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July 25, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. Jesus says that we are to learn from Him, He who is meek and humble of heart. But Jesus was not always meek and humble of heart. He talked back to the Scribes and Pharisees, He drove the moneychangers out of the Temple, He talked back to the Sanhedrin, He wasn’t bashful about claiming to be the Son of God. How can we follow His advice about humility when He wasn’t such a good example of humility? — G.P., Florida.
A. In Matt. 11:29-30, Jesus invited His listeners to “take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” The Catechism defines humility as “the virtue by which a Christian acknowledges that God is the author of all good. Humility avoids inordinate ambition or pride, and provides the foundation for turning to God in prayer” (Glossary).
No one meets that definition better than Jesus does. Did Jesus acknowledge His Father as the Author of all good and the One to whom He owed obedience? He certainly did. During His Agony in the Garden, Jesus three times asked the Father to spare Him the suffering that He was about to undergo, but then said, “not as I will, but as you will” and “your will be done” (Matt. 26:39, 42). Jesus could have refused to suffer His Passion and death, but instead He humbly submitted to the will of His Father.
Was Jesus showing lack of humility when He chose to be born in a cave for animals? Or when He chose to spend His first 30 years as a humble carpenter in a remote village in Palestine? Or when He chose to live out in the open with “nowhere to rest his head” (Matt. 8:20)? Or when He chose to ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey, instead of on a white horse, as kings and conquerors did (cf. Luke 19:35-38)? Or when He meekly submitted to the jeers of the crowd on Calvary and asked His Father to forgive His tormenters when He could have struck them dead (cf. Luke 23:34)?
The opposite of humble is proud and arrogant. Was Jesus arrogant when He claimed to be God, e.g., when He said that “the Father and I are one” (John 10:30)? No, He was stating a fact and pointing people in the direction of His Father. As He was when He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Was Jesus lacking in humility when He scolded the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, or when He called them “blind guides…blind fools” who are “like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth” (Matt. 24:16, 17, 27)? No, He was warning the Jewish leaders that they had better repent of their sins if they expected to get to Heaven.
Being meek does not mean being a doormat, nor does it mean standing idly by while evil deeds are being perpetrated, as with the desecration of the Temple by the moneychangers. There is such a thing as righteous anger, which compelled Jesus to chase these men out of the Temple because they had made “my Father’s house a marketplace” (John 2:16).
In his Life of Christ, Venerable Fulton Sheen offered an answer to G.P.’s question:
“When one takes into account also His [Jesus’] reiterated assertions about His Divinity — such as asking us to love Him above parents, to believe in Him even in the face of persecution, to be ready to sacrifice our bodies in order to save our souls in union with Him — to call Him just a good man ignores the facts. No man is good unless he is humble; and humility is a recognition of truth concerning oneself. A man who thinks he is greater than he actually is, is not humble, but a vain and boastful fool. How can any man claim prerogatives over conscience, and over history, and over society and the world, and still claim he is ‘meek and humble of heart’? But if He is God as well as man, His language falls into place and everything He says is intelligible” (pp. 209-210).

Q. I always read your Q&A first in the second section of The Wanderer and have enjoyed it for many years. Now I find myself in the predicament of many of your other readers in that a relative will be married in a civil ceremony in October, though he and his fiancée are both baptized Catholics.
Apparently, the Church would not allow them to have a Catholic ceremony out of doors since they are both Catholic. Would it be sinful for me to attend? — Name and State Withheld.
A. As you surely know if you have followed Catholic Replies over the years, canon 1108 of the Code of Canon Law says that a Catholic party can contract a valid marriage only in the presence of a Catholic bishop, priest, or deacon, who as the official witness of the Church must ask for and receive the consent of the parties in the name of the Church, and two other witnesses, whose function is to attest to the state that the marriage actually took place.
By taking part in a civil ceremony, your Catholic relative is objectively guilty of two sins — disobeying the law of the Church by entering into an invalid marriage and disobeying the law of God by planning to engage in acts of fornication, i.e., sexual acts outside of marriage.
One hallmark of a faithful Catholic is to follow the teachings of the Church established by Jesus to help us get to Heaven. Another hallmark is not to give bad example by pretending that it is no big deal to violate the teachings of Jesus and His Church. It is a big deal for your relative and fiancée to enter publicly into serious sin, thus separating themselves from God and jeopardizing their eternal salvation. It also would be bad example for you, as a faithful Catholic, to cooperate in their sin by attending the ceremony.
We are well aware of the family pressures to attend such a ceremony, having been through them ourselves when we declined to participate. We know that there could be hurt feelings on the part of your relative and his family, but you need to explain to them that, while you love them, you love Jesus more, and you do not want to do anything that would harm your relationship with God. That includes attending a ceremony that you sincerely believe to be contrary to God’s plan for married couples.
Taking this stand will not be easy, but Jesus never promised His faithful followers a rose garden. In fact, He said that we, like Him, would have crosses to carry in this life, but the reward for fidelity to Him will far outweigh the punishment for infidelity. We will ask our readers to pray for you and for your relative, and for all who find themselves in this predicament in our morally challenging times.

Q. A priest whom I know has recently been named pastor of three parishes in a collaborative. This priest has said that he doesn’t believe in Hell, that he has “simply outgrown my need for Hell. I believe in God’s unconditional love.” What can I say to him? — J.W., Massachusetts.
A. Probably nothing that will convince him to change his mind; just pray for him. Yes, God’s love and mercy are beyond limit, but what of the person steeped in sin who has no desire to repent? There is such a thing as final impenitence, where a person boldly rejects God’s love and mercy right to the moment of death, and is therefore incapable of getting to Heaven.
This priest must surely be aware that Jesus talked more about Hell than about Heaven, using the word “Gehenna” to refer to the “unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43), the “outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth” (Matt. 8:12), and “the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth” (Matt. 13:41-42). Speaking of the Last Judgment, Jesus warned that those who did not help the least of His brothers and sisters will be told, “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
For this priest to state his unbelief in Hell is not only to mislead his parishioners but also to reject the explicit teaching of the Church, as stated clearly in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell’” (n. 1033).
The Catechism also says that “the teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity” (n. 1035), and that those who fail to tell their people about the warnings of Sacred Scripture and the Church neglect to inform them about what the Catechism describes as “an urgent call to conversion” (n. 1036).

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Angola: Catholic Priest Refutes Criticism of Church Practices

Lubango — The Southern Huila province?s Lubango city emeritus archbishop, Zacarias Kamwenho, rejected as false the claim that Catholic Christians worship images. Speaking on Sunday in the Muxima Diocese, in Lubango, the archbishop explained that Catholic Christians worship God instead,…Continue Reading

Ave Maria School of Law Wins Its HHS Mandate Case in Federal Court

The Obama Administration has suffered another defeat in its quest to force Catholics and people of faith to pay for abortion-causing drugs, as required by the HHS Mandate. Today the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida came down…Continue Reading

Catholic Educators Appeal to Obama Administration for Relief from HHS Mandate

Today a coalition including The Cardinal Newman Society, leaders of Catholic schools and colleges, and the expert attorneys of the Alliance Defending Freedom told the Obama administration that its latest rule mandating insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing…Continue Reading

Toronto schools hosting ‘LGBTQ’ conference for students as young as 11

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is hosting three student conferences within the span of eight days for the purpose of LGBTQ activism.  The conferences, which have been organized in collaboration with Jer’s Vision, will take place on October 28,…Continue Reading

The Synod and the Media: Culpable Naïveté or Shrewd Calculation?

Upon becoming director of media relations for the American bishops in late 1969, I quickly made a crucial discovery about my new employers. With just a handful of exceptions, the bishops were painfully naïve about the news business, yet convinced…Continue Reading

Chaldean Catholic patriarch suspends 10 priests, including 1 from El Cajon

SAN DIEGO – The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church has suspended 10 priests, including one from El Cajon. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako issued a decree a month ago, demanding the priests return to Iraq or be suspended. Wednesday…Continue Reading

Retired Pope Says Interreligious Dialogue No Substitute For Mission

VATICAN CITY – Retired Pope Benedict XVI said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith.” He also said the true motivation…Continue Reading

California Forces Churches to Directly Fund Abortions, Churches Refuse to Comply

To the dismay of California’s people of faith, the California Department of Managed Health Care has reclassified abortion as a “basic health service” under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical…Continue Reading

Relax. God’s Still In Charge.

It’s an enormous challenge to maintain pristine doctrinal purity while at the same time respond to the experiential, personal, and difficult needs of married couples and families. Behind every arcane discussion of gradualism and natural law there are parents and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: The “Relatio Synodi” Is “A Significant Improvement Over The Text Of The ‘Relatio Post Disceptationem'”

In a third short interview with CWR, conducted by e-mail late yesterday, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, offers his impression of the Relatio Synodi, comments on reports that the Synod has…Continue Reading

Synod Final Document Reaffirms Church Teaching

The final document of the Extraordinary Synod was released Saturday as the Synod Fathers voted to approve all 62 paragraphs, but with three paragraphs not receiving the normally required two-thirds majority vote. The three paragraphs, which in the past would…Continue Reading

Catholic Synod: Gay Rights Groups ‘Disappointed’

Catholic gay rights groups say they are disappointed after bishops rejected proposals for wider acceptance of gay people, which had the Pope’s backing. The call to “accept and value” homosexuals was in a draft report, but failed to win the…Continue Reading

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Today . . .

Pope At Mass: Christian Life Is A Continuous Battle Against The Devil

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis described Christian life as a continuous battle being waged against Satan, the world and the passions of the flesh. His comments came during his homily at Mass celebrated on Thursday morning at the Santa Marta residence. He stressed that the devil exists and we must fight against him with the armour of truth. Pope Francis’s reflections…Continue Reading

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Writes Personal Ordinariate Of Our Lady Of Walsingham

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(Vatican Radio) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has sent a message to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established for former Anglicans in England in 2011.  The message was on the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which was released on November 4th 2009. The Pope Emeritus was responding to a letter he received…Continue Reading

Pope At Audience: The Church Visible And Spiritual

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(Vatican Radio)  “Often, we hear people say: the Church doesn’t do this …the Church doesn’t do that!’ ‘Tell me who is the Church? – ‘Well the Church is the priests, the bishops, the Pope …’ We are all the Church! All of us all of us Baptized! We are the Church, the Church of Jesus’”. This was the message at…Continue Reading

Pope At Angelus: Love Of God And Neighbour Are Inseparable

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on Sunday. In remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father offered some reflections on the Gospel reading of the day, which was taken from Gospel…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Does Contraception Lead To Abortion?”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 21 of The Facts of Life, “Contraception,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have seen that contraception fails frequently and so often leads to abortion.…Continue Reading

Pass-Fail Grading: For The Professors’ Benefit?

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK S.M. writes to offer some observations about the proposal to introduce a “pass-fail” grading system for freshmen at Princeton University. The possibility of doing that was discussed in the October 9 edition of First Teachers. He sees the idea as a “form of grade inflation that is solely intended to accomplish…Continue Reading

Contemporary Culture Encapsulated In A Single Sentence

By DONALD DeMARCO It is remarkable how much a single sentence can reveal about the temper of a culture, even when its author is trying to be withholding. Jacalyn Duffin, a historian and practicing hematologist, is the author of History of Medicine (University of Toronto Press, 2000). It is a 243-page tome that was produced…Continue Reading

Synod Document Of October 13, 2014

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. This commentary appeared on his blog [johnkippley.com] of…Continue Reading

Elite Judges Think The Highest Judge Never Will End Their Misrule

By DEXTER DUGGAN Today people worry about globe-trotting terrorists, the transmission of the deadly Ebola virus, and the way contagions can cross borders when the government insists borders must be open for everyone’s alleged benefit. Meanwhile, unaccountable U.S. judges continue their contagion of immorality, as if God’s judgment never will come, maybe in little germs,…Continue Reading

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Regarding our recent column on advanced medical directives and particularly the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST), A.M.V. of Florida writes to say that the American Life League provides individuals with a document called the “Loving Will,” which corresponds to Catholic teaching. She said that this document was “crucial with my mom’s situation” when she was admitted…Continue Reading

Temples Of The Holy Spirit

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Feast Of The Dedication Of St. John Lateran In Rome Readings: Ezek. 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 1 Cor. 3:9c-11, 16-17 John 2:13-22 Today we celebrate the feast of the dedication of a church building that many people have never heard of and also have no idea of its significance. In Rome, there are four major basilicas; the…Continue Reading

Message Of The Extraordinary Synod Of Bishops . . . We Ask You To Walk With Us Toward The Next Synod

(Editor’s Note: Below is the text of the concluding message of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, held October 5-19. This message was released on October 18. (See Fr. Kevin M. Cusick’s column in this issue, p. 2B, and the front page for reporting and commentary on the separate final document of the Extraordinary Synod.) + + +…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Redefining Marriage: Not About The Kids And The Picket Fence

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Following the Extraordinary Synod and the rollback on confusing language about same-sex attraction and the divorced and remarried in the final version of the Relatio Synodi document, the predictable reactions are coming in. Those who continue to hold Church teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman are labeled as “bigots,” while…Continue Reading

Debunking The Sola Scriptura Myth… True Tradition And False “Tradition”

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 A classical objection: What Catholics call the “Apostolic Tradition” is just a human tradition, which Jesus clearly condemned in the Gospel, when He said to the Pharisees, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?…So, for the sake of your tradition you have made void the…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Wolfgang

By CAROLE BRESLIN October 31 has come to be yet another Christian holy day corrupted by our secular society. All Hallows Eve, Halloween, is now celebrated with emphasis on evil and horror. Corn mazes with frightening objects around the corner, haunted houses to terrify even the bravest of persons, glorification of vampires, and decorations of death and witches — these…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Mary Claret

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anthony Mary Claret has something in common with at least three other saints. Like St. Peter Claver, he was born in northeastern Spain — over 200 years later. Like St. Pio of Pietrelcina, when he heard Confessions, he frequently could read the souls of the penitents, asking them about a sin that they had not confessed.…Continue Reading

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading