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Confession for RCIA Candidates And More on the Prayer of the Faithful
Zenit News Service ^ | November 1, 2005 | Father Edward McNamara

Posted on 11/01/2005 5:44:29 PM PST by NYer

ROME, NOV. 1, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

Q: Recently I received a baptized Christian into the Catholic Church during a Mass in which the person received holy Communion. The RCIA ritual encourages the candidate to go to confession before the Mass and Communion, and this was done. However, since the confession was made before the candidate was actually in the Catholic Church, how could it have been a valid Catholic sacrament? Or does the absolution take effect only when the person is received into the Church? I cannot fit this event into my traditional understanding of Catholic sacraments. -- D.J., Buffalo, New York

A: We briefly addressed this question in a follow-up on April 27, 2004, in which we said:

"A catechist from Michigan asked if candidates in the RCIA may receive the sacrament of penance before they have been formally initiated into the Church.

"In this case we are dealing with Christians validly baptized but who have not yet made their solemn entrance into the Catholic Church nor received the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist.

"This case is already foreseen in the appendix to the Introduction to the Rite for the Christian Initiation of Adults.

"Norm No. 9 stipulates that if the candidate is to admitted to the Catholic Church during Mass (the usual practice), then beforehand, the candidate, having considered his personal condition, confesses his past sins after having informed the priest of his proximate admission.

"Any priest with faculties for hearing confessions may receive this confession.

"Thus, not only may the future Catholic make his confession before being formally received but in general he or she should do so."

Thus there is no question regarding the canonical legitimacy of the practice described. Yet, this does not answer the theological difficulties experienced by our reader.

Perhaps an answer could be found by making a distinction between impediments to the valid reception of a sacrament stemming from divine law and those stemming from Church law.

From the point of view of divine law, baptism is absolutely necessary before receiving any other sacrament. Once baptism has been received, however, the person has at least the root possibility of receiving some of the other sacraments even though other impediments might exist.

A person baptized as a Protestant (Eastern Christians are in a very different position) is usually impeded from receiving the sacraments of confirmation, Eucharist, penance, anointing and holy orders due to their lack of communion with the Catholic Church.

The Church usually recognizes the sacramental quality of any valid marriage between a baptized man and woman.

Since most of the impediments to valid reception of these sacraments by non-Catholic Christians are rooted in Church law, not divine law, the Church itself may decide under what conditions a person not within her fold may receive the comfort of some of her sacraments and thus lift the impediment to invalidity.

Such conditions are set out, for example, in the Ecumenical Directory, and usually require grave conditions such as danger of death, the spontaneous request of the person desiring the sacrament, and faith in the Catholic understanding of the sacrament by the person requesting it.

In the case of the person who is about to be received into full communion, the Church creates, so to speak, an automatic exception which makes the sacrament of reconciliation both valid and licit for the person involved.

Although this answer may be a trifle speculative, I hope it is sufficient to clear up the difficulties.

* * *

Follow-up: Concluding the Prayer of the Faithful

Readers sought some clarifications regarding aspects of the Prayer of the Faithful (see Oct. 18).

Before responding, I would point out that, although this form of prayer has very ancient roots, its present form is fairly novel in liturgical practice and thus there are no traditional norms regarding its practice.

As a consequence, several slightly diverse customs have arisen and it is not easy to say if one is necessarily more correct than another.

Apart from the norms quoted in the previous column we could say that a rule of thumb is that they be guided by common sense and that the petitions should be clear and brief, couched in general terms, and should not be multiplied beyond measure.

Some readers asked if it were permissible for the faithful to be invited to formulate spontaneous petitions from the pews.

While there is no rule forbidding this, I think it is a practice best reserved for smaller groups who have the necessary experience to formulate appropriate petitions. Such groups could be those who regularly attend daily Mass, religious communities, and prayer groups.

It is probably wisely avoided at a parish Sunday Mass, since the number of petitions could easily become inflated or their content turn out to be excessively personal, verbally garbled or political. They could even create annoyance if the same people tend to dominate the "spontaneous" petitions week after week.

Some other readers asked about the practice of reciting the Hail Mary during the Prayer of the Faithful.

While this custom is not universal, it seems to have its roots in English liturgical practice from even before the Second Vatican Council. One reader suggested that a document exists impeding this practice, but I have been unable to find it. I would say that, barring some authoritative intervention, the practice could continue where it has been customary to do so.

The objections to the use of the Hail Mary are usually based on the principle that liturgical prayers are practically always directed to the Father, and on rare occasions to the Son.

However, when the Hail Mary is used in the Prayer of the Faithful she is not addressed directly but is usually invoked as a mediator to carry our prayer to the Father within the context of the communion of saints.

This invocation is certainly unnecessary from a liturgical standpoint, and it is probably better not to introduce it where it does not exist. However, I do not believe it needs to be forbidden where already well established.

Finally an Irish priest asked if the celebrant could reserve a particular petition, such as for the soul for whom Mass is celebrated, to himself rather than to the deacon or reader. I would say that this may be done for good pastoral reasons, just as the priest may also add a particular intention which he believes should be kept in mind at that moment.


TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Ecumenism; General Discusssion; Ministry/Outreach; Prayer; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: rcia
Father Edward McNamara is professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

Readers may send questions to news@zenit.org. Please put the word "Liturgy" in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country.

1 posted on 11/01/2005 5:44:29 PM PST by NYer
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...


2 posted on 11/01/2005 5:45:17 PM PST by NYer (ôSocialism is the religion people get when they lose their religion")
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To: NYer

Thanks. I just began RCIA a few weeks ago, and I am scouring the net, gobbling up any information I can find on the Church.


3 posted on 11/01/2005 5:49:15 PM PST by RabidBartender
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To: NYer

A little off subject but I recall back in first grade that another classmate had received the Eucharist before we had made our First Holy Communion the following year. Oh boy - I never seen the nuns run around in such hysterics nor had I during my 12 years of Catholic schooling. I never knew what became of the incident but I surely was never to try that stunt as the seriousness in the nun's faces told the sacredness of it all. It left such an impression on me, that to this day, I still recall the little girl's name after all these years.
Thanks for the article.


4 posted on 11/01/2005 6:07:22 PM PST by Annie Gram
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To: Annie Gram
I never seen the nuns run around in such hysterics nor had I during my 12 years of Catholic schooling.

That must have been quite a few years ago :-) It's rare to find nuns still teaching in the schools, much less ones who are that serious.

Like you, I retain similar memories from pre VCII days when the nuns taught us. We were 50+, confined to the same classroom with the same nun all day. Bless these humble servants for their nerves of steel and handy rulers ;-D.

5 posted on 11/01/2005 6:19:51 PM PST by NYer (ôSocialism is the religion people get when they lose their religion")
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To: RabidBartender; AnAmericanMother; Convert from ECUSA
I just began RCIA a few weeks ago, and I am scouring the net, gobbling up any information I can find on the Church.

Welcome Home!

You have landed in good company. I maintain a catholic ping list for those interested in events and stories about the church. Please freepmail me if you would like to be added to the list (which I highly recommend :-).

Here's something you probably won't learn in RCIA. The Catholic Church is both Western and Eastern. As most of us realize, the Church began in the East. Our Lord lived and died and resurrected in the Holy Land. The Church spread from Jerusalem throughout the known world. As the Church spread, it encountered different cultures and adapted, retaining from each culture what was consistent with the Gospel. In the city of Alexandria, the Church became very Egyptian; in Antioch it remained very Jewish; in Rome it took on an Italian appearance and in Constantinople it took on the trappings of the Roman imperial court. All the churches which developed this way were Eastern, except Rome. Most Catholics in the United States have their roots in Western Europe where the Roman rite predominated. It has been said that the Eastern Catholic Churches are "the best kept secret in the Catholic Church."

The Vatican II Council declared that "all should realize it is of supreme importance to understand, venerate, preserve, and foster the exceedingly rich liturgical and spiritual heritage of the Eastern churches, in order faithfully to preserve the fullness of Christian tradition" (Unitatis Redintegrato, 15).

I attend a Maronite Catholic Church. The Consecration is in Aramaic, using the words and language of our Lord at the Last Supper. Communion is ONLY distributed by the priest. It is by intinction (the priest dips the consecrated host into the Precious Blood) and is ONLY received on the tongue. The priest administers communion with the words: "The Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is given to you for the remission of sin and eternal salvation".

A Roman Catholic may attend the Divine Liturgy at any Eastern Catholic Church. You can learn more about the 22 different liturgies at this link:

CATHOLIC RITES AND CHURCHES

If you post your home town, it's possible that some of the other catholic freepers can help you on your journey. We have several members who have already swum the Tiber and still others who, like you, are midstream. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to freepmail me. If I can't answer it, I promise to put you in touch with someone who can.

Pax et Bonum

6 posted on 11/01/2005 6:29:59 PM PST by NYer (ôSocialism is the religion people get when they lose their religion")
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To: NYer
Well, I'm sure glad to hear THAT, because the first thing I did was go to confession once we were given emergency permission to receive under Canon 844. We weren't received into the church for a few weeks after that.

Glad it "took".

7 posted on 11/01/2005 6:30:43 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: RabidBartender

Welcome aboard . . . from a recent Tiber-swimmer (from the Episcopagans).


8 posted on 11/01/2005 6:31:56 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: NYer

When I was baptised into the OCA I was encouraged to go for confession the week following my baptism.


9 posted on 11/01/2005 6:32:30 PM PST by x5452
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To: Annie Gram

While in Catholic school I received communion for years, it wasn't until 7th grade I was informed I wasn't supposed to. I wasn't even baptised in fact at the time.


10 posted on 11/01/2005 6:34:06 PM PST by x5452
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To: RabidBartender

Welcome! I was an Episcopalian before joining the Church a few years back.

When I had my first Confession, I was *terrified*! All I kept thinking was, 'I have thirty-odd years of SERIOUS sins to confess!!' I thought maybe I should have scheduled a few hours with the Priest. LOL While I was going in, the church secretary saw me and later told me that I looked as if I was heading to the gallows.

Thankfully, it wasn't bad at all. In fact, I felt VERY good afterwards. At peace.

I know it sounds strange to say, but reconciliation is one of the most wonderful sacraments, IMO.


11 posted on 11/01/2005 6:42:19 PM PST by USArmySpouse
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To: RepublicanMensan
And the Episcopalian in this corner shouts AMEN!

After Mass one Sunday I asked the rector when I should come for confession. He said in his Irish brogue, "Ah, just come at the usual time."

"But Monsignor, I'm 42 years in arrears - this is going to be the Mother of All Confessions."

"Ah, don't worry. There'll be plenty of time," with an adumbrated wink, "there aren't many sinners in this parish!"

I'm sure I looked like I was riding the tumbril myself, and spent a good part of the time in tears (me the tough old courthouse lawyer < g > ) . . . but the priest was very patient and I felt SO much better afterwards.

Nothing can compare to auricular confession. I'm sure you agree that the Episcopalian General Confession doesn't cut it. You don't have to actually examine your conscience and enumerate your sins . . . it's like a Day of National Repentance, you can kid yourself that YOU don't actually have anything to repent for.

12 posted on 11/01/2005 6:50:53 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: AnAmericanMother; RepublicanMensan
"there aren't many sinners in this parish!"

Yours too?!! Lol! Father, recognizing the 'saintliness' of our parishioners, now schedules 2 Reconciliation services each year. These are truly beautiful with readings and the Gospel, followed by a series of introspective questions intended to examine the conscience. After this Father plants himself in the confessional and we take turns.

As a parish, we are truly blessed with many saints! There are so few who show up at these Reconciliation services. Actually, acclaiming those who don't show up as saints is a misnomer. Most saints are well aware of their human failings and attend Confession on a weekly basis :-).

13 posted on 11/01/2005 7:05:27 PM PST by NYer (ôSocialism is the religion people get when they lose their religion")
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To: NYer
We have the two reconciliation services in Advent and Lent. They are always VERY well attended, in fact at the last one there were so many people waiting for individual confession that they canceled the rest of the penance service so that the priest who was leading it could go take his place in the confessional. They called in extra priests from surrounding parishes, in addition to our three there were at least five others, scattered about anywhere they could find a quiet corner. I heard later that it took over three hours to get all the confessions heard, even with 8 or more priests "houseling and shriving as fast as shelling peas" . . . (stolen from one of Arthur Conan Doyle's historical novels) < g >

I think a lot of folks just can't make it to the Saturday 4:30 p.m. scheduled weekly confession. With the very best will in the world, I try to make a monthly confession, but what with sports practice, family activities out of town, work, dog trials, etc. I sometimes come panting in and find the priest has already left! If it were offered between the two main services on Sunday, or more frequently, I think there would be more frequent participation.

14 posted on 11/01/2005 7:22:47 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: AnAmericanMother
I'm sure I looked like I was riding the tumbril myself, and spent a good part of the time in tears (me the tough old courthouse lawyer < g > ) . . . but the priest was very patient and I felt SO much better afterwards.

Me too. In tears, I mean.

Nothing can compare to auricular confession. I'm sure you agree that the Episcopalian General Confession doesn't cut it. You don't have to actually examine your conscience and enumerate your sins . . . it's like a Day of National Repentance, you can kid yourself that YOU don't actually have anything to repent for.

I so agree. There is nothing like listing your sins. Out Loud. To another human being. It's a very difficult act, to examine your own conscience. I guess it's just a reminder to us mortals how low we really are.

My favorite saint is Teresa of Avila, so you'll understand why I see humans as craven, utterly hopeless beings who are still loved infinitely by God despite our countless flaws. :)

15 posted on 11/01/2005 7:32:00 PM PST by USArmySpouse
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To: AnAmericanMother
We have the two reconciliation services in Advent and Lent. They are always VERY well attended

You are obviously not in the sanctified diocese of Albany NY.

Thank you for posting such good news. It truly warms my heart and soul to know that outside this arrid desert of a diocese, true catholicism flourishes. I always enjoy your posts! How is the dog?

16 posted on 11/01/2005 7:34:12 PM PST by NYer (ôSocialism is the religion people get when they lose their religion")
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To: NYer

Our pastor does something like that...although he gets several other priests in the area to help him. He does this during Advent and during Lent. If he doesn't think enough people come to the sessions, he will hold another one...and the week before Christmas and the week before the Triduum, he stays in the confessional for about five hours a day.

In the year and a half since he's been here, he's had to increase the confession period by a half hour because the number of people went to two or three a week until it was getting difficult to hear everybody. I had had to ask him to hear mine after Saturday night mass because he ran out of time!

And we have 20 people in our RCIA (maybe double those of last year) and 23 kids in the special sacraments class.

Devotion, adoration, and taking it seriously make a real difference. Church lite doesn't do anything like the real thing.


17 posted on 11/01/2005 8:00:25 PM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: NYer
She's perfect of course < g > . . . we're in training (in sort of desultory fashion) for the upcoming agility trial season. She only lacks one qualifying score for her Open Jumpers title.

I'd like to see her complete that title and get her Seasoned Hunting Retriever title before we retire her from competition. Then she can just hunt ducks and dove for her own amusement.

And my son has discovered that if you shoot a chipmunk with an air rifle, the dog is perfectly happy to go out and retrieve it for you and deliver it to hand. The dog has gone way up in his estimation.

18 posted on 11/01/2005 8:07:24 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: RabidBartender; NYer; AnAmericanMother

Welcome to the Church, from another former episcopagan! I wasn't sure what to do at my first confession, but I realized that a litany of many years of all sorts of sins was not the answere - it would have taken all night! I think the important point is that serious sins are confessed and genuine repentance from them be clear.


19 posted on 11/02/2005 4:22:37 AM PST by Convert from ECUSA (Not a nickel, not a dime, no more money for Hamastine!)
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To: NYer

I have a question. I may be a little slow sometimes but I don't quite understand the article. You see my cousin is going through RCIA program right now. Now she has been baptized but she has no records and admitted that she is not sure what was said during the baptism since it has been so long ago. So she requested to be baptized again. That being said could she go to confession now? Or does she have to wait for easter vigil?


20 posted on 11/02/2005 6:27:50 AM PST by red irish (Gods Children in the womb are to be loved too!)
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To: red irish
She may get a conditional baptism since she's not sure of the words used (does she know the denomination?) But that's at the discretion of her priest and after investigation, to-wit:

Can. 869 §1. If there is a doubt whether a person has been baptized or whether baptism was conferred validly and the doubt remains after a serious investigation, baptism is to be conferred conditionally.

§2. Those baptized in a non-Catholic ecclesial community must not be baptized conditionally unless, after an examination of the matter and the form of the words used in the conferral of baptism and a consideration of the intention of the baptized adult and the minister of the baptism, a serious reason exists to doubt the validity of the baptism.

§3. If in the cases mentioned in §§1 and 2 the conferral or validity of the baptism remains doubtful, baptism is not to be conferred until after the doctrine of the sacrament of baptism is explained to the person to be baptized, if an adult, and the reasons of the doubtful validity of the baptism are explained to the person or, in the case of an infant, to the parents.

She's going to have to clear this with her priest first, because if she's re-baptized that IIRC remits all sins committed prior to baptism. But if she's BEEN baptized already, she can confess beforehand.

I've found that priests are HAPPY to answer questions about stuff like this . . . I've never had one be grouchy or put me off, no matter how picky the question!

21 posted on 11/02/2005 7:01:30 AM PST by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: red irish

I suppose if she is having a "conditional" baptism, she could make a "conditional" confession, just to be on the safe side. I don't know what is kosher, but I wouldn't think it would hurt to make a confession. Ask a priest that you trust what should be done.


22 posted on 11/02/2005 7:05:37 AM PST by Unam Sanctam
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To: red irish
That being said could she go to confession now? Or does she have to wait for easter vigil?

That's an excellent 'follow up' question to submit to Fr. McNamara.

Readers may send questions to news@zenit.org. Please put the word "Liturgy" in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country.

23 posted on 11/02/2005 8:54:07 AM PST by NYer (ôSocialism is the religion people get when they lose their religion")
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To: NYer

Thank you, please do add me to your ping list. I am coming from a Baptist background, so much of the ceremonies and actions are new to me, but I feel much more comfortable and relaxed in mass than I ever did in other services.


24 posted on 11/02/2005 7:13:50 PM PST by RabidBartender
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To: RabidBartender
Thank you, please do add me to your ping list.

You have been added to the ping list.

I am coming from a Baptist background, so much of the ceremonies and actions are new to me

A suggestion. If you have cable or satellite dish, check the listings for EWTN. Monday evenings at 8pm, Marcus Grodi (a convert) hosts a live program, The Journey Home. Each week, he invites a guest to discuss his journey into the Cathoic Church. A word of caution: it's addictive ;-).

but I feel much more comfortable and relaxed in mass than I ever did in other services.

From Scott Hahn’s The Lamb's Supper - The Mass as Heaven on Earth.
Foreword by Fr. Benedict Groeschel.
Part One - The Gift of the Mass

Hahn begins by describing the first mass he ever attended.

"There I stood, a man incognito, a Protestant minister in plainclothes, slipping into the back of a Catholic chapel in Milwaukee to witness my first Mass. Curiosity had driven me there, and I still didn't feel sure that it was healthy curiosity. Studying the writings of the earliest Christians, I'd found countless references to "the liturgy," "the Eucharist," "the sacrifice." For those first Christians, the Bible - the book I loved above all - was incomprehensible apart from the event that today's Catholics called "the Mass."

"I wanted to understand the early Christians; yet I'd had no experience of liturgy. So I persuaded myself to go and see, as a sort of academic exercise, but vowing all along that I would neither kneel nor take part in idolatry."

I took my seat in the shadows, in a pew at the very back of that basement chapel. Before me were a goodly number of worshipers, men and women of all ages. Their genuflections impressed me, as did their apparent concentration in prayer. Then a bell rang, and they all stood as the priest emerged from a door beside the altar.

Unsure of myself, I remained seated. For years, as an evangelical Calvinist, I'd been trained to believe that the Mass was the ultimate sacrilege a human could commit. The Mass, I had been taught, was a ritual that purported to "resacrifice Jesus Christ." So I would remain an observer. I would stay seated, with my Bible open beside me.

As the Mass moved on, however, something hit me. My Bible wasn't just beside me. It was before me - in the words of the Mass! One line was from Isaiah, another from Psalms, another from Paul. The experience was overwhelming. I wanted to stop everything and shout, "Hey, can I explain what's happening from Scripture? This is great!" Still, I maintained my observer status. I remained on the sidelines until I heard the priest pronounce the words of consecration: "This is My body . . . This is the cup of My blood."

Then I felt all my doubt drain away. As I saw the priest raise that white host, I felt a prayer surge from my heart in a whisper: "My Lord and my God. That's really you!"

I was what you might call a basket case from that point. I couldn't imagine a greater excitement than what those words had worked upon me. Yet the experience was intensified just a moment later, when I heard the congregation recite: "Lamb of God . . . Lamb of God . . . Lamb of God," and the priest respond, "This is the Lamb of God . . ." as he raised the host. In less than a minute, the phrase "Lamb of God" had rung out four times. From long years of studying the Bible, I immediately knew where I was. I was in the Book of Revelation, where Jesus is called the Lamb no less than twenty-eight times in twenty-two chapters. I was at the marriage feast that John describes at the end of that very last book of the Bible. I was before the throne of heaven, where Jesus is hailed forever as the Lamb. I wasn't ready for this, though - I was at Mass!

25 posted on 11/02/2005 11:03:09 PM PST by NYer (ôSocialism is the religion people get when they lose their religion")
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To: NYer

“We have several members who have already swum the Tiber and still others who, like you, are midstream. . .”

Some of us have one foot in the water and another on the beach, mustering the courage to dive in and swim.


26 posted on 12/05/2010 5:38:30 PM PST by Hulka
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