I picked up a very interesting book recently, Questions and Answers by Pope Benedict XVI. It was said that this Pope had a unique way of encountering various groups of people in the Church by having live Q&A sessions with them.
Now, that is quite a brave move for the Pope, as any “off the mark” response cannot be edited on the spot. So, I delved straight into the book to see what kind of impromptu responses this erudite Pope would give. I was not disappointed. Some of the questions were those that I would myself have asked, and it was fortuitous then to find the answers in a single book given by the Pope himself, no less.
Here is a sampling of the encounters:
Fr. Timothy Radcliffe will be in Singapore from 12 to 23 November.
Nov 09, SPI Newsletter: The self-centred Christian, the Catholic know-it-all-snob, the private Christian or even the most staunch scripture-quoting Sunday mass congregation are unlikely to turn the pages of this stirring and in-your-face-title “Why Go to Church - The Drama of the Eucharist” without learning and picking up something new.
Read Jenny Ang's review on "Church Fathers", a book compilation of Pope Benedict XVI’s catecheses [teachings] at his weekly General Audience with the public from March 2007 to February 2008.
With the celebration of the birth of Jesus just behind us and a new year filled with uncertainties and anxieties ahead of us, it is an opportune time to re-focus our lives on our Lord Jesus. Jesus had said to his disciples and is saying to us now: “Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide all these other things.” (Matt 6:33). Let’s take the humble step to organise our lives in accordance with this priority that Jesus is asking of us.
Before his ascension to papacy, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote a number of books. Jenny Ang introduces us to some of his writings.
I would like to start a monthly column to introduce you to some of the writings of Pope Benedict XVI, a number of which were written by him before his papacy as Joseph Ratzinger or Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
The Pope has been said by many to be an original thinker and an outstanding theologian with a refreshing approach to many issues facing the Church and us as Christians.
Attending Mass can, at times, be a mundane experience for some of us. Jenny Ang was no different, until she found the meaning of "communion" as explained by Pope Benedict XVI in his book "Called to Communion".
Life can sometimes make our Christian faith feel like a burden, as Jenny Ang says. But through Pope Benedict's writings, she has found that it is faith is what makes life filled with joy in the first place.
Before his ascension to papacy, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote a number of books. Jenny Ang introduces us to some of his writings.
In his 1997 "Jesus at the Movies", W. Barnes Tatum points out that within three years of the invention of cinema there were as many versions of the Passion narrative committed to film. The Crucifixion also figures in D. W. Griffith’s 1916 epic, "Intolerance".
The life of Jesus has been recounted innumerable times, the earliest major version being "King of Kings". That 1927 silent was the work of master biblical epic-maker Cecil B. DeMille, though it was Nicholas Ray who helmed the 1961 remake with Jeffrey Hunter’s blue-eyed matinee-idol Christ.
Both Old and New Testaments continued to provide rich fodder through the transition to sound, with DeMille again leading the charge with such simultaneously reverential and racy fare as "The Sign of the Cross" (1932).
The stately, picture-postcard "The Greatest Story Ever Told" in 1965 – based on Fulton Oursler’s best-seller – featured a host of unlikely Hollywood stars in cameo roles: John Wayne as a centurion, Jose Ferrer as Herod and Sidney Poitier as Simon of Cyrene, to name a few, and Ingmar Bergman-star Max Von Sydow as an imposing and reverential Saviour.
After these epic excesses, director Pier Paolo Pasolini’s no-frills rendering, "The Gospel According to St. Matthew", was widely acclaimed as the definitive telling of the story – though Mel Gibson’s 2004 box-office champ, "The Passion of the Christ", was the most detailed account of Our Lord’s final earthly day.
The year 1973 saw two musical incarnations of the Jesus story – both adapted from the stage. In Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s "Jesus Christ Superstar" and Stephen Schwartz’s "Godspell", the narrative was filtered through a rock star and hippie sensibility, respectively.
Christ’s birth received a picturesque retelling in 2006’s "The Nativity Story", though there was some consternation when star Keisha Castle-Hughes, who portrayed Mary, became the more usual kind of unwed mother in real life.
In terms of Old Testament adaptations, the prize goes to "The Ten Commandments" to dramatize the earliest passages of Genesis. But Steve Carell’s 2007 "Evan Almighty", with the star as a modern-day Noah, arguably trumped the earlier movie’s flood story.
Pious, often lengthy epics like DeMille’s 1949 "Samson and Delilah", 1959 "Solomon and Sheba" and 1960 "The Story of Ruth" continued to mine the Hebrew Scriptures with entertaining but less artful results.
Two popular scripturally themed 19th-century novels – Polish novelist Henryk Sienkiewicz’s "Quo Vadis" and Lew Wallace’s "Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ" – have received multiple screen treatments
dating back to the silent era.
The former, which charts the activities of St. Peter in the early days of the church, was especially well-served in its 1951 MGM version.
The lavish 1925 silent version of "Ben-Hur" with Ramon Novarro still impresses with its evocative use of tinting and spectacular chariot race, but William Wyler’s 1959 remake with Charlton Heston was heralded as superior, picking up a then-unprecedented 11 Oscars, including one for best picture.
Other stories that intertwined fictional, biblical and historical events were adaptations of Lloyd Douglas’ "The Robe" (1953) and its even more kitschy 1954 sequel, "Demetrius and the Gladiators", as well as 1962’s "Barabbas".
Television picked up the biblical mantle early on, with Gian Carlo Menotti’s Nativity-themed opera "Amahl and the Night Visitors", a holiday staple, starting in 1951. Made-for-TV biblical movies – "Peter and Paul" (1981), "A.D." (1985), "Joseph" (1995), "Moses" (1995), and "David" (1997), among them – are too plentiful for discussion here, but let it be said that Franco Zeffirelli’s "Jesus of Nazareth" (1977) stands high in the pantheon of quality Gospel adaptations. - By Harry Forbes and John Mulderig.
-Forbes is director and Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
YOUCAT has been developed with the help of young Catholics and written
for secondary-school-age students and young-adults.
YOUCAT is an accessible, contemporary expression of the Catholic Faith.
The appealing graphic format includes Questions-and-Answers, highly-readable commentary, summary definitions of key terms, Bible citations and inspiring and thought-provoking quotes from Saints and others in the margins.
On Sale Now at CatholicNews Bookshop for only S$13.00. Get a 15% bulk discount of 10 or more for parishes and schools.
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For all too long, the topic of sex and sexuality has been narrowly defined and often cloaked in secrecy. Sexuality involves much more than male or female genitals and much more than what happens between two individuals in the privacy of their bedroom.
Sexuality is a total human experience. It is a gift of your creation. It is to be enjoyed, to be valued and prized. But, like all gifts, your sexuality is to be handled responsibly and maturely. Learning to value, enjoy, and responsibly handle your own sexuality is one of the very special and often most difficult tasks of the teen years.Valuing Sexuality: A Guide For Catholic Teens, by Dr. Richard D. Parsons. Now available at CatholicNews Bookshop
About the Auhor:
Dr. Richard D. Parsons is a licensed psychologist and a certified school psychologist, maintaining a private clinical practice. He has given many workshops for parents, educators, spiritual directors, and human service professionals. Dr Parsons has authored many professional articles and books.
All real prayer must begin in wonder.- Tad Dunne, artist and writer
Growing up, I was taught that whenever a siren sounded, I should stop right away and say a prayer for the person, the family, and the police or firefighters involved in the emergency. This action quickly became second nature. I would wonder about the person and family I was praying for, what they might be going through. One time, when I heard the sirens while I was at school, I prayed, not realizing that I was praying for my father and my own family that day.
My father had had a stroke but would soon recover, learning once again to walk and talk. Without even knowing who we were, the people who had prayed the same siren prayer helped my family that day. The telephone rings. Immediately we wonder who is calling. If we have call-waiting, the mystery is taken away and we must only make the decision to answer or not to answer. How many times have we picked up that phone to hear the voice of someone in need or the proclamation of a glorious achievement?
Talk is Cheap, Action Divine
It's easy to talk about how important forgiveness is, but much tougher to actually do it in real life. Real-deal followers take Jesus seriously when it comes to forgiveness. Real-deal followers know forgiveness is not a superficial event; they also know it isn't as cut-and-dried as ignoring "unforgivable" behavior. Forgiveness-true forgiveness-isn't about approving damaging behavior or forgetting about what was said or done. These actions always remain a part of our lives; just ask Betsy! Instead, forgiveness is about making what is tragically broken right again.
Forgiveness is about a deep healing, a thorough repair of broken relationships, a removal of the poison that destroys love and harmony, a restoration of wholeness and open trust. It's the only way to reshape our relationships from the straight line of anger and vindictiveness to the curve of connection. Few of us escape the natural, almost primal urge for revenge. Every single one of us has been hurt by someone else. It may have been a parent who didn't protect us, a sibling who abused us, a friend who betrayed us, a spouse who took us for granted, a pastor who should have been more attentive, a committee member who opposed us, or hundreds of other possibilities that make life's many relationships seem more like land mines of opportunity, ripe for betrayal. Action can be as hurtful as inaction, and vice versa; it may have been something that somebody should have done but didn't. It may be something that took place over many years. It may be something that happened in a moment.
Moreover, communion for Protestants is not what it is for Catholics. We believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity); He really is present because bishops who enjoy an unbroken continuity with the original apostles, ordained by Christ, have validly ordained our priests. Protestants, on the other hand, do not have the Real Presence, nor do most of them even believe in the Real Presence in Communion. The only time that a Catholic may licitly receive the Eucharist in a non-Catholic Church is spelled out clearly in Canon 844.2:
There are some exceptions. The most notable is for members or the Orthodox Churches, who may receive Holy Communion, as well as Penance and Anointing of the Sick, when they request them spontaneously. Outside of exceptional circumstances, clearly defined in canon law, Protestants are not to receive Holy Communion, and in no case are the non-baptized to be allowed to receive the Holy Eucharist.
This disposition is not a lack of friendliness with non-Catholics, but simply the consequence of what it means to receive Holy Communion. That act means the person who receives it assents to everything the Church teaches. Non-Catholics do not.
Why do Catholics pray for the dead? … Is there humor in the Bible? … Is Purgatory painful? … Is there a dispensation for missing Mass when traveling? … Can human beings become angels after they die? … Why is the color blue associated with Our Lady? … Was the Catholic Church the first one to say no to contraceptives? (Click here)
Over 2,000 years of tradition can lead to many questions and misunderstandings about the Catholic Faith. If you’re confused, curious, or just wish you had good answers for all the challenging questions or confrontations that come your way – you’re not alone.
Catholic Answers to Catholic Questions provides solid answers to hundreds of common questions asked by people just like you – questions both big and small regarding doctrine, history, morality, the pope, saints, the sacraments, the Mass, prayer, Scripture, and much more.
Last month Pope John Paul issued a 175-page apostolic exhortation, FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO (On family life) which gave his comments on the 1980 Bishop Synod on "The role of the Christian family in the Modern World."
The following are some of the points made by the Pope:
MARRIAGE: It is a fundamental duty of the Church to reaffirm strongly the indissolubility of marriage. The Pope praises and encourages couples who persevere in their marriages despite difficulties and those who, abandoned by their partners, do not remarry. Priests and laity must help them.
The Education Act, 1921, prescribes a formal procedure to be observed by those who wish to provide a new public elementary school.
In the first place, the promoters, whether a local Education Authority or a denominational body, who propose to provide such a school must give public notice of their proposal, and managers of existing schools, the local Education Authority, and ratepayers may appeal to the Board of Education against it on the ground that the proposed school is not required or that a school provided by tEe Local Education Authority or not so provided as the case may be, is better suited to meet the wants of the district concerned than the school proposed; and the Board of Education have to decide whether the proposed school should be allowed or not.
- Malaya Catholic Leader, February 16th, 1935 (1935.pdf pp66)
Very good, this is the kind of answer I like- I shall willingly simplify it for you. Do you know what the sun is made of?
Chancellor of National Central University at the meeting of the Nanking Rotary Club, (Dec. 6, 1934)
When you asked me, a man in educational work, to speak, I venture to guess that perhaps you would like to test my limited knowledge and information in the Chinese education field. Therefore, I beg leave to bore you for a few minutes on the present educational tendencies in China.
It was pointed out that though the right was not conferred by Statute, it was confirmed by Statute, the Education Acts laying down the conditions of its exercise.
Children being forced to go to Non-Catholic Schools.
A new campaign to obtain educational rights Is hinted at by the Archbishop of Cardiff in his Advent letter.
" Our poor people," writes Archbishop Mcstyn, "have drained their pockets in order to erect school buildings for their children, but lately it has happened that where Catholic parents asked for permission to build a school, and where there were a sufficient number of Catholic children to fill such a school, permission has been re'used and the children have been forced to attend a non-Catholic school, "In some instaaces-ftermigs-ion has been granted to build a school for juniors, that is, children up to 11 years of age, or for seniors, that is, for children over the age of 11 years. Permission to build an all-age school is refused and we are told that those children who cannot attend our Catholic school on account of age, must attend the nearest local authority school.
'This is a matter that we cannot pass over in silence, and unless the Board of Education is prepared to treat us justly the Catholics of the whole country will have to consult together as to the best means to adopt to insist upon our rights being recognised. "This is a matter for Catholic Action, buc before resorting to moral force let us have recourse together that God may move the hearts of those in authority to treat us justly with regard to our schools."
- Malaya Catholic Leader, January 5th, 1935 (1935.pdf pp2)
Although the English-speaking Leagues are few, and their membership comparatively small, their contributions to the discussions, especially on special, industrial, and educational subjects, are followed with interest and attention.
Catholics believe all that God has revealed as handed down by Divine tradition and Sacred Scripture. Their belief may be summed up in five points, as follows:
1. About God Catholics believe, (1) That there is one God. infinitely perfect, who exists of Himself from all eternity; (2) That in God there are three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, equal in all perfections; (3) That the Son proceeds from the Father, and the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son.
The foregoing is the first sentence in Spirago's Method of Christian Doctorine. It is the introduction to a striking and effective presentation of the scope of religious education. It emphasises aspects of the teaching of religion that are often neglected in current practice. Knowledge of God is essential. It is essential too that this knowledge be accurate and precise and that the definitions used be precise. For "it would be a mistake to attach the main importance to an exact knowledge and rehearsing of the words of the catechism," according to our author, and he re-enforces this point with the words of Christ to the woman of Samaria; "God is a spirit and they that adore Him must adore Him in spirit and in truth." And he concludes this point with a vigorous sentence: "It would be degrading rational beings were nothing further required of them than is required of parrots, which can learn to repeat certain words without knowing the meaning of what they say."
ORANGE CAMPAIGN PROVES A FIASCO
(By Henry Somerville) Toronto, Ontario.
A glorious victory for Catholics, who had campaigned on behalf of their schools, was the result of the recent election to the Provincial Legislature.
Since the beginnings of the public educational system in Ontario nearly a century ago . Catholics have had the right to separate -schools." The Catholic ratepayers of the prescribed areas have elected a Separate School Board while the other people have elected the Public School Board.
The Separate School Board has built the Catholic schools and administered them in accordance with the regulations of the Department of Education. The school rates paid by Catholics have been allotted to the Separate School Board. We have had, in effect, two sets of public schools, Catholic and Protestant.
So far, so good. But Catholics have serious grievances. For one thing, it has been ruled that Separate schools may only be elementary schools, not secondary. Therefore Catholics, when they have secondary schools, pay for "them entirely out of their own pockets while paying taxes at the same time for the undenominational public secondary schools.
by the Grace of God and favour of the Holy See Bishop of Leros and Vicar Apostolic of Hong Kong to the Clergy and Faithful of the Vicariate Health and Blessing.
(The following Pastoral by H. E. MGR. HENRY VALTORTA, Vicar Apostolic of Hong Kong to the Clergy and Faithful of his Vicariate, stresses again the importance and need of a regular Catholic Education in these wistable days of perverse doctrines.
Dearest Children in Jesus Christ, One of the most serious tasks that the Church of Christ has had to perform during Her glorious career has always been and still is the Education of Youth. It is a task of vital importance for the very being of the Church and one intimately and necessarily connected with the end for which She was instituted, the guiding of souls to Heaven. Our Holy Father, Pope Pius XI, says:
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
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.
" 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.
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.
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."
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.
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.