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October 10, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. We read in the Gospels that Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever. This means he must have been married. So if the first Pope were married, why can’t priests marry today? — E.C., Florida.
A. That Peter had a mother-in-law is not disputed, and that Jesus cured her of a fever is explicitly stated in Matt. 8:14-15 and Luke 4:38-39 (some wise guy has said that’s why Peter denied Jesus three times, because He had cured his mother-in-law!).
However, as Karl Keating has pointed out, it seems odd that the Gospel account doesn’t mention Peter’s wife. “Leaving her out of the story is strange,” says Keating on the Catholic Answers website. “It is not the way a writer would be expected to handle the incident since a daughter usually is the one most frantic about a mother’s condition. The story is tantalizingly brief. Maybe the Evangelists decided to leave out all but the most salient facts. Or maybe it was because Peter’s wife wasn’t there — she already may have died. I think this is the most likely explanation for her nonappearance.”
There are, however, those who disagree with this interpretation. For example, on the website www.biblegateway.com, it says that “although the Roman Catholic Church, falsely claiming Peter as its first pope, would like to discredit the fact that the Apostle had a wife, the Scripture is emphatic in its assertion that he had both a wife and that his wife’s mother, living with them, was healed by Jesus. From Paul we learn that Peter’s wife accompanied her husband on some of his missionary journeys, caring for his many needs (1 Cor. 9:5).”
In the passage cited, Paul asked, “Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brethren of the Lord and Cephas [Peter]?” But the word for “wife” can also be translated “woman,” which would refer to females who assisted Paul in his ministry. Karl Keating explains:
“The key Greek words in 1 Cor. 9:5 are ‘adelphaen gunaika.’ The first means ‘sister,’ and the second can be translated as either ‘woman’ or ‘wife.’ This means the phrase translates as ‘sister woman’ or ‘sister wife,’ with ‘sister’ indicating not a biological but a spiritual relationship. It would make sense for the apostles to be accompanied by ‘sister women’ who could assist them in ministering to women — for example, at full-immersion baptisms, where a question of modesty could arise, or in cases where it would be more appropriate for a woman to perform a charitable or catechetical function.”
The Church has upheld celibacy for her priests from apostolic times, following both the example and the words of Jesus: “Truly I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18:29-30).

Q. What do you know about the film The Third Way, which is about homosexuality and Catholic teaching? — Name and State Withheld.
A. The film is a 38-minute documentary produced by young filmmaker John-Andrew O’Rourke, the founder of Blackstone Films. It contains the testimonies of Catholics who have been able to deal chastely with their same-sex attractions, along with commentary from such well-known authorities on sexuality as Christopher West, Chris Stefanick, and Jason Evert.
“At four weeks after release,” said O’Rourke, “the film has reached 125,000 views and the reaction has been extremely positive. People are surprised to learn that there is another way between anti-gay hatred and acceptance of homosexual activity.” The video is available at www.blackstonefilms.org.

Q. The recent Feasts of the Guardian Angels and the Archangels made me wonder how many angels there are, how many rebelled against God, and the role played by them in salvation history. Can you provide this information? — P.R., Massachusetts.
A. We don’t know how many angels God created, but it must have been many millions since every person who ever lived has had a guardian angel (cf. Matt. 18:10). We also don’t know how many of them rebelled against God at the beginning, but the Book of Revelation (verses 12:4 and 12:9) says that the tail of the “huge red dragon,” also known as “the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan,” swept away “a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to earth.” This verse has led to the speculation that one-third of the angels fell from Heaven.
The reason for their fall was explained in the 1975 Vatican document entitled Christian Faith and Demonology. According to the document, a majority of the early Church fathers “saw the angels’ pride as the reason for their fall. The ‘pride’ of the angels was manifested in their desire to exalt themselves above their condition, to maintain compete independence, and to make themselves divine. Many Fathers, however, emphasized not only the pride of the angels but also their malice toward men. For St. Irenaeus the Devil’s apostasy began when he became jealous of man and sought to make him rebel against his Creator.”
Angels are highly intelligent created spirits who do not have bodies but who can take on human form, and who act as servants and messengers of God. They are not chubby little babies with wings, but in reality are of such great majesty and power that their first words to humans are usually “do not be afraid.” They are mentioned more than 300 times in the Bible, from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation, and the Church has taught that there are actually nine choirs of angels in Heaven.
The highest choirs are the seraphim, the cherubim, and thrones, followed by dominations, virtues, and powers, and then principalities, archangels, and angels. We know three of the archangels by name — Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael — because they have delivered God’s important messages to humans.
The first to appear in the Bible is Raphael in the Book of Tobit. He takes on human form to help guide young Tobiah to another country, where he meets his future wife Sarah, whose first seven husbands had died on their wedding night. Although Sarah’s father had already dug a grave in which to bury Tobiah, Raphael tells the young man to put a fish heart and liver on some embers in the bridal chamber. The smell drove away the demon who had killed Sarah’s previous husbands, and the bride and groom eventually returned to Tobiah’s country where Raphael revealed his true identity as “one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord.”
Years later, when the time had come for the Messiah to enter into human history, the Archangel Gabriel appeared twice in Israel. He appeared first to the priest Zechariah to tell him that his elderly and barren wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son, whom he was to name John. Zechariah doubted the words of Gabriel and was struck speechless until the birth of John.
Six months after his appearance to Zechariah, Gabriel appeared to a teenage girl in Nazareth named Mary and announced that she would become the mother of the “Son of the Most High” and that she was to name Him Jesus. Mary wondered how this might be since she had vowed to remain a virgin, and Gabriel told her that the Child would not be conceived in the usual human way, but miraculously by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary responded, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
We have to look at the last book of the Bible to read about the Archangel Michael. In chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation, we read that “war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.”
One morning in 1886, after celebrating Mass, Pope Leo XIII had a terrifying vision of the power the Devil would wield in the coming century. So he composed the famous prayer to St. Michael the Archangel to defend us against the power of the Devil and to “drive into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

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