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Fr. Joe :
74 article(s)

Fr. Joe Scott, CSP, has been a campus minister, pastor and editor as a Paulist priest.
May 18th, 2008

I’ve found nothing in the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church indicating that Protestant spouses cannot be buried with their Catholic spouse in a Catholic cemetery. The only hitch would be if burial in a Catholic cemetery would have been contrary to the wishes of the spouse who has died. A Catholic priest or cemetery would want to respect his or her wishes regarding their own funeral and burial.…

May 18th, 2008

The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of other Christian baptisms if they involve water by immersion, pouring or sprinkling, and if they are done “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” If a Christian whose Baptism fulfilled these conditions seeks to become a Catholic, he or she does not need to be rebaptized, but must make a formal “profession of faith,” reciting the Nicene Creed (which is usually recited during a Catholic Mass, and expresses the fundamental beliefs of Catholics). This is done at a special ceremony called “the reception of baptized Christians into the full communion of the Catholic Church.” Normally the new Catholic receives…

May 18th, 2008
I just read an article on a website which spoke of women deacons and female priests. If Christ is the Bridegroom and the priest is in persona Christi, how could a female fill this role in the Church?

The matter of women deacons is in a different state in the Catholic Church from that of women priests. Pope John Paul II stated that it was not possible for women to be ordained as priests. His argument was that Jesus had chosen only men for the 12 apostles, and that the apostles did the same when they chose who would succeed them in ministry. He also made use of the “in persona Christi” image which you cite in your question. John Paul II went so far as to indicate that Catholics should not even discuss the ordination of women to the priesthood as a possibility.
Women as deacons is another matter. It is still open to study and discussion. There is some evidence that women served as deacons in the early Church. For…

May 18th, 2008

The answer is: much later than we might think!
The early church seems to have avoided any titles for Christians, except for the egalitarian “brother” and “sister.” Matthew’s gospel, which is very concerned about the rules of conduct within a Christian community, records this teaching of Jesus: “Call no one on earth your father, you have but one Father in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). Jesus seems to be suggesting that titles are a way of claiming rank over and above others and therefore were not proper for a disciple who sought to be a servant to all.
With the passage of time, however, the title “Father” crept into Christian etiquette as a way of describing the…

May 18th, 2008

I’m not sure I completely understand your question, but I can certainly understand the sadness and frustration in your experience of wanting to minister the Sacraments and not having your desire supported by the Church. it seems from what you’ve said that you’re not assuming a public role as a concelebrant but rather sitting with the congregation at Mass and privately reciting the words of consecration along with the presider. The fact that the Church allows the use of missalettes which contain the words of the eucharistic prayers along with the readings from Scripture indicates that the Church at least permits if not encourages the practice of reading and “praying along”…

May 18th, 2008

When I was growing up, my mother didn’t belong to any church. When I was in high school, after a long period of seeking and questioning, she decided to become a Catholic. Her older sister, my favorite Aunt, had taken instructions and been baptized a Catholic some years before. So two adults in my immediate family had found meaning and joy through becoming members of the Catholic church.
While I was attending Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California a Paulist priest, Fr. Elwood (Bud) Keiser, led a retreat day at the school. He spoke of the Paulist mission to share the gospel and the Catholic faith beyond the church doors. The Paulists tried to live out this mission in parishes, in adult education centers…

May 18th, 2008

The practice of cardinals electing a new pope has its origins in the tradition of the early church for a local church to elect its own bishop. St. Ambrose, for example, was chosen as bishop of Milan by the Catholics of that area, even though he was still a catechumen. He had to be baptized before he could be ordained as bishop!
Gradually the right to elect a new bishop was restricted to the priests and deacons of an area. In Rome the priests, deacons and bishops of diocese in the neighborhood of Rome were called cardinals, from the Latin word “cardo” (hinge). There still exists the distinction of cardinal bishops (of the seven dioceses surrounding Rome), cardinal priests (of the churches within Rome) and…

May 18th, 2008

The idea of the infallibility of the pope was defined at the first Vatican Council in 1869. The Council was trying to describe the teaching authority of the pope at a time when the pope’s temporal power over the papal states gave way to Italy’s desire for unification. Rome was the last preserve of the pope’s temporal power and this city fell into the hands of the Italian army even as the Vatican Council met.
For many years thereafter the pope was considered a “prisoner of the Vatican,” refusing to set foot in any other part of Italy in protest of the occupation of Rome. Yet during these same years the pope’s spiritual and moral authority grew. The definition of papal infallibility…

May 18th, 2008

The word pope is an English adaptation of the Latin word “papa” (a child’s affectionate word for father). From the third to the fifth centuries words like papa or abba were used of bishops to describe their role as a spiritual father. By the third century the term “pope” began to be used as a title solely for the bishops of Rome.
The oldest title and role that a pope retains is that of bishop of Rome. The church also regards the pope as the successor of Peter, the chief of the apostles. As such he exercises a primacy over the entire Church, as defined by the First Vatican Council (1869). The role of the pope as spiritual leader of the whole church has come more and more to define what a pope “does.”…

May 18th, 2008

Thank you for your question about the Creed.
Basically the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed came into being around the same time though the earliest forms of the Apostles Creed are in evidence around the year 100 with the final version that we now have being dated in the year 700. The difference is that the Nicene Creed was written in response to various heresies about the nature of Jesus Christ that were debated at the Church Council of Nicea in the year 325. The creed was principally written in opposition to the heretic, Arius, who taught that Jesus was a creature made by God not wholly equal to the Father. Such that the lines saying, “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten…

May 18th, 2008
So many Catholics go to Sunday Mass and are not Christ-like during the week. So many "good people" do not attend a formal church service every Sunday. Where in the Bible does it require weekly attending of the Mass? Can a very good Christian or Catholic be a holy person in action and deed including prayer and not be attending the ritual of Mass every Sunday?

One of the ten commandments is “remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then…in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-10).
The commandment doesn’t say anything about going to church; it simply sets aside one day of the week as a day of rest, when no work was to be done. It became customary among the Jewish people, however, to see the sabbath as a day to be “with” God in a special way. Much of their prayer centered in the home, but they also developed…

May 18th, 2008

Actually, a complete celebration of the Mass should engage the whole person–including the mind, the emotions, and the body. Even the simplest Masses, for example, involve a procession to and from the communion station, and a switch in posture from standing to sitting to kneeling. These gestures indicate that we participate not only with our minds but with our complete self.
Popular devotions often express the emotions of Catholics and may even intensify them. When I visited churches in Mexico I observed persons processing on their knees to the tabernacle or statue of the Blessed Mother. The reverence these pilgrims felt was expressed with deep emotion.
Possibly the most powerful conveyer of emotion…

May 18th, 2008
For example, 'May the body and blood of Christ bring us all to everlasting life." Wouldn't it be more true to say "The body and blood of Christ BROUGHT us all to everlasting life?

It’s true that the Mass is a remembering of the death and resurrection of Christ. But it’s a particular kind of remembering that involves an encounter with past, present and future. In the acclamation of faith during Mass we proclaim that “Christ HAS died, Christ IS risen, Christ WILL come again.” The Greek word for this kind of remembering is “anamnesis.” It means not only a memorial, but a re-presentation. In other words, in the rite of the Mass Christ becomes “present” once again, in the here and now. In doing the actions of blessing, breaking/pouring, and sharing the bread and wine we experience once again the reality of Jesus himself. Not only did Christ…

May 18th, 2008
I recently met someone who attends Latin Masses and believes that they are still allowed. I also heard that Latin Masses were no longer held and that Masses must be said in the language of the people. Who is correct?

To answer your question I have to provide a little history.
Up until 1965, Mass was celebrated everywhere in the Catholic church in Latin according to the “rite” (order or ritual or worship) determined at the Council of Trent and issued by Pope Pius V in 1568.
The Second Vatican Council wrote a “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” (1963) which advocated that Mass be celebrated in the native language (“vernacular”) of a particular region or country. This was so that “the Christian people, so far as possible, should be able to understand (the texts and rites) with ease and take part in them fully, actively, as befits a community.”
This document also asked for…

May 18th, 2008

Devotion to Mary goes back a long way in the Catholic church. But Catholics do not believe that Mary is divine and we don’t pray to Mary. God, made flesh in Jesus and present in the Holy Spirit, is the only One to whom we pray.
We do believe that Mary holds a special place among the saints of the church, and that the saints are part of a community of faith and love that doesn’t end with death. This “communion of saints” includes both the living and dead. We don’t “pray to” the saints either, but we believe that we can ask those who now live with God to pray for us, just as we pray for persons who have died.
Catholics don’t worship Mary; rather, we honor her. We honor Mary as the…

May 18th, 2008

The Immaculate Conception is a teaching of the church that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception. This is not a teaching found in the New Testament, which contains no stories about the conception, birth or childhood of Mary. It developed in the Middle Ages, as a way of better understanding Mary’s special role as the Mother of God. It was finally declared to be a dogma of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius IX in 1854.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is celebrated on December 8 and is one of the special holy days of the Church calendar. In the early 19th century the bishops of the United States declared Mary to be our patron under the title of the Immaculate…

May 18th, 2008
My husband and I got married in a civil ceremony. We always knew we were going to do it in a Catholic ceremony though. Nobody knows but us. We already have a marriage license obviously, what sort of certificate does the priest need to sign? We dont want him to know either....is there any way to keep it a secret and pretend we were never married through the courts?

Thank you for sending your question to “Ask Fr. Joe.”
First of all, let me say that there will be no problem with your getting your married “validated” in the Catholic Church. I’m assuming that neither of you has been married before in a valid Catholic marriage so no annulment would be necessary.
Catholics who marry in a civil ceremony need only to get their marriage con-valided, that is, to exchange your vows in the presence of a priest or deacon. You are already married civilly so you can only get one marriage license. It will be necessary for you to produce a certificate of your marriage in order to get married in the Church so there is no way you can keep this secret from the officiating…

May 18th, 2008

I’m assuming from your note that you were divorced and have remarried without receiving an annulment of your first marriage from the Church court. If so, your priest is following the practice of the Church of reserving communion for those who are “in communion” with Church teaching and practice. Church teaching holds that marriage is a permanent, lifelong commitment grounded in Jesus’ teaching “let no one separate what God has joined” (Mark 10:6-9). The Church does not believe that a civil divorce enables a Catholic to remarry.
You might want to make an appointment with your parish priest to talk over your circumstances with him. It may be possible to obtain an annulment…

May 18th, 2008

This is a hard question to answer, and I appreciate the anquish with which you must ask it.
If you were married in a Catholic ceremony, you would promise to do all within your power to have your children baptized and raised as Catholics. Your non-Catholic husband would not be required to make any promise, but would need to be informed that you had made such a promise. So the primary responsibility for raising your childen as Catholics would rest with you.
In your present situation, I would encourage your desire to have any children of your marriage baptized and raised as Catholics, but you will have to be prepared to do it on your own. You mention that your husband has stated that he does not want take part in the childen’s…

May 18th, 2008

Yes, it’s true that Jesus’ own prayer was directed toward God as Father. The prayer which Jesus teaches his disciples in ths gospels of Matthew and Luke is addressed to “our Father” and does not mention Jesus at all! We still pray this as “The Lord’s Prayer” and regard it as a central Christian prayer.
Apart from the Lord’s Prayer, most prayer in Catholic worship is addressed “TO the Father, THROUGH the Son, IN unity with the Holy Spirit.” This formula expresses two basic beliefs of Catholics: the Trinity and the Incarnation.
The Apostle’s Creed, one of the earliest Christian professions of faith, states: “I believe in God the Father…

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