Put on the Mind of Christ

The beginning of a new year can be a time for reflection and a time for change. As you read this issue of The Word Among Us, I'd like to ask all of us to reflect on the way we think and act.

Is it in keeping with the gospel that Jesus preached? I’d especially like to ask us to look beyond the specific acts that may or may not be pleasing to the Lord and examine the forces—good and bad—that lie behind these choices. -Read More .

Sign of Love Between Catholic and Orthodox

The Catholic Church’s gift of a relic of St. Nicholas to the Russian Orthodox - at the Pope’s behest - has been hailed by both churches as a “historic” milestone in ecumenical relations.

Catholic Bishop Josef Werth of the Siberian Diocese of the Transfiguration of the Lord formally presented Russian Orthodox Bishop Aristarch of Kemerovo and Nowokuznesk with the relic during a solemn Orthodox Liturgy for the feast of St. Nicholas on December 19th. Although both churches celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas on the December 6th, the Russian Orthodox still use the Julian calendar to calculate when feasts fall, so the feast is celebrated thirteen days later in the East. -Read More

Holy Family

All the gifts have been opened.

Those that needed to be returned are returned.

We have stuffed ourselves to capacity.

Then the Church lays the feast day on us to help remind us of what is truly important. The feast of the Holy Family.

manger.jpgWe have the Holy Family as a model for our own families, but too many times we can write off that example. How hard it must be to live up to the standard of one who is Jesus, another who is sinless, and the poor guy who is inevitably always wrong. (That must have made it easy to find the person to blame when Jesus went missing for three days, but certainly frustrating when someone forgot to take out the garbage.)

All jokes aside, how can we live up to the standard of the Holy Family in our own lives? How can we make Christ the center of our lives in a very real way? - more.

EWTN.com - Aborted babies dying with Original Sin on their souls.


Aborted babies dying with Original Sin on their souls.

Mrs Brown, I pray you have a holy and joyful Advent and Christmastide.

A previous commenter, Mr Yurich, denied the Churches perrenial teaching that unbaptized infants cannot enter into the Beatific Vision, with God in heaven.

We can hope and pray that God, who is not bound by His Sacraments, will give the aborted baby the Sacrament of Baptism, but we do not know this for sure. All we know for sure, is taught us by the Church, wherein that the Ordinary means of attaining heaven is by having Original Sin wiped out through water, and the Holy Ghost, or Desire [which takes a free act of the will, infants cannot do this] or blood [which we are taught by Holy Mother Church entails dying as a martyr, dying directly for Christ] is this the case in abortion? It does not seem likely. May I conclude with a quote from the great teacher of the Truth, Father Hardon:

"WHAT IS THE FATE OF UNBAPTIZED INFANTS? The fate of the unbaptized infants is left to the mercy of God. It is generally taught that the souls of those who depart this life with original sin on their souls, but without actual sin, go to limbo."

Anything else is speculation.

God bless you.

Answer by Judie Brown on 12/20/2008:

Dear Dan


May the peace and joy of Christmas be in your heart every day throughout the New Year.

Judie Brown

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EWTN.com - Where do aborted babies go?


Where do aborted babies go?

I would like to comment, if I may on the recent postings regarding if aborted babies go to Heaven. I think that this is probably a very profound theological discussion, which is way over our heads, and we may not be able to answer, We can only speculate about happens to aborted babies and if the Father will allow them to enter Heaven. I think we already have the answer in the Scriptures, and in what God has revealed about Himself, and in what Jesus revealed to Sister Georgina when he appeared to her in the image of Devine Mercy. It is not certainly in God’s plan that mothers terminate their pregnancies, no matter what the circumstances, but it stands to reason, that these babies are completely innocent, and maybe God in His immensurable mercy, will apply Jesus’ suffering on the cross to these victims of the present age of darkness and death. We can only surmise that these babies will be allowed to choose God and that in their innocence they will accept the Father’s love and be allowed entrance into the kingdom of Heaven. We must remember that their souls have not been sullied by experiencing this world with all its fallen passions and desires. Jesus also said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”. Praise God for His Mercy.

Answer by Judie Brown on 12/20/2008:


Of course God is merciful, but we do know from Church teaching that each human being's soul is stained with original sin, and that Baptism is needed to cleanse the soul.

We do trust in God's mercy and we entrust each of these aborted victims to His care.

Judie Brown

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The Birth of Jesus: Luke 2:1-20 - Personal Spirituality - The Word Among Us

 The Birth of Jesus: Luke 2:1-20 - Personal Spirituality - The Word Among Us

The Birth of Jesus: Luke 2:1-20

In the Words of St. Ignatius

The Birth of Jesus: Luke 2:1-20


“Only one person has ever been able to choose where and how to be born—Jesus, the Son of God, who existed before coming into this world.”

Begin with the usual preparatory prayer, and then consider the story you are about to contemplate.

Recall how Our Lady, pregnant almost nine months and, as we may piously meditate, seated on an ass, together with Joseph and a servant girl leading an ox, set forth from Nazareth to go to Bethlehem and pay the tribute which Caesar had imposed on all those lands.

Imagine the place. See the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Consider its length and breadth, whether it is level or winds through valleys and hills. Similarly, look at the place or cave of the Nativity: How big is it, or small? How low or high? And how is it furnished?

Ask for grace: an interior knowledge of Our Lord, who became human for me, that I may love him more intensely and follow him more closely.

More specifically, St. Ignatius proposes these points for reflection:

Point One: I will see the persons; that is, to see Our Lady, Joseph, the maidservant, and the infant Jesus after his birth. I will make myself a poor, little, and unworthy slave, gazing at them, contemplating them, and serving them in their needs, just as if I were there, with all possible respect and reverence. Then I will reflect upon myself to draw some profit.

Point Two: I will observe, consider, and contemplate what they are saying. Then, reflecting upon myself, I will draw some profit.

Point Three: I will behold and consider what they are doing; for example, journeying and toiling, in order that the Lord may be born in greatest poverty; and that after so many hardships of hunger, thirst, heat, cold, injuries, and insults, he may die on the cross! And all this for me! Then I will reflect and draw some spiritual profit.

Conclude with a colloquy, as in the preceding contemplation, and with an Our Father.

(Spiritual Exercises, 110-117)


In order to contemplate the mystery of the birth of Jesus, we will accompany Mary and Joseph, following the sequence of the gospel narrative.

We begin in Nazareth, when official notice confirms the edict of Caesar Augustus ordering a census of the entire world; each person is to be registered in the city of his family’s origins. How did people react as word of the edict spread? There must have been criticisms, protests, and insubordination. Imagine and compare these reactions with the docile, serene, diligent, and confident responses of Mary and Joseph.

Assist them as they prepare for the journey, and then accompany these two custodians of the divine treasure of salvation along the road to Bethlehem. Contemplate their every step and encounter along the way. Imagine their modesty, composure, and faith in the mystery whose bearers they feel themselves to be during the hardships of the journey. Mary is the true Ark of the Covenant.

See how in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary find all possibilities for shelter closed to them, even the inn. Observe their measured reactions, which reflect their confidence in the providence of the Father, who knows how to guide all things for the good of his chosen ones. As their example demonstrates, we should learn to detect the will of God through the events of our lives. God’s mysterious plans will come to pass despite the obvious difficulties. Mary and Joseph put no obstacles in the way. Like the thin reed on the river bank that bends to the slightest breeze, they know how to submit to the divine will. Christ will appear in the world in the straw of a manger, choosing to begin the new era of the Spirit in humility and poverty. In all generations, contemplative eyes will discover him there and be absorbed with joy and marveling adoration.

Think about this: Only one person has ever been able to choose where and how to be born—Jesus, the Son of God, who existed before coming into this world. Amazingly, he chose to experience not only the total dependence with which all human life begins, but also exterior deprivation and abandonment by all except Mary and Joseph. Imagine these sufferings of the Holy Family—encamped on the outskirts of the town, without a house, without furniture, without human help, their provisions for the journey exhausted. How different God’s plans, projects, and preferences are from those of human beings!

Jesus did not have himself announced with thundering publicity or make his appearance in the rich districts of Jerusalem. He preferred to present himself without honors or demands and to make himself known in modest simplicity: “You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

Let us take in this peaceful and gentle environment and allow ourselves to be moved by it. May the Holy Spirit help us to become attracted by the spiritual radiance of these poor of Yahweh who had been prepared to receive the good news: his humble servant, the Virgin Mary; Joseph, the just man who walked in the law of the Lord; the shepherds, those night workers whose hearts were obedient, kind, and open to the messages from above. They were able to discover and adore Jesus, to rejoice immensely in his presence, and to communicate their joy to others.

In the Nativity, greed, superficiality, and pride—those enemies of the kingdom—receive the divine death blow. Jesus lies in the manger, and those who have put all their trust in Yahweh come to him bearing the gifts of their simple, humble hearts.

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Welcoming Jesus as Mary Did | Catholic Exchange

Scripture says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Is 52:7).

Rightly do these words apply to the angel Gabriel, who brings to us from God the gladdest tidings of all.

Consider the moment of the Annunciation from Mary’s point of view. The words of the angel echo the promise made by the Lord to King David centuries before, recorded in this week’s first reading: “The Lord also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up an heir for you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.”

Mary’s heart must have raced to hear the angel’s news. Her Son would be the royal offspring of David and He would establish a lasting kingdom. Her Son would be the long-awaited Messiah. The angel’s tidings meant that God had not forsaken His people. Rather, God was going to visit them anew. This was the fulfillment of the deepest longings of Mary’s people.

Consider the moment of the Annunciation from our contemporary point of view. We know that when the angel calls Mary’s child the “Son of the Most High,” it goes beyond what even the Jewish people might have expected of the Messiah. He would not simply be God’s son in a moral sense or by adoption. Rather, we know that Jesus is “light from light, true God from true God, one in being with the Father.” The divine Son, born of the Virgin Mary, would receive what He did not possess on His own: a human nature, flesh and blood, a body and soul. This is the flesh and blood He would offer in sacrifice on the cross to save His fellow men from sin, taking His place as the new Adam who renews and restores creation. From our point of view, the angel’s tidings mean that the moment of our redemption is at hand.

There is yet a deeper lesson we can draw from contemplating this momentous event in salvation history. It is not enough that Mary should conceive the child in her womb. She has to welcome the child in her life. We might ask ourselves, what’s the difference? The answer is simple: plenty.

Mary could conceive the child in her womb, but she had to welcome her Son as her Savior. She would walk the road to Calvary with her Son and would play an intimate part in the work of our redemption. In other words, her life and vocation would be intimately and inextricably linked with that of her Son’s. Everything would have to be given over to her relationship with Jesus, her Savior and her Child.

In a culture of death that enshrines a right to abortion, it is now possible to conceive a child, but not welcome him. In fact, abortion is about rejection of a child who has been conceived. It is possible for a child to be conceived and brought to term, but never be nurtured and loved by parents. Perhaps we have heard stories about parents who make little time for relationships with their children, buying love and affection with material goods instead.

Our Lord once said that the one who does the will of His Father in heaven is His brother, His sister and His mother. It is probably easy for us to grasp that, by virtue of the grace of baptism, we are sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of Christ. It is certainly more daring to imagine ourselves to be like the mother of Christ.

To be like Mary, to image her motherhood in our lives as Christians, it is necessary for us to do more than just say, “I accept Jesus.” Our faith must be expressed in action and in virtue. Imagine a husband and wife. If one is constantly critical of the other and says no appreciative words to the other, yet claims deep down to really love one’s spouse, where is the visible proof? It may be that one spouse makes sacrifices for the other and shows love in action, but it is still nice when love is expressed in word and action.

If we say we love Jesus, yet we make no effort to imitate Him in our lives, to practice the virtues that would truly make us living images of Christ, then where is the proof of that love? That the Spirit of God truly dwells in a soul is something that can only be known when Christ’s love is manifested in a person’s word and actions.

As we come to the end of Advent and prepare for the celebration of Christmas, we would do well to ask our Blessed Mother to pray for us. Our prayer should be quite simple: to receive the grace we need to love her Son just as she did.

Say it loud and proud: 'Merry Christmas'


One recent December, a tour guide on Canada's Parliament Hill was overheard referring to the "Christmas Trees" in the main hall.


When the guide's heresy was reported to her superiors, she was firmly told that the decorated greenery were most certainly not "Christmas trees," and a heated debate ensued as to just what to call the arboreal splendour. It was decided that guides would refer only to "Festive Bushes" for the remainder of the holiday season.

But this year, Quebec Premier Jean Charest quickly corrected an overeager staffer who declared that a "Holiday Tree" would be lighted in the provincial capital. Charest's commonsensical statement that it was, in fact, a "Christmas Tree" was a welcome rebuke to the seasonal game of sensitivity and silly bears that goes on every year.

In this cold world, a kind word is always welcome, so if one person genuinely hopes for another to enjoy his or her holiday, or wishes to greet that person in the spirit of the season, far be it from me to cast a stone. But, in the weeks leading up to Dec. 25, if you make a conscious choice to avoid saying "Merry Christmas," there's a good chance you have decided that a divine gift that was meant for all mankind, and in which billions of people rejoice each year, is too offensive a notion to cross your lips.

Yes, yes, I know -- folks say "Happy Holidays" and other insipid stuff because not everyone is Christian, so this is a way to be inclusive. But there is no inclusion to be had by euphemizing the warmest wish of a particular religion, presuming it to be objectionable to non-believers.

Of course, there are many different religions and faiths in the world. This is something folks are taught by the age of, say, four or five. So, if you are older than this, yet you eschew "Merry Christmas," what you are putting forward is that one of the world's religions is uniquely unsuitable for public acknowledgement.

No one frets about being "inclusive" during Passover or Ramadan, nor should they. Ironically, the purported inclusiveness of the "Season's Greetings" police is actually about exclusion. To wit, it's about excluding just one religion, Christianity, from any rightful place in modern society.

Christians, the sensitivity cops point out, are in the majority, and so their holidays do not merit the same exclusive attention and protection as those of other religions. But is tolerance a numbers game? Is courtesy quantifiable? Is the respect a religion merits inversely proportional to its number of believers? Is it calculated like a marginal tax rate, off the last adherent rather than the last dollar earned?

The left has long since extrapolated vague, fashionable notions of history -- from the horrors of the Crusades to the dull intolerance of the 1950s -- to name Christianity the culprit for all the world's evil. And so, budding iconoclasts can tee off on the faith, or inflict their petty "Holiday Tree" policies with impunity. And well they might, for it is a riskless proposition. The worst that will happen is they may stumble across a column like this one, calling courage-free conformity by its name.

Indeed, those politically correct paragons who browbeat Christians in movies and television, classrooms and print, would be much more credible if, just once, they decided to try their censorious tactics on one of those religions where the practitioners react, shall we say, stringently to being muzzled or criticized.

Christians, the sensitivity cops point out, are in the majority, and so their holidays do not merit the same exclusive attention and protection as those of other religions. But is tolerance a numbers game? Is courtesy quantifiable? Is the respect a religion merits inversely proportional to its number of believers? Is it calculated like a marginal tax rate, off the last adherent rather than the last dollar earned?

Christmas is about Jesus Christ, Son of God, coming down to Earth to show us how a proper life should be lived, then dying unpleasantly for our sins. Believe it or don't. I may not be the world's greatest Christian, but we do one another no favours by pretending this happiest of holidays is about anything but Him.

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Can We Receive Holy Communion Twice on Christmas Day?

Q: When we were kids, we were told that on Christmas Day, we were allowed to receive Holy Communion twice, if we attended two Masses.  The same was true for Easter.  Is this still allowed?  –MargieA: As was discussed back in the September 6, 2007 column, the current Code of Canon Law was promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1983. It replaced the previous code of 1917. We don’t know how old Margie is, so it’s unclear which code was in force back “when we were kids.” But let’s presume that she is speaking about a time before the current code came into force. In this way we can see what the law used to say, and what it says today.

The 1917 Code of Canon Law stated quite clearly that it was not licit for anybody to receive the Eucharist for a second time in one day (c. 857). There were, however, two exceptions. Firstly, a person who was in danger of death could receive Holy Communion as Viaticum (c. 858.1). In other words, when a dying Catholic received the sacrament of Extreme Unction (often referred to colloquially as the Last Rites), the priest also usually gave the person Holy Communion for one last time. If the person had attended Mass earlier that day and received the Eucharist, and later his health took a turn for the worse or he was mortally injured in an accident, he could thus receive the Eucharist for a second time that day. Obviously this was an extraordinary situation that did not happen on a regular basis.

The second exception (also referenced in the former c. 858.1) occurred when it was necessary for someone to consume the Eucharist to avoid irreverence. If, for example, a priest who had already celebrated Mass were later to drop a Host on the church floor, the proper thing to do was (and still is) to pick it up reverently and consume it himself. He could do this even though he had already received the Eucharist at the Mass he had celebrated earlier the same day. Again, this was not an everyday occurrence.

The Vatican later permitted some additional exceptions to the rule. In 1973, the Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments (which was later renamed the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments) issued an instruction called Immensae caritatis, which stated that a Catholic could receive the Eucharist for a second time in one day if (1) he had received it first in a Mass on a Saturday morning, and then attended a Sunday vigil Mass that same evening; (2) he had received it at the Holy Saturday evening Mass — which in past years used to extend beyond midnight into the early hours of Easter Sunday — and then attended another Easter Mass on Sunday morning; (3) he had received the Eucharist at Christmas midnight Mass, and then attended another Christmas Mass later in the day; (4) he received it on Holy Thursday at the morning Chrism Mass, and then attended the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening.

The instruction also admitted the possibility of other, comparable situations in which Holy Communion might be received for a second time in the same day, if a Catholic were to attend a second Mass. If, for example, someone were to attend a daily morning Mass, and later that day went to a funeral or a wedding Mass, he might receive the Eucharist licitly at both Masses.  But note that in each of these cases, the Eucharist had to be received during the course of a Mass. Furthermore, the two Masses were celebrated for different purposes. In other words, there was no provision in the document for receiving Holy Communion a second time outside of a Mass, nor was it permitted to receive it twice if attending, say, two Sunday morning Masses or two daily Masses, both celebrated for the same purpose. In fact, the Congregation specifically noted that the faithful were not to receive the Eucharist twice in the same day if these special circumstances were absent-for the general restrictions found in canon 857 were still in force.

After this instruction was issued, it was thus entirely permissible for a Catholic to receive Holy Communion twice on Christmas and on Easter, as Margie says, assuming that the first Mass was the Christmas midnight Mass, or the Holy Saturday vigil Mass. But with the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the rule was broadened even further.

The old canon 857 of the 1917 code was reworked and became the current canon 917. It states that a Catholic who has received Holy Communion once, may receive it again on the same day. The only restriction is that the reception must take place within the course of a Mass in which the person is participating. The usual exception for persons who are dying, of course, remains in force (c. 921).

What does all this mean? As it stands today, the law allows us to receive Holy Communion a second time on any day, provided that we receive it during a Mass. It does not have to be Christmas, or Easter, or the day of a wedding or funeral.

In 1984, a question on the correct interpretation of this canon was posed to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. As we saw in the October 5, 2007 column, this Vatican entity alone can provide authentic — that is, official and binding — clarifications as to the meaning of the code. The question was asked whether the provisions found in canon 917 meant that a Catholic could receive Holy Communion only twice in one day, or could receive it however many times that he attended Mass. Could a person who attended, say, four Masses in a single day receive the Eucharist four times?

The answer was succinct, as usual. The Council simply said in Latin, “affirmative to the first part; negative to the second.” In other words, one may receive the Eucharist a second time in one day, if attending a second Mass; but no more. The “danger of death” exception, of course, always remains in force — so theoretically, if a Catholic received Holy Communion at two Masses in one day, and later were to receive the sacraments of the dying, he could receive the Eucharist yet again. Obviously, however, this would be a highly unusual situation.

The answer to Margie’s question should by now be clear. Not only is it permissible to receive Holy Communion twice at two different Masses on Christmas Day, it is actually allowed now on every day of the year.

Cathy Caridi, J.C.L. is a licensed canonist who practices law and teaches in the Washington, D.C. area.

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St. Michael’s Catholic Hospital in Toronto Flying Gay Pride Flag in Lobby


St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, a Catholic hospital, is flying the gay pride flag in its lobby, LifeSiteNews.com has discovered.The Toronto Catholic hospital has a history of supporting the gay pride agenda. In 1999 it was revealed that the hospital was listed as a “bronze” level sponsor of Gay Pride Week in Toronto, having donated a significant sum of money to the event. The week’s activities included a homosexual men’s picnic at Toronto Island’s nude beach, and a “dyke striptease unlike any you’ve seen before,” amongst other similar events.

Recently, in comments made to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT), prominent homosexualist activist Rev. Brent Hawkes lauded St. Michael’s Hospital as an example of a Catholic institution that had turned its back on Catholic moral teaching in the name “a greater public good.”

Hawkes was quoted in an OHRT decision, as its “theological expert,” as saying that the Canadian Christian charity, Christian Horizons, could be expected to follow the example of St. Michael’s Hospital in renouncing its Christian identity in the name of “a greater common good.” The Tribunal invoked Hawkes’ testimony about the hospital in its decision to force Christian Horizons to no longer require its employees to sign an agreement to hold to core Christian teachings.

Hawkes described how he approached St. Michael’s Catholic Hospital in Toronto with concerns about their treatment of homosexuals. The Catholic hospital, said Hawkes, responded in a way that he did not expect. They immediately “educated their staff on gay and lesbian issues, they started to treat gay and lesbian couples as full couples before the law required them.”  He added: “They put a rainbow flag into the foyer, they put signs up for Pride Day.”

The flag which Hawkes referred to in his statements appears to be the same flag that is currently flying in the lobby.

Suresh Dominic of Campaign Life Catholic responded to the recent revelation about the hospital, saying, “It is sad to see St. Michael’s hospital promoting the homosexual agenda.  In the past the same hospital has funded the ‘Gay Pride’ parade. A Catholic institution should know well that promoting such a destructive lifestyle is against Christian charity.  The idea behind such a decision is gravely malformed.

“While trying to be positive and welcoming, the Catholic hospital is in fact encouraging people in a lifestyle which is hurtful physically, psychologically and, most importantly, spiritually.”

Repeated attempts to contact representatives of St. Michael’s Hospital were not returned by press time.

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Where do aborted babies go?

Where do aborted babies go and if Limbo how do they get from there to heaven? Thank you.

Answer by Judie Brown on 12/17/2008:


When Pope John Paul II wrote The Gospel of Life, he taught the following:

"I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child."

And as Dr. David Reardon has written,

Thus, even if God's justice somehow demands that unbaptized babies must be denied the fullness of Heaven, in God's mercy these same souls could still rest in the arms of Christ, if it is His desire to be with them. Furthermore, if these aborted children are confined to Limbo yet "living in the Lord," because Christ comes to them, we must also remember that, as Christ told his apostles, "whoever has seen me, has seen the Father" (John 14:9). So, even if the unbaptized are unable to see our Triune God, in all his glory, face-to-face like the sun blazing in the fullness of the day, it appears likely that in the face of Jesus they can at least enjoy the glory of the dawn.

His entire article is located at http://www.afterabortion.org/PAR/V5/n3/despair.htm

Judie Brown

Judie Brown

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Exraordinary Ministers and Both Species of Communion


And More on Paraliturgies

ROME, DEC. 16, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: I understand that the use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion is to be just that, "extraordinary." I also understand that the distribution of the Blessed Sacrament under both species to all the faithful has been allowed by the U.S. bishops' conference, given its fuller sign value. Thus my question is this: Which trumps which? It is almost unheard of for a parish to distribute Communion under both species without recourse to extraordinary ministers. Is it preferable to avoid using extraordinary ministers and distribute under one species only? Or is it preferable to distribute under both species and have recourse to extraordinary ministers on an ordinary basis? -- V.D., New York
A: I would say that the word "extraordinary" has several shades of meaning and this probably leads to some confusion.
From the liturgical point of view, an extraordinary minister is one who performs a liturgical act in virtue of a special delegation and not as an ordinary minister. Thus, in the case of Holy Communion, the ordinary ministers are the bishop, priest and deacon. That is, it is a normal part of their ministry to distribute Communion.
Anyone else who distributes Communion does so as an extraordinary minister. That is, it is not a normal part of their liturgical functions, but they have received this mission in virtue of a delegation. The instituted acolyte receives this delegation ex officio, so to speak, in virtue of his institution. He may also purify the sacred vessels in the absence of the deacon as well as expose and reserve the Blessed Sacrament in a simple manner for a period of adoration.
All other ministers act in virtue of a habitual delegation from the local bishop, usually acting through the pastor, or an immediate ad hoc delegation from the priest celebrant to respond to difficult circumstances.
Therefore, the status of extraordinary minister is not dependent on the ministry's frequency but rather pertains to the nature of the ministry itself. Even if one were to assist in administrating Communion every day for several years, one never becomes an ordinary minister in the canonical or liturgical sense.
Another case of the concept of extraordinary minister is the role of a priest with respect to the sacrament of confirmation in the Latin rite. Canon law Nos. 882-888 state that the bishop is the ordinary minister of confirmation, but the law foresees the possibility of priests administering this sacrament under certain conditions.
For most other sacraments, especially penance, Eucharist, holy orders and anointing of the sick, there is no possibility of extraordinary ministers.
However, the current use of the word extraordinary is not unknown in liturgical norms. For example, the 2004 instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" says: "It is the Priest celebrant's responsibility to minister Communion, perhaps assisted by other Priests or Deacons; and he should not resume the Mass until after the Communion of the faithful is concluded. Only when there is a necessity may extraordinary ministers assist the Priest celebrant in accordance with the norm of law" (No. 88).
This same document refers to the practice of Communion under both species:
"[100.] So that the fullness of the sign may be made more clearly evident to the faithful in the course of the Eucharistic banquet, lay members of Christ’s faithful, too, are admitted to Communion under both kinds, in the cases set forth in the liturgical books, preceded and continually accompanied by proper catechesis regarding the dogmatic principles on this matter laid down by the Ecumenical Council of Trent.
"[101.] In order for Holy Communion under both kinds to be administered to the lay members of Christ's faithful, due consideration should be given to the circumstances, as judged first of all by the diocesan Bishop. It is to be completely excluded where even a small danger exists of the sacred species being profaned …."
Thus, while Communion under both species is praised there might be circumstances where prudence recommends forgoing it because of the practical difficulties entailed. Hence "Redemptionis Sacramentum" continues in No. 102:
"The chalice should not be ministered to lay members of Christ's faithful where there is such a large number of communicants that it is difficult to gauge the amount of wine for the Eucharist and there is a danger that 'more than a reasonable quantity of the Blood of Christ remain to be consumed at the end of the celebration.' The same is true wherever access to the chalice would be difficult to arrange, or where such a large amount of wine would be required that its certain provenance and quality could only be known with difficulty, or wherever there is not an adequate number of sacred ministers or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion with proper formation, or where a notable part of the people continues to prefer not to approach the chalice for various reasons, so that the sign of unity would in some sense be negated."
From this text we can adduce that, in principle at least, Church norms recognize the possibility of using well-formed extraordinary ministers to assist in distributing Communion under both species. Therefore, rather than one norm trumping the other, it is a question of evaluating all the pertinent circumstances before deciding what to do. The mere fact of having to use extraordinary ministers does not appear to be a sufficient reason not to proceed with Communion under both species, provided that the ministers are duly qualified.
While Communion under both species is graced with indubitable spiritual advantages, it is not an absolute value and, as the norms suggest, it should be omitted if there is any danger of profanation or due to serious practical difficulties.
Nobody is deprived of any grace by not receiving from the chalice, as Christ is received whole and entire under either species.

Catholic-Muslim Group Prepares Meeting With Pope



VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A group of 24 Catholic and Muslim experts -- a dozen from each creed -- are meeting in Rome about the responsibility of religious leaders in times of crisis.
The meeting is the 11th encounter between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the World Islamic Call Society. The experts will have five sessions, and meet with Benedict XVI on Wednesday. The encounter began Monday.
The World Islamic Call Society was founded in 1972 to promote Islamic civilization and culture, and is based in Tripoli, Libya.
With the pontifical council, the society has had a dozen meetings. It also has contact with the World Council of Churches.

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Communion in non-Catholic church


Is there any law or rule within the Catholic Church that references such subject? Specifically, I would like to know the Catholic Church's position on Catholic persons having communion in non-denominational churches where they the bread and wine are blessed prior to communion (scuh as citing the verses in Corinthians beginning 11:23). Also, what are the ramifications if a non-catholic person has already had communion in such non-demoniational churches.



Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 12/14/2008:

Well, your last question first, there are no ramifications in the Catholic Church if a non- Catholic participates in a non-denominational communion service.

However, a Roman Catholic should not participate in a non-denominational communion service. Check out Canon 844, paragraph 2, of the Church's Canon Law. You can get this from the Vatican website.

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Catholic and Orthodox unite to defend the family



Prelates of Both Churches Join to Make Plan

TRENT, Italy, DEC. 15, 2008 (Zenit.org).- With families in Europe facing new and greater challenges, Catholic and Orthodox bishops are uniting to offer a common defense of the sacrament of marriage and the bases of the family.
Last week, at the first common forum between Catholic and Orthodox bishops on the theme of family, the prelates considered their common vision of family values, and aimed to offer a joint pastoral plan. During the working sessions, the bishops discussed their common understanding of the complementarity of man and woman, the sacramental character of indissoluble marriage, and theological understandings of the family.
The forum was sponsored by the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe. Among the participants were Monsignors Grzegorz Kaszak, Bernard Munono, and Jacques Suaudeau, members of the Pontifical Councils for the Family, and for Justice and Peace, and the Pontifical Academy for Life, respectively.
According to Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna and Austria, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, who died Dec. 5, was an ardent supporter of the forum.
Both delegations affirmed their understanding of matrimony between a man and a woman as part of God's plan, and not a simple human institution.
To support this vision, Bosnian Orthodox theologian Vaclav Jezek urged an "authentic theology on the relationship between men and women, and between parents and children."
"The family is not the product of a coincidence," he said, "but rather the perfect image of communion."
The prelates further affirmed their common vision of marriage as an indissoluble union between man and woman, and human fertility as a gift of God.
They expressed concern about the situation of the family in the West, particularly low birth rates, the consequences of gender theories, and the imposition of the idea that homosexual unions are the same as marriage.
Bishop Alfeyev lamented the position of the Christian West, "which pressures the Third World and the Islamic world to accept contraception, abortion and sterilization."
Meanwhile, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Monsignor Kaszak, decried the imposition "on consciences" of ideologies contrary to the family. "These challenges are sufficient reason to motivate us to carry out common actions in defense of matrimony and the family against various attacks," he said, "and to bring to light more and more the beauty of the divine plan for Christian homes."

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EWTN.com - Communion in a non-Catholic church


Communion in a non-Catholic church

Is there any law or rule within the Catholic Church that references such subject? Specifically, I would like to know the Catholic Church's position on Catholic persons having communion in non-denominational churches where they the bread and wine are blessed prior to communion (scuh as citing the verses in Corinthians beginning 11:23). Also, what are the ramifications if a non-catholic person has already had communion in such non-demoniational churches.



Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 12/14/2008:

Well, your last question first, there are no ramifications in the Catholic Church if a non- Catholic participates in a non-denominational communion service.

However, a Roman Catholic should not participate in a non-denominational communion service. Check out Canon 844, paragraph 2, of the Church's Canon Law. You can get this from the Vatican website.

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EWTN.com - A Chapel in the Home


A Chapel in the Home

In the past great homes had Chapels in them including a Tabernacle. What are the requirements for this today? Is it even permissable anymore? I would think that for this to be allowed a Priest would have to be assigned to the Chapel and it would need to be available to all people. I am sure this is not a common question but a friend had said she wanted this in her home. I think that we would all love to have Jesus present in this way but I don't think that we are intitled to worship Him in The Blessed Sacrament in the complete privacy of our own homes. Thank you for your time, JoAnn

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/7/2008:

Canon 934 gives a complete list of those places where it is permitted to have a tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament reserved: "§1. The Most Holy Eucharist: 1/ must be reserved in the cathedral church or its equivalent, in every parish church, and in a church or oratory connected to the house of a religious institute or society of apostolic life; 2/ can be reserved in the chapel of the bishop and, with the permission of the local ordinary, in other churches, oratories, and chapels. §2. In sacred places where the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved, there must always be someone responsible for it and, insofar as possible, a priest is to celebrate Mass there at least twice a month."

The desire to keep the Blessed Sacrament in a private home reflects a complete misunderstanding of the communal nature of the Church and of the Most Holy Eucharist. It is not something that is meant to be a matter of private devotion. The Blessed Sacrament is meant to be reserved to be available to the public for worship. It is also meant to be reserved only in sacred places, which private homes are not. Furthermore, it is meant to be reserved in a place where Mass is ordinarily celebrated, showing the connection between celebration of the Eucharist and the reservation of the Eucharist.

Your instincts are correct in knowing that there is something wrong with this.

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EWTN.com - Intercession of someone who is not a Saint


Intercession of someone who is not a Saint

Is it o.k. to ask for prayer intercession for someone who is not a Saint? The particular person I am interested in is Father Solanus Casey. Thank you for taking the time to review my question.

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/7/2008:

I am not familiar with Father Casey. However, intercession of someone resulting in a miracle is required in order to be declared blessed (and another one again before being canonized), so in such situations, the intercession is being requested of someone who is not a saint. So I don't think that it is a problem.

However, does this does carry the risk of being ineffective.

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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.

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EWTN.com - Refusal to marry or baptize children of non practicing couples


Refusal to marry or baptize children of non practicing couples

Does a pastor have the right/option to refuse to marry a couple or baptize their child if they do not practice their faith and attend Sunday Mass.

Answer by David Gregson on 11/7/2008:

Yes. In fact, a priest (or deacon) would be obliged not to preside at the wedding or baptize the children of people who are not practicing Catholics. Otherwise, their wedding vows and their baptismal promises would have no credibility. Why would anyone take seriously a wedding vow to be faithful till death, or a baptismal promise to raise their children in the Faith, when those who make them don't embrace the Church's faith and practice.

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EWTN.com - Funeral rites for stillborn infants


Funeral rites for stillborn infants

Why are stillborn infants not allowed a funeral service w/in the church, only a graveside service. Our stillborn child was unbaptized, altho we wished him to be. We couldn't locate a priest to perform his baptism. He had died in the womb days prior to delivery. Didn't Jesus say,"Suffer the little children to come unto me." Also why are we told that stillborns will not be entered into Heaven as he was unbaptized? Adults who are unbaptized are assumed to go to Heaven because they intended to be baptised. Why should a child be denied the same thing.

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/7/2008:

While sometimes parents may choose only a graveside service, there is nothing to prevent stillborn infants from having a funeral service (with or without Mass) in Church.

There are specific rites in the Order of Christian Funerals for a child whose parents intended to have him or her baptized.

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EWTN.com - Human and divine nature


Human and divine nature

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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.

EWTN.com - Human and divine nature

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Old Testament prophets

Old Testament prophets

Were any Old Testament prophets killed? If so, why?
Answer by David Gregson on 12/10/2008:

Of Old Testament prophets whose names are known, Zechariah was stoned in the porch of the Temple by order of King Joash, because the Prophet had denounced the people for their unfaithfulness (2 Chrn 24:20-22)

Although not recorded in the Bible, according to the apocryphal book, "Ascension of Isaiah," Isaiah the prophet was killed by being sawn in two. Hebrews 11:37 ("sawn asunder") is commonly thought to refer to him. The reason given is that he prophesied the fall of Jerusalem, for the wickedness of the people, calling it "Sodom and Gomorrah."

Unnumbered unnamed prophets of the Lord were put to death by Jezebel, in the time of Elijah (1 Kgs 18:4, 13; 19:14). She wanted to wipe out the worship of the Lord, and replace it with the worship of Baal.

And John the Baptist, beheaded by Herod for publicly accusing him of adultery, is often considered to be the last of the Old Testament prophets (Mtt 14:1-12).

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Saint Sebastian

mortal or venial sin

To whom it may Concern,

I am wondering if unintentionally missing mass on a holy day of obligation is considered a mortal sin? If someone forgets about the holy day and therefore does not make it to mass but feels remorse for missing it, what would that be considered? I know that a holy day is a grave matter, and the person did have knowledge because they were reminded two days ago at Sunday mass. However, the person honestly forgot so it was not a preconceived or intentional miss. Thanks for your time and Merry CHRISTmas! Anonymous
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 12/8/2008:

If a person truly forgot about the Holy Day, some may argue that it was not their intention to deliberately miss Mass, and so it was not a mortal sin. Others would say that they missed because of negligence (not writing it in a calendar, and especially since they were at Mass the day before and probably heard some announcement about the Mass schedule for the day).

I'd say that if they legitimately forgot it, it was not a mortal sin, though they should bring it up in confession the next time they go.

St. Jude Thaddeus