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January 30, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. I am one of those facing the dilemma of how to dispose of the religious articles that are included in the appeals for donations that religious groups are sending out. Can you provide us with the names and addresses of missionary societies that will welcome them so they can distribute them in foreign lands? — C.G.D., Maryland.
A. Perhaps some of our readers can suggest missionary societies that would welcome unused religious articles. You could also give them to Catholic schools or parish religious education programs for distribution to children or to those involved in prison ministry for distribution to inmates. One reader, J.F.K. of Ohio, says that what he does “is to send the articles back to the sender and ask to be removed from their list. It costs a stamp or two, but for me that’s better than putting them in the garbage or giving someone else the job after I die.”

Q. Is it ever acceptable for the priest to offer the final blessing at the end of Mass with the words, “May almighty God bless us (instead of ‘you’), the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”? — J.O., New Jersey.
A. No, it’s not acceptable. The priest should use the words that appear in the Roman Missal, and “us” is not one of those words. Such substitutions were forbidden by Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which said that “absolutely no other person, not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority” (n. 22).

Q. Columnist Margery Eagan wrote in the Boston Herald that “a birth control ban has never been central to Catholic doctrine. The church says family planning is fine, as long as it’s done by the natural rhythm method. A commission made up of bishops, cardinals, and theologians did vote to end the ban on artificial birth control in the mid-1960s, but then Pope Paul VI overruled them, mainly for political reasons. Pope Francis, whose politics are clearly different, could actually lift the ban.” How would you answer this? – T.L.H., Massachusetts.
A. By noting that the ban on contraception goes back to apostolic times and has been reaffirmed by every Pope in the past 80 years, and by the Second Vatican Council, not for political reasons but for moral reasons. There is as much chance of Pope Francis lifting the ban on contraception as there is of Margery Eagan agreeing with any Catholic teaching on sexuality. The Holy Father has called himself a “son of the Church,” which means that he will not reverse any of the Church’s teachings, including the ban on contraception.

Q. Why do we call the Sundays between the Christmas season and Lent “Ordinary Time”? — P.G., Minnesota.
A. While the word “ordinary” usually implies something that is commonplace or even dull, that is not what it means when referring to the 33 or 34 weeks of the year that we call Ordinary Time. In a recent article in his parish bulletin at the Church of St. Michael in New York City, Fr. George Rutler offered this explanation:
“The Church calls the time outside Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter ‘Ordinary’ because its weeks are numbered in an ordered series, the Latin word for which is ordinalis. Next to the very existence of the world itself, a most spectacular fact about this world is that it is orderly. That is why we complain when its order is disrupted — whether it is the winds and the tides, or our own bodies that become disorderly. Thus, we speak of disasters and sickness, and of the moral disorder called sin. The less one appreciates order, the more one becomes cynical about the workings of the world and takes on a tragic view of life, eventually making no distinction between tragedy and comedy.
“G.K. Chesterton mastered the art of celebrating the ordinary things of life. He said that it took him a long time to walk along the street because he kept stopping to admire each lamppost. In his book called The Thing, he wrote: ‘I am ordinary in the correct sense of the term, which means the acceptance of an order, a Creator and the Creation, the common sense of gratitude for Creation, life and love as gifts permanently good, marriage and chivalry as laws rightly controlling them, and the rest of the normal traditions of our race and religion.’
“It is hardly a tribute to the glory of God’s creative power to be bored with what He has made and to be a bore to others. Christ excited many different reactions in those who encountered Him. He attracted crowds and delighted them, for He was not like the pedantic Scribes. He frightened many, including His closest followers who, on at least two occasions, thought He must be a ghost. He confused His own neighbors who could not reconcile His domesticity with His transcendent speech. When He passed by, some cheered and others bowed before Him. He scandalized those who had a miniature sense of life, and angered those who resented the way He threatened their moral myopia.
“There were those who were willing to die for Him, and there were those who made Him die. But there is no record of anyone saying that He bored them. He showed how extraordinary it is to be ordinary, and He sanctified Ordinary Time so that the days between feasts are feasts themselves.”

Q. Did any Pope speak negatively about Divine Mercy Sunday or the chaplet? Is everything about it acceptable? Some people I know will not accept it. — M.G., Alabama.
A. Tell your skeptical friends that the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a magnificent devotion that originated with Jesus Himself, and that it was a Pope, Blessed John Paul II, who proclaimed the Sunday after Easter to be Divine Mercy Sunday. Thus, it is fitting that he will be canonized on Divine Mercy Sunday this year, which falls on April 27. The Holy Father proclaimed this feast on April 30, 2000 at the Mass of canonization for St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun who died in 1938 at the age of 33.
On February 22, 1931, Jesus had appeared to Sr. Faustina in a white robe, with his right hand raised in blessing and His left hand over His heart from which came two rays of light: a red one representing the blood that flowed from His side on the cross and a white one representing the watery substance that flowed from the lance wound in His side. The Church has seen these flows as symbolizing the Eucharist and Baptism.
Jesus told Faustina to “paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the prayer, ‘Jesus, I trust in You’.” An artist was found to do the painting, which is now known worldwide as the Divine Mercy, and it was shown in public for the first time on April 28, 1935. In her diary, Faustina set down the things that Jesus told her, including His request that people recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet each day at 3:00 p.m., the hour of His death on the cross. Here are His words to the nun:
“Encourage souls to say the Chaplet which I have given you. . . . Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. . . . When they say this Chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between my Father and the dying person, not as a just judge but as the merciful Savior.t. . . . Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this Chaplet only once, he would receive grace from my infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in my mercy….Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with my will.”
Using a pair of rosary beads, one can recite the Chaplet by making the Sign of the Cross and reciting one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Apostles’ Creed. Then, on the Our Father bead before each decade, say, “Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.” Then, on each of the Hail Mary beads, say, “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
After the five decades are completed, conclude by saying three times, “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” Finish with the Sign of the Cross.

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