Wednesday, October 31, 2012
(Comp 351) These are sacred signs instituted by the Church to sanctify different circumstances of life. They include a prayer accompanied by the sign of the cross and other signs. Among the sacramentals which occupy an important place are: blessings, which are the praise of God and a prayer to obtain his gifts, the consecration of persons and the dedication of things for the worship of God.
(CCC 1677) Sacramentals are sacred signs instituted by the Church. They prepare men to receive the fruit of the sacraments and sanctify different circumstances of life.
To deepen and explain
(CCC 1667) "Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy" (SC 60; Cf. CIC, can. 1166; CCEO, can. 867).
(CCC 1668) Sacramentals are instituted for the sanctification of certain ministries of the Church, certain states of life, a great variety of circumstances in Christian life, and the use of many things helpful to man. In accordance with bishops' pastoral decisions, they can also respond to the needs, culture, and special history of the Christian people of a particular region or time. They always include a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign, such as the laying on of hands, the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of holy water (which recalls Baptism). (CCC 1669) Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood: every baptized person is called to be a "blessing," and to bless (Cf. Gen 12:2; Lk 6:28; Rom 12:14; 1 Pet 3:9). Hence lay people may preside at certain blessings; the more a blessing concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained ministry (bishops, priests, or deacons) (Cf. SC 79; CIC, can. 1168; De Ben 16, 18). [IT CONTINUES]
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
350. Why is the Christian family called a domestic church?
(Comp 350) The Christian family is called the domestic church because the family manifests and lives out the communal and familial nature of the Church as the family of God. Each family member, in accord with their own role, exercises the baptismal priesthood and contributes toward making the family a community of grace and of prayer, a school of human and Christian virtue and the place where the faith is first proclaimed to children.
(CCC 1666) The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called "the domestic church," a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity.
To deepen and explain
(CCC 1655) Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than "the family of God." From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers "together with all [their] household" (Cf. Acts 18:8). When they were converted, they desired that "their whole household" should also be saved (Cf. Acts 16:31; Acts 11:14). These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world. (CCC 1656) In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica (LG 11; cf. FC 21). It is in the bosom of the family that parents are "by word and example… the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation" (LG 11).
(CCC 1657) It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way "by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity" (LG 10). Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and "a school for human enrichment" (GS 52 § 1). Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous - even repeated - forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one's life. (CCC 1658) We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live - often not of their choosing - are especially close to Jesus' heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the "domestic churches," and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. "No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who 'labor and are heavy laden'" (FC 85; cf. Mt 11:28).
(Next question: What are the sacramentals?)
Monday, October 29, 2012
349. What is the attitude of the Church toward those people who are divorced and then remarried?
(Comp 349) The Church, since she is faithful to her Lord, cannot recognize the union of people who are civilly divorced and remarried. “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:11-12). The Church manifests an attentive solicitude toward such people and encourages them to a life of faith, prayer, works of charity and the Christian education of their children. However, they cannot receive sacramental absolution, take Holy Communion, or exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities as long as their situation, which objectively contravenes God's law, persists.
(CCC 2385) Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.
To deepen and explain
(CCC 1650) Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ - "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" (Mk 10:11-12) - the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God's law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.
(CCC 1651) Toward Christians who live in this situation, and who often keep the faith and desire to bring up their children in a Christian manner, priests and the whole community must manifest an attentive solicitude, so that they do not consider themselves separated from the Church, in whose life they can and must participate as baptized persons: They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts for justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God's grace (FC 84).
(Next question: Why is the Christian family called a domestic church?)
Sunday, October 28, 2012
348. When does the Church allow the physical separation of spouses?
(Comp 348) The Church permits the physical separation of spouses when for serious reasons their living together becomes practically impossible, even though there may be hope for their reconciliation. As long as one’s spouse lives, however, one is not free to contract a new union, except if the marriage be null and be declared so by ecclesiastical authority.
(CCC 2382) The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble (Cf. Mt 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mk 10 9; Lk 16:18; 1 Cor 7:10-11). He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law (Cf. Mt 19:7-9). Between the baptized, "a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death" (CIC, can. 1141).
To deepen and explain
(CCC 1644) The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses' community of persons, which embraces their entire life: "so they are no longer two, but one flesh" (Mt 19:6; cf. Gen 2:24). They "are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving" (FC 19). This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together.
(CCC 2383) The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law (Cf. CIC, cann. 1151-1155). If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense. (CCC 1649) Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church permits the physical separation of the couple and their living apart. The spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not free to contract a new union. In this difficult situation, the best solution would be, if possible, reconciliation. The Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble (Cf. FC 83; CIC, cann. 1151-1155).
(Next question: What is the attitude of the Church toward those people who are divorced and then remarried?)
Saturday, October 27, 2012
347. What sins are gravely opposed to the sacrament of Matrimony?
(Comp 347) Adultery and polygamy are opposed to the sacrament of matrimony because they contradict the equal dignity of man and woman and the unity and exclusivity of married love. Other sins include the deliberate refusal of one’s procreative potential which deprives conjugal love of the gift of children and divorce which goes against the indissolubility of marriage.
(CCC 1646) By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement "until further notice." the "intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them" (GS 48 § 1).
To deepen and explain
(CCC 1643) "Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter-appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values"(FC 13).
(CCC 1647) The deepest reason is found in the fidelity of God to his covenant, in that of Christ to his Church. Through the sacrament of Matrimony the spouses are enabled to represent this fidelity and witness to it. Through the sacrament, the indissolubility of marriage receives a new and deeper meaning. (CCC 1648) It can seem difficult, even impossible, to bind oneself for life to another human being. This makes it all the more important to proclaim the Good News that God loves us with a definitive and irrevocable love, that married couples share in this love, that it supports and sustains them, and that by their own faithfulness they can be witnesses to God's faithful love. Spouses who with God's grace give this witness, often in very difficult conditions, deserve the gratitude and support of the ecclesial community (Cf. FC 20).