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May 12, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: Regarding a recent question about the time of day when a Latin High Mass can be celebrated, J.R.D. of New Jersey, the master of ceremonies at his parish, wrote to say that “there is no rule in my parish. We have had the High Mass at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, and now have it at 8:00 a.m. The time is usually determined by the pastor. It was the same in the ‘old days’.”

Q. During World War II, a woman doctor performed some 3,000 abortions on Jewish inmates of a concentration camp in order to save the lives of the inmates as the Nazi policy was to gas any women found to be pregnant, in which case both the women and their babies would be lost. Through her actions, the women were saved. As to the morality of the doctor’s actions, a number of factors arise: 1) the end justifying the means, 2) choosing the lesser of two evils, 3) moral absolutes, and 4) situation ethics. Were the doctor’s actions moral? Please identify the source for your reply. — T.J.M., New Jersey.
A. The doctor’s actions were immoral since no one has the right to take an innocent life, even to spare another life. Numbers 1, 2, and 4 all contradict the moral absolute of the sacredness of all human life. The morality of a human act depends on three things: 1) the act itself, 2) the purpose of the act, and 3) the circumstances surrounding the act.
“The primary and decisive element for moral judgment,” said Pope St. John Paul II in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor, is the act itself because it “establishes whether it is capable of being ordered to the good and to the ultimate end, which is God” (n.78).
The purpose of the act, or the circumstances surrounding it, can change the morality of the act in some cases, but abortion is intrinsically wrong (evil by its very nature) and can never be justified, even to save the lives of the pregnant women in the Nazi death camps. In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, St. John Paul said:
“I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being” (n. 62).
For more on this subject, see the book Catholicism & Ethics: A Medical/Moral Handbook by Hayes, Hayes, Kelly, and Drummey. It is available for $15 (shipping included) from the address at the bottom of this column.

Q. Getting old comes with a lot of aches and pains, but I recently picked up a book on Tai Chi. The stretching exercises seem okay, but the book recommends a system of breathing and meditation, etc. Will this conflict in any way with my Catholic beliefs? — D.H., Iowa.
A. Sometimes described as “meditation in motion,” Tai Chi was originally developed in ancient China for self-defense, but is now used as a form of exercise for reducing stress and improving health. It is a system of gentle physical movements, performed in a slow and graceful manner, that keeps the body in constant motion. The movements are coordinated with breathing to help a person achieve an inner calm.
Dr. Roger Jahnke, a practitioner of Oriental medicine and author of a book on Tai Chi entitled The Healer Within, says that Eastern wisdom speaks of the body’s ability to heal itself. He contends that normal exercise produces chemicals that allow muscles damaged by the exercise to heal. But he says that the movements of Tai Chi are so gentle that the muscle isn’t damaged, and the chemicals produced can be used to help other parts of the body. He claims that Tai Chi healed a man who had an incurable brain cancer.
Jahnke is also author of The Healing Promise of Qi, which promotes the healing of back and joint pain. “Tai Chi and Qigong literally means life force and mastery,” says a description of his books. “Long kept as a carefully guarded secret from the Chinese public, Dr. Jahnke brings it to the west as a health enhancing self-improvement program. Ancient tools for self-improvement and a safe, gentle, and proven approach to treating pain and disease.”
The problem with these “life force” or “life energy” techniques is that they promote healing through human efforts and not through divine power. In a 2009 document about a related technique known as Reiki (Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy), the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine said that some of Reiki’s teachers “argue that it is not the Reiki practitioner personally who effects the healing, but the Reiki energy directed by the divine consciousness. Nevertheless, the fact remains that for Christians the access to divine healing is by prayer to Christ as Lord.”
The bishops said that “some practitioners attempt to Christianize Reiki by adding a prayer to Christ, but this does not affect the essential nature of Reiki. For these reasons, Reiki and other similar therapeutic techniques cannot be identified with what Christians call healing by divine grace.” They cautioned that “a Catholic who puts his or her trust in Reiki [or Tai Chi] would be operating in the realm of superstition, the no-man’s-land that is neither faith nor science. Superstition corrupts one’s worship of God by turning one’s religious feeling and practice in a false direction. While sometimes people fall into superstition through ignorance, it is the responsibility of all who teach in the name of the Church to eliminate such ignorance as much as possible.”
It seems to us that one could use stretching exercises to help alleviate aches and pains without getting into superstition or into the shadowy world of the New Age Movement.

Q. I was surprised that you felt that Jesus would not have undergone His horrific Passion and Death for only 10 percent of the billions who have inhabited this planet. To feel that the many billions of souls who would represent the 10 percent would not be significant is stunning. I refer you to Abraham pleading with the Lord not to destroy Sodom if at least 10 good men could be found. The Lord agreed. — B.W., via e-mail.
A. The point we were making was not that Jesus would not have died to save only a small percentage of sinners (He would have), but rather that His sacrificial death would surely have effected the salvation of many more souls than the 10 percent envisioned by St. Bernard. We believe this to be so in light of what Jesus told St. Faustina about the vast scope of His divine mercy. Here are some of His statements to Faustina:
“The loss of each soul plunges Me into mortal sadness. You always console Me when you pray for sinners. The prayer most pleasing to Me is prayer for the conversion of sinners. Know, my daughter, that this prayer is always heard and answered.”
“I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so. My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the day of justice, I am sending the day of mercy.”
“I desire that the first Sunday after Easter be the Feast of Mercy. . . . Whoever approaches the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete remission of sins and punishment.”
“The soul that will go to Confession [within seven days] and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day are open all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no one fear to draw near to Me, even though its sin be like scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.”
“Even if the sin of souls will be as dark as night, when the sinner turns to my mercy he gives Me the greatest praise and is the glory of my Passion. When a soul praises my goodness, Satan trembles before it and flees to the very bottom of Hell.”
“Souls perish in spite of my bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation, that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore my mercy, they will perish for all eternity. Tell souls about this great gift of mine because the awful day, the day of my justice, is near.”
“Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach Me, for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, all will be drowned in the immeasurable depths of my mercy.”
“When you say this prayer with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion. This is the prayer: ‘O blood and water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You’.”

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20 April 2007 – Msgr. Richard Schuler – RIP

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German bishops deny Pope nixed their plan for intercommunion with Protestants

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Bill Banning ‘Conversion Therapy’ Passes California State Assembly

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Priests are performing exorcisms over the phone, cardinal claims

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Pope: ‘Troubled’ over Syria, praying for Alfie Evans

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There’s no ‘bridge’ between modernism and faithful Catholicism

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Full text of Pope Francis’ letter to Chilean bishops

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Citing growing interest in Traditional Latin Mass, Archbishop Chaput creates quasi-parish

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Cecile Richards speaking at Catholic university in SF Archdiocese

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Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

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  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

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Catechism

Today . . .

Spiritual guidance belongs in politics, Bishop Tobin says

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Sacraments Instituted By Christ . . . More On Christ As The Fulfillment Of The Old Law

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Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

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Catholic Replies

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The Sheep Of The Lord’s Flock

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Catholic Heroes… St. Agnes Of Montepulciano

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