Sunday, October 16, 2011

Catholic Q&A: Part 18

This post continues my series of short answers to common questions about Catholicism. For the previous parts in the series, see the "Catholic Q-A Series" blog label.

What does the “IHS” stand for that one sometimes sees on the altar, or the priestly vestments, or the Eucharist?

The letters “IHS” are iota, eta, and sigma, the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek. This symbol was used in the early Church, during times of persecution, as a code-word for the Holy Name.

Various other interpretations arose out of the Middle Ages. For example, some said “IHS” stood for the Latin phrase Iesus Hominum Salvator, which means, “Jesus, Savior of Humanity,” or Iesus Hierosolyma Salvator, which means, “Jesus, Savior of Jerusalem,” or In Hoc Signo (Vinces), which means, “In this sign (you will conquer),” from the vision that Constantine saw before the battle at the Mulvian Bridge. Some have suggested the Greek phrase Iesus Hemeteros Soter, which means, “Jesus our Savior.” There are even some wacky anti-Catholics who think the “IHS” stands for the Egyptian Gods Isis, Horus, and Seb! But, all of these interpretations are incorrect.

Who wrote the Nicene Creed that we say at Mass?

The Nicene Creed, minus the statement about the Holy Spirit, was composed by the 318 bishops who attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. It was meant to be a profession of faith against Arianism and the other heresies that were floating about regarding the two natures of Christ. Later on, at the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD, the statement about the Holy Spirit was added, giving the Creed the form in which we have it today.

What is the role of a deacon in the Catholic Church?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church answers this question for us, in article no. 1570:
Deacons share in Christ's mission and grace in a special way. The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint ("character") which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the "deacon" or servant of all. Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.
Deacons can also celebrate baptisms and perform the various pastoral works of the parish (for example, visiting the sick, bringing the Eucharist to the homebound, caring for the poor, pastoral counseling, etc.).

Pax Christi,

1 comment:

Nicole @ Sew Much Sunshine said...

Not to mention the other incorrect translation of what IHS means "I hate sin" :)

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