FrequentCommunion

Faith Magazine

March - April 2015

Flickr / Lawrence OP
March - April

In Defence of Frequent Communion

Follow the money. The movie Fifty Shades of Grey grossed $76m in its opening weekend. That was in the United States alone. In 56 other countries, including the United Kingdom, it also topped the box office charts. The film is produced by Universal Pictures. Universal is owned by Comcast, the largest broadcasting and cable company in the world by revenue. Last year the firm’s chief executive, Brian Roberts, received a pay packet worth nearly $41m.

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Politicians and Abortion: Four Points of Clarification

Politicians and Abortion: Four Points of Clarification

Science tells us that the unborn child is a human being. Take a look at the photograph on the right. That is the face of a child in the womb. Only three months old and yet his or her tiny face tells us all we need to know; it is the face of one of us! Indeed, if this little one is not human then no one is human.

Medicine tells us that the unborn child is a human being. From the day of our conception, our unique DNA and genetic information are set down. Within our first month of life our hearts are beating with our own blood. We have eyes, ears and a tongue. Our arms and legs are beginning to push out.

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GCSE RE: Education or Indoctrination?

GCSE RE: Education or Indoctrination?

There is an understandable secular bias to the exam board specifications related to controversial issues. They reflect the attitudes of society as a whole, while conforming to political requirements on topics such as equality and discrimination. Although the Ofqual subject criteria are necessarily generalised, the exam boards translated them into a concrete syllabus with specific content which contains a degree of bias and unacknowledged assumptions. However, the Roman Catholic module exam questions almost invariably allow the Catholic view to be stated; therefore it is important to teach a robust apologetic for the Catholic world view, while also critically presenting the opposing arguments of contemporary society and liberal Christianity.

 
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Encountering Christ in the Sacraments

Encountering Christ in the Sacraments

It can be difficult enough for us to accept this in our own life. How could God, who made the whole universe, be interested in me? When we do accept it, however, we begin to understand that it follows that God does not desire to enter into a relationship with one single human being, but with the whole of humanity. This is the meaning of the Church: she is the privileged place where God calls all of humanity together and speaks to them. She is also the place where God’s message can be interpreted authentically, allowing a genuine dialogue, a genuine relationship, to take place.

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Oscar Romero: Friend of Opus Dei

Oscar Romero: Friend of Opus Dei

When Archbishop Oscar Romero is beatified sometime this year, it will not be because he is the “Liberation Theology” hero some have tried to make of him. Rather it will be because he was a man of God who proclaimed the gospel courageously, even at the cost of his life.

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Humanum: Made in the Image of God

Humanum: Made in the Image of God

This year Humanum is exploring the theme of education. The first issue, which will go online sometime in March, deals with what it means to educate the person as a human being. The role of the family as the first educator of the child will be examined, as well as the educational theories of St John Bosco, Sofia Cavalletti and Luigi Giussani. The second issue will deal with schooling: what is an authentic pedagogy, the revival of classical education, home-schooling and new types of schools and colleges. The third issue will deal with sex education, and the fourth with education and technology. Running through all the issues is the concept of paideia, education that cultivates the virtues.

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Politics

Politics

England and Wales are facing similar proposals that are being pushed by Lord Falconer. Inevitably, we have all been subjected to the hard sell by the BBC and others, who have used the cases of people such as Tony Nicklinson, Debbie Purdy, Kay Gilderdale, Terry Pratchett, Anne Turner, Diane Pretty to promote their agenda. So unstinting has been the effort to portray as virtuous the ending of the lives of the weak that it brings to mind Pope Benedict’s words to the College of Cardinals in 2012: “We see how evil wants to dominate the world,” he said, and how it uses cruelty and violence, but also how it “masks itself with good and, precisely in this way, destroys the moral foundations of society.”

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The Home Front

The Home Front

A late starter at marriage and motherhood, I used to desperately wish for a large family. What a “large family” means for someone with one sibling is of a rather different magnitude than for someone who grew up in a family with eight or nine or 10 children. I prayed fervently to be blessed with what for me seemed like a large family. “Dear Lord,” I pleaded, “please can I have four children before I’m 40.” Really. That’s what I prayed with my firstborn son in my arms. I was 33.

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Vatican

Vatican

Before the arrival of Pope Francis, the main themes of discussion in the Church had solid theological roots. Even the questions concerning the pastoral care of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, and of homosexual couples – both topics of heated debate at last October’s Synod of Bishops – are in the end based on theological foundations, and deal with the application of doctrine. The criticisms aimed at the Pope’s plan for curial reform, the other issue at stake in this pontificate, are also founded on theological and juridical grounds.

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Worlds at War

Worlds at War

We are in a war of world views; some believe that our universe is meaningless, or even, like Stephen Fry, positively malevolent. In such a situation, all we can do is to construct systems of meaning, or relationships and identities around ourselves, to warm and to illumine in this dark and cold world. Yet others hold that we have to be “heroic” in the face of meaninglessness and face squarely its bleak implications. Views of the universe as a closed system, which consists only of observable, material causes and their effects, have certainly led us to observations of regularity and of predictability, which have been useful for experimental science, but these abstractions have also robbed the world of its “enchantment”, its spontaneity and the possibility of moral and spiritual change.

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Cutting Edge

Cutting Edge

Stephen Fry’s video, railing against a God who can permit a worm “whose whole life cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind” has become viral. In fact, the African Loa loa worm in question affects very few humans (not that this mitigates the suffering). What Fry did not state is that diethylcarbamazine has been shown as an effective preventive for this infection.

This example is, indeed, a problem for creationists, who view all creatures as uniquely and individually created and designed by God, without evolution. The Faith movement’s perspective is, rather, that the “laws” of nature are a result of God’s Unity-Law in matter; they have their own dynamic and evolve in time and space, resulting in living and non-living things that, from a human perspective, may be harmful or beneficial.

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Coll says that she has three main aims in her book. First, she wants us to understand the teaching that bishops have the fullness of the sacrament of ordination and so to understand the relationship between bishop, priest and deacon. Secondly, and with a significant leap, she thinks that from this we can understand the role of women within this sacrament, in order to find an official office for women that is recognised by all, with its own liturgical rite and duties described in Canon Law. Thirdly, she believes that ordaining women to the diaconate would go some way to marginalising the debate on women priests, thus helping to end the scandal of division among Christians (p xxi).

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The Last Word

The Last Word

The United States has never been a Catholic country, of course, and today we are not even truly a Christian country, given the continuing collapse of traditional Protestantism – graphically demonstrated by the legalisation of abortion and the breakdown of marriage. In addition, there is the presence of pornography in the culture at all levels, degrading women and destroying families by the millions, not to speak of the Pill, which both poisons the woman and prevents new life.

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  • In Defence of Frequent Communion

    “This supernatural bread and this consecrated chalice are for the health and salvation of mankind” St Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, third century

    Follow the money. The movie Fifty Shades of Grey grossed $76m in its opening weekend. That was in the United States alone. In 56 other countries, including the United Kingdom, it also topped the box office charts. The film is produced by Universal Pictures. Universal is owned by Comcast, the largest broadcasting and cable company in the world by revenue. Last year the firm’s chief executive, Brian Roberts, received a pay packet worth nearly $41m.

    What’s the lesson? That for many big corporations the bottom line is the bottom line. Nothing more. Nothing else. As Pope Francis says in his robust critique of modern-day political economy, “unbridled capitalism” often promotes a “logic of profit at any cost” and “exploitation without looking at the person”. This is most obvious in the recent rise and rise of pornography, an “industry” that now grosses an estimated $97bn a year worldwide.

    There was a time when a family could metaphorically and literally bolt the front door to shelter from such corrosive cultural crosswinds. No longer. Thanks to smartphones, laptops and tablets, amoral big businesses can reach you and your family whenever and wherever they want. Pursuing sanctity in modern society can, for many, be akin to keeping clean in a dustbin.

    So where is our hope? As ever, our hope is in the Lord. And where is the Lord to be found? He is to be found in the Eucharist. And when is He to be found there? Every day if we are suitably disposed to receive Him. Aye, but there’s the rub. All the historically significant spiritual writers who advocate frequent communion – one only has to think of the great St Francis de Sales in the late 16th and early 17th century – also stress the necessity for frequent confession and serious preparation.

    Thus the problems that are sometimes associated with frequent communion – laxity and irreverence – must be resolved not at the altar rails but in the confessional box. It is there that we should suitably prepare ourselves to receive Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. As St Paul warns the Church of Corinth: “For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself.”

    As Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York told the 2012 Synod of Bishops on New Evangelisation: “The primary sacrament of the New Evangelisation is the sacrament of penance.” The straight-talking American prelate lamented the fact that while the Second Vatican Council had “called for a renewal of the sacrament of penance”, what emerged “sadly, in many places, was the disappearance of the sacrament”. Indeed, he recalled, the conclusion of the Council in 1965 was followed by a series of demands for the “reform of structures, systems, institutions and people other than ourselves” – when, all along, the answer to the question “What’s wrong with the world today?” is, as Chesterton put it, “I am.”

    Underlying all of this, of course, is the need for better catechesis. We can’t love what we don’t know. After several generations of seemingly fruitless lamentations, the firm evidence from across the Western world is that the religious instruction of the young, and the not so young, is improving. The situation is not entirely without concern – witness the article by Stan Wocial on p4 – but now numerous examples can be found in Scotland, Ireland, the United States, Canada, England, Australia and elsewhere where dioceses are meeting this challenge with orthodoxy and imagination.

    “Pursuing sanctity in modern society can, for many, be akin to pursuing cleanliness in a dustbin”

    Which brings us back to the source and summit of any effort to catechise and re-evangelise: the Eucharist. It is perhaps worth re-reading the words of the Council of Trent regarding the frequent reception of Holy Communion:

    The Holy Council wishes indeed that at each Mass the faithful who are present should communicate, not only in spiritual desire, but sacramentally, by the actual reception of the Eucharist.

    It was this passage that Pope Saint Pius X took as his mandate in his 1905 document on the frequent and daily reception of Holy Communion, Sacra Tridentina:

    These words declare plainly enough the wish of the Church that all Christians should be daily nourished by this heavenly banquet and should derive therefrom more abundant fruit for their sanctification.

    The saintly Pius anticipated the cultural tumult of the modern age and the necessity for survival of being close to Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Hence he also lowered the age at which young people would make their First Holy Communion.

    The frequent reception of Our Lord in the Eucharist is a pious practice which should be widely recommended. For anybody aspiring to be a saint in the modern world it is nigh-on a necessity.