JBap Blog

28. Jun, 2017

Children's Mass, Moora

When naughty people hear about Jesus they don’t like it! When they hear how good he is and that he asks us to be good, all those naughty people get angry. They killed Jesus and chucked St Peter and St Paul in goal.

It didn’t matter though, did it? God rescues good people, saying that the gates of the underworld can’t destroy the People of God. That’s the Church–that’s us! And Jesus said something even more special to his Church: Whatever you bind here on earth, I will make it like that in heaven as well.

Jesus knew he was going to heaven, so he entrusted his Church to the Apostles, especially Saints Peter and Paul. Now we have new Peter’s and Pauls! The Pope and all his Bishops, and all his priests. Those guys now have the job to build up Jesus’ Church.

Shall I tell you how to build up a Church?

It’s all about love, you know. Not just mushy feelings “Oooh I love you!” Not at all – it’s about being good to people, and building them up. We help them get rid of the naughty stuff their doing and teach them to live by Jesus’ special rules such as (i) love God HEAPS (ii) do to others what you want them to do to you (iii) and—what about this one—love your neighbour as yourself!

It’s all about love you know. You see, God pours his love into our hearts through baptism. Then we use that love to bind each heart together. Each heart is special. We must use God’s love to show each person how special they are. In NAIDOC week we celebrate how special Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are.

The secret of loving is to treat people the way you want them to treat you. Respect them, overlook their faults, never tell lies about them, never steal from them, and be there to support them. If you only do things that build other people up, then the love you use becomes like cement that binds us all together.

That is how the Church that you are a part of, gets built up. And that’s why Jesus says love other people as if they were yourself, as we are a part of each other’s lives. For us to be happy as individuals, we all must be happy together.

Love is the key

Love is the key to making our Church here on earth be like the one in heaven. We all have to choose to be good or bad, to build or to destroy community. Please build each other up in love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 12)

26. Jun, 2017

Pope’s doctrine chief: Those in ‘grave sin’ cannot receive Communion until ‘contrition, confession, and reparation’

Pete Baklinski https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/popes-doctrine-chief-those-in-grave-sin-cannot-receive-communion-until-cont 

ROME, Italy, June 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Holy Communion cannot be given to Catholics who have left a “valid” marriage and have become civilly divorced and remarried to someone else until they have repented of and confessed “all grave sin,” said the Vatican’s doctrinal chief, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, in a new interview published today.

“Contrition, confession, and reparation are the three necessary elements for absolution. These are the immediate conditions for the receiving the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ, who is the same divine person who forgives us,” he said in the interview with the National Catholic Register’s Ed Pentin.

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, considered second only to the Pope as the Vatican's authority on doctrinal matters, said the bond of marriage was created by God to be unbreakable.

"I have said it many times, and I repeat it here again. Matrimony is instituted by God the Creator and is elevated as a sacrament by Jesus Christ. …Jesus established clearly, and without doubt, the indissolubility of valid Matrimony,” he said. 

“This is what we must preach, declare, and explain to the Catholic faithful,” he added. 

The Catholic Church teaches that those who leave their spouse to whom they are validly married for sexual relations with another person commit the grave sin of adultery, which is against the Sixth Commandment. The Church, following St. Paul, furthermore teaches that those who are in grave sin cannot receive Holy Communion since, having cut themselves off from God by their sin, they would be eating unworthy, even to their own “condemnation.” 

Cardinal Müller’s words come after an Argentinian bishop celebrated a special Mass in his diocese earlier this month for civilly-divorced-and-remarried couples living in adultery, where they were all invited to receive Holy Communion. 

The special Mass came nine months after the bishops of Buenos Aires released guidelines based on Pope Francis’ Exhortation Amoris Laetitia in which they said that in “complex circumstances” when remarried couples cannot “obtain a declaration of nullity,” priests can nevertheless move forward to grant them access to the sacraments, including Communion.

Then, in a surprise move, Pope Francis wrote to the bishops, telling them that there is ‘no other interpretation’ of his Exhortation than what they put in their guidelines. 

But Müller said in his interview with Pentin that Catholic couples who find themselves facing “marital difficulty” should be helped, “but not only with pragmatic reflections according to the spirit of the world, but according to the Holy Spirit, with the means of the sacraments and the internal and canonical conditions for the reception of Holy Communion, which necessar(ily) includes the confession of all grave sin.”

“Contrition, confession, and reparation are the three necessary elements for absolution. These are the immediate conditions for receiving the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ, who is the same divine person who forgives us,” he stated. 

Despite Cardinal Müller’s numerous statements that Amoris Laetitia has not opened the door to giving Communion to adulterers (for example, herehere, and here), various cardinals, bishops, and bishops’ groups have directly disobeyed his directives. 

Bishops in ArgentinaMaltaGermany, and Belgium have issued pastoral guidelines based on their reading of the Exhortation that allow Communion to be given to civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics living in adultery. This interpretation has also been pushed by high-ranking cardinals such as Francesco Coccopalmerio and Blase Cupich

But other bishops, such as those in Canada and Poland, have issued statements based on their reading of the Exhortation that follows Catholic teaching and forbids adulterous couples from receiving Communion.

24. Jun, 2017

Jeremiah was disparaged because he had given his life wholly to God, and for those whose life didn’t – he confronted. John the Baptist was the same. Jesus was the same. Their love of God and for their brothers and sisters was so overwhelming that they were compelled to stand up and give witness to God’s love.

My brother, my sister God loves you – don’t live your life that way, if you live that way you will die in your sin.” The prophets understood this precisely because of their great love of God. God spoke to Jerimiah saying “confront this land: its princes and rulers. They will fight against you, but not overcome you. I am with you to deliver you.”

‘Because my love is confronting, confront this land.’ The message is the same for us. Yes, they will fight against you. But… here comes the Gospel, “Do not be afraid. Proclaim my love unflinchingly, in the end all people’s intentions will be uncovered. Proclaim my love, I the Lord your God am with you. Nothing can happen to you – they can kill you, but you will be raised in glory. Do not be afraid. Fearlessly confront my people with my love.

In fact, 2 Timothy (3:12) tells us if we are not being persecuted for our faith, we are not devoted to Christ. God calls us to conversion, to repentance. People go one of two ways – they will accept Gods’ message and radically change their life. Alternately, they will refuse to see any fault in their living, and will obstinately reject Gods message, and the messenger. They killed Jesus for this reason. They killed John the Baptist for this reason. Refusal, rejection, hatred.

My brothers and sister -God confronts everyone. It may be upsetting, but God wounds us to heal us. He calls us to convert, to centre our entire living around our faith in Jesus Christ. God calls us to staunchly proclaim his love even when it is not politically correct. Margaret Court says 'My LGBT brother or sister, God loves you, does not condemn you, but the sake of your eternal life, you must change the way you live your life.'

Here there is a pattern: confrontation with Gods love, followed by persecution. BUT! Do not be afraid. Jesus is our rock. All the strength we need is given us by Jesus who even gave us his Body and Blood.

On the night of the last supper, before he was betrayed, Jesus gave that special gift – the gift of himself when he changed bread and wine into his Body and Blood. Then he gave up his life on the Cross. What he did, he asks us to do for each other, saying “Do this in memory of me.”

We can do this because we are made one with him when we receive his Body and Blood. It’s as if Jesus speaks to us when we receive communion: ‘Do not be afraid, I live within you to give you all the strength you need to proclaim Gods love in the presence of all men and women.’ Thanks be to God for such a great gift.

22. Jun, 2017

I found the following article interesting. In addition this link goes to the Diocese of Manchester’s Faith Formation statement https://www.catholicnh.org/assets/Documents/Parishes/Parish-Faith-Formation/Lifelong-Faith-Formation/4.FAQ.pdf

 

 

 

NH Diocese Latest to Restore Order of Sacraments

The Manchester move to bring confirmation back to its place before first Eucharist is rooted in a program of lifelong formation, advocates say.

Peter Jesserer Smith http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/nh-diocese-becomes-latest-diocese-to-restore-order-of-sacraments

MANCHESTER, N.H. — In the name of raising up lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ, another U.S. Latin-rite diocese has decided to restore confirmation to its traditional place before first Holy Communion.

Bishop Peter Libasci of Manchester, New Hampshire, has begun the process of restoring the reception of the sacraments of initiation in the diocese to their theological sequential order of baptism, then confirmation and first Eucharist.

Most U.S. dioceses, for more than 100 years, have followed a sequence of baptism, first Communion and then confirmation, ever since Pope St. Pius X made the age of reason (typically around age 7) the threshold for receiving Communion.

Bishop Libasci has already begun the conversation with parishes and intends to release a pastoral letter explaining the reasons for the move, which will place confirmation reception, along with first Communion, in the third grade.

A “Frequently Asked Questions” compilation for parishes said restoring confirmation to its place after baptism will highlight for youth the Church’s teaching that the Eucharist is truly the culmination of the sacraments of initiation.

Mary Ellen Mahon, secretary for Catholic formation at the Diocese of Manchester, told the Register that Bishop Libasci wants Catholics to understand that formation in the Catholic faith is “lifelong.”

Restoring the order of sacraments is part of a broader effort to strengthen Catholic faith formation at all stages of life and throughout the diocese. The bishop, Mahon said, wants Catholic youth to have the grace of the sacrament available to them at a younger age, in order to assist them in their journey of drawing closer to Jesus Christ.

“He really wanted to emphasize that our relationship with God is something that develops from the time that we are in the womb until we reach the tomb and are united with God through the resurrection,” Mahon said. “That is the primary focus: How can we connect and accompany people throughout their whole lifelong faith journey?”

No changes will occur this year. Instead, the diocese will spend the coming months preparing the faithful and the parishes for the new approach, followed by a three-year implementation phase.

Sister Mary Rose Reddy, director of family faith formation at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary and St. Leo parishes, in Rochester, New Hampshire, told the Register she is happy the bishop made this decision.

She said children and families should realize that following Jesus is an ongoing commitment, not something a person “graduates” from.

“This is something we’re trying to address,” she said.

Confirmation’s Theological Wanderings

Under the current norms in the U.S., Latin-rite bishops may confirm between the age of discretion in canon law (approximately age 7) and 16 years old.

The Manchester Diocese is on its way to become the 11th Latin-rite diocese to order the sacraments of initiation in theological sequence: baptism, confirmation and first Eucharist.

Timothy Gabrielli, a theology professor at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and author of Confirmation: How a Sacrament of God’s Grace Became All About Us, told the Register that Eastern Catholic Churches provide all three sacraments at once in this order, even to infants. Whereas in the Western (or Latin) Church, priests baptize, but bishops continue to confirm.

Gabrielli explained that when St. Pius X — in Quam Singulari (1910), his decree on first Communion — lowered the threshold age of first Communion to approximately 7 years old, he said nothing regarding confirmation, which had been received before the Eucharist. So in the U.S., the Latin-rite bishops left confirmation in place, confirming around 12 or 14 years old.

But the U.S. Church’s theology has shifted as a result, to try to explain this particular order of having confirmation at 14, but first Eucharist at 7.

In the early 20th century, Gabrielli  said, confirmation took on militant imagery, where the sacrament turned a youth into a solider of Christ, ready to suffer for the faith — typified by the “slap” from the bishop — at a time when the Catholic immigrant population of the U.S. was in tension with the broader Protestant American culture.

Later in the 1970s, a time when Catholics had assimilated into broader American life, he said, Catholics began searching for a different theological explanation, and confirmation became influenced by the Charismatic Renewal movement.

Gabrielli said by the 1980s, confirmation turned into the sacrament of a Catholic’s “individual choice” for God — almost the Catholic equivalent of a “believer’s baptism.”

However, Gabrielli said this theology of confirmation has also fallen short in practical terms: For most pre-teens and teenagers, confirmation involves not their “individual choice,” but “strong-arming” from parents or grandparents.

The “graduation mentality,” he said, dismisses the need for ongoing faith formation and makes it difficult for young people to understand how they can experience moments of doubt if they made that decision for faith at confirmation.

Gabrielli said no one has thus far conducted a study with metrics about the effectiveness of restored order of the sacraments compared with the status quo in other dioceses. Two dioceses — Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and Marquette, Michigan — had originally restored the order of sacraments, but later reverted to the baptism-first Eucharist-confirmation sequence.

Restoring the order requires a diocese facilitate “quite a cultural shift for it to sink in,” according to Gabrielli. But he said that at whatever age dioceses confirm, they need to get away from the idea that this is a sacrament of maturity and back to the understanding that confirmation is a free, unmerited gift of God’s grace.

Denver’s Experiment

The Archdiocese of Denver moved to restore the order of the sacraments of initiation in 2015. It was the second time for Archbishop Samuel Aquila, who had restored the original order when he was bishop of Fargo, North Dakota, in 2002.

In a March 2015 interview with the Register, the archbishop said Benedict XVI had strongly encouraged his efforts during his 2012 ad limina visit, where bishops are required by the Church to report to the pope on the status of their dioceses.

Scott Elmer, director of evangelization and family life ministries at the Denver Archdiocese, told the Register that parishes are on track to make third grade the normative age for confirmation by 2020. Constant and consistent communication, he said, has been key to educating the faithful about the reasons for the change.

“After a couple of weeks, most people were receptive to it,” he said.

The challenge for the archdiocese in making the transition was lack of catechetical resources on confirmation, followed by first Eucharist, for third graders.

At first, staff set out to make their own supplemental resources. However, they ended up developing a four-semester, two-year curriculum, covering reconciliation, confirmation and Eucharist, which parishes can adapt to their needs.

The second edition reflects suggested improvements based on field-testing and is set to come out this fall.

“We’ve been getting a lot of great feedback,” Elmer said.

The archdiocese has also seen the need to make confirmation and first Communion an opportunity to evangelize the parents — if the parents see the faith as important, they will encourage their children to see it as important.

The archbishop, Elmer said, has mandated that parishes make some kind of ongoing adult faith formation program, such as Christ Life or Alpha, available to parents while their children are getting ready to receive the sacraments — preferably in an environment that looks less like a classroom and more like a small group study in a living room.

At the end of the day, the goal is to cultivate a religious culture in families that will sustain their life in Jesus Christ.

Beyond Restored Order

The Diocese of Portland, Maine, has had restored order of the sacraments for 20 years, but Maryanne Harrington, the diocesan director of the Office of Lifelong Formation, said they recognize families are in a different place than they were 20 years ago.

Back then, they focused on retooling youth ministry; today, she said, “our concern is helping parents and children grow in faith together.”

Many families coming for the sacraments today have little in the way of a lived, everyday experience of faith in their lives, Harrington said. But the Church knows from its own reports that a regular sacramental and prayer life as a family correlates strongly with improved home life.

So Portland created a two-year sacramental preparation program for children receiving confirmation and first Eucharist for first and second grade, or second and third grade. And parents are required to go to six adult-formation sessions each year that teach them how to discuss with their children who Jesus is, how to have him in the home, and understand the Mass, as well as the importance of sacramentals in the home (a crucifix, holy water or other religious items) and having family rituals and praying together with their children.

“Each of the lessons really focuses on the parishes having a relationship with Christ, meeting them where they are, and moving them forward in their faith,” she said.

Harrington said this approach forms friendships among the parents whose children are receiving the sacraments.

She is also suggesting to parish leaders that they identify the natural parent leaders in these sacramental groups and invite them to build that parent community and determine the next step they would like to take together in the life of the parish.

“Building that kind of community among them is really a good piece,” she said, “because one of the things that is really important is that it’s not just simply about just going to church today — it’s about being in a community and that sense of belonging that young parents want.”

21. Jun, 2017

Amoris Laetitia row: Rebel cardinals leak letter to Pope Francis lamenting Church's moral 'confusion'

James Macintyre 20 June 2017 | https://www.christiantoday.com/article/amoris-laetitia-row-rebel-cardinals-leak-letter-to-pope-francis-lamenting-churchs-moral-confusion/110083.htm

Four conservative Cardinals have released a controversial letter they wrote to Pope Francis in April requesting a private meeting to discuss 'confusion and disorientation' in the Catholic Church following the publication of the Pope's April 2016 Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

In the letter the Cardinals lament alleged divisions in the Church on basic morality as a result of the Pope's exhortation, which translates as 'the joy of love'.

'And so it is happening — how painful it is to see this! — that what is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta,' they wrote.

The Cardinals reiterated five questions they had asked in November on whether or not Amoris Laetitia conforms to official Catholic teaching. The five 'yes-or-no' questions they asked – to which they received no response - were: whether adulterers can receive Holy Communion; whether there are absolute moral norms that must be followed 'without exceptions'; whether habitual adultery can be an 'objective situation of grave habitual sin'; whether an intrinsically evil act can be turned into a 'subjectively good' act based on 'circumstances or intentions'; and whether one can act contrary to known 'absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts' based on 'conscience'.

In their April 25 letter, the Cardinals wrote: 'Not having received any response from Your Holiness, we have reached the decision to ask You, respectfully and humbly, for an Audience, together if Your Holiness would like.'

They also asked the Pope if they could discuss the 'situation of confusion and disorientation' in the Church caused by 'objectively ambiguous passages' in the exhortation.

The letter, which was written by Cardinal Carlo Caffarra on behalf of Cardinals Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke, and Joachim Meisner, began respectfully. The Cardinals said they renewed their 'absolute dedication and our unconditional love for the Chair of Peter and for Your august person, in whom we recognize the Successor of Peter and the Vicar of Jesus: the "sweet Christ on earth"'.

They went on to state that it is the 'awareness of the grave responsibility' of their office as 'advisers of the Successor of Peter in his sovereign ministry' that moved them to ask the Pope for a meeting.

The Cardinals said that since Amoris Laetitia's release a year ago, amid speculation of a softening of the Church's position on homosexuality and Communion for divorcees, 'interpretations of some objectively ambiguous passages...have publicly been given that are not divergent from but contrary to the permanent Magisterium of the Church'.

They continued: 'Despite the fact that the Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith has repeatedly declared that the doctrine of the Church has not changed, numerous statements have appeared from individual Bishops, Cardinals, and even Episcopal Conferences, approving what the Magisterium of the Church has never approved.

'Not only access to the Holy Eucharist for those who objectively and publicly live in a situation of grave sin, and intend to remain in it, but also a conception of moral conscience contrary to the Tradition of the Church.'

Some in the Church have since interpreted Church teaching as allowing for divorcees to receive Communion. Earlier this month an Argentinian bishop, Angel José Macin of the Diocese of Reconquista celebrated a special Mass for civilly-divorced-and-remarried couples in which they were all invited to receive Holy Communion.

According to Lifesite News, the exhortation has been used by various bishops and bishops' groups, including those in Argentina, Malta, Germany, and Belgium, to issue pastoral guidelines that allow Communion to be given to civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics; while bishops in Canada and Poland have issued statements based on their reading of the same document that forbids such couples to receive Communion.

The letter concludes: 'Faced with this grave situation, in which many Christian communities are being divided, we feel the weight of our responsibility, and our conscience impels us to ask humbly and respectfully for an Audience.'

The full text of the letter reads:

Most Holy Father,

It is with a certain trepidation that I address myself to Your Holiness, during these days of the Easter season. I do so on behalf of the Most Eminent Cardinals: Walter Brandmüller, Raymond L. Burke, Joachim Meisner, and myself.

We wish to begin by renewing our absolute dedication and our unconditional love for the Chair of Peter and for Your august person, in whom we recognize the Successor of Peter and the Vicar of Jesus: the "sweet Christ on earth," as Saint Catherine of Siena was fond of saying. We do not share in the slightest the position of those who consider the See of Peter vacant, nor of those who want to attribute to others the indivisible responsibility of the Petrine munus. We are moved solely by the awareness of the grave responsibility arising from the munus of cardinals: to be advisers of the Successor of Peter in his sovereign ministry. And from the Sacrament of the Episcopate, which "has placed us as bishops to pasture the Church, which He has acquired with his blood" (Acts 20:28).

On September 19, 2016 we delivered to Your Holiness and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith five dubia, asking You to resolve uncertainties and to bring clarity on some points of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia.

Not having received any response from Your Holiness, we have reached the decision to ask You, respectfully and humbly, for an Audience, together if Your Holiness would like. We attach, as is the practice, an Audience Sheet in which we present the two points we wish to discuss with you.

Most Holy Father,

A year has now gone by since the publication of Amoris Laetitia. During this time, interpretations of some objectively ambiguous passages of the post-synodal Exhortation have publicly been given that are not divergent from, but contrary to, the permanent Magisterium of the Church. Despite the fact that the Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith has repeatedly declared that the doctrine of the Church has not changed, numerous statements have appeared from individual Bishops, Cardinals, and even Episcopal Conferences, approving what the Magisterium of the Church has never approved. Not only access to the Holy Eucharist for those who objectively and publicly live in a situation of grave sin, and intend to remain in it, but also a conception of moral conscience contrary to the Tradition of the Church. And so it is happening — how painful it is to see this! — that what is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta. And so on. One is reminded of the bitter observation of B. Pascal: "Justice on this side of the Pyrenees, injustice on the other; justice on the left bank of the river, injustice on the right bank."

Numerous competent lay faithful, who are deeply in love with the Church and staunchly loyal to the Apostolic See, have turned to their Pastors and to Your Holiness in order to be confirmed in the Holy Doctrine concerning the three sacraments of Marriage, Confession, and the Eucharist. And in these very days, in Rome, six lay faithful, from every Continent, have presented a very well-attended study seminar with the meaningful title: "Bringing clarity."

Faced with this grave situation, in which many Christian communities are being divided, we feel the weight of our responsibility, and our conscience impels us to ask humbly and respectfully for an Audience.

May Your Holiness remember us in Your prayers, as we pledge to remember You in ours. And we ask for the gift of Your Apostolic Blessing.

Carlo Card. Caffarra

Rome, April 25, 2017

Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist

* AUDIENCE SHEET

1. Request for clarification of the five points indicated by the dubia; reasons for this request.

2. Situation of confusion and disorientation, especially among pastors of souls, in primis parish priests.”