Health/Running

Catholics will begin to wonder if they should go to Mass or not, and what if Mass is not available. The coronavirus is radically changing our society and Canon Lawyer Ed Peters’ provides an excellent primer on “to go to Mass or not to go to Mass.”

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The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and (locally observed) holy days of obligation set out in Canons 1246-1248 (see also CCC 2180-2183) is gravely binding in conscience. No reliable commentator disputes this. The Church does not, however, enforce this attendance obligation in the external forum (e.g., Church police do not take attendance at Mass and issue tickets to no-shows), but she has articulated guidance to assist observant Catholics in assessing their obligations under various circumstances.

Preliminary point.

Regular ILOTL readers know that, in discussing some questions regarding the Mass attendance obligation, I do not apply the “How much can I miss and Mass still counts?” analysis and instead prefer a “Why did I miss however much of Mass I missed?” assessment of one’s reasons and/or justifications for missing part or all of an obligatory Mass. That same approach—one that asks not How much of it did I miss, but Why did I miss it?—helps one assess, I suggest, the force of one’s Mass attendance obligations in times of pestilence.

Three factors can obviate one’s obligation to attend certain Masses, namely: impossibility, dispensation, or excuse.

Impossibility.

Since ancient times it has been recognized that no one is bound to the impossible. If Mass has been canceled in one’s locale (and even though some effort to find a Mass outside of one’s usual locale is expected), one is not required to undertake burdensome efforts to find and attend a Mass somewhere else. Indeed, canon law anticipates that attendance at Mass, even obligatory Masses, might be impossible sometimes and recommends that the faithful engage in some other liturgical exercise (say, the Liturgy of the Hours, per Canon 1174) or otherwise spend an appropriate amount of time in prayer, per Canon 1248. Watching a televised Mass might be a good exercise but such exercises do not satisfy the Mass attendance obligation—that obligation having been obviated by impossibility—for only attendance at Mass satisfies a Mass attendance obligation.

Dispensation.

The obligation of weekly divine worship (and to some extent the holy day obligation) reflects divine law directives going back to the Decalogue but the modern Sunday obligation is a function of ecclesiastical law and is thus liable to diocesan-wide dispensation by the diocesan bishop per Canon 87. In addition Canon 1245 authorizes parish pastors (but not just any priest, etc, per Canon 89) to dispense those belonging to or present in his parish from this obligation. To be sure, Canon 90 urges executive authority figures to consider carefully the spiritual welfare of their subjects, the gravity of the law being dispensed, and other circumstances in deliberating about dispensing from a law. Nevertheless, doubts about the sufficiency of the reasons behind a dispensation are resolved in favor the dispensation.

Excuse.

This method of obviating the Mass attendance obligation is the one that most likely impacts individual Catholics and it takes more time to discuss.

Among the reasons long recognized as excusing (not technically ‘dispensing’) one from attending an obligatory Mass is one’s personal illness. Two points need to be made about illness.

First, people experience the symptoms of personal illnesses in different ways such that what one person might find to be an inconvenience (say, a headache) another might find to be a dolor seriously impacting one’s ability to act, think, pray, etc. Each member of the faithful is accountable to God, and not to others, for how he assesses the experience of his symptoms against the obligation to attend certain Masses. As far as the faith community is concerned the individual’s assessment of the effects of his illness is what counts. If one feels too ill to attend Mass one is excused from the obligation of attending.

Second, personal illnesses can present different degrees and kinds of risks to others. Many serious illnesses pose no risk to others (e.g., cancer) while some minor or moderate ails are highly contagious (e.g., colds and flu). Beyond, then, the personal experience of illness relevant to assessing the obligation to attend Mass, one must also weigh the risk that one’s illness poses to others by attending a Mass (obligatory or otherwise), this consideration, moreover, not undertaken as an expression of charity toward others but as an exercise of justice toward them. So, to take an easy case, if one knew that one was contagious with a serious illness then, even if one personally felt just fine, I think one would be obligated not to attend Mass, even one obligatory.

In sum, those suffering from serious illnesses are excused from the grave obligation of attending Mass under either, and perhpas both, headings above, namely, they might feel too ill to attend Mass and/or they might pose a serious risk of infection to others.

But a more difficult question is presented by coronavirus, it seems, in that one is contagious with this very serious virus for a considerable period of time before one is even aware of being infected. In terms of assessing the obligation to attend Mass, this scenario fits under neither the first scenario above (for one does not feel ill, but is only, albeit not unreasonably, afraid of becoming ill), nor is one aware of being especially contagious to others. What to do, then, about assessing one’s Mass attendance obligation during times of serious pandemic when (a) it is feasible to find a Mass; (b) one has not been dispensed from the obligation of attending Mass; and (c) one does not feel ill, although many in the community are falling ill after a considerable time without showing symptoms.

I propose the following approach. Because these considerations are largely prudential (and I use that word in its good sense, and not as cover for doing what I what I find convenient), be aware that even small changes in facts could greatly change how my advice plays out in practice.

A) If one is simply, however understandably, afraid of being infected by others, I do not see sufficient excuse obviating fulfillment of a serious religious obligation such as Sunday Mass attendance. The more one’s fears over being infected are, however, augmented by factors such as, say, one’s advanced age or underlying medical complications (e.g., diabetes or pregnancy), the more likely sufficient excuse from the obligation to attend Mass can be found, even though one feels fine.

B) If one has no special reason to think that one is contagious for others, I do not see sufficient excuse obviating fulfillment of a serious religious obligation such as Sunday Mass attendance. Factors that increase the chances that one is contagious for others (e.g., someone in one’s household has fallen ill, or one works with or around ill persons) will more likely result in excuse of the obligation to attend certain Masses, again, even though one feels fine.

Recall, again, that in the both of the above scenarios the Church does not attempt to police one’s self-assessment of the satisfaction or avoidance of the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and certain holy days. As a matter of conscience, one is accountable to the Lord for one’s decision, and the Lord can neither deceive nor be deceived.

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How Do They Cook Spinach in Rome?

by Steve Ray on May 3, 2018

Posted a while ago but in Rome now eating spinach again so thought we’d share again…

Janet and I (and our whole family) are keeping healthy with losing weight, exercise and eating good food. While in Rome last week Janet and I ate spinach every day. (Spinach is a SuperFood.) The spinach we ate was so good that  we asked our friend Mario to show us how to cook spinach Roman-style. Not only did he include spinach (as a SuperFood), but also two others: Olive Oil and Garlic.

Like many times in the past our friend Mario took us downstairs into his kitchen on Via di Porta Cavalleggeri across the street from St. Peter’s Basilica — and we took a video so YOU could learn how to make this healthy and delicious dish.

We also added some video and pictures from an exceptional restaurant where Frs. Alfonso Aguilara and Ben Cieply took us for our celebration at the end of teaching our course on apologetics.

Here is the video! Bon Appetit!

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Evangelicals with Statues?

by Steve Ray on November 16, 2017

A while ago I took off running through a commercial area behind the hotel where I was staying while doing a parish mission. I discovered a nice jogging trail through the woods so I swung onto the trail and headed through the trees. Soon I came into the open to see a beautiful lake. A sign caught my eye. It had an arrow pointing to “Baptismal Pool.” I kept running.

Sure enough a little distance ahead there was an elaborate structure with seats, railings and a ramp down into the lake. It was obviously designed for full immersion baptisms (see pictures).

I was puzzled. Why a baptismal pool in a commercial park? I looked carefully at the large building to the right which appeared to be a large office building – but surprise! it was a large mega-church with a sign “Fellowship Church.”

I looked back at the baptismal pool and remembered my upbringing in modest Baptist churches. They didn’t have lakes with elaborate ramps down to the ducks and white egrets sharing the water. We had huge bathtubs behind the pulpit where people were immersed after church services – all wearing white robes and holding their noses.

But what does baptism do for these good meaning folks? According to their theology baptism does nothing – it’s not even necessary. Jesus commanded it so they do it but nothing happens. It was just an external act we did to show the world (even if it was in the privacy of our little church) that we had believed on Jesus. I know because I was raised this way and later passed on the Baptist tradition myself.

Of course evangelicals condemn Catholics as unbiblical for teaching that obeying Christ in baptism actually does something – bringing about new birth (John 3:5), washing away sins (first words Paul heard from Ananias when he hit the dust, Acts 22:16), and incorporating us into the death and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 6:1-5).

Funny that they make such a costly structure to do something that doesn’t do anything. According to most of them – baptism is unnecessary for salvation and is merely optional since we are “saved by faith alone and not by sacraments.”

Funny that Baptists are called Baptists even though they consider baptism as unnecessary! Originally, after splitting from Martin Luther who believed baptism did something, even with infants, Baptists were originally called “Anabaptists”. “Ana” means again. Since they rejected their infant baptism as Catholics they decided they all had to be baptized again – thus “Anabaptists.” it was actually a way of demonstrating their protest against the Catholic Church (thus the title Protestant). Later they dropped the prefix “ana.”

I continued running around the next curve and stopped again. There in front of my eyes was was a big outdoor statue. I took a double-take, blinked and looked again. Yup, it was a statue! A statue of Jesus ascending to heaven!

Wait a minute? Aren’t Catholics accused of being idolaters because of statues? What is a statue doing in the garden of an

Evangelical mega-church? It brought to mind the inconsistency of Protestants, remembering my Baptist mom’s little statue of Mary and Jesus on our table at Christmas, part of the nativity scene.

If I was staying over the weekend I’d have visited this “church” just as an observer out of curiosity. I’d follow the arrow to “worship space.” I’m not sure whether I’d buy a cappuccino or an espresso to enjoy while watching the worship show entertainment. I would not want to be the only one with an empty cup holder in my theatre-style seat.

After shaking my head and wiping the sweat from my brow I ran back to the hotel to pack and fly back home after giving a Catholic Parish Mission. I prayed a quick prayer along the way – while huffing and puffing – and thanked Our Lord for His Catholic Church and for opening the eyes of one more unworthy servant.

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Dealing with Cancer: Amy Carrico’s Story

December 28, 2016

This is a heart-wrenching, yet beautiful story of a wife and mom with cancer and how she’s decided to deal with it. She’s a inspiration to us all – living in the heart of her family, God and the Church. For other beautifully crafted Catholic and personal videos by Fr. Josh and Lolek Productions, click […]

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Did Jesus Ever Run?

May 1, 2016

I posted this awhile ago, but thought it fun to post again. Though my running days are over (Doctors have told me I ran to much and my knees are shot), I still do a lot of fast walking and even have a bike in Jerusalem. But it is good to remember the days I […]

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How Long Will You Live? A Longevity Calculator

December 31, 2015

Watch your age in the upper right corner! Kinda’ fun to watch your age go up and down as you answer the questions. It’s interesting, so give it a try….  How long will you live? This is a calculator that estimates your life expectancy. It was developed by Northwestern Mutual Life. There are only 13 […]

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Womb 2 Tomb; Bethlehem 2 Jerusalem; Biking on Christmas thru the Holy Land

December 26, 2015

I am back in Israel now! Greetings from the Land! I posted this blog a year ago — but I am posting it again so you can see Bethlehem from a unique perspective, from my bike. I think you will enjoy this fun and educational adventure riding through Bethlehem and Jerusalem today. We are in […]

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First Days in Portugal

April 9, 2015

The first video is me on a hiking tour along the waterfront of Lisbon. I look at a lot of the people, places and things as I go through this beautiful city. I end up at the Monastery of St. Jerome. Built in the 1500s it is now under the control of the government and […]

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My Bike Ride from Tiberias to Magdala along the Shore of Galilee

May 8, 2014

Our group just arrived in Galilee and I jumped on my bike and took off for exercise and adventure. The Legionaries are building a “Spirituality Center”, whatever that is, at Magdala so I am off to check it out. I’ve been told they built a Protestant chapel there so I have to see this with […]

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Video of Pre-Canonization Rome

April 23, 2014

Janet and I arrived a few days early in Rome before our group. There will be 63 pilgrims arriving on Friday. We like to make sure everything is in order and ready for their arrival. And it is! We decided to take a walk around the walls of the Vatican and get a feel for […]

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On My Bike from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and Back: Living the Bible in the Holy Land

December 3, 2013

On our last day in Jerusalem last week Janet suggested I ride my bike to Bethlehem which I did. Getting old you know, and I need to keep up my health with physical exercise. But I am also have an insatiable curiosity and love adventure, discovery and doing things no one else would do :-) […]

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Bike Ride to Town of Mary Magdalen

November 17, 2013

We arrived in Tiberias yesterday and our driver brought my bike up from Jerusalem. It wasn’t very hot today so I decided to take a nice long ride and explore some new things. First, the Tanureen Restaurant which has built a new section where we will bring our groups in the future. Then I went […]

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Our New Christian Health Insurance Provider

October 9, 2013

Thanks to Obama, our health insurance was canceled with Blue Cross & Blue Shield. We had this for many years but now it is gone due to our president. We found a new Christian insurance company which will give us good coverage and we will not be participating in abortion contraceptives. You may want to […]

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Join Me and My Wife Janet on a Walking Tour of Rome with Interactive Map, Videos and Pictures

June 18, 2013

It was a great 5-mile tour visiting great churches and historical sites. Enjoy the maps, pictures and videos. Hope you love Jesus and the Church more as a result. Remember that Rome has over 800 churches and we cannot visit them all in one walking tour :-)

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Just Passed the 500 Mile Mark Today!

May 29, 2013

For the year 2013 I just passed the 500 mile mark today! Whew! I might hit 1,200 miles this year. Janet just hit a personal record today of 30 miles on the bike. Five years ago Janet and I decided to change our lifestyle. It would mean 1) daily exercise, 2) cutting our diet in […]

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Join Me on a Walk through the Old City of Jerusalem

April 30, 2013

Today I took off in 90+ temperatures to get some exercise and to share the Old City of Jerusalem with all of you. I took a little different course than usual to provide new pictures and videos.  I also tried to capture pictures of interesting people. I don’t walk up and click my iPhone in […]

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