I have read prayers that ask blessings for healing of body, soul and spirit. I always thought that soul and spirit is the same thing. Are "soul" and "spirit" different or are they the same?
The terms “soul” and “spirit” are often used interchangeably in modern English, and also to some extent in the Scriptures. They are synonymous, in the sense that they are not describing two separate realities. The human spirit is not some third part of the human person, separate from the soul. Rather, as an aspect of the soul, the human spirit (as distinct from the Holy Spirit), is that aspect of our soul that opens us to God. Some theologians speak of this openness of our spirit as giving us capax Dei (a capacity for God). That is to say, since our souls are spiritual and rational, we have the capacity to know and interact with God. And thus, the spirit is that aspect of our soul which most distinguishes us from the animals.
In this distinction of soul and spirit, the Catechism says the following: Sometimes the soul is distinguished from the spirit: St. Paul for instance prays that God may sanctify his people "wholly" with "spirit and soul and body" kept sound and blameless at the Lord's coming (cf 1 Thess 5:23). The church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality into the soul. "Spirit" signifies that from creation man is ordered to a supernatural end, and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all it deserves to communion with God. (Catechism #367).
The Church abolished most of the norms regulating "meatless Fridays" and declared Fridays outside of Lent merely as "A Day of Penance." Does the penance have to be performed on Friday and are there any parameters to observe?
Generally, the penance should be performed on Friday, though exceptions can be made due to other obligations such as attending family or civic celebrations. Strictly speaking, one can work out deferrals or dispensations in regard to Friday observances with their pastor, but practically, most simply work through this on their own.
The thinking back in the 1970s when “meatless Fridays” were substituted with a day of penance was to offer other observances to people on Friday. Simply giving up meat and going to Red Lobster was hardly a penance for most, though the law was being observed technically. Hence it was thought to permit any range of penances, from giving up other things, to taking on special prayers or works of charity.
But as your question implies, it is difficult to follow an uncertain trumpet, and many Catholics simply drifted from any Friday observance with such wide-open parameters. Psychologically it would seem that having a clear focus is necessary to assist in such practices. Hence, some Bishop’s conferences are going back to meatless Fridays.
Here in America, that is not the case, though there has been some discussion. For now, you are largely free to determine how to observe Friday, presuming it has a penitential character. It could be to abstain from something good, or to take on some pious or charitable work.
Midnight Mass on Christmas is an old tradition, based on the belief that Christ was born at midnight. We really don't know the time of his birth, but the origins of this tradition may lie in a passage from Wisdom (18:14-15):
For when peaceful stillness compassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven . . .
In the early Church, midnight was not assigned as the precise time for the first Christmas Mass. It was simply to be celebrated "during the night." Later regulations said it was to be "ad galli cantum" ("when the rooster crows"), which was more towards 3 AM. Spanish-speaking people still refer to the midnight or early morning Christmas Mass as the "Misa de Gallo" ("Mass of the Rooster").
Since about the end of the first millennium, the custom developed of celebrating three Masses, beginning at midnight.
The first was called the "Mass of the Angels" because the Gospel was from Luke's account of the angel's announcement to the shepherds.
The second was called the "Shepherd's Mass" because the Gospel was the account of the shepherds' visit to the manger.
The third was called the "Mass of the Divine Word" because the Gospel was from the prologue of John -- "And the Word became flesh . . ."
SOURCE: The Little Blue Book: Advent and Christmas Seasons 2019-2020, 12/24/2019.
If a nation launches a nuclear weapon that causes major destruction, does the targeted nation have a right to respond in a way that virtually obliterates that nation?
The simple answer to your question would be no. The targeted nation could not simply retaliate in kind, and certainly not seek to obliterate the offending nation.
Some sort of military response might well be called for, even full-scale war. This would presume that the criteria for just war have been met. Namely, that the damage and threat was grave, lasting and certain (which would be the case in your scenario), that other means of ending the conflict has been tried or were not possible, that there is a reasonable hope of success in turning back the threat by military means, and the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated (cf Catechism #2309).
Even once within a war, a nation must use means to distinguish between combatants and noncombatants. Hence, choosing to wipe out whole population centers, indiscriminately killing combatants and noncombatants, is not a moral option. Indiscriminate obliteration cannot be condoned under any circumstances. (cf Catechism #2314).
It will be admitted, given the existence of large-scale nuclear devices, the most effective means to deter such attacks is complex and debatable. A short answer such as this cannot possibly explore all the points debated in the deterrence of nuclear threat. Simply here let it be noted that the Catechism expresses strong moral reservations regarding the modern “arms race” (cf Catechism #2315).
Thus, to return to the main question, if a nation were lamentably to be attacked by a country in the way you describe, that nation is not thereby justified in indiscriminately retaliating by wiping out whole cities or in annihilating that country.
A priest wrote that we should humbly accept that our church, whatever our denomination, does not have the whole truth. But I thought the Catholic Church was the pillar and foundation of the truth.
Here, too, the subtleties of language are important in understanding how questions are answered. The Catholic Church maintains, for demonstrable reasons, that we possess the fullness of revealed truth and the full means to salvation given by God. We hold this in distinction to other denominations and religious traditions, which may have elements of the truth, but are lacking the fullness of these and are usually admixed with error.
That said, we do not claim to know everything there is to know about God. God is more glorious than everything we could ever say or know about him.
It is perhaps in this vein that the priest wrote his remarks. Nevertheless, one might wish for greater precision from the good father, as your puzzlement demonstrates.
Yes, Malachi 3:8 says Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me!...In tithes and offerings.….Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and prove Me herewith,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.
Further, in the New Testament Jesus references tithing when he says, Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin. But neglect weightier matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matt 23:23) Note that in this text, while the Lord speaks of weightier matters than tithing, he says regarding tithing, that we should not neglect it.
The Church does not require an absolute adherence to the biblical tithe, (i.e., giving one tenth of income to the church), nevertheless, there is a precept that Catholics contribute to the mission of Church. While details are left to the individual conscience, tithing is a long and ancient tradition. As Malachi 3 says, tithing is not merely an obligation; it also opens the doors to many blessings.
Pope John XXIII is quoted as stating that among the rights to belong to every person, Is the "freedom to form a family." Given the Church's stance on same-sex unions, and other non-biblical family structures, isn't his statement too vague?
As with any quote, historical context is important. Pope John XXIII lived in an era when single‐parent families, and cohabiting couples, were rare. And same-sex unions were inconceivable. Back in the late 1950s and early 60s, "family" meant a married father and a mother, and children. There was still a basic moral consensus, which could be presumed in using phrases such as "form a family."
Today, this is gone, and we must be much more specific. Thus, in reading Pope John XXIII, we must adjust to the context in which he spoke, and cannot reasonably demand the precision that is necessary today. Neither would it be reasonable for our opponents on the marriage question to read into these remarks an approval for the current situation.
In our hymnal there are many lines in the hymns which concern me. One line says "I myself am the bread of life…you and I are the bread of life." Another says “we become for each other the bread, the cup.”
Such lines ought to cause concern. For, interpreted in a rather literalistic way, they seem to declare equivalence between the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and of our communion with one another.
It is true, the concepts are related, but they are not equivalent or substitutable. One in fact causes the other. That is to say, our communion with Christ in Holy Communion effects our communion with one another. And I suspect that is what these hymns are trying to get at. But they do so in a clumsy sort of way, as if the two were simply and merely the same. They are not.
For Christ is not simply reducible or equivalent to the sum total of his members, but he, as God, is greater than and is the cause of the communion we enjoy with one another.
That said, we must accept the limits of what art and poetry do. Hymns are a form of poetry, and cannot always have the doctrinal precision that we might expect of a theological treatise. Context is important, and hymn use a poetic genre.
Nevertheless, some of the older Eucharistic hymns were able to speak politically, and yet not sacrifice doctrinal precision. Perhaps we could hope for more than we often find in many modern compositions.
I don't think the Church teaches that the Saints are omniscient. Therefore my question is how are they made aware of our prayers, which are directed to them?
Our communion with the Saints is accomplished in and through Jesus Christ who is the head of the Body, the Church. All the members of Christ's body, those here on earth (the Church militant), the Saints in heaven (the Church triumphant), and those in purgatory, (the Church suffering), are members of the one Body of Christ, and are united by him, and through him who is the Head.
To use an analogy, my right hand has communion with my left hand, not because my hands have their own capacity to work together. Rather, my right hand and my left hand have communion and can work together only in and through the head of my body, which unites and directs them. And so it is with the members of the Body of Christ. In this regard, St. Paul teaches, when one member suffers all the members suffer, when one member is glorified, all the members are glorified (1 Cor 12:26). And there is thus a communion of all the members in the one Body.
That the Saints are aware of us, and pray for us before the throne of God is attested in Scripture where in the four living creatures present before the throne of God and where the incense, which is the prayers of God’s saints, are brought before the throne (Rev 5:8). There is also the ancient tradition of the church from apostolic times wherein the martyrs and heavenly Saints are invoked for help of every sort.
Let us be clear that such communion of the Saints does not occur apart from Jesus Christ, but rather, it is facilitated by him through whom and in whom all things are and subsist, and who is the head of the Body the Church uniting his members.
A friend wants a grandmother and aunt to be the godparents for her daughter. But the pastor says this is not possible, one must be male, the other female. I know other pastors permit this practice. What is correct?
The first pastor is correct. The code of Canon Law says regarding sponsors for baptism, One sponsor, male or female, is sufficient; but there may be two, one of each sex. (Canon 873).
Catechesis is necessary today regarding the role of sponsors. Too frequently, the role is seen as merely ceremonial, and is often misconstrued as a way of bestowing honors on certain adults.
The role of a sponsor in infant baptism is to ensure the Catholic formation of the child if the parents are unable to do so. In this regard, only one sponsor is needed. However, if two are chosen, they are usually called “godparents,” and ought to be in the model of parents: male and female. Otherwise, one suffices.
"Building our Catholic faith one question at a time."