Thursday, March 13, 2008

Quick Q&A

I am still working on that project (the entire class received an extension), but I wanted to just quickly respond to some emails and comments that I have received in the last few weeks that do not require extensive elaboration.

In response to my short, 3-paragraph post on catechetical methodology, "CTM" wrote the following:
Your brief paper on Methodology is good to begin with but I would be interested for you or anyone who has read your paper to translate this info to how that works in a religious education setting, an adult faith formation setting, or a presentation to a youth group. Would you choose the Ecclesial Method or something different?
I think that all of the criteria mentioned in my post can be met using the Ecclesial Method. In case you are unsure what that means, Catechetics Online has a nice explanation. The Ecclesial Method is the method that they teach us to use here at FUS, and I have see it done with amazing results. I use it myself (as much as possible) when I'm teaching in RCIA.
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In response to my latest installment in the masturbation debate, a different "Anon" wrote the following:
This may be a case of irreconcilable differences since I'm non-Christian and don't believe in the fall, but:
With humans it's very hard to discern intrinsic ("normal") behaviour from learned behaviour since all humans we know have an inseparable combination of both. Add the concept of a 'fallen' and 'unfallen' normal and things get even more complicated.
As such, I look to mankind's closest relative who shares 95-98% (depending how you count) of our DNA: the Chimpanzee.
Chimps engage in (and presumably enjoy) masturbation. It's not definitive, of course, but if that's normal behaviour for our closest relative, it seems likely that it's normal for us too.
Well, there's the problem we've already addressed regarding the "normal" argument, that no matter how you define it, that doesn't make masturbation morally good, or even neutral. That leads to a second problem I have with this argument. This debate is about the morality of a particular action. As such, to compare human beings to chimpanzees, is really apples and oranges, regardless of any similarity in DNA. Chimpanzees have no ability to reason, and thus their actions have no moral quality to them whatsoever.
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Finally, the following three questions all come from submissions to WikiAnswers, in the Catholicism category:
What is a 2nd class relic?
A second class relic is any object that a saint touched or used during his lifetime. An example would be an item of clothing he wore or any of his personal belongings. This is different from a first class relic, which is a part of a saint's body (his blood, bones, hair, etc.), and a third class relic, which is anything that has come in contact with a first class relic.

What does the water represent in baptism?
Water is a very rich symbol in baptism, and it represents many things. It represents death in that when you go under the water this is symbolic of death to your old, sinful self. It represents life in that when you come out of the water, this is symbolic of a resurrection. Water is also symbolic of birth, since, just as we are physically born when we come out of the water of the womb, we are "born again" or experience a spiritual rebirth when we come out of the waters of baptism. Finally, water is symbolic of cleansing. Just as regular water cleanses dirt from our bodies, the water of baptism --water imbued with the Holy Spirit-- cleanses us of "spiritual filth" or sin.

What is meant by the seal of the confessional?
The "seal of the confessional" is basically the obligation that the priest has to never reveal the contents of a Sacramental confession. This is so important that he will be excommunicated if it is discovered that he has not maintained this confidentiality.

This is outlined in the following canons from the 1983 Code of Canon Law:
  • Can. 983 §1 The sacramental seal is inviolable. Accordingly, it is absolutely wrong for a confessor in any way to betray the penitent, for any reason whatsoever, whether by word or in any other fashion.

    §2 An interpreter, if there is one, is also obliged to observe this secret, as are all others who in any way whatever have come to a knowledge of sins from a confession.

    Can. 984 §1 The confessor is wholly forbidden to use knowledge acquired in confession to the detriment of the penitent, even when all danger of disclosure is excluded.

    §2 A person who is in authority may not in any way, for the purpose of external governance, use knowledge about sins which has at any time come to him from the hearing of confession.

    Can. 1388 §1 A confessor who directly violates the sacramental seal, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; he who does so only indirectly is to be punished according to the gravity of the offence.

    §2 Interpreters and the others mentioned in can. 983 §2, who violate the secret, are to be punished with a just penalty, not excluding excommunication.
Pax Christi,


  1. In response to the "Chimps do it" argument, I've heard the point made that male chimps also fight for females, kill the losers offspring, and then rape the mourning female to better their chances at siring young. Furthermore, many non-dominant males are only able to mate by raping females and hoping the dominate male doesn't kill the babe.

    I think the ideal human behavior should definitely be based on Chimps!

  2. I'm guessing you meant to say definitely NOT!

  3. Actually I meant definitely, only in a sarcastic way. I keep forgetting that sarcasm doesn't come through well in the written word.

    By the way, thank you for answering the other of my previous questions and congrats on the engagement!


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