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August 17, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: To a recent question about whether the ordination of a secret Communist would be invalid because he did not have the right intention, we said yes, citing canon 1029 of the Code of Canon Law, which says that those seeking the priesthood must “have an integral faith, are motivated by a right intention, possess the required knowledge, and enjoy a good reputation, good morals, and proven virtues, and other physical and psychological qualities which are appropriate to the order to be received.”
A commentary on that canon says that a right intention “is a key area both for the candidate and for those judging his fitness for orders. An individual must choose to live his life imitating the example of the Lord as teacher, priest, and shepherd. The candidate must choose be a co-worker with the bishop in fulfilling the mission the Lord has entrusted to His Church. Experience has shown that an error in this area can lead to unfortunate results for the life of the individual and not infrequently for the ministry of the Church.”
But a reader named M.P. has sent us an e-mail saying that “the Church decided long ago that faith and the state of grace of either minister or recipient are not necessary for validity. They do impact the ability to profit from the grace of the sacrament, but not its validity. If this were not so, we would never know if we had true sacraments because we cannot know the state of faith or state of grace of anyone. As regards intention, the Church has always said the only thing necessary for validity in administering the sacrament, besides a competent minister, is the intention of the minister to do what the Church intends (an intention which is inherent in the form and in the administering of the sacrament). Those who infiltrate to capture and use the Church definitely intend real Ordination — that is their diabolical purpose.”
Would Christ allow Ordination to be conferred on a man who is a secret enemy of His Church? It could happen, as a bishop-friend told us, “because God out of love and trust in us gave us freedom, and we have the free will to do wicked things.” He said that if such a person were ordained, “their orders and the sacraments they perform would be presumed valid because it is Christ who works and not the priest in the giving of the grace of the sacrament.”

Q. I have noticed that many Catholic newspapers, including The Wanderer, have cut back or cut out altogether publishing letters to the editor. Do you know what the reason is? — R.C., Massachusetts.
A. The reason at The Wanderer is that we don’t get enough publishable letters to fill a column on a regular basis. However, we are working to get a letters column together more often.

Q. How do we know that the Blessed Mother’s parents were Anne and Joachim? There is no mention of them in the Bible. – A.M., Pennsylvania.
A. The Bible is not the only source of our information about people in salvation history; we also rely on Sacred Tradition, the handing down of the teachings of Christ and information about those associated with Him through saints, councils, customs, liturgy, and writings which claimed a sacred origin, but were never seen as genuine.
For example, there is no mention in Scripture of a woman named Veronica wiping the face of Jesus on the road to Calvary. Tradition recalls this incident and we call the woman Veronica because her name means “true image,” which is what appeared on the cloth that wiped Jesus’ bloody face. The Good Thief on the cross is not named in the Gospels, but Tradition has given him the name Dismas.
So, too, with Anne and Joachim. What we know of them comes from an apocryphal work from the second century known as the Protoevangelium of St. James.
According to that book, Joachim was born in Nazareth and married Anne. Unable to have children, he fasted in the desert for forty days until an angel announced to him that he and Anne would have a child. An angel also appeared to Anne, told her that she would conceive, and said that her child would be “blessed by all the world.” They have been venerated in the Eastern Church since the earliest centuries and their feast day was placed on the Roman Calendar in the fifteenth century.

Q. Because St. Michael is credited with driving the bad angels out of Heaven, I assumed that he was one of the highest-ranking angels. But now I have learned that he is actually among the lowest-ranking angels. What does the hierarchy of angels look like? – D.M.D., via e-mail.
A. Based on the writings of Saints Dionysius, Gregory the Great, and Thomas Aquinas, the Church has taught that there are nine choirs of angels. Beginning at the highest level, they are Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions (or Dominations), Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. In his Modern Catholic Dictionary, Fr. John Hardon, SJ, said:
“Angels in art are represented with a variety of articles, musical instruments, thuribles, shields, scrolls, and in a few instances emblems of the Passion, though they are usually represented in worship before the Blessed Sacrament on earth and before the throne of God in Heaven. Archangels are variously depicted: Michael driving Satan into Hell, Gabriel announcing the Incarnation to Mary, Raphael healing the blind Tobit. The Thrones are shown kneeling in adoration; Seraphim symbolize fire and love with their six red wings and eyes; Cherubim, with four-eyed wings of blue and holding a book, indicate their great knowledge; Dominations, in royal robes, are crowned with authority; Virtues, two-eyed, are charged with dispensing celestial miracles; the Powers, holding swords, indicate their conquest of the evil spirits shown under their feet; the Principalities carry scepters to assist in their direction of God’s commands.”
In another entry, Fr. Hardon said that “the word ‘angel’ is commonly applied only to those who remained faithful to God, although the devils are also angels by nature. Moreover, ‘angel’ is the special name for the choir of angelic spirits from whom guardian angels are sent to minister to human needs.”
The teaching that each of us has a guardian angel is based on Matt. 18:10, where Jesus says: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

Q. Do you know anything about the origin of the phrase “hocus-pocus” and its being a mockery of the words of consecration in the Mass? — K.C., North Carolina.
A. The traditional definition of the phrase, which goes back to the seventeenth century, is the use of sleight of hand gestures or activity to trick or confuse people. It is usually associated with magicians. We have read somewhere along the line that the phrase was conjured up in connection with the Latin words for the priest saying, “This is my Body.” In Latin, the words are “Hoc est enim Corpus meum.”
This could have been corrupted into hocus-pocus to ridicule Catholic belief in transubstantiation, but we don’t know for sure.

Q. Is it true that Pope Paul VI did not specifically call contraception a sin in Humanae Vitae? Some people have used that as an excuse for not paying attention to the encyclical. — C.W., Colorado.
A. Blessed Paul VI was not as blunt as his Predecessor, Pius XI, who said in his 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii that those who “deliberately frustrate” the conjugal act “commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious” (n. 54).
He called contraception a “foul stain” and said that “any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin” (n. 56).
But after stating in Humanae Vitae that “each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life” (n. 11), Pope Paul told Christian husbands and wives that “if sin should still keep its hold over them, let them not be discouraged, but rather have recourse with humble perseverance to the mercy of God, which is poured forth in the sacrament of Penance” (n. 25).
He also told priests “to expound the Church’s teaching on marriage without ambiguity” and said that “to diminish in no way the saving teaching of Christ constitutes an eminent form of charity for souls” (n. 29).

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

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Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In a recent reply about the appropriateness of giving blessings to those coming to Holy Communion, we said that the practice was an unauthorized innovation that should be discouraged. We have since learned that Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., has instructed his priests and deacons not to give such blessings. Here is his rationale: “I do not…Continue Reading

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Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Of Egypt, Abbot

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