Rogo Box Questions, Part VI

  •  What is a basilica? How many basilicas are there?

 A basilica is a church that has specific detication or ceremonial rights, as given by the Pope (see the excerpt below).  There are over a thousand baslicas around the world.  A complete list of them can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_basilicas

 

An excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopedia: 

"Basilica" in the canonical sense

Basilica, as a term used by canon lawyers and liturgists, is a title assigned by formal concession or immemorial custom to certainmore important churches, in virtue of which they enjoy privileges of an honorific character which are not always very clearlydefined. Basilicas in this sense are divided into two classes, the greater or patriarchal, and the lesser, basilicas.

Major basilicas

To the former class belong primarily those four great churches of Rome (St. Peter'sSt. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul-without-the-Walls), which among other distinctions have a special "holy door" and to which a visit is always prescribed as one of the conditions for gaining the Roman Jubilee. They are also called patriarchal basilicas, seemingly as representative of the great ecclesiastical provinces of the world thus symbolically united in the heart of Christendom.

Moreover, a few other churches, notably that of St. Francis at Assisi and that of the Portiuncula, have also received theprivilege of ranking as patriarchal basilicas. As such they possess a papal throne and an altar at which none may say Massexcept by the pope's permission.

Minor basilicas

The lesser basilicas are much more numerous, including nine or ten different churches in Rome, and a number of others, such as the Basilica of the Grotto at Lourdes, the votive Church of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre, the Church of Marienthal in Alsace, etc. There has been a pronounced tendency of late years to add to their number. Thus the "Acta Apostolicae Sedis" for 1909 contain six, and the "Acta" for 1911 eight, such concessions.

In the Brief of erection the pope declares:

We, by our apostolic authority . . . erect (such and such a church) to the dignity of a lesser basilica and bestow upon it all the privileges which belong to the lesser basilicas of this our own cherished city.

These "privileges", besides conferring a certain precedence before other churches (not, however, before the cathedral of any locality), include the right of the conopaeum, the bell, and the cappa magna. The conopaeum is a sort of umbrella (also calledpapilio, sinicchio, etc.), which together with the bell is carried processionally at the head of the clergy on state occasions. Thecappa magna is worn by the canons or members of the collegiate chapter, if seculars, when assisting at Office. The form of theconopaeum, which is of red and yellow silk, is well shown in the arms of the cardinal camerlengo (see vol. VII, p. 242, coloured plate) over the cross keys.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a great entry on basilicas: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02325a.htm

Rogo Box Questions, Part V

  •  What are other "rites" in the area?

 A great example of another Catholic Rite in the area is St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church.  They are located nearby at 1305 South Lander Street, Seattle.  You can learn more about them here: http://stjohnchrysostom.org/ 

  •  How does the Catholic Church perceive premarital sex?

 The Catholic Church sees sex outside of the bonds of marriage as a sin.  In a nutshell, sex is for two reasons: babies and bonding.  If the coulple isn't open to both babies and bonding in the correct way, that couple is distancing themselves from God.

But - don't fret - there is a class for all of this.  Our RCIA class on Sex will be on 2/19/13.  For now, I'd like to quote a thread from www.catholicforum.com that I found very helpful.  You can find the original thread here: http://www.catholicforum.com/forums/showthread.php?27596-Is-Pre-Marital-Sex-Really-Wrong

Here are some reasons why pre-marital sex is a mortal sin:

1) Human law provides the *minimum* standard for humans to live by. In other words, what is the most that humans can get away with without destroying themselves? God's law is exactly the opposite. God holds us to the *highest* standard possible. In other words, what behavior would be needed in order to achieve an absolute perfect society? We don't change God's law to suit us because we fall short. We don't even change God's law because it's *impossible* for humans to achieve. Instead, we adapt because we should always be striving for the ideal. With that stated, what kind of behavior do you think God would expect of unmarried couples?

2) Moral behavior also requires that we have the highest respect for human life possible. As such, we should *never* do harm, short of self-defense. Pre-marital sex, no matter how careful, *always* has a risk of pregnancy. This could lead the mother to another mortal sin through abortion. The couple is also putting a potential human life's entire future at risk by not being prepared to accept the responsibility to raise it or be prepared to do so in advance. It might have to grow up in a single parent or unstable household, finances would not have been prepared, and so on. The fact that a couple could potentially put an innocent life at risk is the *highest* form of selfishness and is completely irresponsible.

3) Despite years of scientific study and philosophical debate, *no one* knows precisely when the soul enters the human body and human life begins. As such, Catholics are required to take the safest route and assume the most conservative answer, which is that life begins at the moment of conception. Birth control can cause the failure of a fertilized egg to implant, thus causing an abortion. Someone could be the unknowing partner to unintentional murder. Some might also choose to use the morning after pill, which does essentially the same thing, but on purpose.

4) Pre-marital sex *always* presents the possibility of sexually transmitted disease. It would be a grave sin to infect someone with a dangerous disease, and some diseases, like HIV, can be transmitted even through condoms. People might not even know they have them. HPV has no symptoms, and yet can cause cervical cancer. How many times have people believed themselves to be in a monogamous relationship, only to discover that their partner is cheating? Over 50% of the population has been cheated on at some point. How many had suspicions beforehand?

5) Promiscuity leads to more promiscuity. By sleeping around, it decreases the special bond that one has when they are exclusive with a single partner. They want to explore the lustful side of sexuality more, unimpeded by feelings. It increases the possibility of cheating during marriage, and has helped to contribute to our skyrocketing divorce rate. Why get married when I can just sleep with someone and move on? People get obsessed with the initial sexual attraction, and never move on to the more intimate phases of relationships. When the fireworks stop, they simply dump their lover, find someone new, and recapture the feeling again. You always hear in the movies about "fear of commitment". Well, a LOT of this is due to the fact that people think they have a good thing going. Why would they want to limit their sexual fun by committing permanently to someone?

6) During pre-marital sex, one is treating the partner like an object of pleasure, rather than an object of love. (This can occur EVEN INSIDE OF A MARRIAGE, by the way...) Rather than using sex for its wondrous purpose, which is a special unity that offers the possibility for the creation of life, we detach from that purpose, and use it solely for pleasure. To be sure, sex is pleasurable and provides fun and great intimacy for couples, but it is meant to be a unique bond that strengthens the family unit, rather than fracturing it through promiscuity. By giving into lust, a couple is *exploiting* each other for selfish purposes, even if the bond of love is there. The minute that sex becomes *just* about fun, the couple begins to test those boundaries to see how much *fun* one can have. These boundaries are difficult to resist, and one can find themselves in trouble very fast. Even inside a marriage, when you are not open to life, you are taking one of the most *special* gifts of God, which is actually being allowed to participate in the process of creation, and rejecting it as if it is worthless.

7) Pre-marital sex also undermines the entire definition of marriage, which is a contract between a single man and woman who love each other to come before God sacramentally and pledge their life to the raising of children. This was to ensure that a family unit would stay strong and guarantee that they would provide their all for their offspring. Without this contract, it makes the problems of child-rearing FAR more difficult, unstable, and uncertain. While many families without two parents certainly do succeed, marriage provides a legal and religious pledge that the roles of mother and father will be undertaken as a team for life. Once you start playing with the definition of marriage, you open a whole new can of worms. Anyone can marry anyone for the purposes of "fully expressing their love through sex". Again, there is no unitive act here or thought for children. It is not a contract with the family first, but a contract regarding the selfish pleasure interests of the two parties involved first. If children come along, well, then we'll figure out what to do then... 

So, why is pre-marital sex bad? It could lead to abortion, it could lead to the creation of a child with a family completely unprepared to raise it, it can transmit disease, it is selfish, it weakens the family, it provides a mentality for divorce and lack of commitment, it is exploitative, it undermines the definition of marriage, and is the misuse of a hugely unique gift from God. Does that help?

Rogo Box Questions, Part IV

  • Isn't the existence of Jesus something that can be proven historically?

Yes! There were many secular writers in the first century A.D. who mention Jesus, the Christ in the writings. These include but are not limited to: Josephus, a Jewish historian who's works are some of the most highly regarded historical pieces from the first century,  Tacitus, a Roman historian known for his reports on the burning of Rome, and Pliny the Younger, a magistrate of ancient Rome who detailed the first persecutions of Christian in the Roman Empire. (There are many more sources but these are the most well known and the most studied). 
  • If the Church is one, then how about Protestant, Anglican, and any other churches other than the Catholic Church? Do we still consider them as the body of Christ? 
We are saddened that our Protestant and Orthodox brothers and sisters have separated from full Communion with the Catholic Church over time. However, this separation does not negate the oneness that we find in the Church's source, The Holy Trinity. The Catechism continues stating that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians and accepted as brothers in the Lord by Catholics. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church 817-819 for more information. 

 

Rogo Box Questions, Part III

 

  • In what Bible passage does the first council of Apostles meet to decide whether Christians ought to become Jews?

 The Council of Jerusalem is described in Acts 15 with mentions of a delegation to Antioch in 15:30-35. Paul continues his discourse on the matter in Romans 2 and 4. Continued discussions around circumcision in particular can be found in Galatians  Ephesians and Philippians. 

  • "Love of self to the point of contempt of God." I disagree...isn't sin due to make our lives worse and not in our best interest? A truly selfish person will want to follow the ten commandments because they could be rewarded for their values and morals later. "Do unto others as you would have them do to you."

This is a great question as many "good" works can be done for God out of desires for reward BUT the desire for the reward is selfish in itself. Following any commandments or laws in anticipation of a greater reward is not for the benefit of God or His kingdom but is instead made for ones own selfish gain. That motive scoffs in the face of God and turns a potentially good act into sin as it is directed towards the self and not towards God. Ultimately, motivation is a great determination of the nature of sin and points us back to the first quote, "Love of self to the point of contempt of God." My choosing to act for my own good turns my actions away from the glory of God and instead promotes the glory of man. 
  • Why don't Catholics honor and follow ALL of God's rules as delivered through Moses? Why only the first ten commandments, but not the other ones-no swine, etc, Passover, Day of Penance, etc.?
When Jesus Christ was on Earth, he gave us the Two Great Commandments to live by: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. These commandments were not meant to abolish the other 613 Jewish laws but were instead meant to encompass THE PURPOSE of the 613 laws in two distinct laws. As Catholics, when we obey the Ten Commandments we are in fact following the two great commands of Christ: 1-3 help us in Loving God while 4-10 help us in loving neighbor. Christ continues saying, "I did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it." (Matthew 5:17) We are not slaves to the full Jewish law code because we are redeemed through Jesus Christ. The Jewish laws were originally established to help lead a faithful Jew towards a promise of Salvation. Through Christ's sinless life salvation was offered to the people of the world, thus negating the need to follow all 613 law codes. Instead, Christians are expected to live lives that will lead us to holiness which is achieved through the Two Great Commandments of Loving God and Loving Neighbor. Thus Paul writes, "In the same way, my brothers, you also were put to death to the law through the body of Christ, so that you might belong to another, to the one who was raised from the dead in order that we might bear fruit for God...But now we are released from the law, dead to what help us captive,so that we may serve in the newness of the spirit and not under the obsolete letter." -Romans 7:4,6 

 

Rogo Box Questions, Part II

 

  • How many Saints are there?

  Strictly speaking, we don't know how many Saints there are.  A "Saint" is defined as someone who is in Heaven, so there is no way for us to know how many people are there.  However, looking at http://www.catholic.org/saints/faq.php, it looks like there are about 10,000 named Saints.

 

  • Regarding Immaculate Conception, can you explain why it God didn't just remove Original Sin from himself?

  In class, when I (Kaelen) spoke about the Immaculate Conception, I made the argument that the reason that Mary was conceived without sin was to prepare for the conception of Jesus, who needed a "clean vessel" in which to be born into the world.  The question is: why was Mary immaculately conceived, couldn't God have just "skipped a step" and conceived Jesus without sin?  The answer that I gave in class is that for someone to be forgiven of Original Sin (for it to be "wiped away" or to "disappear"), God needs to do that himself.  So, if we say that Mary had Original Sin and bore Jesus, God would have had to remove Jesus's Original Sin, right?  

The problem with this is that Jesus is both God and Man, and He would thereby be required to "save himself" from Original Sin, which isn't theologically possible - Jesus came to save, not to be saved.  When thinking about how all of this applies to Mary's conception, we can see that her Original Sin must have been forgiven at her conception to make way for Jesus.  Think about it this way: Jesus came to save us all, he just saved Mary a little earlier than the rest of us by forgiving her Original Sin at conception.

If you have any other questions regarding the dogma of Immaculate Conception, this is a really great resource: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm.  They have detailed explainations with proof from Scripture and other great resources.

Rogo Box Questions, Part I

  • How can I actually talk to God and hear His voice? How do I know if God is talking to me?

You may hear me or a number of us say in our responses “we have a class for that”. Please take it as not an avoidance of the question but to let you know we will address everything in more depth in an upcoming class.

To answer this particular question, I am going to give you a simple answer which will require homework on your part and everyone’s part if they desire a relationship with God. A priest once told me that all things begin in prayer and he’s right. Each of us human beings are relational, meaning we relate to each other in many different ways. Think of all of the relationships you have with your parents, friends, girl/boyfriend, and/or spouse. These relationships cannot be maintained or cannot be healthy or fruitful if you do not communicate with one another. Being in relationship with someone requires some sort of communication.

Prayer is like a conversation, and with that conversation leads to communication and communication leads to a deepening of our relationship with God. There are so many ways to pray. It can be simply just talking to God, or giving a daily thanksgiving, some just speak from the heart, some say petitions asking for help, and so forth.  The big question is how do I know what God is trying to tell me. This is the hard part (for some…for me). Communicating also means having to listen and with God, sometimes you have to listen in the silence of your prayer. God will speak to you but not in the way we speak to each other as humans one on one. He may speak through the Body of Christ and most especially through his Word or Kerygma (to be explained below in a latter question if you do not know what that means). We just have to open and hearts and our minds to listening, working on this relationship and starting all things in prayer.

 

  • While we have intellectual and volitional faith, what do we do when our emotional faith is really shaken? How does one stay faithful in that situation? How do we prevent ourselves from falling?

This is a situation that I think more people face than they are willing to admit. I think the person who most exemplifies this is Mother Teresa of Calcutta. While she accepted and believed in the faith, she admitted that for many years she experienced “spiritual dryness” or as it is sometimes referred to as the “dark night of the soul”.  This “dryness” or “dark night” may lead one to have the intellect and understanding of the faith but one feels abandoned or feels lack of any emotional connection with God.  Some have described it as feeling as if one has lost God in their lives. What do you do in such a situation? That’s hard to say because each of us in different and unique. However, whenever my emotion faith has been shaken or feels lacking, I look to Mother Teresa’s example. Despite feeling this loss of God, she made the choice to dedicate herself to God’s call for her even if she could not feel him in her prayers and in her meditations. How amazing is this wonderful woman who instead of hiding or abandoning her faith, turns instead and decides to see God in every face she served and cared for the poor and sick in India. She could have turned her back but instead she persevered and in spite of not feeling God personally, she offered herself up to serve for Him. Look at how much good she brought to world by simply answering his call and seeing Christ in others.

 

  • What keeps people from believing in the 2nd coming of Jesus if there is an individual who proclaims he is the Son of God and can perform miracles similar to Jesus did back then? Would we first label him as a a magician? Psycho? If proof is what we are looking for, doesn’t that take away the “faith” aspect?

In the Gospel of Matthew and Luke, Jesus says no one but God will know when Christ will come again on Earth. The only thing we are really told it to keep watch and be prepared, because he will come when he is not expected. In Revelations, we are asked to grow in holiness and be patient for when that day comes. 

No one knows how Jesus will come or whether he will need to perform miracles to prove who he is.  So to answer this question, I don’t know. I’m sorry if that is not a satisfying answer but I will say this, I personally believe that when Jesus comes again there will be no question of who he is and why he has appeared. For my part, I will continue to grow in faith and love and hopefully be prepared for when that day comes.

 

  • How can we be forgiven for our sins?

While we have a class for this one coming in January, I will answer this one briefly and we can go into more discussion about one on one if you would like.

When we sin, we are wounding our relationship with God and our Christian Community by choosing the pleasures of worldly goods over God. Sin in never just a purely private matter and “no man is an island”. To sin involves something we choose – it is an act of free will. While we will get into the details of sin, moral evil, following your conscience, and culpability later, I will simply say that God always desires to be close to him. You can see in the whole history of salvation in the Old Testament of God trying to regain the relationship that was lost when the fruit of the tree was eaten. Through the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, the sacrifice Jesus makes to die for our sins, and Jesus passing the authority to forgive sins to apostles through the Holy Spirit, we are given a powerful source of spiritual healing through the sacrament of Confession (which of course we will go into more detail later).

 

  • The 1st Native American Saint took 6 years to validate her sainthood. How then did the story of Adam and Eve get told over and over again, and later was written down and put into the bible. How did the Church validate this story?

This is a good question and kind of a difficult one to answer briefly but I will try. In essence, I think you are asking how did the Church come to validate the story of Adam and Eve or Moses or Noah and all the stories in the Old testament as being true. Given that you just learned about what it takes to become a Saint, this is not a far off question. In order to answer this question, we have to go back to the beginning…seriously the beginning, beginning. God reveals himself in human words which we refer to as Sacred Scripture.  Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God, “because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ”. God is the author of Sacred Scripture because he inspired its human authors and speak God’s truth. As the word was passed down through the Hebrews as God revealed himself to the people, the word was written down. It was compiled and passed down through the centuries but it’s true meaning did not come to light till the “word became flesh” in Jesus.

You will hear us use the word “kerygma”. Kerygma is a Greek word and it means preaching. The Kerygma is the preaching of the apostles, the good news that Jesus asked them to preach to all the nations (Matthew 28:18-20). The Kerygma existed before the Bible or doctrine or theology. Think of it like the acorn from which grows the tree that is the Catholic faith. It is the origin upon which lies our Christian faith. The subject of this preaching/kerygma is not a doctrine or a way of life. The subject of the Kerygma is Jesus Christ himself.

Therefore, Sacred Scripture, written by human authors but inspired by God, teach the truth. However in order to interpret Scripture, we must take into account the Spirit who inspired it by being attentive to the content and unity of the whole Scripture, read the Scripture within the living tradition of the whole Church, and be attentive to the analogy of the faith within the whole plan of Revelation.  Also note the Christian faith is note a “religion of the book”, but is the religion of the “Word” or Kerygma and the Word is incarnate and living. “The eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, open our minds to understand the Scriptures”.  (Catechism 101-141)

 

  • In regards to Archangels Michael and Gabriel, who we sometimes call them Saint Michael and Saint Gabriel, why do we use the terms “archangel” and “saint” interchangeably? Why call them saints when they are not human and never died, even though we know they are in heaven?

The word “saint” comes from the Latin word “sancta” which means “holy one”.  Therefore all the angels that follow God and everyone in Heaven with God are holy aka sancta/saint.  Special significance has been given to Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. The early Church venerated these angels by naming churches after them and invoking their name in formal prayer. While they have never been formally canonized, through time and practice, these three angels in particular have been recognized as “saints” for their place in history and God’s message being carried out by them.

St. Seraphin of Montegranaro (1540-1604)

Today is the feast day of St. Seraphin of Montegranaro (1540-1604)!

From http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saintofday/:

Born into a poor Italian family, young Seraphin lived the life of a shepherd and spent much of his time in prayer. Mistreated for a time by his older brother after the two of them had been orphaned, Seraphin became a Capuchin Franciscan at age 16 and impressed everyone with his humility and generosity.

Serving as a lay brother, Seraphin imitated St. Francis in fasting, clothing and courtesy to all. He even mirrored Francis' missionary zeal, but Seraphin's superiors did not judge him to be a candidate for the missions.

Faithful to the core, Seraphin spent three hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament daily. The poor who begged at the friary door came to hold a special love for him. Despite his uneventful life, he reached impressive spiritual heights and has had miracles attributed to him.

Seraphin died on October 12, 1604, and was canonized in 1767.


Comment: For many people these days, work has no significance beyond providing the money they need to live. How many share the belief expressed in the Book of Genesis that we are to cooperate with God in caring for the earth? The kind of work Seraphin did may not strike us as earth-shattering. The work was ordinary; the spirit in which he did it was not.

Quote: In Brothers of Men, Rene Voillaume of the Little Brothers of Jesus speaks about ordinary work and holiness: "Now this holiness [of Jesus] became a reality in the most ordinary circumstances of life, those of work, of the family and the social life of a village, and this is an emphatic affirmation of the fact that the most obscure and humdrum human activities are entirely compatible with the perfection of the Son of God." Christians are convinced, he says, "that the evangelical holiness proper to a child of God is possible in the ordinary circumstances of a man who is poor and obliged to work for his living."

40 DAYS

What are you going to do these 40 days of Lent?

As a child, Lent was the time when we had to give away are "fun food" (i.e. chocolate, cookies, steak) and eat "not so fun food", i.e. tuna fish sandwiches everyday. (I have nothing against tuna but having a tuna fish sandwich after its been sitting in your lunch bag in a warm classroom is not very tasty). In addition, Lent was also the time when all of my friends went on vacation during spring break but my family got to stay at home and go to mass every day (in my area spring break was always planned for the week going into Easter). I thought of Lent as the "not fun" time of the year and spent most of Lent counting down the days to Easter. 

As I grew with experience, wisdom and knowledge, so too did my faith. When I began to actually listen to what was being read and what was being said at mass, I began to understand what Lent was truly about. I saw the what an amazing gift God the Father gave us in his son Jesus and how this love is everlasting and continues on through the Holy Spirit. Lent turned from being this time of obligation and "not so much fun time" to being this time of learning, praying, and spending quality time with Jesus (aka "party with Jesus" time). I learned to love Lent and make it "fun" for me in the sense that I could use this time to let God recreate in me anew and help me figure out the things that I can do or give up to grow closer to him.

As you begin these next 40 days, I pray that you grow closer to God, grow abundantly in faith, and open yourself up to conversion and turning your lives to Christ so that he can recreate you anew too.

"Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness" (Joel 2:12-18)

"May every family and Christian community use well this time of Lent, therefore, in order to cast aside all that distracts the spirit and grow in whatever nourishes the soul, moving it to love of God and neightbor. " - Pope Benedict XVI

Find your Saint!

 

For those of you seeking the Sacraments of Initiation into the Church, it's time to pick your saint name. As a starting off point, pray first and then do some research. You can find out more info by reading www.americancatholic.org or picking up a book about the saints from the library. Team can help too so don't be afraid to ask! And if you can't pick a saint name, St. Polycarp - pictured above - is awesome and would be a great saint name. His total trust in God while facing a society that would not accept the faith of the Church are inspiring. in addition, his death and martyrdom was one of the first to be recorded in history.