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May 22, 2020 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. While I’ve read letters in religious publications from prisoners begging for Catholic materials, I have never had any success making contact with Catholic chaplains who might have requests for certain items. I’ve tried both prison and diocesan addresses, and no one responds. Any suggestions? — N.D., Illinois.
A. Perhaps readers who are involved in prison ministry can recommend places where such religious materials might be sent.

Q. Please explain why divorce was permitted before Christ because of the “hardness of your hearts,” but not now when hearts are certainly as hardened? — C.S., Arizona.
A. The Bible verse permitting divorce is Deut. 24:1, which says that “when a man, after marrying a woman and having relations with her, is later displeased with her because he finds in her something indecent, and therefore he writes out a bill of divorce and hands it to her, thus dismissing her from his house.” However, there was not a blanket endorsement of divorce in the Old Testament, for Mal. 2:16 says: “For I hate divorce, / says the Lord, the God of Israel.”
In the New Testament, the Pharisees tried to trip Jesus up by asking Him, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were hoping that Jesus would reject divorce and put Himself in the cross-hairs of King Herod, who had executed John the Baptist for condemning the King’s adulterous union with Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip.
Jesus reminds the Pharisees that Moses had permitted divorce “because of the hardness of your hearts” (Mark 10:5). This was a temporary concession on God’s part to deal with the weakness of the people of Israel, who were prone to sin.
But things were not supposed to be that way, says Jesus, recalling that “from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Mark 10:6-9). When the disciples questioned Him about this later, Jesus clearly states, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mark 6:11-12).
There are efforts today to allow couples living in adultery to receive the Holy Eucharist, but to do so would contradict the plain words of Jesus. Accompanying these people on their journey through life should never mean excusing or overlooking their sinful state. True charity for others means admonishing the sinner and calling him or her to repentance. Jesus’ first public words as an adult were, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). That is not an easy path, but it is the only path to Heaven.

Q. What happens to our knowledge after death? Will deficits in our knowledge be corrected after death? — J.A., via e-mail.
A. Our limited knowledge in this life will expand exponentially in Heaven. “At present,” said St. Paul, “we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully as I am fully known” (1 Cor.13:12). We will never know everything, of course, since we are not God, but we will know and understand things at a far higher level than we do now.
In his book The End of the Present World, Fr. Charles Arminjon used the example of “an illiterate, uneducated villager” who “closes his corporeal eyes upon the murky light of this earth and, like a captive who, on coming out of the dark kingdom of shadows, saw for the first time the golden rays of the daylight star.
“This man, freed from the ties of his body, is inundated in a strange, dazzling light; he is laid on the threshold of all science and every splendor. All those imperfect images which prevented him from contemplating the truth openly are consumed in the fire of divine light. The holy obscurities of faith vanish: heaven, nature, and God are enigmas no longer for this king of glory” (pp. 224-225).
“In the twinkling of an eye,” said Fr. Arminjon, this man “comprehends both the entirety and every detail of this palace of creation, which is now his inheritance and domain; with a single glance, he takes in its immensity. He fathoms the properties, secrets, and innermost forces of the elements; with a single turn of his thoughts, he visits those huge globes in the firmament, which are so distant that they escape our knowledge and calculations.
“The tree of knowledge displays the rich collection of its fruits before him; he feeds and quenches his thirst from this ever-luxuriant fountain. He no longer feels any thirst for knowledge, and for him there is no more night, no more doubt, no more curiosity or searching. . . .
“Oh! With what envy will the wise men of this world, who spend their time devising futile theories and forget God for the sake of indulging in speculation and useless research, then regard the just man who loved God and set his heart on true wisdom! The smallest reflection of his knowledge will throw into the shade all the discoveries and all the conquests of humanity since the beginning of time” (p. 225).
He quoted St. Thomas Aquinas as having said that “all knowledge by which the created spirit is perfected is ordained to the knowledge of God as its end. Hence it follows that he who sees the essence of God has his spirit raised to the highest perfection, and does not become more perfect by seeing objects that are not God; unless, however, the objects contribute to make him see God more fully” (p. 223).

Q. In these precarious times, when people are dying without the sacraments, shouldn’t the Church be doing more to reach out to these people, say, by invoking the Apostolic Pardon? I know that many public officials are putting unreasonable restrictions on churchgoers, while lifting restrictions on abortion factories, liquor stores, and marijuana dispensaries. What a crazy world! — K.R., Connecticut.
A. Churches and parishes in some dioceses are keeping their doors open for prayer and adoration and for private Masses that are live-streamed to parishioners confined to homes and health-care institutions. There are priests who are hearing Confessions in church parking lots as people pull up six feet away, tell their sins out the window of their car, and receive absolution.
There are also teams of priests whose specific task is to confer Last Rites on those who are dying in hospitals and nursing homes. These priests all live together so as not transfer the virus to anyone else, and we hope that they are giving the Apostolic Pardon to the dying. In conferring this special blessing, the priest says:
“Through the holy mysteries of our redemption, may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come. May He open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy. Amen.
“By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
The presence of a priest is not always necessary, however, as spelled out in the Handbook of Indulgences (n. 28):
“Priests who minister the sacraments to the Christian faithful who are in a life-and-death situation should not neglect to impart to them the Apostolic Blessing, with its attached indulgence. But if a priest cannot be present, Holy Mother Church lovingly grants such persons who are rightly disposed a plenary indulgence to be obtained…at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime. The use of a crucifix or a cross is recommended in obtaining this plenary indulgence.
“In such a situation, the three usual conditions required in order to gain a plenary indulgence [freedom from all attachment to sin, performance of an indulgenced work, sacramental Confession and Eucharistic Communion] are substituted for by the condition ‘provided they regularly prayed in some way’.”

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BREAKING:

Supreme Court rules 5-4 AGAINST a California church that challenged Gavin Newsom’s unconstitutional public gathering restrictions

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Today . . .

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. You recently wrote about Reiki as something not in accord with Church teachings. What about yoga? — L.S., via email. A. In his book Catholics and the New Age, Fr. Mitch Pacwa said that the word “yoga” is Sanskrit for “yoke” or “union” and, in Hinduism, it describes “the general category of various kinds of disciplines meant to unite…Continue Reading

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Catholic Replies

Q. While I’ve read letters in religious publications from prisoners begging for Catholic materials, I have never had any success making contact with Catholic chaplains who might have requests for certain items. I’ve tried both prison and diocesan addresses, and no one responds. Any suggestions? — N.D., Illinois. A. Perhaps readers who are involved in prison ministry can recommend places…Continue Reading

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Catholic Heroes . . . St. Louis Marie Grignion De Montfort

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