Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New sins?

The Main Stream Media (heretofore known as MSM) typically doesn't get it. Getting information on Catholic teachings or Church positions from the MSM is perilous at best. So it should be no surprise that this article from Reuters has it wrong.
Is pollution really a sin? While some of us my chaff at the way some liberals have embraced environmentalism (to the extent for perverting the Stations of the Cross into something that is not Christ centered or Catholic) the fact is that pollution is a sin and has always been a sin. As Christians we believe that God has given us stewardship over the Earth. Stewardship means oversight and is related to pastorship. We have jurisdiction over the Earth and it is our duty to protect the lessor species. We are allowed to exploit them for legitimate purposes but poisoning and destruction of the Earth is not the same as the governance of resources that we are allowed as stewards. Remember a steward does not own what he manages, he merely manages for another. The Earth is God's and we are just tasked with its care.
Likewise in the realm of bioethics the sins are no more new than murder has ever been. It was no more right in ancient times to create a human life by conventional means to use for purposes of medical experimentation than it is now to create a life using scientific means for experimentation. To start with all life is created by God, man sometimes acts as God's agent in the act, but God is the creator, and the life, if it is human life contains a soul made in the image and likeness of God and possessing of inherent dignity based on that fact.
Even the more bizzare of the bioethic questions, such as blended human-animal DNA simply leads back to the traditional sins of offenses against the dignity of the soul and the immorality of the treatment of the human as a commodity.
Certainly it is the duty of the Church to continue to remind the faithful of this and clarify the new acts that are old sins, but idea that there could be new sins attempts to undermine the constancy of Church teaching and the Churches role as the Earthly representative of the unchanging God.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday Frills

Another Lenten Friday, which means another day without meat. Just a few more and then its ok to dig into that Friday night steak, right?
Well maybe not. Present disciplines on the rules for fasting and abstinence are rooted in Pope Paul VI's Paenitemini, and the rules imposed by your local episcopal conference. In the United States, during Lent all Roman Catholics 14 years and older must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays in Lent. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday all Roman Catholics who are 18 to 59 must Fast. Fasting requires that only one full meal be eaten along with two smaller meals (collations) which do not equal one full meal. There are a number of other rules, such as abstinence is not required on a solemnity (The Feast of St. Joseph and the Annunciation often occur during Easter, and sometimes are on Friday,) and the local bishops often, in the United States, at least give dispensations on St. Patrick's Day (March 17) if falls on a Friday. Members of the Eastern Catholic Churches are obliged to follow the discipline of their own particular church, which are often still much more strict than now followed by the Western Church.
Paenitemini requires that Fridays outside of Lent are penitential days. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops do not require Catholics abstain on these days, but by canon law individuals are suppose to do some form of penance on these days. That few seem to is unfortunate.
Obviously the responsibility of the catechist in this case is obvious. Many Catholics believe that the penitential aspect of Fridays were abolished when the mandatory abstinences were. As can be seen this was not the case. It is important that teens understand this.
So what to do? Abstaining from meat on all Fridays is probably the easiest way to meet this penitential requirement, but perhaps not the best. Most other forms of penance require more thought and effort. Organize an alternative to abstinence might actually be more engaging to your teens. Have them commit to taking an extra half hour to pray on Fridays. Scriptural meditation or saying the rosary also apply. Substitute Fasting for Abstinence on Fridays and collect the money they save for food for alms to go to the poor box or to a food bank or other charity. These are all penitential acts which meet the requirement.
Above all remind them that the penitential nature of Fridays and their adherence to Church practices in this matter are part of living a Catholic life. Its part of their heritage, as well as part of their obligations.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Celebrations in the absence of a priest.

The ideal case throughout the world is for each group, each parish to have each Sunday at least one Mass that the faithful can attend. Unfortunately this is not always possible. In some areas of the world there are simply not enough priests available to serve all of the faithful. At other times a parish which has a faithful priest is suddenly without one due to illness or other unforeseen circumstance. Many times this can be dealt with by contacting a substitute to come in and say Mass. Sometimes this is not possible.
The preferred action in this case is for the faithful to visit surrounding parishes to attend the Masses there. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the bishop conferences realize this is not alway possible. Surrounding parishes may be too far away. Masses there may have already taken place, or it may not be possible to inform the faithful in a timely manner, so that they could arrange to attend elsewhere. In that case Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest can be authorized.
It is up to each bishop to decide when it is appropriate for this liturgical practice to be done. Most diocesan bishops issue a directive, based upon the Congregation for Divine Worship's Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest. This document lays out the guidelines for this practice.
As might be supposed, in the absence of a priest, the deacon presides as a member of the clergy, befitting his office. He
acts in accord with his ministry in regard to the greetings, the prayers, the gospel reading and homily, the giving of communion, and the dismissal and blessing. He wears the vestments proper to his ministry, that is, the alb with stole, and, as circumstances suggest, the dalmatic. He uses the presidential chair.
If a deacon is not present a lay minister does not preside, but acts as a leader among equals.
The lay leader wears vesture that is suitable for his or her function or the vesture prescribed by the bishop.34 He or she does not use the presidential chair, but another chair prepared outside the sanctuary.35 Since the altar is the table of sacrifice and of the paschal banquet, its only use in this celebration is for the rite of communion, when the consecrated bread is placed on it before communion is given.
The lay leader is typically an Extraordinary Minister of Communion who has received special training to lead a Celebration in the Absence of a Priest. They must be specifically appoint by the pastor, and in some diocese officially designated by the bishop for this ministry.