January 2016 Print


Is lying ever lawful?

There is little doubt that lying is forbidden by God’s law (8th Commandment) and that being a negative commandment (Thou shalt not lie.), it obliges always and in every case, unlike a positive commandment (Thou shalt honor father and mother.), which obliges only when needed.

This absolute necessity was dramatically shown by Our Lord before Caiphas and the whole Sanhedrin when He answered clearly, “Yes, you have said it,” meaning: “I am Christ and the Son of God.” And Our Lord knew full well that his confession would lead to the crucifixion. So, the principle stands that “we must not do evil that some good may come from it” (Rom. 3:8).

This being said, one has no obligation to tell the truth when it is uncalled for. Also, one is entitled to distract the hearers to some other issue. The moralists allow the use of amphibology (a statement which might be taken in two ways, like: “Peter is not at home,” meaning: “to see you”) if a prudent person would understand it given the circumstances. Similarly, moralists explain that one cannot simulate an action (a minister deceitfully withholds the intention of giving absolution), but one may dissimulate an action to make viewers think one is doing something when one is not. Thus it is lawful for a priest who has duly warned his penitent, to give the impression to others he is giving him absolution.

In some recent newsworthy cases, there is controversy and debate as to whether or not certain investigators lied or simply used amphibology and broad mental restriction, dissimulation rather than simulation. We must not, however, let the apparent success of some videos cloud our judgment. If they were obtained by lying, it would be a case of the end justifying the means. The children of light may not use the means and weapons of the children of darkness. The revolution must be fought by a counter-revolution, and not by the principles of the revolution.

Who are the full members of the Church?

In Eastern Christianity, Baptism, Chrismation (confirmation) and Holy Communion are received in the same ceremony. Thus, even a child is received into the church as a full communicant within the church. Does this mean that in the West, children only baptized are not full members of the Church?

The question raised here is a simple catechism question, answered in the Baltimore Catechism (#2) in q. 169: “In order that a person be a member of the Mystical Body in the full sense, it is necessary that he be baptized, that he profess the Catholic Faith, and that he neither separate himself from the Mystical Body nor be excluded by lawful authority.”

In this context, the expression “in the full sense” does not have the modernist connotation of being “more or less in communion with the Church,” but it is excepting the excommunicated who, though baptized and professing the faith, have been excommunicated.

To lose membership in the church, one baptized would have to be either a heretic or apostate, a schismatic or excommunicated. Hence, children only baptized, whether or not they communicate, are full members without any greater or lesser degree.

Do little children need to receive Communion?

What obligation is there to receive Holy Communion based on the words of Christ: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you”?

It would seem at first sight that infant children should not only conveniently but necessarily receive holy communion at the same time as baptism. This custom has been preserved in the Eastern churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike.

However, it does not follow that little children have a strict necessity to receive Communion. St. Augustine already in the early 5th century explained that “Nor are you to suppose that children cannot possess life, who are deprived of the body and blood of Christ.” The Council of Trent condemned those who spoke of necessity, in Can. 4: ‘If anyone say that the Holy Communion is necessary for the children before they reach the age of discretion, let him be anathema’ (Dz. 937).

St. Thomas Aquinas explains this doctrine of the Church doctrine in his treatise on the Holy Eucharist in two different articles. Speaking of the need of the sacrament (Third Part, q. 73, art. 3), he explains that it is necessary to receive it with an implicit wish. By this he means meaning that it is necessary for salvation to begin our spiritual life through Baptism, which tends to its consummation, and is obtained through Holy Communion.

St. Thomas explains in another article (Third Part, q. 80, art. 9) that Holy Communion should be denied to those who never had the use of reason because it was never preceded by any devotion for this sacrament.

Hence, the rule of the Roman Church given in Canon 854 (CIC 1917): “The Holy Eucharist must not be administered to those children who, due to their lack of age, have not acquired the knowledge and taste of this sacrament. In peril of death, in order for children to be allowed and commanded to receive Holy Communion, it is sufficient that they know how to discern the Body of Christ from common food and adore Him reverently. Outside the peril of death, a fuller knowledge of the Christian doctrine and more accurate preparation is rightly required, by which, according to their means, they can perceive the mysteries of the faith necessary by necessity of means, and by which they can approach devoutly the blessed Eucharist, according to their age.”