Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Catholic Q&A: Part 20

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.

Does the one-hour fast before receiving Communion include water?

No, it does not. You are allowed to consume water and medicine without breaking the fast. From the Code of Canon Law (1983) we read the following:
Can. 919 §1 Whoever is to receive the blessed Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from all food and drink, with the sole exception of water and medicine.

Who is the “woman” spoken of in Rev. 17?

This is a difficult question to answer, and for two reasons. First of all, it is often the case that characters in the Book of Revelation symbolize more than one reality. What this means is that there can be more than one answer to the question of who the woman is. Secondly, scholars continue to debate the identity of the woman. We don’t have the general consensus, even among Catholic scholars, that one typically finds with other passages or books of the Bible.

Modern Catholic biblical scholarship seems to be converging on the understanding that the woman (also called a “harlot”) represents the city of Jerusalem. This is the opinion of several popular Catholic authors and theologians, including Scott Hahn, Mark Shea, Jimmy Akin, Michael Barber, and Brant Pitre.

However, there are still other Catholic scholars who think that the woman is pagan Rome, or both Rome and Jerusalem, or Satan, or any force against true religion. In my opinion, since some of the facts from Rev. 17 fit Jerusalem, while others fit Rome, it seems safer to say that the woman represents both cities at the same time.

What every Catholic scholar can agree with is this: the woman is not the Catholic Church, as many fundamentalist Protestants would have you believe. For more on the woman from Rev 17 (and the beast, for that matter), see my blog post: "The Catholic Church Is NOT the Whore of Babylon".

When do we celebrate the Flight into Egypt in Mass?

We actually just did! On Dec. 28, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the Gospel reading in the Mass was Mt 2:13-18, which is the account of the flight into Egypt, when the Holy Family fled to Egypt in order to avoid the wrath of Herod, who ordered that all boys two-years old and younger be killed because he heard that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords had finally come into the world and Herod was anxious to protect his own reign.

In Psa 39:12-13, are the words "foreigner" and "refugee" used to imply being away from sin? Also, why is the Lord asked to turn His gaze so that David's smile may take place?

The Navarre Bible Commentary is very helpful here. It reads as follows:
39:12-13. In line with what he has said already, the psalmist ends his prayer by beseeching God to listen to him and not to be too hard on him ("Look away from me": vs. 13). Expressions like "thy passing guest" and "sojourner" (vs. 12) indicate that the psalmist sees his life as being under God's protection, the way the Law protected foreigners resident in Israel, and wayfarers (cf. Ex 12:48-49; Deut 10:18-19; etc.). "Beloved, I beseech you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul. Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that in case they speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation" (1 Pet 2:11-12). These terms also remind the Christian of the urgency of leading a life of union with Christ: "You do not have a permanent home here. Wherever you may find yourself, you will be a foreigner and a pilgrim; you will never find rest unless you unite yourself intimately to Christ" (Thomas a Kempis, De imitatione Christi, 2, 1, 6).

Could you explain CCC 99 to me, considering that there are many claiming the name "Catholic" while clearly contradicting the Faith?

CCC 99 itself doesn't seem to have any bearing upon people who are, as you put it, "claiming the name 'Catholic' while clearly contradicting the Faith." Here is CCC 99:
99 Thanks to its supernatural sense of faith, the People of God as a whole never ceases to welcome, to penetrate more deeply and to live more fully from the gift of divine Revelation.
No. 99 comes from the "In Brief" section, in which a few statements are made in summary of the preceding paragraphs. It appears to be a summary of nos. 91-94, which read as follows:
The supernatural sense of faith

91 All the faithful share in understanding and handing on revealed truth. They have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who instructs them53 and guides them into all truth.54

92 "The whole body of the faithful. . . cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith (sensus fidei) on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals."55

93 "By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium),. . . receives. . . the faith, once for all delivered to the saints. . . The People unfailingly adheres to this faith, penetrates it more deeply with right judgment, and applies it more fully in daily life."56

Growth in understanding the faith

94 Thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of both the realities and the words of the heritage of faith is able to grow in the life of the Church:
  • "through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts";57 it is in particular "theological research [which] deepens knowledge of revealed truth".58
  • "from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which [believers] experience",59 the sacred Scriptures "grow with the one who reads them."60
  • "from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth".61

This section does have bearing upon the issue you have raised. Many Catholics who are not of one mind with the Church attempt to validate their contradictory views by saying that these views came about by the legitimate use of their conscience, or by their own feeling of being led by the Spirit, or by their adoption of what they think "most Catholics" believe or practice.

We must inform such people that one's conscience must be properly formed by the teaching of the Church in order for it to lead a person to the truth, that the Spirit does not contradict itself and so will never "inspire" someone to hold a position contrary to Church teaching, and that the sensus fidei is not the zeitgeist, or popular movement of the times but what the Church has always believed and professed. In so doing, we ensure that people are better able "to welcome, to penetrate more deeply and to live more fully from the gift of divine Revelation."

Pax Christi,


Ebeth said...

Thanks, Nick!!

Oh, I tagged you on the "Pillars" for a stylish blog award....couldn't leave you out.

Ordinary times blessings!

Nicholas Hardesty said...


Anonymous said...

i think it's great how you automatically place your aim on what you "think" are his personal traits.

no need to get so offended - it's his point of view.

you should think about that.

Nicholas Hardesty said...

Anon ... are you referring to my response to Jefferson Bethke? I think you may have accidentally commented on the wrong post. At any rate, what exactly did I say about his personality traits that you are objection to? Also, just because it's his point of view that doesn't mean I shouldn't be offended by it.

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