Friday 22nd March 2019

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March 8, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. My husband has dementia and I am his caretaker. We are both in our late eighties. Are we required to fast from food for one hour before receiving Communion? — H.W., Minnesota.
A. The answer is no if health considerations prevent you from observing the one-hour fast.

Q. I have heard people say that the pro-abortion side treats abortion like a sacrament. Why would they use such a holy word to describe such an evil action? – J.J., via e-mail.
A. We have also cringed to hear this comparison. It doesn’t accord at all with the traditional Catholic definition of a sacrament, i.e., an outward sign instituted by Christ to give us grace. Or even with the secular definition of the word in Webster’s Dictionary: “a formal religious act that is sacred as a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality; esp.: one instituted by Jesus Christ as a means of grace.”
We guess that those who describe abortion as a sacrament believe the killing of a child to be something sacred, something to be defended or even celebrated. This is probably how ancient pagan religions saw child sacrifice, as an offering to whatever gods they worshiped. That attitude is not much different from that of the “high priests” of Planned Parenthood today, who see nothing wrong with sacrificing millions of babies on the altar of “choice.”
This is the same Planned Parenthood, by the way, which issued a brochure in 1963 that said: “An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun. It is dangerous to your life and health.” That brochure went into the same trash heap where PP has dumped literally millions of unborn babies since the Supreme Court legalized child killing in 1973.
Abortion is indeed an “outward sign,” but of a contempt for human life. It was certainly not instituted by the same Christ who proclaimed the Fifth Commandment (cf. Matt. 19:18) or who said that “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Nor does abortion confer grace, that is, a share in God’s life, on anyone associated with this terrible crime. Those who refer to this abomination as a sacrament are in the same twilight zone as those who believe that one can choose a sex that is different from the one assigned to them at birth.

Q. In glancing at a few paragraphs of a book (The Great Controversy by E.G. White) someone gave to my wife, the author claims that the Waldensians are the true followers of Jesus Christ and His apostles. How could White possibly arrive at that conclusion? I am inclined to believe that the book is not worth reading. Please comment. — J.D.H., California.
A. You can read the book; just don’t believe anything in it. The author, Ellen Gould White (1827-1915), was one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was a prolific author of more than 40 books and 5,000 periodical articles. She claimed to have received over 2,000 visions from God upon which she based her writings.
The Waldensians were founded in France in the late twelfth century by a man named Peter Waldo, also known as Pierre Valdez. According to Fr. John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary, Waldo “took a vow of poverty and soon gathered a large following, mainly of persons who were scandalized at the pomp and wealth of the medieval Church. From protests against luxury, they attacked Catholic doctrine: rejecting the authority of the Pope, denying Purgatory, claiming that laymen could absolve, and saying that sinful priests could not validly offer Mass or administer sacraments.
“Condemned by Pope Lucius III in 1184, they became a threat to civil order and were opposed by political rulers. They were among the principal forerunners of the Protestant Reformation and are still organized and active, primarily in Italy, France, Spain, and Switzerland.”
For more information on the Waldensians, see the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia.
In a recent and curious development, however, Pope Francis visited a Waldensian evangelical church in Turin, Italy in 2015 and asked forgiveness “for the non-Christian and even inhuman attitudes and behavior that we showed you [in the Middle Ages]. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us.”
The Holy Father said that the principal benefit of ecumenism “is the rediscovery of the fraternity that unites all those who believe in Jesus Christ and are baptized in His name. But the unity that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit does not mean uniformity. Brothers have in common the same origin, but they are not identical among themselves.”

Q. Was there a change in the way the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus since Vatican II? Why are people getting sick from receiving the Body of Jesus? It is not bread anymore, but the Body of Jesus. — T.T., Iowa.
A. No, nothing changed either during or after Vatican II in the way bread and wine are consecrated. The bread is still supposed to consist only of wheat flour and water to constitute valid matter. If valid matter is used, and the priest pronounces the correct words, transubstantiation occurs. This means that the substance of the bread becomes the substance of Christ’s Body, but the accidents of bread — shape, size, taste — remain.
We have not heard of anyone getting sick from receiving Holy Communion and can only assume that any sickness that did occur was not the result of the Eucharist itself, but was caused by something else.

Q. If we are judged worthy of Heaven, will we be old or young there? Do babies who die at birth age, or are they always babies? Will we recognize a parent or relative who died in old age? What will we look like in Heaven? — J.G., Arizona.
A. No one knows for sure what things will be like in Heaven since, as St. Paul said, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, / and what has not entered the human heart, / what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9). However, we know that we will have bodies in Heaven (that’s what we mean by the “resurrection of the body”), and various saints and Church Fathers have speculated that everyone, regardless of how old they were when they died, will be in the prime of life in Heaven, perhaps in their twenties or thirties.
What will our bodies be like? They will be “remodeled and transfigured to the pattern of the risen Christ,” said Dr. Ludwig Ott in his book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (p. 491). He said that the writings of the “Schoolmen,” a group of medieval leaders of Scholasticism that included St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Albert the Great, St. Bonaventure, and St. Anselm, distinguished four properties of the bodies of the just (cf. pp. 491-492):
First: Incapability of suffering, sorrow, sickness, or death, as indicated in Rev. 21:4: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.” Second: Subtility or a spiritualization of the body that enables it to pass through closed doors, as Christ did on the night after His Resurrection from the dead. Third: Agility or the ability of the body to move with the speed of thought from one place to another, as the risen Christ was able to appear suddenly to the apostles and just as suddenly to disappear. Fourth: Clarity or the absence of any deformity and the fullness of radiance and beauty, the same splendor manifested by Christ in the Transfiguration (cf. Matt. 17:2).
Will we know family members and friends in Heaven? Yes, said Fr. John Hardon in his Catholic Catechism in talking about the “social joys of Heaven.” Fr. Hardon explained:
“Tradition further amplifies this idea by suggesting the joys of the blessed when they meet and recognize one another, not only in the intuitive vision of God but also by direct mutual intercourse. To deny such communication would be to deny them the legitimate exercise of their faculties and contradict the very concept of beatitude, which is the perfection of every human power and satisfaction of every legitimate desire.
“Since Christianity differs from such oriental religions as Hinduism and Buddhism precisely in believing that man retains his identity in a future life, it is essential to the Christian notion of heaven that its inhabitants live together as distinct persons, knowing and being known by their fellow citizens in the New Jerusalem, and living in the company of those they had known and loved on earth” (p. 266).

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