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July 20, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: Writing recently in his bulletin at the Church of St. Michael in New York City, Fr. George Rutler said that “the recent dedication of our parish’s shrine of Our Lady of Aradin for persecuted Christians evoked a powerful response. We heard the Our Father prayed in our Lord’s native Aramaic, which is still spoken in northern Iraq along the Nineveh Plain. When the ISIS militants finally were driven out from that area, 1,233 houses of Christians had been totally destroyed, another 11,717 were partially wrecked or burnt, 34 churches were totally destroyed, and 320 partially ruined.”
Those Christians who seem not at all disturbed by this anti-Christian carnage, said Fr. Rutler, remind him of the words of ethicist H. Richard Niebuhr, who once described this “sedated type of Christianity as: ‘A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.’ An English theologian whom I knew summed up most of the preaching he had heard in the United States: ‘Might I suggest that you try to be good’.”
Noting that in one survey of issues that concern Catholics in the United States, “economic matters and changes in the climate are prominent, while the persecution of Christians ranks last,” Fr. Rutler expressed the hope that those Christians exhibiting “Laodicean lukewarmness” (Rev. 3:16) might become “discomforted by reports of men and women actually sacrificing all they have for the faith.”

Q. In answer to my previous question concerning a family member who apostatized, you answered that to return to the Church what was necessary was Confession, a profession of faith, and some instruction. Let us assume that the apostasy was serious enough to warrant excommunication. My question is, can the person go to Confession with any priest or does it have to be priests especially authorized to lift the censure? — E.G., Florida.
A. Canon law (n. 1357) says that “any confessor can remit in the internal sacramental forum an automatic (latae sententiae) censure of excommunication or interdict which has not been declared if it would be hard on the penitent to remain in a state of serious sin during the time necessary for the competent superior to provide.”
In paragraph two of the canon, it says that “in granting a remission, the confessor is to impose on the penitent the burden of having recourse within a month to a superior or a priest endowed with faculties and obeying his mandates under pain of reincidence of the penalty; in the meantime he should impose an appropriate penance and the reparation of any scandal or damage to the extent that it is imperative; recourse can also be made by the confessor without mentioning any names.”
We would suggest that your family member ask a priest for advice in this matter.

Q. A friend who is a good Catholic befriended an elderly man and, on learning that he was not baptized, asked him if he would like to be baptized. The man, who was not in danger of death at the time, said yes, and my friend baptized him. The man was not given any instruction about the Catholic faith either before his Baptism or in the subsequent two years before he died. Was this man’s Baptism valid? — S.M., Michigan
A. We would say no. Although your friend meant well, he violated canon law in four respects.
First, except in cases of necessity, e.g., danger of death, “the proper place for baptism is a church or oratory” (canon 857).
Second, the ordinary minister of Baptism is a bishop, priest, or deacon, although “if the ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or other person deputed for this function by the local Ordinary confers baptism licitly as does any person with the right intention in case of necessity” (canon 861).
Third, “outside the case of necessity, it is not lawful for anyone, without the required permission, to confer baptism in the territory of another” (canon 862).
And fourth, Baptism requires “that an adult have manifested the will to receive baptism, be sufficiently instructed in the truths of faith and in Christian obligations and be tested in the Christian life by means of the catechumenate; the adult is also to be exhorted to have sorrow for personal sins” (canon 865).
Paragraph two of that canon says that “an adult in danger of death may be baptized if, having some knowledge of the principal truths of faith, the person has in any way manifested an intention of receiving baptism and promises to observe the commandments of the Christian religion.”

Q. How do you answer those who say that if Catholics really believe that they are eating the Body and Blood of Jesus, they are practicing cannibalism? — T.K., California.
A. One good refutation of this allegation came to us a few years ago from Fr. T.M. of Oregon:
“Is it cannibalism, then, to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion? That was certainly not what our Lord had in mind. Cannibalism can be defined as the eating of a dead human body by other humans. If Jesus’ followers had taken His body down from the cross and eaten it, that would have been cannibalism.
“There are two orders here, the natural order and the supernatural order. Eating His body in the natural order would mean eating His corpse and, once that was done, there would be no body left. Eating His body and blood in the supernatural order, however, is not cannibalism because Christ is not present in the Eucharist in a natural way, but in a supernatural way. The Eucharist we receive in the natural order has the natural qualities of bread and wine, not of a human body, although it has been changed, supernaturally, by Christ into His body and blood, as He did at the Last Supper.
“This corresponds with the supernatural relationship we have with Him through Christian Baptism, in which we receive a supernatural principle of life in union with Christ, with Him living in us and we in Him. All of the sacraments were instituted by Christ for this purpose, each in its own particular way, to bring about our perfect union with Him, and in this consists our sanctification.”
Another good response to this accusation comes from Fr. Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham in their booklet Beginning Apologetics 3: How to Explain and Defend the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist:
“In the sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ’s body and blood are truly present, but not with their normal physical properties. Jesus’ body isn’t spread out in space; its normal condition is hidden under the appearances of bread and wine. While the Apostles truly consumed Christ’s real body and blood, it wasn’t cannibalism because Christ wasn’t in His natural condition. They didn’t bite off pieces of Christ’s arm, for example, or swallow quantities of His blood; instead, they received Christ whole and entire — body, blood, soul, and divinity — under the appearances of bread and wine. Receiving Christ’s real, but sacramental, presence in the Eucharist has nothing to do with cannibalism or drinking blood” (pp. 16-17).
Still another good refutation comes from Karlo Broussard in the March/April 2017 issue of Catholic Answers:
“First, Jesus would later reveal at the Last Supper that He intended for us to partake of His flesh and blood in a non-cannibalistic form (Luke 22:19-20). When the Apostles partook of the Eucharist, they did so in an unbloody manner — under the appearance of bread and wine. Catholics do the same today. Furthermore, cannibals kill and eat part of their victims. Catholics don’t do this when they partake of the Eucharist — the whole Christ (body, blood, soul, and divinity) is consumed without Jesus dying (that’s a miracle). . . .
“Finally, Jesus dispels the idea of cannibalism when He refers to His Ascension: ‘What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending where he was before?’ (John 6:62). By this statement Jesus clarifies that the flesh we are to consume is not the dead flesh of His corpse, but the living and glorified flesh of His resurrected body, which by the power of the Spirit would be taken up into heaven at His Ascension.”

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Catholic Replies

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