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Catholic Pocket Dictionary/B


BAPTISMAL NAME             

BAPTISMAL WATER             





BEATIFIC VISION             











BISHOP, SUFFRAGAN             







A spiritual meaning was given to baptism by St. John the Baptist, who baptised or immersed his disciples in the Jordan, to signify the repentance and renewal by which the whole man was to be cleansed and purified. The Talmud of Babylon mentions a baptism of Jewish proselytes, but it is impossible to say when this rite arose. In any case, it is certain that when our Lord made baptism the rite of initiation into His Church, He employed a symbolism already familiar to the Jews. But Christ exalted the act to a dignity beyond the baptism of John, changing the "baptism of penance" into the sacrament of regeneration.


A name given in baptism, to signify that the baptised person has become a new creature in Christ. The Ritual forbids heathenish names, and advises, though it does not enjoin, the taking of a saint's name.


Water blessed in the font on Holy Saturday and the vigil of Pentecost, which must be used at least in solemn baptism. The priest signs the water with the cross, divides it with his hand, pouring it towards the north, south, east and west; breathes into it, and places in it the paschal candle, after which some of it is sprinkled on the people and some removed for private use. The priest then pours oil of catechumens and chrism into the water.


That part of the church in which solemn baptism is administered. It should be railed off, have a gate fastened by a lock, and be adorned, if possible, with a picture of Christ's baptism of St. John. It is convenient that it should contain a chest with two compartments, one for the holy oils, the other for the salt and candle used in baptism.


The proper designation of the religious of this order is that of "Regular Clerks of the Congregation of St. Paul"; they are popularly called Barnabites on account of a church of St. Barnabas at Milan which belonged to them in the sixteenth century. Their principal founder was St. Antonio Maria Zaccaria (who died 1539); with him were joined Bartolommeo Ferrari and Giacomo Antonio Morigena. The frequent wars by which the north of Italy had been devastated; the influx of Lutheran soldiers, whose example tended to propagate a spirit of contempt for the sacraments and the clergy; and the frequency of pestilential disorders caused by the famine and misery of the population, had produced, about 1530, a state of things which powerfully appealed to the charity and pity of the true pastors of Jesus Christ. It occurred to Zaccaria that a better way of combating these evils could not be found than by organizing a congregation of secular clergy, not going out of the world but living in it and working for it, and bound by a rule - that is, diligently attending to their own sanctification while preaching reformation to others, - "who should regenerate and revive the love of the divine worship and a truly Christian way of life by frequent preaching and the faithful administration of the Sacraments." In 1533 the foundation of such a congregation, under a special rule approved by the Holy See, was sanctioned by Clement VII. The members pronounced their vows before the Arch-.bishop of Milan, and chose Zaccaria for their superior. The order soon spread into France and Germany. In 1579 their constitutions were examined by St. Charles Bommeo, Archbishop of Milan, protector of the congregation, and being approved by him were finally confirmed. They called, and still call, their establishments colleges. They are governed by a General residing at Rome, elected for three years, and capable of re-election once. Besides the three usual vows they take a fourth, never to seek any office or ecclesiastical dignity, and to accept no post outside of their order without the permission of the Pope. The habit is merely the black soutane which was worn by secular priests in Lombardy at the time of their foundation. Their principal house is at Rome.


This order takes its name from the great St. Basil (died 379), .bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia. On his return to his own country after a long journey through Egypt, Palestine and Mesopotamia - made that' he might collect the experience of monks and solitaries living under many different rules - Basil, still thirsting for the perfect life in which self should be subdued and union with Christ attained, withdrew into a desert region of Pontus, where his mother Emelia and his sister Macrina had already established monasteries, and laid the foundation of the great order which bears his name. To those who placed themselves under his direction he gave two rules, the Great and the Little - the former containing fifty-five, the latter three hundred and thirteen articles. This twofold rule became so famous and popular in the East as to supplant all others; and at this day it alone is recognized and followed by the monks of the Greek Church. In southern Italy there were many Basilian convents, in existence before the time of St. Benedict, who regarded both the rule and its author with great veneration, and appears to have had it before him when framing his own rule. The habit of the Basilians is scarcely to be distinguished from that of the Benedictines.


This name began to be applied to Christian churches about the beginning of the fourth century. The earlier expressions were "house of prayer," "oratory," and "Lord's house,” besides the term "ecclesia,” or a fine stately building.


The sight of God face to face, which constitutes the essential bliss of angels and men.


Or bliss, is defined by St. Thomas as that perfect good which completely appeases and satisfies the appetite. God alone can constitute man's perfect bliss, for man's will seeks the fullness of all good, and this cannot be found except in God. Had man been left without grace, then he would have found his natural beatitude in knowing God most perfectly as the author of nature, and in adhering to Him by natural love, sweetly and constantly. He would have attained this happiness, after passing successfully through his probation in this mortal life. As it is, man has been raised to a supernatural state, and his bliss consists in God, seen face to face in the heavenly country.


The blessings pronounced by our Lord at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. v. 3-10). In the so-called Sermon on the Plain (Luke vi. 17-22).


I.e., "Let us bless the Lord," a form used in the breviary at the end of each hour except matins, and at the end of Mass instead of Ite, Missa est on days when the Gloria in excelsis is not said.


The founder of monks in the West, St. Benedict, having first established his order at Subiaco in the vicinity of Rome removed it to Monte Cassino in 529. The rule which he compiled for his monks was regarded as replete with wisdom, and dictated by a marvelous insight into human nature, neither prescribing to all an asceticism only possible to a few, nor erring on the side of laxity. It regulated with great minuteness the mode of celebrating the divine office at the canonical hours; and eschewing all idleness, ordered that the monks, when not employed in the divine praises, or in taking necessary food and rest, should engage themselves in useful works, either manual labor, or study, or copying books, or teaching. Every monastery was to have a library, and every monk was to possess a pen and tablets. The clothing, of which the prevailing color was black, was to vary in material and warmth at the discretion of the abbots, according to the exigencies of different climates and circumstances. A singular clause in the rule, and one which was fruitful in results, was that which ordered that all persons whatever, without distinction of age, rank, or calling, should be admissible to the order of St. Benedict. If parents offered a son to the service of God in a monastery, even if he were but a boy of five years old, the monks were to receive and take full charge of him. Thus Beda was taken when only seven years old, and Orderic, the historian of Normandy, was committed by his father in his tenth year. Out of this practice of offering young boys to the monasteries a great system of monastic schools very soon arose.

St. Maur, a disciple of St. Benedict, founded the first Benedictine monastery in France, during his master's lifetime, at Glanfeuil, near Angers. The order was introduced into Spain about 633. The monastery on Monte Cassino was destroyed by the Lombards towards the end of the sixth century, and the monks sought refuge at Rome, where Pope Gregory gave them St. Andrew's Church. The Benedictine abbot of St.Andrew's was the person chosen by the Pope to head the mission which he sent to the Court of Ethelbert, and he will be remembered through all time as St. Augustin, the Apostle of England. Benedictine monks from England - St. Willibrord (699) and St. Boniface (750) - introduced Christianity in the Low Countries and the Rhineland. It is said that a calculation having been made in the 5rst half of the fourteenth century, it was found that up to that time twenty-four Popes, two hundred cardinals, seven thousand archbishops, fifteen thousand bishops, and a still greater number of saints, had been given to the Church by the Benedictine Order.

In 1618 the Benedictine House of St. Maur by its colossal patristic and historical labors, directed by such men as Mabillon, Martene, Ruinart, Rivet, and D'Achèry, rendered incalculable services to the learned world. Two such works as the "France Littèraire" and the "Recueil des Historiens," if they had accomplished nothing else, would entitle the congregation to the gratitude of all men of letters. At the present time the Benedictine Order is following up its old civilizing and colonizing energy in behalf of humanity.


An ecclesiastical benefice is a perpetual right, established by the Church in favor of an ecclesiastical person, of receiving the profits of Church property, on account of the discharge, by such person, of a spiritual office.


A square cap with three or sometimes four prominences or projecting corners rising from its crown. There is usually a tassel in the middle where the comers meet. It is worn by a priest as he approaches the altar to say Mass, and by ecclesiastics in general.


A letter or paper. A name given to the sacred books of the Jews and the Christians. In itself "Bible" might mean a book of whatever kind, just as its synonym "Scriptures" means originally, writings of any sort. Gradually the Jews who spoke Greek employed the word "Bible" as a convenient name for their sacred books.

The Church holds that the sacred Scripture is the written word of God. The Council of Trent, "following the example of the orthodox Fathers, receives with piety and reverence all the books of the Old and New Testament, since one God is the author of each." These words of the council, which are an almost verbal repetition of many early definitions, separate the Bible utterly from all other books. Of no human composition, however excellent, can it be said that God is its author. And the divine origin of Scripture implies its perfect truth. We know for certain, St. Irenaeus argues, that the Scriptures are perfect, since they are spoken by the Word of God and by the Spirit. Some few Catholic theologians have, indeed, maintained that the Scriptures may err in small matters of historical detail which in no way affect faith or morals. Nor in doing so do they contradict any express definition of Pope or council, though such an opinion has never obtained any currency in the Church. But of course the modern theories which reduce the historical accounts of the Bible to mere myths, or again which, while they allow that the Scripture contains the word of God, deny that it is the written word of God, are in sharp and obvious contradiction to the decrees of the Church.

The Church affirms that all Scripture is the word of God, but at the same time it maintains that there is an unwritten word of God over and above Scripture. Just as Catholics are bound to defend the authority of the Bible against those who have come to treat it as an ordinary book, so they are compelled to reject exaggeration, on the other side, according to which the word of God is contained in Scripture and in Scripture alone. The word of God (so the Council of Trent teaches) is contained both in the Bible and in Apostolical tradition, and it is the duty of a Christian to receive the one and the other with equal veneration and respect. The whole history and the whole structure of the New Testament witness to the truth and reasonableness of the Catholic view. If our Lord had meant Hiis Church to be guided by a book and by a book alone, He would have taken care that Christians should be at once provided with sacred books. As a matter of fact He did nothing of the kind. He refers those who were to embrace His doctrine not to a book, but to the living voice of His Apostles and of His Church. "He who heareth you," He said to the Apostles, "heareth me." For twenty years after our Lord's Ascension, not a single book of the New Testament was written, and all that time no Christian could appeal, as many do now, to the Bible and the Bible only, for the simple reason that the New Testament did not exist, and the faithful were evidently called upon to believe many truths for which no strict and cogent proofs could be brought from the pages of the Jewish Scriptures. Further, when the writings of the New Testament were issued, they appeared one by one, in order to meet special exigencies, nor is the least hint given that the Apostles or their disciples provided that their writings should contain the whole sum of Christian truth. In 1898 Pope Leo XIII. granted indulgences to those who devoutly read the Scriptures.


A bishop is a person who is consecrated and given a spiritual jurisdiction, and generally the government of a Diocese.


When a bishop is unable, for various reasons, to perform all the functions required by his office, it is usual to assign to him a titular bishop to assist him. This auxiliary bishop, as such, has no jurisdiction; he only performs those things which belong to the episcopal office and order. He may, however, be nominated by the bishop as vicar general; in which case he has the right to exercise jurisdiction.


A bishop consecrated to a see which formerly existed, but which has been, chiefly through the devastations of the followers of Mahomet, lost to Christendom. Such a bishop may also be described as a "Titular" bishop.


This name is given to a bishop in an ecclesiastical province, relatively to the metropolitan in whose province he is. Also to a titular bishop or bishop in partibus who is exercising the pontifical functions and ordinations for the ordinary bishop whom he has been invited to assist.


Blessing is in a general sense, a form of prayer begging the favor of God for the persons blessed. God is the source of all His blessing, but certain persons have special authority to bless in His name, so that this blessing is more than a mere prayer; it actually conveys God's blessing to those who are fit to receive it. Thus in the old law God said of the sons of Aaron, "They shall invoke my name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them;" and Christ said to his disciples, "Into whatsoever house you enter, first say: Peace be to this house: and, if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him." Accordingly, the Church provides for the solemn blessing of her children by the hands of her ministers.


A Book containing an abridgement of psalms, antiphons, responses, metrical hymns, selected parts of Holy Scripture, extracts from the works of the Fathers and from the lives of the Saints.


A papal Brief is a letter issued by the Sovereign Pontiff at Rome, written on fine parchment in modern characters, subscribed by the Pope's Secretary of Briefs, and sealed with the Pope's signet-ring, the seal of the Fisherman.


A Papal Bull is so named from the bulla (or round leaden seal, having on one side a representation of SS. Peter and Paul, and on the other the name of the reigning Pope), which is attached to the document (by a silken cord, if it be a "Bull of Grace," and by one of hemp if a "Bull of Justice") and gives anthenticity to it.


A square case into which the priest puts the corporal which is to be used in Mass.


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