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September 4, 1987     The Message
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September 4, 1987

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T' September 4, 1987 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Question Corner Ill I II1|1 I I Q&A By FATHER JOHN DIETZEN NC News Service Columnist II ii I Ill 7, II I IUIIII I ............... Reader questions 'Is there another Sign of the Cross?' Q, Several-weeks ago a group of us attended a diocesan workshop at one of our schools. When times came to pray, the leaders said, "In the name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier." When we asked, we were told this is a different way of making the sign of the cross. Since then I've heard it again. Is this really just another sign of the cross? One priest said he thought we should not use it, but he didn't say why. A. Doctrinally there is nothing wrong with starting a prayer this way. God is, after all, the creator, the redeemer and sanctifier of the world. I too have heard and seen this prayer often. And my impression is that some people see it as a non- sexist version which could and should be used as an alternative to our traditional invocation of the Trinity. The prayer you quote, however, is far from "just another sign of the cross." Theologically and spiritually it is radically and essentially a different prayer than our usual sign of the cross. Let me ex- plain briefly why. Most Catholics and other Christians know that the mystery of the Holy Trinity is the fundamental and key doctrine of our faith. The fact that there is "within" God a community of existence, a mutual exchange of infinite life and love that involves what we call three persons, is something we could never even remotely suspect unless Jesus himself had told us about it. Theologians commonly refer to this inner divine life as God's action "ad intra," on the inside. This inner life of God -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to use the Gospels' own words -- is the core of all Christian beliefs. Without it nothing else -- incarnation, Eucharist, sacraments or church as we know it -- would make any sense. All of it would be unbelievable. From the earliest decades, Christians have recognized the centrality this eternal life of the Trinity holds in our faith. As the Gospel of Mat- thew (28:19) records, it was in the name of the Trinity that Christians were to be baptized into the faith of Jesus Christ, as they still are. And it was in their name (as in the sign of the cross) that all Christian prayer and important action would take place. The difference with this "new" sign of the cross is that it is not an express invocation of the Trinity at all. Sometimes, even in our creeds we do at- tribute creation to the Father, redemption to the Son and sanctification to the Holy Spirit, (See the Nicene Creed, for example, which nevertheless first stresses the inner Trinitarian life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.) But these attributes all in- volve actions that theology calls "ad extra," out- side of God, and as such they are each and all ac- tions of all three persons. In other words, they are not Trinitarian actions but "God" actions. I I 13 In fact, one need not even believe in three divine persons to use the prayer in question. Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, reject belief in the Trinity but staunchly believe that God is their creator, savior and sanctifier. I These differences may not appear significant to | many of us; but to equate Creator, Redeemer and | Sanctifier with Father, Son and Holy Spirit is | theologically and spiritually dangerous, and con- | trary to Christian and Catholic tradition. Our belief: | in the Trinity is too basic to our faith to allow it to be obsured or "substituted" for in this manner. The prayer you heard is apparently part of the laudable attempt to eliminate from our religious language certain expressions which seem to have lost a more general human connotation they once had. Should we say things like "Christ died for all men" as we do often in our liturgy, wheh we mean all people, men and women? But the serious pitfalls in this substitute sign of the cross, if indeed it is presented as such, indicate again the extreme care and accuracy we must exer- cise when we begin tampering with traditional Christian terminology about God. A free brochure, "Infant Baptism: Catholic Prac- tice Today," is available by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Father John Dietzen, Holy Trinity Parish, 704 N. Main St., Bloom- ington, II1. 61701. Questions for this column should be sent to Father Dietzen at the same address. II I I "Remaking Motherhood" Book looks at stresses when mother works outside home REMAKING MOTHERHOOD: HOW WORKING MOTHERS ARE SHAPING OUR CHILDREN'S FUTURE, by Anita Shreve. Viking Penguin Inc. (New York, 1987). 227 pp., $18.95. Reviewed by BARB FRAZE NC News Service Many books have dealt with the absence of a "working mother" from the home; this book deals with her presence in the home and how it affects children. Journalist Anita Shreve pro- vides studies to support her theory that having a "working mother" in the family has a positive influence on children, especially daughters. Ms. Shreve -- who admits the pitfalls of the term "working mother" for women who work outside the home -- concludes that today's children will grow up with different notions of the roles of parents, especially I JASPER SER VICE AND SHOPPING GUIDE ! Ii Buehlers I.G.A. "THE THRIFTY HOUSEWIFE'S SOURCE OF SAVINGS" QUALITY FOODS and MEATS Also Huntingburg and Oakland City KREMPP LUMBER CO. 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COMPLETE BUILDING SERVICE Ph. 482-1125 RT. 4, JASPER 00ippels' "TJ I 1F " "working mothers." Her book looks at the stresses and strains on families when the mother works outside the home. She also cites previous studies by sociologists which seem to sup- port her ideas. She takes a brief look at "the new working father" and spends one chapter on "the single working mother." Ms. Shreve is not a sociologist, and most of the book roads fairly well. Parts, however, tend to get bogged down and read like a research paper. For example, she repeatedly cites studies that could have been footnoted. Some sections of the book seem repetitious. Ms. Shreve has chapters of "Voices," quotes from mothers, daughters ANITA SHREVE and sons. later, she uses these quotes to support findings; some streamlining could have been done in these sections, too. IMPORTANT! CALL: 424-9274