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#1 J. Lea Lopez

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 06:16 PM

To what extent, if at all, do Catholics believe in predestination? And would a Catholic priest use the "everything happens for a reason" line?



#2 Lori Sjoberg

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 06:41 PM

Hubs (Catholic school survivor) says yes.  "The lord works in mysterious ways" and "It's all part of God's plan" were the phrases he used when I asked him your question.



#3 TiffanyRos

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 06:57 PM

(<---Raised Catholic) Yes. God has a plan for us all, which we only stray from if we succumb to the Devil and sin and do not repent. . . . . . . . . or at least that is what my old Mother Superior used to say. 


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#4 mwsinclair

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 06:59 PM

Predestination is basically a no-no for Catholics; that's a Protestant concept. If I remember correctly, it's a Presbyterian concept, but I could be wrong about that.

 

Catholics believe in free will, and as such, predestination has no place in that context.

 

As for whether a priest might say that: maybe. From the pulpit, priests might say lots of things. I think it's more likely a priest will say, "We don't know what God's reasons are."



#5 J. Lea Lopez

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 07:09 PM

Yeah when I searched basically every other result said yes, then the others said no, then some said "to an extent, but free will is the ultimate determination of salvation" and stuff like that. This is a one-on-one scene with a Catholic priest and a non-practicing-Jewish-woman-turned-atheist who just decided to pop into confession for a chat lol.



#6 S Jenan

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 12:53 AM

Here's one catholic's perspective:

Predestination is asking a silly human question of an eternal God. Nothing is predestined, because God's great promise (and subtlest jest) is free will. Like a parent, He watches with that exquisite mix of pain and amusement as his progeny find ever-numerous brick walls and concrete barriers to faceplant into.

I think the confusion comes because God exists outside time, and He knows the outcome of our every decision. But this no more constrains our free will than that of our MCs-- page 367 has nothing to say to page 1. God does not write the outcome of our stories; rather He's already there. He's the hare who never dawdles. We are the poor slogging tortoises finding Him relaxing at the finish line.

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#7 Jeanne

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 10:06 AM

I agree. The concept of predestination is a Protestant belief, primarily Calvinism. Catholics believe in free will. S Jenan has explained it well.

 

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#8 J. Lea Lopez

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 11:44 PM

Thanks everyone. This has given me some great stuff to think about and work with.

 

Another question... when you go to confession, how much can you see through the privacy screen/grate thingy that separates priest and penitent? All I have to go by is what I've seen on TV haha. I read that even if the penitent can partially see the priest, the priest usually cannot see through his side. Is this correct? Would it be a stretch for my character to be able to recognize the priest and to be able to see if he's smiling?



#9 mwsinclair

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 08:39 AM

To be honest, that hasn't been mandatory in decades. It's still used in TV and movies because it's more dramatic. You sit in chairs together in a small room. It's like having a conversation now.



#10 Corin.Hamelton

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 12:33 PM

I can only offer this from a University class on Religious Studies.  What one Catholic priest says here in North America would not be surprising if it were different from what another priest says in Rome.  Faith is a matter of belief while religion is a matter of interpretation... and those typically vary by the demands of the cultural population.

 

Roman catholicism is still staunch and unwaivering.  I knew a girl that was a happy Catholic at home until she went to Rome.  Following a very unpleasant experience with a priest there, she gave up her faith.  He told her that she was going to Hell and he wasn't yielding on his condemnation either. I suppose in his mind he was trying to put her back on the path, but it was in conflict with the path that she was already on, and his determination was too harsh.

 

I also know that organized religion has invented sayings that do not exist in the bible, like "God helps those that help themselves"... and such.  As a writer, you can be creative to give a priest his own faith and then have him admit that it deviates from conventional teachings but not in a harmful way, as he smiles warmly.

 

But I'm an Atheist... so I can also tell you this: some people do not like having their religious values and beliefs contorted or interpreted differently.  So tread lightly. 

 

And good luck!


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#11 J. Lea Lopez

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 10:39 PM

Thanks Corin. Not wanting anyone to be offended by any representations of their faith is part of the reason I wanted to make sure I wasn't way off  base with anything. But I suppose my Jew-turned-Atheist going to confession might be enough for that for some people. :-) The religion part doesn't make up the main part of the story, but it's enough that I want to do it justice.



#12 Corin.Hamelton

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 12:21 PM

Well, be respectful and that is all you can do.  At the end of the day, someone is going to be offended because they are close minded to other peoples' opinions no matter what.

 

I remembered that my professor (a priest) believed that the stories in the bible were just fables for people to learn from, that Noah's Ark and such never actually happened.  It wasn't a popular notion with some of the people in class and one guy was very angry about a lot of the lessons all the time.  I thought it was refreshing to hear a personal belief that deviated from theological teachings... I was also the only Atheist in the class too tho.


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#13 mwsinclair

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 02:40 PM

There's a lot you can do with that type of scene, Jen. You might also have the priest talk to the atheist outside the confessional. It's very plausible and might mollify some of those who would be offended by the use of the confessional in that manner.



#14 J. Lea Lopez

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 06:52 PM

There are two scenes in the confessional, but then the conversations will move to more neutral ground. I'm toying with the idea of having the priest leave the Catholic church by the end of the book too. But I'm not sure yet. That would be a secondary event anyway.

#15 mwsinclair

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 02:50 PM

And fairly common. The priest who celebrated my wedding is no longer an active priest. (And if it matters, a priest is a priest for life even if he no longer lives as a priest. I knew a priest who "left the priesthood" and got married; strictly speaking he's still a priest.)



#16 ssouth

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 05:28 PM

S Jenan has given you an excellent explanation of the teachings of the Church on this. Below is a link to an article with more explanations on this, with citations from the Cathecism of the Church.

http://www.catholic....ned-for-freedom

Just popping in for a chat wouldn't really be the proper use of the confessional (which is, in most of the US, just a room and not the old style wooden boxes with screens like in the movies) but no priest wouldn't talk to her if she did that. And as a more traditionalist Catholic myself, I don't think anyone would be offended by that.

As far as priests saying that everything happens for a reason, I've had several priests say that to me myself, so yes, that would be realistic.

#17 Killarneyjt

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 08:53 PM

The confessional screens in my church obscure the person confessing from the priest - each confessional has three doors and is split into three segments. The priest sits in the middle. If you want to go face to face, you enter the door to the left of him. If you want to go behind the screen, you go in the right. The screen allows you to make out the shape of the priest (I guess to be sure he's there :) ) but you'd have to really squint to make out his features. 

Just a note - a lot of confessionals now have windows on the doors, so that you can see if they're occupied.

It would not be totally out of the ordinary for a non-Catholic to come into the confessional. Unless they know the familiar ritual, the priest will know right away whether they are Catholic or not. I asked the priest I worked for once and he said that usually he talks with the person for a bit, then invites them to make an appointment later. (Most priests work in the confessionals on Saturdays just before the afternoon Mass.)

Hope this helps! Lots of good commentary above.



#18 J. Lea Lopez

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 08:07 PM

Thanks, Killarney! That helps out a lot. I'll have to tweak the bits about what she can see through the screen, but I can work with it. And I'm so glad you mentioned the appointment thing too! The second time she goes in the priest does just that, so I'm glad that's not uncommon.

Can I ask what type of parish you're in as far as is it in a big city, smaller town, large congregation? What you're describing is pretty much exactly what I've envisioned for this particular church and priest. Also, I read that it's often a Bishop or elder clergyman that hears confession. Does that sound accurate? And does one priest stay in there all day long?? Thanks again!

#19 mwsinclair

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 05:34 PM

I believe all priests are able/expected to hear confessions in a parish. A bishop is a top official and might be hearing some confessions of kids having their first confession, but outside of where they say mass, it's not all that likely to get a bishop.



#20 J. Lea Lopez

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 07:07 PM

Thanks Matt!




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