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Catholic Faith
Vol. 3 - #5, Sep / Oct 1997

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Q.  Recently, I asked God to spare the life of a seriously ill family member. She died. Since we must accept God’s will—when is it proper to petition God? Why are some petitions efficacious, but not others? Your answer will help me during this difficult time.

A.  You asked two questions. Let me answer them in sequence. You first ask when is it proper to petition God. It is always proper to petition God, provided our wills are open to accepting the will of God. He knows what we need. We commonly ask for what we want. What we need is what God wants for us. Consequently, in all our prayers we must be open to accepting what God knows best is good for us.

You secondly ask why are some of our petitions efficacious and others are not. Strictly speaking, all our petitions are efficacious. We never ask God for anything without His responding with His grace. Sometimes what we ask for is not received. But that does not mean that our prayer was not answered. It simply means that our prayer was not answered in the way that we expected. God knows better than we do what is best for our spiritual welfare.

One more point should be made. Our petitions may not be efficacious for one of several other reasons. We may not be as open as we should be in doing God's will. We may be praying in words, but not from the heart. We may not be praying earnestly enough or long enough. There is such a thing as persistence in prayer.

Q.  Should priests bestow the Apostolic Blessing when they administer the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick?

A.  Yes, the priest should bestow what in the pre-Vatican II liturgy was called the Apostolic Blessing but is now called the Apostolic Pardon. The present liturgy for the pastoral care of the sick declares, “At the Conclusion of the sacrament of penance or the penitential rite, the priest may give the Apostolic Pardon for the dying, using one of the following:

  1. Through the holy mysteries of our redemption, may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come. May He open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy. R. Amen.

  2. By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. R. Amen.

You will notice that the ritual says the priest “may give the Apostolic Pardon.” I believe this means that, barring unforeseen circumstances, the priest should give what we may still call the Apostolic Blessing.

Q.  What does the Church teach regarding evolution?

A.  The answer to this question could fill a volume. Let me first distinguish between two kinds of evolution, what we may call total evolution, and evolution of man. Total evolution is the erroneous philosophy which claims that everything in existence has evolved and, in fact, is still in the process of evolution. There are two forms of this philosophical evolution; one called process theology, and the other evolutionary progress.

Process theology, or unfolding atheism was taught by Friedrich Schelling (1775-1854). In this theory, the whole universe, including what believers call God, is one great organism whose latent potencies are constantly developing by a “dynamic process.” History is thus the progressive evolution of the absolute, which animates the world of space and time as its soul.

More elaborate and significant was the evolutionary pantheism of Georg Hegel (1770-1831). In the Hegelian system, God exists only as the “Idea which is eternally producing itself.” Unlike other evolutionists, however, Hegel postulated development through a dialectical process in which one thing (antithesis) succeeds another thing (thesis), and the resulting conflict gives rise to a third thing (synthesis). This progress through conflict has been going on for aeons in the past and will continue into the unpredictable future. Nothing can be said simply to exist; it is still becoming. In this system, God is the universal Idea which, through incessant conflict, becomes ever more perfect. Its growing perfection may be seen in the development of the human race, which is at once a mirror of the evolution of God and a sign that everything is still Finite but on its way toward (without reaching) infinity. Marxism has built its notion of God and the universe on Hegelianism.

Needless to say, all of this is totally contrary not only to the Catholic faith, but to sound philosophy founded on reason.

When Pope John Paul II spoke on evolution, his words were twisted by the media to make people believe that the Catholic Church has changed her position on evolution. The Pope makes clear that evolution is not only a theory, but a cluster of theories. He especially insists, in speaking on the evolution of man’s body, that there is no such thing as evolution of the human soul. Every human soul from the dawn of creation must always be immediately created, out of nothing, by an act of Divine, almighty power.

Catholic Faith
Vol. 3 - #5, Sep / Oct 1997

Copyright © 1997 by Inter Mirifica
No reproductions shall be made without prior written permission

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