EWTN.com - Sunday donation

EWTN.com - Sunday donation: "Sunday donation

Dear Father, In the area where my family and I live, there are very few Catholic Churches, two of which we attend with regularity. In both, the behavior of the respective Pastors before the elections was disheartening, to say the least. One was busy pushing on the congregation a liberal agenda (jobs, money, and rights to all illegal immigrants and explicit encouragement to help illegals, even if it means disobedience to federal and state laws) instead of condemning abortion as murder. The other declared that pro-life individuals shouldn't get too worked up about the abortion issue because babies who are aborted 'are with God, so they are all-right' and we should just 'shut up' in order to show proper Christian love to the pro-abortionists. In light of this, my husband and I are wondering if it would be morally appropriate and permissible to give our Sunday donation to EWTN and pro-life groups instead of any local church. Would this be a proper corrective tool? (I searched the 'Previously Answered Questions' archive, but none seemed to deal with the case of somebody wanting to withhold ALL donations from local parishes.) Thank you for all your work and God bless. A Concerned Pro-Life Catholic
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 11/28/2008:

>>>>>my husband and I are wondering if it would be morally appropriate and permissible to give our Sunday donation to EWTN and pro-life groups instead of any local church. Would this be a proper corrective tool?<<<<<

Well, one of the precepts of the Church is that catholics are obligated to contribute to the financial support of their parish, so I wouldn't stop all contributions. But you could hold back some of your weekly contribution and donate that part to a pro-life cause or to EWTN."

ZENIT - On the Final Judgment

ZENIT - On the Final Judgment: "On the Final Judgment

'Not a Question of Honors and Appearances'

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today we celebrate, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King. We know that in the Gospels Jesus rejected the title of king when it was understood in a political sense, along the lines of “the rulers of nations” (cf. Matthew 20:24). Instead, during his passion, before Pilate he claimed a different sort of kingship. Pilate asked Jesus plainly, “Are you a king?” Jesus answered, “You have said it; I am a king” (John 18:37). A little before this, however, he had declared, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

The kingship of Christ is, indeed, the revelation and the implementation of the kingship of God the Father, who governs all things with love and with justice. The Father entrusted the Son with the mission of giving men eternal life, loving them to the point of the supreme sacrifice, and at the same time he has given him the power to judge them, from the moment that he was made Son of Man, like us in all things (cf. John 5:21-22, 26-27).

Today’s Gospel insists precisely on this universal kingship of Christ the judge, with the impressive parable of the final judgment, that St. Matthew presents right before his account of the Passion (25:31-46). The images are simple, the language is popular, but the message is extremely important: it is the truth about our ultimate destiny and lays down the criteria by which we will be judged. “I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” and so on (Matthew 25:35).

Who does not know this passage? It has become a part of our civilization. It has marked the history of peoples of Christian culture, their hierarchy of values, their institutions, and their many benevolent and social organizations. In effect, the Kingdom of God is not of this world, but it brings to fulfillment all the good that, thanks to God, exists in man and history. If we put love of our neighbor into practice, according to the Gospel message, then we are making room for the lordship of God, and his kingdom will realize itself in our midst. If instead each of us thinks only of his own interests, the world cannot but be destroyed.

Dear friends, the Kingdom of God is not a question of honors and appearances, but, like St. Paul writes, it is “justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). The Lord has our own good at heart, that is, that every man have life, and that especially the “least” of his children be admitted to his feast, which he has prepared for all. Because of this he has no use for the hypocritical ones who say “Lord, Lord,” but have neglected his commandments (cf. Matthew 7:21).

God will accept into his eternal kingdom those who have made the effort every day to put his word into practice. This is why the Virgin Mary, the most humble of his creatures, is the greatest in his eyes and sits as Queen at the right of Christ the King. We desire to entrust ourselves with filial confidence once again to her heavenly intercession, so that we might realize our Christian mission in the world.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the crowds in several languages. In Italian, he said:]

Tomorrow in the city of Nagasaki in Japan, the beatification of 188 martyrs -- all of them Japanese, killed in the early part of the 17th century -- will take place. I pledge my spiritual nearness on this occasion, which is so significant for the Catholic community, and for the whole country of the Rising Sun. Also, in Cuba next Saturday, Fray José Olallo Valdés, of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, will be beatified. I entrust the Cuban people to his heavenly protection, especially the sick and health workers.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus. In today’s Solemnity of Christ the King we pray that the Lord may reign in our hearts. Sustained by his grace in faith and love, we trust that by bearing witness to him on earth we may be found worthy of his promises in heaven. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome and a blessed Sunday! Let us also rejoice in anticipation with our brothers and sisters in Japan, who celebrate tomorrow in Nagasaki the beatification of the Venerable Servants of God Peter Kibe Kasui and his 187 companion martyrs. May their victory in Christ over sin and death fill us all with hope and courage!"

EWTN.com - Canon Law & Doctrine, Eating Meat on Feast Days

EWTN.com - Canon Law & Doctrine, Eating Meat on Feast Days: "Canon Law & Doctrine, Eating Meat on Feast Days

What is the difference between Canon Law and Doctrine? I'm asking this because I wasn't sure where to ask my next question and I don't understand the essential difference between the two because I always had the impression that they were one in the same.

My second question, is whether or not we are permitted, or perhaps even encouraged, to avoid the fast on feast days. Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and I was wondering if it is better to fast, since it's a Friday, or celebrate, since it's a feast day, and how we are to understand feast days and memorials when they occur on a Friday. I have often wondered this because sometimes I will be reading about the life of a saint or one of their works and their feast or memorial will fall on Friday and I'm not sure exactly what is the best way to honor them.
Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/22/2008:

Doctrine is something that comes from God and involves the truths of our faith.

Canon law draws from different sources. Sometimes it draws from the natural law which governs all people, such as when it defines marriage as a perpetual and faithful relationship between a man and a woman. Sometimes it draws from doctrinal sources (revelation from God), such as when it requires contrition for forgiveness in confession or water for baptism. If canon law cites matters that involve the natural law or doctrine/revelation (also called divine positive law), then it cannot change.

But sometimes canon law is merely of ecclesiastical origin. That is, it is merely a matter of church discipline that could possibly change over time. For example, the cardinals of the church who vote for and advise the pope are merely of ecclesiastical origin. It is unlikely that the Church will do away with cardinals, at least in the near future, but it could if it wanted to. Another law of ecclesiastical origin is the requirement that a Catholic get married before a priest or deacon and two witnesses. The pope could come out tomorrow and say, 'There must be four witnesses.'

The Presentation of Mary is a memorial. There is nothing wrong with fasting on memorials. Certainly it is inappropriate to fast on a day which is a solemnity.

In the United States, other than during Lent and on Good Friday, the specific penance that we do on Fridays that we do is a matter of personal choice."

EWTN.com - Marriage to Orthodox

EWTN.com - Marriage to Orthodox: "Marriage to Orthodox

I am married, in a civil ceremony, to a divorced Russian Orthodox. Her church will not permit her to participate in the Eucharist until she has been remarried in the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox priest has indicated that I need to be baptized as an Orthodox (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) and confess my sins, all of them for my entire life. After that we may get married in the Orthodox Church and my wife would be able to resume receiving the Eucharist. The first issue - what is the Catholic Church's position if I should consent to be baptized as an Orthodox? The second issue - while we are looking at having the first marriage annulled through the Catholic Church and having an Orthodox marriage validated (should it take place), would it be licit for me to receive the Orthodox Eucharist in this situation? I am assuming the current situation prohibits me from participating in the Catholic Eucharist.
Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/22/2008:

If you are baptized as a Catholic, it is not possible for you to be baptized again in the Orthodox Church. Doing so might result in an act of schism and a consequent automatic excommunication from the Catholic Church.

If you are living in an invalid marriage and thus are not permitted to receive the sacraments. This also excludes you from receiving Holy Communion during an Orthodox Divine Liturgy. (This is apart from the fact that Orthodox canon law would not permit you to receive Holy Communion because you are not Orthodox, and because there is no legitimate reason for you to even seek to receive Holy Communion from the Orthodox Church.)

Even if you are not permitted to receive Holy Communion, you are still obligated as a Catholic to attend Mass or Divine Liturgy in a Catholic church."

EWTN.com - Communion Twice in one day

EWTN.com - Communion Twice in one day: "Communion Twice in one day

I have heard from trusted priests and also read from Rev. Gantley that a person may receive commumion twice in one day if the second time is in a full mass. However, now I read in Immensae Caritatis that it can not be for devotional purposes only for certain circumstances (see below). What is the current correct teaching? If I have been receiving twice for devotional reasons or not those listed is it sinful (grave or venial) and something that should be confessed?

Inter oecumenici, n. 60: 'The faithful who receive communion at the Mass of the Easter Vigil or the Midnight Mass of Christmas may receive again at the second Mass of Easter and at one of the Day Masses of Christmas.' Tres abhinc annos, n. 14: 'The faithful receiving communion at the chrism Mass on Holy Thursday may receive again at the evening Mass on the same day.' Eucharisticum Mysterium, n. 28: 'The faithful who begin to celebrate the Sunday or holyday of obligation on the evening of the preceding day may go to holy communion even if they have already done so that morning.' Immensae Caritatis, section 2 These four were in between 1964 and 1973.

Here's what Immensae Caritatis, section 2 says; the 'listed' situations are those I excerpted above: Over and above those listed, there are other situations of the same type that favor a second communion. The reasons for granting a new faculty therefore must here be set out in detail.

Like a provident mother, the Church has established from centuries-old practice and has received into its canon law a norm according to which it is lawful for the faithful to receive communion only once a day. That norm remains unchanged and is not to be disregarded simply for reasons of devotion. Any ill-advised desire to repeat communion must be countered by the truth that the more devoutly a person approaches the holy table the greater the power of that sacrament which feeds, strengthens, and expresses faith, charity, and the rest of the virtues. {Cf. Summa Theologica 3a, 79.7 ad3; 8 ad 1} For the faithful are to go forth from the liturgical celebration to do works of charity, religion, and the apostolate 'so that what they have received by faith and sacrament in the celebration of the Eucharist they will hold to by the way they live.' {Eucharisticum Mysterium, n. 13

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/20/2008:

The documents that you cite I believe are all from before the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law in 1983. These documents represent a shift in thinking from the old law envisioning a maximum of one reception of Holy Communion per day to two under the current code.

However, it does reflect the thinking of the Church that a virtuous person might strive for daily reception of Holy Communion, but that striving for twice daily reception goes beyond balanced virtue. It might be more suitable for a person to do works of charity, penance, pray the rosary, etc.

The law was meant to encompass all those circumstances where a person might end up having an opportunity for a second Communion at Mass in the same day. For example, a person who attends 7:00 a.m. daily Mass every day also attends a funeral, a wedding, another special Mass, etc. The law is written to make this possible without needing to focus on the gravity of the reason for a second reception of Communion.

I don't think that the law is written to encourage twice daily Communion."

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

EWTN.com - The 10 commandments

EWTN.com - The 10 commandments: "The 10 commandments

A born again or non-denominational Christian co-worker of mine recently stated in a conversation we were having '...the 10 commandements weren't meant to be followed literally, they're just there to show us how weak we are.' I had no idea protestants didn't hold to the commandments. Is this a universal belief amongst protestants? ~~Kiki Oqua
Answer by David Gregson on 11/20/2008:

Protestantism traditionally held onto the Ten Commandments. Martin Luther did, including them in his Catechism, and John Calvin described the Decalogue as 'the true and eternal rule of righteousness [for all] who wish to conform their lives to God's will.' But over time, Protestantism has divided into thousands of sects. It is now such a mixed bag that there's hardly a belief so strange that some group somewhere won't believe it.

Your friend sounds like an antinomian. Antinomianism is the belief that God's law doesn't bind Christians. It's an extreme conclusion from the defining Protestant belief that we are saved by faith alone, with no need for good works. But most Protestants, like the original Reformers, don't go that far.

The majority Protestant view is that, while salvation is not earned by good works, i.e., obedience to God's law, good works are the evidence that a person has already been saved through faith. If he doesn't try to obey the Ten Commandments, as well as all that Christ commanded, he may doubt whether he was ever really 'born again.'"

EWTN.com - Consecration of Bread and Wine

EWTN.com - Consecration of Bread and Wine: "Consecration of Bread and Wine

At what point during the Eucharistic Prayer is the bread and wine consecrated and converted to the Body and Blood of Christ? Is it when the priest says, 'Let your Spirit come upon these gifts .....', or when he says, 'this is my body....., this is the cup of my blood'?
Answer by David Gregson on 11/7/2008:

The traditional position of the Catholic Church is that the conversion of elements (bread and wine) takes place at the words of consecration, 'This is my Body...,' 'This is the Cup of my Blood...' The Eastern Church has traditionally held that the consecration takes place at the Epiclesis, the invocation of the Holy Spirit, which in Orthodox liturgies takes place after the words of consecration. In order to avoid controversy on the issue, the new eucharistic prayers, composed for the reformed liturgy after Vatican II, placed the Epiclesis before the words of consecration. That way there could be no question that the transubstantiation had taken place by the time the words of consecration had been spoken."

EWTN.com - Receiving Holy Communion

EWTN.com - Receiving Holy Communion: "Receiving Holy Communion

We have extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist who help out at several Masses on a Sunday. I was taught that you could receive Communion twice on one day in the context of a Mass and a third time only if it was Viaticom. These ministers receive 3 and 4 times and when I questioned them said that the pastor told them it was okay. Are the rules different for extraordinary ministers??
Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/16/2008:

There is no such thing as an 'extraordinary minister of the Eucharist.' Only the priest is a minister of the Eucharist.

There are 'extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.' Such ministers may only receive Holy Communion twice in a day, just like anyone else.

In fact, a priest may also only receive Holy Communion twice in one day. The only exception for him is on Sundays or holy days of obligation when he may receive a third time, if he needs to celebrate a third Mass due to pastoral necessity. He may not receive a fourth time nor celebrate a fourth Mass.

There is no reason for extraordinary ministers to serve at multiple Masses in a single day."

EWTN.com - Praying for souls in purgatory

EWTN.com - Praying for souls in purgatory: "Hello Dr. Geraghty,

It seems that most prayers are not answered in the way we hope.

How do know that when we pray for the souls in purgatory or have masses said for them or do penance for them, that God is helping them? (Reducing their time in purgatory or perhaps helping them to bear it.) The Church encourages us to pray for them, but might our prayers often not be answered in the way we hope, much as they seem not be answered in the way we hope when we pray about earthly matters? (Healing, getting a job, etc.) Or can we not know either way?

Thank you.
Answer by Richard Geraghty on 11/15/2008:

Dear Anon,

The Church urges us to pray, knowing that since God is good, all prayers are to the good. Are not God's actions better than ours?

Dr. Geraghty"

EWTN.com - Communion in the Hand

EWTN.com - Communion in the Hand: "Communion in the Hand

Father, I read your answer regarding communion in the hand and I wanted to ask if it is true that at Vatican II, the bishops voted overwhelmingly to retain the traditional manner of receiving on the tongue, but disobedient bishops allowed this practice anyway? After this abuse spread and persisted for many years, then the indult was granted to avoid conflict in the Church. So are we allowing something to happen as a result of disobedience? Should we encourage people to stick with tradition because of the benefit it brings to themselves and the Church? Thanks and God Bless.
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 11/13/2008:

AsI said in a previous entry, reception in the hand was not done by a matter of 'disobedience', but, as I've been told, though a permission given to the US Catholics through their bishops' conference."

EWTN.com - Human and divine nature

EWTN.com - Human and divine nature: "Human and divine nature

When Jesus was on earth He had two natures, human and divine. After the Resurrection did His human spirit cease to be and now He needs/has only His divine nature? Related to this question: I'm wondering if our human spirits become divine spirits after death through a purification by God and a joining in His life. Thank you.
Answer by David Gregson on 11/6/2008:

'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever' (Heb 13:8). No, He didn't lose His human nature when He died, or when He rose again. He came as man to overcome death as a man. If He weren't still a man when He rose from the dead, He wouldn't have overcome death. It's because He is still a man, as well as God, that we humans can share in His victory over death, by our relationship with Him (through faith and the sacraments) as He still is today.

The faithful will become divine in a sense, a future for which we were prepared in being created in God's image, but we will never become the Creator and cease to be creatures."

Praying the Hail Mary Like Never Before

Praying the Hail Mary Like Never Before: "Praying the Hail Mary Like Never Before
Catholics sometimes come across slightly defensive, almost embarrassed, about Mary.

When asked by our protestant friends why Catholics worship Mary, we may quickly reply, 'We don't worship her; we honor her.' When asked why we pray to Mary, we might respond, 'We don't pray to her; we ask her to pray for us.'

Such 'Apologetics 101' moves may express certain truths about Marian devotion and can be very helpful in initial conversations with our non-Catholic brethren. However, if we stop there, we may fail to communicate the full splendor of God's revelation about our Blessed Mother and the beautiful role she plays in our lives.

That was precisely my experience with the Hail Mary.

For many years, whenever I was asked about why Catholics pray the Hail Mary, I explained that it was a prayer in which we ask the mother of Jesus to pray for us. Since Mary is so close to her Son in heaven, she serves as an ideal intercessor whose prayers bring us closer to Jesus. And we seek Mary's intercession just like we ask each other here on earth for prayers, so it should be okay for a Christian to pray the Hail Mary, asking her to 'pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.'

While all this is true, it's not the approach pope John Paul II took when explaining the Hail Mary in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (RVM). For John Paul II, the Hail Mary is not just an intercessory prayer that is permissible for Christians to recite; it's actually a Christ-centered prayer that gives Jesus great praise. If we truly love Jesus, we as Christians should want to pray this prayer!

In this short article, we will consider John Paul II's reflections on the Hail Mary and how they can transform the way we pray this prayer and lead us to deeper intimacy with Jesus each time we recite it.

Put Yourself in Gabriel's Shoes

Do you realize that every time you recite the Hail Mary, you are repeating these famous words of Gabriel and Elizabeth? And in doing so, you enter into the ecstatic joy of 'heaven and earth' over the mystery of Christ: heaven, represented by Gabriel, and earth, represented by Elizabeth.

First, John Paul II explains that although the Hail Mary is addressed to Our Lady, 'it is to Jesus that the act of love is ultimately directed' (RVM, no. 26). When expounding on this prayer, he divides the Hail Mary into two halves. In an amazing statement, John Paul II notes how the words from the first half of the Hail Mary express 'the wonder of heaven and earth' over the mystery of Christ in the womb of the Virgin Mary (RVM, no. 33).

Let's consider what he means about 'the wonder of heaven and earth' in the Hail Mary. The first line -- 'Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee' -- is drawn right from the angel Gabriel's words to Our Lady in the Annunciation scene (Lk. 1:28). to more fully appreciate the meaning of this opening line in the Hail Mary, imagine what these words originally meant to the Archangel Gabriel. Gabriel is an angel who existed long before Mary did. Gabriel has been around a lot longer than the nation of Israel or the entire human family. In fact, Gabriel was there when God first created the world. From the beginning of his existence, Gabriel has been worshipping, adoring, and loving the infinite, almighty God, the Creator: the Blessed Trinity.

And now, this great angel is sent to a little planet in the universe called earth . . . to a small, insignificant village called Nazareth . . . to a tiny little creature, a woman named Mary -- in order to announce to her that the all-holy, all-powerful God he has been worshipping from the beginning of his existence is about to become a little baby in her womb. In awe over that profound mystery of his eternal God becoming a little embryo in Mary's womb, Gabriel greets Mary saying, 'Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you' (Lk. 1:28). Indeed, the Lord has not been with anyone like He is about to be with Mary. In joyful wonder, Gabriel recognizes this, and his words give praise to God for becoming man in her.

Joining Heaven and Earth

Similarly, Elizabeth greets Mary with great honor. The biblical account of the Visitation tells us that Elizabeth was 'filled with the Holy Spirit' (Lk. 1:41), which indicates that she was given prophetic insight. Before Mary has a chance to say anything about her own pregnancy, Elizabeth already knows. And she knows Mary is pregnant not with any ordinary child, but with the Lord Himself. In wonder over this mystery of God becoming man in Mary, Elizabeth exclaims, 'blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!' like Gabriel, Elizabeth's words give praise to God for the Incarnation.

Do you realize that every time you recite the Hail Mary, you are repeating these famous words of Gabriel and Elizabeth? And in doing so, you enter into the ecstatic joy of 'heaven and earth' over the mystery of Christ: heaven, represented by Gabriel, and earth, represented by Elizabeth. Both come together to praise God for becoming man in Jesus Christ, the child conceived in Mary's womb. And we join in that praise of God every time we pray the Hail Mary. Indeed, the Hail Mary is truly a Christ-centered prayer!

God's Own Wonderment

Furthermore, since these words of Gabriel and Elizabeth are from the inspired Word of God in Scripture, they also represent God's own response to the mystery of the Christ. Hence, whenever we repeat these words in the Hail Mary, we participate in God's joy over the Incarnation. As John Paul II explains, 'These words . . . could be said to give us a glimpse of God's own wonderment as he contemplates his ‘masterpiece' -- the Incarnation of the Son in the womb of the Virgin Mary. . . . The repetition of the Hail Mary . . . gives us a share in God's own wonder and pleasure: In jubilant amazement we acknowledge the greatest miracle of history' (RVM, no. 33).

The second half of the Hail Mary also is focused on Jesus. Here, we entrust our lives to Mary's intercession, asking her to 'pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.'

As a model disciple of Christ, who said 'yes' to God's will all throughout her life -- from the time when Gabriel first appeared to her all the way to the Cross -- Mary is the ideal person to be interceding for us through the many trials and struggles we face in our lives. We ask her to pray for us, so that we may follow God faithfully like she did. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, 'She prays for us as she prayed for herself: ‘let it be to me according to your word.' by entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: ‘Thy will be done'' (no. 2677).

The Language of Love

A friend of mine says we should treat the name of Jesus in the Hail Mary like a speed bump -- something for which we slow down and pay extra attention when we come to it.

Finally, we see just how Christ-centered the Hail Mary is when we come to what John Paul II calls 'the hinge' of this prayer: the holy name of Jesus. Not only is the name of Jesus the hinge that binds the two halves together, but it is truly meant to be the 'center of gravity' of the entire Hail Mary.

This should encourage us to examine how we pray the Hail Mary: Is Jesus' name truly 'the center of gravity' of our prayer? Do we treat the name of Jesus with extra care and speak His name with love when we recite the Hail Mary?

John Paul II notes how emphasis should be given to the name of Jesus in this prayer. However, if we pray the Hail Mary too quickly, we may not give the proper reverence and loving attention to Jesus' name that we should. 'Sometimes, in hurried recitation, this centre of gravity can be overlooked' (RVM, no. 33). A friend of mine says we should treat the name of Jesus in the Hail Mary like a speed bump -- something for which we slow down and pay extra attention when we come to it.

Another analogy might be taken from the language of love. Lke a lover tenderly speaking the name of one's beloved, we should speak the name of Jesus in this prayer. Indeed, with each Hail Mary, we should affectionately repeat the name of our bridegroom -- 'blessed is the fruit of thy womb . . . Jesus' -- so that the holy name of Jesus, spoken with tender love, truly becomes the heartbeat of every Hail Mary we pray."

EWTN.com - The Tabernacle

EWTN.com - The Tabernacle: "The Tabernacle

In some American churches, the tabernacle is put off to the side. Is this practice ok? is it approved by the Vatican?
Answer by Fr. John Echert on 11/5/2008:

I believe that for a time it was popular and approved in this Country to do so but now the norms insist upon the Tabernacle being prominent and visible in the main part of the Church--thank God!

Thanks, Mike

Father Echert"

The Divinity of Christ

The Divinity of Christ: "The Divinity of Christ
The doctrine of Christ's divinity is the central Christian doctrine, for it is like a skeleton key that opens all the others.

Christians have not independently reasoned out and tested each of the teachings of Christ, received via Bible and Church, but believe them all on his authority. For if Christ is divine, he can be trusted to be infallible. In everything he said, even hard things like exalting suffering and poverty, forbidding divorce, giving his Church the authority to teach and forgive sins in his name, warning about hell (very often and very seriously), instituting the scandalous sacrament of eating his flesh -- we often forget how many 'hard sayings' he taught!

When the first Christian apologists began to give a reason for the faith that was in them to unbelievers, this doctrine of Christ's divinity naturally came under attack, for it was almost as incredible to Gentiles as it was scandalous to Jews. That a man who was born out of a woman's womb and died on a cross, a man who got tired and hungry and angry and agitated and wept at his friend's tomb, that this man who got dirt under his fingernails should be God was, quite simply, the most astonishing, incredible, crazy-sounding idea that had ever entered the mind of man in all human history.

The argument the early apologists used to defend this apparently indefensible doctrine has become a classic one. C. S. Lewis used it often, e.g., in Mere Christianity, the book that convinced Chuck Colson (and thousands of others). I once spent half a book (Between Heaven and Hell) on this one argument alone. It is the most important argument in Christian apologetics, for once an unbeliever accepts the conclusion of this argument (that Christ is divine), everything else in the Faith follows, not only intellectually (Christ's teachings must all then be true) but also personally (if Christ is God, he is also your total Lord and Savior).

The argument, like all effective arguments, is extremely simple: Christ was either God or a bad man.

Unbelievers almost always say he was a good man, not a bad man; that he was a great moral teacher, a sage, a philosopher, a moralist, and a prophet, not a criminal, not a man who deserved to be crucified. But a good man is the one thing he could not possibly have been according to simple common sense and logic. For he claimed to be God. He said, 'Before Abraham was, I Am', thus speaking the word no Jew dares to speak because it is God's own private name, spoken by God himself to Moses at the burning bush. Jesus wanted everyone to believe that he was God. He wanted people to worship him. He claimed to forgive everyone's sins against everyone. (Who can do that but God, the One offended in every sin?)

If he does not speak the truth, then he is not God but a mere man. But a mere man who wants you to worship him as God is not a good man. He is a very bad man indeed, either morally or intellectually.

Now what would we think of a person who went around making these claims today? Certainly not that he was a good man or a sage. There are only two possibilities: he either speaks the truth or not. If he speaks the truth, he is God and the case is closed. We must believe him and worship him. If he does not speak the truth, then he is not God but a mere man. But a mere man who wants you to worship him as God is not a good man. He is a very bad man indeed, either morally or intellectually. If he knows that he is not God, then he is morally bad, a liar trying deliberately to deceive you into blasphemy. If he does not know that he is not God, if he sincerely thinks he is God, then he is intellectually bad -- in fact, insane.

A measure of your insanity is the size of the gap between what you think you are and what you really are. If I think I am the greatest philosopher in America, I am only an arrogant fool; if I think I am Napoleon, I am probably over the edge; if I think I am a butterfly, I am fully embarked from the sunny shores of sanity. But if I think I am God, I am even more insane because the gap between anything finite and the infinite God is even greater than the gap between any two finite things, even a man and a butterfly.

Josh McDowell summarized the argument simply and memorably in the trilemma 'Lord, liar, or lunatic?' Those are the only options. Well, then, why not liar or lunatic? But almost no one who has read the Gospels can honestly and seriously consider that option. The savviness, the canniness, the human wisdom, the attractiveness of Jesus emerge from the Gospels with unavoidable force to any but the most hardened and prejudiced reader. Compare Jesus with liars like the Reverend Sun Myung Moon or lunatics like the dying Nietzsche. Jesus has in abundance precisely those three qualities that liars and lunatics most conspicuously lack: (1) his practical wisdom, his ability to read human hearts, to understand people and the real, unspoken question behind their words, his ability to heal people's spirits as well as their bodies; (2) his deep and winning love, his passionate compassion, his ability to attract people and make them feel at home and forgiven, his authority, 'not as the scribes'; and above all (3) his ability to astonish, his unpredictability, his creativity. Liars and lunatics are all so dull and predictable! No one who knows both the Gospels and human beings can seriously entertain the possibility that Jesus was a liar or a lunatic, a bad man.

No, the unbeliever almost always believes that Jesus was a good man, a prophet, a sage. Well then , if he was a sage, you can trust him and believe the essential things he says. And the essential thing he says is that he is the divine Savior of the world and that you must come to him for salvation. If he is a sage, you must accept his essential teaching as true. If his teaching is false, then he is not a sage.

Josh McDowell summarized the argument simply and memorably in the trilemma 'Lord, liar, or lunatic?' Those are the only options.

The strength of this argument is that it is not merely a logical argument about concepts; it is about Jesus. it invites people to read the Gospels and get to know this man. The premise of the argument is the character of Jesus, the human nature of Jesus. The argument has its feet on the earth. But it takes you to heaven, like Jacob's ladder (which Jesus said meant him: Gen 28:12; Jn 1:51). Each rung follows and holds together. The argument is logically airtight; there is simply no way out.

What, then, do people say when confronted with this argument? Often, they simply confess their prejudices: 'Oh, I just can't believe that!' (But if it has been proved to be true, you must believe it if you really seek the truth!)

Sometimes, they go away, like many of Jesus' contemporaries, wondering and shaking their heads and thinking. That is perhaps the very best result you can hope for. The ground has been softened up and plowed. The seed has been sown. God will give the increase.

But if they know some modern theology, they have one of two escapes, Theology has an escape; common sense does not. Common sense is easily convertible. It is the theologians, now as then, who are the hardest to convert.

The first escape is the attack of the Scripture 'scholars' on the historical reliability of the Gospels. Perhaps Jesus never claimed to be divine. Perhaps all the embarrassing passages were inventions of the early Church (say 'Christian community' -- it sounds nicer)

In that case, who invented traditional Christianity if not Christ? A lie, like a truth, must originate somewhere. Peter? The twelve? The next generation? What was the motive of whoever first invented the myth (euphemism for lie)? What did they get out of this elaborate, blasphemous hoax? For it must have been a deliberate lie, not a sincere confusion. No Jew confuses Creator with creature, God with man. And no man confuses a dead body with a resurrected, living one.

Here is what they got out of their hoax. Their friends and families scorned them. Their social standing, possessions, and political privileges were stolen from them by both Jews and Romans. They were persecuted, imprisoned, whipped, tortured, exiled, crucified, eaten by lions, and cut to pieces by gladiators.

Here is what they got out of their hoax. Their friends and families scorned them. Their social standing, possessions, and political privileges were stolen from them by both Jews and Romans. They were persecuted, imprisoned, whipped, tortured, exiled, crucified, eaten by lions, and cut to pieces by gladiators. So some silly Jews invented the whole elaborate, incredible lie of Christianity for absolutely no reason, and millions of Gentiles believed it, devoted their lives to it, and died for it -- for no reason. It was only a fantastic practical joke, a hoax. Yes, there is a hoax indeed, but the perpetrators of it are the twentieth-century theologians, not the Gospel writers.

The second escape (notice how eager we are to squirm out of the arms of God like a greased pig) is to Orientalize Jesus, to interpret him not as the unique God-man but as one of many mystics or 'adepts' who realized his own inner divinity just as a typical Hindu mystic does. This theory take's the teeth out of his claim to divinity, for he only realized that everyone is divine. The problem with that theory is simply that Jesus was not a Hindu but a Jew! When he said 'God', neither he nor his hearers meant Brahman, the impersonal, pantheistic, immanent all; he meant Yahweh, the personal, theistic, transcendent Creator. It is utterly unhistorical to see Jesus as a mystic, a Jewish guru. He taught prayer, not meditation. His God is a person, not a pudding. He said he was God but not that everyone was. He taught sin and forgiveness, as no guru does. He said nothing about the 'Illusion' of individuality, as the mystics do.

Attack each of these evasions -- Jesus as the good man. Jesus as the lunatic, Jesus as the liar, Jesus as the man who never claimed divinity, Jesus as the mystic -- take away these flight squares, and there is only one square left for the unbeliever's king to move to. And on that square waits checkmate. And a joyous mating it is. The whole argument is really a wedding invitation."

Are Science and Religion Really Enemies?

Are Science and Religion Really Enemies?: "Are Science and Religion Really Enemies?
One subject I often end up discussing with friends and acquaintances is the apparent conflict between religion and science.

A surprising number of people believe these two powerful forces in our society are incompatible with each other. Some even claim there is an 'inherent conflict' between them.

When people learn that I am a scientist and a Catholic priest, a common response is, 'Wow, how do you do it?' Although it may appear to a casual observer that science and religion make competing claims over the same questions, in reality they do not.

Already back in the late 1500's a well-known churchman named Cardinal Baronius made the point that religion teaches us 'the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go.' Science, on the other hand, addresses the physical world and 'how the heavens go.' This simple but important distinction, which was later incorporated into the writings of Galileo, reminds us that science and religion are objectively compatible with each other since they have distinct and unique domains.

Yet even if they deal with different domains, science and religion can and must speak to each other. Albert Einstein already saw this when he made his now-famous remark: 'Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.' Science and religion need each other and must work together. Pope John Paul II asserted this same fundamental point when he said: 'Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.'

This task of collaboration and purification, however, is not an easy one in an environment of mutual doubt, suspicion and hostility. One reason for such hostility is that religion often purifies science by insisting on the primacy of ethics. Yet many scientists are clearly unwilling to acknowledge that the interests of humanity are authentically served only when scientific knowledge is joined to a truthful conscience, and the pursuit of science is attenuated through the filter of ethics.

In fact, the much-hyped conflict between religion and science turns out to be largely a conflict between men of science and men of religion, rather than between science itself and religion itself. Ultimately, some scientists may become uncomfortable when they perceive that science cannot adequately address value questions or provide answers to the ultimate questions that religion addresses. Some men of faith may similarly feel threatened when they finally have to acknowledge that the Bible is not, in fact, a scientific textbook.

Yet even if they deal with different domains, science and religion can and must speak to each other. Albert Einstein already saw this when he made his now-famous remark: 'Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.'

A further explanation for the suspicion between scientists and men of faith can be the ill will generated by a vocal minority of scientists who suggest that religion has a 'softening influence on the brain,' or that men and women of faith are 'spared the trouble of thinking' when they live by religious dogma and strong ethical principles. Quite the opposite is actually the case. True religion, like good science, promotes a more measured rationality, and a more ordered thoughtfulness as we consider the created world we are a part of. Absolute religious dogmas and invariable ethical principles do not stifle thinking any more than absolute definitions and unalterable geometric postulates stifle the thinking of the student of geometry. The rules of geometry do not 'spare us the trouble of thinking' but, on the contrary, help us to think in a structured way, providing us with the very categories we need in order to be able to enter more deeply into this branch of mathematics. Similarly, religious dogma and sound ethical teaching afford us the essential categories we need to enter reasonably into a discussion of the ultimate questions that every person faces, questions of purpose, morality and human destiny. Religion, in the words of G. K. Chesterton, is never 'an arrest of thought, but a fertile basis and constant provocation of thought.'

Moving past the mutual suspicion that has arisen between scientists and men of faith is thus a critical first step in seeing how religion and science are not, in fact, enemies at all. The two are able not only to co-exist peaceably, but within the person of the scientist, religion and science can ultimately interconnect and strengthen one another. The pioneering astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, who first calculated the elliptical orbits of the planets, perhaps put it best when he wrote: 'The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God and which He revealed to us in the language of mathematics.'

That source of rationality, which is God himself, should be a source of continual wonder for each of us, as it was for Einstein when he mused: 'The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.'"

ZENIT - Postures at Adoration and After Communion

ZENIT - Postures at Adoration and After Communion: "Postures at Adoration and After Communion

And More on Saturday Mass

ROME, NOV. 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q1: When a priest is presiding at a penitential service with the Blessed Sacrament exposed, should he leave his presidential seat to go and hear confessions for penitents even when the Blessed Sacrament is still exposed? -- A.A., Enugu, Nigeria

Q2: At the end of Mass, when all are kneeling while the sacred vessels are purified, etc., when is it appropriate to sit down? I thought it was when the principal celebrant sits, but I find myself sitting down alone, when all others are waiting for a deacon or someone to finish at the altar. -- P.G., Baltimore, Maryland

A: As both questions relate to posture and can be answered fairly briefly, I will address them both here.

Regarding the first question, there is no reason why a priest may not enter the confessional after exposing the Blessed Sacrament during a penitential service or any other period of adoration.

After all, almost all prayers and readings used while adoration lasts may be conducted by a deacon or a lay minister. Only the priest, however, is able to hear confessions and impart absolution.

If a deacon is present, he would usually expose the Blessed Sacrament and, if the priest is busy hearing confessions, the deacon may also impart Benediction.

The situation described by our reader suggests that the priest exposes the Blessed Sacrament, introduces the celebration in a general way, goes to hear confessions, and probably returns later for Benediction. I believe that this procedure is correct.

The priest should remain if he is to preside at an office of the Liturgy of the Hours during the period of adoration. But he may also withdraw before the recitation of the office begins and allow another minister to lead the community, in accordance with the norms for the Divine Office.

With respect to the second question, No. 43 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) says: 'The faithful should … stand from the invitation, Orate, fraters (Pray, brethren), before the prayer over the offerings until the end of Mass, except at the places indicated below. … [A]s circumstances allow, they may sit or kneel while the period of sacred silence after Communion is observed …

'With a view to a uniformity in gestures and postures during one and the same celebration, the faithful should follow the directions which the deacon, lay minister, or priest gives according to whatever is indicated in the Missal.'

These indications would appear to allow some degree of flexibility in the posture during the sacred silence after Communion, and the choice as to kneel or sit at this moment seems to fall upon the individual.

The norms do indicate that singing of the Communion chant should continue while the sacrament is distributed (GIRM, No. 86). This would suggest that those who have already received would do better to remain either standing or sitting so as to accompany the assembly in song. If, however, there is no song or the song is executed by the choir alone (GIRM, No. 87), then the faithful could also sit or kneel on returning to their pew.

The period of sacred silence (or a song after Communion) begins after Communion has been distributed to all. There is no need to wait until the purification of the vessels is completed. If, however, the ablutions by the priest take very little time, then it is customary in many places for the Communion chant to continue until the priest returns to the chair. Initiating the silence on the priest's returning to the chair would be the common practice when a deacon or instituted acolyte purifies the vessels.

Although either posture may be freely adopted at this moment of the celebration, GIRM No. 43's recommendation of uniformity is worth taking into account. Long-established parishes often develop certain habits, such as that described by our reader, which interpret a norm in a particular way. If these habits don't violate liturgical law, then it is often better not to make a point of it even though our own spiritual sensibility inclines us to something else.

One might also charitably point out any inexact practices to the pastor so that he may choose the most opportune remedy if one is needed."

ZENIT - New Catholic-Muslim Forum Gets to Work

ZENIT - New Catholic-Muslim Forum Gets to Work: "New Catholic-Muslim Forum Gets to Work

Talks Begin on Love of God, Love of Neighbor

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The first seminar organized by the newly established Catholic-Muslim Forum began today on the theme 'Love of God, Love of Neighbor.'

The group, with 29 representatives per creed, was established by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and representatives of the 138 Muslim leaders who sent an open letter to Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders last October.

According to the Vatican press office, the panel will consider the seminar theme from two main angles: 'theological and spiritual fundamentals' and 'the dignity of the human person and mutual respect.'

The Pope will address the participants Thursday. That afternoon during a public meeting, the forum will present a final joint declaration.

Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, told Vatican Radio on Monday that the seminar seeks 'to see which elements we share, because together we can give a coherent response of love for God, seeking to love each other.'


The forum was created in the context of the October 2007 open letter from 138 Muslim intellectuals, which was itself a response to misunderstandings that arose from the Pope's 2006 address at Regensburg.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pontiff's secretary of state, responded to the Muslims' letter the month after it was written.

This increasing contact has brought concrete results, such as the Catholic-Muslim meeting in March of this year, during which it was decided to create the forum and where the meeting that began today was organized.

Regarding these events, Archbishop Celata explained that 'certain walls have fallen; dialogue at the thematic level has developed to confront discussions sometimes perhaps not immediately welcomed according to traditional sensitivities, but that today find willingness and openness, as much from one side as from the other.'

Call from the synod

The world Synod of Bishops that ended Oct. 26 also encouraged an increase of Catholic-Muslim dialogue.

The synod fathers wrote that dialogue with Muslims 'enables knowing each other better and collaborating in the promotion of ethical and spiritual values.'

The assembly emphasized the importance of 'respect for life, the rights of men and women, as well as the distinction between the sociopolitical sphere and the religious sphere in the promotion of justice and peace in the world.'

'An important theme in this dialogue would be as well reciprocity and the freedom of conscience and religion,' they added, encouraging that national bishops' conferences 'promote circles of dialogue between Christians and Muslims.'"

EWTN.com - Time between death and burial

EWTN.com - Time between death and burial: "Time between death and burial

Hello EWTN, Thank you for taking my question. I am a deacon of the Catholic Church. I am friends with a large extended family. I have found out that one of the family members has had several urns of cremated remains of family members for several years. I have offered my help. One of the family members said she heard that the time between death and burial to a proper place is one year. I have looked in 'Order of Christian Funerals' and the Canon Law books and could not find out where that one year time frame came from. That will help convince the rest of the family for a proper burial. May God bless, Deacon Bert

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 10/29/2008:

There is no deadline required for burial. A year, however, seems excessive. Burial of human bodies or cremated remains of a human body should be within a reasonable time. A year does not seem reasonable to me. I cannot see any reason to delay burial for that long."

EWTN.com - catholics marrying out of the cathic faith

EWTN.com - catholics marrying out of the cathic faith: "catholics marrying out of the cathic faith

Have conflicting advice from Priests and Nuns. As a practising Catholic. Can I attend a wedding of a non practising Catholic (baptised, my sister) held outwith the Catholic Church. Also if a Priest is present and gives a blessing are they classed as being allowed to practice should they wish to return or do they need to marry again. Also what are the Churches teachings on reiki. my mother recently went for respite to a Roman Catholic hospice which offered reiki as one of its therapies. I have tried to reseach but get conflicting advice thanks god bless anna
Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 10/29/2008:

A marriage that takes place involving a Catholic without a properly delegated priest or deacon and two witnesses is non-existent due to the lack of canonical form. It would be scandalous to be present at such a ceremony.

I am not clear on what the priest is doing that you are asking about or envisioning.

Reiki is not a matter of canon law."