Friday, January 18, 2008

Dad by the Hour

I was the feast day of the Holy Family, just a few weeks back. It has always been special to me because It was our Family's patron Saint Feast day, per order of my father. Every year my father used to give an offering for a Mass to be said for our family's intentions. I some ways, it was more difficult for me to be away from home for my first absence at this celebration than it was to miss Christmas for the first time.
This year, the homily was especially striking because it started with a story that I had not heard before. I bring this out because at my age, a person has heard plenty of stories, in and out of church; in and out of the armed forces; in and out of school; in and out of bars and finally, in and out of the work place. So it takes a good story to get me to sit down and invite the world to listen to it. So, now that I have got this far, and you too, stick with it. It won't take long to get to the bottom line.

One day and young boy of 10 years old approached his father after supper, just before the father sat down to go over the latest emails that were arriving from the Asian offices.
"Dad," the young man deferentially began, "how much money do you make every hour?"
The father was shocked at such a daring question from such a young boy. He was also shocked because the boy was always polite and respectful to father and mother. So he decided to give him a gentle lesson.
"Son, that is not a question that I answer in this house. Even your mother doesn't ask me that. Even your mother does not know how much money I am paid for every hour."
The boy, much to his father's surprise, persisted,
"Dad, I really have to know. I won't tell anyone else."
The emotion in the boy's voice betrayed the tremendous effort that he was putting into being strong in his quest for an answer.
The father simply said, "I don't talk about that subject."
The boy, head hanging low, walked away from his father. It was useless for him to try to study. His hand was not steady enough to write his school assignment. He opened one of his school books and tried to hide his face in it, but it was useless to try to read.

The father went to his desk, turned on the computer and went to work.
Soon the boy went to his room and ran the the routine of getting ready for the night.
It was impossible for him to sleep. Little did he know what his father was suffering at the same time.
It was impossible for his father to concentrate on his work. He answered the email with short and clipped sentences. The instant the flow stopped, he shut the machine down, got up and decided to go to his son's bedside. When he got there it was easy for him to see the the son was feigning sleep. So he touched him and called his name gently. The boy turned on his back and met his father's now, much gentler, gaze.

"Son," the father began, "why are you so nervous about this?"
"Dad, I really have to know. It's really important to me. Please believe me."
"I realize that it is. I am convinced that I really should tell you. Just man to man, right?"
"Yes, Dad, I promise."
"I get paid $ 20.00 per hour."
"Oh, that's good" replied the son as he turned on his side and reached his young arm around the pillow and dug underneath it. When his hand came out he was clutching an envelope which he opened and pulled out twenty dollars that he had finally accumulated. He stretched out his hand and pleaded,
"Dad, please spend an hour with me."

If you have heard or read this before, let me remind you of the old Latin proverb that says,
"that good story which is repeated, pleases you twice." I don't regret having shared it with you. The point of it is clear. Don't ever put yourself in the position of having to be paid to spend time with your children.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


This morning, 1/15/2008, I had a very emotionally explosive experience. I invite you all to spend a moment or two with me.
I do not want you to think that this is one of those "chain letter" type of stories. This is a true narration of an honest person's Christian encounter. I know the person who is telling the story. This is a catechist and a Bible Study Session Leader in our parish. This is a true story.

She said:
I would like to tell you what happened between me and my next door neighbor. We have been neighbors for more than 15 years now. We have always been civil and we have never had any untoward confrontations. We have come to know one another as neighbors and have always been rather friendly. I have told her that I am Catholic and she sees the kind of life that I and my husband lead. Naturally, I also see what kind of life she leads. She is a clean person. She has never called herself anything but "Christian", never anything but that. It has also been very evident that she allows any and all species of missionaries to come into her house. It mattered not whether they were Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons or other devoted missionaries. She and I never mentioned anything about our religious convictions other than to tell one another our labels; "Catholic", "Christian."

One day, some four months ago, one morning, my neighbor asked me, "Why have you never come to my door to ask me to talk about your religion?" All I could say was that I prayed for her every day and I was leaving our meeting about religion up to God.
She told me that she knew that I am a prayerful person. She said that she hoped that I was praying for her. She then asked me, "Would you come to my house and pray with me?"

I immediately said that I would. It has now been slightly more than three months that I have been going to her house for two hours, one day per week to pray the rosary (wow), to read the Scripture readings of the week as they are scheduled in the Catholic Liturgy and to exchange convictions about the meaning of the Sacred Scripture. I have noticed that I am now the only one going to her house. I am waiting for the day when she will ask me to accompany me to Mass.

I have never tried to force any belief on her, but she is full of questions. I only answer her from the bottom of my heart and from the pool of faith that I have. She always seems to be comfortable with my very personal answers. I think that she sees that they are soul answers and appreciates that. It makes me happy that after all these 15 years of words and lip service about God that my simple "from the heart" answers seem to carry more weight than those automatic lip service answers that she heard before.

It has only been slightly more than three months. I pray every day in anticipation of what God is going to ask of me next in this matter. Please pray for me so that I will be ready.

This is a true story. I heard it just today, 9 hours ago.

This loving disciple of Jesus doesn't need you to cry at her funeral. I've told you this story to let you know that you don't have to cry at my funeral, because after hearing this, I think that I have already died and gone to heaven.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


By Paul Dion, STL

“Our faith tells us the germs and bacteria that affects those who administer the body and blood of our Lord cannot possibly be shared with others due to the protective forces that surrounds those sacred species.”

I do not accept that the Body and Blood of Christ can communicate anything bur the best of health - spiritual, mental, and physical. The lips and hands of sinners, regardless of their state of grace, may well so do; we should take all appropriate steps to prevent such propagation.
minimize the danger of passing on the contagion."

My Opinion

I have to offer an answer to these very daring and interesting statements. They came about because of a meeting in which the leader of the health ministry was asking for awareness with regards the possibility of an epidemic of the bird flu. She was making a point that the church would institute some training for Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist to minimize the danger of passing on the contagion. It didn’t take long before a discussion ensued about the possibility of parishioners being contaminated by coming in contact with the chicken flu germs that might be on the consecrated host and on the chalice containing the consecrated wine. The position above was staunchly expostulated as a matter of Dogma and was never really refuted. The discussion came to an end only when the pastor mentioned that the practices that would be followed in the parish would be mandated by the bishop’s office and that we would follow them in our parish.

Before I go too far down this road, I have to say that I may have to use some words that are not really common, every day words. I will do my best to keep everything within the bounds of familiar vocabulary.

The Eucharist

Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the consecrated host and the consecrated wine. This Real Presence is called the Sacramental Presence. It takes place at the moment of consecration when the priest pronounces the words of the Institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist: “This is my Body”, followed by: “This is my Blood, the Blood of the new and everlasting covenant which will be given up for you. Do this in memory of me.”
This is the moment when a miraculous and mysterious conversion called Transubstantiation takes place. This conversion has the effect of changing the bread and the wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This action is dogmatically defined by the Church.

This does not mean that the bread is the body and the wine is the blood. By Church Dogma we believe that Jesus Christ is sacramentally present in body and blood in each “species”, the bread and the wine. Both, the bread and the wine are converted, from their substance to the substance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is therefore doctrinally correct to say that the bread and the wine are the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Question: Why does the bread keep its bread flavor? Ditto for the wine?

The conversion from bread and wine to the body and blood of Jesus Christ changes the substance of the two species, bread and wine, but doesn’t take away their qualities - nor their properties of bread and wine. They retain all the appearances, feel, taste, ingredients and yes, alcoholic and sugar content too of bread and wine. They retain the substance of the Real Presence for as long as they retain their pure and true qualities of bread and wine. When they lose their identity as true bread and wine as good, edible food, they also lose the Divine Substance that they had before their natural degeneration.

So what about germs?

Germs, bacteria, viruses, dust, mist, poison, etc. are all substances that can join themselves to the qualities and properties of the bread and wine that have now become substantially body and blood of Jesus Christ. These beings do not change their nature when they come in contact with the sacred, sacramental substance.

These beings can affect us when they enter our bodies, no matter what platform they use as a springboard to get to us. If our immune system is not strong enough to fend them off, we get ill. It is not because they use the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ as a means to get to us that we will be protected against the effects of their attack.

This is easy to understand when we believe in the creation action of God Himself. He is the creator of nature and He does not tamper with the forces of nature that He Himself created.
It is easy to understand that drinking too much of the Sacred Blood from the chalice will have the same effect as that of non-transubstantiated wine. It will inebriate the person who drinks too much of it. There is in fact a law that allows alcoholic priests to get permission from the Vatican to use pure grape juice in the celebration of the Holy Mass. This protects them from the effects of alcohol on them.

The mystery of the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ is a sacramental one. Just as Jesus, true God and true man, was fully susceptible to illness and injury, so are we when we come in contact with germs transferred to us from His glorified presence in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Historic examples of Church conduct about contagious disease and Communion

Bishop Acts to Keep the Flu From the Flock [NYT] November 28, 2004
Bishop Kenneth Angell of Vermont is modifying his services to help stop the spread of this year's deadly flu virus: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington is the only one in the country that has formally asked priests to refrain from using the communion chalice and parishioners to avoid the usual handshake, hug or kiss when they make the sign of peace during Mass until the end of flu season, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says.

Other dioceses are taking precautionary measures, like encouraging hand-washing, requesting that sick people refrain from taking communion and encouraging those uncomfortable with shaking hands not to do so, a spokesman for the conference said.

During the SARS epidemic Canadian Catholic churches made similar modifications to Easter services. [CBC]

April 17, 2003 Toronto, Ontario
The news spread, however, and is raising concerns. The Archdiocese of Toronto ordered all of its churches to change customary Holy Communion practices this Easter because of the outbreak among the Catholic group. Delivering Communion from the cup will be suspended, as will kissing the Crucifix on Good Friday and shaking hands for the sign of peace.

August, 2003 My dear People of God,

Due to the SARS epidemic, precautions must be taken to contain its spread. We will appreciate if you can kindly follow the following instructions:

1. If you are suspected of the illness, or have been in contact with people infected with this problem, please refrain from attending Mass on Sundays. 2. Holy Communion is to be received on your palm and not on the tongue.

These instructions are to be observed as long as we are faced with this epidemic. Let’s pray that this epidemic will be contained soon. Let’s take all the necessary precautions and trust in the Lord.

Yours devotedly in Christ, Archbishop Nicholas Chia


It is not a matter of faith and our Catholic doctrine that you can’t pass germs through the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion.

If you can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am wrong, I will willingly change my position in public just to make you so happy that you will not have any temptation to cry at my funeral.