08 October 2015

Some news you may have missed

Here are a few news items you may have missed that I collected some weeks ago:
  • The birth fertility rate in 2014 in the United States of America rose slightly from 1.87 (in 2013) to 1.9, with fewer than 4,000,000,000 babies born in the USA last year. The increase gives some hope for the future, but a birth fertility rate of at least 2.1 is necessary to keep a population stable.
Most likely I saved this post as a draft with the intention to add more items to it, forgot about it, and noticed it today.

Bacon is off the menu in federal prisons

Everyone knows that, generally speaking, the Italians have the best foods to be found on this planet, breakfast foods being specifically excluded. Consequently, we enjoy our food here in the Eternal City, but every now and then we develop a craving for certain foods we cannot find in Italy, chief among which is bacon.

Sure, the Italians have the delicious cured hams known as prosciutto and pancetta (both of which are delicious), but they lack the king of meats; they lack bacon (and not the Canadian variety).

Never have met anyone who does not like bacon. Everyone who has had knows, as Jim Gaffigan likes to remind us, bacon makes other good foods better:

This is why a news story concerning the decision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to remove pork products from its menu across the United States of America. According to a spokesman for the bureau, the decision was made "based on the survey of inmate population as well as cost" and not to meet certain religious dietary restrictions. Given how much Americans love bacon, I can't help but wonder what options were presented in the survey.

I am not the only one who finds this answer not quite convincing:
Dave Warner, a spokesman with the National Pork Producers Council, said pulling pork from the menu is taking the punishment aspect of prison a little too far.

“For people who are incarcerated, we understand that they’re denied certain rights and freedoms but we don’t think bacon should be one of them,” Warner said.

Warner also questioned whether the pork ban was based on inmate preference, saying he was skeptical that inmates would vote pork off the menu.

“I do find it hard to believe that the majority would say ‘No thank you to bacon,’” Warner said. “I’m not sure cost would really be an issue. Sausage is one of the commodities USDA buys. I know they buy a lot of that for the school lunch program and pork crumbles are used on pizza. The USDA is getting a good product at a very good price” [more].
Those inmates who develop a craving for bacon can still satisfy their hunger for the best of all meats by buying it at the prison commissaries (I presume they must at least have access to a microwave).

Now if only bacon could be purchased in Rome.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article37990749.html#storylink=cpy
ad more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article37990749.html#storylink=cpyWarner said.“I’not sure cost would really be an issue. Sausage is one of the commodities USDA buys. I know they buy a lot of that for the school lunch program and pork crumbles are used on pizza. The USDA is getting a good product at a very good price.”

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article37990749.html#storylink=cpy

07 October 2015

An FAQ on the Jubilee of Mercy

A good friend asked this evening if he might share this post (originally published 14 March 2015) with his parish as they prepare for the Jubilee of Mercy. Since he brought it back to my attention I thought I might share it with you again.

Last evening the Holy Father Pope Francis surprised us by announcing his intention to declare an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy for the spiritual benefit of the Christian faithful. At the conclusion of his homily in which he reflected on the mercy of God, His Holiness said:
Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought about how the Church might make clear its mission of being a witness to mercy. It is journey that begins with a spiritual conversion. For this reason, I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center. It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord's words: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (cf. Lk 6:36)”

This Holy Year will begin on this coming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will end on November 20, 2016, the Sunday dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – and living face of the Father’s mercy. I entrust the organization of this Jubilee to the Pontifical Council for Promotion of the New Evangelization, that [the dicastery] might animate it as a new stage in the journey of the Church on its mission to bring to every person the Gospel of mercy.

I am convinced that the whole Church will find in this Jubilee the joy needed to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time. From this moment, we entrust this Holy Year to the Mother of Mercy, that she might turn her gaze upon us and watch over our journey.
The formal declaration of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy by means of a papal bull will be given by the Holy Father in front of the Holy Door of the Vatican Basilica on April 12, 2015, Divine Mercy Sunday.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Jubilee

Naturally, you may be asking yourself a few questions about this announcement. I will try to answer a few of the more obvious questions below. 

What is a jubilee?

Pope Boniface VIII presides over the jubilee of 1300
A jubilee - also known as a Holy Year - is a designated space of time - generally a year or a period very close to it - which the Popes use to urge the faithful to an ever greater conversion and holiness of life, symbolized by undertaking a pilgrimage to Rome.

To encourage this pilgrimage of conversion, the Supreme Pontiffs have offered the grace of a plenary indulgence to the faithful who participate in the jubilee and fulfill the usual requirements for the reception of an indulgence.

Pope Boniface VIII (yes, the one who issued Unam Sanctam in 1302) called the first Christian Jubilee in the year 1300. When he did so, he expected a Jubilee year to be held at the beginning of each new century, but it soon happened that a jubilee was celebrated every thirty-three years. Since the Jubilee year announced by Pope Paul II for 1475, a jubilee has been held every twenty-five years (with the exception of 1800 and 1850 because of political reasons).

The notion of a jubilee is found in the Book of Leviticus in which is recounted the Lord's declaration to Moses:
You shall treat this fiftieth year as sacred. You shall proclaim liberty in the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to your own property, each of you to your own family. This fiftieth year is your year of jubilee; you shall not sow, nor shall you reap the after growth or pick the untrimmed vines, since this is the jubilee. It shall be sacred for you (25:10-12).
In the verses that follow, the Lord gave additional regulations for the year of jubilee.

What is an indulgence?

Canons 992 and 993 of the Code of Canon Law describe indulgences as follows:
An indulgence is the remission before God of temporal punishment for sins whose guilt is already forgiven, which a properly disposed member of the Christian faithful gains under certain and defined conditions by the assistance of the Church which as minister of redemption dispenses and applies authoritatively the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.
An indulgence is partial or plenary insofar as it partially or totally frees from the temporal punishment due to sins.
In his Apostolic Constitution Indulgentiarum doctrina, Blessed Pope Paul VI explained what this means:
The remission of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven insofar as their guilt is concerned has been called specifically "indulgence."

It has something in common with other ways or means of eliminating the vestiges of sin but at the same time it is clearly distinct from them.

In an indulgence in fact, the Church, making use of its power as minister of the Redemption of Christ, not only prays but by an authoritative intervention dispenses to the faithful suitably disposed the treasury of satisfaction which Christ and the saints won for the remission of temporal punishment.

The aim pursued by ecclesiastical authority in granting indulgences is not only that of helping the faithful to expiate the punishment due sin but also that of urging them to perform works of piety, penitence and charityparticularly those which lead to growth in faith and which favor the common good (8).
The Blessed Pontiff went on to note that an indulgence "cannot be acquired without a sincere conversion of mentality ('metanoia') and unity with God, to which the performance of the prescribed works is added. Thus the order of charity is preserved, into which is incorporated the remission of punishment by distribution from the Church's treasury" (11). Hence, we see here that indulgences, like the sacraments, are not magical.

What happens during a Jubilee?

A jubilee begins with the opening of the Holy Door of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome and concludes with the closing of the same Holy Door. Throughout the jubilee year, pilgrims are invited to walk through the Holy Door to complete their pilgrimage - in addition to the usual requirements to obtain a plenary indulgence, namely the sacramental confession, the reception of Holy Communion, recitation of the Creed and the Our Father, praying for the intentions of the Holy Father - to receive the granted indulgence.

Throughout the holy year, the faithful are called to greater lives of love and charity, of faith and hope, both internally and externally.

In the most recent Jubilee of 2000, Saint Paul John Paul II granted a plenary indulgence to those members of the faithful who walked through the Holy Doors of one or all of the principle basilicas in Rome. He granted this same indulgence to those in the Holy Land who visited the Basilicas of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and/or the Annunciation in Nazareth. He also granted this same indulgence to those who visited the Cathedral within their Diocese and he allowed Diocesan Bishops to designate other churches in their diocese where the jubilee indulgence could be obtained.

Additionally, he decreed that
The plenary indulgence of the Jubilee can also be gained through actions which express in a practical and generous way the penitential spirit which is, as it were, the heart of the Jubilee. This would include abstaining for at least one whole day from unnecessary consumption (e.g., from smoking or alcohol, or fasting or practising abstinence according to the general rules of the Church and the norms laid down by the Bishops' Conferences) and donating a proportionate sum of money to the poor; supporting by a significant contribution works of a religious or social nature (especially for the benefit of abandoned children, young people in trouble, the elderly in need, foreigners in various countries seeking better living conditions); devoting a suitable portion of personal free time to activities benefitting the community, or other similar forms of personal sacrifice (Incarnationis Mysterium).
Will Pope Francis concede the same conditions for the jubilee indulgence as Saint John Paul II?

That remains to be seen in the bull that will be released on April 12, 2015. Thus far, Pope Francis has not indicated the extent of the indulgence he will grant to the faithful or the conditions under which it may be obtained.

What is the difference between an ordinary and an extraordinary Jubilee?

An ordinary jubilee is held every twenty-five years. At the present time, 26 ordinary jubilees have been held.

An extraordinary jubilee is called by the Supreme Pontiff for a particular reason of great importance. Saint Pope John Paul II announced the last extraordinary jubilee year in 1983 to celebrate the 1,950th anniversary of our redemption by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Before this, Pope Pius XI announced an extraordinary jubilee in 1933 to celebrate the 1,900th anniversary of our redemption. I have not been able to determine how many other extraordinary jubilees have been proclaimed.

His Holiness Pope Francis has announced this new extraordinary jubilee to celebrate the greatness of God's mercy. The Jubilee of Mercy will begin on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 2015 - the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council - and will conclude on November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

What are 'Holy Doors'?

The Holy Door of St. Peter's, from the inside
Each of the principle basilicas in Rome have a set of Holy Doors. These doors remained sealed shut and are unusable except when they are opened during a Holy Year. It seems that Pope Martin V opened the first Holy Door in 1423, although this is debated.

Before he opens the Holy Door, the Pope prays in front of it and then strikes the Holy Door three times with, according to tradition, a golden hammer. The Pope then kneels in front of the open doors in quiet prayer before passing through them as the Te Deum is sung.

At the conclusion of the jubilee, the Pope blesses the cement and bricks that will be used to reseal the Holy Book and places the first bit of mortar himself, together with three bricks and a few coins.

How many Holy Doors are there?
There are four sets of Holy Doors. The Basilicas of St. Peter, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul Outside the Walls each have a Holy Door.

Additional Questions?

I have tried to answer what seem to me the most common questions regarding a jubilee. If you have an additional question relating to a holy year, please leave your question as a comment to this post and I will try to answer it for you and for others.

Online sources:

Lepanto and the Islamic State

In honor of the victory obtained through the intercession of Our Lady by the praying of the rosary over the Muslim forces that threatened to overwhelm Christian Europe at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, Holy Mother Church celebrates today the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.

In our day, another (largely Sunni) Muslim force - the Islamic State and the many "groups" with allegiance to it, like Boko Haram and al-Shabab - is advancing not simply against Christians, but against other religious minorities, like the Yazidis and even against Shia Muslims who disagree with the severity of the Islamic State. Like the advance of the Muslim armies at Lepanto, the armies of the Islamic State must be checked and stopped or else countless innocents will continue to be forced from the homes and even be killed in horrifying ways.

It was only a few months ago that the Most Reverend Oliver Dashe Doeme, Archbishop of Maiduguri (Nigeria) called upon the faithful to seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the defeat of Boko Haram - which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State - by taking up and praying the rosary:
“Towards the end of last year I was in my chapel before the Blessed Sacrament… praying the rosary, and then suddenly the Lord appeared,” Bishop Dashe told CNA April 18.

In the vision, the prelate said, Jesus didn’t say anything at first, but extended a sword toward him, and he in turn reached out for it.

“As soon as I received the sword, it turned into a rosary,” the bishop said, adding that Jesus then told him three times: “Boko Haram is gone.”
“I didn’t need any prophet to give me the explanation,” he said. “It was clear that with the rosary we would be able to expel Boko Haram.”
If Archbishop Doeme's vision is correct and Boko Haram will be defeated by the rosary, why should the Islamic State also not be defeated by the rosary? It was effective at Lepanto and the rosary can certainly equally effective today wherever the Islamic State is present. It was not for nothing that Saint Pio of Pietrelcina called the rosary "the weapon for our times" and that Blessed Pope Pius IX said, "Give me an army praying the rosary and I will conquer the world."

One year ago yesterday, Aid to the Church in Need, a charitable foundation for persecuted Christians under the direction of the Holy Father, composed a Rosary for Persecuted Christians with meditations stemming from the Sorrowful Mysteries.

Please, take up your rosary today, together with the meditations from Aid to the Church in Need, and call upon the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary for those who suffer so greatly under the Islamic State. Pray, too, for the conversion of those who fight for and support the Islamic State. Let us pray that through the rosary the Islamic State and its allies will be defeated.

The penultimate semester

Earlier this week my penultimate semester at the Pontifical Gregorian University began and so far it has gone well (it didn't hurt that I was able to buy 14 cans of Dr Pepper Monday afternoon and another 28 cans yesterday afternoon; it is always to good to a stockpile on hand).

The course load this semester is a bit lighter than that of previous semesters to give us more time to spend on our theses (I am going to write on the canonical age for the reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation in the present legislation), though the schedule of the classes is not so grand (we have one class that meets every Friday from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. which will greatly hinder many of my hoped for travels this year).

This semester, I am taking the following courses:
  • Processes [and a Practicum]
  • Associations
  • Temporal Goods of the Church [and a Practicum]
  • Theology of Law
  • Latin III
Please remember me and my classmates in your prayers and be assured of your remembrance in my prayers.

06 October 2015