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Archive for the ‘Catechism’ Category

A reader had asked the above question in a thread under a previous post relating to the Sacrament of Baptism. I find it apt to create a new post on this question and hope that the following will explain why.

In the Catholic church, there are 3 sacraments that fully initiates a believer into the Christian faith, namely the Sacrament of Baptism, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation. In all simplicity, look at it as; the Sacrament of Baptism that spiritually cleanses the uninitiated and welcomes him/her into the Church, while the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist enables the believer to fully partake in the celebration of the Mass at the Lord’s table, and the Sacrament of Confirmation anoints and empowers the believer with the Holy Spirit to venture forth to live the life as a true witness of Christ.

The role of a sponsor for the confirmand is to be a spiritual guide, just like that of a godparent for the Sacrament of Baptism. To guide the confirmand, not just during the time of preparation prior to the confirmand’s receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, but all throughout his/her life’s journey. Some references below from the Catechism of the catholic Church and Code of Canon Law.

CCC 1311. Candidates for Confirmation, as for Baptism, fittingly seek the spiritual help of a sponsor. To emphasize the unity of the two sacraments, it is appropriate that this be one of the baptismal godparents.

CAN 892. Insofar as possible, there is to be a sponsor for the person to be confirmed; the sponsor is to take care that the confirmed person behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfills the obligations inherent in this sacrament.

CAN 893 §1. To perform the function of sponsor, a person must fulfill the conditions mentioned in Can 874.
§2. It is desirable to choose as sponsor the one who undertook the same function in baptism.

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Ask anyone what is the date of the birth of Jesus. Almost instantaneously, the answer of, Christmas 25th December, is replied. Now ask the same person where does he/she obtain the information that Jesus was born on 25th December. Perhaps you may get a bewildered expression from the person or the answer could be because everyone says so that Christ was born on 25th December. That’s why it is called Christmas.

Was Jesus Christ really born on Christmas Day which falls on 25th December?

Sharing an article written by Fr William Saunders which coul shed some light on this question: Was Christ really born on Christmas Day?

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It could be mind-boggling to understand about Solemnities, Feast Days, and Memorials. More so when the celebration of Feast Days, which happens to be a Holy day of Obligation, that falls on a weekday. Isn’t going to Church on Sundays to celebrate Mass all there is to it or could there be some more when it comes to Solemnities, Feast Days and Memorials. What’s the difference? Sharing an article from www.Zenit.org for an enlightening read.

Question: We as Catholics commonly use the word “feast” to cover everything from church feasts of various saints and the Blessed Mother, to Corpus Christi, etc. We also understand that there are three kinds of feasts/celebrations: memorial, feast, solemnity. Could you kindly elaborate on these three categories? Also, why is Corpus Christi not a holy day of obligation? ~ R.D., Enderamulla, Sri Lanka

Answer: Effectively we use the word “feast” to cover all levels of celebration, even though the word also has a precise technical meaning in the hierarchy of celebrations. There is no great difficulty in this, as the context usually clarifies whether we are speaking technically or in general.

The three basic classes are those mentioned by our reader, although memorials are often divided up into obligatory and optional. There are some other means of classifying the celebrations which give different numbers and categories. For example, if one classifies on the basis of which Masses may be celebrated on a given day, one comes up with seven groupings of celebrations.

The difference between the three basic categories resides in their importance, which in turn is reflected in the presence or absence of different liturgical elements.

Solemnities are the highest degree and are usually reserved for the most important mysteries of faith. These include Easter, Pentecost and the Immaculate Conception; the principal titles of Our Lord, such as King and Sacred Heart; and celebrations that honor some saints of particular importance in salvation history, such as Sts. Peter and Paul, and St. John the Baptist on his day of birth.

Solemnities have the same basic elements as a Sunday: three readings, prayer of the faithful, the Creed and the Gloria which is recited even when the solemnity occurs during Advent or Lent. It also has proper prayer formulas exclusive to the day: entrance antiphon, opening prayer, prayer over the gifts, Communion antiphon, and prayer after Communion. In most cases it also has a particular preface.

Some solemnities are also holy days of obligation, but these vary from country to country.

A solemnity is celebrated if it falls on a Sunday of ordinary time or Christmastide. But it is usually transferred to the following Monday if it falls on a Sunday of Advent, Lent or Easter, or during Holy Week or the Easter octave.

A feast honors a mystery or title of the Lord, of Our Lady, or of saints of particular importance (such as the apostles and Evangelists) and some of historical importance such as the deacon St. Lawrence.

The feast usually has some proper prayers but has only two readings plus the Gloria. Feasts of the Lord, such as the Transfiguration and Exaltation of the Holy Cross, unlike other feasts, are celebrated when they fall on a Sunday. On such occasions they have three readings, the Gloria and the Creed.

A memorial is usually of saints but may also celebrate some aspect of the Lord or of Mary. Examples include the optional memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus or the obligatory memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

From the point of view of the liturgical elements there is no difference between the optional and obligatory memorial. The memorial has at least a proper opening prayer and may have proper readings suitable for the saint being celebrated. The readings of the day may be used, and the lectionary recommends against an excessive use of specific readings for the saints so as not to interrupt too much the continuous cycle of daily readings.

On the other hand, the specific readings should always be used for certain saints, above all those specifically mentioned in the readings themselves, such as Martha, Mary Magdalene and Barnabas.

During Lent and Advent from Dec. 17 to 24 memorials may be celebrated only as commemorations. That is, only the opening prayer of the saint is used and all the rest comes from the day.

Nov. 2, All Souls’ Day, is something of a special class that, without being a solemnity, still has precedence over a Sunday.

It is also important to note that the same celebration may have a different classification in various geographical areas, as some celebrations and saints are venerated more in one place than in another. For example, St. Benedict, an obligatory memorial in the universal calendar, is a feast in Europe since he is one of its patrons. But he rates a solemnity in the diocese and abbey of Montecassino where he is buried.

Finally, the decision on whether a solemnity such as the Body and Blood of the Lord is a holy day of obligation falls primarily upon the bishops’ conference, which decides based on the pastoral reality of each country. Some have maintained the traditional Thursday celebration and kept it as a holy day; others might have maintained the day but without the obligation. Many have preferred to transfer the celebration to the following Sunday so as to ensure its celebration with the greatest number of faithful.

The Vatican, for example, continues the traditional Thursday celebration and thus the Holy Father’s procession with the Blessed Sacrament is held on that day. The Diocese of Rome, however, along with the rest of Italy, celebrates it on the following Sunday.

ROME, OCT. 8, 2008 (Zenit.org). ~ Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum University.

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Sharing an article from the parish bulletin of Church of St Joseph for an informative read

Why do Catholics pray for the dead?

The earliest Scriptural reference to prayers for the dead comes in the second book of Maccabees. The books of Maccabees were among the latest written books found in the Old Testament. They recount the struggle of the Jewish people for freedom against the Seleucid Empire, around 100-200 years before the birth of Christ. They were written from an Orthodox Jewish point of view. The second book of Maccabees, the Jewish leader, led his troops into battle in 163 BC. When the battle ended, he directed that the bodies of those Jews who had died be buried. As soldiers prepared their slain comrades for burial, they discovered that each was wearing an amulet taken as a booty from a pagan Temple. This violated the law of Deuteronomy and so Judas and his soldiers prayed that God would forgive the sin these men had committed (2 Maccabees 12:39-45).

This is the first indication in the Bible that prayers offered by the living can help free the dead from any sin that would separate them from God in the life to come. It is echoed in the New Testament when Paul offers a prayer for a man named Onesiphorus who had died: “May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day” (2 Timothy 1:18). The cavelike tombs under the city of Rome, which we call catacombs, bear evidence that members of the Roman Christian community gathered there to pray for their fellow followers of Christ who lay buried there.

The practice of praying for the dead is rooted first in the Christian belief in the everlasting life promised in Jesus’ teachings and fore-shadowed by his disciple’s experience that God had raised him from the dead. After death, even though separated from our earthly body, we yet continue a personal existence. It is as living persons that God invites us into a relationship whose life transcends death.

Praying for the dead has further origins in our belief in the communion of saints. Members of this community who are living, often assist each other in faith by prayers and other forms of spiritual support. Christians who have died continue to be members of the communion of saints. We believe that we can assist them by our prayers, and they can assist us by theirs.

Our prayers for the dead express hope that God will free the person who has died from any burden of sin and prepare a place for him or her in heaven. Death remains a mystery for us – a great unknown. Yet Christian language evokes a hopeful imagination in the presence of death, an assurance that our love, linked to Christ’s love, can help bridge whatever barriers might keep those whom we love from fully enjoying the presence of a loving and life-giving God.

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NO to Euthanasia

The controversial subject of “euthanasia” commonly known as mercy-killing. But are you being merciful in terminating the life of another human being even if the person express that desire?

Sharing an article published in The Straits Times Interactive on 3rd Nov 2008 titled “No to Euthanasia”.

Read the Pastoral Letter of the Archbishop on the issue of Euthanasia given on the Feast of All Saints 2008.

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In the homily delivered by the celebrant last week during the Feast of the Assumption of Mother Mary on 15th Aug 2008, the often asked question “Why do Catholics worship Mary?” was raised. Shouldn’t Catholics be worshipping God instead, the supreme being, rather than a mere mortal? Isn’t God more important than Mary? What has Mary done to receive the reverence of Catholics? Indeed why?

To put the understanding of Mary in its proper perspective, Catholics do not worship Mary, for worship is only for God. Mary is being honoured as the chosen one to assume a very special role in God’s plan of salvation.

In the Annunciation when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, an invitation was extended from God to her. She was invited to bear the Son of God. Amongst all women, that invitation went only to Mary. God knew that Mary would accept that invitation. Nevertheless, the focus was on Mary. Yes or no, the choice was hers. She can reject that invitation. However, her utmost faithfulness to God was in her reply “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” The Fiat of Mary. She fully submits herself to do God’s will in the face of trepidation that will arrive one day. The Annunciation was not just another appearance of God to mortals found in Scriptures. This appearance and invitation of God sets forth in bringing Jesus, the Son of God, into the world.

During the Visitation when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, arrived at Elizabeth’s home who was also pregnant carrying John the Baptist, it was not a mere social greeting between two pregnant women saying “Hi! Long time no see. How have you been. I see that you are pregnant too”. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” The exclamation of Elizabeth was not just a verbal greeting from herself. It was God’s holy Spirit in her that displayed the utmost respect that was showered on Mary. Subsequently, Elizabeth who was so joyous from this visit, not from just the presence of Mary a mortal, but the chosen woman who is carrying the “mother of my Lord”. Not the “Lord” that refers to the social hierarchy of “Sir” or someone of power and high social standing. It will be the “Lord” who will one day free mankind from sins and pave the way back to God.

The Eve in Genesis that led mankind fall into sin. So is Mary, the new “Eve” that brings Jesus into the world in God’s plan of salvation. If God has given Mary this honourable and special role of being the Mother of Jesus, who are we, as believers, to refute the honour that was bestowed by God on her?

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A lighted sanctuary lamp placed near the tabernacle signifies the presence of Christ (Blessed Sacrament). Does the sanctuary lamp has to be a wax candle? Should a lamp fueled by oil or wax be used instead? What about using an “electric” candle which may give a “fake” impression?

Q: I was told by our pastor that “Vatican II requires a ‘light’ before the Blessed Sacrament, but this does not have to be a candle,” so he replaced the sanctuary candle with an electric “fake candle” because there was “wax all over the carpet.” This is driving some of my fellow choir members nuts. Yet, we still have real, seven-day vigil candles going in the stands. Were this a safety issue, this makes no sense. All churches have always had problems with wax, nothing new. I cannot see a fake candle giving a believable witness to the Real Presence when this is not a safety issue as in a hospital with oxygen that could cause an explosion. ~ K.S., Oklahoma

Read the answer from Zenit on Electric Sanctuary Candles.

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