What did Our Lord mean its " There are some of them that stand here that • shall not taste death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom "? (J. McC.)
Our Lord ended His discourse with these words (Matthew 16. 28) to emphasise the urgency and importance of thc vocation to discipleship he had just made. The " cornbig " to which he,refcrs is not the last judgment. This is clear not only because Christ knew that none of those who were listening to Him then would be alive at the end of
the world but from the context. He had described His second coming in the previous verse in terms se entirely different from those which Ik used in the present text as to show that He had two distinct events in mind. " The Son of Man coming in His K ingdom " refers, therefore, to some occurdice in the not remote future, This, very probably, was the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem The sense of the passage suggests that the event would be in the form of a judgment.
The expression " a coming " is not infrequently used in Scripture to denote no nuke than a manifestation of God's power. Finally, this destruction took place after Christ's death when He was reigning in His kingdom yet was not so remote but that some of His hearers would have been alive to see it. This interpretation is made the more likely by the fact that on a later occasion (cf. Matthew 2.4) Christ clearly prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem in connection with the last judgment.
How are the New Testament references to the brothers of the Lord to be
explained? Had Mary other children besides Jesus? (NI, C.)
It is certain that Jesus was Mary's only child. This is the teaching of the Church and it is supported by early Christian tritdi
(ion and the Scriptures themselves. The references to the brethren of the Lord present no serious difficulty The Jews commonly used brother in a wide sense to cover other more remote relationships. in Genesis 29. 12, for example. Laban and Jacob, though uncle and nephew,are described as brethren_ There are many passages in the Gospels which show that Mary had only one child. Christ's solemn committing of His mother to the care of St. John, when He was dying, is unintelligible if we arc to suppose that she had other sons. Christian writers from the earliest times took Mary's words to the angel, " How shall this be done because I know not man," as showing that she had taken a vow of virginity. This is clearly inconsistent with her having a family. Those referred to as the brethren of the Lord in the New Testament arc certainly not His brothers in our sense of the word but more distant relation,. probably 'cousins.
Is not entering a convent a cowardly way of avoiding the responsibilitiee of this world? (T. H.)
Man's first duty is LO God and not to the world. Those who have reason to think that they can serve God best as religious are dearly right in choosing that life. We do not deny that religious have to give up some good and character-forming responsibilites; but these are not avoided because they are responsibilities but are given up in order that the religious should be free to devote all his time and strength to a nobler and even more onerous responsibility. namely, to the achieving the perfection Christ taught.
There is nothing cowardly about this sort of life. The constant and lifelong effort every religious binds himsell Co make to strive after perfection should test and develop to the full not only courage but every human virtue. The fine record of unselfish and courageous work of many religious who labour among the. poor at home or on missions abroad goes to show the value and quality of the religious training. The sacrifices most people have to make to enter a
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convent, the hardships and trials a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience entails are generally sufficient to discourage anyone from taking this step under the misapprehension that religious life is easy or without responsibility.
Why does the Church forbid cremation? (R. M. D.)
The Church forbids cremation because she regards it as a pagan custom not conducive to the due reverence to bc shown to the dead. For Catholics, the body is holy, the temple of the Holy Ghost, and death (a punishment for sin) is only a resting till the day of the glorious resurrection. Christian burial serves to bring home to us these truths. On the other hand, cremation symbolises the pagan belief about death-annihilation. It should be noted, however, that the Church could allow cremation if there were grave necessity, as, for instance, on the battlefield in war-time, in time of plague or if the civil law imposed it. But in any such case the Church would be careful to explain that cremation does no prejudice to the resurrection of the body. This would be necessary, as some ill-informed Catholics might be troubled if cremation were imposed by law.
Who are the Preadamitcs? Mce.)
The Preadamites were the supposed inhabitants of the earth prior to Adam. Theories that such people did exist have been put forward at various times and in various forms. The best known exponent, Isaac de La Peyrere, a Calvinist of Bordeaux, maintained in 1555 that the Jews alone were Sprung from Adam and the Gentiles were descendants of ancestors created before Adam. 'His theory, founded on a misinterpretation of the Scriptures, caused a sensation at the time, but being obviously irreconcilable with many passages in the book of Genesis and with the doctrine of the universality of original sin, rapidly lost what approval it had gained. De La Peyrere himself 'renounced his error and became a Catholic.
Did not Nicodemus confess that Our Lord was God before St Peter did? (J. McC.)
Our questioner is presumably referring to Nicodemus' words recorded in John 3, 2:-" Rabbi, we know that thou come a teacher from Geld; for no man can do those things which thou dog, unless God be with him." This is not a profession of Christ's divinity. The prophets were teachers sent by God and their works showed that God was with them. There is no evidence that Nicodemus, at this time, regarded Christ as more than a prophet. Are words to he taken literally A heret.
when He said " You shall say to this mountain, remove from hence hither and it shall remove "? Matt. 111, 19. (J. McC.) Our Lord was not literally commanding His hearers then and there to exercise their faish by removing the mountain at the foot of which He was standing. To move mouns tains was then as now a proverbial way of speaking of difficult or impossible tasks. Christ was teaching that there is nothing that faith cannot obtain from God so long as what is asked contributes to the good of others and His glory. Even the literal moving of a mountain is not to be excluded from this promise.
Does Hitler reaUy persecute the Catholic
Church, and, ./ so, why does not Southern Ireland join the war against persecution? (O'L.)
That Hitler's Government dims persecute
the Church there can be absolutely no doubt. Indeed, the persecution is so constant and systematic as to show that the regime aims at the total destruction of the Christian religion in Germany. Overwhelming proof of this is to be found, for example, in the fully documented book, The Persecution of the Catholic Church in the Third Reich, which most free libraries would be prepared to get if they have not already a copy. The Government of Eire has made no full and official statement of its reasons for remaining neutral. Without this we can only form an opiaion of what these reasons are from the views current among Irishmen. Dr. Heenan's admirable series of articles " What Ireland Thinks," which recently appeared in the CATHOUC HERALD. gives a clear impression WofiDthdeseo pvriieeswtss. say
ally high speed, thus giving scandal to non-Catholics? (J. P.) The time prescribed for saying Low Mass is not much more than half an hour, and not less than Twenty minutes. If the priest keeps within these limits he is not saying Mass at an unnetural speed nor is he giving just ea:: for scandal. How scacanial.
il enter a monastery like Prinknash Abbey 7 (1). F.) Canon Law demands that a candidate must be sixte,en years of age before he makes his profession. You could therefore apply for admission a year or two earlier.
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eret°rebesa nth es appear in print. Correspondents, therefore, requiring an inunediate answer should send a stamped addressed envelope.