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Catholic Replies

April 23, 2021 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: Thirty years ago this week, the first Catholic Replies column appeared in the pages of The Wanderer. More than 1,500 columns and thousands of questions later, we are still in business thanks to the editors and readers of this newspaper, which is a vitally important source of Catholic truth. Many thanks for all of your questions. We hope that our replies have been helpful to you and that you will keep the questions coming.
They have certainly been beneficial to one reader, S.A. of California, who recently e-mailed us to say that “I started getting The Wanderer soon after I reverted to the Church after spending 20 years in Protestantism. I went to a National Family Conference and they were giving away issues for free. I was hooked. I usually read your column first. I’ve learned a lot from your wonderful answers. God bless.”
Thank you, S.A., for the kind words.

Q. In distributing Holy Communion, it seems to be prescribed that the priest or extraordinary minister will say “Body of Christ” before placing the Host on the tongue or in the hand of the recipient. Should this be said audibly and should there be a certain interval sufficient to allow the communicant to respond “Amen”? — C.M., Virginia.
A. Yes to both questions. Here is what the General Instruction of the Roman Missal says:
“If Communion is given only under the species of bread, the Priest raises the Host slightly and shows it to each [recipient], saying, The Body of Christ. The communicant replies, Amen, and receives the Sacrament either on the tongue or, where this is allowed, in the hand, the choice lying with the communicant. As soon as the communicant receives the Host, he or she consumes the whole of it” (n. 161).
The GIRM does not address your particular questions, but common sense suggests that the words “The Body of Christ” and “Amen” be said audibly and that the communicant be given time, while the Host is being presented, to affirm with the “Amen” that he or she believes that this indeed is the Body of Christ. One should look directly at the Host, not at the minister, when saying “Amen.” And of course “the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence” (GIRM, n. 160).
Unfortunately, not everyone bows his or her head these days, so the priest should remind the faithful of the importance of this gesture.

Q. At a Bible study, the facilitator said that Jesus’ miracle of the loaves and fishes happened only once and that the second account was really just a different version of the first miracle. Is this true? — L.H., via e-mail.
A. No, it’s not true. Does this facilitator think that all of Jesus’ miracles happened only once? That He only cured one blind man, or cast out only one demon, or healed only one person who was paralyzed, or raised only one person from the dead? Nonsense! The three to four dozen miracles recorded in the Gospels only scratch the surface as far as the signs that Jesus performed to confirm His divinity.
Matthew (9:35) says that “Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.” Mark (1:32-34) says that after Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law, the apostles “brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.”
So it is not accurate to suggest that Jesus multiplied food for the people only once. On the first occasion, which is recorded in all four Gospels, He multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish to feed more than 5,000 people, and there were 12 baskets of fragments left over. On the second occasion, which is mentioned only by Matthew and Mark, Jesus fed 4,000 people with seven loaves, and “a few fish” (Mark 8:7), and there were seven baskets left.
That there were two separate miracles was attested to by Jesus Himself when He asked the apostles at another time, “Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many wicker baskets you took up? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up?” (Matt. 16:9-10).

Q. I recently watched a Netflix documentary called The Family. It’s about a semi-secret religious group that apparently sponsors the annual Prayer Breakfast in Washington. Although it was comforting at first glance to see a group of high-level leaders all bowing their heads in prayer, it was also disconcerting since the motto of The Fellowship is Jesus and nothing, and they seem to have reduced Jesus to simply a model of organization and leadership in the natural world. I would like your take on this group and their activities. — G.R., Tennessee.
A. We don’t watch Netflix, but we looked up on the Internet information about “The Family.” The series is based on Jeff Sharlet’s book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, which we have not read. Their website says that in the first season, “investigative journalists expose The Fellowship, a Christian Fundamentalist organization quietly operating in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C.” We watched the trailer for an episode entitled “New World Order,” which says that the leader of The Family “obscures the group’s role in the National Prayer Breakfast, which has become a hub for backroom global influence-peddling.” One character says that “Jesus is the answer, but Jesus and Capitol Hill don’t mix.”
The Family is fiction, and it’s telling that the focus is on Christian Fundamentalists, not on some of the most influential powerbrokers in Washington, such as those who belong the very real Council on Foreign Relations, which has had a stranglehold on power in Washington for decades.

Q. I hear a lot about “Critical Race Theory” being taught in our schools and wonder if you could tell me what it is all about. — B.B., Oklahoma.
A. Critical Race Theory (CRT) claims, falsely, that America is systemically racist and that every aspect of our society — history, government, economics, science, entertainment, sports, sociology, education — must be viewed through the prism of racism. Author and writer John Horvat II has offered six reasons why this theory is not only wrong but dangerous for America’s future.
First, “Critical Race Theory makes use of the false Marxist analysis of class struggle. It divides society into two categories of oppressors and oppressed and pits them against each other, in constant strife.”
Second, “Contrary to what Critical Race Theory affirms, race is not the prism that must be used to see all things.”
Third, “Culture does not determine the behavior of individuals endowed with free will.”
Fourth, “Critical Race Theory proposes revolution, not reform.”
Fifth, “Critical Race Theory denies the progress of science, logic, and reason.”
Sixth, “Critical Race Theory excludes Christian charity.”
CRT, said Horvat, “is based on an identity-politics analysis of society” that sees the nation “as a boiling cauldron of victimized groups oppressed by the dominant white racist culture.” He said that “individuals are encouraged to think in terms of ‘intersectionality,’ whereby they can claim to be oppressed in many ways by identifying with more than one social group, race, gender, or class.”
This “divisive characterization of society,” said Horvat, is opposed to Catholic social teaching, which “seeks to bind all together in charity . . . in true and perfect unity. When charity rules a social order, individuals become self-sacrificing for the common good. They love their neighbors as themselves, for the love of God. The Church’s action teaches and spreads unity in Christ to all in society, not division.”

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