December 9, 1997   vol 8, no.48
     SECTION TWO     To print out SECTION ONE, click here

Like Roses, Faith needs Nurturing

     Like the delicate rose, our Faith can be so fragile at times. So often we don't realize how little faith all of us have and which Jesus told us as Father John Hampsch, C.M.F. relates in his column Keys to Living God's Will. This issue he treats "The Growth of Faith". Click on Faith: Key to the Heart of God

Faith: Key to the Heart of God

Sixteenth installment: The Growth of Faith

     On one of our tours to the Holy Land, while crossing the Sea of Galilee, a number of stories were shared by the group, about the place where Peter and Jesus walked upon the water.

&nbps;    One of the stories concerned the Scotsman who came to the Holy Land and wanted to go across the Sea of Galilee to Tiberius. He asked the boatman how much it would cost to go across. The boatmaster replied that it would cost him $100. The Scotsman complained that that seemed an exorbitant price to pay simply to cross the lake by boat. "How come it costs so much?" he asked. The boatmaster replied, "This is a very special lake. This is where Jesus walked on water." And the Scotsman quipped, "At that price, no wonder He walked!"

     It was at that special place where Jesus walked upon the water that Peter questioned His appearance: "Lord, if that's really You and not a ghost walking there on the water, bid me to come to you" (Matthew 14: 28). So Jesus invited him to come. Peter stepped out of the boat (from which we get the term "to step out in faith") and began to walk on the water himself (this perhaps being the same occasion of Jesus' water-walking referred to in John 6: 18 and 19).

      Now try to imagine Peter putting his foot down on the water and testing its astonishing firmness, amazed that it's holding him up. He's walking along and doing fine and starting to feel very confident in his own faith. He's looking at Jesus waiting with outstretched arms. No problems so far. But then he turns and looks at the heaving waves (which often kick up on the Sea of Galilee when the wind comes channeling down through the valley from the north.) He becomes frightened and is sure he's going to be swamped. The moment he looks at the waves and the turbulence around him and takes his eyes off Jesus, he begins to sink. So he cries out, "Lord, save me, I am going to perish!" Jesus reaches down, grasps him by the hand and pulls him up, and then chides him, "Why were you fearful, you man of little faith?"

      Little faith? He was walking on water! I've never walked on water, so I'm sure Peter had a lot more faith than I have, yet that was little faith, Jesus said. He didn't say Peter had no faith; He said he had little faith. It's the same thing He said to the apostles on another occasion (Matthew 8: 26) when they woke Him from His sleep in a storm-tossed boat. They had enough faith to believe that He could do something about the storm; that's why they woke Him up. After Jesus calmed the storm, He chided them: "Why were you fearful, you men of little faith?" Again, not no faith, just little faith. Yet, the very working of that dramatic miracle by Jesus increased their faith, as verse 27 indicates: "Who is this that the wind and sea obey Him?"

     Why did Jesus in both of these cases talk about little faith? He was saying in effect that eaven if our faith in Him is strong enough to enable us to walk on water and strong enough for us to believe that He could stop a storm instantly, it still is not enough. As long as there is an element of fear, anxiety and uncertainty, we have not reached that level of total trust that Jesus wants. With faith, as with the other virtues, we're all in that biggest room in the world, called the room for improvement. The Thessalonian Christians had remarkable faith (I Thessalonians 1: 8), yet it continued to grow even more (II Thessalonians 1: 3), sustaining them through crushing hardships.

Next Week: "Horizontal Growth: The "Contagion" of Faith - part one

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose...

     As colorful as roses are, it was necessary for the Vatican to put the instructions on the liturgy regarding the laity's role in assisting the priests into black and white. This resulted in the document released by the Holy See on November 13th. We continue today with the 13th installment of this document in our effort to bring you the truth so you can take it to your pastors to make sure these decrees are being carried out in the light of all the abuse in the liturgy today. Click on THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

INSTRUCTION on Certain Questions regarding the Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest

Thirteenth installment: PRACTICAL PROVISIONS - Article 3

The non-ordained faithful, as happens in many worthy cases, may collaborate effectively in the pastoral ministry of clerics in parishes, health care centres, charitable and educational institutions, prisons, Military Ordinariates etc. Provisions regulating such extraordinary form of collaboration are provided by Canon 517, 2.

1. The right understanding and application of this canon, according to which "si ob sacerdotum penuriam Episcopus dioecesanus aestimaverit participationem in exercitio curae pastoralis paroeciae concredendam esse diacono aliive personae sacerdotali charactere non insignate aut personarum communitati, sacerdotem constitat aliquem qui, potestatibus facultatibus parochi instructus curam pastoralem moderetur", requires that this exceptional provision be used only with strict adherence to conditions contained in it. These are:
a) ob sacerdotum penuriam and not for reasons of convenience or ambiguous "advancement of the laity", etc.;
b) this is participatio in exercitio curae pastoralis and not directing, coordinating, moderating or governing the Parish; these competencies, according to the canon, are the competencies of a priest alone.

Because these are exceptional cases, before employing them, other possibilities should be availed of, such as using of the services of retired priests still capable of such service, or entrusting several parishes to one priest or to a coetus sacerdotum. (75) In any event, the preference which this canon gives to deacons cannot be overlooked.

The same canon, however, reaffirms that these forms of participation in the pastoral care of parishes cannot, in any way, replace the office of Parish Priest. The same canon decrees that "Episcopus dioecesanus (...) sacerdotem constituat aliquem qui potestatibus et facultatibus parochi instructus, curam pastoralem moderetur." Indeed, the office of Parish Priest can be assigned validly only to a priest (cf. Canon 521, 1) even in cases where there is a shortage of clergy. (76)

2. In the same regard, it must be noted that the Parish Priest is the Pastor proper to the parish entrusted to him (77) and remains such until his pastoral office shall have ceased. (78)

The presentation of resignation at the age of 75 by a Parish Priest does not of itself (ipso iure) terminate his pastoral office. Such takes effect only when the diocesan Bishop, following prudent consideration of all the circumstances, shall have definitively accepted his resignation in accordance with Canon 538, 3 and communicated such to him in writing. (79) In the light of those situations where scarcity of priests exists, the use of special prudence in this matter would be judicious.

In view of the right of every cleric to exercise the ministry proper to him, and in the absence of any grave health or disciplinary reasons, it should be noted that having reached the age of 75 does not constitute a binding reason for the diocesan Bishop to accept a Parish Priest's resignation. This also serves to avoid a functional concept of the Sacred Ministry. (80)

NEXT ISSUE: PRACTICAL PROVISIONS - Article 5 The Structures of Collaboration in the Particular Church

Paradise Lost

     Today being the 389th anniversary of that infamous English poet John Milton we give great thanks that thanks to the Mercy of God, Paradise Lost became Paradise Regained and made ever more possible through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We continue with the catechetical teachings on this from both the new Catechism of the Catholic Church and the old Baltimore Catechism with today's emphasis on the "Minister of the Sacrament." Click onCATECHISM CAPSULES

Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation

    The Sacraments are part and parcel of our lives and so we continue our "capsule series" on each of the Sacraments, bringing you a few capsule paragraphs each day from both the new Catechism of the Catholic Church and the old Baltimore Catechism. It is appropriate that we begin Advent with the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, better known as "Confession." There are various terms for this sacrament of healing. It has often been called the key to the door, for without this key sacrament we cannot receive Jesus in Holy Communion nor can a candidate be confirmed. The Sacrament of Penance reminds us of our humanness and our total dependence on the Mercy of God. Along with the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick or Extreme Unction, Penance/Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing.

No. 1461 and 1462, page 357 and 358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery; Chapter Two - The Sacraments of Healing; Libreria Editrice Vaticana: Urbi Et Orbi Communications:

      Since Christ entrusted to His apostles the ministry of reconciliation, bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops' collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

      Forgiveness of sins brings reconciliation with God, but also with the Church. Since ancient times the bishop, visible head of a particular Church, has thus rightfully been considered to be the one who principally has the power and ministry of reconciliation: he is the moderator of the penitential discipline. Priests, his collaborators, exercise it to the extent that they have received the commission either from their bishop (or religious superior) or the Pope, according to the law of the Church.

From the Baltimore Catechism No. 3; Benziger Brothers, Inc. and Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Nos. 737, 738 and 740, page 153 and 154.

Q. Is it true man cannot forgive sins?
A. If one means that he cannot forgive them by his own power, that is true; however, one is wrong if one means that he cannot forgive sins even by the power of God, for man can do anything if God gives him the power. The priest does not forgive sins by his own power as man, but by the authority he receives as the minister of God.

Q. How do the priests of the Church exercise the power of forgiving sins?
A. The priests of the Church exercise the power of forgiving sins by hearing the confession of sins, and granting pardon for them as ministers of God and in His name. [740]
Q.Could God not forgive our sins if we confessed them to Himself in secret?
A. Certainly, God could forgive our sins if we confessed them to Himself in secret, but He has not promised to do so; whereas He has promised to pardon them if we confess them to His priests. Since He is free to pardon or not to pardon, He has the right to establish a Sacrament through which alone He will pardon.



For the Advent Novena Prayer, click on ADVENT Novena Prayers

December 9, 1997

Medjugorje Monthly Message

November 25th Message

    Dear children: Today I invite you to comprehend your Christian vocation. Little children, I led and am leading you through this time of grace, that you may become conscious of your Christian vocation. Holy martyrs died witnessing: I am a Christian and love God over everything. Little children, today also I invite you to rejoice and be joyful Christians, responsible and conscious that God called you in a special way to be joyfully extended hands toward those who do not believe, and that through the example of your life, they may receive faith and love for God. Therefore, pray, pray, pray that your heart may open and be sensitive for the Word of God. Thank you for having responded to my call! For more on Medjugorje, Click on MEDJUGORJE

NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



     MEXICO CITY (CWN) - The Archdiocese of Mexico announced on Wednesday that the process for beatification of 35 Mexicans has been completed by the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints in the Vatican.

      The archdiocese spokesman said all of the caused have completed due process, that is to say, have been recognized as having "heroic Christian virtues," and now only require final approval. In some cases, the final approval depends on the confirmation of a miracle, but in the case of the many martyrs -- most of them from the period of the "Cristero" war during the 20s and 30s -- the miracle is not needed. The archdiocese also said the Church in Mexico is ready to present another 20 or more causes for beatification, but declined to give the names.

      At present, while Peru is the Latin American country with the largest number of saints -- five in total -- Mexico has the largest number of blessed and also the largest number of causes pending at the Vatican.


     VATICAN (CWN) -- Bishop Su Zhimin of Baoding, China, is still under arrest-- despite the public statements issued by the Beijing government during the recent trip of Premier Jiang Zemin to the United States. The news agency Fides, an affiliate of the Vatican's Society for the Propagation of the Faith, made that charge today.

      Fides charged that Bishop Zhimin was being held under detention along with his auxiliary, Bishop An Shuxin, and a young priest, Father Wang Quanjun. All are affiliated with the "underground" Catholic Church, which is not recognized by the Communist regime.

      On October 28, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced that a Chinese bishop had been released from custody. According to sources in Hong Kong, that bishop was Zhimin, who had been arrested earlier in October But on November 7, the news arrived from Baoding that the bishop was still being held under police "control," although he was allegedly not behind bars. One source in China told Fides that in fact the bishop had been returned to his prison cell that same day.

      "The case of Su Zhimin appears to be a typical case of 'disinformation.'" Fides charged. The agency pointed out that Human Rights Watch has charged the Chinese government with periodically arresting Christian leaders, then releasing and re-arresting them, as a tactic of intimidation against the Church.


      ARMAGH, Ireland (CWN) - The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh, sent a letter to his parishes last week, outlining proposals to reduce the number of Masses because of a decline in the number of priests.

      Many parishes which had two Masses each Sunday will now have one. Archbishop Brady said that wherever feasible, there would be a gap of at least ninety minutes between Masses on Sunday. The archbishop said the decision was taken in light of the fact that there were now more Masses, but fewer priests, than 30 years ago. He said that the decline in the numbers of ordinations and candidates for the priesthood was extremely worrisome.

      Ireland has faced a catastrophic drop in vocations over the past few years. This year, for the first time ever, the diocesan seminary in Dublin -- which attracts candidates from among half of Ireland's Catholics -- did not receive a single priestly vocation. One of Archbishop Brady's predecessors, Cardinal Tomas O'Fiaich, forecast a decade ago that the Irish Church, which had sent missionaries all over the world, would soon have to rely on priests from the growing Catholic populations of Africa and South America.

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"Virtue guards one who walks honestly, but the downfall of the wicked is sin."

Proverbs 13: 6

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December 9, 1997 volume 8, no. 48         DAILY CATHOLIC

December 1997