Our Question Box


The secular press did a wonderful job in handling Pius XII's death story and announcing his successor. But all too often it suffers from a certain irresponsibility. It frequently, e.g., over-emphasizes "cheese cake", and gives favourable reviews to evil films and unsavoury books— which, as Canon Sheehan put it, have almost usurped the place of religion as the guide and teacher of men. The cumulative effect of this kind of press propaganda, is that large numbers of believers are weakened in their faith and gradually fall away from it.
Q. I may be wrong, but I think that, at a Requiem Mass in England on some State occasion the late King Edward VII and his wife, as Duke and Duchess of York, attended and knelt in the Sanctuary.

A. The case concerned King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, when they were actually occupants of the British Throne. It was in 1908. News had come to England of the tragic death of the King of Portugal. As Portugal was England's ally, a special memorial service was arranged in St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral, which the King and Queen were expected to attend in their State capacity. But King Edward VII declared that he would attend in state the Solemn Requiem Mass in the Portuguese Embassy Church of St. James.

He did so, and was "received in State" by the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, and the King and Queen were conducted through the church to the Sanctuary and given a place there, apart from all the Ministers and Ambassadors of various countries, who occupied the front seats in the body of the church. Horrified by King Edward VII's presence at the Mass, the Protestant Alliance publicly protested afterwards that, by the William of Orange Act of Parliament, of 1689, the King forfeits the Throne by any act of communion with the Church of Rome, and the people of England are thereby absolved of their allegiance.

But the public was quite unimpressed by the protest. and just went on with its allegiance as usual.

The Malayan Catholic News, January 25, 1959, page 4
Question: Could you tell me if, after committing a sin and before getting a chance of confession I can get back again into God's grace? (JL.D.)

Answer: This is a question that appeals to all catholics. Many are troubled in the same way and are ignorant of the means of reconciliation with God that can be used in such circumstances. Let me tell them:

1. That an act of perfect contrition will bring them in to God's grace and friendship at once. Perfect contrition is an act of love which God cannot resist.
Question: Did St. Joseph Taste Corruption After His Holy Death? Answer: Father Faber writes about St. Joseph:—

" The sweet fragrance of St. Joseph in the Church, is stealing upon us unawares, perpetually increasing and especially filling with itself all the shades of Nazareth, Bethlehem and Egypt, but not reaching to the bare heights of Calvary.
Question: Could you kindly enlighten me about the resurrection of the body. Such resurrection rather repels people who have grown tired of the present life. R.C.

Answer:
The body that will rise is not the body as we know it. It will share in the qualities of the body of our Saviour, which while still corporal, was immune from the ordinary conditions of space. It will be almost on the spiritual plane.
Question: Are Catholics allowed to see marriages in Protestant Church? "R.E.T."

Answer.—It is well-known that Catholics have always been forbidden to take part in any form of heretical or dissident public worship, either in a Church or elsewhere. The marriage service must be accounted a public religious rite and so Catholics are not allowed to assist at it in a Protestant Church or before a Protestant minister.

The rule of the Canon law (1258) is this: "It is unlawful for the faithful to assist in any active manner or to take part in the sacred services by non-Catholic.

"Merely passive or material presence may be tolerated by way of civil deference or for the purpose of showing respect to persons, at the funerals of non-catholics, at their marriages and similar solemnities, provided there is danger neither of perversion, nor scandal."
Question.—Living 20 miles away from Church, am I obliged to attend Mass on Sundays? I must say that I have a motor-car and I am free.— A planter.

Answer.— I do not decidedly think that you are excused from attendance at Mass on Sunday. Positive precepts bind unless there is a "serious inconvenience." St. Alphonsus excuses people from attendance at mass who have to walk a distance that occupies an hour or more, when such walk may cause a "serious inconvenience." Now such distance to walk may not be of any inconvenience to young people, when, on the contrary it may be a great obstacle to old people and to persons of delicate health. Many are prepared to face greater distances and will not think them any "serious inconvenience" to walk five or six miles to and from the church. So the rule cannot be too rigidly applied and one must try to view matters in their right perspective and sense of proportion.
By Rev. John B. Ebel.
The most important question in man's life is not: "Will Communism conquer the world'? not "Will man find defence against the atomic bomb!" nor "Will civilization be wiped out in the next war!" The most important question is "Did God speak to man and if He did what did He say?"

This has always been the most important question, and it always will be. But it is remarkable that the same men who will spend almost every waking minute of their life looking for a way to do something difficult like splitting the atom, will not give a second thought to answering this question.
No man has ever solved the problem of pain by refusing to accept the only explanation of it that will not drive a man to suicide or despair: that the love of God is somehow at the bottom of every tear, of every groan, of every cry of anguish. Even at the physical level, we sometimes forget that pain has a useful purpose.

If to clutch a red hot poker did not burn the baby's hands, few children would fail to go out, at a very early age, in a burst of flames! But mental pain, the sorrow of loss, the anguish of evil, also have their use: they provide the pyre upon which the old heart is burned in order that, phoenix-like, it may be born anew and immortal.

Therefore, one must, if one is to be happy, accept pain and understand its warmer and redemptive uses. Without a strong faith in God, the understanding of that most omnipresent of all problems, the problem of pain, is impossible; and life becomes a madness, an unendurable mystery.

- Malaya Catholic Newsletter, July 30, 1950 (1950.pdf pp26)

Purpose Of Pain

No man has ever solved the problem

of pain by refusing to accept

the only explanation of it that will

not drive a man to suicide or despair:

that the love of God is somehow at

the bottom of every tear, of every

groan, of every cry of anguish.

Even at the physical level, we

sometimes forget that pain has a

useful purpose. If to clutch a red

hot poker did not burn the baby's

hands, few children would fail to go

out, at a very early age, in a burst

of flames! But mental pain, the

sorrow of loss, the anguish of evil,

also have their use: they provide the

pyre upon which the old heart is

burned in order that, phoenix-like, it

may be born anew and immortal.

Therefore, one must, if one is to

be happy, accept pain and understand

its warmer and redemptive uses.

Without a strong faith in God, the

understanding of that most omnipresent

of all problems, the problem

of pain, is impossible; and life

becomes a madness, an unendurable

mystery.

- Malaya Catholic Newsletter, July 30, 1950 (1950.pdf pp26)

By Rev. Fr. C. J. Collins, C.S.P.

If God is Power, Love, and Justice, why did He create this kind of world? If He is powerful, why does He permit evil? If He is love, why does He tolerate hate? If He is Justice, why does He allow unrighteousness? These questions have been asked by everyone whose eyes have been and whose mind has known the terrible contrast between the sin of the world and the goodness of God.
Answer.—A sacrament is a visible sign permanently instituted by Jesus Christ to signify and confer grace upon men.

Three things are necessary for a sacrament:
1st, the sensible sign, as in Baptism the outward washing of the body with the invocation of the Blessed Trinity;
Question.—What is the Catholic argument for Papal infallibility ? (S.W.)

Answer.—We have already seen that Christ established a divine, infallible authority to teach His gospel until the end of the world, just as He taught it.

Once this is admitted it follows logically that the Supreme Head of this infallible Church must needs be infallible. For if St. Peter or his successor, speaking authoritatively to the Church, could teach false doctrine, then he would instantly cease to be the firm rockfoundation on which Christ built His Church, the gates of hell would prevail, error would be sanctioned by God in heaven (Matt, xvi 18, 19), the prayer of Christ for Peter personally would be fruitless, for the faith of the brethren would not be strengthened (Luke xxii 32), and the whole flock of Christ would be deprived of the true food of divine faith (John xxi 15-17).