I was surprised to read somewhere that “the practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged.” Please explain this. What if I was told the name of my angel in prayer?
A document written in 2001 by the Congregation for Divine Worship entitled, Directory on Popular Piety in the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines, says, "The practice of assigning names to the holy angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel Raphael and Michael, whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.” (#127)
While the Congregation does not offer reasons for discouraging the practice, I would like to offer a couple.
First, there is the understanding of what a name is. For most of us in the modern Western world, a name is simply a sound we go by. But in the ancient, Biblical world, and even in many places today, a name has a far deeper meaning. A name describes something of the essence of the person. This helps explain the ancient practice of the Jews to name the child on the eighth day. The delay gave the parents some time to observe something of the essence of the child, and then, noting it, they would name the child. Indeed most Biblical names are deeply meaningful, and descriptive.
But it is presumptive to think that we can know enough of the essence of a particular angel, in order to be able to assign a name. Hence, assigning a name seems inappropriate.
The second reason is that assigning a name indicates some superiority over the one named. Thus, in the case of children, parents, who are superior over their children, rightly name them. However, in the case of angels, they are superior to us. And, even though we often speak of them as serving us, they do this on account of their superior power and as guardians. Thus, God commands us to heed their voice (cf Ex 23:20-21)
So, naming an angel does seem problematic, and to be discouraged. As for the name being revealed to you, let me respectfully offer that this is not likely the case, since it seems unlikely that an Angel, or the Holy Spirit, would act contrary to the directive of the Church, herself graced to speak for Christ.
Our new assistant pastor sometimes uses his iPad on the altar instead of the Book. This seems strange to me. Is it allowed?
You are not alone in thinking it strange. It is one of those new things on the scene that seem odd in the context of an ancient liturgy. To most I have discussed this with, the iPad is not ready for prime time, in its current form, for liturgical use.
Indeed, the Bishops of New Zealand recently clarified that while the iPad may have many good uses, for the Liturgy, the priest should stick with the liturgical books. New Zealand’s bishops are praising the usefulness of the iPad and other such electronic devices, but clarifying that for the liturgy, it’s important to stick to the book. They wrote: All faiths have sacred books which are reserved for those rituals and activities which are at the heart of the faith. The Catholic Church is no different, and the Roman Missal is one of our sacred books, and its physical form is an indicator of its special role in our worship. Based on this, they go on to say that electronic devices may not be used by the priest at the liturgy, in place of the sacred books.
One can envision a time in the future when sacred books may take on electronic form, just as current printed books replaced ancient handwritten scrolls, and paper replaced parchment and lambskins. But now is not that time.
Since the Pulpit is no longer used to inform Catholics what the Church teaches (the sermons I hear only reflect the Gospel of that day), how are Catholics to know Church teaching?
It is true that many Catholics today are poorly formed in the faith. Yet there are many reasons for this, not just silent pulpits. Neither is it necessarily fair to describe pulpits as silent. I know my own isn't, and I know many brother priests who carefully teach the faith from their own pulpits. This is certainly an ongoing process. I would say it takes at least five years in a parish before I can say, with St. Paul, that I have proclaimed “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
All that said, it is problematic to place exclusive focus on the pulpit, for there are many ways that the Catholic faith must be taught. This is especially the case since most Catholics Masses have sermons lasting little more than twelve minutes. Thus, other things must be added beyond the sermon in order to teach the faith.
At the heart of handing on the faith, is the family. And thus, catechesis must focus on renewing and equipping the family to better teach the faith. In my own parish, while the children are in Sunday school classes, I, as pastor, teach the parents what their children are learning. I also model for them how to teach. For example, we read Bible stories together, and then show them how to teach using those stories. We also learn how to use the Catechism to find answers.
Beyond the parish, there are many wonderful resources for Catholics to learn of their faith. The publication, “Our Sunday Visitor”, is one good example. There are also many publications, blogs, websites, and various forms of Catholic media, including movies and lecture series.
Hence, beyond the pulpit, many other things are both needed, and offered. Indeed we are very blessed today with many resources that help to teach the faith.
If a priest who has had five years to discern his vocation can be laicized, why does a couple, who may court only six months to a year need a Church annulment? Doesn’t a person who wishes to remarry deserve happiness?
Your question seems to imply that laicization is a simple process. It is not, and often takes investigation, the preparing of a petition, and sometimes the gathering of testimony. This may take years to complete. Annulments, while not easy, can often be accomplished in six months to a year, depending on the diocese and complexity of the case. But the fact is, neither are easy.
That said, there is an important difference. Laicization does not generally seek to prove an ordination never took place or was invalid. It presumes the man was validly ordained and only releases him of his ecclesial obligations to live all the disciplines of priestly life such as perpetual celibacy, and the duties of the saying the Liturgy of the Hours, and celebrating Mass, etc.
Annulment on the other hand, is the recognition by the Church, based on evidence given, that a valid Catholic Marriage never occurred, since something essential was lacking. This of course requires proof that must be presented and then considered. And that, like the process of laicization, takes some time.
Both processes ultimately involve matters of great sadness and have significant pastoral implications. For while recognizing human struggles, the Church must also seek to uphold the gravity of vows that are made. Showing compassion to the individuals who seek annulments or laicization must be balanced with the common good, the reality of sacraments, and what Scripture teaches. The happiness of certain individuals cannot be the Church’s only concern. Hence, the pastoral process involved must necessarily be thorough and careful.
"Building our Catholic faith one question at a time."