Our Lenten Journey

This from my twin, Fr Stephen Schultz of St Timothy parish in Chantilly, VA.
The Holy Trinity is our origin and our destiny, our beginning and our end. We are made for perfect love. In God’s perfect love, he will always forgive us because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. This should give us the greatest hope and trust in God. He will always forgive us, we just have to return to Him with our whole heart, confess our sins with sorry, and promise to amend our life. I could write a great deal about the Sacrament of Reconciliation and why it should be part of our life, not once in a while or almost never. But I’d like to write about something that keeps us from the Sacrament, keeps us from peace, and indeed keeps us from reconciliation with others. It is our own failure to forgive.
Do we have to forgive everyone who has every harmed us, betrayed us, disappointed us, or turned their on us? Yes. We say in the Our Father, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We ask the Father to make our forgiveness of others the condition of our forgiveness. Therefore, we have to forgive those who have wronged us.
What if it is someone from our past who we will never see again (before Heaven!) or someone who has gone before us to the Lord? What of someone who doesn’t want to be forgiven, someone who won’t apologize or repent? What if we think they don’t deserve forgiveness? We’re called to forgive as Christ forgives, even as Christ forgave
the soldiers who nailed him to the Cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) If we don’t, we’re closed to the freedom and healing of God’s forgiveness for us.
Yet, we find it difficult to forgive! All of us can probably call to mind someone who we need to forgive. We think forgiveness is impossible because many of us don’t understand what forgiveness is. “I can’t forgive,” we say, because the feelings of hurt, disappointment, anger all return when we think about what has happened in the past. Goodness knows when those past wounds come to mind all the feelings can return as though it all is happening all over again. The fact is, our forgiveness doesn’t depend on our feelings. Forgiveness depends on our faith. What may seem impossible for us is possible through God.
Does healing seem impossible? Does reconciliation also seems impossible? It is possible with God. “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).
Forgiveness is a choice, an act of the will. Our choice to forgive with the grace of God removes the burden of grudges, resentment, and bitterness from us. It does more for us than it may do for anyone else, and though we should desire reconciliation with the one forgiven, even though they might not wish it, we can still make the choice to forgive.
Here’s how to forgive from the heart: Repent of being unforgiving, of harboring grudges, or holding that sin against someone. Put that person before the Cross of Christ and say, “I forgive you.” Say exactly what you are forgiving! “I forgive you for…” Say it all. Then, “I forgive you from my heart.” Turn to the Lord and say, “I ask you to forgive them, to grant them peace and healing, conversion of heart, and help them to be as holy as you made them to be.”
Forgiveness is the key that opens our heart to God’s mercy and healing. Be forgiving, and you will be forgiven.

Magisterium in a nutshell

Wikipedia’s article on Magisterium has a neatly organized table listing the possible ways authoritative teaching is expressed in the Catholic Church, and showing what type of assent is required in each case. Infallible teaching is to be believed with an act of the virtue of faith; authoritative non-infallible teaching is to be accepted with “religious assent”.
Keep this summary handy for when people ask you whether a particular document’s teaching is infallible.

Categorized as Catechesis

Does Mass on a Friday count towards a Sunday obligation?

The answer to the question above is usually “no,” but I think I may have found an exception. I have to travel to the Middle East this week, and because the work week is from Saturday to Wednesday, I will probably be working all day on Sunday. The country where I will be is part of the Vicariate Apostoic of Arabia, which apparently has a dispensation to allow Friday Masses to “count” as the Sunday obligation:

• On Fridays (mornings and evenings) and Saturdays (evenings only) the Holy Mass is that of the following Sunday.

Am I reading this correctly? This isn’t the parish I would attend (I’m not going to Kuwait), but it’s the cathedral parish of the vicariate — can I assume that this dispensation extends beyond Kuwait to the other countries in its territory? I’ll probably end up attending Mass on Sunday — there are plenty of Masses throughout the day in the parish I found — but it might be more convenient to attend on Friday.
This seemed like an interesting question, because I had never heard of such a dispensation. Servicemen deployed during wartime can attend Mass at any time during the week and have it fulfill their Sunday obligation, because they are not always able to attend for obvious reasons. These circumstances are quite different.

Categorized as Catechesis

What rights are civil and what rights are natural?

Here’s is a political question with a natural law twist. I (and probably you) frequently read sentiments like this: “…of all rich countries the US has lost the most civil liberties recently. But I’m not too worried yet. I’m hoping once the present administration is out, the natural openness of American culture will reassert itself.”
You can see the quotation in context here, but it doesn’t matter that much. What interests me are two things:
1. The blatant exaggeration. In this case, the author doesn’t bother to enumerate which civil liberties we have “lost” — and people who write such things rarely do. They talk about wiretapping powers as if the Feds are listening to every phone call we make. But even if these measures are contrary to our rights, at best these are marginal encroachments: no one, to my knowledge, has abolished the right to free association.
2. The connection with natural law. Americans like to conflate natural rights (which are given by God) and civil rights (which are granted, or at least recognized, by temporal powers.) These are overlapping categories, certainly. The right to bear arms is connected with the natural right to self-defense. The right to property is explicit in both natural law and revealed scripture.
What about other civil rights? I do not consider voting to be a natural right, as it is possible to have a just government without elections or democracy. Free speech, at least as we constitute it today, does not seem to be a natural right, either. Those civil rights are good for our system of government, because they allow citizens to remove bad politicians and substitute good (or less bad) ones, and to speak out against their government’s policies or actions and urge correction. But that does not make them part of natural law, as their objects — the goods they serve — are ordered toward right government and not man per se.
I am not arguing that any civil right should be curtailed or abolished, but it would help to distingush between them and the ones that are truly inalienable.

Categorized as Catechesis

Anybody read the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

I haven’t read it yet, but I’d like to dig into the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Ironically, the condensed version has a much longer title.
Jimmy Akin has read the Compendium, and likes it. I happen to like Jimmy Akin, as we once sat and smoked together in a San Diego tobacco store, so you can trust his judgment.
One reason I’m anxious to get my hands on this volume is so I’ll have better answers for my kids when they ask questions. Explaining justification is quite easy. Explaining the Trinity is not.

Categorized as Catechesis