This list is compiled from articles in the Original Catholic Encyclopedia and is provided for your benefit.
The list is sortable by name (alpha) and by chronology.
Order Name Years Notes
1 Peter, Apostle, Saint Reigned 33-67
2 Linus, Saint Reigned c.67-76
3 Anacletus, Saint Reigned 76-88 aka Cletus
4 Clement I, Saint Reigned 88-97
5 Evaristus, Saint Reigned c.98- c.106 Aristus in the Liberian Catalogue
6 Alexander I, Saint Reigned c.106-115
7 Sixtus I, Saint Reigned 115-125 XYSTUS in the oldest documents
8 Telesphorus, Saint Reigned 125-136
9 Hyginus, Saint Reigned c.136-140
10 Pius I, Saint Reigned c.140-c.154
11 Anicetus, Saint Reigned c.157-168
12 Soter, Saint Reigned c.166-c.174
13 Eleutherius, Saint Reigned c.175-189
14 Victor I, Saint Reigned 189-c.198
15 Zephyrinus, Saint Reigned 198-217
16 Callistus I Reigned 218-c.222
17 Urban I Reigned 222-230
18 Pontian, Saint Reigned 230-235
19 Anterus, Saint Reigned 235-236 aka Anteros
20 Fabian, Saint Reigned 236-250
21 Cornelius Reigned 251-253
22 Lucius I, Saint Reigned 253-254
23 Stephen I, Saint Reigned 254-257
24 Sixtus II, Saint Reigned 257-258 XYSTUS in the oldest documents
25 Dionysius, Saint Reigned 260-268
26 Felix I, Saint Reigned 269-274
27 Eutychianus, Saint Reigned 275-283
28 Caius, Saint Reigned 283-296
29 Marcellinus, Saint Reigned 296-304
30 Marcellus I, Saint Reigned 308-309
31 Eusebius, Saint Reigned 309 or 310
32 Miltiades, Saint Reigned 311-314
33 Sylvester I, Saint Reigned 314-335
34 Mark, Saint Reigned 336 aka Marcus
35 Julius I, Saint Reigned 337-352
36 Liberius Reigned 352-366
37 Damasus I, Saint Reigned 366-383
38 Siricius, Saint Reigned 384-399
39 Anastasius I, Saint Reigned 399-401
40 Innocent I Reigned 401-417
41 Zosimus, Saint Reigned 417-418
42 Boniface I, Saint Reigned 418-422
43 Celestine I, Saint Reigned 422-432
44 Sixtus III, Saint Reigned 432-440 XYSTUS in the oldest documents
45 Leo I, Saint Reigned 440-461
46 Hilarus, Saint Reigned 461-468
47 Simplicius, Saint Reigned 468-483
48 Felix III (II), Saint Reigned 483-492
49 Gelasius I, Saint Reigned 492-496
50 Anastasius II Reigned 496-498
51 Symmachus, Saint Reigned 498-514
52 Hormisdas, Saint Reigned 514-523
53 John I, Saint Reigned 523-c.526
54 Felix IV (III) Reigned 526-530
55 Boniface II Reigned 530-532
56 John II Reigned 533-535
57 Agapetus I, Saint Reigned 535-536
58 Silverius, Saint Reigned 536-537
59 Vigilius Reigned 537-555
60 Pelagius I Reigned 556-561
61 John III Reigned 561-574
62 Benedict I Reigned 575-579
63 Pelagius II Reigned 579-590
64 Gregory I Saint Reigned 590-604
65 Sabinianus Reigned 604-606
66 Boniface III Reigned 607
67 Boniface IV Reigned 608-615
68 Deusdedit, Saint Reigned 615-618
69 Boniface V Reigned 619-625
70 Honorius I Reigned 625-638
71 Severinus Reigned 640
72 John IV Reigned 640-642
73 Theodore I Reigned 642-649
74 Martin I, Saint Reigned 649-655
75 Eugene I Reigned 655-657
76 Vitalian, Saint Reigned 657-672
77 Adeodatus, Saint Reigned 672-676
78 Donus Reigned 676-678
79 Agatho, Saint Reigned 678-681
80 Leo II, Saint Reigned 682-683
81 Benedict II Reigned 684-685
82 John V Reigned 685-686
83 Conon Reigned 686-687
84 Sergius I, Saint Reigned 687-701
85 John VI Reigned 701-705
86 John VII Reigned 705-707
87 Sisinnius Reigned 708
88 Constantine Reigned 708-715
89 Gregory II, Saint Reigned 715-731
90 Gregory III, Saint Reigned 731-741
91 Zachary, Saint Reigned 741-752
92 Stephen II Elected 752 died before his consecration; excluded from some lists
93 Stephen III (II) Reigned 752-757
94 Paul I Reigned 757-767
95 Stephen IV (III) Reigned 768-772
96 Adrian I Reigned 772-795
97 Leo III, Saint Reigned 795-816
98 Stephen V (IV) Reigned 816-817
99 Paschal I Reigned 817-824
100 Eugene II Reigned 824-827
101 Valentine Reigned 827
102 Gregory IV Reigned 827-844
103 Sergius II Reigned 844-847
104 Leo IV, Saint Reigned 847-855
105 Benedict III Reigned 855-858
106 Nicholas I, Saint Reigned 858-867
107 Adrian II Reigned 867-872
108 John VIII Reigned 872-882
109 Marinus I Reigned 882-884
110 Adrian III, Saint Reigned 884-885
111 Stephen VI (V) Reigned 885-891
112 Formosus Reigned 891-896
113 Boniface VI Reigned 896
114 Stephen VII (VI) Reigned 896-897
115 Romanus Reigned 897
116 Theodore II Reigned 897
117 John IX Reigned 898-900
118 Benedict IV Reigned 900-903
119 Leo V Reigned 903
120 Sergius III Reigned 904-911
121 Anastasius III Reigned 911-913
122 Lando Reigned 913-14
123 John X Reigned 914-928
124 Leo VI Reigned 928
125 Stephen VIII (VII) Reigned 929-931
126 John XI Reigned 931-936
127 Leo VII Reigned 936-939
128 Stephen IX (VIII) Reigned 939-942
129 Marinus II Reigned 942-946
130 Agapetus II Reigned 946-955
131 John XII Reigned 955-964
132 Leo VIII Reigned 964-965
133 Benedict V Reigned 964
134 John XIII Reigned 965-972
135 Benedict VI Reigned 973-974
136 Benedict VII Reigned 974-983
137 John XIV Reigned 983-984
138 John XV (XVI) Reigned 985-996
139 Gregory V Reigned 996-999
140 Sylvester II Reigned 999-1003
141 John XVII (XVIII) Reigned 1003
142 John XVIII (XIX) Reigned 1003-1009
143 Sergius IV Reigned 1009-1012
144 Benedict VIII Reigned 1012-1024
145 John XIX (XX) Reigned 1024-1032
146 Benedict IX Reigned 1032-1044
147 Sylvester III Reigned 1045
148 Benedict IX Reigned 1045
149 Gregory VI Reigned 1045-1046
150 Clement II Reigned 1046-1047
151 Benedict IX Reigned 1047-1048
152 Damasus II Reigned 1048
153 Leo IX, Saint Reigned 1049-1054
154 Victor II Reigned 1055-1057
155 Stephen X (IX) Reigned 1057-1058
156 Nicholas II Reigned 1058-1061
157 Alexander II Reigned 1061-1073
158 Gregory VII, Saint Reigned 1073-1085
159 Victor III, Blessed Reigned 1086-1087
160 Urban II, Blessed Reigned 1088-1099
161 Paschal II Reigned 1099-1118
162 Gelasius II Reigned 1118-1119
163 Callistus II Reigned 1119-1124
164 Honorius II Reigned 1124-1130
165 Innocent II Reigned 1130-1143
166 Celestine II Reigned 1143-1144
167 Lucius II Reigned 1144-1145
168 Eugene III Reigned 1145-1153
169 Anastasius IV Reigned 1153-1154
170 Adrian IV Reigned 1154-1159
171 Alexander III Reigned 1159-1181
172 Lucius III Reigned 1181-1185
173 Urban III Reigned 1185-1187
174 Gregory VIII Reigned 1187
175 Clement III Reigned 1187-1191
176 Celestine III Reigned 1191-1198
177 Innocent III Reigned 1198-1216
178 Honorius III Reigned 1216-1227
179 Gregory IX Reigned 1227-1241
180 Celestine IV Reigned 1241
181 Innocent IV Reigned 1243-1254
182 Alexander IV Reigned 1254-1261
183 Urban IV Reigned 1261-1264
184 Clement IV Reigned 1265-1268
185 Gregory X Reigned 1271-1276
186 Innocent V Reigned 1276
187 Adrian V Reigned July-August 1276
188 John XXI (XX) Reigned 1276-1277
189 Nicholas III Reigned 1277-1280
190 Martin IV Reigned 1281-1285
191 Honorius IV Reigned 1285-1287
192 Nicholas IV Reigned 1288-1292
193 Celestine V, Saint Reigned 1294
194 Boniface VIII Reigned 1294-1303
195 Benedict XI, Blessed Reigned 1303-1304
196 Clement V Reigned 1305-1314
197 John XXII Reigned 1316-1334
198 Benedict XII Reigned 1334-1342
199 Clement VI Reigned 1342-1352
200 Innocent VI Reigned 1352-1362
201 Urban V, Blessed Reigned 1362-1370
202 Gregory XI Reigned 1370-1378
203 Urban VI Reigned 1378-1389
204 Boniface IX Reigned 1389-1404
205 Innocent VII Reigned 1404-1406
206 Gregory XII Reigned 1406-1415
207 Martin V Reigned 1417-1431
208 Eugene IV Reigned 1431-1447
209 Nicholas V Reigned 1447-1455
210 Callistus III Reigned 1455-1458
211 Pius II Reigned 1458-1464
212 Paul II Reigned 1464-1471
213 Sixtus IV Reigned 1471-1484
214 Innocent VIII Reigned 1484-1492
215 Alexander VI Reigned 1492-1503
216 Pius III Reigned 1503
217 Julius II Reigned 1503-1513
218 Leo X Reigned 1513-1521
219 Adrian VI Reigned 1522-1523
220 Clement VII Reigned 1523-1534
221 Paul III Reigned 1534-1549
222 Julius III Reigned 1550-1555
223 Marcellus II Reigned 1555 (22 days)
224 Paul IV Reigned 1555-1559
225 Pius IV Reigned 1559-1565
226 Pius V, Saint Reigned 1566-1572
227 Gregory XIII Reigned 1572-1585
228 Sixtus V Reigned 1585-1590
229 Urban VII Reigned 1590
230 Gregory XIV Reigned 1590-1591
231 Innocent IX Reigned 1591
232 Clement VIII Reigned 1592-1605
233 Leo XI Reigned 1605
234 Paul V Reigned 1605-1621
235 Gregory XV Reigned 1621-1623
236 Urban VIII Reigned 1623-1644
237 Innocent X Reigned 1644-1655
238 Alexander VII Reigned 1655-1667
239 Clement IX Reigned 1667-1669
240 Clement X Reigned 1670-1676
241 Innocent XI Reigned 1676-1689
242 Alexander VIII Reigned 1689-1691
243 Innocent XII Reigned 1691-1700
244 Clement XI Reigned 1700-1721
245 Innocent XIII Reigned 1721-1724
246 Benedict XIII Reigned 1724-1730
247 Clement XII Reigned 1730-1740
248 Benedict XIV Reigned 1740-1758
249 Clement XIII Reigned 1758-1769
250 Clement XIV Reigned 1769-1774
251 Pius VI Reigned 1775-1799
252 Pius VII Reigned 1800-1823
253 Leo XII Reigned 1823-1829
254 Pius VIII Reigned 1829-1830
255 Gregory XVI Reigned 1831-1846
256 Pius IX Reigned 1846-1878
257 Leo XIII Reigned 1878-1903
258 Pius X Reigned 1903-1914
259 Benedict XV Reigned 1914-1922 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
260 Pius XI Reigned 1922-1939 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
261 Pius XII Reigned 1939-1958 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
262 John XXIII, Blessed Reigned 1958-1963 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
263 Paul VI Reigned 1963-1978 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
264 John Paul I Reigned 1978 (33 days) Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
265 John Paul II Reigned 1978-2005 Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
266 Benedict XVI Reigned 2005-present Elected after the release of The 1914 Catholic Encylopedia
Prayer, the lifting of the mind and heart to God, plays an essential role in the life of a devout Catholic. Without a life of prayer, we risk losing the life of grace in our souls, grace that comes to us first in baptism and later chiefly through the other sacraments and through prayer itself (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2565). Through prayer we enter into the presence of the Godhead dwelling in us. It is prayer which allows us to adore God, by acknowledging his almighty power; it is prayer that allows us to bring our thanks, our petitions, and our sorrow for sin before our Lord and God.
While prayer is not a practice unique to Catholics, those prayers that are called “Catholic” are generally formulaic in nature. That is, the teaching Church sets before us how we ought to pray. Drawing from the words of Christ, the writings of Scripture and the saints, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, she supplies us with prayers grounded in Christian tradition. Further, our informal, spontaneous prayers, both vocal and meditative, are informed by and shaped by those prayers taught by the Church, prayers that are the wellspring for the prayer life of all Catholics. Without the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church and through her saints, we would not know how to pray as we ought (CCC, 2650).
As the prayers themselves witness, the Church teaches us that we should pray not only directly to God, but also to those who are close to God, those who have the power to intercede upon our behalf. Indeed, we pray to the angels to help and watch over us; we pray to the saints in heaven to ask their intercession and assistance; we pray to the Blessed Mother to enlist her aid, to ask her to beg her Son to hear our prayers. Further, we pray not only on our own behalf, but also on the behalf of those souls in purgatory and of those brothers on earth who are in need. Prayer unites us to God; in doing so, we are united to the other members of the Mystical Body.This communal aspect of prayer is reflected not only in the nature of Catholic prayers, but also in the very words of the prayers themselves. In reading many of the basic formulaic prayers, it will become apparent that, for the Catholic, prayer is often meant to be prayed in the company of others. Christ himself encouraged us to pray together: “For wherever two or more are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
Keeping in mind the aforementioned characteristics of Catholic prayer will enable you to appreciate and to understand the prayers listed below. While this list is certainly not an exhaustive one, it will illustrate the different kinds of Catholic prayers that help to form the treasury of prayers in the Church.
In a marriage a man and a woman pledge themselves to one another in an unbreakable alliance of total mutual self-giving. A total union of love.
Love that is not a passing emotion or temporary infatuation, but a responsible and free decision to bind oneself completely, “in good times and in bad,” to one’s partner. It is the gift of oneself to the other.
It is a love to be proclaimed before the eyes of the whole world. It is unconditional. To be capable of such love calls for careful preparation from early childhood to wedding day. It requires the constant support of Church and society throughout its development.
The love of husband and wife in God‘s plan leads beyond itself and new life is generated, a family is born. The family is a community of love and life, a home in which children are guided to maturity.
Marriage is a holy sacrament. Those baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus are married in his name also. Their love is a sharing in the love of God. He is its source. The marriages of Christian couples, today renewed and blessed, are images on earth of the wonder of God, the loving, life-giving communion of Three Persons in one God, and of God’s covenant in Christ, with the Church. Christian marriage is a sacrament of salvation. It is the pathway to holiness for all members of a family.
With all my heart, therefore, I urge that your homes be centers of prayer; homes where families are at ease in the presence of God; homes to which others are invited to share hospitality, prayer and the praise of God: “With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3,16-17).
In your country, there are many marriages between Catholics and other baptized Christians. Sometimes these couples experience special difficulties. To these families I say: You live in your marriage the hopes and difficulties of the path to Christian unity. Express that hope in prayer together, in the unity of love. Together invite the Holy Spirit of love into your hearts and into your homes. He will help you to grow in trust and understanding.
Brothers and sisters, “May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts….Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you” (Col. 3,15-16).
Recently I wrote an Apostolic Exhortation to the whole Catholic Church regarding the role of the Christian Family in the modern world. In that Exhortation I underlined the positive aspects of family life today, which include: a more lively awareness of personal freedom and greater attention to the quality of interpersonal relationships in marriage, greater attention to promoting the dignity of women, to responsible procreation, to the education of children. But at the same time I could not fail to draw attention to the negative phenomena: a corruption of the idea and experience of freedom, with consequent self-centeredness in human relations; serious misconceptions regarding the relationship between parents and children; the growing number of divorces; the scourge of abortion; the spread of a contraceptive and anti-life mentality. Besides these destructive forces, there are social and economic conditions which affect millions of human beings, undermining the strength and stability of marriage and family life. In addition there is the cultural onslaught against the family by those who attack married life as “irrelevant” and “outdated.” All of this is a serious challenge to society and to the Church. As I wrote then: “History is not simply a fixed progression towards what is better, but rather an event of freedom, and even a struggle between freedoms that are in mutual conflict” (Familiaris Consortio, n. 6). Married couples, I speak to you of the hopes and ideals that sustain the Christian vision of marriage and family life. You will find the strength to be faithful to your marriage vows in your love for your children. Let this love be the rock that stands firm in the face of every storm and temptation. What better blessing could the Pope wish for your families than what Saint Paul wished for the Christians of Colossae: “Be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes … put on love” (Col. 3,12-14).
Being a parent today brings worries and difficulties, as well as joys and satisfactions. Your children are your treasure. They love you very much, even if they sometimes find it hard to express that love. They look for independence and are reluctant to conform. Sometimes they wish to reject past traditions and even reject their faith.
In the family bridges are meant to be built, not broken; and new expressions of wisdom and truth can be fashioned from the meeting of experience and enquiry. Yours is a true and proper ministry in the Church. Open the doors of your home and of your heart to all the generations of your family. We cannot overlook the fact that some marriages fail. But still it is our duty to proclaim the true plan of God for all married love and to insist on fidelity to that plan, as we go towards the fullness of life in the Kingdom of heaven. Let us not forget that God’s love for his people, Christ’s love for the Church, is everlasting and can never be broken. And the covenant between a man and a women joined in Christian marriage is as indissoluble and irrevocable as this love (cf. AAS 71 , p. 1224). This truth is a great consolation for the world, and because some marriages fail, there is an ever greater need for the Church and all her members to proclaim it faithfully.
Christ himself, the living source of grace and mercy, is close to all those whose marriage has known trial, pain, or anguish. Throughout the ages countless married people have drawn from the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection the strength to bear Christian witness—at times very difficult—to the indissolubility of Christian marriage.
And all the efforts of the Christian people to bear faithful witness to God’s law, despite human weakness, have not been in vain. These efforts are the human response made, through grace, to a God who has first loved us and who has given himself for us.
As I explained in my Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, the Church is vitally concerned for the pastoral care of the family in all difficult cases. We must reach out with love—the love of Christ—to those who know the pain of failure in marriage; to those who know the loneliness of bringing up a family on their own; to those whose family life is dominated by tragedy or by illness of mind or body. I praise all those who help people wounded by the breakdown of their marriage, by showing them Christ’s compassion and counselling them according to Christ’s truth.
To the public authorities, and to all men and women of good will, I say: treasure your families. Protect their rights. Support the family by your laws and administration. Allow the voice of the family to be heard in the making of your policies. The future of your society, the future of humanity, passes by the way of the family.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, who are now about to renew the promises of your wedding day: may your words express once more the truth that is in your heart and may they generate faithful love within your families. Make sure that your families are real communities of love.
Allow that love to reach out to other people, near and far. Reach out especially to the lonely and burdened people of your neighborhood, to the poor and to all those on the margin of society. In this way you will build up your society in peace, for peace requires trust, and trust is the child of love, and love comes to birth in the cradle of the family.
The union of a man and a woman is natural. The natural language of the human body is such that the man gives to the woman and the woman receives the man. The love and friendship between a man and a woman grow into a desire for marriage. The sacrament of marriage gives the couple the grace to grow into a union of heart and soul, to continue life, and to provide stability for themselves and their children. Children are the fruit and bond of a marriage.
The bond of marriage between a man and a woman lasts all the days of their lives, and the form of the rite consists of the mutual exchange of vows by a couple, both of whom have been baptized. The minister serves as a witness to the couple in the West, but serves as the actual minister of the rite in the East. The matter follows later through consummation of the marriage act.
Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God, and concludes with a vision of the “wedding-feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7, 9). The bond of marriage is compared to God’s undying love for Israel in the Old Testament, and Christ’s love for his Church in the New Testament of the Bible.
Jesus stresses the significance of the marriage bond in his Ministry (Matthew 19:6, 8). The importance of marriage is substantiated by the presence of Christ at the wedding feast of Cana, where he began his public ministry at the request of his mother Mary by performing his first miracle (John 2). It is the Apostle Paul who calls matrimony a great sacrament or mystery, and who identifies the marriage of man and woman with the unity of Christ and his Church. The theologian Tertullian, the first Latin Father of the Church at the beginning of the third century AD, wrote on the Sacrament of Matrimony.
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.”
“(Jesus) said in reply: “Have you not read that He who made man from the beginning
made them male and female?”
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church.”
St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:25
“This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.
In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself,
and the wife should respect her husband.”
St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:32-33
The readings of the Mass today invite us to reflect on the mystery of the Eucharist. This great mystery was foreshadowed in Old Testament times when God provided the Israelites with manna in the wilderness.
In the first reading, we hear the words Moses spoke to the people: “Remember how the Lord your God led you for forty years in the wilderness … he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Dt. 8,2-3). God taught the people that he alone was their Lord. He alone was the one who would lead them out of slavery. He alone was the one who would care for them amid the hardships and sorrows they would encounter on the way to the promised land. When they were hungry and thirsty, he gave them manna from heaven and water from the rock.
What was foreshadowed in Old Testament times has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He gave his followers food for the journey of faith when he entrusted to the Church the gift of the Eucharist. Jesus himself is the new spiritual food, for the Eucharist is his body and blood made present under the appearances of bread and wine. He himself says in the Gospel: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst” (Jn. 6,35)
In Wales, the Eucharist has held a place of prominence in the Church from the earliest times. This is shown by the Christian symbols of the Eucharist which have been discovered in the archaeological excavations at the Roman fort of Caerleon. Happily this great heritage has continued from the early beginnings down to the present time. This fact should not surprise us, since the Eucharist holds such a central place in Christian life and since the mystery of the Eucharist is so closely linked to the mystery of the Church. For every generation in the Church, the food which nourishes the people of God is the Eucharist, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What a beautiful prayer is recorded in today’s Gospel. After Jesus speaks to the people about the true bread which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world, they cry out: “Give us that bread always” (Jn. 6,34).
This prayer expresses a deep hunger on the part of the people, one which goes beyond the hunger for food. It is a hunger which arises from the depths of the soul and from the desire for love and fulfillment. It is a longing for wholeness and salvation and a yearning for fullness of life—it is a hunger for union with God. Christ is God’s answer to this prayer, God’s response to the deepest hunger of the human heart. All the anguished cries of mankind to God since the fall of Adam and Eve find fulfillment in the Son of God become man. Jesus still says: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst” (Jn. 6,35). May this same prayer—”Give us that bread always”—often be our prayer too. From our First Communion until the day we die, may we have a deep yearning for Christ, the true bread which gives life to the world.
I would like to speak to these little ones who are about to receive Holy Communion for the first time. Dear children: Jesus is coming to you in a new way today, in a special way. He wants to live in you. He wants to speak to you in your heart. He wants to be with you all through your day.
Jesus comes to you in the Eucharist so that you will live for ever. Holy Communion is not ordinary food. It is the bread of eternal life. It is something more precious than gold or silver. It is worth more than anything you can imagine. For this sacred bread is the body and blood of Jesus. And Jesus promises that if you eat his flesh and drink his blood, you will have life in you and you will live for ever.
You come to the altar today with faith and prayer. Promise me that you will try to stay close to Jesus always, and never turn your back on him.
As you grow older, go on learning about Jesus by listening to his word and by talking to him in prayer. If you stay close to him, you will always be happy.
Dear parents of these children: your love for Christ has made this day possible. For you are your children’s first teachers in the ways of faith. By what you say and do, you show them the truths of our faith and the values of the Gospel. This is indeed not only a sacred duty, but a grace, a great privilege. Many other members of the Church share in this task, but the main responsibility for your children’s religious formation rests upon your shoulders. So try to make your homes genuinely Christian.
Help your children to grow and mature as Jesus did at Nazareth, “in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God and men” (Lk. 2,52). Allow no one to take advantage of their lack of experience and knowledge. As you share with them in their personal pilgrimage to God, may you always be united in prayer and worship and in humble love of God and his people.
Dear teachers in our Catholic schools: you too deserve an honored place in our celebration today. Together with the parents, you help to prepare the children for the worthy reception of the sacraments and for a more active role in the Christian community. You bring them to a reverence and knowledge of God’s word and you explain to them the doctrine of the Church. And thus you introduce to them gradually into the riches of the mystery of salvation.
You are heirs of a great tradition, and the People of God is in your debt. As you carry out your important mission in that special community of faith which is the Catholic school, may you have a deep love for the Church. May your love for the Church radiate through all your various activities and be reflected in the way you faithfully hand on the sacred deposit of the faith.
Beloved brother priests: this is a day of joy for you also, for these little ones are members of the parishes in which you have the privilege to serve. Together with their families and teachers, you introduce the children to the wider Christian community and help them to grow to the fullness of maturity in Christ. To them and to the whole parish, you seek to give a shepherd’s care. May you be the best of shepherds and model your lives on our Lord and Redeemer.
I know that Bishops are anxious to develop practical programs of adult education in the faith. I urge you to be in the vanguard of those efforts, which are so important for the vitality of the Church.
I also encourage you to make the worthy celebration of the Eucharist the first priority of your pastoral ministry. Recall the words of the Second Vatican Council. “The other sacraments, as well as every ministry of the Church and every work of the apostolate, are linked with the holy Eucharist and are directed towards it. For the most blessed Eucharist contains the Church’s entire spiritual wealth, that is, Christ himself, our Passover and living bread” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, n. 5). No other work you do is of greater importance for the Church or of greater service to your people. For the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is the source and summit of all Christian life. Ensure that the Mass is celebrated with deep reverence and prayerfulness, and make every effort to foster the active participation of the laity. Bear witness to the Church’s faith in the Real Presence of Christ by your own daily visit of Eucharistic adoration (cf. ibid., n. 18). And through the liturgical renewal that was willed by the Council, may all your parishes become communities alive with faith and charity.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, every time we gather for the Eucharist, we take part in the great mystery of faith. We receive the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation. This is the cause of our joy and the source of our hope. May this great mystery be for you and the whole Church be the center of your life and the way to eternal salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Eucharistia means thanksgiving, and the Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” St. Justin Martyr described the Eucharistic Liturgy in 155 AD in his First Apology. The Paschal mystery of Christ is celebrated in the liturgy of the Mass. The Mass is the Eucharist or principal sacramental celebration of the Church, established by Jesus at the Last Supper, in which the mystery of our salvation through participation in the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of Christ is renewed and accomplished. The word “Mass” comes from the Latin missa, as it refers to the mission or sending forth of the faithful following the celebration, so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives.
The essential signs of the sacrament are wheat bread anf wine, on which the blessing of the Holy Spirit is invoked during the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the priest pronounces the words of consecration spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper: “This is my body…This is the cup of my blood…” (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Jesus died on the cross in sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:25-28). But Jesus is present for all time, as He is the eternal Son of God. What He did once in history also then exists for all eternity. What happened in time goes beyond time. In the heart of Jesus He is always giving Himself to the Father for us, as He did on the Cross. When we celebrate the Mass, the sacrifice of the cross, that happened once in history but is present for all eternity, that same reality is made present in the mystery.
The bread and wine through Transubstantiation become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, and we receive the Real Presence of Jesus when we receive Holy Communion. Our soul is nourished, helping us to become like Christ. The Eucharist is the heart and source of community within the Church. Receiving Holy Communion with others during the Mass brings unity of the Church, the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 10:16-17).
Then He took the bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them, saying,
“This is my body, which will be given for you;
do this in memory of me.”
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
which will be shed for you.”
Gospel of Luke 22:19-20
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven;
if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;
and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Gospel of John 6:51
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you,
that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,
“This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in My blood;
do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 11:23-26
FR. WILLIAM SAUNDERS
I saw an article in the Post about the Holy Father condemning the cloning of human embryos for organ transplants. Would you please explain better the Church’s teaching on this subject?
In general, the Catholic Church approves organ transplantation, as reiterated by Pope John Paul II in an Address to the International Congress of Transplants on Aug. 29. Quoting from his encyclical The Gospel of Life, the Holy Father said, “…One way of nurturing a genuine culture of life is the donation of organs, performed in an ethically acceptable manner, with a view to offering a chance of health and even of life itself to the sick who sometimes have no other hope” (No. 86). This teaching echoes the Catechism: “Organ transplants conform with the moral law and can be meritorious if the physical and psychological dangers and risks incurred by the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient” (No. 2296). To better understand this teaching, let’s take it one step at a time. Keep in mind that the issue was first clearly addressed by Pope Pius XII in the 1950s, and then has been refined with the advances in this field of medicine.
First a distinction is made between transplanting organs (including tissue) from a dead person to a living person, versus transplanting organs (including tissue) from a living person to another living person. In the first instance, when the organ donor is a dead person, no moral concern arises. Pope Pius XII taught, “A person may will to dispose of his body and to destine it to ends that are useful, morally irreproachable and even noble, among them the desire to aid the sick and suffering. One may make a decision of this nature with respect to his own body with full realization of the reverence which is due it…. This decision should not be condemned but positively justified” (Allocution to a Group of Eye Specialists, May 14, 1956).
Basically, if the organs of a deceased person, such as a kidney, a heart, or a cornea, can help save or improve the life of a living person, then such a transplant is morally good and even praiseworthy. Note that the donor must give his free and informed consent prior to his death, or his next of kin must do so at the time of their relative’s death: “Organ transplants are not morally acceptable if the donor or those who legitimately speak for him have not given their informed consent” (Catechism, No. 2296).
One caution needs to be made: The success of an organ transplant significantly depends upon the freshness of the organ, meaning that the transplant procedure must take place as soon as possible after the donor has died. However, the donor must not be declared dead prematurely or his death hastened just to utilize his organs. The moral criterion demands that the donor must be dead before his organs are used for transplantation. To avoid a conflict of interest, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act requires that “The time of death be determined by the physician who attends the donor at his death, or, if none, the physician who certifies the death. This physician shall not participate in the procedures for removal or transplanting a part” (Section 7(b)). While this caution does not impact upon the morality of organ transplantation per se, the dignity of the dying person must be preserved, and to hasten his death or to terminate his life to acquire organs for transplant is immoral. Here again the Catechsim teaches, “It is morally inadmissible directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons” (No. 2296), a point underscored by the Holy Father in his recent address (cf. No. 4).
The transplantation of organs from a living donor to another person is more complicated. The ability to perform the first kidney transplant in 1954 caused a great debate among theologians. The debate focused on the principle of totality — whereby certain circumstances permit a person to sacrifice one part or function of the body for the interest of the whole body. For instance, a person may remove a diseased organ to preserve the health of his whole body, such as removing a cancerous uterus. These theologians, however, argued that a person cannot justify the removal of a healthy organ and incur the risk of future health problems when his own life is not in danger, as in the case of a person sacrificing a healthy kidney to donate to a person in need. Such surgery, they held, entails an unnecessary mutilation of the body and is thereby immoral.
Other theologians argued from the point of fraternal charity, namely that a healthy person who donates a kidney to a person in need is making a genuine act of sacrifice to save that person’s life. Such generosity is modeled after our Lord’s sacrifice of Himself on the cross, and reflects His teaching at the Last Supper: “This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:12-13). Such a sacrifice, these theologians held, is morally acceptable if the risk of harm to the donor, both from the surgery itself and the loss of the organ, is proportionate to the good for the recipient.
Moving from this reasoning, these “pro-transplant” theologians re-examined the principle of totality. They argued that while organ transplants from living donors may not preserve anatomical or physical integrity (i.e. there is a loss of a healthy organ), they do comply with a functional totality (i.e. there is the preservation of the bodily functions and system as a whole). For instance, a person can sacrifice one healthy kidney (a loss of anatomical integrity) and still be able to maintain health and proper bodily functions with the remaining kidney; such a donation would be morally permissible. Using the same reasoning, however, a person cannot sacrifice an eye to give to a blind person, because such an act impairs the bodily functions of the individual.
Pope Pius XII agreed with this understanding of charity and the broader interpretation of the principle of totality, and thereby declared organ transplants from living donors morally acceptable. He underscored the point that the donor is making a sacrifice of himself for the good of another person. Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has also emphasized this point: A…Every organ transplant has its source in a decision of great ethical value: the decision to offer without reward a part of one’s own body for the health and well-being of another person’“ (Address to the Participants in a Congress on Organ Transplants, June 20 1991, No. 3). Here precisely lies the nobility of the gesture, a gesture which is a genuine act of love. It is not just a matter of giving away something that belongs to us but of giving something of ourselves . . .” (No. 3).
Nevertheless, the transplantation of organs from a living donor to another person must fulfill four criteria: (1) the risk involved to the donor in such a transplant must be proportionate to the good obtained for the recipient; (2) the removal of the organ must not seriously impair the donor’s health or bodily function; (3) the prognosis of acceptance is good for the recipient, and (4) the donor must make an informed and free decision recognizing the potential risks involved.
Having established the basic moral teaching governing organ transplants, we need to address several issues which impact upon their morality. While the advances of medical science have enabled the transplantation of organs with increasing success, certain procedures that have been introduced may be possible but not morally acceptable. What is technologically possible is not always morally good. In judging the morality of a procedure, one must maintain the dignity of the human person, who is both body and soul.
As Pope John Paul II taught, “An this area of medical science too the fundamental criterion must be the defense and promotion of the integral good of the human person, in keeping with that unique dignity which is ours by virtue of our humanity. Consequently, it is evident that every medical procedure performed on the human person is subject to limits: not just the limits of what is technically possible, but also limits determined by respect for human nature itself, understood in its fullness: ‘what is technically possible is not for that reason alone morally admissible’ (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Vitae, #4)” (Address to the International Congress on Transplants, No. 2).
One issue concerns the use of animal organs for transplantation to human beings, such as using the heart valve of a pig to replace a human heart valve. This kind of transplantation is called a xenotransplant. First addressed by Pope Pius XII in 1956, the Church maintains that such transplants are morally acceptable on three conditions: (1) the transplanted organ does not impair the integrity of the genetic or psychological identity of the recipient, (2) the transplant has a proven biological record of possible success, and (3) the transplant does not involve inordinate risk for the recipient. (Cf. Pius XII, Address to the Italian Association of Cornea Donors and to Clinical Oculists and Legal Medical Practitioners, May 14, 1956.)
A second issue concerns the use of organs or tissues from aborted children (such as those murdered through partial birth abortion procedures). Actually a lucrative organ “Harvesting” industry is developing which utilizes the organs and tissues of aborted fetuses. A critical point here is that these abortions are performed with the intention of utilizing the organs or tissues of the infant, and in direct conjunction with a particular recipient in mind.
Another facet of this issue is when a child is conceived naturally or through in vitro fertilization to obtain the best genetic match, and then born or even aborted simply for organs or tissues. For example, recently a couple conceived a child for the sole purpose of being a bone marrow donor for another sibling suffering from leukemia; while the conceived child determined to be a good match while still in the womb and was born, one must wonder if the child would have been aborted if he had not been a good match. To participate in an abortion to obtain organs, to conceive a child for organs, or to knowingly use organs from aborted fetuses is morally wrong.
This issue has even become more complicated with the technological research in cloning. Some researchers hope to grow tissue and even organs from stem cells retrieved from human embryos; however, to do so necessitates the destruction of the embryo. Since human life begins at conception and is sacred from that very moment, such destruction is immoral. Pope John Paul II, affirming consistent Catholic principles, asserted, A…These techniques, insofar as they involve the manipulation and destruction of human embryos, are not morally acceptable, even when their proposed goal is good in itself” (Address to International Congress on Transplants, No. 8). Basically, the end does not justify the means. However, the Holy Father encouraged scientists to pursue paths of research which involve using adult stem cells, and which avoid cloning and the use of embryonic cells. In sum, any research must respect the dignity of the human person from the moment of conception.
Another moral question involves the distribution and assignment of organs to waiting recipients. Essentially, the number of recipients exceeds the number of available organs for transplant. While no perfect system will ever exist, the plan of assignment should not be discriminatory (based on age, sex, race, social status, and the like) or utilitarian (based on work capacity, social usefulness, and the like) but should strive to recognize the intrinsic value of each person. Instead, the assignment of organs to donors should proceed on immunological and clinical factors.
Finally, whether someone can sell one of his own organs for transplantation is another issue. The answer is a definitive “No.” The selling of an organ violates the dignity of the human being, eliminates the criterion of true charity for making such a donation, and promotes a market system which benefits only those who can pay, again violating genuine charity. Pope John Paul II has repeatedly underscored this teaching: AA transplant, even a simple blood transfusion, is not like other operations. It must not be separated from the donor’s act of self-giving, from the love that gives life” (Address to the First International Congress of the Society for Organ Sharing, June 24, 1991) and “Accordingly, any procedure which tends to commercialize human organs or to consider them as items for exchange or trade must be considered morally unacceptable, because to use the body as an ‘object’ is to violate the dignity of the human person” (Address to the International Congress on Transplants, No. 3).
Therefore, organ donation is morally permissible under certain conditions. The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services provides the following guidance: “The transplantation of organs from living donors is morally permissible when such a donation will not sacrifice or seriously impair any essential bodily function and the anticipated benefit to the recipient is proportionate to the harm done to the donor. Furthermore, the freedom of the donor must be respected, and economic advantages should not accrue to the donor” (No. 30). Generally, in the case of donating organs after death, the gifts that God has given to us to use in this life — our eyes, hearts, liver, and so on — can be passed on to someone in need. In the case of donating organs while alive, such as giving a healthy kidney to a relative in need, the donor needs to weigh all of the implications; in charity, a potential donor may decide he can not offer an organ, such as if he were a parent and would not want to increase the risk of not being able to care for his own dependent children. Although organ donation is not mandatory, it is commendable as an act of charity.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSaunders, Rev. William. “The Role of Godparents.” Arlington Catholic Herald.This article is reprinted with permission from Arlington Catholic Herald.
Father William Saunders is dean of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College and pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Sterling, Virginia. The above article is a “Straight Answers” column he wrote for the Arlington Catholic Herald. Father Saunders is also the author of Straight Answers, a book based on 100 of his columns and published by Cathedral Press in Baltimore.
As a sacrament, the Eucharist has a double aspect: it is both a sign and the reality signified by it, both a remembering of the past and a making-really-present:
“When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ‘s Passover, and it is made present: the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the Cross remains ever present” (CCC 1564).
Here the three meanings of “present” come together: Christ in the Eucharist is:
1) present, not absent, but really here;
2) present, not past, but happening now;
3) presented as a gift (a “present”), really given; offered, not withheld.
Christ is “present in many ways to His Church” (CCC 1373) but “[t]he mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species [forms, appearances] is unique.
It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as ‘the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend’201 [St. Thomas Aquinas].
In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.’ . . . [I]t is presence in the fullest sense . . . Christ, God and man, makes Himself wholly and entirely present” (CCC 1374).
The Church No Longer Forbids the Practice, but Does NOT Allow The Scattering of Cremated Remains
By Lou Jacquet
To judge by the box-office receipts, millions have watched the final scene in the movie “The Bridges of Madison County.” In it a son and daughter honor their mother’s last request by scattering her ashes from a scenic Iowa bridge.
It’s high drama, a powerful moment. Whatever else it might be, however, it would clearly not be a proper burial if the woman were Catholic.
But the mere fact the woman was cremated is not the issue. Today many Catholics, in speaking with their parish priest about funeral arrangements for themselves or for a loved one, are surprised to learn the Church no longer forbids cremation. What those cinematic heirs did wrong was to ignore the Church’s stipulation that cremated remains (called “cremains”) must receive a proper burial in consecrated ground.
“You can’t store Grandma on the mantel or scatter your father’s ashes across the 13th green of his favorite golf course,” advises Father Peter Polando, canon lawyer and pastor of St. Matthias Parish in Youngstown, Ohio. “The Church has strong feelings about the fact that this body has been a temple of the Holy Spirit and requires a proper burial as a result.”
By definitions supplied from funeral-industry literature, cremation is the process of reducing the body to bone fragments through the application of intense heat. The bone fragments are then pulverized, and placed within a temporary container before being returned to the family.
Catholic burial practice calls for the cremains to be buried in an urn within a consecrated grave or placed inside a mausoleum. Keeping ashes at home or scattering them on land or sea, even where legal, is inappropriate to the Church’s deep reverence for the body as a place where the soul has resided, As “Our Sunday Visitor‘s Catholic Encyclopedia” notes:
“Cremation was the normal custom in the ancient civilized world, except in Egypt, Judea and China. It was repugnant to early Christians because of the belief in the resurrection of the body. By the fifth century, cremation had been largely abandoned in the Roman Empire because of Christian influence.”
These days, cremation has become more common in the United States among persons of various denominations. The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) estimates that out of roughly 2.6 million deaths each year, there are some 471,000 cremations, or about 20 percent. By the year 2010, the association predicts, cremations will account for almost 33 percent of funeral planning. Currently, California far outstrips the nation with 93,221 cremations reported in 1994. CANA says there 1,100 crematories in the United States.
The number of cremations is increasing for three main reasons. First, there is a growing shortage of burial spaces in some sections of the nation. Second, in a mobile society where many people move often, it’s much simpler to transport ashes than a casket. Many elderly who live in the northern states, for example, winter in warmer climates. It’s not unusual for them to leave instructions that, should they die there, their bodies are to be cremated and the remains flown home to be interred in the family burial plot. And a third reason is financial: a cremation typically costs significantly less than a full-scale burial in a casket.
Just when and why did the Church change its teaching on this option?
In his book “Questions and Answers,” syndicated columnist Father John Dietzen explains “the first general legislation banning the burning of bodies as a funeral rite burning of bodies as a funeral rite came from the Vatican’s Holy Office in May 1886, noting the anti-religious and Masonic motivation behind the movement. The 1918 Code of Canon Law continued that ban because cremation was still considered a flagrant rejection of the Christian belief in immortality and the resurrection.”
But now the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, which devotes hundreds of words to some subjects, matter-of-factly devotes only 20 words to the topic: “The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body” (no. 2301).
The current Code of Canon Law (revised in 1983) devotes a mere 30 words that elaborate on the same theme: “The Church earnestly recommends the pious custom of burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching” (no. 1176).
So what happened between the end of World War I and the writing of the revised code? In 1963, the Church began to relax its attitude toward cremation for reasons of national custom, lack of burial space, disease control and other considerations. Now the revised code’s canon incorporates the 1963 decree, but omits any mention of requiring a good reason for cremation.
Father Polando noted that the Canon Law Society of America‘s “Commentary on the Code of Canon Law” is more specific: “In the old code, the former law was quite forceful and restrictive in its opposition to cremation. Actually, the Church has never been against cremation as such, but discouraged it because of the reasons people used to justify it.
“The Church reacts to problems that come to its doorstep,” he continued. “The Church adopted the stance it did because people were using cremation to justify denying the resurrection of the body.”
But now the Church believes those who request cremation aren’t doing so out of any desire to deny bodily resurrection or defame Church teaching. Cremation and a Catholic funeral liturgy would, of course, be denied if that were the case.
Lou Jacquet is editor of the Catholic Exponent, newspaper for the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio.
© “Catholic Heritage”, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750-9957 or call
1-800-348-2440 .This item 645 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org
There are a number of ways to read the Bible. One of the first things Catholics should look for is good footnotes at the bottom of the page that are indexed to other similar texts in the Bible. This helps the reader to understand the particular verse in context, rather than in isolation. The Bible is meant to be read in its entirety, and never to be taken out of context. That is what satan tried to do to Jesus in the desert in Matthew 4 – Taking individual verses out of context, trying to use them to mean something they really don’t.
That method is still used today, by well meaning, but misguided, non-Catholics. By using the footnotes at the bottom of the page, you can turn to a similar verse and see how it is used. Another rule to follow is that you must read the bible with a sense of Tradition, what the original author meant to say, not what you think it means. If you were the author of “Gone with the Wind”, you surely wouldn’t want someone 2000 years from now to come up with an interpretation that Scarlett was a Yankee! Likewise, neither should we come up with interpretations based on what we “think”, or what we “feel” today. The third rule to follow is that no interpretation of the bible can contradict Church teaching, since the Bible is a product of the Church. That would be like saying that a government document contradicts the government agency that issued the document.
In a lot of cases, the New Testament reading is prefigured in the Old Testament. For instance, when one reads that Jesus’ face shone like the sun in Matthew 17, you can flip way back in the Old Testament and see that Moses’ face also shone (Exodus 34). The deeper meaning here is that Moses was a biblical “type”, or foreshadowing of Jesus – Moses was the lawgiver in the Old Testament; Jesus is the lawgiver of the New Testament. Moses went up the mountain and brought down the Word of God to the people for the Old Covenant in Exodus 34; Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, which is the Word of God for the New Covenant.
There are numerous examples of Old Testament types of Jesus. For instance, Jesus is called the Son of David in Matthew 1. David was a Jewish King, Jesus is a Jewish King. The Bible says that David was a shepherd (1 Samuel 16) and was 30 years old (2 Samuel 5) when he became the King of the Jews. David was also from Bethlehem (1 Samuel 17). This foreshadows Jesus exactly, who was also the Good Shepherd of us all (John 10), was 30 years old when he began His public ministry (Luke 3), and who was also born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2). The Old Testament, in Genesis 37, tells the story of Joseph, who was stripped of his garments by his own brothers, and sold to the pagan authorities. Later on, Joseph forgave the very people who had sold him into slavery. Jesus was also sold to the pagan authorities by his own people (Matthew 26), and stripped of his garments (Matthew 27). Jesus also forgave the people who killed him. The innocent Joseph was thrown in jail; the innocent Jesus was thrown in jail. Joseph became Pharaoh’s right hand man; Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father. Joseph gave bread to Israel to save his brothers; Jesus gives us the Eucharist to save us, his brothers. In other words, the people and events of the Old Testament all point to Jesus as Messiah. There are numerous other examples of typology in the Bible. A Bible with lots of good footnotes will point all of these out.
Numerology is also used in the Bible. The number seven (the day God rested from His Creation in Genesis) is the number of perfection. The number 6 is the number of imperfection. We see that Jesus changed the water into wine at the Wedding Feast of Cana on the seventh day of the story, in John 2. John, who starts his Gospel out with the same 3 words that Genesis started out with “In the beginning” is trying to tell us here that Jesus is God, and that there is now a new Covenant, a new creation. The number 6 is used to imply the name of the beast in Revelation 13 (Caesar Nero). Goliath was 6 cubits high (1 Samuel 17).
There are 4 basic levels of scripture to understand:
The literal sense, the allegorical sense, the moral sense, and the anagogical sense. The literal sense is what most people stop at when they read the bible. The literal sense when one reads about a temple in the bible is a big building where everyone went to worship. This is what the Pharisee thought that Jesus was talking about in John 2 when Jesus said “Destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in 3 days.”
However, Jesus was talking about the allegorical sense (how the text refers to Jesus) and the fact that His Body is the new Temple.
The moral sense of scripture is how the verse applies to us and our personal morality. Since the bible says that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 6, then we should not spend one second desecrating our temple by getting drunk, watching impure movies, having an abortion, cursing, etc. The desecration of the temple is what started the whole Maccabean revolt in 1 Maccabees.
The last method, the anagogical sense, refers to the heavenly sense. We know that after the second coming there will be a new heavenly temple (Revelation 21), and the old earth and all of its churches and temples will pass away.
The average bible reader will be very enriched if they concentrate on the moral sense – How the bible verse applies to you personally. For example, when Mary presents the Baby Jesus to God the Father in the Temple (Luke 2), are you personally ready for Mary to present you to God the Father? When Mary and Joseph lose Jesus and find Him in the Temple (Luke 2), do you seek out Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament at Church when you feel lost and forsaken? When Jesus is blinded by his own blood and sweat following the crowning with thorns, do we realize how sinful thoughts in our own head blind us to the saving power of Jesus’ blood and the water from His side at the cross? The list is endless.
And last, we should never put our own personal interpretation on scripture, unless it agrees with the Tradition of the Catholic Church. St. Peter himself warns against this practice in 2 Peter 1 and 2 Peter 3. After over 1600 years of Catholic Biblical history (Pope Damasus I and the Catholic Church approved the canon of the bible in the late fourth Century), the great scholars of the bible like St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas have already got everything figured out for you. Believing that our small 21rst century minds can figure out 4000 year old verses that were written in a very different language and culture, in a very different time, and with very different idiomatic expressions and meanings is the height of pride. You might as well say that you can understand physics on your own without first reading the writings of Einstein and Newton. That is why the Magesterium is needed to interpret scripture.
A good example of why an interpreter of scripture is needed would be the following sentence: “I never said you didn’t have to give me lots of money”. The intent of the writer could mean that I never said it, but I thought it. It could also mean that I expected you to pay me back with a favor instead of money. It could also mean that I never said it, but he did. It could also mean that I expected a loan of money, rather than a gift. It could also mean that I expected a little money, but not a lot. Without the Magesterium interpreting scripture for us through the lens of Sacred Tradition, there are all kinds of ways to misinterpret what the original authors had in mind. For instance, what would the proper meaning of this sentence be: “You never said not to take the bat down”. It would all depend on where the accent is in the sentence – “You never said not to take the bat down” (but your mom did). Or, “You never said not to take the bat down” (but you did write it down for me). Or “You never said not to take the bat down” (but you did say to leave it alone). And what kind of bat is it exactly? A flying rodent, or a baseball bat? Without a proper interpreter of that one sentence, it is impossible to know what the author had in mind. Now multiply that one sentence by the entire Bible!
So get a good Catholic Bible with great indexed footnotes. Read the Bible like Jesus is talking to you personally. Look for Biblical types of Jesus in the Old Testament like Adam, Moses, and Joseph. Don’t take scripture verses out of context. And if studying the Bible doesn’t make you a more loving, kind, and gentle person, then you are doing something wrong. The end result of your scripture study should not make you into a know-it-all arrogant person. It should make you more like Jesus.
Here are basic Catholic Prayers that will give structure to your life.
The Sign of the Cross
The sign of the cross is the simplest of basic catholic prayers.
We should begin our day with the Sign of the Cross… it is a prayer.
In nómine Patris et Fílii et Spíritus Sancti. Amen.
Catholics should begin and end their prayers with the sign of the cross and should cross themselves when passing a church, upon entering a church, and after receiving Communion.
Using your right hand, touch your forehead at the mention of the Father; the lower middle of your chest at the mention of the Son; and the left shoulder on the word “Holy” and the right shoulder on the word “Spirit.”
This prayer strengthens us in temptations and difficulties.
It is often made by athletes before a match, students before an exam, or any time when a person needs courage or protection.
Holy water is “water blessed by the priest with solemn prayer, to beg God’s blessing on those who use it, and protection from the powers of darkness.”
It is a catholic custom to make the sign of the cross with holy water when we enter church.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors;
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
The Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit
Source of all wisdom and knowledge,
Guide me by Your Light,
Teach me what I should say and do,
Fill my heart with Your Love
so I may reflect Your Love
to everyone I meet. Amen
The secret of the saints
Say the name Jesus
The saints had a secret. They were always aware of God’s presence.
Say the name, “Jesus” often, as you would say a friend’s name. Use the name, “Jesus” to drive away fear, to rescue from temptation, to banish loneliness and to conquer your faults.
When you tenderly say the name, “Jesus”, God Himself hears and quickly attends to you.
A constant awareness of God’s presence
The secret of the saints is that they were always aware of Christ’s presence.
For them, heaven and hell were very real. They lived to please Jesus and to gain Heaven.
We can learn from them
If we had this awareness, we would want to talk to Jesus, whether we were riding on a bus, or in a car, or working in an office, school, kitchen, or wherever else we might be.
We would praise God or thank Him or ask for His help
Turning to God doesn’t interfere with other things we do. It blesses our work and brings us closer to Our Lord.
Try to live and act as if Jesus is with you at all times and in all places.
And talk to Him. How much happier your life would be.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
1. I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me.
2. Thou shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day
4. Honor your father and your mother.
5. You shall not kill.
7. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
10. You shall not covet you neighbor’s goods.
The Two Great Commandments that contain the whole law of God are:
You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul, and with your whole mind, and with your whole strength; you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
To love God, our neighbor, and ourselves, we must keep the commandments of God and of the Church, and perform the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
The Chief Commandments or Laws, of the Church:
To assist at Mass on all Sundays and holy days of obligation.
To fast and abstain on the days appointed.
To confess our sins at least once a year.
To receive Holy Communion during the Easter time.
To contribute to the support of the Church.
To observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage.
And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.
The Catholic Church has always taught for centuries the importance of obeying the 10 Commandments.
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations;
Ten Commandments Covenant