Attention Lovers of St. Teresa of Calcutta:
Today the Courageous Priest family-run apostolate is excited to announce a special limited time offer to celebrate St. Teresa of Calcutta’s Canonization. What a great saint the Church is giving us this September 4th. We are offering two unique evangelization packages to help increase your devotion and help spread devotion to our beloved Saint Teresa. You won’t find anything like this offer anywhere.
St. Teresa of Calcutta Coffee Mug
You are getting a St. Teresa Coffee Mug, Key Chain, Refrigerator Magnet, 50 Paper Prayer Cards, and 25 Laminated Prayer Cards.
St. Terea’s Coffee Mug, Price Range $11 to $15
50 Prayer Cards and 25 Laminated Prayer: Price Range $24 to $43
St. Teresa Key Chain: Price Range $7 to $15
St. Teresa of Calcutta Magnet: Price Range $6 to $10
Honestly to buy this package will cost anywhere from $48 to $83 depending on your shopping habits. That doesn’t include shipping which could easily cost you around $24.
Today, until Monday, September 5th, we are offering the this one of kind package for $47 plus shipping and handling. Will you support the Courageous Priest Family Apostolate and share your love of the great St. Teresa of Calcutta and buy the Evangelization Coffee Mug Package. To order by check, our preferred payment option, please call 573-735-2002.
St. Teresa of Calcutta Holy Water Font
You will receive the same items mentioned above but we are swapping the St. Teresa Holy Water Font for the coffee mug. Here, the package is a Holy Water Font, Key Chain, Refrigerator Magnet, 50 Prayer Cards, 25 Laminated Prayer Cards.
St. Teresa of Calcutta Holy Water Font: Price Range $25 t0 $30
This package will cost anywhere from $62 to $98 depending on your shopping habits, which doesn’t include shipping and handling.
Today, until Monday, September 5th, we are offering the this Holy Water Font package for $61 plus a reasonable price for shipping and handling.
Your No-Questions-Asked Guarantee.
When you buy, we Guarantee Your Satisfaction and the Quality – Buy it Risk-Free, you will “love it or your money back.”
All Buyers Receive a “Thank You Gift”
Your entire family, living and deceased, will be included in the 900 St. Padre Pio Novena during his feast day of September 23rd which is offered by the Seraphic Mass Association. Can you beat that bonus?
May God, who is rich in Mercy, bless you.
P.S. Please don’t wait. The offer ends this Monday, September 5th. For questions or to order by check, please call 573-735-2002.
P.P.S. And don’t forget about the the 900 St. Pio Mass Novena your family will be automatically enrolled.
P.P.P.S. We don’t ask for donations, but we do ask for your support. If you have a devotion to St. Teresa of Calcutta, please buy. Thank you for your support.
Have we had Enough?
By Fr. Daniel E. Doctor:
Speaking out of turn. We all do it. Remember when the Spirit of God came down on certain individual Israelites that were chosen to help Moses lead the people. One of Moses’ aids, Joshua is amazed by all of this and speaks out of turn saying that it was an insult to Moses that others now have the Spirit of God like he does – But Moses responds; “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow His Spirit on them all!”
These prophetic words of Moses have come true in our day and time for God has bestowed His Spirit on us by the power of the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. We, the baptized and confirmed, are now God’s prophets in this world and in this age. All of us are prophets of the Good News of salvation. Now, all of us, are
Fr. Daniel E. Doctor
bestowed with His Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life.
So, what is a prophet?
“A prophet is a person who is regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of God’s will;” So that means we need to get to work learning our faith so we can teach it and praying daily so we live it. A prophet is one who:
- “advocates or speaks for God”
- “has the ability to see the course of human behavior and how it is pleasing or displeasing to God”
- “calls back those who have become lost in sin and selfishness.”
This is the work of all the baptized not only those who are priests and religious.
A prophet is also a witness that is a person who displays their own discomfort or distress in the way things are going in the culture and in the world. A prophetic witness is one who suffers for righteousness, for things to be better and gives voice to their discontentment, their restlessness with the way things currently are.
It is important for the prophet to remember when things get rough that suffering and even martyrdom is the prophet’s lot in life. Speaking the word of God has good and bad consequences. The good consequence is conversion from sin and a greater holiness among the people of God. The bad consequence is from those who revolt against God and His prophets by lies, detraction, gossip, backbiting, slander, calumny and even murder.
Now as Christians, as prophetic witnesses of God to a world and culture whose behaviors have become increasingly anti-God, Pope Francis in his new encyclical, is asking us to take a firm stance against this culture of atheism and individualism that has permeated every aspect of our lives – as well as the widespread mentality of our “throw away culture.”
When we violate human dignity, treat others without respect, as well as violate their God-given rights – and treat them for our own immoral means we do evil. When we protect human dignity and serve the rights of all we do good.
And therein lies one of today’s many American ironies. We now live in a society that speaks about protecting the environment, Global warming, and rescuing species on the brink of extinction – all good things. But then we tolerate the mass killing of the over 53 million unborn children and contemplate the killing of the sick and elderly in the name of their own “dignity. We continue to disregard our young people and their future, leaving them a legacy of broken homes, destroyed relationships, poverty, addiction, unemployment, suicide and shattered dreams for their future.
This culture of indifference is born from the fact that most in our world are neo-pagans. Why would I say that? Because most of us know more about the world and the culture than we do the teachings of the Church or the Bible.
This new kind of paganism rejects the use scripture, the Catechism, or even God’s inspiration to make choices in our lives. Instead we use the media, Hollywood, dumb luck, or “our own evil passions” as St. James put it, as the sources to legitimize our actions.
And so as Pope Francis explained, “we lose hope, choosing to live self-absorbed, self-centered lives. To live by one’s own passions and throwing aside those who we think have no value to us….we destroy hope.”
“We have had enough.”
We need to state definitively, that as Catholics, we will not allow or be partakers of these evils. Or, as Pope Francis has boldly stated it in his encyclical; “We have had enough.”
We are not just going to stand by and watch our love ones become victims of someone’s political agenda (OR) stand by and watch the beloved teachings, that good and courageous Catholics sacrificed their lives for, become watered-down, lifeless, irrelevant . . . a thing of the past. (OR) throw away our children, our youth, our elderly as worthless disposable problems.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, the new Perfect on Divine Worship and the Disciple of the Sacraments, put it this way during his keynote address to the World gathering of Families in Philadelphia, “Even members of the Church can be tempted to soften Christ’s teaching on marriage and the family, to varying degrees, the idea would consist in placing the Magisterium in a pretty box and separating it from pastoral practice.”
We, as Christ’s prophetic witnesses, need to know the Truth if we ever hope to live it. “The world today needs saints with heroic witness to defend and nurture the family,” stated Cardinal Sarah, “by opening ourselves to God’s grace and His Holy Spirit living in us, our homes and families.”
As Pope Francis reminded the Bishops of the United States, just a few days ago, “This kind of witness is a beacon whose light can reassure men and women sailing through the dark clouds of life that a sure haven awaits them, that they will not crash on the reefs or be overwhelmed by the waves.”
Therefore, we need to be that strong “light to the world” because as Pope Francis warned us, “the light of Christ is flickering.”
So, we need to get serious about our spiritual life – like the prophets and saints of old. How?
- Family Prayer,
- reception of Holy Communion more that once a week,
- frequent confessions,
- Eucharistic Adoration, (most especially at night),
- daily rosary in hands
PLEASE REWORD These are our Catholic weapons! That’s right, weapons! They are the means to destroy this world of evil, this culture of death and indifference. They are the means to make Saints of all of us. They are the means to strengthen and protect us in this mortal combat, that we find ourselves in, for our souls.
We are called to be Prophetic Christian Soldiers. . .
We are called to “see and hear” so let us wake up to the truth of the matter that we are called to be prophetic Christian Soldiers. Let us take our rightful place on the battlefield of life, next to Christ our Lord…our King…and His Bride, Our Mother the Church. We need to become again the ever-victorious Church Militant!
We need to get fired up about our Catholic Faith to be joyful because we are greatly loved. And, as Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati said, “I have nothing to fear, I have Jesus with me.”
These fearless words of a Saint in the midst of the battles and struggles of life give us courage to follow this loving God with our whole hearts, minds, and souls these words should give us Life…and invincible hope in His promises.
Therefore, one of those ways we prove our metal as Christians is how we live. So live like a heroic Catholic! Let us put an end to the evil we encounter by living the Christian virtue of charity…by truly loving your neighbor. Be a courageous prophetic witness who fearlessly turns your life over to this everlasting Father of incredible love and radical mercy, who wants nothing more than to fill us, His children with His very Spirit of Life, because His Son gave His life for you.
By Fr. Paul Scalia, The Catholic Thing:
In Pascendi dominici gregis, Pope Pius X invokes the Blessed Virgin Mary by the title Destroyer of all heresies. He took this curious appellation for the gentle, sweet maiden of Nazareth from the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The title had particular meaning in Pascendi, which was written in 1911 against modernism, the “synthesis of all heresies.” Faced with that crisis, it was proper to appeal to the Destroyer of all heresies. The title still applies, however. Indeed, it describes something that has always been true of our Lady – and is perhaps even more urgent now.
But how? How does she destroy heresies? Mary never preached a sermon against error. She never conducted an inquisition or excommunicated anyone. She never (God forbid) presented a paper at a theological conference.
Why is Mary, the Destroyer of All Heresies?
How? Well, look first at the zeal she inspires. It’s a mark of the defenders of the faith that they have a devotion – often disarmingly childlike – to our Lady. From Saint Irenaeus writing against the heresies in the 2nd century, to Saint Dominic preaching against the Albigensians in the 12th, to Saint John Paul II teaching against modern errors in our own time, devotion to Mary has always been something of a calling card for the Faith’s defenders. In one of those beautiful Catholic paradoxes, these men became fierce defenders of the faith by first becoming childlike towards her. Devotion to her brings purity to the soul and therefore clarity to the mind.
We can look also to her intercession. Only in eternity will we know how it all works. Meanwhile, we know for a certainty that the Church has, time and again been, delivered from darkness and error because the faithful cried out to her in need.
But most of all she is the Destroyer of all heresies by virtue of who she is. It is the truth of who she is – or, rather, the truth of what God has done for her – that vanquishes heresies. Her very being guards the truth about God and man.
She Reveals the Truth about the Human Body
Today we see another dimension of Mary as the Destroyer of all heresies: she defends the truth about the human person. Specifically, by her Assumption, she reveals and destroys the error that plagues us now: the error about the human body. Today’s heresy (seen most of all in the new Gnosticism of gender ideology) is a recapitulation of an ancient, recurring error. Rather than knowing man to be an embodied soul, we see him as a soul that happens to have (or be trapped in) a body.We see this early in the Church’s history. When the Council of Ephesus solemnly defined Mary as the God-bearer – Theotokos – it was as a way of defending the divinity of Christ. The heresiarch Nestorius’s refusal to acknowledge Mary as Mother of God alerted the fathers to his error about her Son. To proclaim the truth about Mary was to defend the truth about Jesus Christ. In the 19th century, Pius IX’s solemn definition of the Immaculate Conception defended God’s initiative and grace against modernity’s infatuation with human ingenuity and the growing desire for complete human autonomy.
To be human thus means to be a soul – and do with the body as you will. The body becomes a plaything, a tool, a possession, a curse, etc. Indulge it while you are healthy, and discard it when you are not. The body means nothing and tells you nothing about yourself. You can be one thing physically and another spiritually.
Again, this is a perennial error precisely because all of us experience the dis-integration of body and soul to some degree. By the sin of Adam and Eve, we lost original integrity, including that perfect union of body and soul God intended from the beginning. Our souls do not always get along so well with “brother ass.” The difference now is that this discomfort has been raised to the level of an ideology, and that ideology is being imposed by cultural and governmental strongmen.
Her Body Magnifies the Truth
Mary, assumed into heaven, reveals the truth and upends the errors. All saints are in heaven spiritually. They await the last day when their bodies will be raised and reunited with their souls. Our Lady, however, assumed body and soul into heaven, already enjoys perfect blessedness in the fullness of her human nature. In her very being she teaches the essential union of body and soul.
Her Assumption has to be understood as one with her entire life. By her Immaculate Conception, Mary is kept free from original sin and its effects. She does not suffer the opposition of body and soul that the rest of us do. Her perpetual virginity further confirms and reveals this perfect union. Her body and soul are so perfectly one that her body participates in and manifests that pure spiritual gift of herself to God.
In that singular grace granted to the New Eve – in her Assumption – we have a reminder of what we were created to be and a proclamation of what God’s grace can accomplish. We see that God created us as a body/soul unity. Man’s body and soul are one, and a society designed around their opposition is contrary to his good. Further, the grace of Christ reconciles us with God and therefore also with ourselves. We find in our prayers and in the Church’s Sacraments the medicine for healing the division within us.
Old Latin prayers beg for grace by the power of Maria assumpta. Not just by the Assumption of Mary or by Mary’s assumption but by Mary assumed – Mary, the Assumed One. The phrase calls attention not just to an event but to who she is. She herself, by virtue of what God has done for her, assists us.
Let Us Appeal to Her
Unfortunately, the obligation to attend Mass on the Feast of the Assumption does not apply this year. That means that fewer people will have the benefit of celebrating God’s works and meditating on what has been accomplished in Mary – on what it means for us and how we are to follow. Let us then appeal to her even more as we strive to live that integrity of body and soul in our own lives – and as we also likewise struggle against the confusions of our culture and the assaults of our government.
Maria Assumpta, ora pro nobis.
By Msgr. Charles Pope, Community in Mission:
One of the less edifying aspects of the Summer Olympics in Rio is the attire of the women’s beach volleyball players from Western countries. Most of the women wear a tiny bikini with the bottom being especially tiny. (I do not show a picture here because I deem it immodest to do so. Instead, I show a picture of some of the men, whose attire I mention below.)
Frankly, playing volleyball in a tiny bikini seems quite unnecessary. I would argue that it detracts from the sport because it distracts from the sport. The attention doesn’t seem to be drawn to the ball, shall we say. I would further argue that the attire encourages the focus not even on the women, but on certain aspects of the women’s bodies.
I can understand that swimmers (male and female) wear tight and sometimes abbreviated swimsuits to lessen drag in the water. Gymnasts, too, often wear brief and/or tight clothing to improve their performance and maximize the mobility of their limbs. The clothing is thus at least somewhat performance related.
But I can see no performance enhancement brought about by the wearing of tiny bikinis. Some will point out that the bikini top in question acts as a sports bra. Fine, but men wear supportive attire, too; but they do so under their shorts, not out in the open.
The Egyptian women’s beach volleyball player shown in the above photo illustrates that it is possible to compete quite well without wearing a bikini. One could argue that having short sleeves and shorter leg coverings might be cooler for the players. The impact on performance of wearing the hijab is debatable, but it is worn tucked in and did not seem to bother the women who wore it. These women played and competed well in a sport that is relatively new to their country and region.
Men’s beach volleyball attire also illustrates that near nudity is not required to play the sport well. The men do not play wearing tiny swimwear. They wear ample shorts along with t-shirts or tank tops.
I realize that each time the question of modesty has come up on this blog there are some readers who want to dismiss such discussions and emphasize the right of people to dress as they please. They believe that any sexual temptation aroused is almost wholly the fault of the viewer, not the one wearing the attire.
Modesty should avoid excessively burdening people. It seeks a middle ground wherein the one who dresses and the other who sees share responsibility. The one wearing the attire should not be burdened with difficult requirements, nor should the viewer be burdened by facing undue temptation. Mutual charity and concern are the goals.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of modesty as protecting the mystery, chastity, and dignity of the human person.
Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. … Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. … Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet (CCC 2521-2522).
As always, comments are appreciated, but I have found in the past that discussions about modesty are often difficult to have in a way that is helpful or charitable. Reasonable people may differ on the details of modesty. Modesty does involve a range of options, influenced by circumstances and the sensibilities of cultures. I have articulated here that I see no need for tiny bikinis in this sport and that I think more modest attire is important. If you disagree, please explain the relationship you see of the brief bikini to the sport, considering that men in general and women from other cultures who compete do not see the need to wear so little. If you agree, please remember in your comments that the imputation of motives to individuals is a sketchy and usually uncharitable thing to do. Everyone, please use care when commenting.
By Msgr. Charles Pope, Community in Mission:
There been much tension regarding the Mass as both a meal and a sacrifice. A necessary corrective was introduced in the past twenty years to rectify the overly strong emphasis, heavily advanced during the 1970s and 1980s, on the Mass as a meal. The purpose of the corrective was to bring back needed balance with the root of the Mass: the cross and the overall paschal mystery.
While we cannot dismiss the idea of the Mass as a meal, we must understand what sort of meal it is. When most people today hear the word “meal,” they do not think of a holy banquet or wedding feast, but more of an informal meal. And informality in American culture has become very informal indeed! We rarely dress up anymore; formal banquets, black-tie dinners, and the like are rare.
Thus our understanding of the Mass as a meal is colored by our culture’s informal definition, which is not intended in the Church’s understanding of the Mass. Permit, then, some of the following correctives:
I. The Mass is a meal, but it is no ordinary meal. The Mass is a sacred meal or banquet (Sacrum Convivium) and also the great Wedding Feast of the Lamb, for which one should be properly clothed (see Rev 19:6-9; Matt 22:12-13). This meal is not an informal one; it is a great banquet that should be esteemed and for which one should be prepared.
There are many people today who emphasize the “table fellowship” that Jesus had with sinners. They argue the Eucharist should be open to all, Catholic or not, saint or (even the worst) sinner. It is true that Jesus was often found at the table with sinners, where He ate with them.
But the Last Supper, at which the Eucharist was first given, was not just any meal; it was a Passover meal. The Passover meal was not an open one; it was a family meal and one rooted in the Jewish faith. People were instructed to celebrate this meal with their own families. And while several smaller or poorer families could come together for the meal, that was the exception rather than the norm.
Hence, the Last Supper is not to be compared to the open “table fellowship” Jesus had with sinners. Only the Apostles were formally gathered for the Last Supper.
So, to the extent that we can speak of the Mass as a meal, it is not an ordinary one with a “come-one, come-all” and/or “come as you are” mentality. It is not informal. It is a sacred meal that should be received worthily, celebrated with reverence, and which is integrally linked to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote substantially on this topic back in the late 1990s, and I presented and reflected on his writings here: Worthy Reception.
II. The Mass is not a reenactment of the Last Supper. It surely includes aspects of the Last Supper (most crucially the words of Institution of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist).
But these aspects of the Last Supper are summarized and referenced, not reenacted. If it were truly a reenactment, then when the priest says that Jesus gave thanks, blessed and broke the bread, and gave it to them saying, “This is my body …”, he should send the host around immediately. And then when he takes the chalice and utters the words of consecration, he should tell all the people to drink from it immediately.
A literal reenactment might also require that we all recline on the floor on our left elbows at low, U-shaped tables. The Last Supper was not served at a modern, American-looking table, or even at one as Da Vinci imagined it. And perhaps the priest should recite the lengthy, priestly prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper, as recorded in John’s Gospel. Maybe a foot-washing should take place at every Mass. But even if we don’t absolutize the notion of reenactment, the point remains that the Mass is not a re-staging of the Last Supper.
Even at the Last Supper, in giving us the words of consecration Jesus points beyond the Last Supper itself. He says of the Bread, “This is my Body, which will be given up for you.” Thus He points beyond the meal to the cross. He says of the wine in the chalice, “This is the cup of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal Covenant, which will be shed for you and for many …” Here, too, He points beyond the meal itself to the cross.
Hence, while the connection of the Mass to the Last Supper is clear, it is not the only or even most important connection. The meal itself points to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. And since at Communion we receive a living Lord (not a piece of dead flesh), the Mass also points to the resurrection.
III. When the priest speaks the words of Consecration at Mass, he is not addressing the congregation. This is another common point of confusion today. Not only is the Mass not a mere reenactment of the Last Supper, even when the priest speaks the words of Consecration at Mass, he is not addressing the congregation. These words, like all the words of the Eucharistic prayer, are directed to the Heavenly Father. They serve as a kind of basis and context for our sacrifice. When saying these words, the priest is speaking in the person of Christ and indicating that this act of our worship, as members of the Body of Christ, is united to the once-for-all, perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.
The essential point is that the words are directed to the Father. For a priest to gaze intently at the congregation and/or show the bread dramatically as he says the words of Consecration is to send the wrong signal, because it is not the people who are being addressed.
In the rubrics, the priest is directed to bow a little (parum se inclinat) as he says the words. He is not to be like an actor on a stage reenacting the Last Supper with all sorts of gestures and engagement of the faithful as if they were the Apostles. He is to bow as he speaks to the heavenly Father of what Jesus did and said in the institution of the Eucharist.
To reiterate, the entire Eucharistic Prayer is addressed to the Heavenly Father. Thus we are not “pretending” or reenacting the meal that was the Last Supper.
IV. What most makes the Mass a meal is the food that we receive. The food we receive is Jesus the Lord, who feeds us with His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. O sacrum convivium in quo Christus sumitur! (O Sacred Banquet in which Christ is received!) It is not necessary or even essential to engage in theatrics or to insist that the altar look like a simple, modern meal table (though noble simplicity has its place).
Thus the Mass is truly a meal as well as a sacrifice. But we must understand that the meaning of the word “meal” in the context of the Mass is distinct from some of our modern notions. It is a formal, sacred, exclusive meal for those of the household of faith who are in a state of grace. Proper attire and formality should be balanced with noble simplicity. And although the Last Supper is surely integral to the Mass, it is not merely reenacted; it is taken up in its essence (not merely in its external aspects), which points to the cross.
Bishops Step Up to Support Traditional Marriage
Note to email subscribers: Your next email will be sent by a different provider. We are looking forward to the upgrade. Thanks for the support. Please let us know if there are any issues. God bless, John Quinn.
By Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Bishop Richard J. Malone and Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, USCCB Blog:
Questions revolving around marriage and human sexuality are deeply felt in our homes and communities. We join with our Holy Father Pope Francis in affirming the inviolable dignity of all people and the Church’s important role in accompanying all those in need. In doing so, we also stand with Pope Francis in preserving the dignity and meaning of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The two strands of the dignity of the person and the dignity of marriage and the family are interwoven. To pull apart one is to unravel the whole fabric.
When a prominent Catholic politician publicly and voluntarily officiates at a ceremony to solemnize the relationship of two people of the same-sex, confusion arises regarding Catholic teaching on marriage and the corresponding moral obligations of Catholics. What we see is a counter witness, instead of a faithful one founded in the truth.
Pope Francis has been very clear in affirming the truth and constant teaching of the Church that same-sex relationships cannot be considered “in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”1 Laws that redefine marriage to deny its essential meaning are among those that Catholics must oppose, including in their application after they are passed.2 Such witness is always for the sake of the common good.
During our Holy Father’s remarkable visit to us last year, he reminded us that all politicians “are called to defend and preserve the dignity of [their] fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics.”3 Catholic politicians in particular are called to “a heroic commitment” on behalf of the common good and to “recognize their grave responsibility in society to support laws shaped by these fundamental human values and oppose laws and policies that violate [them].”4
Faithful witness can be challenging—and it will only grow more challenging in the years to come—but it is also the joy and responsibility of all Catholics, especially those who have embraced positions of leadership and public service.
Let us pray for our Catholic leaders in public life, that they may fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to them with grace and courage and offer a faithful witness that will bring much needed light to the world. And may all of us as Catholics help each other be faithful and joyful witnesses wherever we are called.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, is chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; and Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, is chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
1 Amoris Laetitia (2016), no. 251.
2 USCCB, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (2015), no. 23; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons (2003), no. 5
3 Address to Congress, September 24, 2015.
4 Faithful Citizenship, no. 39.
On the Need of Confession before Sacramental Marriage
By Fr. Charles Nwora Okeke:
On Receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony Unworthily: “We commit a mortal sin of sacrilege if we knowingly received the Sacrament of Matrimony unworthily in a state of mortal sin; just as is the case with a priest who offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a state of mortal sin.”
It is necessary that we receive the sacrament of Matrimony worthily, and this means that we have to be in a state of grace (free of mortal sin). This is so that the Sacrament may effect an increase of sanctifying grace in us; and also that we may receive the special help of God to love each other faithfully, to bear with each other’s faults, and to bring up our children properly. We commit a mortal sin of sacrilege if we knowingly received the Sacrament of Matrimony unworthily in a state of mortal sin; just as is the case with a priest who offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a state of mortal sin. However, the marriage remains valid but the sin and the sacrilege must later be confessed in the Sacrament of Penance and an absolution obtained.
The Catholic Church is the forgiving, loving and perfect Mother.
By Msgr. Charles Pope, Community in Mission:
7 Traits of Merciful Fathers
I. The merciful father loves the mother of his children.
One of the most merciful things a father can do for his children is to love their mother with tender affection and gentle, protective support. Children bond with their mother very closely, especially in their early years. They are reassured by seeing love, tenderness, and support shown to their mother.
In contrast, when children see their mother dishonored or, even worse, abused by their father, they are easily struck with fear and a sense of dread.
How beautiful is this mercy of a father! It also helps his sons understand how to treat women, and helps his daughters understand how men should treat them.
II. The merciful father attends to his own healing and maturity.
All of us have character defects and “issues” that affect others around us. Some have anger issues; others are too fearful and non-assertive. Some have problems with drinking; some with pornography. Still others can be lazy or impatient.
A father can show mercy to his children by working on whatever ails him and thereby avoid inflicting frustration and pain on his children. Scripture says, They made me keeper of vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept (Song 1:6).
It is a work of mercy for a father (and a mother, too) to work through his own issues and thereby spare his children pain. There is an old saying, “If I get better, others get better too.” In doing this, not only are children spared pain, but they are better able to grow in virtue.
III. The merciful father does not allow his career to eclipse his vocation.
Whatever career a man has, his vocation as husband and father is more important. And while the two are not wholly separate (since a father provides for his family), there is far more to being a father than being a breadwinner.
Children need their father in their lives, not merely off in the distance sending money. It is a great work of mercy for a father to cherish his children and to share in their lives. It is a necessary component of their maturity for him to manifest the masculine genius of being human even as their mother manifests the feminine genius.
Children want their father’s support, encouragement, and approval. A young man deeply needs his father’s model. He also needs his father’s affirmation as he grows into manhood. There is perhaps no greater mercy than for a son to hear his father say, “I’m proud of you; you’ve done well.”
A daughter delights in twirling her skirts and in being the apple of her father’s eye. He models for her the love of a man who loves her for her own sake, without lust. This can help her learn to distinguish love from lust and to develop the self-esteem that will help her to navigate the complex years of courtship and to discern a good husband.
A man who is more wedded to his career than to his family is too seldom around to have these crucial effects, which are far more precious than the extra money or additional possessions earned by long hours at the office.
Be careful, fathers. Career can be big on the ego and it can easily ensnare you. Home life may be less glamorous and less immediately rewarding in terms of money, but there is no greater satisfaction than to have raised your children well. The rewards will be enormous for both them and you. And this is a very great mercy.
IV. The merciful father is the spiritual leader of his home.
He establishes the structures of grace. In our culture, too many men leave the spiritual and religious lives of their children to their mother. But Scripture says,Fathers … bring up your children in the training and discipline of the Lord (Eph 6:4). This does not mean that the wife has no role, clearly she does.
A father is to be the spiritual leader in his home, sanctifying his family (see Eph 5:25-27). He should be the first one up on Sunday morning, summoning his children to prepare for Holy Mass. His wife should not have to drag him along to Mass. He should read Bible stories to his children and explain their meaning. He should teach them God’s law. While his wife should share in this, the father ought to lead.
Surveys show that the highest predictor (by far) of children going on to practice the faith in adulthood is whether their father practices the faith.
A father should also seek to establish his household with the structures of grace. He should live under obedience to God and insist that his children do likewise. This makes for a home that, while not free of sin, makes it easier to live the Christian faith rather than more difficult.
All of this is a great mercy that a father extends to his children. Through his leadership, a father molds his family into the beloved community where God’s justice and mercy are esteemed and exemplified. By God’s grace this mercy reaches his children.
V. The merciful father listens and teaches.
It is a beautiful work of mercy for a father to actively listen to his children and to give them his undivided attention whenever possible. It bestows on them a sense of dignity, because they see that what they say and think matters to their father. And it reassures them that he cares for their welfare and what is happening in their lives.
After listening, a father should also respond and teach, giving his children guidance. Too many children today are not being taught by their parents, especially regarding the critical moral issues of our day. If parents do not teach their children, someone else will! And that “someone” is not likely to be an individual with godly views. More often it will be some pop-star, musician, or teen idol. Perhaps it will be a gang leader or a rogue school buddy. Maybe it will be the police officer or a judge in a legal proceeding.
Fathers, it is a great mercy to teach your children. You have their best interests at heart. You want what is truly good (not merely apparently good) for them. Their lives will be much simpler and more productive if you insist that they do what is right from an early age. Otherwise, hardships and painful lessons await them. Show them mercy. Instruct them in the ways of the Lord.
Scripture says, Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). He who raises a fool does so to his sorrow, And the father of a fool has no joy (Prov 17:21). A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the mother who bore him (Prov 17:25).
When a father brings up his children in the discipline of the Lord, it is mercy not only to them, but to others as well!
VI. The merciful father praises and punishes.
Children are delighted to get their father’s esteem and approval. They love to be praised, especially when they believe they have done well.
A paradoxical form of mercy is for a father to punish his children. The purpose of punishment is to allow the child to experience in a small way the consequences of his transgression so that he does not experience the full and more painful consequences later. Scripture says,
My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son … For what children are not disciplined by their father? … We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Heb 12:5-11).
And thus punishment, properly understood, is a great mercy, because it saves children from great woes later on. Clearly, punishment cannot simply be a father venting his anger or exacting revenge. Punishment is not for the benefit of the father; it is for his children’s sake.
VII. The merciful father uses his authority and has his children’s long term interests in mind.
The cultural revolution of the late 1960s was not just about sexuality, drugs, and feminism; it also ushered in a wide-scale rejection of authority from which we are still reeling. And it is not just that those under authority reject it, but that those who have authority have become reluctant to use it. Too many clergy and too many parents do not make necessary decisions, enforce important policies, or punish when appropriate. Too many who have lawful authority are more concerned with being popular; they do not want to risk being questioned or resisted.
Authority involves a lot of effort and brings with it a great deal of stress. Many seek to avoid all this and thus those who need leadership and guidance often do not get it. Scripture says, And indeed if the trumpet gives an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? (1 Cor 4:18)
Whether they like to admit it or not, children need their father to be strong and to lead. And when he does this it is a great mercy. It may not always be appreciated in the moment, but most children eventually recognize with gratitude the leadership of their parents, of their father.
Every leader needs to know that he will sometimes take some heat for his decisions, and he must be willing and courageous enough to make those decisions anyway. A father must remember that he has to be more concerned with his children’s long-term interests than with their current, short-term happiness. Their anger or discontent in the present moment will usually be replaced gratitude and relief in the future.
A good father will mercifully hold the tension of the moment and keep his children’s best interests at heart. He will serve their true good (not merely their apparent good) through the use of his authority and through his decisions on their behalf. And this is a very great mercy!