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April 30, 2021 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: Regarding a recent column about getting a person with dementia to Confession, S.K. of Ohio wrote that the column “reminded me of my dad, who I took care of during his last year. He did have some dementia. For example, I was his boss, not his daughter. He loved getting in my car to go on a trip. He was also in his day a good Catholic and got a scholarship to a Jesuit high school and later to a Jesuit university in Detroit. I took him with me when I went to Confession.
“When I came out of the confessional, my dad was in his wheelchair and heading for the confessional. I helped him into the confessional and waited. When he came out, I asked him if he wanted to wait to do his penance. His response was that the priest already did his penance with him.”
S.K.’s mention that her father thought she was his boss, not his daughter, reminded me of taking care of my father-in-law, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. He often referred to his daughter as “Jim Drummey’s wife” or “the lady who works here.”
There will be a special place in Heaven for those who care for persons with dementia.

Q. Because it takes so long to have Masses said for departed family members at the parish level (it’s great that the practice is so popular!), I have been making offerings for Masses at the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass. Are the spiritual benefits of each the same for the faithful? Are there any differences? — Name Withheld, Michigan.
A. It’s the same Mass being celebrated in your parish and at the Shrine in Stockbridge, so the spiritual benefits would be the same. The Marian Fathers, of course, put extra emphasis on the Divine Mercy devotion, so praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for departed loved ones, along with Holy Mass, would be of great spiritual benefit to them as well.

Q. On the news I saw a man holding a sign protesting the building of a Muslim temple. The sign read: “Allah is not the son of Abraham.” Is this true? — J.B., Pennsylvania.
A. No, that statement is backwards in that Muslims believe that Abraham was a chosen representative of Allah, not his father. What the man with the sign might have been hinting at was what the Church has been saying for a while. For example, in a visit to Iraq in early March, Pope Francis said that Abraham is the “common father in faith” of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. This view follows the words of the Second Vatican Council, which said in the document Nostra Aetate that Muslims “adore one God, living and enduring, merciful and all-powerful, Maker of heaven and earth and Speaker to men. They strive to submit wholeheartedly even to His inscrutable decrees, just as did Abraham, with whom the Islamic faith is pleased to associate itself” (n. 3).
Being “pleased to associate itself” with Abraham, said William Kilpatrick in his book Christianity, Islam and Atheism, is “not exactly a ringing endorsement of Islam’s claim to Abraham” (p. 139). Nor, he said, is the mention in the Catechism, which says that Muslims “profess to hold the faith of Abraham” (n. 841). Furthermore, said Kilpatrick:
“While the Koran mentions Abraham, its stories about him sharply diverge from those in the Old Testament. In the Koran, Abraham was a Muslim whom God chose to oppose idolatry and spread the true faith. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, but the name of the boy is not mentioned in the Koran. Most Muslim commentators hold that this son was Ishmael, Abraham’s firstborn. The Koran says that God was pleased with Abraham’s obedience and spared Ishmael, whom he sent to become the prophet and patriarch of the Arab people. Later God made a covenant with Abraham and Ishmael and commanded them to found a major place of worship in Mecca.”
In the Bible, however, Kilpatrick continued, “it was Isaac, the son of God’s original promise, whom God asked Abraham to sacrifice. God had made a covenant with Abraham that would continue with his descendants through Isaac. By means of this covenant, God formed a people set apart for him — the Jews. They are the people through whom, Christians believe, God brought Jesus, the Savior, into the world. From the Muslim perspective, Christians and Jews are guilty of distorting and corrupting the story of Abraham. For Jews and Christians, the Koranic version of Abraham negates their understanding of salvation history. If anything, the differing accounts of Abraham contain more potential for divisiveness than for harmony” (p. 140).
By the way, it is not exactly true to imply that Christians and Muslims adore the same God. The trinitarian God of Christianity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is rejected by Muslims, who say it is blasphemy to say that “Allah is one of three in a Trinity.” They also deny that Jesus is the Son of God who took on human flesh and died for our sins. According to William Kilpatrick, Muslims believe that “Allah has no beloved son with whom he is pleased.” Rather, they assert that Jesus was “but a mortal” (43:60) who was “no more than an apostle (5:73), and whose reported death on the cross was “a monstrous falsehood” (4:157).
“It is impossible to believe,” said Kilpatrick, “that the same God could have revealed such contradictory teachings” (p. 141).

Q. At Mass today, the priest talked about the four qualities our bodies will have in Heaven. I couldn’t quite understand everything he said. Can you help? — T.H., via e-mail.
A. Your priest was talking about the qualities of impassibility, subtility, agility, and clarity. Our bodies will be “remodeled and transfigured to the pattern of the risen Christ,” said Dr. Ludwig Ott in his book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (p. 491). He said that the writings of the “Schoolmen,” a group of medieval leaders of Scholasticism that included St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Albert the Great, St. Bonaventure, and St. Anselm, distinguished four properties of the bodies of the just (cf. pp. 491-492):
(1) Incapability of suffering, sorrow, sickness, or death, as indicated in Rev. 21:4: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.” (2) Subtility or a spiritualization of the body that enables it to pass through closed doors, as Christ did on the night after His Resurrection from the dead. (3) Agility or the ability of the body to move with the speed of thought from one place to another, as the risen Christ was able to appear suddenly to the apostles and just as suddenly to disappear. (4) Clarity or the absence of any deformity and the fullness of radiance and beauty, the same splendor manifested by Christ in the Transfiguration (cf. Matt. 17:2).

Q. You have previously answered questions about yoga and various meditation practices, but do you know anything about Falun Gong? According to an article from The Epoch Times, it is described as “a traditional Chinese practice of meditation, gentle exercises, and teachings that emphasize the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.” However, those who practice it are being persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party and are even victims of torture and forced organ harvesting. While their resistance to the Communists speaks well of them, should Catholics be cautious about their meditation and exercise. techniques? — O.G., Pennsylvania
A. The extent of our knowledge about Falun Gong is what was in the article you sent to us from The Epoch Times. If what the article says is true, its practitioners are to be admired for their courage in carrying out such teachings as, “Don’t hit back when hit; don’t curse when cursed at.” The article seems to think that their compassion and tolerance will eventually lead to the collapse of the “soul-killing rule” of the Communists. We hope so.
But Catholics don’t need to resort to Eastern meditation practices and exercises to come closer to God. They can spend time in adoration before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and achieve a more intimate relationship with God than by employing the techniques of Falun Gong.

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The Misleading AP Attack on the Catholic Church for Accepting COVID Relief

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Today . . .

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Peace Not Of This World

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Live According To The Lord’s Words

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Catholic Replies

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The Good Shepherd, Judas, And Non Timebo Mala

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Catholic Heroes . . . Righteous Anger Against Injustice

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Catholic Heroes . . . St. Fidelis Of Sigmaringen

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