Posted by: Fr Chris | October 22, 2022

Ask A Priest – Part 2, October

Is it Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost?

In Old English the words Ghost and Ghostly were often used to refer to the Third Person of the Holy Trinity and to spiritual matters. Today, Ghost has come to mean only spirits of the deceased. So, the English translations have gone to the word Spirit. That is closer to the Hebrew original, in that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the living God, “ruach elohim.”

Did Mary ever commit a venial sin? 

No. Our Blessed Lady continued to live her life in union with God. She is the New Eve, the Mother who exemplifies what the Old Eve was supposed to do. We were made to live in God’s Presence, and to be with Him always. The failure of Adam and Eve to do so introduced sin, and therefore death, into the human race. While Our Lady did die, and then was assumed into heaven body and soul, she did not sin.

Did Joseph ever commit a mortal sin?

I would say it is doubtful. Joseph is described in Scripture as a righteous man, and every time he has a message from God, he gets up and immediately fulfills what God has asked of him. Many theologians taught that Joseph did not commit any sins, and some have claimed that he was sanctified in his mother’s womb after his conception. But one must be careful of over-exaggerating someone’s holiness. We have a bad tendency to exalt all saints, and make them so otherworldly that we think we don’t have a chance at achieving holiness. I think it is sufficient to say that Saint Joseph was a man who achieved great sanctity, who treasured and protected the virginity of the Virgin Mary and his own purity, and who was the perfect role model for the Son of God.

Do we know the names of angels besides Michael, Gabriel, and Rafael? Why do we call Saint Michael a Saint when he is an angel?

Traditionally there are seven archangels listed: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Selathiel, Jegudiel, and Barachiel. The suffix -el is the Name of God in Hebrew; each of them has a duty to God and an action they perform on his behalf. Michael is “he who is like unto God.” Michael serves as the protector of God’s people against evil in Daniel and again in the Epistle of Jude. Gabriel is “he who stands in the presence of God” and he appears as God’s messenger to Daniel, Zechariah, and the Virgin Mary. Raphael means “God heals” and he brings both spiritual and physical healing in the Book of Tobit, and it is presumed he is the angel at the pool of Bethesda. These three archangels are the only ones listed in the canonical books of the Bible. Jegudiel punishes sinners;  Uriel is the angel of wisdom; Selathiel is the angel for intercession of prayer; Berachiel is the angel of blessings. These last four appear in the Eastern Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox traditions, some Catholic practices, and some Jewish traditions.

The word “saint” is French in origin, and simply means “holy.” It became a title of holy people in Old English. Michael is certainly holy, and thus he and the other two archangels are routinely referred to as Saints.

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