Tuesday 16th October 2018

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December 29, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: What better way to start the new year than to pass on the insights of Fr. George Rutler, pastor of the Church of St. Michael in New York City, on the “moral madness” of the day. After noting that as a chaplain in a state mental hospital, he quickly learned that “sometimes it was easy to mistake a psychiatrist for one of the patients,” Fr. Rutler said:
“Our society has employed cleverness to justify moral madness, rationalizing a radical overhaul of social order as ‘hope and change.’ George Orwell anticipated this in his ‘doublethink,’ which means holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously and accepting both of them, so that, for instance, ignorance is strength, war is peace, freedom is slavery. Currently, there are those who call censored speech ‘freedom of speech’ and redistribution of wealth ‘income equality,’ and who varnish anarchy as ‘resistance.’ Infanticide is responsible parenthood, infidelity is independence, decadence is progress, common sense is bias, and natural law is hate speech.”
Fr. Rutler said that “ ‘doublethinkers’ cannot cope with the consequences of their manipulation of logic. Immature students riot when a professor disagrees with them, and voters scream at the sky when an election does not go their way. Their intolerance calls itself tolerance, but it is a false kind of tolerance, which, as Chesterton said, is the virtue of a man without convictions. The same people who ask, ‘Who am I to judge?’ judge right judgment to be tactlessly judgmental, and they politicize the judiciary to appoint justices who will usurp the function of legislators. Certainly, Our Lord forbids any attempt to judge the human heart or the fate of a soul (Matt. 7:2), but blurring the line between right and wrong, which the theologians call antinomianism, turns an entire culture into a raucous asylum.”

Q. I always thought that a vigil Mass to satisfy the Sunday obligation could begin at 4:00 p.m. or later. Is it permitted for a parish to regularly have this Mass earlier, say, at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday? — M.L., Arizona.
A. Canon 1248 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law says that “a person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass.” However, according to Pope Pius XII’s apostolic constitution Christus Dominus (January 6, 1953), an evening Mass on the day before Sunday or a holy day should not begin before 4:00 in the afternoon. So pastors who schedule anticipated Masses before that time on a Saturday are stretching the meaning of “evening,” which the dictionary defines as “the latter part and close of the day and early part of the night” or “the period from sunset or the evening meal to the time to go to bed.”

Q. At a play about the Nativity just before Christmas, the narrator referred back to the Annunciation and quoted the Blessed Virgin as telling the Angel Gabriel that she could not be the mother of Jesus because she was not married. I think you have commented in the past that Mary was not an unwed mother, but could you repeat what you said? — M.C., Massachusetts.
A. Gladly. Regarding the mistaken belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary was not married at the Annunciation, we have previously made the following points:
First, Matthew tells us in his Gospel that when Mary was found to be pregnant, “Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly” (1:18-19). Notice that Matthew calls Joseph Mary’s “husband” and says that he had decided to divorce her quietly, but how could he divorce Mary unless they were already married?
Second, when the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, he told him, “Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her” (1:20). The angel calls Mary Joseph’s “wife.”
Third, in his apostolic exhortation Guardian of the Redeemer, St. John Paul II said that “according to Jewish custom, marriage took place in two stages: first, the legal or true marriage was celebrated, and then, after a certain period of time, the husband brought the wife into his own house. Thus, before he lived with Mary, Joseph was already her ‘husband.’ Mary, however, preserved her deep desire to give herself exclusively to God” (n. 18).

Q. Revelation 22:2 mentions the “tree of life” being on both banks of the river. In simple terms will you explain why the tree of life has multiplied? I always felt that Jesus was the tree of life. — D.L.H., Iowa.
A. This is the same tree of life mentioned in Gen. 3:24, which says that when God expelled Adam from the Garden, “He settled him east of the garden of Eden; and He stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.” A footnote to Rev. 22:2, in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament, says that “a single stream issues from the throne of God, and that is the grace of the Holy Spirit in the stream of the Scriptures. That stream has two banks, the Old Testament and the New, and the tree planted on either side is Christ (St. Jerome, Tractate on the Psalms, 1).”

Q. In sharing our beliefs with a Protestant woman who has taught Bible classes, she mentioned the Alpha program favorably. What do you know about this program? — D.M., via e-mail.
A. All we know about this program is what we learned on the Alpha website. It is described as a 10-week course about basic Christian teachings, usually facilitated by the laity, that includes a one-day or two-day retreat. The number of participants in the weekly two-hour sessions can range from a dozen to a hundred. It is suggested that each session begin with a meal to break the ice and bring people together and be followed by a DVD talk covering one aspect of the Christian faith. Discussion and questions round out the evening.
According to the website, Alpha “is designed for those on the fringes of their faith and those outside the Church. Alpha creates a non-threatening environment of hospitality allowing people to explore the claims of Christ against the backdrop of our culture. Alpha provides an opportunity to encounter the love of God in a personal relationship through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Alpha focuses on the kerygma and the basic tenets of Christianity. Alpha also serves as a refresher course for practicing Catholics and a point of re-entry for lapsed Catholics.”
Churches and groups are encouraged to offer the course free of charge, but the Alpha Essentials Kit for 25 people costs around $500. This kit includes DVD talks, leader’s guides, and study materials. The validity or value of courses such as this depends on the materials being used and the knowledge and orthodoxy of the facilitators conducting the sessions. We are not in a position to comment on either, so you will have to measure Alpha against the official teachings of the Church as found, for example, in the Catechism.

Q. Have the bones of St. Peter been found at the Church of Santa Maria in Capella in Rome? — N.W., via e-mail
A. During reconstruction work on the Church of Santa Maria last September, two clay pots were discovered containing bone fragments that might be from St. Peter. Inscriptions on the lids of the pots indicated that the fragments came not only from Peter but also from three other early Popes: Cornelius, Callixtus, and Felix. DNA and other tests are being considered to see if these fragments can be matched with bones of St. Peter that were found under the high altar in St. Peter’s Basilica in the 1940s. They were in a casket with an engraving in Greek that read, “Petros eni,” or “Peter is here.” In 1968, an official report was presented to Pope Paul VI, who said that the bones had been “identified in a way in which we can hold to be convincing.” Some of these bones were publicly displayed in 2013 by Pope Francis, who venerated them but did not make any statement. For the full story, see John Evangelist Walsh’s book The Bones of St. Peter.

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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

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Today . . .

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

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Catholic Replies

Q. I thought the matter of no women priests was settled by Pope John Paul II back in the nineties. But I keep hearing about this possibility. Do you foresee this ban ever changing? — J.M., via e-mail. A. No, we don’t because St. John Paul, in his 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, made the following infallible pronouncement: “Wherefore, in…Continue Reading

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