Thursday, May 5, 2011

Can Catholics Attend A Protestant Church Service, Wedding or Funeral?

The short answer is yes.

There are many Catholics in mixed marriages (A Catholic married to a spouse of another denomination) and to keep peace they attend both our Holy Mass and  their spouse's church service.

Catholics may also question whether they should go to a Wedding or Funeral of a non- Catholic at a non-Catholic church.

It's important to note here that the Catholic Church does not prohibit attending any non-Catholic church for any reason.

Some may argue that you are giving legitimacy to non-Catholic churches and practices or somehow showing approval of their way of faith. However, most protestant church services are about prayer, hymns, bible readings and a sermon.

Prayer: Prayer is prayer. Protestant pray Christian Prayers and some of the ones they pray are also used by Catholics. There is absolutely nothing wrong with participating in prayer with anyone, even at a protestant church.

Hymns: Again, hymns are prayers and some of them may be common to what we sing in our Catholic churches. There is nothing wrong with signing along, in prayer.

Bible Readings: Again, we read the bible, they read the bible. You may not agree with some added commentary by the pastor but there is no sin in listening to it in church.

This may be a surprise to some but the Catholic church encourages you to do at a non-Catholic church as it's members do. This includes preaching and doing the readings if invited by the Pastor. The one exception is that a Catholic must not participate in a non-Catholic communion.

A Catholic must not take communion at a non-Catholic church because it is not a valid Eucharist. Only an ordained Catholic Priest can see over at valid Eucharist. So, any Eucharist performed by a non-Catholic pastor is invalid by nature. Since we take the validity of taking in the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist very seriously, it isn't acceptable to participate in an invalid one.

Here is the Catholic Church's stand:
Sharing in Non-Sacramental Liturgical Worship
116. By liturgical worship is meant worship carried out according to books, prescriptions and customs of a Church or ecclesial Community, presided over by a minister or delegate of that Church or Community. This liturgical worship may be of a non-sacramental kind, or may be the celebration of one or more of the Christian sacraments. The concern here is non-sacramental worship.

117. In some situations, the official prayer of a Church may be preferred to ecumenical services specially prepared for the occasion. Participation in such celebrations as Morning or Evening Prayer, special vigils, etc., will enable people of different liturgical traditions—Catholic, Eastern, Anglican and Protestant—to understand each other's community prayer better and to share more deeply in traditions which often have developed from common roots.

118. In liturgical celebrations taking place in other Churches and ecclesial Communities, Catholics are encouraged to take part in the psalms, responses, hymns and common actions of the Church in which they are guests. If invited by their hosts, they may read a lesson or preach.


Monday, April 25, 2011

My Thoughts on RCIA, Easter Vigil and Confirmation

As I've noted elsewhere on the blog, I was in the process of converting to the Catholic faith through RCIA.

RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) has been a great experience for me. I had enrolled and started the process several years ago but a sudden change in jobs, moving and other life issues resulted in dropping from the program. Over the past several weeks (7 months, I think) I have met several great Catholics who have influenced my conversion and faith. We had a great group of RCIA leaders, a mix of parishioners, priests and a Sister. They were all great and very knowledgeable in the faith and I'm glad to say that they are in my faith "family tree".

Our RCIA group was lead by a Benedictine Sister. Each week either a parishioner, priest or the Sister would cover one of the several topics ranging from Church History, moral issues, what Catholics believe, the Scripture, prayer, and just about anything else that is important to our faith. We had nice handouts and then the leader for that week would most of the time have some extra tidbits to hand out and talk about. We also read the coming week's Mass readings and discuss the meanings of them. The result is a very good education on the Church and Faith.

Again, we had a great group. The leaders were great as mention above but we also had an outstanding group of candidates. Our group of candidates was 6 people, two men, four women. We had a very social group and I think we would all say that we've made several new friends and have learned a lot from each other over this process.  Everyone has a level of dedication to the program that far exceeded my expectations.

I guess this long process of conversion is what weeds out those who are serious and those that are not and I think that's a good thing. I think it's great that before you are confirmed, you will be informed of exactly what you are getting into and what is expected. I think that it's not good for the church to be just confirming people to boost numbers, but it's great to boost numbers with informed, educated members who understand the faith.

I will miss RCIA when we finish next month.

I was confirmed and welcomed into the Church on Saturday at Easter Vigil. This was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I didn't feel like this was just some thing we do and we'd just get it over with. To me, it was the ultimate welcome to the Church. I was surprised at how genuine and excited the members of the church were to welcome us to the Church. I guess I just assumed that most people would just think, "good for you, now lets get this done". This was far from the truth. As my classmates and our sponsors stood up front and went thought confirmation I watched the parishioner's. So many had such big prideful smiles on their faces.  Another very nice thing was that our Church has a school attached and every grade and the youth group all wrote us each a nice welcome letter.

The church was decked in white and gold, the priest wore great vestments of white and gold. There were many more candles, and a fountain blessed near the altar. The dark church, the lighting of the fire and the paschal candle. The prayers in candle light. It made for a great atmosphere of symbolism to open the mass, an aspect of the Catholic Church that I find far underrated by most people. This was to be the culmination of the Resurrection and through God's Grace our conversion.

You couldn't help comparing the candidates situation and part in the Mass to the Resurrection. The comparison is that Jesus has Risen and in a sense the candidates are experiencing a transition to the light as well. All in all, this was a great experience and I couldn't think of a better way to initiate new members (RCIA process, Easter Vigil). I think it also highlights depth and thought that the church puts into all things. Everything has a reason, everything is meaningful and has a correct way of doing them.

My next objective (besides, obviously, living faithful Catholic life):

Joining The Knights of Columbus. After Easter Vigil I was asked by a couple members of our local KoC chapter if I'd like to join. Having done much research on the KoC, I think it's right up my alley.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Solemnity of the Annunciation, the Non-Fasting Friday of Lent

Today is the Solemnity of the Annuciation!

On the Solemnity of the Annuciation we celebrate the Angel Gabriel's visit to the Holy Mother. Gabriel appeared to Mary in Nazareth and :

 26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:26-38, New International Version, ©2011)

So, today we celebrate the Holy Mother Mary saying "YES" to God and taking on this huge undertaking and later suffering her child's tourture and death. The thing to meditate on today is saying "YES" to God. Too often we deny him, most people probably deny him everyday in some small way (me included).  Today, we focus particularly on just saying "yes" to what God demands of us and try to continue it for the rest of the year.

Fasting and Abstinance:
Do Catholics fast or abstain from meat on the Annunciation?

No, you are not required to fast or abstain on the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

The reason is that Solemnities are condsidered the "feasts of feasts". Solemnities are Holy Days and we are not required to fast or abstain on Holy Days, we are to celebrate on holy days.

Canon 1251  Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (nisi) they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. 


Falling Upward by Fr. Richard Rohr

I just recieved my advanced reader's copy of this Fr. Rohr's newest book, "Falling Upward".

It's a book about the world's focus on the first half of life at the expense of the second half. It appears to be targeted at the 50+ crowd so it should be interesting to see if it applies or has a use for someone my age (mid 30's),

For those that don't know, Fr. Rohr is a very prolific Catholic author. He's Franciscan with a master's in theology and currently loves in a hermitage. Fr. Rohr is also a great speark much like Fr. Corapi.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Contemporary Catholic Theology: A Reader

I'm in the middle of reading this book. Great stuff if you are a theology/bible nerd.

From what I can tell. it's a complete guide to the theology of the Catholic Church. It' written in a format of an anthology of articles of some of the best minds in the Catholic theology.

The book covers scripture, dogma, history, morality.... just about everything. Now it's not a comprehensive guide to all of the subjects, but it's a great overview of most of the theology of the church.

It's very detailed and very dense so it does not suite anyone with a short attention span and I wouldn't recommend it to total newbies.

It's a cost effective read as well because copies can be found on Amazon for a couple bucks.


Fr. Corapi accused of "Conduct unbecoming of a priest".

Fr. Corapi has been accused of having immoral relations with an adult female and participating in drug use.

Fr. Corapi is a highly regarded Catholic speaker. He's noted for his journey to faith, from a wealthy man to a homeless drug addict to Catholic Priest. He is one of the most well known and respected Catholic speakers and makes frequent appearences on EWTN.

I have a hard time believing any of this. Plenty of priests have done plenty of bad things but many, many more have done great things. Fr. Corapi is clearly in the category of people that I'd find it's highly unlikely that would do this.

Personally, I think that this is an example of the Church and priests having been kicked around the media. Priests are assumed guilty in the media now much in the same way a gang member would be. It's a sad state when someone can make an allegation like this and basically the preist has no real way to defend himself.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Whose Church? by Daniel C. Maguire

I saw this on the shelf in the dollar store today and couldn't resist picking it up. It's a self proclaimed guide to the liberalism and Catholicism.

I have to admit upfront that I'm very much on the traditional side of the church and the conservative side in politics. I picked up this book because I wanted to see how someone might argue a liberal side to Catholicism.

My experience so far with the Catholic faith is that many of the biggest issues in the church right now (gay marriage, moral sexuality, abortion...ect) are very much conservative values. I've found that the values of the Catholic church are much stronger conservative values as a whole than  it is liberal values.

Granted, there are always good liberal values like providing for the poor, children, women and fighting for equal rights that are also in line with church values. However, these are not exclusively liberal ideas as many conservatives also believe in these basic ideas. The question is at what extent are you willing to sacrifice freedom and self responsibility (a biblical ideal) to help everyone else?
"If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their own work quietly and to earn their own living."

Thessalonians 3:10-12

 "Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward You are serving the Lord Christ."
Colossians 3:23-24

Those that work and work hard will be blessed by God. Liberalism takes this to a new level, you don't take responsibility for your actions and you work as little as possible to get by.

With this in mind (and my rant over), it should be interesting to see what I think of this book.

Review to come.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Modern Day Persecution of Christians

Catholics that live here in the United States have it very good. We're able to practice our religion without threat of violence and we don't have to hide our faith to avoid mistreatment. Sure, we have groups in this country that are definitely out to get the Church and atheism is on the rise but I can walk out the door and go to any number of churches and not think twice about my families safety.

Unfortunately, this isn't the case everywhere in the world. We often focus on our own little slice of the world but we need to pay more attention to the persecution of Christians. We need to pray for them, we need to observe the happenings in their part of the world so that it does not happen here.

In Iraq clergy are being murdered and Christians killed in the streets. In Pakistan  Islamist Militants slaughtered 17 Christians. In Indonesia many thousands of Christians have been persecuted. Egypt, Lebanon, and Nigeria are see huge increases of Christian persecution. World Wide persecution of Christians accounts for 75% of all religious persecution in the world. Over 100 Million Christians are being persecuted as you read this.

We should thank God for living in a country where we are safe and free to be Christians. However, it's our duty to pay attention to what is happening where the persecution is going on. In the Middle East, Indonesia and Africa, Islamic Extremists are on the rise  and they are the primary persecutors of Christians there. In China and North Korea they have Communist dictatorships that mute religion and in some cases creating a false leadership of the church.

With this in mind, we need to look at our own country. We need to be sure that we do not go any further down the path of hindering religion and not give in to political correctness in exchange for less safety for Christians. We can't allow our government to become anti-religion or anti-free speech. These will be the first two things to go down before widespread persecution happens here.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
John 15:18-20


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Breaking your Lenten Fast on Sundays

Being a new Catholic, in fact not confirmed yet,  I'm still learning all of the customs and practices. Lent is 40 days, but more correctly 46 days long. Apparently the six Sundays during Lent (while they are part of Lent) are not counted in the "40 days o f Lent".  This is where the fasting and breaking your fast on Sunday's come in.

There seems to be some confusion for us newbie Catholics about not having to fast on Sundays from whatever we decided to give up for Lent. It seems like an easy out to just say "whoohoo it's Sunday, unlimited chocolate today!". However, there is a reason for allowing you to indulge on Sundays and it's not to make your life easier, it's to prepare for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus. It's the preparation of the fulfilment of the scripture and prophecies. Sundays are exempt because all Sundays are feast days in the celebration of Mass and Jesus.

Jesus said to "keep holy the sabbath" and after all we do "celebrate" Mass every week, thus there is no requirement to observe your fast on Sundays during Lent. In fact, Jesus encourages us to celebrate on the sabbath.

However, I have to point out there the Church does not require anyone to give up something for Lent and thus there is no official Church teaching on whether or not it's correct to break your fast on Sundays. Giving ups something for Lent is purely tradition so you are not sinning if you don't fast from anything at all (outside of the required Friday/Ash Wednesday fasts) or are not fasting on Sundays.

I think fasting from something (giving it up) is a good practice even if it's not required but fasting on Sunday or not is personal choice.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Eating Fish During Lent

At our RCIA class this week the question about abstaining from meat on Fridays came up. Many of us were curious why we were allowed to eat fish (which is a meat) when the rule is to not eat meat. Many theories were suggested including that it was a tie in with Jesus calling Simon and Peter (fishermen) to follow him. Another was that cold blooded animals don't count and still another was that the rule only counts land animals.

Here's a good summary of our obligations during Lent.

However, the above link does not address the question. It does tell us that amphibians and all sorts of fish are fair game but not why.

St. Thomas Aquainas chimmed in with this explaination:
I answer that, fasting was instituted by the Church in order to bridle the concupiscences of the flesh, which regard pleasures of touch in connection with food and sex. Wherefore the Church forbade those who fast to partake of those foods which both afford most pleasure to the palate, and besides are a very great incentive to lust.

Such are the flesh of animals that take their rest on the earth, and of those that breathe the air and their products, such as milk from those that walk on the earth, and eggs from birds For, since such like animals are more like man in body, they afford greater pleasure as food, and greater nourishment to the human body, so that from their consumption there results a greater surplus available for seminal matter, which when abundant becomes a great incentive to lust. Hence the Church has bidden those who fast to abstain especially from these foods. (Summa theologiae II-II q. 147, a. 8)
St. Thomas was against eggs and milk being part of the abstainence, but that has since been changed by the church.

It's important to note here that Catholics are not required to eat fish during Lent, only that it's permitted. There is also the misunderstanding that allowing fish to be eaten on Firdays during Lent  was some sort of scheme to boost the fishing industry.

The most likely  reasons it's OK to eat fish are outlined here by Jimmy Aikin.

Essentially, red meat and meat of birds was much, much more expensive and less abundant than fish in biblical days.  Red meat or fowl was something most people couldn't afford to have everyday and was more of luxury item than it is today. Since lent is a time of depriving one's self and giving to others, it would be inappropriate to indulge in luxury items like a big steak.

Another issue is that the word "meat" as used in the US doesn't have a good translation to many other languages. Meat to many Americans means flesh of any animal, where as in Latin the closest word with somewhat similar meaning is "carne". Carne, when used in Latin, does not typically refer to fish but warm blooded animals on land.

So, there you have it. Meat is a luxury item and the term does not translate well from Latin to English.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Twin Cities Woman Preaches During Mass

Star Tribune

I'm not sure how I feel about this. As a new convert it does not seem inherently wrong that a woman should preach (coming from a semi-Protestant background) but the imagery of it jolted me a bit. It would just seem odd and out of place to me since I've never seen a woman deliver a homily before.

This situation does raise some interesting topics:

With the Priesthood declining in numbers, should the church consider using lay ministers during mass? If so, does being male or female matter? What portions of the Mass should it be allowed in?

Personally, I don't think we are at the point where we need to break with Church Tradition which I think is of great importance. Scripture and Tradition shouldn't be messed with, unless absolutely needed.

I think I would have been shocked to see this happen at my church whether it was a male or female lay minister.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rites of the Catholic Church (Part 1)

A “rite” is simply a liturgical tradition (the way they worship) that a church uses. The liturgy differs from one rite to the next but they all are in communion with the Pope in Rome. There are six rites:

1- Alexandrian
2- Antiochian
3- Armenian
4- Byzantine (Constantinopolitan Rite)
5- Chaldean
6- Latin

Under these six rites are 23 independent churches, all of which are in communion with the Pope in Rome.

Each of the six rite use a different Liturgy based on the liturgy of either St. Mark, St. Basil or St. James.

Alexandrian: St. Mark
Antiochian:  St. James
Armenian:  St. Basil
Byzantine:  A mix of several Saints but primarily St. James and St. Basil.
Chaldean: based on Antiochian liturgy, that is based on the liturgy of St. James
Latin:   Apostolic Succession

  1. Alexandrian
    1. Coptic Church
    2. Ethiopian Copics (Ge’ez)

  1. Antiochian
    1. Syrian Church
    2. Syro-Malankara Church
    3. Maronite

  1. Armenian
    1. Armenian Church

  1. Chaldean
    1. Chaldean Church
    2. Syro-Malabar Church

  1. Byzantine
    1. AlbanianChurch
    2. Belarussian Church
    3. Bulgarian Church
    4. Croation Church
    5. Greek Church
    6. Hungarian Church
    7. Italo-Albanian Church
    8. Macedonian Church
    9. Melkite Greek Church
    10. Romanian Church
    11. Russian Church
    12. Ruthenian Church
    13. Slovak Church
    14. Ukrainian Church

  1. Latin Rite (Western Rite)
    1. Roman Catholic Church (the below are not considered independent churches--Rites or Sui Juris ---in the same way as the Eastern Rite churches are)
                                                               i.      Anglican (those that converted to the Catholic Church)
                                                             ii.      Mozbarabic (Spain & Protugal)
                                                            iii.      Ambrosian (Milan, Italy)
                                                           iv.      Bragan (Portugal)
                                                             v.      Dominican (Order of Friars started by St. Dominic in 1215)
                                                           vi.      Carmelite (an Order started by St. Bethold in 1154)
                                                          vii.      Carthusian (an Order founded by St. Bruno in 1084)

With the Exception the Latin Rite church, all of the Rites are referred to as “Eastern Rite” churches. The Latin Rite makes up the vast majority of all Catholics world wide.

The Catholic Church has granted parishes to former Anglican and Episcopal bishops who converted to Catholicism (and their parishioners) starting in the 1980’s. The Church allowed them to use a large portion their own liturgy after being edited to be in correct standing with Catholic doctrine.


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