To be clear, the Church doesn’t have an official teaching on evolution. The Church has expressed openness to the possibility of evolution, provided that any theory espoused acknowledges a creator behind the process. Saint John Paul II, in a talk to the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences in 1996, stated that while it is permissible to believe and test the theory of evolution, such theories should not be reduced to a materialistic atheistic perspective. The Catechism touches briefly on the subject of evolution. It says: “The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies that have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers” (CCC 283). Such theories must leave room for the uniqueness of the human being who is given a soul by a creator.
Regarding intelligent design, Church teaching certainly proclaims that there is a divine designer behind all of creation. However, intelligent design proponents have faltered in not realizing the scope and limitations of science and philosophy, respectively. While one can assert that science cannot answer crucial questions about life; and that evidence regarding human life, the earth, and the universe in general philosophically point to the existence of a creator, it’s quite another thing to say that such evidence scientifically proves that God exists. God’s existence while discernable in nature and in the human person, can never be purely proven using scientific methods. Faith and reason are both required to arrive at an understanding of God as being both a transcendent creator and an intimate redeemer; a God who became a human being in the person of Jesus Christ.
During Mass, why does the priest pour water into the wine and put a piece of the consecrated Host into the chalice?
These actions are very ancient and began as practical necessities, but eventually the necessities disappeared and were even forgotten. In the ancient world, the Greeks added water to wine because it was often thick, gritty and too strong. It was simply good taste to add water to wine before drinking it. The Romans loved all things Greek, so they adopted Greek manners and spread them to the lands they conquered. And even though it was not originally a Jewish custom to add water to wine, it soon became part of the Passover meal itself and hence part of our Mass.
As early as the fourth century, catechists explained that the water represented humanity of Christ and the wine, divinity of Christ. Once you put the water into the wine, it’s impossible to take it out again. Because of Jesus, humanity can never again be separated permanently from God. So the custom continues today as the priest or deacon pray the following prayer during this gesture: “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”
The practice of dropping a piece of the consecrated Host into the chalice may have started because of the ancient Roman custom known as fermentum. Christians in the suburbs of the Roman Empire could not always travel to Rome for Eucharist. So when the bishop broke the bread before Communion, he would set aside a piece for each missing congregation. A minister of the Eucharist brought this fermentum to each suburban church later, where the priest would drop it into the chalice to be consumed by everyone in the congregation during the communion rite. Thus, the bishop’s Eucharist “fermented” this celebration. Eventually, the pope also began to set aside a piece for this next celebration. This was called the sacra, and it, too, was added to the chalice to show that this Mass is a continuation of the one before it--the one sacrifice of Christ. Priests began imitating the pope by breaking off a piece of the bread just consecrated. Some then explained this as a sign of Christ’s Resurrection. A body without blood is dead, but when Christ’s body is “reunited” with his blood, Christ is risen. This gesture continues to this day, as priests pray the prayer; “May this mingling of the Body and Blood of Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it.”
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is recited using ordinary rosary beads of five decades. The chaplet is preceded by two opening prayers from the Diary of St. Faustina and is followed by a closing prayer.
1-Make the sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
2-Optional Opening Prayers
You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomed Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.
(repeat three times) O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in you.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
5-The Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.
6-The Eternal Father
Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
7-On the Ten Small Beads of Each Decade
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
8-Repeat for the remaining decades
Saying the “Eternal Father” (6) on the “Our Father” bead and then 10 “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion” (7) on the following “Hail Mary” beads.
9-Conclude with Holy God (repeat three times)
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
10-Optional Closing Prayer
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion -- inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy on us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.
What is the Sacred Easter Triduum and why is it important? I thought that Easter Sunday was just one day.
The season of Lent officially comes to an end this year on the evening of Thursday, April 13th. The summit of the Catholic Church’s Liturgical Year is the Sacred Easter Triduum (three days) - beginning with the evening of Holy Thursday, moving into Good Friday and ending with the evening of Easter Sunday. Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery. Paschal Mystery is a term that describes the events of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. On Holy Thursday evening we commemorate, in a special way, Jesus’ institution of the Holy Eucharist and priesthood at the Last Supper. On Good Friday, April 14th, we commemorate Jesus’ solemn death on the cross with services consisting of a Liturgy of the Word, veneration of the Cross and distribution of Holy Communion. No Mass is celebrated on Good Friday because it is the day Jesus died for our sins and therefore we come forward in procession to venerate the Holy Cross. On Holy Saturday, April 15th, our Easter Vigil begins by lighting the new Easter Candle from the Easter fire and then process with lit candles in illuminated darkness. At this first Easter Mass we welcome into our parishes new Catholics who are baptized, confirmed and given Holy Communion for the first time. There is no Easter Sunday without Holy Thursday and Good Friday! Participate in the services during these three holiest days of the church year and experience the full mystery of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
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