Do you have any suggestions for a person who is guilty of sloth and laziness? On account of it, I am often sluggish and this keeps me from many of my responsibilities and duties to be a good and prayerful Catholic.
Sloth, which is one of the Seven Capital Sins, is sorrow or aversion to the good things that God is offering us. And thus, one who has sloth, and hears that God can save them from sins and enable them to do many good works, instead of being happy and eager to embrace these gifts, has a kind of sadness or aversion to them. Perhaps they like their sins and would rather not be free of them. Perhaps the thought of good works seems burdensome. So, the slothful person becomes avoidant of God and the gifts that he is offering.
While this is often manifest through a kind of a laziness or inattentiveness, sometimes the opposite is true. And thus, some slothful people immerse themselves in worldly activities such as business and career, and claim they are far “too busy” to pray, to think about God, or go to Church.
Therefore, at its heart, sloth is a problem about desire; namely, that we do not ardently desire God and the things he is offering.
I might encourage you to pray out of the beatitude, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” (Matt 5:6). In other words, we ought to ask for the desire for God and what he offers, if we don't even have that.
Secondly, I would counsel that while praying for greater desire, some small and initial steps be made toward God. Look for something you can reasonably do, which may not be highly desirable at first, but still can be reasonably accomplished. I once made a Lenten resolution to go to daily Mass at my lunch break. At first, this seemed difficult and irksome. But gradually, I grew to like it, and when Easter came, I just kept going to Mass almost every day to experience its peace and the nourishment of God's Word and his Body and Blood. Often life works like this. We ask for deeper desire, and step out on our request by small actions which build.
We have a priest at our church, who is a huge fan of Medjugorje. While he points out that it is not yet recognized by the church, his "the end is near" approach is not helpful to us who hope to make a difference. Any thoughts of what I can do?
Priests should avoid preaching substantially out of material not approved by the Church. Balance is also necessary. Sober teaching on sin with hope rooted in grace in mercy is the basic meat and potatoes of the preaching task. Encourage Father with what he preaches well, but also request he focus his material on what is approved and less divisive.
In an article entitled "Divorced Catholics," it states that some Bishops in Germany are allowing some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, citing a papal endorsement. What does this papal endorsement state?
There is no papal endorsement. Church policy on Catholics who are divorced and remarried remains unchanged. As a general rule, divorced and remarried Catholics are not able to receive communion or absolution in confession. This is because they are living in an invalid marriage, where at least one of them has been married to someone else before.
In accord with what Jesus teaches in Matthew 19, Matthew 5, Mark 10, and other places, those who divorce and then remarry are in a state of adultery. And, since their marriage is ongoing, and regular conjugal relations are presumed, Catholics in this state are not usually able to make a firm act of contrition which includes the promise to avoid adulterous sex in the future. Hence, they cannot receive absolution, neither can they be offered Holy Communion.
In relatively rare situations, some Catholics are able to live with their current spouse and a kind of “brother‐sister” relationship where no sexual relations are part of the picture. Sometimes this is due to mutual agreement between the spouses, and sometimes it is due to health-related issues that preclude sexual activity and will not change in the future. In such rare cases, a Catholic is able to make an act of contrition, receive absolution and be restored to Holy Communion.
Regarding the German Bishops, it has been reported that some are either acting contrary to current Church law, or strongly requesting a change in the law.
Of itself, request to review current church policies is a legitimate matter to consider in any number of areas. As most priests know, many people today find themselves in very complicated situations. Many for example, have returned to the Church after many years away, and often do so with the irregular marriage situations. Some can be quickly and easily rectified. Others, because current or former spouses are uncooperative, create difficulties in people being restored to the full sacramental life of the Church.
Are there ways that we can more efficiently deal with these situations, and at the same time respect the Lord's clear teaching in Scripture? These are ongoing questions.
It is unlikely that there can be any major changes in Church policy in this regard. However, there can be great improvements in explaining our pastoral stance to Catholics who are often confused by what the Church teaches and why. The prayers of the faithful will be very important so the decisions that come forth are wise, prudent, and engender in that respect for Church teaching on marriage.
Indulgences used to be designated by time value: 100 Days, 500 days, etc. Now, only the terms partial and plenary are used. Why the change?
This change to “partial” or “plenary” occurred in 1968 when the Enchiridion of Indulgences was issued. There are several reasons this was done.
First, the designation of “days” did not originally reference that time in Purgatory could be lessened. The origin likely had more to do with the penitential practices of the early Church, which were often lengthy and somewhat severe. Given this, one could visit the Confessors of the Faith, in jail, or who had once been jailed for the practice of the faith. Given the esteem these confessors of the faith were held in by the Church, such a visit, and the promise to say prayers, often resulted in time being knocked off one’s penance by the Bishop. Where and when this designation of days, weeks and years came to be applied to the souls in purgatory by the faithful is not exactly clear.
The second problem designating a time value to indulgences is that we are not certain that Purgatory runs on an earth clock. How time passes there, or if there is time, or how time here relates to time there, is all uncertain.
The third problem is that the merit of a prayer or action depends not only on the action done, but on the dispositions and state of the soul of those who do them. Exactly how fruitful the saying of a rosary is, may not be something we can simply gauge by assigning a number.
Most prayers are not sacraments, but sacramentals. Even indulgenced acts related to the reception of the sacraments do not pertain to the sacrament itself, but to the fruitfulness of the reception of it, and the application of those fruits to another. Hence, we are not speaking of something that works automatically (ex opere operato), but rather something that depends for its fruitfulness to a large extent on the disposition of the one who does it (ex opere operantis).
Most people did find the old system of days, weeks and years to be helpful at gauging the general fruitfulness of certain acts or prayers. These days, however, the Church seems to prefer to leave matters such as this less clearly specified for all the reasons stated. And while common sense might value the rosary above a brief prayer or aspiration, even here it is sometimes best to leave things up to God who sees not only the appearance but looks into the heart.
A fellow Catholic maintains that at some time in the past the Catholic Church believed in reincarnation. Is this true?
As regards the matter of so‐called reincarnation (the belief that we have had previous lives in other bodies, or will come back in other bodies or forms), the view is clearly excluded in Scripture and by Christian Anthropology.
Scripture says, It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Heb 9:27). “Once” is pretty clear, there are no previous deaths or lives, nor shall we face death again. “Once” cannot mean many.
Further, Christian anthropology, rooted in the Scriptures, excludes the notion of reincarnation. This is not the place to set forth a full anthropology, but it is here sufficient to state that the soul is the form of the body and it does not pertain to the same soul to “form” different bodies. I am my body; it is not a mere appendage or container that can be shed or exchanged.
Finally, whenever some claim the Catholic Church once taught something, a good follow‐up request is “Show it to me in writing.” For, many make unsubstantiated claims and the pressure should not be on to defend against something that never happened, but for them to demonstrate clearly the truth of their charge.
Is it true a guardian angel is assigned to every person? If this is so, do our prayers go right to God, or through our guardian angel?
It is taught by the Church that each believer has a guardian angel. The Catechism says "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life." (# 336). And this fact also flows from what Jesus says. "See to it that you do not despise one of these little ones, because I tell you, their angels always behold the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)
Regarding the second part of your question, it can reasonably and rightly be argued that angels do serve as intermediaries in our communication with God. The very word “angel” means “messenger,” and it is clear that God often mediated his message to us through angels.
Regarding our prayers going to God, it is not unreasonable to presume that angels serve in some way to mediate these messages. However, it does not follow that God does not know or hear us if we don't tell our guardian angel something, or that the only way a message can reach God is through his angels. God is omniscient, knowing all things in himself.
Further, while Jesus does not forbid us to pray to our angels, when he teaches us to pray, he tells us to pray to our Father who is in heaven. Hence, though angels may help to serve as intermediaries for these prayers, we ought to have our attention on God. Consider, for example that if we spoke to someone through a translator, we would not tell the translator to say something to the other person, we speak directly to the other person and simply allow the translator to do his or her work.
Hence, exactly how the angels serve as intermediaries in our prayers to God is somewhat speculative, but the point is to focus on God and pray to him in a natural way. To whatever manner and degree God has our angels serve as intermediaries is really not important for us to know. What is important is that God hears us, that he knows our needs, and what we say, and that he loves us.
I read in a certain spiritual work that at the Last Supper the Holy Eucharist returned to being bread only when received by the traitor Judas Iscariot. Is this true?
No, when the bread and wine are consecrated and become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, this effects a permanent and substantial change, such that the Body and Blood of Christ will not go back to being something else. Further, there's no reason, biblically or theologically, to hold that the case of Judas would be any different.
Prior to Vatican II, Passion Sunday was the 5th Sunday of Lent and Palm Sunday was observed on the subsequent Sunday.
For many centuries, the 5th Sunday of Lent was called “Passion Sunday,” while the Sunday after it was called, “Palm Sunday.”
Currently the Roman Rite denotes Palm Sunday as “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion,” which combines the two observances.
Dom Prosper Gueranger explains in his Liturgical Year the reason why the 5th Sunday of Lent was once called Passion Sunday:
“This Sunday is called Passion Sunday because the Church begins on this day to make the Sufferings of our Redeemer her chief thought. It is called also Judica from the first word of the Introit of the Mass and again Neomania that is the Sunday of the new or the Easter moon, because it always falls after the new moon, which regulates the Feast of Easter Day.”
Passion Sunday also marked the beginning of a special sub-season called Passiontide, which extended up until Holy Saturday. During this time the Church’s liturgy became more somber and a sorrowful mood was reflected in the various practices that occurred in the liturgy.
Palm Sunday was the same celebration as it is today, with the procession of palm branches and the reading of the Passion narrative.
The Church simply saw fit to prepare the hearts of the faithful for the Passion of Jesus during the last two weeks of Lent by calling the 5th Sunday of Lent Passion Sunday.
After Vatican II, the Church decided to combine the two Sundays, removing Passion Sunday from the calendar and adding its name to Palm Sunday. This puts a greater emphasis on Palm Sunday and also reinforces the Passion narrative that is proclaimed on that day.
You Catholics pray to Saints but the Bible says there is only one mediator, Jesus. How can you justify this?
Jesus of course mediates a relationship with the Father in a way no one else can. No one comes to the Father except through Him. However, in terms of our relationship with him, Jesus has established things and people which help mediate our relationship with him: apostles, evangelists and teachers have roles of service to build up the body of Christ. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God. Therefore, our relationship with Jesus is mediated by both Scripture and those whom the Lord sends to evangelize us.
You seem to understand "one mediator," in a completely univocal and absolute sense. If so, then you should never ask anyone to pray for you. Neither should you listen to a sermon or even read scripture. For these are things and people which mediate Christ to you in some sense.
Catholics do not hold that the prayers of Saints substitute for Christ's mediation, but rather are subordinate to it, and facilitated by him. For, as Head of the Body the Church, he creates a communion of all the members, allowing, and expecting that all the members of the body assist and support one another. This does not substitute for Christ's mediation, but rather, presupposes it.
It is an abbreviation for Jesus Nazarenus, Rex Judeorum – Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. In Latin the “I” and “J” are usually interchangeable and ancient Latin did not use the “J”. That is why it is INRI not JNRJ.
It was common for the Romans to hang a “titulus” or sign above the crucified to indicate the charges against him. Scripture says that Pilate put the charges in Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
Pilate placed this title above Jesus in scorn and mockery rather than faith. He also likely knew it would irritate the Jewish leaders, which it did (see Jn 19:21).
Yet even in his ridicule, Pilate spoke truth. Jesus is King, not of the Jews only, but of all things.
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