Q: The commandment says “Keep Holy the Sabbath Day.” Why do we celebrate it on Sunday when the Sabbath is Saturday?
A: This is a very good question. For those of us who have friends of the Jewish faith, they begin their Sabbath Friday evening, which then encompasses all of Saturday. Did you know that the word Saturday in many languages comes from the word Sabbath?
As fellow Christians, we recognize that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. What does that mean to you and me? Jesus, the Son of God and divine lawgiver, changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday through his resurrection.
Jesus did not do away with the Old Covenant established in the time of Moses; no, Jesus fulfilled it by creating the New Covenant. As Jesus created the very universe we live in he also has re-created it with his Sunday resurrection.
Q: If someone was baptized into a different religion, how would they become Catholic?
A: Our Church is blessed with the pastoral preparation known as Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (also known as RCIA). People who wish to become Catholic, whether baptized or not, participate in the parish community program which prepares them for entrance into the Church at the Easter Vigil.
It is customary in the Church for adults as well as children to enter the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil Mass Saturday evening. At that time the water in the baptismal font is blessed by the priest and the Easter candle is prepared as the community celebrates Jesus’ re-creating the world with his resurrection and taking our sins upon himself so that they may be removed.
Q: Are your hat and staff a sign or a symbol of something? What do they mean?
A: As you may presume, I do not wear my miter nor carry my crosier when I grocery shop or visit the hardware store. Both have a particular role and symbolize my authority as your bishop, as my being a successor of the Apostles.
The miter symbol actually dates back to the time of Moses when his brother, Aaron, wore the miter, indicating he was the priest and was from the priestly class of Levites. As one who shares in the fullness of the priesthood, I, too, wear a miter at Mass or other liturgical celebrations.
The crosier or staff is a shepherd’s staff, reminding me, for one, that I represent the Good Shepherd at our liturgical celebrations. The staff itself is a symbol for all to see that my role as bishop is a shepherd’s role to tend and lead the holy flock of our Church.
How blessed we are with the treasury of symbols that our Church possesses! Each symbol points to the holiness to which each one of us is called regardless of our Christian vocation. May your life and mine be a symbol for all to see of God’s enduring love in our world and that in the Holy Name of Jesus there always is hope.
May you and your family have a blessed Advent season as we quickly approach the great celebration of our Lord’s birth, that is, Christmas.
To “Ask the Bishop,” address questions to Joseph M. Taylor, catechetical consultant, Diocese of Steubenville Office of Christian Formation and Schools – P.O. Box 969, Steubenville, OH 43952; firstname.lastname@example.org; or (740) 282-3631.