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 email@example.com.
Q. In a recent Bible study the story of the Passover was read. It said that we should keep this ordinance forever (see Ex 12:14,17,24). What does the Church teach about the practice of the Passover supper?
E.K., via e-mail
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D:
The Church celebrates the Passover every year in her observance of Easter. The deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt is a type, an anticipation, of the true Passover -- the sacrifice of God's Son, when He delivered the world from the power of sin.
In the opening statement at the Easter Vigil, the celebrant declares, "This is the Passover of the Lord." In the Easter Proclamation the deacon sings, "This is our Passover feast, when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain, whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers."
This feast is the high point of the year in the Church's liturgical cycle.
Resources for Catholic Bible Study
Q. Do you have any resources you could recommend for Bible study from a Catholic perspective?
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
In 1965, the Second Vatican Council declared, “The Church has always venerated the divine Scripture as she venerated the Body of the Lord” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 141). The same conciliar document (Dei Verbum) emphasized the importance of Scripture study by quoting St. Jerome, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (Catechism, No. 133).
Once one decides to study Scripture, two questions arise: how to begin, and where to find a reliable guide. Answers depend on the depth of the study one wishes to undertake, and the time one can invest.
A sound, fairly inexpensive, book is “The Catholic Study Bible,” which provides a brief, but thorough, introduction to the Scripture, and extensive footnotes to the biblical texts themselves. Jeff Cavins’ “The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study” and “The Bible Timeline” provide a more formal approach, and are more expensive.
An axiom of faith says once we love God, we want to know more about Him. The more we learn, the more we discover to love. The same is true of Bible study, and the Catechism observes, “such is the force … of the Word of God that it can serve the Church … and [her] children … as strength … food … and a pure and lasting font of spiritual life” (No. 131).
Q. I have been addicted to smoking for 20 years. I cut back in recent years, but can't seem to stop. My confessor says it isn't a sin to smoke, but other priests say it's a serious sin because it violates the commandment: "You shall not kill." What is the Church's teaching on smoking addictions?
Name withheld, Manville, N.J.
A. Here’s a reply from OSV columnist Msgr. M. Francis Mannion:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states simply, "The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco or medicine" (No. 2290). Beyond that, Catholic morality has no detailed position on smoking.
Nowadays, we know that smoking is a serious matter and that it impairs the smoker's health, as well as the health of those who inhale the secondhand smoke. The Christian moral tradition requires that we take the necessary steps to preserve our own lives and to avoid those things that lead to bad health and places other in jeopardy. Increasingly, smoking is rightly seen as a moral issue.
However, the degree of moral culpability is reduced because of the nature of smoking as an addiction. The full consent that makes an act seriously sinful is reduced by the degree to which many people lack full control over their smoking.
A wise confessor thinks twice before telling people that their smoking is sinful. Rather, he encourages the virtue of temperance and tells people to do their best to cut out the habit.
Why Is the Kyrie in Greek?
Q. I know the official language of the Liturgy for the Latin rite is Latin, even though the Mass can be celebrated in the vernacular. So why is the Kyrie in Greek?
Jill V., e-mail
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:
Almost every living language incorporates words or phrases directly into its working vocabulary from other languages. For instance, in my part of the world it's not uncommon to say "Gesundheit!" when someone sneezes. Of course, that word is German, but even those who speak no German understand the meaning. It's simply a custom.
The same applies to the words "adios" or "ciao." Most English-speaking Americans understand these words, even if they don't speak Spanish or Italian.
In the same way, the phrase "Kyrie eleison, Christi eleison," which is Greek for "Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy," was so commonly used in the early Church that it just hung on in the liturgy. Dr. Nicholas Gihr, in his monumental treatise on the Mass, explains:
"The Kyrie is the only prayer in Greek still retained in the Mass rite. The principal reason for this may be that the common supplication of the people for help passed already in the earliest times from the Eastern into the Western Church, and on account of its frequent use the Kyrie became universally known and loved; hence this venerable form of supplication was not translated into Latin.
"In addition to the Greek Kyrie, the Hebrew expressions amen, alleluia, sabaoth, and hosanna appear in the Latin Mass prayers, and thus in the celebration of the unbloody sacrifice those three languages are still united which proclaimed to the world, in the glorious title of the cross, Christ's sovereignty" ("The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass," B. Herder Book Co., 1960).
Speaking in Tongues
Q. What is the meaning of “speaking in tongues.” A couple in our church conducts a healing service and they say they can talk in tongues.
— Mary Noland
As He bids the Apostles farewell, Jesus describes signs that will identify those whom they will baptize, including the ability to “speak new languages.” (Mk 16:17). The Acts of the Apostles then paints a dramatic picture of the first Pentecost. Tongues of fire descended upon the apostles, enabling them to preach in languages they could not be expected to know.
Acts describes this phenomenon several times, and St. Paul mentions it as well. At Pentecost, speech in tongues is ecstatic utterance addressed to God, not other individuals. The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the extraordinary gift of tongues as one of “many special graces (called ‘charisms’)” which equip the faithful “to undertake various tasks … for the … building up of the Church … ordered as they are … to the good of men, and to the needs of the world” (Nos. 798-799).
Obviously, not every Christian possesses the gift of tongues, but this should disappoint no one. After all, St. Paul assures us tongues “will cease” (1 Cor 13:8). Charity, however (which lends its name to “charism,” including tongues), is the greatest of God’s gifts, lasting forever, given everyone in baptism, “to serve God … by the witness of holy lives.” (Catechism, No. 1273).
Catholic Faith Resources | For Catholic Parishes | Order OSV Products | RSS | Advertise | About Us | Contact Us | Jobs