Each weekday, you'll find a new question and answer. Check back for the new question and scroll down to see previous day's entries! Let us know what you think - - or question! -- by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Has There Ever Been a Farmer Saint?
Q. Has there ever been a canonized saint who was a farmer?
John Kelly, Des Moines, Iowa
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D:
There may have been several, but the one who comes immediately to mind is St. Isidore the Farmer, also known as St. Isidore the Laborer. In the United States we may celebrate his optional memorial on May 15.
St. Isidore was a Spanish laboring man. Born near Madrid, around 1070, he lived there until his death, May 15, 1130. He served on the farm of a Juan de Vargas. Each morning before going to work he attended Mass in one of the churches in Madrid.
There is a story that once his fellow workers complained that Isidore always came to work late. When his master investigated the charge, he found Isidore at prayer while an angel did his plowing. Another time St. Isidore's master is reported to have seen two angels plowing with the saint, one angel on either side.
St. Isidore's wife, Maria Torribia, is also a canonized saint. St. Isidore is the patron of peasants and day laborers, and of the cities of Seville, Madrid, Leon and Saragossa. He was canonized on March 12, 1622, by Pope Gregory XV. He was enrolled among the Church's saints in very distinguished company. St. Teresa of Avila, St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier and St. Philip Neri were also canonized at the same time.
The Church and Yoga
Q. What is the Church’s view about yoga?
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
The New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967) devotes considerable space to the history of yoga, its various forms, and its desired ends. “Classical yoga is based on the doctrine … [that] the soul is by nature a pure spirit that has become identified … with matter. The purpose of yoga is to set the soul free.” The essay concludes that “the desire to know God is the fundamental motive of yoga.”
Ritual postures, and meditation, are an ancient element in Christian prayer, so Catholics may see similarities between yoga and prayer. Likewise, Hatha yoga, “which relies entirely on physical exercises and aims primarily at bodily perfection,” might find a place in a Christian’s daily health regime.
However, a Catholic practicing yoga should be alert to possible conflicts between yoga and Christian faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes a nice distinction between concern for health and “a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body” (No. 2289), and the Encyclopedia remarks, “Lacking the light of revelation [yoga] is inevitably exposed to the dangers of illusion and of magic and superstition.” If one avoids these extremes, and practices yoga for its health benefits, most Catholics would judge yoga to be a morally neutral activity.
Q. I am sure that the Church's moral teaching is against pornography. Where can I find this teaching?
Vincent G., via e-mail
A. Here’s a reply from OSV columnist Msgr. M. Francis Mannion:
The shortest and most accessible statement of the Church's teaching on this matter is found as follows in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials" (No. 2354).
Clergy and Rings?
Q. Please explain who among the clergy should, or may, wear a ring. I've noticed some parish priests wear what looks like a wedding band on the right hand. Is this allowed? Is this proper?
Anthony D. Lutz, Vienna, Va.
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:
A bishop wears a ring as a sign of his jurisdiction. Other clerics are not prohibited from wearing rings and may do so for a sufficient reason. If a parish priest chooses to wear what looks like a wedding band on the right hand as a sign of commitment to Christ and service to the Church, that is fine.
The Code of Canon Law makes no mention of rings for priests. It indicates only that priests must wear "suitable ecclesiastical dress" and "shun completely everything that is unbecoming to their state" (see Canons 284-285).
“Three” Days in the Tomb?
Q. During Holy Week, the Catholic Church commemorates Christ’s death on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. How does that square with the Apostles’ Creed that states that Christ on the third day rose from the dead? Likewise, the Nicene Creed states that Christ on the third day rose from the dead, according to the Scriptures. Christ predicted that, like Jonah, he will be in the bowels of the earth three days and three nights.
— Leonardo V Cortez
In “A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture” we read, “The Hebrew day began with the evening” (149d). This may seem odd to us, used to, as we are, beginning our day at midnight, but we see the convention at work in the Church’s tradition of “vigils,” in which we begin celebrating Sundays, or feast days, at sundown the evening before the actual feast day.
We must keep this in mind as we read the Gospel narrative of Jesus’ death and resurrection. John’s Gospel account relates the Jewish leaders’ anxiety that the bodies of Jesus and his criminal companions be removed from their crosses before sundown. “Now since it was preparation day of preparation, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the Sabbath … the Jews asked Pilate … they be taken down” (19:31).
Therefore, although the number of hours may not add up to the expected 72, the Gospel reader should conclude that Jesus spent Friday in the tomb (because his body was placed there before sundown), as well as Saturday. Because Sunday begins at sundown on Saturday, we say he spent Sunday in the sepulcher as well.
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