Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ask Ellen: Why do Catholics use a crucifix and not a regular cross like other Christians? Holly

This is a great question, Holly.  Can you get to Easter morning without going through Good Friday?  I ask because that is what the crucifix represents.  As Catholics, we remember the suffering that was required to bring about the glory of Easter.  We all know that suffering is part of life.  The Church doesn’t want us to overlook the pain and anguish Jesus went through on His way to Glory.  Therefore, we are reminded every time we see a crucifix.  The crucifix is a promise that through our sufferings, we see God.  To take the Corpus off of the Cross, is to take away the power of suffering.  The next time you see a crucifix, think about what Jesus went through for you and bask in the promise that through your sufferings, you will see God.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ask Ellen If I am divorced, that means I can’t receive Communion, right? Lisa.

Thanks for the question, Lisa.  This is one of the most misunderstood things in the Church today.  Yes, you can receive Communion if you are divorced.  You may not receive if your marriage hasn’t been annulled and you are involved with or married to someone else.

In the eyes of the Church, a legal divorce does not end the marriage.  It is still a sacramental marriage (meaning a sacrament took place)  So you can receive Communion as you did in your married life. (assuming you are free from any other mortal sins).

The problem becomes when you are involved with someone or remarry without an annulment.  See, cause in the eyes of the Church you are still married to person number one.  Therefore, you aren’t free to marry anyone else.

In order to do so, you must seek an annulment.  This is a process the Church uses to decide whether or not a sacramental marriage occurred.  Many times and for many reasons it might not have been a sacramental marriage and it is annulled.  This means you are fee to remarry and to continue to receive Communion.  Does that make sense?  If not, I encourage you and anyone else with questions about annulments to ask your parish priest.  If you are unable to do so, contact me and I will put you in touch with someone who can help.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ask Ellen: Why do we even bother with the Old Testament? It is so boring. Travis.

Thanks for the honest question, Travis.  Many people share your sentiments.  I know many people have told me that they don’t bother reading the Old Testament.  They believe all they need to know can be found in the New Testament.

While it is true that Jesus came and offered us the way to eternal life, many truths are contained within the Old Testament.  I would go so far as to say, we can’t fully understand Jesus and His words and actions or even our Catholic faith without the Old Testament background.

For instance the full meaning of Jesus as the Lamb of God is wasted without a complete understanding of the stories of Abraham and Isaac and the Exodus.

I think the problem is that people have not been taught the Old Testament in an engaging way.  I was fortunate enough to find “The Bible Timeline” by Jeff Cavins.

I have recommended this study before.  I think it should be run in every parish throughout the country.  It was truly an eye opening experience.  In fact, I invite anyone who has done it, to comment below.  When you study the Old Testament, you see how pregnant it is with meaning.  It literally sheds light on Jesus’ every word and action.

We are also fortunate as Catholics that the Old Testament is read at Mass.  It is not a coincidence that it is paired with a reading from the New Testament and the Gospel.  The three are grouped together for a reason.  If you listen closely, you will see the correlation between the three.

My advice would be study the Old Testament.  Don’t give up on it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Best of Ask Ellen...

Ask Ellen- What is the apocrypha? -Cindy, NC

Great question, Cindy.  Thanks.  The Apocrypha is a name given by some to the seven books that have been removed from Protestant Bibles.  Catholics do not call these books the Apocrypha because they are part of our Bible.  The books are: Sirach, Tobit, Wisdom, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and Baruch, as well as longer versions of Daniel and Esther

To put it in the simplest terms I can, Luther and many after him rejected these books based on the fact that they were not part of the Hebrew Canon at the time of the Reformation.  Most Protestant Bibles do not contain these seven books or have them in section in the back known to them as The Apocrypha.

The Catholic Bible accepts the books for two reasons.  Firstly, the Jewish Canon was not fixed in Jesus’ time.  Therefore, we cannot be completely sure which books were included.  But more importantly, the first Christians, including Paul, used the Septuagint to preach to the Greek-speaking world.  This contained these seven books.  Jesus Himself actually quoted Scripture from the Septuagint.  When the Catholic Church developed its canon it used the Greek translation of the Septuagint that the Apostles and early Church Fathers used which included these books.

If you’d like to learn more about this, I recommend the following article:

Oh and one more thing that bugs Ask Ellen….If you throw out Maccabees, how do you explain Hanukkah?  It seriously perplexes me.