of the Greek in Mt 6:7 are “Do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do” or “do not babble like the pagans.” Simple, direct language will do when it comes to prayer – one need not compose a treatise to address God.
Jesus’ teaching in this section is not a criticism of public prayer, which is sometimes called…

March 21st, 2014

Catholics abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent not because of some rule in the Bible, but because of a tradition begun in the early church. Various books of the Bible encourage the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
It wasn’t long until Church leaders began encouraging abstinence from meat on certain days as well. (The required days for fasting (eating less) and abstinence from meat have varied over the centuries.) These practices of self-denial are considered forms of penance. They are meant to be calls of conversion, to get us back on track if we’ve wandered off from our spiritual journeys. Some people find that fasting and abstaining from meat help them…

March 7th, 2014

There aren’t any specific scriptural passages about miscarried children, or even about the fate of infants who die before they are baptized. You may have heard of the hypothesis of “limbo” which developed a few hundred years after the life of Jesus. At that time, theologians were debating what happens to children who die before they have committed any sins but before they have original sin washed away by baptism. If baptism is considered necessary to be saved, it is a theological problem to imagine that without being baptized a tiny infant would go to hell. So the theory of limbo was proposed, suggesting that these children are in a state of “limbo” (related to the words “liminal” or “edges”)…

February 21st, 2014

Q: If we believe and can prove the “Big Bang,” then what do we make of ideas that God created the seventh day for rest? Should we still rest?
The creation stories in the Old Testament weren’t written as science textbooks trying to explain the literal origin of the world. They were “etiological stories” written as a way to grapple with philosophical questions such as “Why are we here? What kind of a being or God created this world? What is our relationship to the rest of the material world?” As such, we can hold a scientific belief in the Big Bang while still holding the values taught in Genesis. In this case, we can continue to “honor the Sabbath” by intentionally taking rest one day a week because of the…

February 4th, 2014

Question: In the Old Testament, God actually spoke or communicated with people. Why has he stopped?
The United Church of Christ has a campaign adamantly reminding anyone who will listen, “Never place a period where God has placed a comma. God is still speaking.” Given the lack of Old Testament prophets around to proclaim “Thus says the Lord your God…” the challenge for us is to discern how God is still communicating with us now.
The writers of the New Testament insisted that God was communicating, primarily through the words and actions of Jesus. Since then, it has fallen to those who pray and study the Bible to tease out how the words of Scripture continue to speak God’s word to us today. There are still…

November 29th, 2013

For millennia, humans have looked upon suffering or evil in the world and asked this question. If God is perfect, then how come our world isn’t perfect? Why is there evil and pain in this world? Did God make a mistake(s) in creating an imperfect world? Does God still make mistakes? Our Catholic teaching answers a resounding “no” to these questions.
Various teachings from the ancient creeds, the early Church fathers, and the Catechism state the following:
“God is the fullness of Being and of all perfection … In God, power, essence, will, intellect, wisdom, and justice are all identical… God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us…”…

November 22nd, 2013

Does God have everything already planned and is he completely omniscient? In Isaiah 38:5, God tells Hezekiah he is going to die very soon but Hezekiah begs to the Lord to live and the verse says the Lord changed his mind and added 15 years to Hezekiah’s life. So did he already know he was going to add 15 years to Hezekiah’s life? if so why did he tell Hezekiah he was about to die when he was ill.
This is a question of predestination, an extremely slippery concept that has given theologians fits for all of Judeo-Christian history, caused massive conflicts among various denominations, and is still argued about today. The concept is tricky because scripture includes other examples in which God appears to change…

November 15th, 2013

Since a rapture in the linguistic sense of “the carrying of a person(s) to another sphere of existence” has yet to happen to any human among us (disregarding the issue of Christ’s ascension here), perhaps your question is better phrased as “Will there be a rapture”?
If you ask this question of a fundamentalist Christian, the answer would most likely be yes. They would point to Paul’s statement in 1 Thess. 4:16-17 that
“We who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them (those who have already died) to meet the Lord in the air.”
Catholics generally answer “no” to this literalistic reading of scripture. After all, St. Paul’s writing clearly showed…

October 15th, 2013

Q: In simple terms, when God made the covenant with Noah, he said he would not destroy everything he created, including animals, birds, etc., by flood again and gave us the signature of this covenant with a rainbow. The deaths due to floods today, is that just an act of nature and not God?
This is a question that commonly arises after natural calamities such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, or wildfires. If our God is good and the created world is good – as God declares in the first chapter of Genesis – then how is it that so many still perish in natural disasters today? Why does God allow this? Are natural disasters acts of God’s judgment against humanity?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives a resounding…

September 27th, 2013

The verse in question here is the only verse in the New Testament that appears to suggest that Jesus had something “inscribed” on his body. However, such a suggestion is in direct contradiction of a law in Leviticus 19:28 “You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you.” Not only would the idea of a Jewish man having a tattoo be shocking, even more so is the suggestion that his thigh would be exposed, something basically equated with public nudity in Jesus’ time and religious culture.
A theory that easily explains such a contradiction is that the book of Revelation was originally written in Hebrew, not Greek as previously assumed. If that is the case, a miniscule copying…

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