Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Catholic Q&A: Part 38

This post continues my series of short answers to common (and not so common) questions about Catholicism. For the previous parts in the series, see the "Catholic Q-A Series" blog label.

What is the difference between the 6th and 9th commandments?

In Old Testament times, it was easier to see the distinction between the two commandments. The sixth commandment ("Thou shall not commit adultery") condemned the specific act of having sex with a married person, whereas the ninth commandment ("Thou shalt not covet your neighbor's wife") condemned covetousness, the desire to have what someone else possessed. This is evident in the fact that a man's wife was listed with his house, servants, and animals as things that a person should not covet.

But, once Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount, where He explained that one commits adultery even by looking lustfully at a woman, then the line was blurred between the two commandments. In the Catechism, the article on the sixth commandment addresses human sexuality, chastity, spousal love, and sins against chastity and the dignity of marriage. The article on the ninth commandment addresses covetousness, concupiscence, purity of heart, and modesty.

Would the priest be in the wrong if he said a warning to the congregation about receiving the Eucharist unworthily and telling non catholics they cant receive before the distribution?

No, but I also think that, with the typical Sunday Mass, it is not necessary. But, at Masses where it is likely that there are a number of Protestants in attendance, such as a wedding Mass or a funeral Mass, I personally think such warnings should be made as a matter of course.

The men of the old testament had circumcision, was there anything the women had to do as a mark of the covenant?

Not that I'm aware of. My educated guess is that women were considered part of the covenant people as long as they were married to or the daughter of a circumcised male.

I know a person who's step son and his step sons wife are not practicing catholics. They did not have either of their children baptized so this guy was babysitting the kids one night and baptized them in the bathtub without the parents knowledge. Would this baptism stand?

No, it would not. A lay person is only permitted to baptize in the case of an emergency, such as when the child is near death or if the child was from a village or some remote area where there were no priests or deacons available. It would also be invalid because a baptism cannot be performed without a well-founded hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith. As you said, the parents aren't Catholic, so that hope is not present unless someone presents himself and says that he/she will bear that responsibility.

I listened to a Fulton Sheen cd a while back and i remember him saying that a husband or a wife can save their spouse through their own prayer and sacrifice. For some reason I'm having trouble finding that in the Bible. Can you help me out?

You are probably referring to 1 Cor 7:14-16:
"For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner desires to separate, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. For God has called us to peace. Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?"

Uzzah laid hands on the arc of the covenant and was struck down. Why?

Because the Ark of the Covenant was so holy that no one was allowed to touch it. That's why it was constructed with rings along the edge, so they could run a pole through the rings and carry it that way.

How was David a man of Gods own heart yet he committed adultery an murder. How can he retain that title?

David was a man after God's heart, that doesn't mean he was perfect. He sinned grievously, but he also admitted his sin to the Lord and did penance for it. In the accounts of the life of David and in the psalms that he wrote, we see that David was a great man of faith who loved God's law and never ceased to praise Him.

How can Ezekiel and Jesus both have the title of Son of Man?

"Son of man" is a phrase that simply means that someone is a human being. It is repeated so often in Ezekiel in order to show that, even though the prophet was God's spokesman, he was still an ordinary man. He is a human being just like his fellow men. It also shows the great disparity between him and God. God is the Almighty, Ezekiel is the creature, the son of man.

In reference to Jesus, the title reinforces the fact that while Jesus is fully divine, He is also fully human. Jesus probably also used this title for Himself in order to indicate that He was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel, who said, "I saw in the night visions,and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." (Dan 7:13-14)

Pax Christi,

Sunday, April 12, 2015

What Is the Divine Mercy? How Can We Honor It?

Today's feast day compels us to ask these important questions. Basically, the “Divine Mercy” is the kindness, and forbearance, and forgiveness of God towards men. It is His readiness to assist sinners with His loving grace. It is an essential attribute of God, perfectly embodied in the Person of Jesus.

The message and devotion to Jesus as “The Divine Mercy” is based on the writings of St. Faustina Kowalksa, a Polish nun from the 1930’s who received many revelations from Christ about His mercy and His desire that mankind be devoted to it. She wrote the content of these revelations in a diary over 600-pages long. Pope John Paul II, being from Poland, had a strong devotion to the Divine Mercy, and when he made Sr. Faustina a saint in the year 2000 he also declared that the second Sunday of Easter would be a feast day dedicated to the Divine Mercy for the Universal Church.

The Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception have developed an acronym you can use to remember the message of the Divine Mercy and how to live out a devotion to this Mercy. Just remember your “ABC’s”:
  • A — Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
  • B — Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
  • C — Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive His grace and mercy.
A devotion to the Divine Mercy typically also entails daily praying of the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 PM (the hour of Jesus’ death), displaying the image of the Divine Mercy in one’s home, and receiving the Eucharist on the second Sunday of Easter, “Divine Mercy Sunday.”

I can tell you that praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet has helped me tremendously in finding more peace in my life and in overcoming sin. It is a very simple yet beautiful prayer, and also an excellent first step for anyone who is just beginning to use rosary beads when he prays.

For more on the Divine Mercy, see my previous post: Is the Divine Mercy Chaplet a Cop-Out? (short answer: No!)

Pax Christi,

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Resurrection Poem for Easter

The following poem is from the compilation Garlands of Grace, selected and introduced by Dr. Regis Martin. It is especially pertinent on this wonderful Easter Sunday.

by Leonard Feeney

In crocus fashion, sunlight-wise,
The body of Our Lord
Slipped through the stone-bound sepulchre,
Streamed through the soldier's sword.

Though stripped and whipped and spat upon,
Sundered by nail and spear,
Thus did our dust in Him prevail
At the robin-time of the year.

Albeit our interval under earth
Must needs much longer last,
Let there be always ready the roll
Of drums and the trumpet blast.

With bones ablaze and flesh aflash
And hair set flying free,
So shall I come to you, loved ones,
So shall you come to me.

Quick Defense of the Resurrection of Jesus

Here is my Q&A for the Easter Sunday bulletin at my church. I thought it fitting on this day to answer a question about the resurrection of Jesus. Please note that, with only the space of a column to work within, I had to cut out a lot of information (for example, why the NT is trustworthy as proof of the resurrection) and additional proofs. I would expand upon it here but honestly, I'm enjoying my time away from the computer. I think that, as it is, this post is at least a good start. For more information, I highly suggest Peter Kreeft's "Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ," a chapter from his Handbook of Christian Apologetics that you can read online.

That said, how would you answer this question?:

What proof is there in the resurrection of Jesus?

First, let's outline what happened. The Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish prophet who claimed to be the Messiah, was arrested, condemned by Pontius Pilate, and crucified. He was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, which was sealed with a large boulder and guarded by Roman soldiers. Three days later, some women who went to His tomb found the boulder removed and the body gone. In a span of 40 days, He appeared to over 500 people and then ascended into heaven. But, is it true?

With any historical event, you discover what happened by utilizing eyewitness accounts and the documents of those who collected such accounts. For the resurrection of Jesus, the New Testament is our primary source for such documentary evidence. There simply is not enough room here to defend the historical reliability of the New Testament, but trust me, we can be exceedingly confident in the purity of the New Testament as it has come down to us (despite the fact that we do not have the originals), and we can rest assured that it gives us an accurate reporting of what actually happened.

That said, we know that Jesus resurrected from the dead because: 1.) all of the reliable historical evidence tells us that He did, and 2.) There is no other explanation that better accounts for the facts of the matter. Of course, people have their theories, but they are easily refuted.

Some say that, in their great psychological distress, everyone who thought they saw the resurrected Lord was actually hallucinating. But, 500 people hallucinating the same thing? Not likely. You can’t touch a hallucination either (like Thomas did), and last time I checked, hallucinations don’t eat, nor do they last for 40 days.

Others say that once Jesus died, the apostles realized that He was actually a quack and so, to avoid embarrassment, they devised a grand conspiracy to fool everyone into believing that He was actually the Messiah. Also not likely. For one, these are simple people we’re talking about here. The apostles did not have the brains to conceive of such a perfect scheme. Secondly, the conspiracy theory requires them to do things that would have been nearly impossible, such as rolling away the boulder, separating Jesus’ body from the burial linens (which by then would have been securely glued to his skin), and then running away with the body all without the Roman guards seeing. There’s also the fact that no one travels to far distant lands and then suffers a martyr’s death for a lie — unless he is absolutely deranged!

The fact is that the tomb was empty, Jesus appeared to over 500 people during those 40 days, and the gospel message spread like wildfire because Jesus Christ had truly risen from the dead. Thanks be to God! Alleluia!!

Pax Christi,

Fulton Sheen and the Latin Mass for Easter

As is my custom every Easter, watch and enjoy the Solemn High Mass for Easter Sunday, 1941, with narration by Fulton J. Sheen. There is no better man to explain the mysteries of the Latin Mass ... and as they happen!


Pax Christi,

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Why the Easter Vigil

Pope Benedict XVI holds a candle during the Easter Vigil Papal mass on Holy Saturday on April 23, 2011 at St Peter's basilica at The Vatican. Source: Getty Images

With Easter now fast upon us, I would like to take this opportunity to explain just very briefly why I think you should attend the Easter Vigil.

Reason #1: You’ve never seen anything like it

The Mass for the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night is the liturgy of all liturgies. All of the symbolism that makes the typical liturgy so rich and meaningful is multiplied by 100 for the Easter Vigil. What this means is that you’re going to see and experience something truly unique.

For one, the Mass begins with the lights out. The only illumination comes from a massive bonfire burning outside. Once the Paschal candle is lit by the fire, its flame is used to light small candles held by those in the congregation. To see the church ultimately alive not by the force of electricity but by a holy fire is truly a sight to behold.

The Liturgy of the Word during the Vigil Mass is also much more substantial. It is essentially a grand tour through salvation history, as reader after reader tells the story of God’s interventions into human history. It is awe-inspiring to see the plan of God unfolding and to reconsider the often arduous path that lead to the moment when God finally gave us His Son and raised Him from the dead for our salvation.

Thirdly, the Vigil happens much later in the evening then we are used to celebrating Mass. This may be off-putting at first, but the late hour is instructive and meaningful for us. The dark sky reminds us that we live in darkness without the light of Christ in our lives. It also reminds us that those who celebrate the Vigil are in waiting, are truly taking vigil, anticipating the moment when our Savior will rise from the dead and share His new life with us.

Reason #2: Welcome to the party!

Since the revival of the RCIA process after the Second Vatican Council, the Easter Vigil has taken on new significance as the liturgy that welcomes new members into the Church. This year we have one catechumen who will be baptized and three candidates who will receive with her the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion.

This is cause for great celebration! These four people each bring their own gifts, and talents, and aspirations to the Church, for the benefit of all Her members. This can only work to build up and renew us here at Blessed Mother. But, beyond the benefit for us, we should also celebrate this occasion for the simple fact that four more souls are entering into the fullness of grace and truth. Praise God!

Considering all this, what message would it send if the church was only half full, or if no one attended the reception afterwards? We should show these new Catholics that we are thankful for their presence and for the hard work that brought them here. I hope that you will come to welcome them and to experience the awesome beauty that only the Easter Vigil can bring. Christ is coming soon. Are you ready?

Pax Christi,

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Resources for Palm Sunday

I don't have time to post a great deal today, but I wanted to at least point you in the direction of some resources that you could use to learn something new about Jesus' amazing entrance into Jerusalem and the great mysteries of His Passion. I also threw in a few activities for children (why not, right?).

And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon it. And many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed cried out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!"
-- Mark 11:7-10

Pax Christi,

Thursday, March 19, 2015

In the Hands of St. Joseph

Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I have always looked to St. Joseph for the strength to be a good and chaste man. He is, after all, Mary's "most chaste spouse," and as the father of Jesus and the protector of Mary he is an ideal model of what it means to be a responsible husband and father. I hope to live as he lived: chaste, responsible, strong, courageous, skilled, loving, manly. I am so thankful that, in giving me my middle name, my parents made him my patron. I have done the same with my own son (Dominic Joseph), so that he will always have the intercessory power of St. Joseph to guide him and protect him.

Here are some articles on St. Joseph. Learn what it means to be devoted to him and to live the sort of life that he lived:Pax Christi,

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Short Biography of "The Apostle of Ireland" for St. Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick was born in Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387 AD. When he was 16, he was captured by pirates from Ireland and sold into slavery there. For six years, he tended the flocks of his master. While a slave, he prayed 100 times a day and the same every night. Regardless of the weather or the time, in the woods or on a mountain, he was always praying.

Providentially, his time in captivity became a preparation for his later work as bishop and evangelist. He learned to speak the Celtic language, and, because his master practiced Druidism, he became very familiar with the religion that he would almost single-handedly replace with Catholicism among the people of Ireland.

A vision of an angel compelled him to leave his master and flee to England, where he studied at a few monasteries and eventually became a priest. With St. Germain he preached against the Pelagian heresy. Together they performed many miracles and converted a great number.

The Pope, so impressed by Patrick, sent him to Ireland to convert the Irish people to Christianity. Before Patrick set out on his mission, he was made a bishop. When he arrived in Ireland, one of his first acts was to visit his former master, pay the ransom owed him, and give him a blessing and forgiveness for his cruelty as a master.

On several occasions, Patrick met with violent opposition by the Druid chieftains. When one of them tried to kill Patrick with a sword, Patrick make his attacker’s arm immovable and did not relieve it until the attacker pledged obedience to Patrick. He eventually converted his attacker and every Druid chieftain and king who sought to kill him.

Everywhere Patrick went, he converted people by powerful preaching and miracles. He also formed several parishes and dioceses throughout Ireland. He ordained priests, healed the sick, expelled demons, and brought the dead back to life. Through boundless prayer and severe penances he sought the salvation of Ireland. He continued until his death to visit and watch over the churches he had founded throughout all the land.

Patrick is the one who first used the shamrock as a tool for teaching the Trinity. “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”, a prayer he composed on the morning of a great victory over paganism, remains to this day a popular Catholic prayer. He is called “The Apostle of Ireland” because of his tireless evangelism in that land, and is one of the Church’s greatest saints.

For more about St. Patrick and the conversion of Ireland, see the following resources:

Pax Christi,

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Resources for Ash Wednesday and Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. So as to enrich your mind and answer any questions you may have about this season, I have constructed the following Q&A, as well as a list of resources with which you can learn more.

I will be updating this post often as I find more articles to add. If anyone has any questions, just let me know.


Q #1: What is Ash Wednesday?
A: From the Pocket Catholic Dictionary, we read:
  • ASH WEDNESDAY. The first day of Lent. Named from the custom of signing the foreheads of the faithful with blessed ashes. Its date depends on the date of Easter. In the early Church, public penitents were liturgically admitted to begin their penance on this day. And when this fell into disuse, from the eighth to the tenth centuries, the general penance of the whole community took place. This was symbolized by the imposition of ashes on the heads of the clergy and laity alike.

Q #2: Why put ashes on your forehead?
A: From the EWTN liturgical calendar, we read:
  • The liturgical use of ashes originated in the Old Testament times. Ashes symbolized mourning, mortality and penance. In the Book of Esther, Mordecai put on sackcloth and ashes when he heard of the decree of King Ahasuerus to kill all of the Jewish people in the Persian Empire (Esther 4:1). Job repented in sackcloth and ashes (Job 42:6). Prophesying the Babylonian captivity of Jerusalem, Daniel wrote, "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes" (Daniel 9:3). Jesus made reference to ashes, "If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they would have reformed in sackcloth and ashes long ago" (Matthew 11:21).

    In the Middle Ages, the priest would bless the dying person with holy water, saying, "Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return." The Church adapted the use of ashes to mark the beginning of the penitential season of Lent, when we remember our mortality and mourn for our sins. In our present liturgy for Ash Wednesday, we use ashes made from the burned palm branches distributed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. The priest blesses the ashes and imposes them on the foreheads of the faithful, making the sign of the cross and saying, "Remember, man you are dust and to dust you shall return," or "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel."

    As we begin this holy season of Lent in preparation for Easter, we must remember the significance of the ashes we have received: We mourn and do penance for our sins. We again convert our hearts to the Lord, who suffered, died, and rose for our salvation. We renew the promises made at our baptism, when we died to an old life and rose to a new life with Christ. Finally, mindful that the kingdom of this world passes away, we strive to live the kingdom of God now and look forward to its fulfillment in heaven.

Q #3: When we put a cross of ashes on our head, aren't we disobeying the words of Christ when he said, "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven"?
A: These words of Christ come from His advice on fasting, prayer, and almsgiving (the three duties of Lent) in Mt 6:1-18. His main point is that these forms of piety should not be done so as to receive glory from men. The purpose, instead, is to give glory to God and to grow closer to Him.

It is true that when we put ashes on our head, we will definitely "be seen by men." But, that is not why we do it. We do it because it is a reminder to us and to the world that we come from dust, and to dust we shall return (cf. Gen 3:19). We should always keep the fact of our mortality and our contingency at the forefront of our mind. We live holier lives when we inform all of our decisions by the simple truth that we all must die. The cross itself is a symbol of the death of Jesus Christ and of our own necessity to die to self so that we may rise with Him to new life. As the answer to Q #4 has already stated, we also put ashes on our forehead because ashes are a symbol of mourning and penance.

Basically, we do not do our deeds to be seen by men, like the scribes and Pharisees did (cf. Mt 23:1-7). Our boast is not in ourselves, but in the Lord (cf. 1 Cor 1:31).

Q #4: Why is there no holy water on Ash Wednesday (or throughout Lent)?
A: While many parishes are known to remove holy water during Lent, this is in fact not allowed. From the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith we have the following correspondance:
  • Prot. N. 569/00/L
    March 14, 2000

    Dear Father:

    This Congregation for Divine Worship has received your letter sent by fax in which you ask whether it is in accord with liturgical law to remove the Holy Water from the fonts for the duration of the season of Lent.

    This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:

    1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being praeter legem is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.
    2. The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the [sic] of her sacraments and sacramentals is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The "fast" and "abstinence" which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church. The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday).

    Hoping that this resolves the question and with every good wish and kind regard, I am,

    Sincerely yours in Christ,
    Mons. Mario Marini

Question #5: What is Lent?
Answer: From the Pocket Catholic Dictionary, we read:
  • LENT. The season of prayer and penance before Easter. Its purpose is to better prepare the faithful for the feast of the Resurrection, and dispose them for a more fruitful reception of the graces that Christ merited by his passion and death.

    In the Latin Rite, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for forty days, besides Sundays, until Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday occurs on any day from February 4 to March 11, depending on the date of Easter.

    Originally the period of fasting in preparation for Easter did not, as a rule, exceed two or three days. But by the time of the Council of Nicaea (325) forty days were already customary. And ever since, this length of time has been associated with Christ's forty-day fast in the desert before beginning his public life.

    According to the prescription of Pope Paul VI, in revising the Church's laws of fast and abstinence, "The time of Lent preserves its penitential character. The days of penitence to be observed under obligation throughout the Church are all Fridays and Ash Wednesday, that is to say the first days of Great Lent, according to the diversity of rites. Their substantial observance binds gravely" (Paenitemini, III, norm II).

    Besides fast and abstinence on specified days, the whole Lenten season is to be penitential, with stress on prayer, reception of the sacraments, almsgiving, and the practice of charity. (Etym. Anglo-Saxon lengten, lencten, spring, Lent.)

Q #6: Where did we get the word "Lent"?
A: From the Online Etymology Dictionary, we read:
  • Lent: short for Lenten, from Old English lencten "spring," the season, from West Germanic *langa-tinaz (cf. Old Saxon lentin, Middle Dutch lenten, Old High German lengizin manoth), from *lanngaz (root of Old English lang "long") + *tina-, a root meaning "day" (cf. Gothic sin-teins "daily"), cognate with Old Church Slavonic dini, Lithuanian diena, Classical Latin dies "day." The compound probably refers to the increasing daylight. Church sense of "period between Ash Wednesday and Easter" is peculiar to English.

Q#7: Why is Lent 40 days?
A: Lent is 40 weekdays because in Scripture we see that a time of 40 typically precludes a new birth or renewal of some kind. Noah was in the ark 40 days before life could begin again on earth. Moses was on Mt. Sinai 40 days before he brought the people the 10 Commandments. The Israelites wondered in the desert 40 years before entering the Promised Land. And, of course, Jesus fasted in the desert 40 days before beginning His ministry. So, following in their footsteps, we spend 40 days in preparation for the resurrection and the life that Easter brings.

Why do Catholics "give something up" for Lent? Is this something I'm required to do?

Beyond fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstinence on every Friday during Lent, Catholics will often choose something to give up, or refrain from doing. While not strictly required, this is a good way to embrace the penitential character of the season.

Some people take this opportunity to overcome bad habits, like biting your nails, or smoking, or cursing. Others will give up something they enjoy (like ice cream, or television, or Facebook) in order to have a small sacrifice to offer to the Lord. Whatever you do during Lent to unite yourself to the “Suffering Servant” is a good and laudable thing. One should also keep in mind that Lent is just as much about taking on positive actions (like prayer, alms giving, works of mercy, etc.) then it is about the negative actions of avoiding things.

Q #9: What does it mean to "fast"?
A: From the Online Etymology Dictionary, we read:
  • fast (v.): Old English f├Žstan "to fast" (as a religious duty), from Proto-Germanic *fastejan (cf. Old Frisian festia, Old High German fasten, Old Norse fasta), from the same root as fast (adj.). The original meaning was "hold firmly," and the sense evolution is via "firm control of oneself," to "holding to observance" (cf. Gothic fastan "to keep, observe," also "to fast"). Presumably the whole group is a Germanic translation of Medieval Latin observare "to fast."
From Colin B. Donovan, STL, we read:
  • Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday [Canon 97] to the 59th Birthday [i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday] to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity. Such fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by eating between meals and by drinks which could be considered food (milk shakes, but not milk). Alcoholic beverages do not break the fast; however, they seem contrary to the spirit of doing penance.

Q #10: What does it mean to "abstain"?
A: From Colin B. Donovan, STL, we read:
  • The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl. Moral theologians have traditionally considered this also to forbid soups or gravies made from them. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal derived products such as margarine and gelatin which do not have any meat taste.

    On the Fridays outside of Lent the U.S. bishops conference obtained the permission of the Holy See for Catholics in the US to substitute a penitential, or even a charitable, practice of their own choosing. Since this was not stated as binding under pain of sin, not to do so on a single occasion would not in itself be sinful. However, since penance is a divine command, the general refusal to do penance is certainly gravely sinful. For most people the easiest way to consistently fulfill this command is the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year which are not liturgical solemnities. When solemnities, such as the Annunciation, Assumption, All Saints etc. fall on a Friday, we neither abstain or fast.

    During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere, and it is sinful not to observe this discipline without a serious reason (physical labor, pregnancy, sickness etc.).

For more on fasting and abstinence, see Life in the "Fast" Lane.


Ash Wednesday:


Stations of the Cross (a popular devotion during Lent):

My Blog Posts

Some of these posts were not originally written for the season of Lent, but they still pertain to the spirit and themes of the season and what we struggle with as we prepare for the Resurrection of the Lord.

Pax Christi,

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Resources for St. Valentine's Day

Love and St. Valentine's Day
St. Valentine's Day Activities
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Immaculate Heart of Mary
The "Mother of All Peoples" website has more articles on the Immaculate Heart of Mary than I could possibly list here without losing a week of my life, so I suggest browsing that website for more information on this topic.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Pax Christi,

Friday, February 06, 2015

For the Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions

To your average American, the 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki are probably not very well known. But, their story deserves to be told, especially on this their feast day.
When doing research for this post, I came across an animated short called 26 Martyrs, which I then discovered will serve as a companion piece to a feature film called All That Remains. I was very impressed by both. Their respective trailers are below:

Pax Christi,

Saturday, January 31, 2015

For the Memorial of St. John Bosco, priest

As a catechist, I have a special place in my heart for St. John Bosco. He is one of the premier models of what we are called to be as teachers of the Faith. Bosco had a very Christ-like ability to draw all people to himself (even the rowdiest street kids) so as to change their lives and convert their hearts to Christ. The boys under his care loved him so much that they couldn't stand the thought of doing anything to disappoint him, and they knew that all he wanted for them was that they live good and holy lives.

What we learn from Bosco's approach and methodology is that the person of the catechist is just as important as orthodox teaching. You can have all of your facts straight, but if the children don't see that the Truth is something that enlivens you and informs every decision that you make -- if they don't see that you are committed to the very salvation of their souls -- then they won't give your words any more than a passing thought. Street kids know when they're getting fed a line. They know who the phonies are, the teachers who just clock in for their 9 to 5 and could give 2 cents about them. In St. John Bosco they saw someone different, someone who truly loved and cared for them.

If I could only have half the passion, zeal, and charisma that St. John Bosco had ...

St. John Bosco, "Apostle of Youth" ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

For the Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor

[The following list is far from comprehensive]

About Him and His Works:
Works by St. Thomas Aquinas
For more works by St. Thomas Aquinas, see Thomas Aquinas' Works in English and Bibliography

I leave you with Fr. Barron's words on this towering figure of Catholic philosophy and theology:

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor and the Church's greatest theologian ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
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