Holiness is Ordinary

01-10-2021Weekly ReflectionBr. Elijah Dubeck O.P.

Each year in early to mid-January, the Church’s celebration of Christmas comes to a close, meaning that we now find ourselves in what the English-speaking world calls “Ordinary Time.” The priests return to wearing green vestments; we hear a continuous flow of the Gospel readings from Sunday to Sunday; and hymn choices switch out of holiday mode. Yet, if we were to look at a missal or breviary in Latin or from before the liturgical reforms following Vatican II, we would be hard pressed to find the phrase “Tempus Ordinarium.” The Latin instead reads “Tempus per annum” or “the time during the year.”

Why do we call it “ordinary,” then? Instead of getting into the often fiery debates of translation, let’s look at a less well-known text that teaches us about the liturgy: The Ceremonial of Bishops.

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Rosemary in the Life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

01-03-2021Weekly ReflectionMargaret Rose Realy

Joseph would have added sprigs of rosemary to the stable‛s straw, to protect infant Jesus from bugs.

The purple of Advent and Lent is the color that bookends the life of Jesus. Both holy seasons are penitential, in preparation for the coming of the Christ: the Incarnation, Resurrection and Return. I like the continuity of a color that threads its symbolism through our religion. We know by altar linens and chasubles of priests what season we are in, and what prayers will be said. The purple of penitence and preparation, reds of sacrifice, whites of virtue and victory and the green of hope and freedom.

There is also symbolism in the plants used in our rituals; the most familiar are the fronds on Palm Sunday (burned to create the Ashes of Wednesday that mark the start of Lent) and evergreens throughout Advent and Christmas.

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Vaccines for COVID-19

12-20-2020Weekly ReflectionMost Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades

Important Message from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

There appears to be some confusion in the media regarding the moral permissibility of using the vaccines for COVID-19 developed by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna. We would like to offer some clarifications. Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine involved the use of cell lines that originated in fetal tissue taken from the body of an aborted baby at any level of design, development, or production.1 They are not completely free from any connection to abortion, however, as both Pfizer and Moderna made use of a tainted cell line for one of the confirmatory lab tests of their products. There is thus a connection, but it is relatively remote. Some are asserting that if a vaccine is connected in any way with tainted cell lines then it is immoral to be vaccinated with them. This is an inaccurate portrayal of Catholic moral teaching. There are three documents from the Holy See that treat the question of tainted vaccines: 1) the 2005 study by the Pontifical Academy for Life, "Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived from Aborted Human Foetuses"; 2) paragraphs nos. 34-35 in the 2008 Instruction on Certain Bioethical Questions (Dignitatis Personae) by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; 3) the 2017 Note on Italian Vaccine Issue, by the Pontifical Academy for Life. These documents all point to the immorality of using tissue taken from an aborted child for creating cell lines. They also make distinctions in terms of the moral responsibility of the various actors involved, from those involved in designing and producing a vaccine to those receiving the vaccine. Most importantly, they all make it clear that, at the level of the recipient, it is morally permissible to accept vaccination when there are no alternatives and there is a serious risk to health.

Why do we offer Mass for the Dead

11-08-2020Weekly ReflectionFather William Saunders

The offering of Mass for the repose of the soul of the faithful departed is linked with our belief in Purgatory. We believe that if a person has died fundamentally believing in God but with venial sins and the hurt caused by sin, then God in His divine love and mercy will first purify the soul After this purification has been completed, the soul will have the holiness and purity needed to share in the beatific vision in heaven. While each individual stands judgment before the Lord and must render an account of his life, the communion of the Church shared on this earth continues, except for those souls dammed to hell.

The Vatican Council II affirmed, "This sacred council accepts loyally the venerable faith of our ancestors in the living communion which exists between us and our brothers who are in the glory of heaven or who are yet being purified after their death..." (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No. 51). Therefore, just as we pray for each other and share each other's burdens now, the faithful on earth can offer prayers and sacrifices to help the departed souls undergoing purification, and no better prayer could be offered than that of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

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Declarations of Pope Francis Regarding Civil Unions

11-01-2020Weekly ReflectionRaymond Leo Cardinal Burke

The worldwide communications media have reported with strong emphasis, as a change of course, the news that Pope Francis has declared that persons in the homosexual condition, as children of God, “have a right to have a family” and that “no one should be thrown out or be made unhappy because of it.” Moreover, they write that he has declared: “What we have to create is a civil union. In this way they will be legally covered. I have defended this.” The declarations were made in an interview with Evgeny Afineevsky, director of a documentary, “Francesco,” premiered on October 21, 2020, on the occasion of the Rome Film Festival (Festa del Film di Roma).

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Marriage and Family Life

10-11-2020Weekly ReflectionThe United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

70. The family founded upon marriage is the basic cell of human society. The role, responsibilities, and needs of families should be central national priorities. Marriage must be defined, recognized, and protected as a lifelong exclusive commitment between a man and a woman, and as the source of the next generation and the protective haven for children.8 The institution of marriage is undermined by the ideology of "gender" that dismisses sexual difference and the complementarity of the sexes and falsely presents "gender" as nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality, which a person may choose at variance with his or her biological reality (see Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 224). As Pope Francis has taught, "the removal of [sexual] difference creates a problem, not a solution" (General Audience, April 22, 2015). "Thus the Church reaffirms . . . her no to 'gender' philosophies, because the reciprocity between male and female is an expression of the beauty of nature willed by the Creator" (Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Jan. 19, 2013). This affirmation in no way compromises the Church's opposition to unjust discrimination against those who experience "deep-seated homosexual tendencies," who "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358).

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Applying Catholic Teaching to Major Issues

10-04-2020Weekly ReflectionThe United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

63. Politics is a noble mission to promote the common good. As such, it is about ethics and principles as well as issues, candidates, and officeholders. To engage in “politics,” then, is more than getting involved in current polemics and debates; it is about acting with others and through institutions for the benefit of all. The fact that much of our political rhetoric has become very negative and that political polarization seems to have grown should not dissuade us from the high calling to work for a world that allows everyone to thrive, a world in which all persons, all families, have what they need to fulfill their God given destiny. In our democracy, one aspect of this task for all of us requires that we weigh issues and related policies. In this brief summary, we bishops call attention to issues with significant moral dimensions that should be carefully considered in each campaign and as policy decisions are made in the years to come. As the descriptions below indicate, some issues involve principles that can never be abandoned, such as the fundamental right to life and marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Others reflect our judgment about the best way to apply Catholic principles to policy issues. No summary could fully reflect the depth and details of the positions taken through the work of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). While people of good will may sometimes choose different ways to apply and act on some of our principles, Catholics cannot ignore their inescapable moral challenges or simply dismiss the Church’s guidance or policy directions that flow from these principles. For a more complete review of these policy directions and their moral foundations, see the statements listed at the end of this document.

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Why Does the Church Teach About Issues Affecting Public Policy?

09-27-2020Weekly ReflectionThe United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship - A Call to Political Responsibility From the Catholic Bishops of the United States

Why Does the Church Teach About Issues Affecting Public Policy?

The Church’s teachings concerning contingent situations are subject to new and further developments and can be open to discussion, yet we cannot help but be concrete—without presuming to enter into details—lest the great social principles remain mere generalities which challenge no one. . . . The Church’s pastors, taking into account the contributions of the different sciences, have the right to offer opinions in all that affects people’s lives, since the task of evangelization implies and demands the integral promotion of each human being. 14 (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, no. 182)

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Evidence Shows Mass is Safe When Guidelines are Followed, Doctors Say…

09-06-2020Weekly Reflection(Article form the Catholic News Agency)

CNA Staff, Aug 25, 2020 / 02:52 am MT (CNA).- Evidence suggests that church services following public health guidelines do not present a greater risk of spreading the novel coronavirus than other similar activities, doctors said last week. Washing hands, social distancing, and mask requirements have helped prevent the spread of COVID-19, even in cases when contagious, pre-symptomatic parishioners took part in church events, three members of the Thomistic Institute Working Group on Infectious Disease Protocols for Sacraments & Pastoral Care concluded. Doctors Thomas McGovern, Deacon Timothy Flanigan, and Paul Cieslak authored an article for Real Clear Science on Mass attendance and COVID-19 Aug. 19.

“For Catholic churches following [the] guidelines, no outbreaks of COVID-19 have been linked to church attendance, even though we have examples ... of asymptomatic, unknowingly infected individuals attending mass and other parish functions,” they wrote. “Their attendance could have led to an outbreak if appropriate precautions were not followed, yet in each case, we found no evidence of viral transmission.”

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