(originally appeared in Seton weekly bulletin)
by Msgr. Thomas Sandi
(Click on a underlined category)
Every Catholic should be officially “registered” in a local parish. Otherwise, the pastor has no way of knowing the extent of the needs of the people entrusted to his care. Please, if you have never “registered as a Seton parishioner”—no matter how long you have been a part of our Parish —please stop by the rectory and take five minutes to register you (and your children) as soon as you can. You pastoral staff will be very grateful.
Canonized (officially declared or “listed”) saints are very real models for us, and they intercede for us with our Father, constantly. We can confide our hopes and fears in these “big brothers/sisters,” and ask them to pray for and with us. They are true “companions” on our Christian journey.
Relics of the saints, authenticated by the Vatican, are tiny pieces of the canonized saint’s BODY (1st class), something USED by the saint (2nd class), or an object TOUCHED to a first class relic (3rd class).
Having a “patron saint” is a very old custom among Christians, who honor outstanding, deceased heroes by patterning their lives after them. Often a saint whose name you share, a patron saint could also be a saint whose profession or attributes you share or admire. Many Catholics still celebrate their “name day,” on “their saint’s” feast day. Don’t have a saint’s first name? Use you middle name or just choose any saint to be your patron. This is especially nice for children who need a “personal” Christian hero. One of the best books on the saints at daily mass, is “Saint of the Day” by Fr John Foley (St. Anthony Messenger Press).
When someone dies, you will hear people talking about his or her “remains,” indicating, whether they know it or not, what animated the body (the immortal soul) is no longer present. We Christians know he or she is in God’s hands.
As in every other human endeavor, we feel encouragement and comfort asking for the prayers of fellow Christians in our time of need. The saints are brothers and sisters, living in heaven, who “spiritually accompany” us as we seek assistance from our Father. Only God answers prayer.
The Church uses the sign of the cross, the Paschal (Easter) Candle and a white garment, at a person’s baptism and then at his/her funeral mass, to remind us that we belong forever to the God who saves, and who never abandons us.
The letters A.D., printed after dates in very formal and scholarly writing, is the Latin abreviation for “Anno Domino,” in [the year of] the Lord. In the sixth century, Christian monks started what became the ordinary, secular calendar custom of numbering the passing years from the birth of Jesus, the “center of history.” Other sacred traditions use completely different religious calendars.
Today many scholars prefer to use what is called “a more inclusive English abbreviation,” C.E., the “Common Era,” on what we all have come to accept as the secular calendar.
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick may be requested by/for anyone at any age, who is seriously ill, is about to undergo a serious medical procedure, has a lingering malady, is aged, or is in danger of death. Christians have a “right to the Sacraments,” and this one in particular should be boldly sought when necessary.
From the earliest times, the great European churches were constructed so that worshippers faced east. That orient-ation was conscious, permitting Christians to face the rising sun (symbolic of the risen Son, Jesus, the Light of the World), and Jerusalem, the medieval “center of the world,” the seat of God and His People, and thus a symbol of heaven.
Where’s the Poor Box in Seton Church? Some churches have a special box in which parishioners place their donations for the poor. Earlier this year, we established the “Seton Benevolent Fund,” to which anyone may donate with an envelope so marked or by means of a visit to the rectory. We use it to assist needy families.
The Catholic Church is comprised of two parts, (worship traditions), which emerged from the main cultures of the times, places and peoples of the ancient Roman Empire. Pope John Paul II called them “two lungs of the Body of Christ”: the Western or Latin Rite (“Roman” Catholics) and the Eastern or Greek Rite (“Greek” Catholics). (The Orthodox Church is a separate church.)
The “human face” of the Church, weakened by sin, often disappoints, and doesn’t always reflect the love of Jesus. Nevertheless, the Church is Christ’s Body, with the Holy Spirit as its life force. Christ founded the church on sinners and it still serves his purpose. Trust him; be more responsive to God’s call to holiness and enrich the Church with your unique contributions.
When you receive First Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Orders, and Marriage, you are asked to produce a copy of your baptismal certificate. If you need or want a new copy of your baptismal certificate, you will find the church of your Baptism has annotated it with all the places and dates of those sacraments.
The alb (Latin, white) extending from neck to ankles, is an ancient, loose fitting white vestment used at the Liturgy. Any liturgical minister, clerical or lay, may wear a white garment as do most of the altar servers. It is a Christian’s privilege to wear white, the biblical symbol of salvation and Easter joy at celebrations of Baptism, First Eucharist, Confirmation, Matrimony (brides) and finally at the Funeral Mass, when our casket is ritually draped with a white pall.
Anointing of the Sick: Any Catholic, young or old, who is seriously ill, about to undergo a serious operation, gravely ill or aged, may ask to be anointed with Oil of the Infirm by a priest. If you are in need of this kind of spiritual and bodily strength, you should seek this beautiful and consoling sacrament. Of course it is also used when someone is dying, along with Reconciliation and the Eucharist (Viaticum). (The combination of the three sacraments used to be known as the Last Rites). It has not been associated exclusively with death for thirty years.
Tradition vs. Traditions: The Tradition of the Church is the official transmission, or “handing on,” of the Faith; e.g., the Resurrection, the Eucharist, the Assumption. Simple traditions are simple revered Catholic customs; e.g., statues of saints, genuflection, sign of the cross, rosary.
The sacramental seal is absolutely inviolable. A priest may never reveal what is said to him in the course of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). It is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner.
At baptism, a person may have only one male or female sponsor, or one of each sex. Only a Catholic may serve this sacramental function, however, a non-Catholic Christian may act as a "Christian witness" along with a Catholic sponsor.
English titles vary: A deacon is called by his function, "Deacon" (servant, Greek). Priests (originally, "presbyter," elder, Greek) are called "Father," a title of respect within the Christian Community. Bishops (originally "episcopus", "overseer,") are called "Bishop." "Monsignor" (my lord, French) is an honorary papal title conferred on a priest. "Cardinal" (hinge, Latin) is an authoritative papal title for those who elect the pope and "Pope" (father, Greek and Latin) is the authoritative title for the bishop of Rome.
Cremation is an option for Catholics as long as they acknowledge belief in the sacredness of the human body and the resurrection of the body for the final judgment. Human ashes should be properly interred as are human bodies.