Spirituality

Escaping from prayer as God patiently waits

Does attending SSPX Mass fulfill a Catholic’s Sunday obligation?

Q. I have seen conflicting reports relative to the Masses celebrated by the clergy of the Society of St. Pius X. Their members, it seems, adhere to all the core beliefs of the church but do not agree with some of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. I understand that the Holy Father has lifted the excommunication of the society's bishops. What is the current status of the society, and does attending one of the society's Masses fulfill a Catholic's Sunday obligation? (Sidney, Neb.)

Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer intentions for September

General intention: “That politicians may always act with honesty, integrity, and love for the truth.” Mission intention: “That Christian communities may have a growing willingness to send missionaries, priests, and lay people, along with concrete resources, to the poorest Churches.”

How many books are there in the Bible?

Q. I have always found your column in the Catholic Star Herald to be interesting, educational and enlightening, but I was confused by a recent reference. In answering a question about Catholics reading the Scriptures, you referred to the 73 books in the Bible: 46 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. Admittedly, I am a very old-school Catholic, but in all my years of Catholic education we never had more than 72 books (45 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.) Was another book discovered, unearthed or otherwise approved when I wasn't paying attention? (Camden, N.J.)

Did Jesus have siblings?

Q. At a Bible study group in our apartment complex, it was shared with those attending that Jesus had five siblings. What Bible passage does that come from and, if it's true, why do we call Our Lady "Virgin Mary"? (Some in the group said that Mary was a virgin at the time of Jesus' birth but had five additional children with her spouse Joseph.) (Albany, N.Y.)

Blessings are not a protective coating, but channels of grace

“God bless, God bless,” said the woman as she stood next to my car. While I appreciated the blessing, frankly, I think my car needs a more thorough benediction. First there was the midnight text message from my oldest son, whose nickname is — rather ironically — Crash: “I got into a little fender bender leaving prom tonight.” Now I am in the middle of a left turn lane on Lancaster Avenue, my front bumper and side mirror bent and dented after being sideswiped by a minvan.

Throw a birthday party for our heavenly queen

The Blessed Virgin Mary, according to the Church's calendar, was born Sept. 8. She became the mother of Jesus Christ, who is the King of Glory and the eternal Son of the Father. Even before the world knew of her existence, she was the mother of the Church. The cherubim and the seraphim praised her. Today, the glorious company of apostles praises her, the noble fellowship of prophets praises her and the white-robed army of martyrs praises her. Throughout the world, the holy Church acclaims her as our spiritual mother.

Gleaning the fields, with help from Catholic Heart Work Campers

In ancient Israel, the rich were not supposed to harvest everything in their fields. They were supposed to leave something for the poor. In the Bible, Ruth goes out to "glean" the fields of Boaz, so she can feed herself and her mother-in-law Naomi. In Leviticus, Chapter 19, the law of Israel forbid the "gleaning" of the fields by the owner, so that something would be left over for the poor. The prophets like Jeremiah thought that one of the social injustices of Israel and Judah was that the rich left nothing in the fields for the poor.

Can a priest tell congregants how to worship?

Q. I recently began attending Mass at a Catholic parish in my neighborhood. After I had been there several times, the priest made a speech saying that, since there were no kneelers in that church, no one was allowed to kneel during Mass -- even during the consecration or after receiving the holy Eucharist. To do so, he said, would be disrespectful to other parishioners. I was very upset, as I am in awe of receiving my Lord's actual body and blood and feel called to fall on my knees. Is it the accepted practice of the Catholic Church to be able to tell people how they can and cannot worship? (Quinque, Va.)

Pope Benedict XVI’s Prayer Intentions for August

General intention: “That prisoners may be treated with justice and respect for their human dignity.” Mission intention: “That young people, called to follow Christ, may be willing to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel to the ends of the earth.”