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August 24, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. When I was about ten, my father and then my mother descended into radical mental illness, characterized by my physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. My father and three of my four grandparents died about this time. I was a baptized Christian during this period, and nothing more, but curiously believed that God existed and wanted to believe that He loved me. Experiencing the seemingly random and relentless evil of this period, however, killed off most or all of my hope, while allowing me to retain some faith and even charity.
This period crippled my Christian spiritual life that “arrived” after my conversion to Catholicism at age 29. My question is, what can I do to regain hope in my life? — J.D., Minnesota.
A. We asked a priest-friend of ours who has wide experience in counseling and healing to respond. Here are his comments:
Thank you for a most heartfelt and honest letter. Let me say this first, loud and clear: Your life is not over because you had a setback. God has an “after this” in your future. He has another victory planned. He wants to take you farther than you ever dreamed possible. When you go through tough times, don’t be surprised if the enemy whispers in your ear, “You’ll never be as happy as you used to be. You’ve seen your best days. This setback is the end of you.”
No, let that go in one ear and out the other. God is saying to you, after the bad break, after the disappointment, after the pain, there is still a full life. Know today that you have not danced your best dance. You have not laughed your best laugh. You have not dreamed your best dream. If you will stay in faith and not get bitter, God has an “after this” in your future. He’s not only going to bring you out, He is going to bring you out better than you were before.
In life, we all have negative things happen to us (my parents and sister were killed in a car accident six weeks before my Ordination). We go through situations that are unfair. I know people who were raised in an unhealthy environment. Their parents had issues, and now that’s making life much more difficult for them.
But here is the truth: When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, when you come to believe in Him, as you said you have, He gives you a new heart. In other words, your bloodline changes. No longer are you subject to your earthly heritage; you become subject to your heavenly heritage!
God’s spiritual blessings always override the curse in the natural realm. When you understand who you are and what God has already done, then no matter what someone else did, no matter how unfair it was, no matter how you were raised, you won’t get bitter. You won’t live with a chip on your shoulder. You will realize that nothing can stop you from fulfilling your God-given destiny.
And here is another consideration. The word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek word entheos. “Theos” is God. When you’re enthusiastic, it simply means that you are full of God. When you get up in the morning excited about your future, recognizing that day as a gift, and go out with a spring in your step, pursuing your goals and being passionate about life, then God will breathe in your direction.
Studies even tell us that people who are enthusiastic get better breaks. They’re promoted more often. That’s not a coincidence. When you’re full of passion, you have the favor of God.
Remember, God didn’t breathe His life into us to drag us through the day. He didn’t create us in His image, crown us with His favor, and equip us with His power just to go through the motions of life. You may have had some setbacks, the wind may have been taken out of your sails, but this is a new day! God wants to breathe new life back into you. If you get your fire back, get your passion back, the wind will start blowing once again. When you’re in agreement with God, He can cause the winds of His favor to shift in your direction.
I suggest that you do a simple thing for the next few days. Say the following prayer each morning as you get up, believe it in your heart, and expect great blessings to come your way. Then write and let us know how things are going. I will be praying for you.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for another sunrise, another day, another opportunity to praise You and pursue the dreams You have given me. Help me to stay filled with your joy, which is strength, so I can serve You with my whole heart in everything that I do in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Q. At Mass I have noticed some priests putting water in all the chalices on the altar before the consecration, while some only put water in the main chalice. Which is correct? — L.K., California.
A. According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (n. 142), once the cruets of water and wine are presented to the priest, he “pours wine and a little water into the chalice, saying quietly, Per huius aquae (By the mystery of this water).” There is no mention of multiple chalices. However, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments said in a letter dated April 30, 2012, that in the case of several chalices, “it is sufficient” to add water only to the main celebrant’s chalice. The congregation went on to say, however, that adding water to multiple chalices “would not in any way be considered to be an abuse” (cf. Committee on Divine Worship Newsletter, May-June 2012).
In a column in the July 2018 issue of Adoremus Bulletin, Deacon Omar Gutierrez of the Archdiocese of Omaha discussed the deeper theological meaning of this ritual. He said that “the wine represents the Lord and the water represents the people, echoing the words of Rev. 17:15: ‘The waters that you saw where the harlot lives represent large numbers of peoples, nations, and tongues.’ Thus, the mingling symbolizes the divine Lord’s taking on our human flesh in the Incarnation. And so we hope, in the words of St. Peter, to ‘come to share in the divine nature’ (2 Peter 1:4) through the reception of the Holy Eucharist.”
Deacon Gutierrez recalled that St. Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258), “in an epistle written to a Brother Cecil, expanded upon other theologically important meanings. Just as the water cannot be separated from the wine after mingling, so, too, ‘nothing can separate the Church…from Christ as long as it clings and remains in undivided love.’ For this reason, St. Cyprian goes on to argue that the wine cannot be offered without the water or the water without the wine any more than the water and flour can be can be offered alone and become the body of Christ.”
He said further that “in a homily by St. Faustus of Riez (d. 495), we find that the meaning of the water and wine is not just a cultural tradition, but is a necessary part of the rite from what we know of the Passion of our Lord. ‘Blood and water flowed from his sacred side when he was pierced with the lance,’ he wrote. And the Council of Trent affirmed this interpretation when it taught that the water is to be mixed into the wine (see Session XXII).”

Q. My parish is trying to find some good materials for our religious education program. Do you have any suggestions about reliable books? — B.N., Massachusetts.
A. For grades K through 8, there are two series published by Ignatius Press (www.ignatius.com). They are the Image of God series and the Faith and Life series. Also, for grades K to 8, there is the Finding God series, which is published by Loyola Press in Chicago (www.loyolapress.com).
Things are much better on the catechetical front today, compared to 25 years ago, largely due to the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in English in 1994 and the formation a few years later of the Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism, which reviews textbooks to ensure their conformity with the Catechism.
At the high school level, we would recommend the Catholicism Series, which we have co-authored and published. The five books in the series cover the Creed and apologetics (Catholicism & Reason), Commandments and sacraments (Catholicism & Life), salvation history (Catholicism & Scripture), medical-moral issues (Catholicism & Ethics), and marriage, family, and social justice (Catholicism & Society). These books are available at www.crpublications.com.

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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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