Monday, October 24, 2011

Church Facts I Learned This Year

This month marks my one year anniversary for blogging! I started blogging about Catholic-centric things in late October 2010, so in celebration, here a list of Catholic facts I never knew until this year:

Prayer candles in Chicago
1. Abortion is a severe mortal sin and committing it can lead to excommunication. The catechism outlines that there are certain grave sins can only be absolved through a good confession with the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them (see the Catechism - #1463).

2. Any confirmed Catholic can baptize someone into the Catholic faith. A friend had to wait several months before he could have his daughter baptized, so he created a plan to line his the car seat with holy water balloons in case of an accident. He said it would be his dying breath, baptizing his daughter. I hope he drives more carefully and makes it to the planned baptism. UPDATE: Someone who commented graciously informed me that in extremes, one does not need to be a confirmed Catholic (or baptized at all) to baptize someone (CCC 1256).

3. You don't have to go through a Catechism program in order to get baptized and confirmed into the faith if you were baptized into most other Christian faiths. If someone was baptized with water and the Holy Spirit, they can study the doctrine of the Church and we can welcome them into the Church year-round.

4. Taking Communion on the tongue is actually not the most traditional way to receive the Eucharist; receiving Him in the hand was the original method. The only reason the Church started distributing the Eucharist on the tongue was because superstitious, uninformed people thought the Eucharist was a magical talisman. They would conceal the Eucharist in their hands at Mass and plant them in the fields to improve their crop. For more, listen to this -- one of our diocesan priests gave a talk about praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
Elaborate altar - St. John Cantius in Chicago

5. The altar was meant to face east in a church, representing the direction of Christ's birthplace. As churches were built, the altar slowly moved from the middle of the room toward the side, but the priest continued to face east. Once the altar hit the east wall, the priest still faced east, putting his back to the congregation. It was never a way to block out the congregation or exclude. The priest and the people were reverent and facing God together.

6. Catholics cannot get married or baptized during Lent.

7. Catholics cannot take the symbolic communion that Protestant churches serve. Because Protestants do not preserve "the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness...[,] Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible." (Catechism, see 1400)

8. My one companion is darkness (Psalm 88, Liturgy of the Hours, Night Prayer)

Thank you for joining me on this journey!


Jackie said...

Interesting! I did not know that about #4. Growing up the only time I saw people receive on the tongue is when they were holding an infant. But here I see people just juggle the baby to receive in one hand. It makes sense that it wasn't the original way though because it was originally a meal.

Number 6 though - you can get married in Lent with a special dispensation from the Bishop! My grandparents did! My grandpa was about to be deployed so they let them get married. They weren't allowed to have flowers or anything.

Anonymous said...

A picky comment on #1 - it isn't confessing abortion that leads to excommunication, it is the abortion itself, which incurs a 'latae sententiae' excommunication (by the act itself rather than 'ferendae sententiae' a juridicial penalty) (CCC 2272) and on #2 in extremis you don't have to be a confirmed Catholic - or even baptized! - to baptize (CCC 1256)

Elizabeth said...

Anon- You are exactly right. I changed it and I have no idea why I worded it that way to begin with. Thank you!

Jackie- Yeah, I thought that was a fun fact. That talk I linked to is really fascinating and hilarious. Oh cool!! Yeah, it's possible to get a special dispensation for almost anything, it seems :)

Kayla said...

I didn't know about #3! Well, technically I didn't know about 1, 3, 4, and 5. I'm glad to know about #3, it never made sense to me that a person who was already a Christian of another denomination, and who had done a lot of reading, studying, and praying already, would have to wait a year or more depending on when they contacted the Church.

Anonymous said...

1. So if you confess abortion you could be excommunicated? I don't understand, why can't they get absolution if they're actually sorry and repented?
8. Would you like to elaborate on this one?

Elizabeth said...

Hey Ciska! I worded it carefully with "can" because I'm not well-versed on the intricacies of this one. Technically, yes, but there is a part of the Catechism that explains that the absolution for this sin (I think, because it's against someone entirely innocent?)is found only through confession to a bishop, cardinal or pope. I might be wrong, but that's why it was such a big deal that Pope Benedict XVI ordained the ability to all priests at World Youth Day to be an instrument to absolve the sin of abortion to those who confessed it there.

#8 - During Friday Evening Prayer (Liturgy of the Hours - a great way to fit prayer into your day), the closing line to the Psalm is "My one companion is darkness." It's a very humbling Psalm and to close out with that line always leaves me feeling grateful that God remains there for us, even if others do not.

Elizabeth said...

Kayla - Yeah! It's nice to know, isn't it ;) It's something for which you have to ask, I think, and they don't have to "grant." If they discern someone is not ready to be accepted into the full communion of the Faith, they'll ask them to wait until Easter, but I think the Church prefers to bring everyone in when they are ready, rather than waiting.

Spence Ohana said...

Happy anniversary, I am so happy I came across your blog. I really enjoy reading your posts about our Catholic faith.

Liesl said...

Have you really only been blogging for a year? I skipped my anniversary... I think I started during Lent last year (2010).

I learned #1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 this year too! #7 especially blew me away when my priest mentioned it in passing... so another friend and I went to confession soon afterwards because we'd never realized that!

I started receiving on the tongue in the past couple of years not because of tradition (even though I didn't realize it started in the hands), but because my parish at home especially (which bakes its own bread for consecration) tended to leave bits of Jesus in my hands that I then had to lick off. I just decided to switch to receiving on the tongue because I felt it was more reverent and respectful than licking my hand after each time I received. But it's interesting to know that it used to be received in the hand originally!

Libby said...

Congrats, girl! You're one of my favorite bloggers! Prayers for another successful year! :)

I learned #2 and #3 this past year as well, doing some research on the Sacraments for my catechism students, but the others that you posted are pretty new to me. I went to a protestant college where commnuion was served about once every month during chapel, and my roommate and I (who was Lutheran at the time, but just converted to Catholicsm this past Easter - woot!) felt uncomfortable taking it, so we never did. Holy Spirit at work? Methinks so! ;)

Andrea said...

'Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand.' Mother Teresa

I have been receiving on the tongue for years because that is how I feel most reverent, but Luke told me this quote a a year or so ago. Of course, receiving on the hand is acceptable, but I relate to MT's saddness in some ways. It's hard to explain, but I just do.

On a sad note, about a month ago, we went to Mass at the Cathedral downtown, and a boy {probably 11} came back to his pew after receiving our Lord. He had torn the Eucharist into little pices and was throwing them up in the air like popcorn and trying to catch them in his mouth. I was absolutely mortified and very saddened and couldn't help myself from speaking with him immediately. He stopped throwing the pieces in the air, but I noticed he was just holding the pieces of the Eucharist and not consuming them. After a few minutes I asked if he was going to consume the pieces, and he flippantly said no. I told him to give them to me and Luke consumed them. The mother, increbily, was totally unaware of ANY of this. After Mass, I shared the experience with her, and she seemed quasi-concerned but said nothing to the child at that point. This is an extreme example of how receiving on the hand can go terribly wrong, but again, I know this is not the norm.

After hearing MT's thoughts on it, I am even more convinced receiving on the tongue is the way I personally can show the most respect and reverence to our Lord, but many, many Catholics reverently receive our Lord in thier hands, and I just want to make sure I am not coming across as though that is wrong. Whether one receives on the tongue or in the hand, it needs to be a personal choice made for the right reasons. Anyway, just wanted to share MT's quote, but I got a little carried away!

The Catholic Couponer said...

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Anthony S. Layne said...

About #3: I think the pastor has an option there. If you demonstrate enough prior knowledge of Catholic doctrine, he may bring you in at the next Confirmation; then again, depending on the diocesan policy, he may have to make you go through the RCIA process anyway.

About #7: It's paradoxical but true that any attempt to reduce Communion to a mere symbol, as free-church Protestants do, is to empty it of symbolic value. Indeed, many Prostestant churches have Communion so infrequently that they don't proclaim the death of the Lord (1 Cor 11:26) so much as they mention it in passing.

#8: Gone through different versions of the Bible (Douay-Rheims, NAB, RSV, Jerusalem) and Ps 88:19 reads a slightly different way in each of them. So make that #9: It all depends on which version you read!

Adrienne said...

Thank you for this educational post! Number 7 is news to me. I will keep this in mind the next time I'm at a non-Catholic wedding.

The Catholic Couponer said...

I've never heard that about #3. I guess it's possible but I've always heard/read that you have to go through some kind of program.

#6 I knew you couldn't baptize during lent (although i know ppl that have gotten baptized during lent) but I didn't know you couldn't get married. I def. know people that have. lol (I guess it depends on much the priest/pastor follows the "rules")

Interesting catholic facts :)

Julie Robison said...

This past Sunday, I went to Mass at my boyfriend's parent's parish and the lady stuck it into my hand. I was really confused because I normally take it by mouth. I'm not against taking it by hand, of course.

These are great- thank you for sharing E!

George @ Convert Journal said...

#1 You self-excommunicate (latae sententiae) if you receive or assist in an abortion; most priests are given the authority by their bishops to restore full communion in these cases.

#2 As noted in your update, anyone in an emergency can baptize but water must flow onto the person and the trinitarian formula (I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit) must be said (and of course, the intent must also be to baptize).

#3 This is up to the priest, but after Vatican II RCIA is commonly required.

#4 I disagree. Communion on the tongue is the *universal norm* of the Church and the only way you will receive it from the Holy Father. Communion in the hand in that period of the early Church was done differently than we do today.

#7 Some protestants believe in the real presence (e.g. Lutherans) but do not have it by lacking valid holy orders.

...and finally, Happy Anniversary!

Anonymous said...

Let me guess, did your beau's housemate teach you that your one companion is darkness? GREAT blog! I too learned quite a bit!
~Duke Dog

Carlos said...

I stumbled upon your blog after being linked to it from VP, then I noticed these pictures of St. John Cantius - such a beautiful place! God bless the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius.
Great blog, keep it up.
In Christ through Mary,

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