Why do Catholic churches have statues and icons, when most protestant churches avoid them?

06-25-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

In the Ten Commandments, it says “You shall not make for yourself an idol” (Ex 20:2) and the battle against idolatry was one of the central issues in Hebrew history. In Jewish theology, God is beyond all human comprehension and can not and should not be confined or limited by worshiping an idol, in the way that the Egyptians worshiped a golden calf, or the Philistines or Babylonians worshiped images of clay. Therefore, the use of images is strictly forbidden in the Jewish faith, and likewise in the Muslim faith as well.


Why does priest where different colored vestments?

06-18-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

The use of liturgical colors to mark various occasions and seasons is almost as old as the Church itself. Most cultures find ways to mark different seasons and periods of life, and Christianity was no different. Based on artwork from the early centuries, we know that a wide variety of colors of vestments were used for various ceremonies – with a particular emphasis on white as a symbol of the resurrection and of the new life through baptism. For the first millennium of the Church, however, the use of liturgical color was based on local custom, rather than a standardized practice. It often had to do with what materials and what dyes were available in a given region.


Why does the priest break a piece of the consecrated host and add it to the chalice?

06-11-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

The Eucharistic Prayer ends with the Fraction Rite. At this time, many things happen all at once, and since we are singing the “Lamb of God,” it may be difficult to see all that is going on. The Fraction Rite is named for the breaking of the host into many parts so that it can be distributed to the people.


Why do we do “Catholic calisthenics?” That is, why do we stand, sit, or kneel for various parts of the Mass?

06-04-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

From ancient times, it has been recognized that our posture and affect the way we think and pray. Hindu mystics use the lotus position to enhance their meditations, while faithful Muslims prostrate themselves on prayer mats to signify their submission to God. In the Catholic tradition, we too use postures to both symbolize our relationship to God as well as reinforce our prayers as individuals and as a congregation.


What is a sequence? Why do some Masses have one and others don’t?

05-28-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

A sequence is a long hymn or sacred poem that is inserted after the second reading and before the Gospel Acclamation (Alleluia!). These hymns are intended to reinforce the sanctity of the particular solemnity or feast that is being celebrated that day. For instance, the Victimae Paschali Laudes sequence during Easter week retells the story of Mary Magdalene finding the empty tomb, while the Veni Sancte Spiritus of Pentecost calls down the Holy Spirit upon the congregation. These sequence poems date back to the Middle Ages, and were most often set to music which would reflect the joyful or somber mood of the occasion.


Why do we bow during the phrase “and by the Holy Spirit, was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became Man” as we recite the creed?

05-21-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

This phrase is the first place in the Creed where the Trinity is in action – no longer God the Father, or Jesus Christ by themselves, but the three Persons of God working in concert. God the Father, sends the Holy Spirit to accomplish the Incarnation of the Son – the great work of salvation that begins at the Annunciation and is completed by the Passion and Resurrection of Christ.


What is a responsorial psalm? Why do we have it after the first reading?

05-14-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

The book of Psalms holds a special place in the history and spirituality of Church. Unlike virtually every other book of the Bible, the psalms is expressly poetic and affective – it speaks to the heart, rather than the head. It expresses the emotions of praise and lament, longing and thanksgiving, complaint and trust, and really, the entire emotional range of the human condition. Originally meant to be sung and often set to music, psalms are often easier to memorize than other pieces of scripture, and resonate in our souls in a way that other parts of scripture do not.


Why does the Church insist on so much documentation – for baptisms, marriage, confirmation, etc?

05-07-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

In the early years of the Church, when Christianity was being persecuted, few official records were kept, because a list of the baptized could be used to hunt down and arrest believers. Beginning in the Middle Ages, however, there came a desire by both governments and Church officials to keep track of baptisms, marriage, and other sacraments. In that era, often one of the only literate persons in a town or village was the parish priest, and he became the de facto record keeper and legal arbiter for all sorts of transactions. Baptismal records not only showed the names of the faithful and their eligibility for future sacraments, but could be used to check for consanguinity (interrelatedness of engaged couples), eligibility for marriage, inheritance of property and titles, and eligibility for ordination. Long before there were census bureaus or departments of licensing, Church records allowed for the governance of both Catholic and secular affairs.


Why is the 6:15am Mass in the chapel rather than the big church?

04-30-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

Our church seats 1400 people. Our typical 6:15am daily Mass has between 20-30 congregants, who generally space themselves out as much as possible. Put these two things together, and it means that when the morning Mass meets in the church, it can feel empty and distant, and the presiders often have a difficult time seeing the faces or hearing the responses of the congregants.


What is Tertianship? Why do the Jesuits have this step of formation?

04-23-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

There are five stages of formation for Jesuits. The first is the Novitiate, which lasts for 2 years, wherein men experience the Spiritual Exercises (the 30 day silent retreat), study the constitution of the Society of Jesus, as well as its history and traditions, and go through a series of “experiments” where novices experience the life of prayer and service as a Jesuit. At the end of the novitiate, if approved by the provincial, novices take first vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and become members of the Society of Jesus.


Why do we wave palms on Palm Sunday?

04-02-2023Why do we do that?Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.

The procession of palms is an ancient tradition from many different cultures. People would line the streets waving palms to greet a ruler when they came to the city, or to hail a victorious general returning from battle. Palms and laurel branches were symbols of goodness and victory. Thus, when Jesus entered into Jerusalem before his Passion, the people of Jerusalem were continuing this ancient form of praise.