Tuesday 25th June 2019

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April 5, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: Writing in his parish bulletin (Church of St. Michael in New York City) on the feast of St. Patrick, Fr. George Rutler discussed the distressing situation in Ireland. He said that “the majority of Irish people failed to heed the warnings of St. John Paul II when he became the first pontiff to set foot on the soil of Eire in 1979. He preached to 1.25 million faithful at a Mass in Phoenix Park, Dublin. Last year, Pope Francis offered Holy Mass in the same place, and fewer than 130,000 showed up. Four months later, the Druids returned and defiantly danced in the streets when abortion was legalized. The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) was elected while publicly living in perverse contempt of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony.”
Fr. Rutler said that “the chief seminary of Maynooth has the lowest numbers of students since its foundation in 1795. Its rector of fifteen years abandoned the Faith and now conducts an esoteric cult in Arizona. An Irish commentator and playwright recently called Ireland ‘the most anti-Catholic country on planet earth.’ This would seem to be hyperbolic given persecution in Muslim lands, China, and North Korea, but it bespeaks the adolescent rebellion of a population moved by an anger unlike the cool detachment of calculating governments. This is a warning to Catholics in the United States because such is what happens when religion is only a political and ethnic sentiment.”

Q. When I meditate on the mysteries of the rosary, I go to the Gospels for more information. But I come up empty when the mystery is the Assumption of the Blessed Mother into Heaven. Can you answer the following questions about that mystery? — T.G., via e-mail.
A. You are correct that the Fourth Glorious Mystery is not in the Gospels. However, it is a revealed truth stemming from what we know of the sinless Virgin’s life. When the Angel Gabriel addressed Mary as “full of grace,” he was affirming that she was free from all taint of sin, including original sin, for how could she be “full of grace,” that is, full of God’s divine life, if she were guilty of sin? This privilege we call her Immaculate Conception, and it is closely bound to her Assumption.
According to the first book of the Bible, the consequences of original sin include death and corruption of the body in the grave (cf. Gen. 3:19). But if Mary did not have original sin, then her body would not be subject to decay after death. The Church has never officially pronounced whether the Blessed Mother died, but the virtually unanimous consensus of the Church’s great saints and theologians is that she did die, but was immediately taken up into Heaven, body and soul.
There is also a negative proof for her Assumption in that neither her tomb nor her remains were ever found. It was commonplace in the early Church to venerate the bones and the resting places of the saints, but there is no record of such veneration of the Virgin Mary. This is because there were no bodily remains to venerate, and the faithful knew that from the earliest days of the Church.
As for your questions: Where was Mary living when she went to sleep, and where was St. John, whom Jesus had asked to take His Mother into his home? Tradition has it that Mary lived for a while with John in Ephesus. How long did Mary live after the death and Resurrection of Jesus? The Blessed Mother would have been close to 50 years old when Jesus ascended into Heaven, but we don’t know how much longer she lived. How long did John live after the death of Jesus, and where did he live? Tradition has it that John lived almost to the end of the first century, which would have put him in his nineties. He lived for a time in Ephesus and also in exile on the island of Patmos, where he received the visions that became the Book of Revelation.
When did St. Joseph die, and how old was he? Since Joseph is not mentioned in the Gospels after the finding of Jesus in the Temple when He was 12, Joseph must have died somewhere between that time and when the Lord began His public ministry about the age of 30. According to Jewish custom, Joseph would have been in his mid-twenties when he married Mary, so he would have been a relatively young man when he died — more than, say, 37 (25 plus 12), but less than 55 (25 plus 30). How old was Jesus when He performed His first miracle at the wedding in Cana? Around 30.

Q. We agree that all humans are flawed because of original sin, and we have the Sacrament of Baptism to clear that away. But aren’t all humans bound to commit mortal sin in the course of their lifetime? For example, using the Lord’s name in vain. Jesus told Peter and the apostles that whatever they bound on Earth is bound in Heaven, and whatever they loosed on Earth is loosed in Heaven. God makes His great mercy available to us, but if I do not go see a priest in Confession, don’t my sins remain in me and could damn me to Hell? How does a Protestant, who does not believe in confessing his sins to a priest, get around this? — D.M.D., via e-mail.
A. Yes, we are all flawed because of original sin. Even though Baptism takes away that sin, we still suffer from the effects of original sin. Those effects include a darkened mind, so that we don’t always recognize evil, and a weakened will, so that we don’t always have the fortitude to resist temptation. Remember St. Paul saying that he found it easy to do the wrong thing and hard to do the right thing (cf. Romans 7:15). We can all relate to that.
Are all humans likely to commit mortal sin during their lifetime? We would say no if you are talking about engaging in grave matter with full knowledge and deliberate consent. While some of the saints were reformed sinners (e.g., St. Augustine), many were people of such heroic holiness that it is highly unlikely that they ever succumbed to mortal sin. St. Teresa of Calcutta was once asked what was wrong with the world. She replied, “I’m what’s wrong with the world.” What do you mean?, asked the startled questioner. “I am a sinner,” she said. Yes, even Mother Teresa was a sinner, like the rest of us, but can you imagine her committing a mortal sin?
Using the Lord’s name in vain could be a mortal sin if one with full knowledge deliberately decides to break the Second Commandment, but how many people who misuse the Lord’s name are even conscious that they are doing something wrong? We’re not excusing them for their careless use of the name of God and Jesus, and we have on many occasions called attention to this irresponsible behavior, but it is more likely a venial sin in many cases.
If you are conscious of committing a mortal sin, and you deliberately avoid Confession and die with that sin unforgiven, then by your own choice you are indeed damned. However, it is possible to beg God’s forgiveness at the last moment, like the Good Thief on the cross, and escape Hell.
There is a true story about a woman whose brother committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. She went to St. John Vianney and asked him if her brother was in Hell. No, said the Curé of Ars, he’s in Purgatory. How is that possible?, the woman asked. The saint responded that between the time the man jumped, and the time he hit the water, he begged for, and was granted, God’s forgiveness.
Protestants can get to Heaven by being truly sorry for their sins, even if they don’t avail themselves of the Sacrament of Penance.

Q. In recent years, supposed experts have speculated that when Jesus was crucified, the nails were placed through His wrists rather than through His hands because they claim that nails through the hands could not possibly support the body of a crucified man. The Romans may have been brutal and cruel, but they were not stupid. They would have realized that nails through the hands could not support the weight of the body and would have taken appropriate measures to prevent His hands from tearing through the nails. To support this conclusion, I quote from the writings of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich and Venerable Mary of Agreda. You may recall that Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ was based almost entirely on the mystic visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. I would appreciate your thoughts on this. — H.D.G., Wisconsin.
A. We are familiar with the visions of Blessed Anne and Venerable Mary, but find the conclusion of Dr. Pierre Barbet (cf. his book A Doctor at Calvary), that the nails went through the wrists of Christ, more plausible. Barbet and those who agree with him have based their conclusions on a careful study of the Shroud of Turin, which seems very likely to have been the burial shroud of Jesus. The image on the cloth of a crucified man, and the pattern of the bloodstains, particularly those around the wrist, confirms the thesis of Barbet. He discovered through experimentation on corpses that a nail placed in the spot where the palm met the wrist would take a nail and would support the body of a man.
His most startling finding was that when a nail pierced this spot, it partly severed the median nerve, causing unbelievable pain but also causing the thumb to jerk inward against the palm. This corresponded exactly to the bloodstain on the Shroud of Turin. Not only did the bloody wound appear on the back of the wrist in the pictures of the crucified Man on the Shroud, but the image of the hands, with the palms downward, showed no sign of thumbs.
Finally, while Pierre Barbet was the pioneer in this research, his conclusions have been affirmed by many others. They include Ian Wilson, author of The Turin Shroud and The Blood and the Shroud; Gilbert R. Lavoie, author of Unlocking the Secrets of the Shroud; C. Bernard Ruffin, author of The Shroud of Turin; and John Walsh, author of The Shroud.

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As one shepherd I encourage all faithful lay Catholics to continue to pray & speak up for the truth expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Let this truth be your guide. Pray that priests & bishops will speak against any who teach false doctrines that contradict truth.

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Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

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  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

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Catechism

Today . . .

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Doing God’s Will Is Perfect Freedom

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Catholic Replies

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God’s Greatest Gift To Us

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Catholic Heroes… St. Joseph Of Anchieta

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Catholic Heroes . . . St. Marcellin Joseph Benedict Champagnat

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