Catechism and the Pope

I am neither theologian nor bible scholar. But just a Catholic layperson and would like to share my opinions.

The most recent hot issue is the changing of the Catechism about death penalty by Pope Francis. Then throughout the Twitter, I can see there are a lot of debates on this issue, including some people criticising the Pope.

Therefore, in this post, I will share some of my understandings.

Regarding the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), according to USCCB Question 17,

Because the Catechism presents Catholic doctrine in a complete yet summary way, it naturally contains the infallible doctrinal definitions of the popes and ecumenical councils in the history of the Church.

However, there were interesting articles about authority of the CCC and non-infallible teachings, which should be read as well.

Next, Pope is not a saint. Throughout the Church history, there were some bad popes.

There are some Twitter users share about Summa Theologiae article whether it is lawful to kill sinners. However, we must bear in mind that Summa Theologiae is a great theological work, but it is not infallible.

Since I am not an expert, I cannot discuss more about the death penalty.

However, I would like to share some of the related chapters and verses from the Bible.

St John Gospel chapter 8 mentioned about an adulterous woman, which according to the Law of Moses, she should be stoned to death. However, Jesus responded to the crowd, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”.

Therefore, I am asking myself, if I support death penalty, what is my actual intention? Because of my hatred and my anger towards someone? Or is it because, if my beloved is murdered, I can revenge in the name of justice? And also, if I oppose death penalty, what is my actual intention? Do I just simply follow whatever Pope says?

In Gal 2:11, it mentions that Apostle Paul “opposed [Peter] to his face because he clearly was wrong”. Therefore, I don’t think it is wrong to oppose the Pope, if the Pope is wrong. However, we must be careful to ourselves, because the way we oppose may lead to more confusion, especially when we are using social network and we have some followers. And one should pray that he or she is not opposing the Pope because of pride.

In 1 Cor 1:12-13, it says that Corinthians were dividing themselves, some say they belong to Paul, some belong to Apollos, some belong to Cephas, and some belong to Christ. Similarly, this kind of behaviour continues until today. Therefore, as Catholics, we should continually pray for the Pope and the unity of the Church.

Prayer life

There are three ways of prayer according to Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  1. Vocal prayer 口祷
  2. Meditation 默想(运用思维、想像、情感、渴望)
  3. Contemplation 心祷

What is the difference between meditation and contemplation? The following part is a summary from here.

Contemplative prayer is more passive or sublime experience of God. Meditative prayer is more from our work of seeking God (though with the aid from God). Contemplative prayer can be distinguished as the pure work from God.

However, meditation can be again differentiate with discursive meditation and affective meditation. Discursive meditation is more to logical analysis to discover the insight or deeper understanding about the God. And this discovery will lead to the conversation with God such as thanksgiving, praise, contrition, and petition.

Affective meditation is more to conversation (not necessarily emotional) from the soul.

After a period of spiritual maturity, a person without much discursive effort, can enter into “prayer of simplicity” (or prayer of quiet). This is the contemplative prayer.

A deeper contemplative prayer is “infused contemplation” which God submerges us in himself and we feel a union with him. This is actually another level of prayer.

Therefore the, most active mental prayer is discursive meditation, which leads to affective meditation, then followed by the contemplation.

However, sometimes we feel that our prayer life is not growing, or worse. So, to understand this, I summarized another post.

The faculties of the soul are intellect and will. Where the intellect allows us to know something abstract (not exactly knowing what or how); will allows us to freely choose good things. Contrary to our sense faculties, they are sight, sound, touch, taste, smell. Emotional and imaginationconsolation” is more to the sense faculties. “Consolation” can also be experienced by intellect and will. Without these consolation, we are in the dryness of prayer. The dryness may come from ourselves, or from God, so that we are not looking for the “consolation”, but God himself, to grow our faith.

Consolation is a sense of presence of God in our souls and hearts, new insight about God, about the world, about ourselves, during meditation or prayer (refers from here).

The dryness from God, can also be assumed as “passive purification“, that is to burn our impurities that are beyond our reach. While “active purification” is our own acts such as mortification.

The long period of dryness on the level of emotions and imagination is also known as “dark night of the senses” (stated by St John of the Cross). If it is on the level of intellect and will, it is “dark night of the soul“. That is how the holy souls suffer in the purgatory (refers from here).

Grace, grace, grace, which I always confused

When I read Catechism, the term “grace” is quite confusing. There are at least four types of grace I read: sanctifying grace, habitual grace, actual grace, and special grace. So, recently, I tried to solve my confusion by going through these differences. By reading the Catechism again and again (the related part only), and also some other resources, so, I simplify them,

Sanctifying (or deifying) grace = 圣化恩宠, permanent state of grace.
Habitual grace = 常居的恩宠(宠爱), is also sanctifying grace.
Actual grace = 现时的恩宠(宠佑), transient help to act (intervention of God), different from habitual grace. Also called “gratuitous grace” in Summa Theologica.
Special grace = 特别的恩宠(神恩), also charism, oriented to sanctifying grace. Considered actual grace.

So, conclusion, grace is actually divided into two: sanctifying grace and actual grace.

But I also found something about sacramental grace. Sacramental grace is the grace received when receiving sacraments. So, the grace can be sanctifying grace for permanent or actual grace.

Prayer Clock 0.0.6

Just to announce that the Prayer Clock 0.0.6 is released.

I have redesigned the algorithm and the data structure. Besides that, some features are added such as “Prayers” item that allows the user to show different prayers. The followings are some screenshots:

GTK+ in Windows.

GTK+ in Ubuntu Linux. Very nice, right?

Since Easter is coming, hopefully I have time to add in Divine Mercy Novena.

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Prayer Clock

Written by using C and C++, depends on GTK+ and Expat. I spent about 3 days to study GTK+ and Expat since never used them before. I wrote this application because sometimes, I want to say a prayer, especially Angelus. But I need the prayer to read and also a reminder. So, I decided to wrote this program, at the same time I can also learn about GTK+ and Expat. And I decided to open source it as a contribution to Catholics.

I upload it with the source code included. Click here to download. There is a lot of improvements can be added.

After running the program, minimise it. Then at 6:00 am, 12:00 am, and 6:00 pm, the window will pop-up with Angelus. At 3:00 pm, 3 o’clock prayer to the Divine Mercy will pop-up.

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Wedding at Cana

Today’s Gospel reading is very nice. And it is so meaningful. I like it very much.

When they were ran out of wine, Mother Mary said to Jesus, “They have no wine”.

This is how we should pray. We always pray to God that, we want this, we want that, we want a car, we want a house, we want money, we want a happy life, etc. We always ask for God what we want, because we think that we know what we need. But God knows better than us. God knows what we need. “They have no wine”, and Jesus knew what he should do.

Jesus did not promise to do anything after Mother Mary told him “they have no wine”. But Mother Mary said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you”.

We always ask something from God, but do we do whatever He tells us?

Sure, at the end of the story, miracle happened. And the story tells us what is the role of Mother Mary in our Christian life.

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