Questions & Answers
By Naima S. Panow, MD, FRCS


I was watching a religious channel from Lebanon called Noursat. Many questions run in the mind of every one of us. Some just follow what the church says and others want to know more and more to know why and why.

I was so impressed to learn and understand why we did not ask these questions before.

This does not mean there is no faith in the heart of these people including me, but we wanted to know more. Every day the priest answers one question.


The questions asked and the answers given by Father Michael, the Carmelite priest.


1- Q- Did Christ, needed to be, baptized? 

A- No, Christ did not need, to be baptized. He is free of sin. He asked John the Baptized    to baptize him to let us know he is joining us in the faith. God glorified his son after the baptism. There was a loud voice saying, “This is my son.”


2- Q- Every picture we see, Christ brings his thumb towards the ring and the small finger, yet he leaves the index and the middle finger hold together?  

A- The three fingers touched together means, the three in one, Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The index and the middle finger together, mean Christ is the Son of God and the Son of Man. On earth, he was both the human man and the divine God.


3-Q-Why many churches say the sign of the cross starting with the head, down to the abdomen, then to the left shoulder followed by the right shoulder. The Eastern churches use the sign of the Cross, starting with the head, the abdomen, the Right shoulder and then the left shoulder. Is there a difference?  

A- The sign of the Cross starts with, the head in the name of God. Down to the abdomen, means God the son came down to the womb of Mary.

The shoulders represent the power. Both shoulders would carry the faith.

The Eastern churches always move the hand to the right shoulder, because, Jesus ascended to Heaven and sat on the right side of God.

Western churches start with the left shoulder and then the right. 

In the West, the parishioners facing the priest read the sign of the cross from left to right.

Both the East and the West use the shoulders as the power. So there is no difference.


4- Q- Why God, created Sin?

A- God did not create the Sin. God did allow the man and the woman to sin. God let them know the meaning of his love to us. God gave us his love by forgiving us if we ask him to strength our will and ask for his forgiveness. He gave every thing to Adam and Eve, yet they refused to accept his love. They refused his love by taking the fruit of the only tree they were, asked not to touch. We see this on daily bases on this earth. Those who have more, they asked for more. They sin, but never ask for forgiveness.

God gave us the will to make the decision. We could follow God’s will or the earth will.


5- Q-Why we always say, “God would punish you. God would kill you. I hope God would make you suffer” Does God truly get angry and hurt us or kill us?

A- These were, taken from the pagan time. Before knowing the true God, the king, the ruler or the Emperor called them selves, God.  

When any body, gets mad or angry, with the other person, used to ask the king to punish that person. They have the power to put them in jail, punish them or kill them.


God never gets angry with us. He is Love and always showed us his love. Christ said, “If you have a problem with your brother, leave your, scarifies placed on the alter and go to your brother and deal with him, before you ask God to accept your gift.”

Christ also told us forgive your brother 7x70 times before your sins are, forgiven. God is Love. God never punish us.


6- Q- How could we know the Holy Spirit is real and is with us?

A- The, Holy Spirit is real. God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit are all in one. The Holy Spirit is like the wind, you feel but you cannot see it. By watching the plants, the branches and trees move, you know the wind is moving. The wind would brush our face, hair, move cold or hot air on our body, we feel it but not see it.


The Holy Spirit does the work of God. Miracles are due to the work of the Holy Spirit.

When Christ was on earth, miracles happened, but no one ever was able to do that before Him. Christ sent the Holy Spirit on those who were waiting to receive his grace.   

Many miracles happened by those chosen by God. They did the miracles by the Holy Spirit and not their own power.  


7- Q- Why, Christ chose 12 Apostles?  He had more people following him

A- Christ had 72 men following him. He sent them two by two to spread the word of God. Christ chose the 12 Apostles and gave them the power of the Holy Spirit.

12 Apostle represent the 12 tribes of Israel.

12= 5+7

Five represents the five wounds of Christ. 5=4+1 four represent the four continents known at that time and only one God worshiped by all of them. 4+1=5

Number seven, is mentioned in the bible so many times. Forgive your brother 7x70 times. The woman who got married to seven brothers who died one after the other. Seven foolish maiden and seven wise women. Seven sorrows of Mary.


8- Q- If Christ is God why he said on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

A- Christ on earth was, both God and living man. He was, crucified as a man and not as God. Christ used to pray all the time, alone or in the temple.

On the cross, Christ was praying and repeating King David psalm -22. Try to read that psalm it is beautiful.


9- Q- If Christ was God then, why he needed the angel to roll the large stone from the tomb.

A- Christ did rise on the third day as he said. He was already out of the tomb with out rolling the stone. The angel came from Heaven to announce the resurrection of Christ.

The three women came to the tomb and were surprised to see the angel sitting at the opening of the tomb, giving them the good news that Christ is not with the dead.  They did not believe the angel, but when they found the Shroud well folded on the side, they realized, Christ the God, was already, risen from the dead as he said. 

Christ walked through the wall and the closed doors to talk to his Disciples. 


10- Q- Why Mary his mother, did not go to the tomb with the three women?

A- Mary already knew her son would, be risen on the third day as he said. Mary believed in the eternal life and the resurrection from the dead. Mary believed in her son being the God. His body would, not be rotted like all of us. 


11- Q- Was Mary present, at the last supper with the twelve Disciples. 

A- The four Gospels did not mention the presence of his mother Mary at the last supper. 

Mary was, mentioned at the wedding of Ghana, the time of scourging at the pillar, the crucifixion and at his death, but Christ took his 12 Disciples to the last supper.

Mary did accompany her son to Jerusalem knowing very well, now is the time to glorify the Lord.


12- Q- Why God tested Abraham and asked him to sacrifice his only son?

A- God wanted us to know how his only son was, sacrificed for us.

Isaac was, presented as the way Christ would be, sacrificed. Abraham took his son to the top of the mountain, tide his both hands, as Jesus hands were tight by the Romans.

Isaac was, placed on the wood to burn the sacrifice to God.  Jesus was, crucified on the wooden cross. Isaac did not fight his father and accepted to be the sacrifice.

Christ did not fight against his father the God. He accepted what he was coming for.

Isaac was, saved by God, sending a lamb to Abraham to be, sacrificed instead of his only son. Christ was, called the Lamb of God.


13- Q- Do we have to go to confession before each Communion? 

A- The reason for the confession is to prepare your self to be worthy to receive the body of Christ. No you do not need to go to confession each time you come to the table to receive the Host. As long as you did not have a sin and you continue to live the right way, you do not need to go to confession.


If you sin and go to confession thinking that, as long as you go to confession, then your sins are, forgiven and you could go back to your sin again until the next confession.

Confession is good only if you mean it deep down in your heart and mind.

Confession to a priest, is a promise to God, you would not commit sin any more and try your best to follow the holy way.


The priest has the right to discuss your sins and ask you why, how and the reason which made you commit the sin. It is up to the priest to give you the absolution or ask you to go back and deal with the problem before he would give you the absolution.

Confession would not heal your sole unless you accept to follow the right way, which helps you to reach the eternal life.


14- Q- Why we have to confess to a priest and not to directly to God?

A- God told his disciples, I give you the right to forgive the sins. He did not tell you and me to forgive our selves. Even the priest, the Bishop and the Pope go to confess to a priest. They cannot forgive themselves.


15- Q- Was the Bible, sent from Heaven?

A-The Bible was written, by the Apostles in their language. St Mathew, St John and St Mark were present when Christ was on earth. They followed him where, ever he went.

St Luke never met Jesus when he was on earth. He talked to Our Lady the mother of Christ, St John, St Peter and those who were around Christ when he was on earth.

St Luke wrote the Bible as a history of Christ on earth. He wrote the bible in Greek language and addressed it to a Greek noble.

The Holy Spirit directed them to write the history of Jesus. There are some differences between the four Gospels, mainly the dates and not the facts.


16- Q- How could I concentrate on the prayer with out thinking or remembering some thing else? Would, my prayer be accepted by God?

A- Every one of us, remember something while praying. If you have a problem in your mind before praying, better deal with it first. When you pray carry a small prayer book in your hand and try to concentrate on what you read.

St Teresa of Avila said, “Better say a short prayer from the heart, rather than a long prayer with many thoughts around you.”

Simple prayers are like talking to God and Jesus in person. Just talk to them for a few moments and from your heart, would be better.  


I was watching EWTN, Mother Angelica talked about these points. Mother said, there was a man claiming that he always concentrate on the prayer and never ever think about something else. The Bishop heard about this man and wanted to meet him.

The Bishop promised the man a horse if he can prove he would never think about any thing else, but his prayer. The man accepted the challenge. While holding the Rosary, the man started the prayer. The Bishop and his priests joined him. Suddenly in the middle of the prayer, the man turned to the Bishop and asked him, “Would I have the saddle with the horse?” The challenge was lost.


17- Q- Why we use the candles and the incense during mass?

A- Candles are, burned to show the light of God. One candle or hundreds burned during the mass or lit in front of the cross mean nothing unless you are ready to burn your self to carry the light of God to others. 

The incense is, used to carry our prayers. Like the cloud would rise up to heaven.

The smell of the incense would help us to join the prayer. King David did pray asking God to accept his prayers like the fumes of the incense to heaven.


18- Q- During the mass, the western churches, give the sign of peace, after the Eucharistic prayer. Why the Eastern churches, Catholic and Orthodox, give the sign of peace before the Eucharistic prayer?

A-The Eastern churches follow the advice of Christ. Jesus did say, “If you have a problem with your brother and your gift at the alter, leave your gift there in front of the alter. First go and reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift.”


In the West the priest give the sign of peace to the people and ask them to give each other the sign of peace. In the East, the priest himself give the sing of peace directly from the alter using his both hands. He gives the peace to the alter boys or the deacon and they take the peace by their two hands to the people on both sides of the church.


19- Q- What is the difference between praying directly to God rather than attending the mass?

A- It is important to pray to God directly but it is more important to receive the body and blood of Christ as he told us in his last supper.

The mass is not only the reading of the Bible and hearing the homely. The mass represents the death and the resurrection of the Lord. Eucharistic prayer is the most important part of the mass. If you notice, the priest would lift up, the plate with the bread and ask the Lord to accept this bread made by the human hand. Then hold the chalice with the wine and a drop of water in it, he lift his eyes up to the Lord asking him to accept this wine from the human hands.

He breaks a piece of the bread and drops it in the challis to represent the body and blood of the Lord. He says the special Eucharistic prayer kneel down after each prayer of the body and then the blood of Christ. Then the priest lifts both the bread plate and the challis in his both hands to represent the resurrection of the Lord.

The consecrate, both the bread and wine to be the body and blood of the Lord.

That is what the Lord said, “Take this as my body and this is my blood, use it for my remembrance.”


Knowing the mass is a gift. Some can understand it and others, go to church and spent the time watching every one around. They go to church as a habit and not to understand or believe Christ is present in the host they received. 


20 - Q- Is it important, to spend the time praying, to reach the eternal life leaving the body neglected?  

A- If you neglect your body, then you do refuse the gift God has created.

God came down to earth as a human. Christ worked hard and never neglected his body.

Taking care of your physical body is important. You could use your physical power to help others and be able to bring more light to those who need it. That does not mean the weaker physically have no souls. They were, created by God and they accepted their physical weakness. Their souls are as powerful as the rest.

Taking care of the appearance by paying so much money to look younger, does not make you more holy. God created our body and should pass through the cycle of life.

Some of us pass through a short time and others longer cycle. God would judge us for what we have done on earth.


21-Q- Is religion important in the family?

A- If there is no religion in the family, there is no peace in that family. Peace in each family, represent the peace in the community and the country. Communication between every religion is important. No communication means no peace between countries and no peace in the world. History has proved the religion is important in the family, the community, the country and the world. We have seen this in our time. The Christians are attacking the Moslems. The Moslems are attacking the Christians and the Jews. The Jews are attacking the Moslems and the Christians.

If there is religion in the family, there is peace in that family. Religious families tends to be closer to gather and to their church, their community and their country.

Religion starts in the family and not at school.


22- Q- Did Mary delivered Christ as God or as a human person. 

A- Mary delivered Christ as a human person, but Christ was God before he was born as a man. The Gospel of John said, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”

Mary did not deliver God. Christ was both the son of man and the son of God.

Mary is not God. We Love her and pray for her to carry our intentions to her son who is God in heaven. We call her the Mother of Christ and the Mother of God.


23-Q- What is the difference between the Old Testament (The Torah) and the New Testament (The Bible and the Act of Apostle)?

A-The Torah was written by the Jews when they were taken as slaves to Babylon.

During these years, the Jews wrote the first history of the Jews and called it the Torah.

They talked about the anger of God, the fighting between countries, how the Jews, were attacked and how much they suffered. They attributed all this to the anger of God.

In the Old Testament, you read how, God killed the enemy, caused the fire and the floods due to the sins of the Jews. God was angry and caused the famine.

They wrote, God asked them to invade, occupy, kill and destroy in the name of God.

All the Jewish Prophets mentioned in the Old Testament, cursed and raised the people against the rulers. Few of them even killed and caused the death of those who did not follow them.

These days, many believe the war on, Iraq or Babylon, is in fulfillment of the Old Testament, to bring people back to God.

The New Testament is more for peace. Christ the Son of God came down to teach us Love, Forgiveness, Pray for our enemy, Help the poor, Be with those who are in mourning, Be happy with those who are happy, Do not judge others, Do not hold grudges against whose who did not agree with you. Peace brings us to gather.


The act of Apostle followed the teaching of Christ. The Christianity was, spread by love, healing power given to them by Christ, brought peace between the families, the community and the countries including those who were trying to destroy them.

The best example is the Holy Father, the great John Paul 11 who went to the prison and talked to the man who was trying to kill him. He blessed him and forgave him as Christ did. This is the example of the New Testament.  

24-Q- Is the Brain or the Faith important to the Church and the religion?

A- The great Pope John Paul 11 said, “Both the brain and the faith are like two wings. Each wing is important to balance the other.”


The West uses the brain for their power. The west invented the best scientific tools to help the human. At the same time, they build powerful weapons, weapons of mass destruction, atom bombs, military airplanes able to destroy countries, military tanks, try to control the sky and control the world.  The West uses the brain to start wars to control the world. They used their brain to occupy other countries and control their God given natural resources. They used their brain and power militarily. Started with the Romans, the Greek, the Spanish, the Portuguese, the English, the French, the Italian and all Europe used their brain to control the world. Now the US is replacing these countries by using their brain to control. Their churches are closed and millions of them never believe in God and have no faith. They do have the brain but no faith except few.  

World War I, WW11 started in the West and continued to extended wars to the countries they invaded and occupied. The war is important to the West. To survive, they planed to invade and occupied other countries to live the way, they got used to.

If they used the brain with the faith, the out come would be more peaceful. 


The East used their faith and accepted the powerful West because they are not able to prevent the powerful invaders. Their faith is more powerful, their churches were intact until the West used their brain to occupy the East. Because of the West actions, many churches were, destroyed and the Christianity weakened. 

The East used their heart and their faith, to accept the imposed West way of life.


Before Christ, the East used their brain to strength their country. They had no faith.

They invented hundreds of tools to progress their country. They used their power to invade and occupy other countries to survive. Just like the West are doing now.

At the end of the country, they lost because the brain was not enough to keep them in peace.


Peace in the world depends on the relation and communication with other religions. If they use their brain and their faith during these communications, peace would cover all over the world. It is not enough to use the brain with out the faith.

Our churches in the west, should understand their relation to their parishioners. It is true they pray and say the mass, but never tried to know their parishioner needs.

In the East, the churches are, more closed together. It is not only the faith brings them together, but they use their brain to accept other religions to keep peace in the community.


I was surprised to see 10-12 people holding banners written on it, “You are sinners worshipping Mary.” How could these people ask for peace, but do not accept to have a communication with the original church. If they could not accept the Catholic faith how, could they communicate with the Moslem or other religions to bring peace in the world?


Brain alone is not enough. Faith alone is not enough. Not having both is a disaster.


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