Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Chosen People of God

Are the Jews still God's "chosen people"? If they aren't, who is? If they are, what are Christians?

To answer your first question, Yes, “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29). "They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises" (Rom 9:4).

God said of the Jewish people:

  • “Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exo 19:5-6)
  • “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth.” (Deut 7:6)

However, this does not mean that it is acceptable for them to explicitly reject the divinity of Jesus Christ and the New Covenant that He established. This covenant in His Blood fulfills everything that the Jewish people had previously received, and adds to the number of the “chosen people” anyone who has faith in Christ and is baptized. That is why St. Peter says that the Church has now become what the Jews always were:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9).

The Church is now the place where Jew and Greek, slave and free, man and woman can come and experience God’s saving power (cf. Rom 10:12; Gal 3:28; Col 3:11). Unfortunately, the Jews, while undoubtedly God’s chosen people, are people who are disobedient to this new covenant and its realization in the Church.

Fortunately, God is not through with the Jewish people yet. The Bible tells us that one sign that the End Times are upon us will be the mass conversion of the Jewish people to Christ and the New Covenant:

  • “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.” (Zech 12:10)
  • “I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.” (Jer 33:8)
  • "Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:25-26)

What a great day that will be!

Pax Christi,

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Adoring our Eucharistic Lord

What is Eucharistic Adoration? Why is it important?

Eucharistic Adoration is when we spend time worshipping, adoring, and/or praying to our Lord as He is present in the Eucharist.

During the Mass, we have the opportunity to worship our Lord, veiled as it were, under the species of bread and wine. You may have noticed that, after the priest consecrates the bread, transforming it into Christ, he elevates it, raising it up for all to see. He does the same thing with the chalice, after consecrating the wine within it. He does this so that you can worship your Eucharistic Lord, who has just been made present by the power of the Holy Spirit and the words of consecration. This is a great high point in the Mass that we should all appreciate. At that moment, Jesus Christ is now among us, truly and substantially!! Worship and adore Him!!

While the Mass certainly affords a wonderful opportunity to adore our Lord in the Eucharist, the phrase “Eucharistic Adoration” usually refers to what takes place outside of Mass, when the Eucharistic bread alone is adored. It is either hidden in the tabernacle, or exposed in what is called a monstrance. Most monstrances look like a sunburst on a golden stand. Inside the sunburst is a glass container (called a “luna” or a “lunette”) that contains the Eucharistic bread. Being in a glass container, it can be seen by the people and thus more easily adored.

Why is Eucharistic Adoration important? Essentially, Jesus awaits us in this sacrament. He longs to commune with us there. Wherever the Eucharist is, there is a place to be with our Lord and Savior. We can speak to Him there, and listen to what He longs to say to us. What wisdom can be found in the presence of our Lord!

We can fight battles there too. Eucharistic Adoration is a powerful way to atone for the evils in the world, things like abortion, murder, rape, the breakdown of the traditional family unit, and mankind’s various sexual sins. The grace and merit that comes from adoring our Eucharistic Lord is enough to overcome whatever the devil can throw at us. Atheists who say there is no God, angry people who take the Lord’s name in vain, anti-Catholics who disparage the Church are no match for one hour of heartfelt adoration of the Eucharist.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before the guards took Him away, Jesus asked the apostles to pray with Him, but they all fell asleep. His response? “Could you not but spend one hour with me?” (Mt 26:40; cf. Mk 14:37). Jesus poses the same question to you. Contact the Catholic churches in your area and see if any of them set aside time to adore the Eucharist. You may be surprised by what awaits you there.

Pax Christi,

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Short Q&A on Excommunication

What is excommunication?

I am not a canon lawyer, so my response may require correction. But, here is my own understanding of these things, for what it’s worth.

Excommunication is one of three types of “censure” or penalties that a person in the Church can receive. The other two are suspension and interdict. To be excommunicated is to be no longer in communion with the Church. The purpose is not to punish a person or to damn him to hell but to inform him that he has committed a serious act of separation from the Church and to compel him to repent and return to full communion.

An excommunication can be imposed upon a person in two ways. If the excommunication is ferendae sententiae, it is imposed by an ecclesiastical judge. If it is latae sententiae, then it is imposed automatically, as soon as the offense in question is performed.

What can a person be excommunicated for?

I do not know what the offenses are that would result in a ferendae sententiae excommunication. But, I can tell you that an automatic excommunication results from committing the following offenses:

  • Apostasy from the faith
  • Formal heresy
  • Schism
  • Throwing away the consecrated species
  • Taking away or keeping the consecrated species for a sacrilegious purpose
  • Using physical force against the Roman Pontiff
  • A priest, when he absolves his accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, unless his accomplice is in danger of death.
  • A bishop, when he consecrates someone a bishop without a pontifical mandate
  • Receiving the previously mentioned consecration
  • A confessor, when he directly violates the sacramental seal (divulges the content of a confession)
  • Actually procuring a direct abortion

One should note that these instances are never as clear cut as they seem. If you are ever worried about your status in the Church or that of a loved one, consult a priest or canon lawyer. The following articles are also very helpful:

Pax Christi,

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Catholic Q&A: Part 8

What are the 5 Wisdom books of the Catholic bible?

There are actually seven books in the Catholic bible that are traditionally called the "Wisdom books." They are: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Wisdom, and Sirach. These are called the Wisdom books because they are comprised of poetry, proverbs, aphorisms, and other forms of practical advice on how to live in a manner pleasing to God.

Where does the Bible say to be “in the world but not of the world?”

I think the clearest indication of this maxim is found in Jesus’ high priestly prayer in Jn 17:15-19, which reads as follows:

“I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

Jesus is saying these words at the Last Supper. Judas has already left the table to prepare for his betrayal. Jesus knows that His time here is short and so He wishes to impart some final words to the remaining 11 apostles and to pray for them, that they will be able to go out into the world, to be men set apart by truth, who do His will in the world without succumbing to the things of this world. “In the world but not of the world” — that’s really what the Christian life is all about.

Can there be morality without religion?

Good question! Because of the natural law imprinted on the hearts of men, we can come to a basic awareness of the rightness and wrongness of certain actions without being introduced to religion. For example, even atheists know that murder is wrong. So, in a sense, the answer is “Yes.” But, some people advocate doing away with religion all together. They say that “religion” gets in the way of a relationship with Jesus, or of living a good life. We must disagree with such people. The Catechism defines religion as “a set of beliefs and practices followed by those committed to the service and worship of God.” Without religion, without a rule against which to “test all things and hold fast to what is good,” it becomes much more difficult for man to discern what is right and wrong. In a wonderfully paradoxical way, religion provides the boundaries that make us free.

Is the expression "by God" considered blasphemy?

Yes. God's name should not be colloquialized, or tossed about in our every-day exclamations and catch phrases. His name should only be uttered with the deepest sincerity and with purely religious intent.

Pax Christi,

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Is Mary Divine?

If Mary was sinless, doesn’t that make her like another god? I thought only God was sinless.

On the surface it would appear that way. But, we have to keep in mind that Mary is sinless for a different reason than God is sinless.

The three Persons of the Trinity are sinless — and Jesus, being one of Them, is sinless — by their very nature, because of the type of beings that they are. Scripture tells us that God is all good. Goodness does not only describe Him, it’s what He is. God is good, just as God is love and is truth. A Person who is entirely goodness, at an essential level, can in no way sin, since to sin is to choose evil, which is the absence of good.

So, God is sinless because of His divine nature, because of the type of being that He is.

Mary, however, is sinless, not because of the type of being that she is but because of the special grace she received from God. If it were a necessary aspect of her nature to be sinless, then she would indeed be a type of god, or another Person within the Trinity. But, she is a human being. She has a human nature.

As we all know, there is nothing about the human nature that precludes sin. In fact, one could say that we sin because of our human nature. The inclination to sin is sort of wrapped up in who we are as human beings who are descended from Adam and Eve. The same thing goes for Mary. She was due to receive the stain of original sin, and to commit sins throughout her life as all human beings do. Were it not for the intervention of God, Mary would have been just like us in all things, including sin.

Thankfully, God did intervene. He poured a special grace upon her at the moment of her conception that protected her from original sin and from committing any sins throughout her life. In fact, it was this same grace that empowered her will to say “Yes” to God when the invitation came to be the Mother of our Lord and Savior.

The important thing here is that this grace, and the sinlessness that resulted from it, was a gift. It was something that came from outside herself. Mary’s sinlessness was not the result of her nature, but instead the result of God’s own special initiative in her life. That’s the reason why Mary can be sinlessness and still be considered a human being with a real human nature just like ours.

If you think about it, Mary would have to be an honest-to-goodness human being in order to pass on a human nature to Jesus. Our Savior is both human and divine. His divinity comes from His being the Second Person of the Trinity. His humanity comes from his mother.

Pax Christi,
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