Editor’s Note: Over the years, we have tried to correct columns in the Boston Herald by Margery Eagan because they have greatly distorted Catholic teaching. Now we learn that the longtime Herald columnist has joined the anti-Catholic Boston Globe as a writer for its new Catholicism website, Crux.
According to the press release from the Globe, Eagan will focus on “issues of spirituality, contemplation, and devotion, drawing on her personal experience with her Catholic faith, as well as that of other Catholics and those of various religious traditions.”
Teresa Hanafin, editor of the site, said that “there are many, many Catholics who engage in a very deep spiritual examination of their faith and their personal relationship with God. Margery is of that world. She understands it, she experiences it, and now she will discuss it with readers of Crux.”
All we can say is that asking Margery Eagan to write accurately about Catholicism is like asking Hamas to write objectively about Israel.
Q. Is it a sin against my spouse to do something behind his/her back that he/she believes is immoral and would offend him/her? Five priests have already told me it is not immoral and does not offend God. If it is a sin, is it mortal or venial? — Name and State Withheld.
A. Without knowing exactly what the sin is, we can’t say whether it’s mortal or venial. But if five priests have said that this “something” is not immoral, why not take their advice? On the other hand, though, even if this action is not immoral, why would you do it if it would offend your spouse?
Q. Following the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass, the priest sang the following prayer: “God the Father, hear our prayer. Hear us, God the Son. Holy Spirit, hear our prayer. Mercy on your people, Lord.” Is this prayer an optional part of the revised liturgy? — M.S., Michigan.
A. Not that we know of. At least it doesn’t appear in Appendix V at the back of the Roman Missal, where there are some suggested prayers for the priest to say at the conclusion of the Prayers of the Faithful. There are prayers for Ordinary Time, as well as for Advent, Christmas Time, Lent, Easter Time, and Masses for the Dead. Here are two typical concluding prayers:
“O God, our refuge and our strength, hear the prayers of your Church, for you yourself are the source of all devotion, and grant, we pray, that what we ask in faith we may truly obtain. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
“Incline your merciful ear to our prayers, we ask, O Lord, and listen in kindness to the supplications of those who call on you. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Q. Yes, one only true God, as witnessed to in the true Catholic faith, exists and always has existed. Since we cannot fully comprehend Him, how do we logically respond to one who asks, “If God exists, who or what created God?” — R.P., New Hampshire.
A. No one created God; He always existed and is the Creator of everything else. Look at this question from the point of causality. Everything that exists in our world was caused by someone or something else; nothing is or can be the cause of itself. The bacon and eggs we had for breakfast didn’t just appear on the table. The ingredients came from a pig and a chicken and were prepared by a family member or a cook in a restaurant.
We ourselves didn’t suddenly appear on earth. We came from our parents, and they from their parents, and so on back to the beginning. This chain of causes cannot go back forever. There must have been someone who caused the first man and woman to come into existence; there must have been a first cause, or an uncaused cause, that was not caused by anyone else.
That First Cause we call God. Here is how Peter Kreeft and Fr. Ronald Tacelli explained this one of 20 arguments for the existence of God that are discussed in their Handbook of Christian Apologetics:
“The hypothesis that all being is caused, that there is no Uncaused Being, is absurd. So there must be something uncaused, something on which all things that need an efficient cause of being are dependent. Existence is like a gift given from cause to effect. If there is no one who has the gift, the gift cannot be passed down the chain of receivers, however long or short the chain may be. If everyone has to borrow a certain book, but no one actually has it, then no one will ever get it.
“If there is no God who has existence by his own eternal nature, then the gift of existence cannot be passed down the chain of creatures and we can never get it. But we do get it; we exist. Therefore there must exist a God: an Uncaused Being who does not have to receive existence like us — and like every other link in the chain of receivers” (p. 51).
Q. Can you tell me what the words “Catholic charismatic” mean? Is this something new in the Catholic Church? — E.S., Arkansas.
Q. I understand that Pope Francis has invited charismatics to the Vatican in 2017 and that he prayed with them recently at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. I don’t understand what the movement is about. They seem very animated, but does that make them more holy? Does anyone know what they are saying when they are speaking in so-called tongues? It sounds very cultish to me. — W.B., Kentucky.
A. The Catholic charismatic movement originated in the United States on the campus of Duquesne University in 1967 and has since spread throughout the country. It holds weekly meetings, sometimes called “Life in the Spirit Seminars,” that focus on a special relationship with the Holy Spirit through spontaneous prayer, singing, and personal testimonies.
Some of its participants claim to speak in tongues, a spiritual gift mentioned by St. Paul in First Corinthians 12:10, and it does sound odd to those not familiar with this form of prayer. However, as Paul warned, it is useless to speak in tongues if those listening cannot understand you. “I would rather speak five words with my mind, so as to instruct others also,” he said, “than ten thousand words in a tongue” (13:19).
Recent Popes have applauded the work of Charismatic Renewal, but have stressed the importance of fidelity to the teaching authority of the Church. For example, St. John Paul II told a group of charismatic leaders in 1992 that “whatever shape the Charismatic Renewal takes — in prayer groups, in covenant communities, in communities of life and service — the sign of its spiritual fruitfulness will always be a strengthening of communion with the universal Church and local churches.”
Speaking to more than 50,000 charismatics in Rome this past June, Pope Francis recalled that he didn’t think much of them when he first encountered them in Buenos Aires some years ago, that they struck him as “some kind of Samba school!” He said that he changed his mind when he saw the good the Charismatic Renewal was doing for the Church.
“You . . . have received a great gift from the Lord,” the Holy Father said. “Your movement’s birth was willed by the Holy Spirit to be ‘a current of grace in the Church and for the Church.’ This is your identity: to be a current of grace.”
When he thinks of charismatics, Francis said, “I think of the Church herself, but in a particular way: I think of a great orchestra where all the instruments and voices are different from one another, yet all are needed to create the harmony of the music. St. Paul speaks of this in the 12th chapter of the First Letter to the Corinthians.
“As in an orchestra, no one in the renewal can think of himself or herself as being more important or greater than the others, please! Because when you think of yourselves as more important or greater, disaster is already on the horizon.”
The Pontiff said that the role of charismatics is “evangelization, spiritual ecumenism, caring for the poor and needy, and welcoming the marginalized. And all of it is based on worship. The foundation of the renewal is worshiping God!. . . Seek unity in the renewal because unity comes from the Holy Spirit and is born of the unity of the Trinity. Who is the source of division? The Devil! Division comes from the Devil. Flee from all infighting, please! Let there be none of this among you!”