Faith/Spirituality Forum: I'm a Catholic asking other Catholics for answers to my questions

I'm a Catholic asking other Catholics for answers to my questions QUESTION from Evan on November 8, 2001 My girlfriend's (Protestant) mom sat down to ask me some questions about my catholic faith and i answered them truthfully but would like to give her more in depth info. Please fill me in on the following:
1. Do we believe we are saved through faith, or through good works...?
2. Do we pray to Mary? Do we worship her?
3. Do we confess our sins to a Priest? Why do we ask the Priest for forgiveness? When the Bible says we only can be saved through Jesus and be forgiven through his death...
4. Do we teach Purgatory?
I cleared much of that up, but would like more support to give her, so please answer these questions truthfully and fully and dispell all the misconceptions she brought up. Especially about the Priests and Mary questions. Thanks!
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on February 8, 2002 Dear Mr. Evan:
1) we are saved though faith by the grace of God and not by our own merits or the works of the law, but if we have faith, we WILL produce fruit. St. James says that justification is NOT by faith alone..... faith without works is dead -- which means that if we are not producing the works of love we have no faith.
2) We do pray to Mary. We DO NOT worship her. we pray to the saints because St. James says that the prays of a righteous man has great effect. There are no people more righteous than those in heaven. These people are not dead, they are alive and they are part of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is not paralyzed. All parts of the Body can communicate with all other parts. If this is not so, then we are saying the Body of Christ is paralyzed. We pray to them for intercession with Jesus. This is the same as when I ask you to pray for me. You would then be praying in intercession for me. The word pray means to ask, it is NOT worship in this context. When I ask you to pass the salt at the supper table, I am praying to you, that is, I am asking you -- same thing.
3) We do confess sins to a Priest as Jesus Himself directed (John 20:23; Matt 18:18; James 5:13-15)
4) Yes we teach purgatory and so does the bible. (see 1 Cor 3:15 for starters. It is a perfect definition of purgatory)
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