Friday 22nd March 2019

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March 15, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: In his weekly bulletin at the Church of St. Michael in New York City, Fr. George Rutler, after noting that John Henry Cardinal Newman of England will soon be proclaimed a saint and Jozsef Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary will be declared venerable, said that “Mindszenty was not Newman’s intellectual peer, but his life was the most muscular testimony to doctrine. He was imprisoned and tortured by Nazis and Communists, by a logic easily understood once it is acknowledged that both Nazism and Communism are forms of atheistic socialism, vaunting the power of the collective state over individual dignity.
“In our times, these malignant social theories are being propounded by culturally illiterate politicians whose eccentricity still has a centric force of persuasion among those who are ignorant of the human experience. May English Newman and Hungarian Mindszenty rise up as specters against such moral malignancy.”

Q. For some time I have considered professional boxing to be immoral. It is the only sport in which a penalty is not served for injuring an opponent. Moreover, the ultimate blow results in a knockout, from which may result a concussion, unconsciousness, and even brain damage. This happened to Muhammed Ali. I discussed my opinion years ago with the late moral theologian Msgr. William Smith, who said that he had not considered the matter, but was inclined to agree with me. Has the Church or any moral theologian ever condemned boxing? — T.O., New York.
A. As far as we know, the Church has not condemned boxing, but some moral theologians have. Here is the conclusion of a lengthy article by Paulist Fr. Eugene Hillman in the magazine Theological Studies (Google “morality of boxing” to get the full article):
“A contest which has as a direct purpose the violation of the human body, and which fosters such crude emotionalism among the spectators, should appear particularly reprehensible to the Christian conscience in times like ours. For when in history has the body of man suffered violation on a larger scale than it does today? And when have human emotions been more wanting in the cultivation of tenderness and pity?
“The brutishness fostered by boxing appears especially sinister when we consider that there is always some degree of identification of the spectator with the characters in a drama; and a fight is perhaps the most powerful means of bringing out the animal in man. In a world so filled with suffering and crudeness, what place is there for a form of recreation which deliberately places acts of brutality as a means of pleasure, and positively fosters a perverse emotionalism? Boxing, as we have it today, is badly in need of an apologist.”

Q. We know that Mary was sent to the Temple at the age of three, and she lived there for the next ten to twelve years. At some point, she made a vow of perpetual virginity. Sometime later, she was betrothed (married) to Joseph. This was followed by the Annunciation. Why did Mary leave the Temple and marry Joseph when she did not yet know that she was to be the Mother of God? — T.S., Minnesota.
A. While there are books by persons who claim to have had visions or locutions about Mary’s childhood, we don’t know anything from any official sources, i.e., the Gospels. So we don’t know if she ever spent an extended time in the Temple or why she decided to marry Joseph. All we know is that God from all eternity had chosen Mary to be the mother of His Son and, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption” (Gal. 4:4-5). He had prepared Mary, and Joseph, for this momentous event in salvation history.
In his 1987 encyclical Mother of the Redeemer, St. John Paul II offered these thoughts:
“Even though it is not possible to establish an exact chronological point for identifying the date of Mary’s birth, the Church has constantly been aware that Mary appeared on the horizon of salvation history before Christ. It is a fact that when ‘the fullness of time’ was definitively drawing near — the saving advent of Emmanuel — she who was from eternity destined to be his Mother already existed on earth. The fact that she ‘preceded’ the coming of Christ is reflected every year in the liturgy of Advent….
“Her presence in the midst of Israel — a presence so discreet as to pass almost unnoticed by the eyes of her contemporaries — shone very clearly before the Eternal One, who had associated this hidden ‘daughter of Sion’ (cf. Zeph. 3:14; Zech. 2:10) with the plan of salvation embracing the whole history of humanity” (n. 3).

Q. The belief that Jesus descended into Hell after His death on the cross comes primarily from the Apostles’ Creed. Is it mentioned in the Bible? Did Jesus go to Hell between His death and Resurrection? — J.G., Arizona.
A. You can find the answers to these questions in paragraphs 632 and 633 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The meaning of Christ’s descent into Hell, says the Catechism, is that “Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there” [cf. 1 Peter 3:18-19].
The Catechism goes on to say that “Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, ‘hell’ — Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek — because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God [cf. Phil. 2:10; Acts 2:24; Rev. 1:18; Eph. 4:9; Psalms 6:6, 88:11-13]. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into ‘Abraham’s bosom’ [cf. Psalm 89:49; 1 Samuel 28:19; Ezek. 32:17-32; Luke 16:22-26]. ‘It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell’ [Roman Catechism I, 6, 3]. Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him” [cf. Council of Rome (745): DS 587; Benedict XII, Cum dudum (1341): DS 1011; Clement VI, Super quibusdam (1351): DS 1077; Council of Toledo IV (625): DS 485; Matt. 27:52-53].
In Volume Three of their Radio Replies, Fathers Leslie Rumble and Charles Carty provide this answer to the question of why Christ went to Hell:
“Christ did not go to hell in the modern and restricted sense of that word. At the time when the Apostles’ Creed was composed, the word hell was used to designate any state of existence lower than heaven. After His death on the Cross, our Lord’s soul went, says St. Peter, to preach to those spirits who were in prison. That is, He joined those souls which were detained from the fullness of heaven and who were awaiting the opening of heaven to mankind by Him. This descent of Christ’s soul into hell was obviously not the hell of the eternally lost, but to what we call the Limbo or detention place of the souls of the just who lived prior to our Lord’s coming into this world” (p. 219).

Q. I live in a retirement home where daily Mass is offered by one of several priests from a nearby abbey. One has said some things to which I would appreciate your comments. — W.B., Oregon.
A. First, on the Feast of the Assumption, he said that the body of the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into Heaven where it was reunited with her soul. He was correct in saying that. Second, at the beginning of Mass, he says, “forgive us our sin.” He should pluralize sin by saying, “May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.” Third, at Communion time, he says, “The Body Christ.” He should say “the Body of Christ.”
With all of the atrocious renderings of the Mass prayers over the years, you are fortunate if these are your only concerns. You are also fortunate to have daily Mass. Speak to the priest privately; perhaps he is not aware of these probably inadvertent mistakes.

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Catholic Replies

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Catholic Replies

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