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January 11, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. In the Mass readings leading up to Christmas, we have the Angel Gabriel appearing first to Zechariah and then to Mary. Both seemed to have the same doubts about the angel’s words, but Zechariah was struck mute and Mary was not. Why were they treated differently? — E.M., via e-mail.
A. Zechariah was punished because he doubted (“How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”) that God could give his elderly wife a child, while Mary was unpunished because she did not doubt God, but only wanted to know the manner in which she would conceive a child since she had taken a vow of virginity (“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”).
Zechariah expressed doubt about the possibility of a miracle, and Gabriel so understood him, while Mary did not doubt the possibility of a miracle, but was inquiring 1) about her freedom to assent to such an invitation because she was a virgin and 2) about the credentials of Gabriel to make such a stupendous offer to her — to be the Mother of God. Gabriel interpreted her query not as a doubt about the power of God, but as a legitimate and prudent question about her future motherhood.
The archangel confirmed his credentials by explaining that the power of the Holy Spirit would overshadow Mary and allow her to become a mother without loss of her virginity. He also gave her a sign by saying that her barren kinswoman Elizabeth had conceived a child in her old age, “for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary then responded, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Q. My pastor is a charismatic-type priest and has one Sunday Mass where individuals play the drums, piano, and guitars during the Mass. What is the best that can be said in regards to faith not being based on emotions because I have heard parishioners say that they go to a “praise-and-worship” church, non-denominational, to get lifted up to the Lord, and others go to a non-denominational church run by a former Catholic in order to learn more about the Bible? Also, our archbishop holds interdenominational prayer services at our cathedral, which I feel confuses borderline Catholics into thinking that maybe the Catholic Church is not the only true Church. What do you think? — W.J.B., via e-mail.
A. Let’s look at the three points you raise one by one. First, we work in a predominantly Hispanic parish where there are English Masses and Spanish Masses each weekend. The atmosphere is quite different at these Masses. While there is singing at the English Masses, accompanied by an organ at one and a guitar at the other, there is not the enthusiastic participation that is typical of the Spanish Masses. We have bilingual Masses on certain occasions, such as the Easter Triduum, and we enjoy the Spanish hymns, particularly Alabare and Pescador de Hombres.”
Is our faith based on emotions? No, it is based on our understanding of who Jesus is and of His indispensable role in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, wherein He feeds us with His word and His Body and Blood. Our worthy reception of both is what makes the Mass so vital for our spiritual growth. If the music and singing can enhance that experience, all the better, but we try to remember that whatever the atmosphere at Mass might be, we are still participating in a liturgy that is linked with the eternal liturgy going on in Heaven.
Second, if parishioners you know are going to non-Catholic churches because they have better music or because they can learn more about the Bible, these parishioners have lost their understanding of what Catholic Mass is all about. Sure, they can “get lifted up to the Lord” in those services, but they cannot have the Lord come down into their bodies and souls in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus did not say that we can get to Heaven by singing or hearing explanations of the Bible, although both are helpful, but rather by eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood. That can only happen at Mass in a Catholic church.
Third, there is nothing wrong with interfaith prayer services as long as they focus on matters that are of importance to all believers in God. For example, peace and justice, the right to life from conception to natural death, or prayers for the victims of terrorist attacks or natural disasters. Holding such services in a Catholic cathedral shouldn’t confuse any Catholic about the truths of his faith, or about the singular role of the Catholic Church in God’s plan of salvation, since those are not at issue in an interfaith service. And who knows, perhaps those of other faiths who are exposed to the beauty of a Catholic cathedral might be moved by God’s grace to seek to learn more about Catholicism.

Q. Why do Pope Francis and other Vatican officials continue to sound the alarm about “global warming” and “climate change” as serious problems facing the world? Aren’t there good arguments to dispute what the alarmists are saying? — M.L., Florida.
A. Despite all the hysteria about the dangers of “climate change” to the future of the planet, those who question this alarmist propaganda are being heard more and more. We have reported the contrary views of some reputable scientists in previous columns, but this time let us quote extensively from the remarks of social scientist and author Steven Mosher, who is president of the Population Research Institute in Virginia (pri@pop.org).
Speaking recently at an international symposium on “Environmentalism and Climate Change as an Avenue for Population Control,” Mosher recalled that in the 1970s the same “experts” who are worried today about “global warming” were “warning about a coming ‘ice age.’ Now it has flipped over 180 degrees to be ‘global warming.’ The truth is, nobody really knows what’s going to happen to the climate in the future. We’ve seen extremes of temperatures on the cold side and on the warm side that make any projection of one or two degrees pale in comparison….We had global warming and ice ages a long time before human beings invented the internal combustion engine, and a long time before there were a million of us running around the planet giving birth to little ‘carbon dioxide emitters’.”
Mosher said that he is “really appalled at how the scientific community has sold out for big research grants and to get their name highlighted in the faculty journal and get invited to UN conferences. This is the biggest scientific fraud ever perpetrated on the family of man.” He said that scientists jump on the “global warming” bandwagon because “they are well paid to do so. When you spend billions of dollars subsidizing research, you generally get what you pay for. The climate scientist who gets a million-dollar grant and says, ‘After study, there’s really no danger of global warming,’ doesn’t get his grant renewed. But the guy who gets ten million dollars for ‘finding’ global warming probably gets a hundred million after that.”
Asked why the Pope and Vatican officials are so supportive of this movement, Mosher said that “Catholic teaching promotes stewardship of the environment, but some of the participants of recent Vatican conferences have a history of promoting population control [and] abortion. That’s in opposition to Catholic teaching.”
He said that while the Church believes that “mankind is only a little lower than the angels, created in the image and likeness of God,” population control advocate Paul Ehrlich, who has been invited to Vatican conferences, “believes that we’re only a little higher than the apes, and it’s necessary now to thin the herd. He believes that we’re only animals, [so] there’s no moral question to be answered. It’s just a simple question of number and power.” He quoted Ehrlich as comparing population growth to the growth of “the cancer cell” and said that “I can hardly imagine a more derogatory description of the human family then comparing it to a cancer cell.”
Because “some in the Vatican are allowing themselves and the Catholic Church to be misused” by the “radical environmental movement,” and “are more interested in winning applause from the world than…evangelizing and getting as many people home to Heaven as possible,” said Mosher, the solution is to invite to Vatican conferences “only people who are Catholic. If you do not have the trinitarian worldview, then your position on many of these issues is going to be radically different than what the Catholic Church teaches,”

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

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