Author Archive for Tom Schenk

Parish Mission

The word “mission” has a variety of meanings as used by the Church, all of which stem from the apostolic commission given to the Apostles by Christ, and are concerned with the teaching role of the Church in its mission to all people.

The parish mission, a so-called popular mission at the parish level, is a series of instructions, sermons, and devotions conducted in a parish for the spiritual welfare of the people.  They usually last for several days and may be conducted annually.

For a parish mission, the parish leadership will typically invite a guest speaker from outside the parish to lead or facilitate sessions to inspire, renew, transform and awaken one’s faith in Jesus Christ. (8:46)

Omniscience

This is God’s attribute of knowing all things simply and absolutely.

The doctrine of Providence implies omniscience, for God, in ruling and directing all things to His own glory, must know all things, even the most secret, and He must know them now rather than as a sequence.

According to the Scriptures, the scope of God’s knowledge is unlimited.  It is in the first place a creative and redemptive wisdom.  In wisdom, He brings all things into existence and orders the universe according to an intelligent and intelligible plan.  In wisdom, He restores all things through Christ, Who reveals and accomplishes the divine plan of salvation.

It follows that God’s knowledge embraces everything in the world and penetrates into every human heart.  What in the universe could escape the knowledge of the One Who creates, sustains and restores it?  For God’s knowledge of all things is not an addition to His knowledge of Himself.  He knows all thing as their creator and conserver, and thus He knows them in Himself.

While creaturely knowledge is acquired and sequential, God’s knowledge is simultaneous and absolute.  God timelessly knows what has happened, what is happening now and what will happen in the future.

But He knows these events for what they are, in their very causes.  For this reason, His knowledge of future free actions of human beings does not destroy their freedom.

His eternal knowledge does not impose necessity or determination on all future contingent events.  He knows these future actions for what they are, precisely as freely performed actions. (8:45)

Omnipotence

Derived from the Latin word for all-powerful, the term omnipotence refers to an attribute that is proper to the Divine Nature: God can bring into existence anything that is conceivable.

Knowledge, will and power are one in God.  According to Christian Tradition, to ascribe omnipotence means that everything in the world was created by Him and that anything conceivable could be brought into existence by Him.

It is especially through our creation and redemption that God is recognized as omnipotent.

Theologically, it is in connection with God’s being the source of the existence of everything in knowledge and will that the doctrine of His omnipotence is expounded.

God orders all things in wisdom and love for the fulfillment of His plan, revealed in Christ and at least obscurely discernable in the wonders of the natural order. (8:44)

Apostolic Nuncio

The Apostolic Nuncio in the United States is the diplomatic representative of the Holy See in Rome.  The Apostolic Nuncio has offices located in Washington, D.C. in Embassy Row.

The current Apostolic Nuncio is Archbishop Christophe Pierre, who was named to the position by Pope Francis in April 2016.

The Apostolic Nunciature to the U.S. is an ecclesiastical office of the Catholic Church with the rank of embassy.  The nuncio serves both as the ambassador of the Holy See to the U.S. President, and as delegate and point-of-contact between the bishops in America and the Pope.

Communications from the USCCB and the various U.S. dioceses to the Holy See pass through the nuncio. (8:43)

Old Testament

Testament comes from the Latin testamentum which means an agreement or last will.  When translated into the Greek diatheke and used in the Bible, it is often a synonym for “covenant.”  This is the sense in which the Old Testament (and the New Testament) are to be understood.

The books of the Old Testament (the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings, according to their Jewish designation) give testimony to the covenant between God and Israel.  The Old Testament and New Testament make up the Bible, often referred to as Holy or Sacred Scripture.  The Jewish faith would refer to the books of our Old Testament as Hebrew Scripture.

There are 46 books in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Old Testaments, (73 in total including the New Testament) while the Protestant Bible contains only 39 Old Testament books.  At the Protestant Revolution, seven books of the Old Testament were removed . . . seven books that have been included since the Bible was first collected together as acknowledged to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The seven Old Testament books missing in the Protestant Bible, but still found in the Catholic Bible, are the Books of Tobit, Judith, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, First Maccabees and Second Maccabees, plus portions of Esther and Daniel.  The Protestant and Catholic New Testament books number the same.

The Old Testament was written by many different authors, mostly Hebrews, some unknown.  These books of the Old Testament were written at different times over about 1,000 years; written at different places; and written for different purposes.  (8:42)

RCIA

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the communal process of spiritual and educational formation through which adults explore the Catholic Faith and become fully initiated members of the Roman Catholic Church.

The process is all about conversion, communion and discipleship.  It is about growth and change taking place in our hearts and minds so that we can more fully live in relationship with God and each other.  It is about living our faith, and exploring what belief in God means for our lives.

The RCIA process is not a class or a bunch of hoops that one must jump through to join the Catholic Church.  Rather RCIA assists you in becoming a living, breathing, active disciple of Christ, and a participant in the life of God.

The program is primarily intended for un-baptized adults, who, upon hearing the Gospel message and receiving formation in the Christian way of life, choose to become followers of Christ by receiving the Sacraments of Initiation:  Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.

The RCIA process also serves adults baptized in another Christian denomination or community who are now interested in exploring the Catholic Faith and perhaps living out their Christian life in the Catholic Church.

We do not baptize again anyone whose baptism was performed with water and the Trinitarian formula (invoking the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  These men and women are welcomed into full communion with the Catholic Church. (8:41)

Eucharist

What does it mean that Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist under the appearances of bread and wine?  How does this happen?

The real presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharist is an inexhaustible mystery that the Church can never fully explain in words.  We must remember that the triune God is the creator of all that exists.

As St. Ambrose said: “If the word of the Lord Jesus is so powerful as to bring into existence things which were not, then all the more so those things which already exist can be changed into something else.”

In chapter 6 of the Gospel taken from John, we read things such as, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven . . . for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”

The whole Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine—the glorified Christ who rose from the dead after dying for our sins.  This presence of Christ in the Eucharist is called “real” not to exclude other types of his presence as if they could not be understood as real.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith.  The risen Christ is present to his Church in many ways, but most especially through the sacrament of his Body and Blood.

We celebrate the Mass . . . the Eucharist . . . the Lord’s Supper . . . the Blessed Sacrament . . . Holy Communion . . . transubstantiation . . . by whatever name it is called, Catholics have believed and taught about this awesome reality from the very beginnings of the Church instituted by Christ. (8:40)

Ritual

The Mass is a ritual.  When we attend Mass, we are participants, not spectators.  The Mass was never intended as entertainment but rather a means that through the repetition of prayers, movements, and the changing of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, we are spiritually formed, inspired and consoled.

The Mass does not try to induce a particular feeling in participants.  It allows each person to bring his or her own feelings and incorporate them into the liturgy.  That’s why it is possible for two people to attend Mass, one grieving a death and the other celebrating a birth, yet both feel connected.

The whole point during Mass is to offer ourselves and all that we may be feeling to God in Jesus Christ. (8:39)

Attending Mass

The moral obligation to attend Mass has been Church law since the fourth century.  But rather than think of it as something we “have to do,” rather we should think of Mass as valuable time spent with our loving God and with others.

When we go to Mass, we begin to see that we are not alone and recognize that we are part of the Body of Christ, and if one part of the body is missing, the whole body suffers. (8:38)

Assumption

For hundreds of years, Catholics observed the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15.   This teaching of Mary’s being taken bodily to Heaven after her death was in 1950 proclaimed a dogma of the Church, that is, the Assumption of Mary is one of the essential beliefs of the Catholic faith.

August 15 is the day that Catholics have long celebrated what is called the Dormition (falling asleep) or Assumption of the Virgin Mary.   The Feast of the Assumption celebrates both the happy departure of Mary from this life by her natural death, and her assumption bodily into heaven.

Along with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, the Assumption is a principal feast of the Blessed Virgin and a Holy Day of Obligation.

Though it was almost universally believed for more than a thousand years, the Bible contains no mention of the assumption of Mary into heaven.  The first Church writer to speak of Mary’s being taken up into heaven by God is Saint Gregory of Tours in 594.

On May 1, 1946, Pope Pius XII, asked all bishops whether they thought this belief in the assumption of Mary into heaven should be defined as a proposition of faith, and whether they with their clergy and people desired the definition.  Almost all the bishops of the world replied in the affirmative.

On November 1, 1950, the Feast of All Saints, Pope Pius XII declared as a dogma revealed by God that “Mary, the immaculate perpetually Virgin Mother of God, after the completion of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into the glory of Heaven.”  (8:37)