Sickness and death are often hidden or denied in contemporary culture yet everyone encounters ill health at some time in their lives, whether in short-term conditions such as appendicitis and the common cold or chronic illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis and mental illness.
In the Catholic Church there are three ‘levels’ of ordination within the sacrament of Holy Orders: deacon, priest and bishop. The Second Vatican Council spoke of the bishop as having ‘the fullness of the sacrament of Orders’ and dedicated an entire decree to the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church.
It is striking how often Pope Francis refers to the family in his writings and homilies. In the week after Christmas we celebrated the feast of the Holy Family, and now at the beginning of February, the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. Both feasts call us to reflect on the vital link between a strong Christian family and a fruitful celebration of parish liturgy.
At the beginning of next month the Church celebrates two important feasts: All Saints on November 1, followed by All Souls on November 2. While in the minds of many Catholics these two feasts are inextricably linked, they originated at different times and have different emphases.
The Christian journey begins with baptism and comes to its earthly conclusion with the Funeral Mass and subsequent burial or cremation. From that moment on we enter the realm of eternal life with God.
When a young couple approaches the Church to be married, their intention is to formally ratify the deep love they have for each other in the presence of their family and friends, with the blessing of the Church.