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July 29, 2022 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. WOW, your answer to my question about my 17-year-old granddaughter’s attire in Church really caused a rift in my family. Your answer was viewed by some as being uncharitable and un-Christlike. Her mother said her daughter cried and suffered some mental stress about being called a “hooker.” Her father said your advice to stay home from church is to commit a grave mortal sin by not attending Mass. I am caught in the middle of all this for having broached the question to you. Might you, upon reflection, have answered the question differently? – A.G., via e-mail.
A. Okay, perhaps our reply was too strongly worded. But we’re tired of seeing people in church who have no apparent respect for the holiness of the place or for the presence there of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Polls show that many Catholics do not believe that Jesus is really and truly present in the Eucharist, so maybe that’s why they dress the way they do. And we’re not talking just about females, but also aut males wearing shorts, sweatpants, and T-shirts, some of them with inappropriate sayings on them.
Older folks like us can remember when men wore suits and ties to Mass and women dressed modestly, often wearing veils to cover their heads, to show respect and reverence for the presence of God. Now many attendees dress like they’re going to the beach.
What changed? Is God any less present, or are people increasingly oblivious to the fact that the Church is sacred space? Recall that God appeared to Moses in the desert and told him to “remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). That’s what a Catholic Church is — holy ground where one wears clothing that reflects whom we worship. We know a priest who was showing a Jewish man the interior of a Catholic church. When the priest explained that the red light next to the tabernacle indicated that Jesus, the Son of God, was truly present there, the man said, “If I believed that, I would go down the aisle on my knees.”
Ask your granddaughter why she wears skimpy shorts to church. Would she dress that way for a job interview, or to visit the White House? We are sure that she doesn’t intend to show disrespect for Jesus in the Eucharist, but God will hold us all accountable for the example that we give to others. Do we want those preparing for Communion to be thinking of Jesus, or to be distracted by the immodest dress of others?
In January 1920, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Jacinta, one of the three Fatima visionaries, shortly before her death. Among other things, the Blessed Mother said, “The sins which cause most souls to go to Hell are the sins of the flesh. Fashions will much offend our Lord. People who serve God should not follow the fashions.” Ask your granddaughter to take to heart the words of the Virgin Mary and to dress modestly always, but especially when she is in the presence of Jesus.

Q. I have heard it said that if one repeats a venial sin enough times it become a mortal sin. How can this be true if a mortal sin requires mindfulness of a serious wrong and full consent of the will? — G.P., via e-mail.
A. It isn’t true. No repetition of venial sins adds up to a mortal sin, although repeated venial sins can eventually lead a person to commit a mortal sin. For example, repeated venial sins of theft could cause a person eventually to steal a large amount of money. Robbing a bank was probably not the thief’s first violation of the Commandment against stealing. Here is what the Catechism says:
“One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent” (n. 1862).
“Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepentant venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However, venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable” (n. 1863).

Q. Regarding the question about whether Christ was crucified naked, you should look at the writings of Venerable Mary of Agreda, especially volume three of her four-volume work The Mystical City of God. While we are not obligated to believe what she wrote, perhaps you will note what she said about what happened to Jesus on Calvary. – D.A., via e-mail.
A. Here is what Venerable Mary of Agreda said:
“To all of these sufferings was added the confusion of being bereft of his garments in the presence of His Most Blessed Mother, of her pious companions, and in full sight of the multitudes gathered around. By His divine power, He, however, reserved for Himself the nether garment which His Mother had wound around his loins in Egypt, for neither at the scourging, nor at the crucifixion, could the executioners remove it, and He was laid in the sepulchre still covered with this cloth.
“That this really happened has been revealed to me many times. Certainly, He desired to die in the greatest poverty and to take with Him nothing at all that He created and possessed in this world. He would gladly have died despoiled and bereft of even this covering if it had not been for the desires and the prayers of His Blessed Mother, to which Christ wished to yield” (pp. 645-646).

Q. I have three questions for you. (1) Can you explain the difference, if any, between “apostolate” and “ministry.” Church groups seem to use one or the other and I find it confusing. (2) Why was the “mystery of faith” statement, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again,” taken out of the Mass? I miss that one because I don’t think that “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup” is a strong statement of our faith. (3) I have followed the Great Adventure Catholic Bible from Ascension Press and have found it excellent. But where do I go from there? What Bible books should I read next? — I.W., Pennsylvania.
A. (1) Apostolate originally referred to the vocation of the first followers of Christ to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19), but now refers also to any person in the Church who helps to bring people to the knowledge and love of Christ. Ministry originally referred to those who were ordained (bishops, priests, deacons), but has now been broadened to include those who minister to people’s spiritual and temporal needs. This means not just clergy, but also consecrated religious and lay persons who perform such duties as lector, musician, catechist, and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. So, the two words are used interchangeably.
(2) We don’t know why “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” was removed from the Memorial Acclamation and, like you, we don’t care for “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup. . . .” We prefer either of the other two acclamations: “We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again,” or “Save us, Savior of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.” The only time we hear the other acclamation is when it is sung by a cantor or a choir.
(3) Good for you for having completed the Great Adventure Catholic Bible. You could next look at the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible series and choose one or more individual books of Scripture. Each book features extensive notes and commentaries by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. The series is available from www.ignatius.com.

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