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February 16, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. Concerning what our Blessed Mother said in Fatima about the rosary, I am confused as to whether or not she meant us to meditate on the mysteries while we are praying the Hail Marys or whether she meant us to meditate on the mysteries right before we say the Hail Marys. The consensus seems to be that we are supposed to meditate while we are praying, but doesn’t this cause us not to be able to concentrate on the words of the Hail Mary as much as we should? What exactly did our Blessed Mother say? — E.G., Florida.
A. The Virgin Mary urged the three children in each of the six apparitions in 1917 to pray the rosary for an end to World War I and for peace in the world and, on October 13, she identified herself as “the Lady of the Rosary.” It was after these apparitions, however, that she talked about making the rosary part of the five First Saturdays devotions. Appearing to Lucia in Pontevedra, Spain, on December 19, 1925, the Blessed Mother said:
“I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess [their sins], receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.”
Just as an aside, Jesus appeared to Lucia in Tuy, Spain, on the night of May 29-30, 1930 and explained to her why there were five First Saturdays. He said that had to do with “five kinds of offenses and blasphemies spoken against the Immaculate Heart of Mary: blasphemies (1) against her Immaculate Conception; (2) against her perpetual virginity; (3) against her divine maternity, refusing at the same time to accept her as the Mother of mankind; (4) by those who try publicly to implant in the hearts of children an indifference, contempt, and even hate for this Immaculate Mother; and (5) for those who insult her directly in her sacred images.”
As for when we should meditate on the mysteries, our Lady did not specify whether it should be before or during the Hail Marys. Notice that her request is to recite five decades of the rosary, but then to spend fifteen minutes meditating on all fifteen (at that time) mysteries. This could be interpreted as saving the meditation until after the rosary has been said.
In his book Fatima for Today, Fr. Andrew Apostoli said: “Our Lady wants us to begin by meditating (reflecting) on the various mysteries of the rosary, but then end in a kind of heart-to-heart talk with her about what we reflect on in order to make reparation to her for the blasphemy and indifference that she suffers. This kind of prayer truly deepens our personal relationship with the Lord and His Blessed Mother” (p. 243).
He said that “we can gain much from meditating on the mysteries. The Joyful Mysteries help us to learn the meaning, the virtues, and trials of family life. The Luminous Mysteries help us to see how we must carry out our Christian mission in the world. The Sorrowful Mysteries teach us how to deal with the trials and sufferings of life. The Glorious Mysteries help us to focus on the goal for which God made us, namely, eternal life in Heaven. Knowing the reward God is preparing for us will help us to have joy and perseverance through the difficulties of life.
“As we reflect on these sacred mysteries, the Holy Spirit will enlighten us to offer our thoughts and prayers to Our Lady in the spirit of reparation for the sins by which she, and ultimately Jesus, are offended” (ibid.).
You are correct that the consensus has been to meditate on each mystery while praying the Hail Marys, and there is no reason to discontinue that practice. Or you may meditate before or after each decade, and then spend time when you are finished in a “heart-to-heart talk” with Our Lady. But whatever method you choose, the important thing is to pray the rosary daily and with fervor. It is a powerful instrument for bringing about God’s will on Earth through the intercession of the Blessed Mother.

Q. The Church has a rather detailed, structured, and inviolate citizenship process called RCIA. Why do you think that Pope Francis and other esteemed prelates feel entitled to support this citizenship process while not extending that same courtesy to the United States, which embraces the religious freedom the Church cherishes? — A.C., Tennessee.
A. Assuming that you are referring to the Church’s criticism of the Trump administration’s efforts to tighten up the immigration process to keep out dangerous people, it is a case of stretching the principle of welcoming the stranger to unreasonable lengths. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 2241) makes clear, countries “may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions,” such as protecting the common good.

Q. I have two questions: (1) What is the meaning of Jer. 14:14? (2) If I refuse to follow some of the teachings of the Pope, am I in schism, and is the Pope in heresy for denying some of the truths of the Church? — M.G., Alabama.
A. (1) One of God’s chosen prophets, Jeremiah lived hundreds of years before Christ and for more than 40 years (circa 627-582 B.C.) he tried to call the people of Judah away from their idolatry and immorality, warning them of the coming fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians. He fled to Egypt and was reportedly stoned to death there for predicting that the Babylonians would overcome the Egyptians as well.
The verse that you asked about was preceded by God’s threat of famine, drought, and the sword if the people did not heed the warnings of Jeremiah. Instead of listening to him, however, the people listened to false prophets, who told them that these events would not befall their nation. Referring to these false prophets, Jeremiah says in chapter 14, verses 14-16:
“Lies these prophets utter in my name, the Lord said to me. I did not send them; I gave them no command nor did I speak to them. Lying, visions, foolish divination, dreams of their own imagination, they prophesy to you. Therefore, thus says the Lord: Concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name, though I did not send them; who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not befall this land’: by the sword and famine shall these prophets meet their end. The people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out into the streets of Jerusalem by famine and the sword. No one shall bury them, their wives, their sons, or their daughters, for I will pour out upon them their own wickedness.”
(2) Canon 751 of the Code of Canon Law defines schism as “the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” Your concerns about accepting some of the things the Pope said, for example, in Amoris Laetitia, about Communion for the divorced and remarried, does not put you in schism. It puts you in league with the four cardinals who have asked the Holy Father to clarify some of his statements in Amoris Laetitia lest they lead the faithful into thinking that what Christ forbade can somehow be permissible today.
Canon 751 defines heresy as “the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith.” To be guilty of heresy, a baptized Catholic must be acting in bad faith and must knowingly, consciously, and intentionally reject some Catholic teaching. Is the Pope in heresy?
“No,” said Raymond Cardinal Burke, one of the four cardinals mentioned above, “that’s not what we have implied at all. We have simply asked him, as the Supreme Pastor of the Church, to clarify these five points that are confused, these five very serious and fundamental points. We’re not accusing him of heresy, but just asking him to answer these questions for us as the Supreme Pastor of the Church.”
In an interview in the December 19, 2016 issue of Catholic World Report, Cardinal Burke said that “I have absolute respect for the Petrine office. If I didn’t care about him and his exercise of the Petrine office, I would just remain silent and let everything go as it is. But because in conscience I believe he has an obligation to clarify these matters for the Church, I made it known to him, not just on this occasion, but on other occasions. The publication of the dubia [questions] was done with complete respect for his office. I am not the enemy of the Pope.”

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