Thursday 18th October 2018

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April 20, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: In a recent reply, we stated that “bishops installed by the Chinese Communists are not true bishops, cannot legitimately ordain priests, and cannot confect the sacraments, including the Holy Eucharist.” However, Fr. E.B.C. of Pennsylvania wrote to say that we are guilty of “if not an error, at least a lack of clarity.” He offered the following comments on our three separate assertions about “bishops installed by the Chinese Communists”:
First: “are not true bishops” — The phrase “true bishops” seems to me to imply “invalid bishops,” but it is my understanding that the bishops in the schismatic Patriotic Catholic Church are, indeed, “true bishops” (valid bishops) because they are validly ordained, although they are, as you would agree, “illicit bishops” because they have been ordained illicitly, that is, without a papal mandate for their Ordinations.
Second: “cannot legitimately ordain priests” — That is correct, as long as we understand that “legitimately” and “validly” refer to two separate and distinct qualities.
Third: “cannot confect the sacraments, including the Holy Eucharist” — That is mostly incorrect. The fact is that any validly ordained bishop, even if he is illicitly ordained, can confect the Sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders. I deliberately omit Matrimony because at least in the Latin Rite, it is understood that the couple administer the sacrament to one another. I also omit Penance because that brings us into a gray area, inasmuch as jurisdiction is required in addition to priestly Ordination, in order for valid absolution to be conferred. Illicit bishops and priests lack jurisdiction.
It is possible that you inadvertently confused “cannot” and “may not.” As you know, the former refers to possibility and the latter to permission. Thank you for entertaining this correction from a faithful reader.

Q. If you have been commissioned to be a Eucharistic minister in the Catholic Church, do you need to be recommissioned every so many years? What are the requirements for a Eucharistic minister? — J.A.B., via e-mail.
A. First of all, the correct name for this ministry is Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. According to the guidelines issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
“In every celebration of the Eucharist, there should be a sufficient number of ministers of Holy Communion so that it may be distributed in a reverent and orderly manner. Bishops, priests, and deacons distribute Holy Communion in virtue of their office as ordinary ministers of the Body and Blood of the Lord. When the size of the congregation or the incapacity of the bishop, priest, or deacon requires it, the celebrant may be assisted by other bishops, priests, or deacons.
“If such ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are not present, ‘the priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, i.e., duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been deputed for this purpose. In case of necessity, the priest may also depute suitable faithful for this single occasion (General Instruction of the Roman Missal 162)’.”
The guidelines say that “Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should receive sufficient spiritual, theological, and practical preparation to fulfill their role with knowledge and reverence. In all matters they should follow the guidance of the diocesan bishop (Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds for the Dioceses of the United States of America, NDRHC, n. 28).
“When recourse is had to Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, especially in the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds, their number should not be increased beyond what is required for the orderly and reverent distribution of the Body and Blood of the Lord. In all matters, such Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should follow the guidance of the diocesan bishop.”
The guidelines also say that “all ministers of Holy Communion should show the greatest reverence for the Most Holy Eucharist by their demeanor, their attire, and the manner in which they handle the consecrated bread or wine.”
As for whether EMs need to be recommissioned every few years, that depends on diocesan or parish policies. In our experience, recommissioning is not the usual practice. While the ideal would be to have new people transitioning into the position on a regular basis, in practice parishes consider themselves fortunate to have sufficient volunteers for this ministry and there is not much turnover.
It would be a good idea, however, to schedule a refresher course or a retreat every now and then for EMs to remind them of the awesome responsibility they have to distribute the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord in a reverent manner.

Q. I was recently reading the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament. It claimed that Tobit died at the age of 112 and his son Tobias at 117. I realize that the Julian and Gregorian calendars were not in existence at that time, but what calendar was used and did they actually live that long? — R.M., via e-mail.
A. We don’t know what calendar, if any, was in effect when the Old Testament was written, but there are people who lived a lot longer than Tobit and Tobias, for example, Methuselah, who lived to be 969! (cf. Gen. 5:27). Whether the patriarchs of old actually lived that long, we don’t know, but why couldn’t the God who made them keep them around for hundreds of years so as to generate many children and propagate the human race? Once humanity was up and running, there was no longer the need for this kind of longevity. Bear in mind, however, that there are still a few people today who are living to the ages of Tobit and Tobias.

Q. In reading the account of the two disciples who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:13-31), why do you think they did not recognize Him until the breaking of the bread at their house in Emmaus? — M.K., Florida.
A. We don’t know for certain how the two could walk seven miles with Jesus without realizing who He was, although Luke says that “their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” The same Jesus who could pass through locked doors, vanish from sight, and move from one place to another in an instant could certainly conceal His identity from those who had known Him. But we can speculate about some other reasons, too. Perhaps it was because Jesus was not in a resuscitated state, as Lazarus was after being raised from the dead, but rather in a glorified state, as Peter, James, and John had witnessed at the Transfiguration (cf. Luke 9:28-36).
Or perhaps the disciples never expected to see Jesus again. They were distraught over His death on Good Friday and had probably decided to return to whatever pursuits had occupied their time before they met Christ.
We recall a homily in which the priest compared the state of mind of the two disciples to the times in our own lives when we have experienced something traumatic. Perhaps we have been diagnosed with a serious illness. Or perhaps we have lost a job. Or perhaps we are undergoing a crisis in the family.
That problem is all that we can think about. It consumes all our attention. We are oblivious to everyone and everything around us so distraught are we over whatever trauma is affecting us.
However, it is particularly at this time, the priest said, that we must recognize the presence of the Lord in our lives. He is always there with us, in happy times and sad. He will never abandon us and is always waiting for us to cry out to Him, “Save us, Lord,” as the apostles did. It reminds us of that well-known story entitled “Footprints in the Sand.”
The story is about a man who dreamed that he was walking along the beach with his whole life spread out before him, the good moments and the bad. He described seeing two sets of footprints in the sand, his own and those of Jesus, most of the time, but noticed that during the worst moments of his life, there was only one set of footprints. When he asked the Lord where He was during those difficult times, and why there was only one set of footprints, Jesus replied, “My child, it was then that I carried you.”

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Today . . .

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