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Posts Tagged ‘Virgin Mary’

The Sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist, and Penance are arguably the three most important Sacraments in the life of the Church.  Without these three Sacraments, according to Jesus, it’s impossible to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Baptism makes us adopted children of God and ushers us into His family.  The Sacrament of Penance removes the stain of sin, thereby allowing us to die in a state of grace worthy of a life in heaven. The Sacrament of Holy Eucharist gives us new life through the Body and Blood of Christ. Yet, we cannot approach the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist if we are in a state of sin; in sin we quite literally cut ourselves off from the Body of Christ. To find life in Christ, we simply must have ready access to the Sacrament of Penance.

Jesus is quite clear – if we die in a state of mortal sin, we’re out, all the way out.  Once we depart this life, there are no “second chances.”  There is no do-over.  We die and our soul receives final, eternal judgment.  To this, consider as well how easy it is for one to fall into mortal sin in today’s “anything goes” secular society which routinely promotes absolute perversion as “good.”  Perhaps more than any other time in history, temptation abounds.

While it’s not wise since it generally arises from being over-scrupulous, there is no theological barrier of which I’m aware that would prevent someone who doesn’t regularly partake in the Eucharist (but attends Mass) from gaining admission into Heaven (provided of course the person satisfies the Precepts of the Church which includes receiving the Eucharist at least once a year during Easter).  Yet, we very clearly risk non-admission into the Kingdom of Heaven by forgoing the Sacrament of Penance – not to mention the additional sinfulness of receiving the Eucharist while in a state of sin, especially mortal sin.

Give all this, why is Sacrament of Penance the least available and least promoted of the Sacraments?  If the parishioners are lucky, the average “Catholic” church today offers the Sacrament of Penance for perhaps thirty minutes in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.  Oh, sure, these churches often claim it’s available anytime – by advance appointment only, please.

Multiple “performances” of the liturgy are available all weekend with morning, matinee and evening shows all designed to work around your busy schedule – no advance reservation required, walk-ins welcome.  If you’re lucky, along with an ad-libbing MC (formerly known as a priest), in some cases, they might even throw in some clowns or “liturgical dances” for your “theological” entertainment.  But need someone to hear your confession?  Not likely.  Besides, once you do get in for your face-to-face wrap session (after all, Confessionals with partitions are so pre-Vatican II) with Father Friendly, he’ll probably tell you your sins aren’t really considered sins anymore, so don’t worry, be happy!

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

These churches often defend this lack of access to the Sacrament of Penance by claiming not many people show up on Saturday anyways, so it’d be a waste of time to offer it more often.  The majority of Catholics today suffer under pitiful “catechesis” inspired by the false “Spirit of Vatican II” – a “spirit” completely unsupported by the actual documents of Vatican II.  The average pew sitter is woefully misinformed about the Truths of the Faith.  Is it any wonder they’re not showing up at the confessional – especially when it’s in the middle of Saturday afternoon, which is the one day most families actually get some time in today’s hectic world to spend time together?  Frankly, I’m surprised anyone shows up at all.

However, I believe the movie line applies here, “Build it and they will come.”  Offer the Sacrament of Penance on a regular, accessible basis, teach the faithful about its importance and they will come, for if they truly desire salvation and unity with the Lord, they must come.

Every Mass offered by priests of SSPX and FSSP, to give but two examples, offer the Sacrament of Penance before the Mass – in addition to offering it at other times as well.  Quite a novel concept – the faithful show up at the church, participate in the Sacrament of Penance and then actively participate in the Mass with clean souls!  The Sacrament of Penance is offered on a regular, accessible basis and all the faithful participate.  Why is this process so difficult for regular “Catholic” parishes (or “communities” or “worship spaces” or whatever they’re calling themselves today) to implement? [Note: SSPX is mentioned here as an example to show that even a group with questionable standing in the Church at least understands the great importance of access to the Sacrament of Penance.]

Why, fathers and bishops, do so many of you insist on denying, or at least making very inconvenient, access to the Sacrament of Penance?  Sacred Scripture teaches that you are responsible for the souls of the faithful.  With responsibility comes accountability: You will be held to a higher standard than the un-ordained laity.  Stand up and follow many of your Holy Brethren by breathing new life into the Sacrament of Penance and leading the faithful into active participation in this live-saving and life-giving gift of God.

Ave Maria!

+JMJ

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St. Michael

Month of Our Lady of Sorrows (Sept) / Month of the Most Holy Rosary (Oct)

Sunday, September 26 – 18th Sunday after Pentecost (Traditional) / 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (New)

Sts. Cosmas & Damian (283), twins, Martyrs, Patrons of Physicians and Pharmacists (New)

Sts. Cyprian & Justina (3rd c.), Martyrs (Traditional)

Sts. Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, Priests and Companions (1642, 1646, 1648, 1649), Martyrs, Secondary Patrons of Canada (Traditional/some places)

Monday, September 27

St. Vincent de Paul (1660), Priest, Founder, Patron of All Charitable Societies (New)

Sts. Cosmas & Damian (283), twins, Martyrs, Patrons of Physicians and Pharmacists (Traditional)

Tuesday, September 28

St.Wenceslaus (929), Duke, Martyr, Patron of Bohemia (New, Traditional)

St. Lawrence Ruiz, Husband, Father and Companion (1633-1637), Martyr (New)

Blessed John of Dukla (1484), Religious (Historical)

Wednesday, September 29

Sts. Michael, Gabriel & Raphael, Archangels (New)

Dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel (530), (Michaelmas Day) (Traditional)

Thursday, September 30

St. Jerome (420), Priest, Doctor of the Church, Translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible (New, Traditional)

Friday, October 1 – First Friday

(Obligatory Day of Abstinence from Meat or Substitution of Some Other Sacrifice)

St. Therese of Lisieux (1897), Virgin, Religious, Doctor of the Church, Patroness of All Foreign Missions (New)

St. Remigius (Remi) (530), Bishop (Traditional)

Saturday, October 2 – First Saturday

The Holy Guardian Angels (New, Traditional)

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Padre Pio

Month of Our Lady of Sorrows

Sunday, September 19 – 17th Sunday after Pentecost (Traditional) / 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (New)

St. Januarius (Gennaro) (304), Bishop, Martyr, Patron of Naples and Companions (Traditional, New)

Our Lady of La Salette, 1846

Monday, September 20

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Priest, Paul Chong Hasang, Catechist & Companions (1839-1867), Korean Martyrs (New)

St. Eustace and Companions (118), Martyrs; St. Eustace, Patron Against Fire (Temporal or Eternal) and of Those in Difficult Circumstances (Tradiational)

Tuesday, September 21

St. Matthew (65), Apostle, Evangelist, Martyr, Patron of Bankers and Accountants (Traditional, New)

Wednesday, September 22 – Ember Wednesday in September (Traditional)

(Day on Which Fasting and Partial Abstinence Formerly Required)

St. Thomas of Villanova (1555), Bishop, Religious, Patron of Valencia (Traditional)

St. Maurice and Companions (c. 285), Martyrs (Tradiational)

Thursday, September 23

St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) (1968), Priest, Religious, Stigmatist (New)

St. Linus (79), Priest, Martyr (Tradiational)

St. Thecla (1st c.), Virgin, Martyr, Invoked for the Dying (Traditional)

St. Constantius the Sacrisan (1st c.) (Historical)

Friday, September 24 – Ember Friday in September (Traditional)

(Obligatory Day of Abstinence from Meat or Substitution of Some Other Sacrifice)

Our Lady of Ransom (1218) (Traditional)

St. Pacific of San Severino (1707), Priest (Historical)

Saturday, September 25 – Ember Saturday in September (Traditional)

(Day on Which Fasting and Partial Abstinence Formerly Required)

Blessed Herman the Cripple (1054), Religious, Author of the Salve Regina (Historical)

St. Finbar (Barry) (633), Bishop (Historical)

St. Cleophas (1st c.) (Historical)

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On the Function of the Theologian

© 2010 by Steven Schultz

     The theologian’s vocation fulfills a critically important role within the life of the Church.  Pope John Paul II taught, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth…”  By helping provide reason for faith, the theologian assists the People of God, again as John Paul II put it, “…so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”  One of the most important documents explaining the role of the theologian is Donum Veritatis.  We shall use this document as our guide in exploring the function of the theologian, as well as showing how dissent from the Magisterium impedes the true function of the theologian.[1]

An important point to contemplate at the outset is the fact, in Donum Veritatis, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith teaches that the role of theologian is a vocation.[2]  The work of a theologian is not simply a “job” or ordinary labor.  Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia defines vocation thus: “In the Christian life, the divine calling to follow a certain course of action in life…”[3]  By evoking the term vocation, the Congregation sets apart the work of a theologian as something special.

Donum Veritatis teaches us that “the truth which sets us free is a gift of Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 8:32).  Man’s nature calls him to seek the truth while ignorance keeps him in a condition of servitude… In the Christian faith, knowledge and life, truth and existence are intrinsically connected.  Assuredly, the truth given in God’s revelation exceeds the capacity of human knowledge, but it is not opposed to human reason.”[4]  The Sacrament of Baptism serves as the initiation into the mystery of Christ and sets the believer on a search for deeper understanding, or as St. Paul puts it, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18).[5]  Theology is the method by which believers “search for an understanding of the faith” and “is therefore something indispensable for the Church.”[6]

This indispensable role of theology has always been important for the Church, particularly “in times of great spiritual and cultural change,” so that She may carry out God’s plan, “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4).  In this mission, theology is exposed to risks “since it must strive to ‘abide’ in the truth (cf. Jn 8:31), while at the same time taking into account the new problems which confront the human spirit.”  As we shall see, these risks are greatest when theologians dissent from the Magisterium, but mitigated when theologians operate with reverence and respect for the Magisterium.[7]

The vocation of the theologian is “to pursue in particular way ever deeper understanding of the Word of God found in Sacred Scriptures and handed on by the living Tradition of the Church.”  Fr. Aidan Nichols sums up this function by stating, “The task of theology is the disciplined exploration of what is contained in revelation.”[8]  In order to fulfill their vocation, theologians must operate in communion with the Magisterium, which has the responsibility to safeguard the deposit of faith.  In providing a deeper understanding of the faith, the theologian also “aids the People of God in fulfilling the Apostle’s command (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) to give an accounting for their hope to those who ask it.”[9]

Theology “seeks ‘reasons of faith’ and offers these reasons as a response to those seeking them.”  Through this process, theology becomes obedient to Christ’s command to make “disciples” of all nations and teach them, “for men cannot become disciples if the truth found in the word of faith is not presented to them (cf. Rom 10:14f).”  Theology contributes to the faith by enabling it to be communicated.  By the act of faith, man begins to love God.  This love leads him to seek deeper understanding of the beloved – theology helps satisfy this desire.[10]

The theologian is called to a high standard.  “Since the object of theology is the Truth, which is the living God and His plan for salvation revealed in Jesus Christ, the theologian is called to deepen his own life of faith and continuously unite his scientific research with prayer.”[11]  Similarly, while theology has developed into a true and proper science, and must hold to rigorous critical standards, it must not succumb to a critical spirit of feeling or prejudice.  Commitment to theology requires a spiritual effort to grow in virtue and holiness.[12]  Theologians must also recognize the human ability to know truth.  Divine revelation evaluates other sciences, not vice versa.[13]

A theologian must remember he is part of the People of God and must show respect for them by presenting only “teaching which in no way does harm to the doctrine of the faith” — which is Truth.[14]  Likewise, “the freedom proper to a theological research is exercised within the Church’s faith.”[15]  Consequently, theology, rightly done, “entails in essence an objective discussion, a fraternal dialogue, an openness and willingness to modify one’s own opinions.”[16]  While enjoying academic freedom, the theologian must accept as principles the object of theology as being given by divine Revelation, handed on and interpreted in the Church under the authority of the Magisterium.[17]

The Magisterium has a pastoral role of vigilance over the Faith.  “It seeks to ensure the People of God remain in the truth which sets free.”[18]  Theologians must understand this “proper mission of the Magisterium and collaborate with it.”[19]  The nature of the task to religiously guard and loyally teach the faith (Revelation) “implies the Magisterium can make pronouncements ‘in a definitive way’ on propositions which, even if not contained among the truths of the faith,” derive necessarily from Revelation itself.[20]  Therefore, morality can also be an object of the authentic Magisterium.  “Moral teachings [contained in Revelation] which per se could be known by natural reason” can be infallibly taught by the Magisterium.[21]

The Magisterium and theology “while having different gifts and functions, ultimately share the same goal: preserving the People of God in the Truth which sets free and thereby making them ‘a light to the nations’.”[22]  The Magisterium authentically teaches the doctrine of Jesus and the Apostles; theology provides a deeper meaning to this doctrine.[23]  In obedience to the faith, whatever the Magisterium proclaims, even if not infallible, must be firmly accepted and held.[24]  With this in mind, the theologian is charged with aiding future understanding of the Magisterium’s pronouncements, not refuting them.

Dissent is public opposition to the Magisterium.  Among the factors fostering dissent is growth of the ideology of philosophical liberalism, which places greater credence on individual thought than authority of tradition.  Dissent also comes about when public opinion is manipulated by “mass media” and people are pressured to conform.  However, we must remember the Church has always held “nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will.”[25]

Some believe theologians are not bound to any Magisterial teaching unless it is proclaimed infallibly, especially with regard to specific moral norms, believing it’s largely up to the individual to accept or reject teachings as he sees fit.[26]  Two arguments are often put forth to defend dissent.  The first is a hermeneutical argument which claims the Magisterium is nothing more than debatable theology.  The second is a theological pluralism/relativism which calls the integrity of the faith into question.[27]  Another form of dissent says “truth” is determined only by a majority opinion of a large number of Christians at a particular time on a particular issue.[28]

However, “the freedom of the act of faith cannot justify dissent.”[29]  It is a voluntary act to live in the faith and submit one’s will to the will of God.  Being subjects to the Law of God, we cannot appeal to the rights of man in order to oppose the Magisterium.[30]  Likewise, appealing to the so-called “obligation” to follow one’s conscience is not a justification for dissent since “conscience is not an independent and infallible faculty.”[31]

The mission and responsibility of the Magisterium with regards the Word of God gives it the power to pronounce against the work of theologians who harm the faith.   The Church is organized on a hierarchical structure instituted by Christ; not a democracy or poll for consensus of public opinion.  Therefore, theologians must operate in a spirit of communion to build Christ’s Body in unity and truth.[32]  As Cardinal Avery Dulles writes, “room must be made for responsible dissent [disagreement] in the Church, but dissent must not be glorified as though church authorities were generally ignorant, self-serving, and narrow-minded.”[33]

Bishops and theologians must remember “Christ is the definitive Word of the Father (cf. Heb 1:2)…He is the Truth who sets us free (cf. Jn 8:36; 14:6).”[34]  Consequently, our response to His Word is one of selfless, willing obedience.  The Virgin Mary, in her free and complete surrender of her will to the will of God, serves as our model of accepting and serving the Word of God.[35]

This article is copyright and may not be reporduced or reposted in any form without express written permission of the author.


Endnotes

[1] Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (Boston, MA: Pauline, 1998), 7.

[2] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Veritatis – On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian (May 24, 1990), 6.

[3] Rev Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ed., Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, Revised Edition (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1998), 996.

[4] Donum Veritatis (DV), 1.

[5] DV, 1

[6] DV, 1.

[7] DV, 1.

[8] Aidan Nichols, The Shape of Catholic Theology (Collegville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991), 32.

[9] DV, 6.

[10] DV, 7.

[11] DV, 8.

[12] DV, 9.

[13] DV, 10.

[14] DV, 11.

[15] DV, 11.

[16] DV, 11.

[17] DV, 12.

[18] DV, 20.

[19] DV, 20.

[20] DV, 16.

[21] DV, 16.

[22] DV, 21.

[23] DV, 21.

[24] DV, 23.

[25] DV, 32.

[26] DV, 33.

[27] DV, 34.

[28] DV, 35.

[29] DV, 36.

[30] DV, 36.

[31] DV, 38.

[32] DV, 37, 39, 40.

[33] Avery Dulles, Craft of Theology (New York: Crossroad, 1992), 14.

[34] DV, 41.

[35] DV, 42.

Bibliography

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  Donum Veritatis – On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian.  May 24, 1990.

Dulles, Avery.  The Craft of Theology.  New York: Crossroad, 1992.

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, New Testament, Second Catholic Edition RSV.  San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2010.

John Paul II.  Fides et Ratio.  Boston, MA: Pauline, 1998.

Nichols, Aidan.  The Shape of Catholic Theology.  Collegville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991.

Stravinskas, Rev Peter M. J., Ed.  Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, Revised Edition.  Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1998.

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St. Joseph of Cupertino

Month of Our Lady of Sorrows

Sunday, September 12 – 16th Sunday after Pentecost (Traditional) / 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (New)

The Most Holy Name of Mary (Traditional, New)

Monday, September 13

St. John Chrysostom (407), Bishop, Doctor of the Church, Patron of Orators (New)

Tuesday, September 14 – Exaltation of the Holy Cross (335, 629) (Traditional, New)

St. Maternus (1st c.), Bishop (Historical)

St. Notburga (1313), Virgin, Patroness of Peasants, Servants and the Poor (Historical)

Wednesday, September 15 – The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady (Traditional) / Our Lady of Sorrows (New)

St. Nicomedes (90), Martyr (Traditional)

St. Catherine of Genoa (1510), Widow (Historical)

Thursday, September 16

Sts. Cornelius (253), Patron, Martyr, & Cyprian (258), Bishop, Martyr (Traditional, New)

Sts. Euphemia, Lucy and Geminianus (4th c.), Martyrs (Tradiational)

Friday, September 17

(Obligatory Day of Abstinence from Meat or Substitution of Some Other Sacrifice)

St. Robert Bellarmine (1621), Jesuit, Bishop, Cardinal, Doctor of the Church (New)

The Imprinting of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi (1224) (Traditional)

St. Hildegarde (1179), Abbot (Historical)

Saturday, September 18

St. Joseph of Cupertino (1663), Priest, Religious, Patron of Aviators and Those Who Fly (Traditional)

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From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962:

This season begins with the Feast of the Blessed Trinity and is the longest of the Liturgical Year.  It may comprise from twenty-four to twenty-eight weeks and differs considerably from the other liturgical seasons.

In the Liturgical Year there is a historical progression, beginning in Advent with the waiting for the coming of the Messias, followed by His birth at Christmas.  During the Sundays after Epiphany, the Holy Childhood is commemorated, while during Lent we are reminded of the fasting in the desert and the Passion of our Lord.  The sacred cycle is completed at Eastertide, and the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles.

In this last part of the ecclesiastical year, the Church, guided by the Holy Ghost, continues the work of the Redemption, realized during the preceding part of the Liturgical Year.

“The Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind whatsoever I shall have said to you.”

This last season of the Liturgical Year is filled with feasts of major importance: those of the Blessed Trinity, Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart, the Assumption and Nativity of our Lady, All Saints, and All Souls.

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Our Lady of Lourdes

Sunday, February 7 – Sexagesima Sunday (Traditional)/5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (New)

St. Romuald (1027), Abbot, Founder of the Camaldolese Order (Traditional)

St. Richard of Lucca (722), King, Father of Sts. Walburga, Willibald and Winnebald (Historical)

Monday, February 8

St. Jerome Emiliani (1537), Priest, Founder, Patron of Orphans & Abandoned Children (New)

St. Josephine Bakhita (1947), Virgin, Religious (New)

St. John of Matha (1213), Priest, Founder of the Trinitarians (Traditional)

Tuesday, February 9

St. Cyril of Alexandria (444), Bishop, Doctor of the Church (Traditional)

St. Apollonia (249), Virgin, Martyr, Patroness of Dentists (Traditional)

St. Nicephorus (260), Martyr (Historical)

Wednesday, February 10

St. Scholastica (543), Virgin, Religious, Founder, Twin of St. Benedict, Patron of Convulsive Children (Traditional, New)

Thursday, February 11

Our Lady of Lourdes (1858) (Traditional, New)

St. Saturninus, (304), Priest and Companion, Martyr (Historical)

Friday, February 12

Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Servites (1233) (Traditional)

St. Eulalia (304), Virgin, Martyr (Historical)

Saturday, February 13

St. Catherine de Ricci (1589), Virgin, Florentine Dominican & Visionary (Historical)

St. Polyeucte (259), Roman Officer (Historical)

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