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Q&A  June AD 2012
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

Q&A Archives
Was Saint Paul a Priest?
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?
Praying the Psalms?
Drinking Wine?

Our Lady of the Rosary
Was Saint Paul a Priest?

Question:  In 1 Corinthians i: 7, Saint Paul wrote “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.” Was Saint Paul a priest? (Sr. C.M.P.)

Answer:  Preaching and the administration of the Sacraments are both functions of those in Holy Orders, deacons and above.  Most likely, Saint Paul was emphasizing his role as an evangelist, for he carried out that role with most exemplary devotion.  There is no implication that he never baptized, and no possibility that he was incapable of baptizing.

That Paul was an Apostle is clear from his writings:  “Am not I an apostle? Have not I seen Christ Jesus our Lord?”[1]  “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle....”[2]  “Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father....”[3]

For the most part, the Apostles were those close followers of Jesus who were with Him at the Last Supper and were given the power of celebrating Mass.  This would even seem to include Judas, for Saint John’s Gospel places Judas’ leaving sometime after the Supper.[4]  It is assumed that Matthias, who was with Jesus “beginning from the baptism of John, until the day wherein he was taken up from us,” and who was chosen by lot, and “was numbered with the eleven apostles” was ordained bishop by the Apostles, although there is no certain mention of this.

That Saint Paul had “seen Jesus Christ our Lord” qualified him to be an Apostle, but did not necessarily make him one, nor make him a bishop.  We know that he was baptized only after his experience on the road to Damascus, and since the Ascension, Baptism must be received before ordination.[5]

We do have a number of passages which imply that Saint Paul was a priest.  In Acts xii we read about the Apostles “imposing their hands upon” Saul (Paul) and Barnabas:

Acts xiii: [2] And as they were ministering to the Lord, and fasting, the Holy Ghost said to them: Separate me Saul and Barnabas, for the work whereunto I have taken them. [3] Then they, fasting and praying, and imposing their hands upon them, sent them away.

    This could have been a special blessing for their mission.  It is unlikely that it was Sacramental Confirmation for in the early Church most people were Confirmed at Baptism.  Possibly it refers to the ordination of Paul and Barnabas as priests or bishops.

In Acts xix:  It is not certain that Paul administered Baptism, but he clearly did administer Confirmation to the newly baptized.  For this he had to be a bishop:

Acts xix: [4] Then Paul said: John baptized the people with the baptism of penance, saying: That they should believe in him who was to come after him, that is to say, in Jesus. [5] Having heard these things, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  [6] And when Paul had imposed his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

Acts xx:7-11 chronicles the celebration of Mass in a city named Troas.  In addition to preaching, Paul seems to be the one “breaking the bread,” the term first used for the Eucharistic Sacrifice, making Paul the celebrating priest or bishop:

Acts xx: [7] And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, being to depart on the morrow: and he continued his speech until midnight. [8] And there were a great number of lamps in the upper chamber where we were assembled. [9] And a certain young man named Etychus, sitting on the window, being oppressed with a deep sleep, (as Paul was long preaching,) by occasion of his sleep fell from the third loft down, and was taken up dead. [10] To whom, when Paul had gone down, he laid himself upon him, and embracing him, said: Be not troubled, for his soul is in him.  [11] Then going up, and breaking bread and tasting, and having talked a long time to them, until daylight, so he departed.

In 1 Corinthians xi: 23-26, Paul speaks of being the one who introduced them to the Mass, something he could not have done were he not at least a priest, and, more likely, a bishop who gave some among the Corinthians the priestly power to celebrate Mass:

[23] For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. [24] And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me.  In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.  [26] For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until he come.

    The Roman Martyrology has Timothy dying as Bishop of Ephesus, and tradition has it that he was consecrated by Saint Paul shortly before Paul’s martyrdom in Rome.  Timothy had also been held prisoner at Rome, and in the Epistle to the Hebrews we learn that he had been set free.[6]

Paul wrote to Titus about his having appointed the latter to ordain priests (making Titus a bishop) for the Churches of Crete:

Titus i [5] For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and shouldest ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed thee:

    It was a Paul who set out the qualifications for those who would be consecrated bishops—something a bit presumptuous if Paul were not himself in bishop’s Orders:

1 Timothy iii: [1] A faithful saying: if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. [2] It behoveth therefore a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, prudent, of good behaviour, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher, [3] Not given to wine, no striker, but modest, not quarrelsome, not covetous, but [4] One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all chastity. [5] But if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?  [6] Not a neophyte: lest being puffed up with pride, he fall into the judgment of the devil. [7] Moreover he must have a good testimony of them who are without: lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. [8] Deacons in like manner chaste, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre: [9] Holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience. [10] And let these also first be proved: and so let them minister, having no crime.

While it may not be possible to prove unequivocally from Scripture that Saint Paul was a priest, such is clearly implied in many passages.  It is the tradition of the Catholic Church that he was an Apostle like the others, possessing and exercising the fullness of the priesthood—a bishop of Holy Church.

Our Lady of the Rosary
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?

Question:   On first Fridays we have an hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, during which we say Vespers and Compline.  What are we to do during the time in between?  (M.A.H)

Answer:  For those who may not know, Vespers is the evening prayer of the Church, and Compline is the bedtime prayer.  Together with six other sets of prayer, they make up the Divine Office.  For the most part, the Office consists of passages from the Old Testament Book of Psalms.

When the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration it is proper to make all genuflections by kneeling briefly on both knees.  Sometimes this is called a “double genuflection.”  The church should always be a quiet place without individual conversation, but all the more so in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

We have about fifteen or twenty minutes between Vespers and Compline in order to allow individual prayers according to personal taste.  This individual prayer might take the form of reading from the Scriptures, or from some other devotional book.  It might draw from the formal prayers of the Church—the Lords’ Prayer, the Hail Mary, etc.  Five decades of the Rosary fill the time period nicely, and the mysteries might be chosen with regard to the mysteries already completed that day.  One may pray without formal means, seeking to know and love God through the human faculties of the soul.  Perhaps the highest form of prayer—one that grows from the lower forms—is called “passive prayer” or “contemplation,” in which the soul is open to God without actively exercising the intellect or well.  The presence of our Lord in the quiet of the church may be the most likely circumstance for the soul to experience this contemplation, but it should be remembered that it is a free gift from God which cannot be forced, which may happen under other circumstances, and may not happen at all.  The pious soul may sometimes have to be content with one of the more active forms of prayer.

One of the reasons form maintaining silence in church at all times is that Catholics are always free to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, and have the right to do so undisturbed by unnecessary noise and conversation—and God has the right to the undisturbed prayers of His faithful.


Our Lady of the Rosary
Praying the Psalms?

Question:  I have difficulty reading the Psalms of the Office.  Can you make any suggestions?  (P.A.L.)

Answer:  You might have a look at some different translations.  Most if the modern Catholic stuff leaves me cold because it seems to casual, but some people are distracted by the “stained glass English” of the Douay Rheims Bible and would do better with something more recently translated.  My personal favorite is the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine version, but it is out of print and not online.  Whatever version you chose, it should be both intelligible and uplifting for you.

It also might help to be familiar with the other books of the Old Testament from Genesis through the Books of Kings.  A lot of the Psalms presuppose a knowledge of Jewish history, especially of the Exodus and the conquest of Palestine by people from Joshua through King David.  A few Psalms also refer to the Exile in Babylon.  If you have access to a book on the chief characters of the Old Testament, that book might be useful whenever an unfamiliar name appears.

The maps of the Holy Land often found as an appendix to the Bible will help to make sense of the place names encountered in the Psalms, and to distinguish the tribes of Israel from the places.  Thabor, Hermon, and Sion are place names (mountains, in fact), while Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manassa are tribes (the last two together constituting the tribe of Joseph).  It is probably best to ignore the differences in spelling between one Bible version and another.

With a little bit of Holy Land geography and Jewish history you should be able to figure out that “the river” is the Jordan and “the sea” is the Mediterranean, and the “vine” or “vineyard” is the Jewish people.[7]  Be prepared to appreciate the nature imagery which celebrates the greatness of  God in what He has created—Psalm xvii is a prime example.[8]

It is often worthwhile to think about who is speaking through the Psalm.  Sometime it is God addressing Israel, sometime it is David or someone else addressing God.  Making this distinction helps to make sense out of the text.  Some texts are intended simply to praise God without telling anything of a story.  Some Psalms are prayers of petition.  Some are lamentations in distress.

Unless they are under obligation to pray the Office in its entirety, I tell people to pray carefully, and not to try to get in as much as humanly possible.  Pray fewer Psalms if doing so gives you the time to pay more close attention to the ones you do pray.  The most distracting form of prayer is the one that sounds like the tobacco auctioneer zipping through a lot of words without thinking much about any of them:



Our Lady of the Rosary
Wine Drinking

Question:  A preacher on the TV said that people who drink wine (and stronger drink) will not be allowed in the Kingdom of Heaven.  He said Jesus drank only grape juice, and not wine.  Does he have any basis for this? (J.A.),

Answer:  You can prove virtually anything with the Bible if you are willing to snip a tiny enough quote out of context.  This is sometimes called “snippet theology.”  The phrase “There is no God” appears at least twice in the Bible, and if you are willing to ignore the fact that the phrase is attributed to “The fool” you might claim to validate atheism with the Bible![9]

The priests of the Old Testament were forbidden under penalty of death to “drink wine or anything that would make them drunk when they entered the tabernacle of the testimony,” lest their sacred office be impaired by a foggy mind or lack of physical coordination.[10]

Those making the Nazarite vow would abstain not only from wine, but from grapes and raisins—but this only until the time of their vow expired.[11]

The proverb says: “Wine is a luxurious thing, and drunkenness riotous: whosoever is delighted therewith shall not be wise.”[12]  King James translates this as “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”[13]

The advice in the Bible about wine is about its inappropriate use or abuse.  It is not a condemnation of wine or any strong drink as being intrinsically evil.  Anyone with a Bible concordance or Internet search tool can find numerous references to wine as a good gift from God:

Numbers xv: [4] Whosoever immolateth the victim, shall offer a sacrifice of fine flour, the tenth part of an ephi, tempered with the fourth part of a hin of oil: [5] And he shall give the same measure of wine to pour out in libations for the holocaust or for the victim.

Psalm ciii: [15] And that wine may cheer the heart of man. That he may make the face cheerful with oil: and that bread may strengthen man's heart.

Ecclesiasticus xxxi:[36] Wine drunken with moderation is the joy of the soul and the heart.

It would be beyond absurd to suggest that Jesus Christ was trying to keep people out of heaven by turning water into wine for the enjoyment of the guests at the wedding in Cana of Galilee.[14]  The Jewish people drink wine in moderation when they eat the Passover sacrifice, and our Lord carried this forth in establishing the Sacrifice of the Mass at the Last Supper, and indeed speaks about drinking wine in heaven.

Matthew xxvi: [29] And I say to you, I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.

Saint Paul urged Timothy not to “drink water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thy frequent infirmities.”[15]  And when people in the crowd suggested that the Apostles might be drunk (filled with new wine) he replied “For these are not drunk, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.”[16]  It wasn’t that the Apostles never drank wine, it was just too early to have been drinking very much of it.

Fermentation is the natural process that people have used for millennia to preserve foods that would quickly spoil without refrigeration.  Wine, beer, cider, and yogurt are nature’s way of using a beneficial microorganism to keep a harmful one at bay.  And the alcohol and vinegar produced by fermentation are used to preserve a number of other foods.  Fermented beverages are often far safer to drink than the untreated water from an untested stream or well.  Such techniques were well known to the people of the Bible.  To suggest that Jesus drank only grape juice reveals an ignorance of the culture in which He lived.



[7]   Cf Psalm lxxix: 12 ff

[9]   Psalms xiii and lii, both verse 1.

[16]   Acts Of Apostles ii:15

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