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I'm in Confirmation and I'm learning a ton. This website is a huge help too! It seems like there is a lot of "stuff" beyond the Bible that we should know as Catholics. I'm talking about holy days, Confirmation gifts of the Spirit, angels, etc. Where do I begin to learn more about all this stuff? Where do i start?

There are so many questions that come in asking about different Catholic traditions, etc. One of the greatest gifts we have as Catholics is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This book doesn't "make up teachings"...like many people ignorantly or mistakenly believe. No, the Catechism outlines what the Scriptures affirm and Traditions teach us. The Catechism "unpacks" and explains deep teachings, in more understandable ways.

There is way too much to cover here - but how about some quick answers to popular questions regarding rituals and practices in the Catholic faith, like the ones you outlined?

These are five rapid-fire questions and answers. These answers are not complete – they are jumping off points for answers with Catechism references for each one. Be sure to take the time to keep reading. (Incidentally, when you look them up in the Catechism, there are always Scriptural footnotes, too, if you’re looking for Biblical references).

1. What are the seven deadly sins?

The commonly held list of the seven deadly (or capital) sins come as much from literature as from Sacred Scripture (although all of them are listed in Scripture, not in a cohesive “list”).

The seven deadly sins are as follows:

  • Anger
  • Envy
  • Gluttony
  • Greed
  • Lust
  • Pride
  • Sloth

    For more on them, check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1846-1876, 2088-2089.

    2. What are the different types of angels?

    That’s a great question. The name “angel” comes from a Greek word aggelos or the Hebrew word malakh, both meaning messenger.

    It was in about the fifth century or so (most believe) that these different classifications or “ranks” and stations of angels and the heavenly angelic hierarchy was established:

  • Seraphim
  • Cherubim
  • Thrones
  • Dominions
  • Virtues
  • Powers
  • Principalities
  • Archangels
  • Angels

    Of the nine “types”, each has different functions. Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones are dedicated to the contemplation of God. Dominions, Virtues and Powers govern the universe in its totality. Principalities, archangels and angels are dedicated as God’s messengers.

    Read more about them in the Catechism #327-330.

    3. What are the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit?

    Did you get these confused during Confirmation class, too? I still do, some days…before I’ve had my coffee. There are seven gifts and twelve fruits.

    The Sacrament of Confirmation stirs into action the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit…

    The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are:

  • Wisdom
  • Understanding
  • Counsel (Right judgment)
  • Fortitude (Courage)
  • Knowledge
  • Piety (Reverence)
  • Fear of the Lord (awe)

    The Fruits of the Holy Spirit:

  • Charity
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Generosity
  • Gentleness
  • Faithfulness
  • Modesty
  • Self-control
  • Chastity

    You can read more about this in Isaiah 11:1-2, Galatians 5:22-23 and in the CCC #1830-1832.

    4. What are the Holy Days of Obligation?

    The Holy Days are As you may or may not know, the word “holiday” is actually a derivation from the Old English phrase, “Holy day.” “Holiday” was a shortened way of saying “holy day.” These two words are the same, they are intimately linked. Holy days are like holidays for the soul.

    The holy days are as follows (CCC #2177):

  • January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Thursday of the 6th Week of Easter, the solemnity of the Ascension
  • August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • November 1, the solemnity of All Saints
  • December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
  • December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

    These are the holy days (and all Sundays) that are generally accepted in the universal Church. In addition to these days, the Catechism also lists the Epiphany and Corpus Christi (both celebrated on a Sunday), the feast of St. Joseph and the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

    Oh, lastly…we should be calling them “Holy Days of opportunity”. God is good to us, so good that He offers Mass to us every day. Take advantage of the gift as often as possible, daily if you can. And seriously, don’t miss Holy Days, they are great opportunities to grow closer to God.

    5. What are the different types of prayer?

    There are a lot of different types of prayer “devotions” – ways to pray. All the different ways to pray, however, fit into five different “categories”. The five main “types” of prayer are as follows:

  • Adoration and Blessing - it’s when you acknowledge who you are and Who God is…that He is Creator and you are His creation. Our prayer ascends to God through Jesus by the Spirit, and the blessing descends from the Father, through Christ, by the Holy Spirit.
  • Petition - it’s when you ask God for assistance and intervention. Incidentally, this is the most common type of prayer for most of us…
  • Intercession - it’s when you pray on behalf of others, you pray for them and not yourself
  • Thanksgiving - it’s when you say thank you for God’s great gifts, so undeserved and so freely given to you
  • Praise - it’s when you exalt God as God, giving Him all praise because of Who He is, not just because of what He does

    What is important is to take a look at which types you most frequently offer and which you don’t. While God loves and honors all types of prayer, it’s a real sign of spiritual maturity when you (and I) can become more balanced in our prayer. That means – we should be careful to spend time praising and thanking and adoring God, too, not just asking him for stuff…

    For more info on this one, check out the Catechism #2626-2643.

    Happy reading - I hope this helped, at least a little!

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