Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Catholic Q&A: Part 37

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.

Rom 16:1 says that there were female deacons in the Church. Why don’t we have those anymore?

First, here is the passage you are referring to:
Rom 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cen′chre-ae,
Now, according to the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, the Greek word for “deaconess”, diakonos, can refer to an ordained minister of the Church (cf. Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8) or to a “servant” or “assistant” more generally (Rom 13:4; 15:8). It is in this latter sense that we should understand Rom 16:1. This is because deaconesses were never considered to be among the ordained clergy. In fact, the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD confirmed that deaconesses were lay women.

Since the women who fulfilled this service were never ordained, they were not deacons as such, but simply assistants to the priest. Since catechumens in the early Church were often baptized naked and by full immersion, these assistants were necessary in order to maintain chastity between the priest and the female catechumen.

How would you respond to someone that says, "Religion is only a crutch for the weak?"

Atheists are hypocritical when they say things like this. Everyone has their own worldview or filter with which they process life events, or pain, or suffering in the world. It's not a crutch, it's how you get on with life. Atheists have their own ways of making sense out of their lives, it’s just that their ways are different than our ways. This argument is not so much about having a crutch as it is about having the particular crutch that Christians have.

This canard also implies that Christianity is believed simply for the comfort it provides, not because there are actually some reasonable arguments that sustain the Christian position. Of course, that is not true. Some of the most reasonable and scientific minds this world has ever known, and even the “fathers” of many scientific fields (Georges Lemaitre, Gregor Mendel, Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, etc) were Catholic.

Why is the fourth Sunday of Lent called “Laetare Sunday”?

Laetare is Latin for “Rejoice!” It comes from the entrance antiphon for that day: “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.” The fourth Sunday of Lent marks the half-way point of Lent, which means that Easter is almost here. As a result, the priest may wear rose-colored vestments on this day (as he does on Gaudete Sunday during Advent), the organ may be played in Mass, and flowers may be used to adorn the altar.

Pax Christi,
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