Will Obama listen to his buddy, Father Jenkins of Notre Dame?

The Rev. John Jenkins wrote a letter Wednesday to Kathleen Sebelius asking the Obama administration to broaden the definition of religious employer currently under consideration to ensure the school can continue its provide health care without going against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. He said the change in definition of religious employer is far narrower than current law and would require Notre Dame and other Catholic universities to offer prescription contraceptives and sterilization services to students and employees through health care plans.

“This would compel Notre Dame to either pay for contraception and sterilization in violation of the church’s moral teaching, or to discontinue our employee and student health care plans in violation of the church’s social teaching. It is an impossible position,” he wrote.

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What happens when a Jewish mom sends her daughter to a Catholic school?

“So what did you have for lunch today?” I asked my daughter the other day. She has started a new school this year, one that provides lunches and snacks.

“I made myself a ham sandwich,” she answered proudly. “I love ham.”

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This Week’s Ask Alice: A litany of interrelated Catholic questions



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Jennifer writes: I grew up in a Catholic school but was raised Baptist. My husband and I decided to raise our son in Catholic school as well. After 3 years, we are seriously considering converting. We love the values and many things about the faith and feel as if we belong and are called. I was wondering about a few things:

1) Why does the Catholic Bible have additional books? How or by whom were they added or omitted?
2) Regarding Mary being without sin, I see how it could be assumed, but is there biblical scripture which supports the theory?
3) Is Mary regarded as an equal to Christ? And why is prayer and focus given to her instead of Christ? Is there biblical scripture which supports this as well?
4) What is the significance of statues within the church?

Thank you so much, in advance. I hope my questions don’t seem ignorant. I believe there was a period where women were highly disregarded, and maybe the lost books could reveal some things.

Alice answers: Your questions are worthwhile ones. Catholicism is considered the “fullest measure” of faith, and sometimes, things can seem a bit complicated.

My friend, Pat, spent years driving from one Protestant church to another in search of a religion to follow. But after attending a Catholic Mass one Sunday, Pat felt that all the other churches she visited seemed empty, as if something was missing. And it wasn’t just those seven books!

1) The Catholic Bible contains all 73 books (46 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament) that have been accepted by Christians since the time of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Old Testament follows the Alexandrian canon of the “Septuagint”, which was translated to Greek around 250 B.C.

Jesus personally read from the Septuagint, and he also commissioned the Apostles to use it.

Beginning around 1521, Martin Luther and other reformers acted to separate themselves from the Catholic tradition, and decided to revert back to the Hebrew canon of the Old Testament, which contained 7 fewer books than the accepted Greek/Catholic canon. The books missing from the Protestant collection: 1&2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach/Ecclesiastes and Baruch. (Review ALL the books here.)

For the first time in over a thousand years, certain Christians had arbitrarily decided to reject the clear advice of St. John, that we read in Revelation 22:19.

“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from these things that are written in this book.”

2) Catholics believe that Mary is sinless, based on scripture and tradition, i.e., divine revelation, first-hand knowledge, beliefs, customs and teachings, both written and oral, about all things Christian.

In Luke 1:28 Mary is uniquely greeted by the angel Gabriel with the words, “Hail favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Or more to the point, “Hail Mary, full of grace.”)

This is the only place in Scripture where we find an angel greeting anyone (other than God) with such high honor and praise. It is also the only place in scripture where we find God waiting for the permission of any human being … a woman, no less … so that he might send his son into the world, to save us.   

A sacred “vessel” that is “full” of God’s grace simply has no room in it, for sin. Much more than a mere vessel, the Mother of God is a unique person, supernaturally preserved from sin by God, from the moment of her conception, for the very highest of purposes.

Mary’s sinlessness was indeed a practical necessity if she was to give birth to the Son of the Most High God, who in his divine holiness, required as much … and who also demanded absolutely pure, undefiled, holy flesh in order to fashion the human body that he would one day offer up to his Heavenly Father, as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.

It is through “divine election” that Mary was conceived “full of grace” … and she permanently remained that way … according to the practical necessities of God’s eternal plan for the ultimate destruction of the forces of evil, and the salvation of mankind.

Mary never sinned. Satan never touched her.

In her permanent virginity, she remained always holy, perfectly obedient, and dedicated solely to to God … before and after she gave birth to our Holy Redeemer.

The Catholic Church knows all this because “the Church” was there with Mary, and knew her better than anyone.

All four evangelists (the writers of the Gospels) knew her and relied on her for many of the details we find recorded therein.

St. John lived with her and cared for her for many, many years … as she had no children, other than Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, non-Catholic Christians, separated from the living tradition of the Catholic Church by hundreds and hundreds of years, know Mary only from the few lines they read about her, in the Bible!

3) Mary is not regarded as an equal to Christ.

Jesus Christ is the Almighty and Eternal God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords … by his own power and in his own right.

Mary is a mere created human being, wholly dependent upon God for all things.

But by virtue of her singular, maternal relationship with Jesus Christ, the grace of God, and the merits of her holy life, the Catholic Church rightly understands that the Blessed Virgin Mary is already the recipient of all the Heavenly promises of her divine son.

Needless to say, that state of existence encompasses the unimaginable fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven, with the Blessed Virgin Mary as its Queen … courtesy of Jesus, the Eternal King … since according to God’s system of things, the mother of the king is the queen. (Summarized and explained here)   (And here.)

Catholics properly worship God alone, and merely venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary, which means that we honor and respect Mary as a great saint and as the Mother of God. But we do not worship her.

Modern Protestants often tend to have problems understanding this because their chosen faith tradition mistakenly tends to push the Blessed Virgin Mary off to the side … and over-emphasizes the role of the Holy Bible. 

It is not right to worship the Holy Bible OR the Holy Mother of God … even though both are great works of God … and both are very intimately related to the Holy Spirit.

From a human perspective, who rightly deserves the greater praise and honor: George Washington … or the Blessed Virgin Mary?

Mary is Jesus’ first, best, and most constant disciple. Along with her divine son, she is at the very center of God’s plan for salvation. Mary willingly and totally cooperated with God. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

By voluntarily cooperating with God’s grace and his plan, selflessly dedicating her whole life to God, and providing her own flesh and blood to make Jesus’ human body, Mary is also rightly regarded as co-redemptrix … intimately cooperating with God, in his eternal plan for our redemption in Jesus Christ.

4) Statues are displayed in Catholic churches for the same reason that you and I hang family photographs in our homes. Pictures of Grandma Ann and Uncle Bob remind us of people we love and admire. As members of the Body of Christ, we and the saints belong to God’s family. Jesus, Mary and the saints are leaders in our faith. They inspire us to follow their virtuous examples. Statues are similar to the posters of our sports heroes today. We should try to imitate the saints’ behavior in our daily lives. (More details here.)

Statues also serve to remind us of the words of Jesus Christ:  “And as concerning the dead that they rise again have you not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spoke to him, saying: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?  He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You therefore do greatly err.”
(Mark 12:26-27)

I pray that you and your husband will heed God’s call to become Catholic.

Ours is a faith that has deep respect for women and regards every human life as sacred, from conception until natural death.

Catholics have the charism of praying for our deceased loved ones, to help them get to Heaven. We believe that as members of the Body of Christ, as we pray for the souls in Purgatory, they in turn pray for us, as we continue our earthly journey.

The best part of becoming Catholic is that you experience a miracle … the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist … every time you attend Mass.

Please write again and let us know how you are doing.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

*****

Doug Lawrence adds: Use the “search” box on our site to locate and view helpful articles about many of the terms mentioned above. The “search” box may typically be found at the top right side of the screen, just below the broad, red, horizontal band.

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Father Z: On the matter of lay ministers giving blessings

In The Catholic Herald of the Diocese of Madison, where the great Bishop Robert Morlino exercises oversight, there is a great article on an issue we have addressed here many times: Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion giving blessings to non-communicants as if they were priests.

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Mexico’s Supreme Court rejects move to legalize abortion

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 28, 2011 / 03:33 pm (CNA).- The members of Mexico’s Supreme Court on Sept. 28 rejected a decision that would have legalized abortion in the country.

By a 7 to 4 margin, the judges struck down a proposal by Supreme Justice Fernando Franco, which declared that the states’ legal shields against abortion were unconstitutional, and that abortion should be legal nationwide—up to the ninth month of pregnancy.

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It’s time to make Father Pavone a special Vatican envoy for Pro-Life

by Doug Lawrence

Let’s put all the petty conflicts behind us and look at the big picture.

Nobody has done a better job of working for the pro-life cause than Father Frank Pavone.

He’s developed an effective, national organization.

He’s an eloquent, inspiring speaker.

He’s politically well connected (both inside and outside the church) and he knows his way around Washington, DC.

He works well with Christians of all persuasions, as well as Jews and Muslims. (Certain Catholic bishops excepted.)

He’s a Catholic priest in good standing, and also a good man.

Let’s create a Special Pro-Life Military Diocese, just like the one we have for the U.S. Armed Forces.

Let’s make Father Frank the bishop in-charge, let him go about recruiting and training good, pro-life men to be priests, and good pro-life lay people to help get the work done … and then, let’s all get busy saving the babies!

NFL Quarterback’s Secret: He never misses Mass!

I was fortunate to grow up in the faith; my mom taught me the faith. In North Alabama there were only like 15 of us in my county in my confirmation class. We were quite the minority in Alabama. But one thing I remember is when I went to college at North Carolina State, the biggest thing that stuck in my head from my mom was never miss Mass. That was the thing that she definitely got across. When you go to college that’s when the faith becomes your own. Your mom and dad aren’t waking you up and reminding you “Hey this is a good day to go to confession.” It’s up to you.

So that really stayed with me and I made sure I never missed Mass and continued to grow in the faith. My wife had a lot to do with it, she’s a convert and she actually became Catholic the day before we got married. There’s so many gifts from the faith to appreciate and it strikes people differently, but the one-ness of the church wherever you are, Raleigh, San Diego, Alabama. Every place we were was home because the Catholic Church is the same everywhere. When we went to Mass that first Sunday after moving to a new place, that was where we felt at home and were able to say “well, home is anywhere, it doesn’t matter where we live because we have the faith.”

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