Q: How come Jesus prayed to God, if he is God?

A: We are quite aware that Jesus often prayed to his Father in heaven, as indicated in the Gospel narratives. These moments of prayer are lessons to us all.

irstly, Jesus indicates to us that he is the Son of God and speaks directly to God the Father. Different moments in his life on Earth are chronicled in the Gospel stories indicating to us that Jesus was in constant contact with God the Father, doing the will of the Father, which was the Son’s will, too.

Secondly, through his prayer to God the Father, Jesus instructs us that we, also, have the ability to speak with God through prayer. A great saint, St. John Damascene, once said, “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God, or the requesting of good things from God.” In his prayer to God the Father, Jesus demonstrates how we should pray, with an open mind and heart to God’s will.

Jesus shows us firsthand how we should be grateful that God listens to all of our prayers, even if sometimes his answer is, “No.” Remember, in prayer, we do not bend God’s will to ours, but instead allow God to bend our will to his.

Q: What does it mean when it is said that the pope is infallible?

A: This, also, is a very good question, for we live in a world where many people contend there is no truth, only reigning opinion, or that we as human beings have no access to the ultimate wisdom of God.

The infallibility of our Holy Father shows you and me that God has a hand in all that we do and remains in constant contact with his church through the pope, the successor of St. Peter, himself.

In his conversations with St. Peter, Jesus gave direct instruction that the Holy Father’s responsibilities and authority are not of this world, but of divine origin. Of course, this is not to be taken lightly. For example, papal infallibility does not mean that our Holy Father can declare the suspension of the law of gravity.

Papal infallibility means that the pope, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, can declare doctrine (revealed teachings of Jesus Christ) on matters of faith and morals, such as the Immaculate Conception. This is done with my fellow bishops in union with our Holy Father.

In other words, an infallible teaching is a truth to be believed by all our brother and sister Catholics, without qualification.

Q: How do you feel about this tension between Catholicism and Congress?

A: Of course, it is not natural to seek arguments and difficult discussions for the sake of tension. However, in order to enlighten or instruct our lawmakers, there are times we, as Catholics, must communicate directly with our nation’s leaders. This is why I, as a bishop, must encourage our leaders when they do the right thing and call them into question when they do not.

We see from some Catholic politicians that they openly practice their Catholic faith in their office of leadership, whereas others fail to do so and, instead, set a poor example, for you.

or example, when a Catholic in office respects the life of an unborn child, he or she is practicing his or her faith. When they do not, they betray the unborn child and our very faith.

As fellow Americans, we should be grateful we enjoy the freedom to encourage or to challenge our civic leaders. In many countries of this world, my taking to task our nation’s leaders could be punished by time in prison, or worse.

Together let us pray that the United States of America allows religious freedom to continue, for we presently are at the crossroads of this very same freedom.

Editor’s Note: Anyone in grades kindergarten through 12th grade in the Diocese of Steubenville is invited to submit a question, dealing with faith, to Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton – askthebishop.diosteub.org, or mail the inquiry to the Office of Christian Formation and Schools, P.O. Box 969, Steubenville, OH 43952; attention Joseph M. Taylor, catechetical consultant.