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April 16, 2021 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. Your answer to D.M. of Virginia, stating that “no prayers are wasted,” is certainly correct. But I think there is something more to say on the subject, namely, that our infinite God, who knows all, can surely anticipate these prayers. My now-deceased mom told a very frightening story of a man who followed her home one night when she was in her teens. By the grace of God and the help of a stranger, she avoided a potential assault. For some reason I have often prayed for my mother when she was a teenager, particularly for deliverance from that situation — and I am sure that these prayers always counted in her favor. — R.M., Connecticut.
A. Since God lives in the eternal present, that is, He sees all of human history at the same time, He would have seen your prayers for a teenager whom you would know in the future as your mother, and He would have answered them to spare her from the assault. We might see our prayers as relating only to present or future events, but to God they are timeless.

Q. When I was younger, I remember a “Mass of the Presanctified” on Good Friday. What happened to that? And what about “Maundy Thursday” and “Spy Wednesday”? – T.H., Massachusetts.
A. The Mass of the Presanctified was not really a Mass but rather the Communion service that we celebrate today as the concluding part of the Good Friday liturgy, following the reading of the Passion and veneration of the cross. The Hosts are consecrated the previous night at the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.
Maundy Thursday is another name for Holy Thursday. It refers to Jesus’ command to love one another (cf. John 13:34), which He illustrated by washing the feet of the apostles. Spy Wednesday is so called because the Gospel that day is about Judas conniving with the chief priests to turn Jesus over to them for 30 pieces of silver. After announcing at the Last Supper that “one of you will betray me,” Jesus speaks about Judas in the some of the most chilling words found in the Gospels: “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born” (Matt. 26:24).

Q. At our parish council meeting the other day, our new chaplain insisted that at our Holy Thursday services he washed the feet of six men and six women. I thought that only men could have their feet washed, or has that changed? — W.H.B., Oregon.
A. Up until 2016, the Roman Missal said that the washing of feet on Holy Thursday was restricted to men, although in 1996 the U.S. bishops had widened the door by saying that “those whose feet are washed should be chosen to represent various people who constitute the parish or community, the young and old, men and women.” On January 6, 2016, the Vatican made public a letter from Pope Francis to Robert Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
In that letter, the Holy Father said that “after careful consideration, I have decided to make a change in the Roman Missal. I therefore decree that the section according to which those persons chosen for the Washing of the Feet must be men or boys, so that from now on the pastors of the Church may choose the participants in the rite from among all members of the People of God.” Explaining this change further, Cardinal Sarah said that the group of the faithful chosen by pastors “may consist of men and women, and ideally of the young and the old, healthy and sick, clerics, consecrated persons, and laypeople.”
So the rubrics in the Roman Missal which used to say, “The men who have been chosen are led by the ministers to seats prepared in a suitable place,” now say, “Those who are chosen from amongst the people of God are led by the ministers to seats prepared in a suitable place.”
So much for replicating the Lord’s washing the feet of His twelve male apostles.

Q. Besides attending Mass on Sunday, what else should we be doing or not doing on the Lord’s Day? Should Sunday meals be prepared on Saturday? Is the Vigil Mass a valid substitute for reasons other than Sunday work? — C.S., Arizona.
A. First of all, it is not a violation of the Sunday obligation to prepare a meal, hopefully a family meal, on that day. Second, Catholics ought to celebrate the Lord’s Day on the Lord’s Day. Celebrating Sunday Mass on Saturday evening should be for those whose legitimate work or other obligations prevent attendance on Sunday. One should not go on Saturday just to sleep late on Sunday. Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says (cf. nn. 2185-2187):
“On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health….
“Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly. Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christan interior life.
“Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s
Day. Traditional activities (sports, restaurants, etc.), and social necessities (public services, etc.), require some people to work on Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure. With temperance and charity, the faithful will see to it that they avoid the excesses and violence sometimes associated with popular leisure activities. In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees.”

Q. My question is about faith. Does faith come as a gift or does the human brain develop faith because of the needs of the human body? Is faith a gift from God and does it get stronger by human effort or the power of prayer? Can faith be as simple as believing that when bad things happen in my life, it’s okay because I trust and believe God has a plan and things will always work out? — D.H., Iowa.
A. Faith is one of the three theological virtues, along with hope and love. It is the acceptance of supernatural truths on the authority of God Himself, who would never deceive us. Many of us learned an Act of Faith as children that told God that we believed “all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches because you have revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.”
Faith is an entirely free gift from God — a gift that can be cultivated and strengthened by prayer, the sacraments, and living a good life, but also a gift that can be lost by breaking God’s Commandments and neglecting the sacraments and the works of mercy. One cannot separate faith (what we must believe) from morality (what we must do). If the one is ignored, the other inevitably will suffer. Many a person’s loss of faith had its beginning in moral lapses.
Sins against faith include apostasy, the rejection of the entire Christian faith by a baptized person; heresy, the obstinate denial of one or more truths of divine Revelation; and indifferentism, the false theory that all religions are equally good and true.
“Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation,” says the Catechism (n. 161). “Since without faith ‘it is impossible to please [God]’ and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life ‘but he who endures to the end’.”
And yes, faith can involve believing and trusting in God that things will work out according to God’s plan.

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Catechism

Today . . .

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

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Catholic Replies

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