Friday 22nd March 2019

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March 1, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. I have a family member who married a divorced woman in the 1970s. They divorced after 25 years. Are they still married as far as the Church is concerned? If they wanted to get back together, what would they have to do? — D.L., via e-mail.
A. If the woman were divorced when your family member married her in the seventies, then the Church would not recognize that union as a valid marriage since both parties were not free to marry. If they wanted to get back together, they would have to get the divorced person’s first marriage annulled and then go to Confession to get forgiveness for any sins committed in the interim. They should pursue the matter with a priest.

Q. I picked up a booklet for children after Mass today. Published by Liguori Publications and entitled “Explaining God’s Word,” the booklet showed a cartoon of the boy Jesus in Joseph’s carpenter shop and the headline, “Isn’t He Joseph’s Son?” Children were invited to “find six hidden tools in the picture of Jesus in his father’s shop.” On page two, it says that people in Nazareth “did not believe he was the Messiah. He was only Jesus, the carpenter’s son.” It seems to me that if you are involved in “explaining God’s word,” you ought to tell children that Jesus was not Joseph’s son. What do you think? — V.R., via e-mail.
A. We agree, Even though their neighbors thought that Jesus was Joseph’s son since they didn’t know the whole story, the person writing the booklet ought to have explained to children that God was Jesus’ Father and Joseph was His foster father and guardian.
Just as a priest, after reading this Gospel for that Sunday, ought to have explained in his homily that Jesus did not have “brothers” and “sisters,” that Mary was always a virgin, before, during, and after the birth of her only Son. The priest should also have explained that the James and Joses referred to in Mark 6:3 were the cousins of Jesus, not His brothers. In chapter 15 of Mark, it confirms this by saying that James and Joses were the sons of another Mary, the wife of Clopas (cf. John 19:25), and not children of the Blessed Virgin.
This is only one of many passages in the Gospels that go unexplained week after week from the pulpit. This failure to enlighten the faithful, as well as to clear up difficult to understand verses, is wrong and deprives the faithful of the ammunition to respond to those who cast into doubt Catholic beliefs about Jesus. In the words of apologist Patrick Madrid:
“Millions of contemporary Catholics, who have not been the beneficiaries of solid and comprehensive catechesis, are therefore at best hazy in their understanding of who Jesus Christ is. Millions more, who find themselves outside the Catholic Church, have deficient and often even woefully defective understandings of Jesus Christ. They don’t really know who He is. It would be a major understatement to say that this is a serious problem” (Who Do You Say That I Am?, p. 6).

Q. What can we do to get a children’s catechism that is based on the rosary? If the Catholic Church in the USA ever has to go underground, the rosary and the Bible might be all that parents have to teach their children. When I taught CCD, the Sadlier Company had a timeline of what would be taught grade by grade. By twelfth grade, a person should know the basics of the faith. At 80 years of age, I am still going to classes and Bible studies and wish that I had known all of this stuff when I was younger. — M.F., Arizona.
A. Good for you that you are still trying to learn more about the faith. Would that many other Catholics were doing likewise, although if they were exposed to the booklet mentioned in the previous question, it wouldn’t do them much good. The catechetical scene has improved dramatically since the seventies and eighties, when publishers such as Sadlier were putting out books that were severely deficient in presenting the faith.
That changed for the most part in the nineties thanks to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism, which required textbook publishers to conform the content of their books to the Catechism.
Many religion series today are mostly reliable, and they follow the sequence that you are familiar with in presenting Catholic teaching in an orderly and comprehensive way. Thus, children learn about God’s love in grade one, are prepared for First Penance and First Communion in grade two, cover the truths of the faith in grade three, the Commandments in grade four, the sacraments and the Mass in grade five, the Old Testament in grade six, the life of Jesus in grade seven, and the Church in grade eight.
Grades nine and ten, in most dioceses, are devoted to preparation for Confirmation, although that sacrament is being increasingly celebrated in the lower grades, sometimes in conjunction with First Communion.
Most of the textbooks we have seen have sections at the back that include Catholic prayers and devotions, including the 20 mysteries of the rosary and how to pray the rosary. We ourselves have published a book (Catholicism & Scripture) for high schoolers and adults that contains four chapters that use the mysteries of the rosary to cover the life of Jesus. However, we are not familiar with a children’s catechism that is based on the rosary, but perhaps one of our readers is.

Q. Our Bible class is studying the Book of Revelation using a commentary by Stephen J. Binz. In the reflection and discussion section on Rev. 8:1-13, Mr. Binz posed the following question: “Reflect on the terrible evils of our world: terrorism, torture, genocide, war. Do I burn with anger, as does God at these evils and cry out for justice?”
Of course, every Christian should cry out for justice regarding these atrocities. However, Mr. Binz omitted mentioning the most prominent evil in our world today, which is abortion. Do you think he did that on purpose to be politically correct? — J.D.H., California.
A. We have no idea of why Mr. Binz omitted mention of abortion; you would have to ask him. It surely deserves mention, though, since 42 million babies are executed in the abortion chambers of the world every year. None of the other evils mentioned by Mr. Binz, even all of them combined, comes anywhere close to causing the deaths of that many persons. It reminds us of a statement attributed to Josef Stalin, the brutal dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from 1924 to 1953, who was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions. The killing of one person is a tragedy, Stalin was reported to have said, but the killing of millions is only a statistic.

Q. There is a new movie out about Garabandal, the town in Spain where the Blessed Virgin reportedly appeared to four children in the early sixties. The movie is called Garabandal: God Only Knows. Has the Church ever approved this alleged series of events? — J.C., North Carolina.
A. Not as far as we know. The visions reportedly occurred to four young girls between 1961 and 1965. The girls have said over the years since then that the Blessed Mother promised a warning that would be visible to the whole world, and that it would be followed twelve months later by a miracle. At the time of the warning, said Conchita, one of the four girls, people “will find themselves all alone in the world no matter where they are at the time, alone with their conscience right before God. They will then see all their sins and what their sins have caused.” She said that the warning will purify people for the miracle.
Beginning shortly after the reported appearances of our Lady, several bishops have investigated the happenings on various occasions and have declared that nothing supernatural occurred, “no apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, of Michael the Archangel, or of any other celestial person. There have been no messages.”
In 2001, Bishop José Vilaplana of Santander, Spain, who had asked for guidance on the matter in 1991 from the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that the SCDF had told him in 1992 that, “after having examined carefully all the documents,” it saw no reason to “intervene directly” or to overrule the bishop of Santander. Bishop Vilaplana said in 2001 that he would follow “the unanimous position of my predecessors,” namely, that “there is no evidence to support the supernatural nature of the alleged apparitions.”

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

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Catholic Replies

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