In Catholicism excommunication is a separation of an individual from the saving power of the Catholic Church due to a serious theological idea or practice deemed contrary to the Church. The excommunicated may not participate in the sacraments nor associate with the community of believers.
Historically speaking, “the term (excommunicatus— ἀκοινώνητος) first appeared in Church documents in the fourth century.”¹ Minor excommunications were conducted by local bishops for associating with an excommunicated Catholic. Major excommunication is carried out by the Pope in an official ceremony.
Excommunication is terminated upon repentance and satisfying the demands of the Church, at which point the once condemned person is received again and fully recognized as a Catholic. As the Catholic Encyclopedia puts it:
It is also a medicinal rather than a vindictive penalty, being intended, not so much to punish the culprit, as to correct him and bring him back to the path of righteousness.²
Excommunication is not exclusive to Catholicism; various forms are found in most world religions.³
¹ LAWLOR, F. X., and T. J. GREEN. “Excommunication.” New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 504-506. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 29 May 2012.
³ This Wikipedia entry gives a good overview of the situation among various faith groups » http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excommunication
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In secular usage “faith” [Latin fidere = trust] refers to believing in something or someone. “I have faith in the system” the man or woman on the street might say when asked about societal problems.
In a non-denominational, spiritual sense it refers to believing in a loving, supernatural power or God and that things will eventually work out. That is, it’s a view of optimism.
In the general religious sense, faith in part refers to believing in a fixed set of teachings.
The Hebrew term for faith (emunah) originally meant trust in God but in the Middle Ages it came to mean believing that God exists and that the Jewish dogmas were correct.
In Hinduism faith generally means a belief that things will eventually work out and that justice will be served – for the good and the bad – as a result of the law of karma.
In Christianity, faith generally refers to the belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—a perfectly loving and good, omnipotent, omniscient eternal Being belonging to the Holy Trinity.
In Catholicism faith is understood as both an objective truth and a subjective virtue. The Catholic Encyclopedia says:
Objectively, it [faith] stands for the sum of truths revealed by God in Scripture and tradition and which the Church…presents to us in a brief form in her creeds, subjectively, faith stands for the habit or virtue by which we assent to those truths.¹
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St. George (early 4th century CE) is the Guardian saint of England and Portugal. Nobody really knows his exact origins or the details of his life.
Historians have debated the exact details of the birth of Saint George for over a century, although the approximate date of his death is subject to little debate. The Catholic Encyclopedia takes the position that there seems to be no ground for doubting the historical existence of Saint George, but that little faith can be placed in some of the fanciful stories about him.¹
Some sources indicate that St. George may have been cruelly tortured and killed around 300 CE by Diocletian at Nicomedia, hence his veneration as a martyr. Other sources say he died around 250 CE at Lydda in Palestine.
The latter legend has gained prominence by virtue of Lydda being the location of his supposed tomb.
St. George is associated with the story, written by Vorgrain (1230-98 CE), of slaying a dragon to rescue a damsel in distress. So he’s often invoked for a similar reason as Saint Michael—for God’s power to vanquish the forces of evil.
His feast day is 23 April, the date that the Church set for his death.
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