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April 6, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. On the feast of St. Joseph, the meditation in Magnificat was by Pope Francis. He said that “Joseph and Mary were dwelling in Nazareth; they were not yet living together because they were not yet married.” I thought that Mary and Joseph were married when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her. Isn’t that what “betrothed” means? — R.D., Missouri.
A. That they were married was affirmed by Pope St. John Paul II in his 1989 apostolic exhortation Guardian of the Redeemer (n. 18): “After all,” said the late Holy Father, “the ‘just’ man of Nazareth possesses the clear characteristics of a husband. Luke refers to Mary as ‘a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph’ (Luke 1:27). Even before the ‘mystery hidden for ages’ (Eph. 3:9) began to be fulfilled, the Gospels set before us the image of husband and wife. According to Jewish custom, marriage took place in two stages: first, the legal or true marriage was celebrated and, then, only 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’.”
Q. We are told to admonish the sinner and to do so more than once if needed. It’s difficult to correct a good friend of his serious sinful fault. Perhaps it’s because, although you see the “splinter in his eye,” you can’t ignore the possible “beam in yours,” or you risk losing a good relationship by your affront. If you avoid the correction, does that make you complicit in his offense? What to do? — J.G., Illinois.
A. All of us are sinners and in need of correction ourselves, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t show concern for another by lovingly trying to steer him or her away from sinful conduct. Being fully aware of the beam in our own eye does not mean that we should ignore the splinter in our neighbor’s eye. If you were a passenger in a car that your friend was driving at 70 miles an hour on a residential street, would you hesitate to tell him to slow down out of fear that such a suggestion might ruin your relationship with him? Wouldn’t your fear for your own life trump any concerns about harming your relationship with the driver?
Isn’t the same thing true if your friend is ruining his life through abuse of alcohol or drugs, or engaging in risky and immoral sexual behavior, or entering into an irregular marriage? Your remaining silent would not make you complicit in his offense, but it would make you guilty of the sin of failing to do what your conscience tells you that you should do. We can sin by omission as well as by commission. It was St. James who said that “for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin” (James 4:17).
Admonishing the sinner is perhaps the most difficult Spiritual Work of Mercy to carry out, for no one likes to be told that their words and actions may be harmful to themselves, to their families and friends, and to the society around them. We live in a world where the greatest “sin” is being intolerant of the behavior of others or, worse, being “judgmental.”
Those who have little knowledge of the teachings of Jesus do know one thing Jesus said, namely, “Judge not lest you be judged.” Did Jesus really mean that one should never speak out against sin and evil? Of course not. He was not talking about judging actions, but rather the motives of those committing the actions since only God knows what is in the human heart.
How do we know this? Because Jesus said in chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel that if a person sins, we should speak to him about his sin. If he or she won’t listen, then we are to get one or two others to speak to them. If this doesn’t work, we are to refer them to the Church. And if they still won’t listen, Jesus said that we should treat them as outcasts. Jesus gave us a moral code (the Commandments) to help us get to Heaven, so He would hardly be happy with persons who are violating that code and jeopardizing their chance of reaching Heaven.
At the risk of a punch in the nose or the loss of a friendship, we must alert those who are living in immoral sexual relationships, or supporting abortion or euthanasia, or watching pornography, or drinking too much, or deliberately staying away from weekly Mass, that these actions separate them from God and put their eternal salvation in jeopardy. St. Paul told us to speak the truth in love, and what greater act of love can we demonstrate than to steer someone off the road to Hell?
Recall what the Lord told the Prophet Ezekiel: “If I tell the wicked man that he shall surely die, and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked man from his way, he [the wicked man] shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked man, trying to turn him away from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself” (Ezek. 33:8-9).
St. James offered similar advice when he said: “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).

Q. In a LifeSiteNews article that appeared in the March 8 Wanderer, Fr. Thomas Weinandy used the word “perichoretic.” What does that mean? — M.A., Pennsylvania.
A. According to Fr. John A. Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary, perichoresis refers to “the penetration and indwelling of the three divine Persons reciprocally in one another. In the Greek conception of the Trinity, there is an emphasis on the mutual penetration of the three Persons, thus bringing out the unity of the divine essence. In the Latin idea called circumincession, the stress is more on the internal processions of the three divine Persons.
“In both traditions, however, the fundamental basis of the trinitarian perichoresis is the one essence of the three Persons in God. The term is also applied to the close union of the two natures in Christ. Although the power that unites the two natures proceeds exclusively from Christ’s divinity, the result is a most intimate coalescence. The Godhead, which itself is impenetrable, penetrates the humanity, which is thereby deified without ceasing to be perfectly human.”

Q. I have seen relics of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Can you tell me when the cross was first discovered? — K.R., Oklahoma.
A. Despite fierce persecution for nearly 300 years, Christianity grew from an extremely small group of Christians in AD 30 to more ten percent of the Roman Empire. After the Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal in 313, the majority of the empire became Christians, that is, Catholics, in the next century.
The incident that precipitated the legalization of Christianity happened in the year 312 when Constantine was leading his army into battle at the Milvian Bridge outside Rome. He saw a cross in the sky with the Chi-Rho symbol, an X with a P at the center, symbolizing in Greek the first letters in the name of Christ. A sign appeared with the cross that said, “In hoc signo vinces,” which means “in this sign conquer.” Constantine had the Chi-Rho engraved on the shields of his soldiers, and they were victorious in the battle.
A dozen or so years later, his 80-year-old mother, Empress Helena (now St. Helena), went to Jerusalem and recovered the cross on which Jesus had been crucified. It had been buried for centuries and a pagan temple was built over it. After excavating the site, Helena found three crosses, but was not sure which was the true one. When a woman who was dying was asked to touch all three crosses, and was cured when she touched the third one, they knew they had found the Cross of Christ.
Helena had a basilica erected over the place where the relic was found, and a portion of the true cross was kept there, while other pieces were taken to Rome and eventually distributed throughout the world.

Q. A few years ago, your column listed as contributors to Planned Parenthood the following three banks: Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase. Do you know if these three banks are still supporting PP? – E.G., Florida.
A. According to 2ndVote.com, all three banks were still supporting Planned Parenthood as of August 28, 2017.
We would advise contacting these banks directly for their response to 2ndVote’s report and for any updated information.

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Catholic Replies

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