Mother of Christ
I just read “Don’t Catholics Worship Mary?” (TCA FAQ, May/June 2012), by Carl Olson. I have great devotion for Mary. And after reading your article I needed to reflect on it. I fully agree with his article, but my question is on the Rosary: “Holy Mary Mother of God . . .” Doesn’t this add to the misunderstandings?
Should it not be said: “Holy Mary Mother of Christ. . .” (or some other name, rather than God)?
Frances Cirello, Riverview, Fla.
Carl Olson replies: Catholics (and the Eastern Orthodox) have called Mary “the Mother of God,” or “Theotokos” (Greek for “God-bearer”) from the earliest centuries. Why? Because, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “the One whom [Mary] conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity” (No. 495; see also Nos. 466, 2677). Put another way, Jesus Christ is one Person, with two natures — fully divine, fully human. Mary, like all mothers, gave birth to a person, not a human nature, so it is fitting that she be called the “Mother of God,” as it speaks accurately and clearly about who Jesus Christ is: God.
Priests and Ponytails
Dear Father Hoffman,
In June 2011, you attended the priesthood ordination at the cathedral in Green Bay, Wis. I was the priest sitting next to you who asked who you were during the sign of peace. As I had mentioned, I remembered seeing your photo somewhere but couldn’t quite remember where.
Well, while sorting through my pile of mail, I came across the latest issues of The Catholic Answer. Low and behold, there is your photo. I also read your answer to the question regarding tattoos for priest (TCA Life, July/August 2011). I got quite the chuckle about your comment in the first paragraph that you didn’t think priests should have tattoos, “body piercings or wear a ponytail.” I’ve never had a tattoo nor a body piercing. However, had the ordination been two weeks earlier you would have seen me with a ponytail. I had grown my hair in memory of my mother who died from breast cancer nine years ago and then donated it to “Locks of Love” on June 17th at the Relay for Life. Not only was it given to Locks of Love, but the group I was with sold raffle tickets and six lucky winners got to cut off a ponytail. This raised $240 for cancer research.
You’ll be happy to know that this will be the one and only time I’ll do this. I always enjoy reading your responses. Keep up the good work of serving the Church.
Father Matt Simonar, St. Jude Parish, Oshkosh, Wis.
Father Francis Hoffman replies: :-)
Your “Critical Moments” article suggesting Catholics pray before and after Mass was excellent (May/June 2012). However, it is difficult to find a church conducive to such practice. After 15 years of full-time RVing, which has taken us to over 100 different churches (mostly in the western United States), it is a rare parish which offers a quiet enough environment for thoughtful prayer. Often, parishioners converse as if there was nothing sacred about to take place. Also, many choirs are tuning their instruments, practicing hymns or requesting parishioners to rehearse new hymns or musical arrangements.
There are, however, some wonderful exceptions, where the congregation seems fully aware of the need to pray and ready one’s heart for the sacred liturgy. We make note of those churches and attend Mass there whenever possible.
Marvel Kaderlik, Pahrump, Nev.
The article “Why Isn’t Cohabitation OK” was needed and well-done (May/June 2011). However, it did not call it what it really is — namely, fornication. It is still fornication even when hidden behind secular code words like cohabitation to make it appear more palatable. The secularist left try to destigmatize fornication by changing the language. It behooves Christians to call it by its real name.
Richard F. McMahon, St. Paul, Minn.
I just wanted to make you aware of Pope Benedict’s motu proprio titled Omnium in Mentem (Oct. 26, 2009). This document clarifies canon law in which it is no longer possible to formally defect from the Catholic Church. Father Francis Hoffman’s recent article titled “May I Attend the Wedding?” (May/June 2012) has a scenario mentioning that this is a possibility. The Vatican website with this motu proprio is www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/apost_letters/documents/hf_ben-xvi_apl_20091026_codex-iuris-canonici_en.html.
Gregory and Tania Berg
Father Hoffman replies: You are absolutely right.