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Q. Can the devil create new things, or is God the only One who can create things?
M.M., via email
A. Only God can create things ex nihilo (out of nothing). Neither angels (fallen or unfallen) nor human beings can do that.
However, human beings, made in the image of God, can through their righteous labors “prolong the work of creation.” “By means of his labor man participates in the work of creation” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2427, 2460).
The “labors” of the devil, on the other hand, don’t participate in God’s work of creation as righteous human labors do. Rather than create, the devil seeks to counterfeit, maim, pervert and distort God’s creations.
Q. My theology teacher recently referred to “original justice.” What does that mean?
M.J., via email
A. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (374-76) describes “original justice” this way:
“The first man was not only created good, but was also established in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the creation around him, in a state that would be surpassed only by the glory of the new creation in Christ.
“The Church … teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original ‘state of holiness and justice.’ This grace of original holiness was ‘to share in … divine life.’
“‘By the radiance of this grace all dimensions of man’s life were confirmed. As long as he remained in the divine intimacy [that is, closeness to God], man would not have to suffer or die. The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman, and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called ‘original justice.’”
There’s more; read the subsequent paragraphs (377-79) in the Catechism.
Q. If human beings should be cloned, would the clones have souls?
J.L., via email
A. Surely, if identical twins have souls — and we know they do — then cloned human beings would also have souls. The Catholic Church teaches that the human soul is created immediately by God for each individual, and if He creates separate souls for identical twins who start out as one human organism, then He would no doubt do the same for clones.
Would it make a difference that they are artificially produced? The manipulation of human embryos in this way would certainly be immoral. But that doesn’t mean the resulting children would somehow lack a soul. Today many children have been artificially fertilized (through in vitro fertilization), and these children certainly have souls. So there’s no reason to think that just because clones are artificially produced, God would not give them souls.
Extraordinary Ministers and the Chalice
Q. Is the following liturgical procedure proper? The Eucharistic chalice, after the consecration, is handed by the priest to the extraordinary Eucharistic minister to be drunk from and then passed, by this layperson, to the other lay people around the altar. Then, when these have drunk from the chalice, it is brought to one of the stations to be drunk from by those in the congregation.
I recall the time when the chalice was left at the altar by the priest and covered by the pall. When the priest finished distributing Communion from another chalice, these would then be purified. Only another priest, if there were one to assist at Mass, would drink from the consecrated chalice.
What’s right here? Am I in error, or is this more blurring of the role proper to the priest alone? It causes me concern.
D.B., Saginaw, Mich.
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:
A number of issues need to be addressed here in order to provide you with a clear rubric for proper liturgical procedure.
As you describe it, what is being done now is not proper. But I suspect your description is inaccurate. You write, “The Eucharistic chalice, after the consecration, is handed by the priest to the extraordinary Eucharistic minister.” It would be odd to pass the cup right after the consecration, and I have never seen it done.
The chalice is not to be passed around after the consecration (the moment of the transubstantiation during the Eucharistic Prayer), but rather after the priest celebrant’s Communion, which takes place quite a bit later. I suspect in your church that’s what is occurring, and what disturbs you is the manner in which the chalice is passed around and the fact that the congregation is communicating from the priest’s chalice.
After the priest celebrant receives Communion, if holy Communion is to be distributed under both Species, there is nothing to prevent the congregation from receiving the precious Blood from the celebrant’s chalice. But the chalice should not be passed around from one Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion to another. (Note that I use the title “Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion” (EMHC) instead of “Eucharistic Minister,” per the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum (RS). For more information on this document, see my article “Awe at the Altar” (September/October 2004).
Rather, holy Communion under either Species is always to be “given” and not “taken,” except by the celebrants. As RS points out: “ It is not licit for the faithful ‘to take . . . by themselves . . . and, still less, to hand . . . from one to another’ the sacred Host or the sacred chalice” (no. 94).
I think it would be better if the celebrant were to receive holy Communion first, under both Species, then distribute the consecrated Host to each EMHC, followed by the distribution of the Precious Blood by the celebrant to each EMHC. From there, each EMHC can carry out his function.
Even so, this practice of receiving the precious Blood from the same chalice, or even various common chalices, raises concerns for health, especially during the flu season. I think reasonable people might find it unappealing.
Q. I have a friend. She is Catholic and her husband of six years is not. Two years ago he had two affairs and contracted HIV. He is HIV-positive but doesn’t require medicine at this time.
She has been seeking counsel from the priest at her Catholic Church, and he said it was OK to use a condom so she wouldn’t contract HIV. I have prayed about this for months, and I don’t feel that using a condom is the answer. I have tried to research HIV/AIDS and the Catholic Church’s views, but I haven’t been able to find out anything about using a condom while HIV-positive. What are your thoughts?
K.R., via email
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D.:
Your friend needs to know that the use of condoms does not guarantee prevention of infection. Studies show that the rate of failure of condoms to prevent infection is at least 15 percent.
Another factor to be considered is the effects on the couple themselves. Assume that your friends’ use of condoms is intended primarily to prevent infection and not prevent conception. Use of condoms makes them vulnerable to another kind of infection, the infection of the contraceptive mentality.
The Church teaches that couples cannot truly give themselves to one another in the marital union God intends for them if they use contraceptives. Regardless of their conscious intentions, your friends would enact a parody of true marital union when they use condoms. Regularly going through the motions of that parody is bound to have a corrosive effect on their relationship.
If I were to talk with this couple, I would remind them that extreme situations may require extreme solutions. What if one of them were to become paralyzed, let’s say, from the waist down, totally incapable of sexual union? What would they do?
If they were faithful to their marriage vows, they would accept the necessity of expressing their love and devotion in ways other than sexual union. Deeply married couples develop a great variety of ways of “making love” — that is, revealing and expressing — apart from sexual union. And that’s why they’re deeply married.
I would tell the couple that unless and until the husband could be completely healed of his infection, they should practice continence. With the help of God’s grace, that kind of heroic self-sacrifice could enable them to reach depths of love they would never have achieved under the ordinary circumstances of married life.
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