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1/8/2017
  

Why do we eat fish on Fridays during Lent?   

​Actually, we don't have to eat fish on Friday's during the Season of Lent.  What is important is that we abstain from any meat products. Fasting for religious purposes is a practice of self-discipline that has been employed over the centuries as an aid to concentration in prayer. Like other religious practices, however, fasting can be subject to abuses. It can be a sham – an external sign without inner conversion of heart. The prophet Isaiah (in Chapter 58) spoke of God's displeasure when the people fasted and still continued their sinful ways. God calls for a fast that will free the oppressed, feed and clothe the needy, and embrace the poor.

It is a penance imposed by the Church to commemorate the day of the Crucifixion of Our Lord – to enable us to make a small sacrifice for the incredible sacrifice He made for our salvation. Why, then, is fish allowed? The drawing of a symbolic fish in the dirt was a way that the early Christians knew each other when it was dangerous to admit in public that one was Christian. Our Lord cooked fish for His Apostles after His Resurrection, and most of these men were fishermen. After He established His Church, these fishermen became "fishers of men" for the Kingdom of God.

There are documents that indicate that meat was singled out as being a food Christians occasionally abstained from since the first century. This has nothing to do with the Catholic Church "requiring abstinence from foods" that St. Paul talks about in his letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:3). In that letter, St. Paul is referring to the practice of maintaining Jewish dietary laws. The foods prohibited by God in the Old Testament were declared "unclean" and this is why they were forbidden. The Catholic Church's practice of occasionally not eating meat has nothing to do with this perspective. It is precisely because meat is so good that we are asked to give it up at certain times. It wouldn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense if we offered something we considered bad as a sacrifice to God.

More to the point, meat was singled out because it is associated with celebrations and feasts. I understand that there has been a slight cultural shift in the last number of years with more and more people eating a more vegetarian diet, but most of us still base the food we eat during celebrations around a meat entrée (Thanksgiving turkey, Easter ham, Fourth of July brat, burger and a steak). A day devoted to remembering Christ's Passion doesn't seem like a day to feast. Interestingly enough, the day we celebrate the Resurrection is a day for feasting (and we get one of those every single week: Sunday).

On top of all of that, meat has often been a luxury in many cultures. People didn't always have a McDonald's Dollar Menu, and meat cost a bit more. Maintaining a spirit of simplicity, people turned to other, less expensive fare. But what's included when we are asked to abstain from meat? Well, throughout the 2,000 year history of the Church, there have been varying definitions over what exactly constitutes abstinence from meat. In some regions of the world, Catholics abstained from all forms of meat and all animal products, while others made exceptions for food like fish.​​​​

1/8/2017
  

Why do we say Amen?

​The Hebrew word translated "amen" literally means "truly" or "so be it." "Amen" is also found in the Greek New Testament and has the same meaning. Nearly half of the Old Testament uses of amen are found in the book of Deuteronomy. In each case, the people are responding to curses pronounced by God on various sins. Each pronouncement is followed by the words "and all the people shall say Amen" (Deuteronomy 27:15-26). This indicates that the people applauded the righteous sentence handed down by their holy God, responding, "So let it be." The amen attested to the conviction of the hearers that the sentences which they heard were true, just, and certain.​

1/8/2017
  

Why do we say the Rosary?

​Catholics pray the rosary because it's a powerful prayer to God, through His mother, Mary.

Praying the rosary has been a tradition in the Church for a long time. It's a bit fuzzy who made it more formal; some say it was St. Dominic and others say it wasn't. What really matters is that this prayer is super powerful.

Throughout Church history, many popes and saints have highly recommended that we pray the rosary. St. Louis de Montfort said, 'When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.'

The rosary begins with the praying of the Apostle's Creed, an Our Father, three Hail Mary's and a Glory Be. Then there are five decades which each begin and end with an Our Father and Glory Be, and have ten Hail Mary's in between. When you pray the rosary, you meditate on the events in Jesus' life. There are the joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries.

In various apparitions, Mary has appeared holding a rosary and has asked that we continue to pray this prayer. She always leads us to her Son, and presents our needs before Him. Prayer is about developing our relationship with God, and loving Him more, so it makes sense to get to know Him through the events of the life of Christ that we meditate on during the rosary.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

 'Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him' (CCC 2708).

Rosaries are not just decorations. Battles have been won because people prayed the rosary! There have been hearts converted, and impossible intentions answered too. Your life can only be blessed if you start praying the rosary.

1/15/2017
  

Why do we call Blessed Mother Mary but also Maria?

​I have never heard of the Blessed Mother referred to as Maria. But it would not surprise me – as Maria is but a variation of the name Mary. Also – When we sing the Hail Mary in Latin, we sing "Ave Maria." It may be from this Latin Hymn that you raise your question.​

1/15/2017
  

Was Jesus the first person ever to be named Jesus or was it a common name?

​Many people shared the name. Christ's given name, commonly Romanized as Yeshua, was quite common in first-century Galilee. (Jesus comes from the transliteration of Yeshua into Greek and then English.) Archaeologists have unearthed the tombs of 71 Yeshuas from the period of Jesus' death. The name also appears 30 times in the Old Testament in reference to four separate characters—including a descendent of Aaron who helped to distribute offerings of grain (2 Chronicles 31:15) and a man who accompanied former captives of Nebuchadnezzar back to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:2).

The long version of the name, Yehoshua, appears another few hundred times, referring most notably to the legendary conqueror of Jericho (and the second most famous bearer of the name). So why do we call the Hebrew hero of Jericho Joshua and the Christian Messiah Jesus? Because the New Testament was originally written in Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic. Greeks did not use the sound sh, so the evangelists substituted an S sound. Then, to make it a masculine name, they added another S sound at the end. The earliest written version of the name Jesus is Romanized today as Iesous. (Thus the crucifix inscription INRI: "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum," or "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.")

The initial J didn't come until much later. That sound was foreign to Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Not even English distinguished J from I until the mid-17th century. Thus, the 1611 King James Bible refers to Jesus as "Iesus" and his father as "Ioseph." The current spelling likely came from Switzerland, where J sounds more like the English Y. When English Protestants fled to Switzerland during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I, they drafted the Geneva Bible and used the Swiss spelling. Translators in England adopted the Geneva spelling by 1769.

In contrast, the Old Testament was translated directly from the original Hebrew into English, rather than via Greek. So anyone named Yehoshua or Yeshua in the Old Testament became Joshua in English. Meanwhile, the holy book of the Syrian Orthodox church, known as the Syriac Bible, is written in Aramaic. While its Gospels were translated from the original Greek, the early scribes recognized that Iesous was a corruption of the original Aramaic. Thus, the Syriac text refers to Yeshua.

1/15/2017
  

Why do priests only distribute the Body of Christ & not his Blood during Mass? 

​First – a little background. By virtue of his sacred ordination, the Bishop or Priest offers the sacrifice in the person of Christ, the Head of the Church. He receives the gifts of bread and wine from the faithful, offers the sacrifice to God, and returns to the people the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, as from the hands of Christ, Himself. Thus – Bishops and Priests are considered the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

Now – when the size of the congregation is such, or if the Priest or Bishop cannot physically distribute, the priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him. Traditionally, the priest was the distributor of the consecrated hosts.  In a situation, such as at the Cathedral for the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass when many priests and deacons are present with the Bishop, and if there are enough ordained minister to assist in the distribution, then it is they who will distribute both the consecrated bread, and the consecrated wine. If in a parish setting where there is only the one priest present, then typically the priest distributes the hosts while the extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist assist with additional ciboria of hosts as well as the cups with the precious Blood.

There is nothing written that says the priest cannot distribute the Precious Blood.  It seems that it is a Parish by Parish practice (as well as a priest's personal choice) as to who will distribute what.​

2/12/2017
  

Is it okay for a divorced Catholic to partake of the Eucharist?

Yes. Divorced Catholics in good standing with the Church, who have not remarried or who have remarried following an annulment, may receive the sacraments. Catholics who have civilly divorced are encouraged to speak with their parish priest or a spiritual director about their particular situation regarding reception of Holy Communion. (Please see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2382-2386, for more information.)​​

2/12/2017
  

Is it ok for a Catholic to get a divorce?

​The Church believes that God, the author of marriage, established it as a permanent union. When two people marry, they form an unbreakable bond. Jesus Himself taught that marriage is permanent (Matthew 19:3-6), and St. Paul reinforced this teaching (see 1 Cor 7:10-11 and Eph 5:31-32). (Please see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2382 – 2386 for additional information) and (Quoting from the USCCB – United States Conference of Catholic Bishops):

 "We [bishops] understand the pain of those for whom divorce seemed the only recourse. 
"We urge them to make frequent use of the sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation…

"We encourage divorced persons who wish to marry in the Catholic Church to seek counsel about the options that exist to remedy their situation, including the suitability of a declaration of nullity when there is no longer any hope of reconciliation of the spouses."

--U.S. Catholic Bishops, Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan 
(link to: http://www.usccb.org/loveandlife/MarriageFINAL.pdf)​

2/12/2017
  

What exactly is an annulment?                

​"Annulment" is an unfortunate word that is sometimes used to refer to a Catholic "declaration of nullity." Actually, nothing is made null through the process. Rather, a Church tribunal (a Catholic Church court) declares that a marriage thought to be valid according to Church law actually fell short of at least one of the essential elements required for a binding union.​

For a Catholic marriage to be valid, it is required that: (1) the spouses are free to marry; (2) they are capable of giving their consent to marry; (3) they freely exchange their consent; (4) in consenting to marry, they have the intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another and be open to children; (5) they intend the good of each other; and (6) their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized Church minister. Exceptions to the last requirement must be approved by Church authority.

2/12/2017
  

Why does the Church require a divorced Catholic to obtain a declaration of nullity before marrying in the Church?

​In fidelity to Jesus' teaching, the Church believes that marriage is a lifelong bond (see Matt 19:1-10); therefore, unless one's spouse has died, the Church requires the divorced Catholic to obtain a declaration of nullity before marrying someone else. The tribunal process seeks to determine if something essential was missing at the moment of consent, that is, the time of the wedding. If so, the Church can declare that a valid marriage was never actually brought about on the wedding day.​

2/19/2017
  

My grown children are very confused about talking in Church.  Having gone to Catholic school they had it drummed into them by the sisters to never talk in Church, as was I as a child.  But am I correct in understanding that since the Eucharist (tabernacle) has been moved that it is now OK to talk in Church?   

​​First, of all, no, there is no written rule against talking loud in the Church. But there are unwritten rules against unnecessary talk that surpasses a low whisper, such talks often consisting of socializing and, or gossip. By this, it is meant that:

A) The Church, the building of God, the House of God, the dwelling-place of God among men, the Holy Temple, is a place of worship, "a place of prayer." [Mt. 21:13] (C.C.CC. # 756). It is unholy to turn the Holy House of God into a man-made place of socializing or gossiping. The House of God, where dwells the Real Presence of God, must be treated with ongoing reverence.

B) Unnecessary talk in the Church is a total disrespect for one's brothers and sisters in Christ who are praying, against the faithful who seek to grow in their spiritual lives. Talking in the Church falls short of manifesting love, charity, kindness and self-control, these being fruits of the Holy Spirit. [Gal. 5:22]

All this being said, those who are serious about prayer will experience, at least occasionally, the problem of noisy conversation in a church. Moreover, Church decorum varies from place to place. Usually this arises from the encouragement or discouragement of silence by pastors, which over time results in a habit typical of the parish. 

​Some talking is O.K. if it is done in a reverential manner. What is reverential? Again, Church decorum varies from place to place. We want to be careful of going the extreme. By that, I mean: let's suppose someone has had a sickness or death in their family (or some other issue that would warrant compassion from us). Do we ignore them and say nothing when we see them in church? Or, instead, do we approach them and extend our prayers or condolences? What Would Jesus Do?  Jesus often rebuked the Pharisees for their overly strict observance of rules and guidelines, while ignoring what was most important – compassion and love of one's neighbor. We need to be mature enough to know what would be considered necessary, and what is unnecessary.

2/19/2017
  

What is the proper etiquette for walking in front of the altar or entering/exiting pews?               

​Liturgical rubrics contain great detail about the ministers and surprisingly few details about the faithful. Whereas the rubrics are clear about the reverences that ministers make upon arriving in the church, they are not so specific for the faithful. GIRM 274 says, "If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is situated in the sanctuary, the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it, but not during the celebration of Mass itself. Otherwise, all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession." If the tabernacle is not in the sanctuary, then the ministers omit the genuflection and perform the profound bow toward the altar as found in GIRM 49.

The Ceremonial of Bishops, however, adds this: "No one who enters a church should fail to adore the Blessed Sacrament, either by visiting the Blessed Sacrament chapel or at least by genuflecting" (CB 71). Therefore, it is appropriate for everyone entering a church to locate the tabernacle and at least genuflect in its direction. Depending on the church, that could be done at the Blessed Sacrament chapel, on the way to one's pew, or before taking one's pew. But, the genuflection should be made in the direction of the tabernacle - not toward the altar.

The Ceremonial of Bishops also says, "a bow of the body, or deep bow, is made: to the altar if there is no tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament on the altar…" (68b). It does not specify who does this, so the inference is that it applies to all.

There are no similar rubrics for leaving the building. It's just an oversight. Logic would lead one to conclude that the same reverences performed on the way in are also performed on the way out. Otherwise, you are left to conclude that the GIRM and the CB never allow the people to exit the church. Even though the deacon commands them to go in peace, no rubric tells them to obey him.

2/26/2017
  

Why are we taught to fear God? 

Fear of God, as we read it in Sacred Scripture, is not the same as fear of falling and getting hurt, or fear of being attacked by a wild animal.  Fear of God has to do with reverence and awe, respect. St John, in his first letter (chapter 4, verse 18) has this to say: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love."

Fearing God means to have respect for Him and to obey Him. It means that you acknowledge Him to be your Creator and thus to have the right to be your Lord. It means that you act out of reverence for Him. In the Old Testament, a clear connection is made between fearing God and keeping His commands and serving Him: 'And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 10:12).' ( See also: Deuteronomy 4:10; 6:2.)

St Hilary of Poiter, an early Church Father and Doctor of the Church, has this to say on this. "Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. Notice that when Scripture speaks of the fear of the Lord it does not leave the phrase in isolation, as if it were a complete summary of faith. No, many things are added to it, or are presupposed by it. From these we may learn its meaning and excellence. In the book of Proverbs Solomon tells us: If you cry out for wisdom and raise your voice for understanding, if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord. We see here the difficult journey we must undertake before we can arrive at the fear of the Lord.

We must begin by crying out for wisdom. We must hand over to our intellect the duty of making every decision. We must look for wisdom and search for it. Then we must understand the fear of the Lord.

"Fear" is not to be taken in the sense that common usage gives it. Fear in this ordinary sense is the trepidation our weak humanity feels when it is afraid of suffering something it does not want to happen. We are afraid, or made afraid, because of a guilty conscience, the rights of someone more powerful, an attack from one who is stronger, sickness, encountering a wild beast, suffering evil in any form. This kind of fear is not taught: it happens because we are weak. We do not have to learn what we should fear: objects of fear bring their own terror with them.

But of the fear of the Lord this is what is written: Come, my children, listen to me, I shall teach you the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord has then to be learned because it can be taught. It does not lie in terror, but in something that can be taught. It does not arise from the fearfulness of our nature; it has to be acquired by obedience to the commandments, by holiness of life and by knowledge of the truth.

For us the fear of God consists wholly in love, and perfect love of God brings our fear of him to its perfection. Our love for God is entrusted with its own responsibility: to observe his counsels, to obey his laws, to trust his promises. Let us hear what Scripture says: And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you except to fear the Lord your God and walk in his ways and love him and keep his commandments with your whole heart and your whole soul, so that it may be well for you?

The ways of the Lord are many, though he is himself the way. When he speaks of himself he calls himself the way and shows us the reason why he called himself the way: No one can come to the Father except through me.

We must ask for these many ways, we must travel along these many ways, to find the one that is good. That is, we shall find the one way of eternal life through the guidance of many teachers. These ways are found in the law, in the prophets, in the gospels, in the writings of the apostles, in the different good works by which we fulfill the commandments. Blessed are those who walk these ways in the fear of the Lord.

2/26/2017
  

Who are the Nephilim referenced in the Book of Genesis ?

​The term "nephilim" occurs just twice in the Hebrew Bible, both times in the Torah. The first is Genesis 6:1–4, immediately before the account of Noah's ark. The second is Numbers 13:32–33, where ten of the Twelve Spies report that they have seen fearsome giants in Canaan. The nature of the nephilim is complicated by the ambiguity of Genesis 6:4, which leaves it unclear whether they are the "sons of God" or their offspring who are the "mighty men of old, men of renown". Richard Hess in The Anchor Bible Dictionary takes it to mean that the nephilim are the offspring, as does P. W. Coxon in Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible.

Nephilim is a borrowed term or an archaism, that relates to the word nafal meaning fall. They are "the fallen ones." The Septuagint (or translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) translates the word as "giants." If we turn to the Book of Numbers (13:33), we see recorded – When the spies whom Moses had sent returned, they reported that they had seen Nephilim in Canaan "And we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them." In another view, the "heroes of old," not the Nephilim, were the result of the superhuman marriages.

3/5/2017
  

I learned growing up that when you took Communion, you did not speak until you got back to your seat and said a prayer.  But now I am seeing people coming back from Communion talking and shaking hands, etc.  Is this acceptable Now?

​First of all, let me address the idea of Communion Procession. And I do apologize for the length of the answer, but some background is necessary.

(from the USCCB web site): The Church understands the Communion Procession, in fact every procession in liturgy, as a sign of the pilgrim Church, the body of those who believe in Christ, on their way to the Heavenly Jerusalem. All our lives we who believe in Christ are moving in time toward that moment when we will be taken by death from this world and enter into the joy of the Lord in the eternal Kingdom He has prepared for us. The liturgical assembly of the baptized that comes together for the celebration of the Eucharist is a witness to, a manifestation of, the pilgrim Church. When we move in procession, particularly the procession to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Communion, we are a sign, a symbol of that pilgrim Church "on the way."

For some, however, the experience of the Communion Procession is far more prosaic, analogous perhaps to standing in line in the supermarket or at the motor vehicle bureau. A perception such as this is a dreadfully inaccurate and impoverished understanding of what is a significant religious action. The Communion Procession is an action of the Body of Christ. At Christ's invitation, extended by the priest acting in Christ's person: "Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb," the members of the community move forward to share in the sacred meal, to receive the Body and Blood of Christ which is the sign and the source of their unity. In fact, each time we move forward together to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord, we join the countless ranks of all the baptized who have gone before us, our loved ones, the canonized and uncanonized saints down through the ages, who at their time in history formed a part of this mighty stream of believers.

This action by Christ's body, the Church assembled for the Eucharist, is manifested and supported by the Communion Chant, a hymn in praise of Christ sung by the united voices of those who believe in him and share his life. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal takes this hymn very seriously, mandating that it should begin at the Communion of the priest and extend until the last person has received Communion.

For some, however, the singing of this hymn is perceived as an intrusion on their own prayer, their private thanksgiving after Communion. In fact, however, this hymn is prayer, the corporate thanksgiving prayer of the members of Christ's Body, united with one another. Over and over again the prayers of the liturgy and the norms of theGeneral Instruction emphasize this fundamental concept of the unity of the baptized, stressing that when we come together to participate in the Eucharistic celebration we come, not as individuals, but as united members of Christ's Body. In each of the Eucharistic Prayers, though the petition is worded in slightly different ways, God is asked to send his Holy Spirit to make us one body, one spirit in Christ; the General Instruction admonishes the faithful that "they are to form one body, whether in hearing the Word of God, or in taking part in the prayers and in the singing..." (no. 96). It describes one of the purposes of the opening song of the Mass as to "foster the unity of those who have been gathered" (no. 47), and says of the Communion Chant that "its purpose [is] to express the spiritual union of the communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the 'communitarian' character of the procession to receive the Eucharist" (no. 86).

Now – with all that background on a liturgical procession, let's get to the heart of your question.

You have heard me say it often – we are not in this world alone (or as Thomas Merton put it: No Man is an Island). What we have read above reminds us of that fact. All our prayers are "first-person plural" , that is: we don't pray "My Father Who art in Heaven," but "Our Father…". We end our prayers not with: "I ask this through Lord…", but instead: "We ask this…"  Holy Communion time is no different. We do it together. And so – getting to your question  regarding not speaking but praying: Do we want this to be a "private prayer – me and Jesus alone? Or do we want to be part of a community taking part with the others and the entire Body of Christ in the Communion Prayer that is being sung? Too many people don't see the song as a prayer.  But it is. And like the earlier question regarding talking in Church, What Would Jesus Do if He saw someone in Church who had just experienced a sickness, or death, or other unfortunate incident in their life? Would He walk away? Or would He stop to comfort them? If He saw someone who just had, let's say a new baby, or got a job after being laid off for an extended period of time: would He walk away, or would He congratulate them.  Part of receiving Holy Communion is being able to be a part of the Community. I think, again, we need to be mature and find a happy balance knowing when to talk, and when not to. Put another way – knowing what is important talk, and what is not.​

4/2/2017
  

​Why do we get ashes on Ash Wednesday?

​This is one of those questions that makes me think: 1) someone isn’t reading the bulletin when this is explained, 2) not listening to the homily on Ash Wednesday, or 3) not listening to the words of the priest or minister at the imposition of ashes. Ashes are equivalent to dust, and human flesh is composed of dust or clay (Genesis 2:7), and when a human corpse decomposes it returns to dust or ash. Some priests still use the older formula at the imposition of the ashes on the forehead: “Remember that you are dust and unto dust you will return.” There is another reason for the ashes. Examples can be found in the Old Testament of Daniel when Daniel clothed himself in sackcloth and ashes – such dress was a sign of his people’s contrition for their rebellious ways, wickedness and treachery (Daniel 9:3). Or, take as another example when Jonah warned the Ninevites that God planned to destroy their city because of their corruption and depravity, the people covered themselves with sackcloth and ashes as a sign of their intention to turn from their evil ways (Jonah 3: 6, 10). Ashes are a plea to God for mercy and compassion, pardon and forgiveness. Moreover, they are a public admission of guilt, an expression of sorrow for sins that have been committed, a promise to reform and a pledge to resist temptation in the future – thus, the words that I use when placing the ashes on an individual’s forehead: “Turn away from sin and return to the Gospel.” All of us are sinners – not just the people of the Old Testament, not just the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. When we come forward to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, we are (hopefully) saying that we are sorry for our sins, and that we want to use the season of Lent to correct our faults, purify our hearts, control our desires and grow in holiness so that we will be prepared to celebrate Easter with great joy.
4/23/2017
  

​Did Jesus really “descend into hell?” as it says in the Apostle’s Creed, but not in the Nicene Creed?

(from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: section two, chapt two, article 5, and para 1)
Article 5
"HE DESCENDED INTO HELL. ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN"
631 Jesus "descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is He Who also ascended far above all the heavens."476 The Apostles' Creed confesses in the same article Christ's descent into hell and His Resurrection from the dead on the third day, because in His Passover it was precisely out of the depths of death that He made life spring forth:
Christ, that Morning Star, Who came back from the dead, and shed His peaceful light on all mankind, Your Son
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.477
Paragraph 1. Christ Descended into Hell
632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was "raised from the dead" presuppose that the crucified One sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.478 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ's descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in His soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But He descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.479 
633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, "hell" - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.480 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into "Abraham's bosom":481 "It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when He descended into hell."482 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before
Him.483 
634 "The Gospel was preached even to the dead."484 The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfilment. This is the last phase of Jesus' messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ's redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.
635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that "the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live."485 Jesus, "the Author of life", by dying destroyed "him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage."486 Henceforth the risen Christ holds "the keys of Death and Hades", so that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth."487
Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is
asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and He has raised up all who
have slept ever since the world began. . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep.
Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, He has gone to free from sorrow
Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him - He who is both their God and the son of Eve. . . "I am your God,
Who for your sake have become your son. . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner
in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead."488
IN BRIEF
636 By the expression "He descended into hell", the Apostles' Creed confesses that Jesus did really die and through His death for us conquered death and the devil "who has the power of death" (Heb 2:14).
637 In his human soul united to His divine person, the dead Christ
12/2/2017
  
Why do many American Catholics seem less enthusiastic
about their religion than other forms of Christianity or
other religions for that matter? Or is it my imagination?
Your question reflects a statement of the current culture. And so – it is not limited to just Catholicism. And by the way – your question points the finger at American Catholics. All one needs to do is to travel to other countries to witness similar enthusiasm. In those countries, many times if it were not for the tourists, the churches would be empty. But I think here in America, part of the problem has to do with other facets of our lives. We live in a fast-paced world, we are always looking for some sort of stimulation (Music, entertainment, etc). And so where we see many church congregations growing is those that have Sunday services that are very entertaining,
energizing with their music, sound and light effects, among others. ALSO – we are a culture that does not like pain or struggle. We are a culture that wants the proverbial cake and the ability to eat it too. That being said, we want sermons / homilies that are more on the warm and fuzzy side than those that challenge us. The bottom line to your question is this: - do we want to follow
Jesus, His example in the way He lived and served while He walked the Earth, His teachings? Or do we want to dilute His teachings – picking and choosing what parts we like and leaving those we do not like behind? Quoting Joshua: “As for me and my household, we will follow the Lord” (Joshua 24: 15).


12/10/2017
  

​What is the difference between “Consubstantiation” and “Transubstantiation”?

The prefix trans- means “change” and says that a change takes place; the bread actually becomes the body of Jesus, and the wine actually becomes the blood of Jesus. The prefix con- means “with” and says that the bread does not become the body of Jesus but co-exists with the body of Christ so that the bread is both a bread and the body of Jesus. The same thing is true of the wine. It does not become the blood of Jesus,
but co-exists with the blood of Jesus so that the wine is both wine and the blood of Jesus. The change from trans- to con- is the key to seeing the bread and wine as the body and blood of Jesus. AND SO - Transubstantiation, a belief held by the Catholic Church, is the miraculous change by which according to Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox dogma the Eucharistic elements at their consecration become the body and blood of Christ while keeping only the appearances of bread and wine. Consubstantiation is the view that the bread and wine of Communion / the Lord's Supper are spiritually the flesh and blood of Jesus, yet the bread and wine are still actually only bread and wine. In this way, it is different from transubstantiation, in which the bread and the wine are believed to actually become the body and blood of Jesus. Transubstantiation is a Roman Catholic dogma that stretches back to the earliest years of the Church, while consubstantiation is relatively new, arising out of the Protestant Reformation. Consubstantiation essentially teaches that Jesus is "with, in, and under" the bread and wine, but is not literally the bread and wine.


12/23/2017
  

​I belong to a nearby Catholic parish but frequently attend St. Regis. Is it permitted and easy to change my membership from my existing parish to St. Regis? How do I do it?

Yes, it is easy to change one’s membership from another parish to that of St Regis Parish. Simply take a St Regis Sunday bulletin home with you, look on the outside back page (the page with the ads), complete the St Regis Church Membership Form, and send it to the Parish Office via conventional postal service, or drop it in the Sunday Offertory Collection Basket. Another option would be to Call the Parish Office and speak with either Mike or Joyce and they would be more than happy to help you. Finally,
be sure to contact your former Parish Office to let them know that you have changed your membership.

1/21/2018
  

​Father, do you ever use any of the other Eucharistic prayers besides prayer #2?

​Generally – I prefer to use both Eucharistic Prayers #2, and # 3 – though I use Eucharistic Prayer #3 more often. Many times I will also refer to one of the four Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs – each with a particular theme: Eucharistic Prayer 1 for Various Needs speaks of “The Church on the Path of Unity.” Eucharistic Prayer 2 for Various Needs has the theme: “God Guides His Church along the Way of Salvation.” Eucharistic Prayer 3 for Various Needs is entitled: “Jesus, the Way to the Fa-ther.,” and Eucharistic Prayer 4 for Various Needs reminds us : “Jesus, Who went about Doing Good.”

1/21/2018
  

​Father, “A reading from the Holy Gospel according to …” Resp: “Glory to You, O Lord” What or why do we “sign” ourselves @ the re-sponse? Thank you.

​The first recorded instance of making the Sign of the Cross at the proclamation of the Gospel is found in the ninth century: Regimius of Auxerre (d.c.908) in his Expositio recorded how the people in the congregation would sign their foreheads and the deacon would sign his forehead and breast. By the eleventh century, as attested to by Pope Innocent III, the deacon would make the sign of the cross on the Lectionary or Book of Gospels, and then both he and the congregation would sign the forehead, lips and breast. The significance of the threefold signing is first: we recognize that the words proclaimed are in fact the Word of God, and thus the signing is a show of re-spect. Next, the signing reminds us that we want to hear the Holy Gospel with an open mind, proclaim it with our lips, and cherish and safeguard it in our hearts (thus the words we say with the signing: May the Lord be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts). Finally, we want to remind ourselves with this signing that in hearing the Word of God proclaimed through the Gospel message is the way that we live our lives. Put another way, we’re in essence saying: may I take this Gospel message, may I make it my own, may I embody it, and may it be a part of me. A simple bodily gesture that reminds us of the Gift of the Word that is there to lead us and guide us, so that we may spread the Good News wherever we go: that Jesus is Lord always in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts.

1/28/2018
  

​Some people kneel and some sit as Father is cleaning the vessels after Communion… which is cor-rect?

​When I am at the altar, I see some people sitting, and some kneeling during the praying of the Eucharistic Prayer, which includes the words of the Consecration. Which is correct? Simply put, neither is wrong. Per-haps someone has bad knees and is unable to kneel. Our culture is one of the few that has kneelers attached to the pews. Borrowing from an article that was found in “The Catholic Answer”: The General Instruction of the Roman Mis-sal (GIRM), published in 2003, states: “In the dioceses of the United States of America [the congregation] should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer.… The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise” (No. 43). Because this makes no mention of a posture after Communion, many felt the congregation should stand until everyone had received Communion. A letter to the Holy See resolved the matter, and the U.S. bishops’ newsletter re-ported, “In the implementation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore, posture should not be regu-lated so rigidly as to forbid individual communicants from kneeling or sitting when returning from having received Holy Communion” (p. 26). Because we may sit after Communion, we may reasonably presume permission to kneel as long as we like. The celebrant’s returning the Hosts to the tabernacle brings the Communion rite (one of the “principal parts” of the Mass) to a close, and many of us grew up kneeling until then. To kneel while the Eucharistic vessels are purified is not re-quired, but the respect it shows should by no means be discouraged.