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January 22, 2021 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. In a recent article, you quoted the Handbook of Indulgences as saying that if a priest cannot be present to impart an Apostolic Pardon at the hour of death, “Holy Mother Church lovingly grants such persons who are rightly disposed a plenary indulgence to be obtained in articulo mortis, at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime.” However, it is unclear what “triggers” the pardon. Do the persons request it themselves from God? Can someone else request it for them? — K.L, via-mail.
A. The Handbook doesn’t comment about this, but we assume that the person approaching death, being “rightly disposed” in the sense of having sincere sorrow for any sins committed, could “trigger” the pardon. Or perhaps a relative or friend at their bedside could encourage them to seek this plenary indulgence if no priest were available to grant the Apostolic Pardon. The important thing is to make sure that family members and friends are aware of this last-minute opportunity for mercy from the Lord.

Q. Should Catholics have anything to do with praying or walking a labyrinth? Is this not part of the New Age Movement? — R.B., via e-mail.
A. Catholics should stay away from labyrinths because they are part of the New Age Movement. A spiritual labyrinth is a maze or path, sometimes on the floor of a church or other building or in a garden or outdoor space, that people can traverse allegedly to find their inner selves.
In their book Spiritual Deceptions in the Church and the Culture, Moira Noonan and Anne Feaster said that the labyrinth “is supposedly used as a ‘spiritual tool.’ People are supposed to walk the labyrinth to the center in order to reach the inner core of their being, to meet a god or goddess within, and get in touch with their inner divinity.”
The authors said that “the labyrinth movement is popular among many Christians, including pastors and religious, who believe it to be a mystical journey in the path of enlightenment. Recall that in the New Age Movement, enlightenment means to discover the god or goddess within” (p. 81).
Catholics seeking enlightenment need only to focus on Jesus, “the true light, which enlightens everyone” (John 1:9).

Q. In studying the Book of Genesis (chapter 22, verses 1-19), my Scripture study class had a problem with the story of Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. Why would God make such a request? — E.R., via e-mail.
A. At first glance, this incident seems strange and troubling. What lessons can we learn from it? First, God was testing Abraham’s faith to see if he trusted in Him. He also may have wanted to remind Abraham to worship Him alone and not to direct his love exclusively to his son, thus leaving God out of the picture.
Second, God was teaching Abraham and his followers that child sacrifice, which was widely practiced by the pagan religions of that time, was contrary to the divine plan. Abraham may have known this in his heart, but the lesson with Isaac left no doubt about the evil of this abomination and surely convinced the patriarch never to follow the example of his pagan neighbors.
Third, it is possible, too, that Abraham suspected that God did not really want him to sacrifice his son. Notice in Gen. 22:5 that Abraham tells his servants to wait while he and Isaac go up the mountain, and says to them, “We will worship and then come back to you.”
Fourth, God’s request was a preview of the time in the future when His only Son, Jesus, would carry wood on His back up a hill where He would sacrifice His life for our sins. And just as God saved Isaac from death, so, too, He rescued His own Son through a glorious Resurrection.

Q. Who elected or appointed Carl Anderson as the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and does he serve for life? – G.P., via e-mail.
A. Carl Anderson was chosen as the chief executive officer of the K of C by the group’s board of directors in 2000. He is the 13th man to hold the position since the K of C was founded by Blessed Michael J. McGivney in 1882. Anderson had served in a variety of positions in the Order prior to becoming Supreme Knight, including vice president for public policy from 1987 to 1997 and then as supreme secretary of the organization, which now has nearly two million members worldwide. He has announced that he will be stepping down as Supreme Knight this year.

Q. Can you give me some ammunition for dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to my door? — P.G., Minnesota.
A. We have written whole columns about the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the past, but we’ll just give you some bullet points this time. They are taken from an article by Joel S. Peters, “The Top Ten Errors of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” which appeared in the January-February 2021 issue of Catholic Answers Magazine. You will have to read the entire article to get an explanation of each error. The magazine is available by writing to Catholic Answers, 2020 Gillespie Way, El Cajon, CA 92020. Here are the ten errors:
(1) Only the Father is God Almighty. (2) Jesus is Michael the Archangel. (3) The Holy Spirit is God’s active force. (4) Christ did not die on a cross. (5) Hell doesn’t exist. (6) The soul is not immortal. (7) Only the New World Translation of the Bible is valid. (8) God’s true name is “Jehovah.” (9) The timing of Armageddon can be predicted. (10) Increasing “light” justifies doctrinal changes.
Peters also gives some advice when JW’s ring your doorbell. “Don’t slam the door in their faces. . . . Thank them for their time and concern. . . . Pray for them after they leave.” It would also help if you have some familiarity with the Bible and some grasp of Catholic beliefs if you invite them in for a discussion.

Q. Some of the Psalms say that the Israelites were to spread the word to all nations that Yahweh was the true God. Yet they apparently never sent out missionaries. It was left to Jesus to command the apostles to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). Do you know why the Israelites never tried to make disciples of all nations and whether Jesus was carrying out this commission in their stead? — D.G., via e-mail.
A. The Israelites were mostly concerned with protecting Israel from its enemies and with waiting for the Messiah, but they also propagated their belief in only one, true God and made their scriptures known to the pagans.
In volume two of his History of Israel, Giuseppe Ricciotti devoted a chapter to “Jewish Proselytism.” He said that the Israelites’ “most successful propaganda, however, was that which resulted from the thousand and one daily contacts between individuals and small groups,” and he noted “the persistence, energy, and inexhaustible patience of the Jews for their cause….Once they fixed their eye on a possible proselyte, they surrounded him with attentions, invitations, prayers, enticements of every kind, until he succumbed to the gentle pressure (cogemus) behind them.
“The testimony of Matthew (23:15), according to which the Jew was ready to cross the sea or land to ‘make one proselyte’ was aimed at one section of Palestinian Judaism, but it applied to the whole diaspora as well” (pp. 200-201).
Ricciotti said that “any stray lamb was accepted into the sheepfold. The majority of them were persons of low estate: slaves, freedmen, plebeians. Many were women, some of whom were of high station and, not rarely, persons of importance.” He said that some came for noble motives, but others “to enjoy exemption from military duty, or for commercial advantage, or to be able to marry a Jewess. . . . It is readily understandable that oftentimes these conversions were superficial and temporary, and were later repudiated” (p. 201).

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

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