Liturgy and liturgical abuses – BRO IGNATIUS MARY


St Michael’s Question and Answer Forums

St Thomas Aquinas Center for Apologetics, Oblates and Missioners of St. Michael


Answered by Jacob Slavek and Bro. Ignatius Mary, OMSM(r), CCL, L. Th., DD, LNDC

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Liturgy and liturgical abuses

Q&As are in chronological order

Lifeteen Mass/Youth Mass abuses,

July 26, 2004/August 27, 2004 See also

My question is about the Lifeteen mass. My kids enjoy it because there is much more singing, accompanied by a rock style band. However, there are some things that make me uncomfortable. The main one being that the teens go up and approach the altar during the consecration. They do seem very reverent, but for some reason it just does not seem right.
Also having the loud rock like music during what to me is a solemn and life changing moment. Many of the young women are also dressed in tight fitting or short cut outfits.
So, I am “old fashioned” or is there something to these concerns of mine?
I know the bottom line is if I do not like it I do not have to go, however I would like to be able to explain to my children if there is cause for concern. –Robin

Yes quite simply all of these things are wrong. I think the best way to explain it is to say that they are irreverent. Mass is not a social function, it is a sacrifice; it is worship of a Divine Being. It is not a party. –Jacob Slavek

I am aware that they do many things that are illicit and abuses.

There is only one way to celebrate Mass. That is to celebrate it according to the Roman Missal. (Latin Rite) This can only be changed by Rome, and not by groups of young adults and teens. –Jacob Slavek


Vestments for altar servers

July 31, 2004

What is the proper garb for altar servers? I have seen some wear a cassock with a surplice and others an alb. Are both correct? Does it matter if they are boys or girls? –Brent



Both boys and girls may wear albs since that is the common vestment of all ministers. The pastor may allow boys to wear a cassock and surplice. Girls however may not since the cassock and surplice are vestments of the clergy and of course girls cannot be in “training” to become ordained. -Jacob Slavek


The amice

August 4, 2004

What is the current status of the priest wearing the amice so as to cover street clothing? –Deacon Larry

The amice is still required, unless the alb is made in such a way that it completely covers the street clothing (including a roman collar).  It’s in the new GIRM, n. 119, as well as the recently outdated GIRM. -Jacob Slavek


Non-Catholics receiving Holy Communion

August 8, 2004

Several years ago we had a Pastor who was really good friends with the Episcopal Rector in our town and they formed kind of an alliance. Our Pastor openly welcomed the Episcopalians to celebrate and receive communion with us. And they did. After that Pastor died and a new priest came to be our Pastor I asked him if that was acceptable and his answer to me was very vague, but he ended it by saying, I can’t undo what Father So-n-So has done. I think he is wrong. I think he could and should make a public statement about communion. He wouldn’t have to be hateful about it, but I think it should be stated that Holy Eucharist is closed to those not in communion with us. It clearly states this in the front cover of our Missal.
Am I wrong in my belief here? -Bernadette

I see nothing wrong at all with your thinking. In fact I think that all priests should be addressing these issues, regardless whether or not past abuses have occurred locally. -Jacob Slavek


Non-Catholics receiving Holy Communion

August 10, 2004

My husband says that if the priest is going to allow a non-Catholic person to receive communion because of an “extreme circumstance” he has to have permission from the bishop, but I say the priest can make that decision on his own providing that the extreme circumstances are truly valid. But both of us are unsure what kind of “extreme circumstances” would warrant such permission. We have had a case like this in our church and have been baffled by it. So I guess my question is: Can a priest grant this kind of permission at all and if so does he need special permission from the bishop? –Nettie

No, the priest does not need special permission from the bishop. He may allow non-Catholics to receive communion if ALL of the following conditions from the Canon Law are met: There is danger of death, their own minister is not available, they specifically ask for it rather than being offered, they show the appropriate respect for the sacrament and that they are properly disposed. (#844) If there is some other grave necessity other than danger of death then it is possible for the priest to allow Communion WITH THE BISHOP’S permission, from the same canon. Let me know if I can clarify this further. –Jacob Slavek


The bread for Communion

August 10, 2004 [See]

The Eucharist was a square piece that resembled real baked bread, almost like wheat or multigrain bread. I thought that the Eucharist was supposed to be unleavened bread and wafer-like. Also, in the bulletin where it listed the names of the priests and the staff, it also listed the name of the person who was the “Bread Baker.” By the way, the Eucharist that the priest held during the liturgy of the Eucharist was the wafer that I’m used to seeing. I’m curious for an explanation for all this. –May

The bread for communion must be made only with wheat, it must be unleavened, and must have been made recently. It must also be able to be broken, and it must have the appearance of food (from the GIRM). It need not be wafer-like.

There is nothing wrong with having someone from the parish make the bread and having their name listed in the Bulletin, provided that it is a trustworthy person. -Jacob Slavek


Adding a Hail Mary to the Prayers of the Faithful

August 13, 2004

Is it right to ask Our Lady to pray for us and say a Hail Mary at the end of the prayers of the faithful at Mass? -Enzo

I would say not, because it doesn’t seem to fit that which is being asked in the General Instruction. It does not follow the pattern of an intention being stated with the prayer response. It is stated that specifically the priest says the concluding prayer, not the entire congregation. Also it says that the intentions are composed of few words. Although the Hail Mary is an intercessory prayer, it is not entirely an intercessory prayer. Finally, the Instruction also says that the intercessions are offered to God (n.69-71) -Jacob Slavek




Greeting a bishop

August 17, 2004

What do I do when I meet a bishop? Do I shake his hand? Genuflect and kiss his hand? Bow? –Dave

As a general rule, I bow and then shake his hand, both when saying hello and goodbye. There is nothing wrong with kissing his ring, although many bishops now feel uncomfortable with it. This is all my opinion. -Jacob Slavek


Extraordinary ministers of holy Communion

August 13, 2004

Is there some protocol about selecting them or can just anybody do it? The reason I ask this is because at our parish there are people up there that are not in compliance with the precepts of the church. One person is divorced and living with someone else. Another is divorced and remarried but never had an annulment. That particular situation is a very strange one as a former priest told them they did not need an annulment but there was no reason to not get an annulment other than the priest here at that time just didn’t think it was necessary. I see these people on the altar handling the precious Body and Blood and I have to wonder if there is not some rule that says a person in that position should be in line with the church. I try not to judge, but it is hard to not notice these things. Is there a rule about it or can just anybody march up there and pass out communion? –Bernadette

No, not just anybody can march up and perform this ministry. Go to and scroll down to Article 13. -Jacob Slavek


Placement of the tabernacle

August 27, 2004

I’ve been trying to figure out why some parishes place the tabernacle at the altar, while other newer ones (parishes) have the tabernacle off to the side in a separate room. It seems more logical to have it located at the altar (which is the focal point, the center), since that is the focus of the Mass. Whereas, placement in a separate room causes the focus on the tabernacle to be lost “off to the side,” so to speak, even though it might seem as if the side room is “special” place for people to privately worship. I’d like to learn more about the reasoning behind all this and if you’d kindly elaborate. -May

I believe that the idea for this started as a way to allow people to pray in quiet with the Blessed Sacrament in large famous churches which had great artwork that attracted many tourists/visitors. However this is not a problem for most small local parishes and so we should be seeing these “Blessed Sacrament chapels” rarely if at all.

Also, I agree completely with all your other comments. -Jacob Slavek


Singing priest and altar misuse

August 28, 2004

We have had a priest at our parish a couple of times that has a “singing ministry.” What I mean by this is that he comes to the church and does concerts for us. Usually during his visits, he also celebrates the Mass and during his homily he always finds some opportunity to sing something. In fact, he is prepared beforehand with a sound system set up over at the side of the altar equipped with a microphone that he carries despite the fact that he is also wearing a lapel mike during the homily. It all appears to be very performance like to me and it is somewhat distracting. He also brings some form of artwork to put on the altar during his Mass. It is very pretty but not like anything I have ever seen on the altar before. And finally, in the lobby of the church he has tapes and CDs that he has recorded on display for sale. Somehow this sort of ministry does not seem to fit into my idea of Mass. Granted he has a lovely voice and I am glad he can work it into his ministry, but I don’t think Mass is the place to plug his “talent.” Am I just splitting hairs or is this sort of ministry misplaced in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? –Adelle

It is difficult to comment without knowing more or hearing the actual singing, but here is what I know for sure.

It is absolutely wrong to celebrate Mass within the context of a concert. A concert is not Mass, and Mass is not a concert.  Although they share some limited similarities, the ideas of each are totally different.

The altar is not a display shelf. Sacrifices are placed on altars, not exhibits.

If there is nothing scandalous or theologically incorrect about the recordings, then I really don’t see a problem with offering them for sale. -Jacob Slavek


Placement of the tabernacle

September 1, 2004

Before the Council of Trent; the tabernacle was in a separate room in most of the parishes, especially in the cathedrals. Crucifixes were on the altars against the wall-much like the one on the altar in St. Peter’s Basilica. Our churches were much like the High Church of England before the above mentioned Council.



Since the altars for the most part were attached the beautiful reredos- then historically speaking, the Tabernacles were never on the altar- only on the reredos. If you ever go into a church that still has its original complete High Altars- you will find them attached to the reredos. –Michael

Thank you for the input.
-Jacob Slavek


Use of secular/profane musical instruments at Mass; See

September 7, 2004

Our Parish is split into three churches, under one umbrella. In two of the three churches we have traditional Liturgy following the GIRM and the Vatican Documents, almost to the letter. However, my question concerns the third Church. At Sunday Mass there is a ‘band’ that play the music, much like that which you would find in an Evangelical Church. Even the music they use is evangelical and not catholic. The instruments used are keyboards, electric guitars, drum kits, and trumpets. Surely this is, in some way a breach of authentic Liturgy. Can you advise on this in relation to actual Church documents etc? As the whole parish Organist and Musical Director I feel very frustrated about this – but at the moment do not have any say in whether or not they are right in what they are doing. I would like to make my point to them in the near future. -James

Yes the Church has produced a handful of documents that deal with music…  since you are involved with ministry I think you should read “Musicam Sacram” as well as its “parent” document “Sacrosanctum Concilium” from Vatican II.

One thing that these documents are absolutely clear on is that musical instruments that are associated with the secular culture are absolutely barred from the Liturgy. (Musicam Sacram, 63)

I really don’t think that it can be argued that the guitar and drum sets are not associated with secular music.

Besides, it goes against common sense to use these instruments at Mass, since in our culture they are used for profane entertainment. Holy Mass is NOT entertainment, rather it is a sacrifice and it is worship. Only those things that are sacred are to be permitted for use at Mass. Guitars and drums are not sacred. When you go to Mass, there should never be any question in your mind where you are at: at church or at a rock concert. -Jacob Slavek


Priest using inclusive language

September 15, 2004

The priest in my parish changes the wording of the readings and the Eucharistic prayers every Mass to use inclusive language. He even changes “from East to West” to “from everywhere” so as not to offend any of the directions, I guess. By whose authority is he able to do this? I need specifics to write to him and our Bishop about this liturgical abuse. -Charles

It is by no one’s authority that he is able to make these changes.

From Vatican II: Sacrosanctum Concilium n.22 (3) Therefore no other person whatsoever, not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on their own authority.

This includes the text for the prayers. -Jacob Slavek


Orans position for the Our Father

September 16, 2004

Is there any guide concerning the deacon assuming the orans position for the Pater Noster? I know the USCCB decided not to vote on this issue for the laity, and a reason I heard was that this is the proper posture for the celebrant and the concelebrants. But what about the deacon – Orans or hands with palms together? –Deacon Larry

The deacon is not instructed to assume this position at this point, so hands with palms together or some other reverent position would be correct.
-Jacob Slavek


Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

September 16, 2004

I go to an adoration every Friday evening (Jesus in the Monstrance on the Altar) and usually I kneel but I wonder if is kneeling required or is it just encouraged, and sitting or standing OK?

They have 2 kneelers they put 3 feet in front of the altar and people go up there to kneel and pray before the Monstrance. Is this permissible?

The third thing is usually an extraordinary minister is the one who puts Jesus in the monstrance, then puts Him back in the tabernacle when adoration is over. He or she has the priest’s permission and the priest knows what is going on? –Isidore

Kneeling, sitting and standing are all fine for adoration. I would kneel until it is no longer comfortable then sit and begin reading. I don’t see a problem with kneelers near the altar.

The documents allow that a lay minister may expose and repose, but only in the absence of a priest or deacon. My question would be why is the priest absent? He should NOT be since he is the ordinary minister. It is his duty, it is part of his orders, and he should be there.

The referenced document is Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, n.91. -Jacob Slavek



Coming late for Mass and receiving Holy Communion

September 15, 2004

We have a situation where a parishioner rather consistently comes in after daily Mass or after a Communion Service has concluded and then asks to receive Communion. She almost never attends the Mass or Service but approaches us afterward.
Is there some liturgical guideline for dealing with a chronic situation such as this? –Deacon Larry

This really doesn’t seem like a liturgical matter to me but rather a spiritual matter. I don’t think that the Church officially addresses the issue other than saying that whenever possible Communion should be received during the context of the Mass. I know this may seem like a generic answer but I think it’s difficult to say without know more of the specifics such as why is this person not making it to the Mass is she truly wants to receive. This issue would need to be addressed before we go on, in my opinion anyway. -Jacob Slavek


Orans position for the Our Father

September 23, 2004

Further to Deacon Larry’s recent question concerning the correct posture for the deacon at the Lord’s Prayer, I would like to make the following points.
Although no reference is made to the deacon’s posture at this point in the rubrics for the new rite of Mass, I would suggest that it is probably most correct to follow the former usage of the preconciliar Tridentine Mass. Here, the celebrating priest assumed the orans position at the opening words “Our Father…”, and the deacon remained with hands joined palm-to-palm (Source – Fortescue et al. “Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described”), presumably as a mark of distinction in rank.
(For those interested in such matters, the subdeacon would, at this point be standing on the step below the deacon, holding the paten with joined hands under the humeral veil.)
Also, Msgr. Elliott in “Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite”, while not discussing the deacon’s hand posture during the Lord’s Prayer, states that he should have hands joined immediately afterwards, so I would presume this implies hands joined during the prayer also. –Steven

Yes I agree with everything you have said.

Although it is “probably most rite” to follow what was done in the old rite when the new is unclear, it must not ABSOLUTELY be done. They are two distinct rites. -Jacob Slavek


Side altars

October 4, 2004

We are members of a rural parish, and our beautiful, traditional Gothic church is over 100 years old. In the 1970s the side altars and communion rail were removed. Fortunately, because some parishioners recovered these items from the dumpster and stored them in a garage for 25 years, they were not lost or destroyed. In 1999, with the leadership of an orthodox pastor, our church underwent a substantial restoration and the side altars and Communion Rail were also restored. Now we have a new pastor who claims that it is “sacrilegious” to turn the lights on in the side altars, and objects to them even being referred to as altars. He is making plans to remove them again along with several beautiful statues. I expect that he will cite Vatican II changes as the reason to remove them. My question is, where can I go to find information to refute his reasons for demolishing a $250,000 restoration to our beautiful, historic church? There is a meeting coming up and I am hoping to be able to have some documentation for the discussion. -Grant

I’m sorry I really can’t refute his specific reasons without knowing what they are specifically.

Anyway, it simply is NOT sacrilegious to put lights on these altars. If they are altars, (and they are) then what is wrong with calling them altars?  Nothing!

Vatican II only forbid that a priest offer Mass at these “side altars” if there is another priest at the “main” altar at the same time. It was the custom that visiting priests would offer Mass at the “side” altar before concelebration while the resident pastor said Mass at the “main” altar. Vatican II did away with this, but did NOT mandate that these altars be removed. -Jacob Slavek

October 10, 2004

The priest seems to be taking an extreme interpretation of the Church’s law.
There is nothing that prohibits churches that already have side altars to retain them though new churches may not.
However, side altars are not to be adorned with cloths, candles, flowers, crucifix, etc, except when they are being used for the celebration of a Mass or as the repository for the Blessed Sacrament. Only the main altar is to be adorned at all times (except during the Triduum). The priest’s prohibition to “turn the lights on” on these altars would be correct, though the lights should probably be adjusted so that the statue and not the altar is lighted.
(Personal note: an exception could possibly be made on the feast of the saint commemorated by the altar) –Fr Smith

Thank you for the comments.Jacob Slavek




How to use bells during the Holy Mass

October 13, 2004

We have a pastor who has just been here a few years and he has changed the way the servers ring the bells at consecration. We have such beautiful bells that resonate so nicely, but for some reason, this priest has instructed the servers to ring the bells with a cha-ching, cha-ching style, like you might ring a cow bell. It is very distracting and in passing I asked him why the change in the bell ringing style. He told me that it is against liturgical law to ring them in any other way than the cha-ching cha-ching style. It really surprised me because in all honesty, I think that bells are somewhat optional these days aren’t they? I looked in the GIRM and could find nothing – – not one word about the proper way to ring the bells. So my question, I guess, is: Is there a particular way the bells are suppose to be rung? It is such a trivial matter, I am almost embarrassed to ask, but he has really piqued my curiosity now and I thought you would probably know the answer. -Berna

All the instructions say at this point is that a bell may be rung: so you are right, it is not specified what “style” in which they are to be rung.

I don’t know why your priest would be thinking this, except maybe at some point he was taught to ring them that way and so he assumed that was what the law said.Jacob Slavek


Sleeping in front of the Blessed Sacrament

October 25, 2004

I’m an associate of a religious order, and once a month all of the associate’s gather with the religious for an “associate’s day.” We gather Friday night, sleep in their guest dorms, have overnight adoration, and then Saturday starts the associate’s day. Two women and I got permission to sleep in the chapel (the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a church, by chapel I mean a small chapel in a different building where the Blessed Sacrament is reposed in a Tabernacle.) We were told that this was okay so long as we were respectful and prayerful… no eating, no changing clothes, no hanging out, etc. Just praying and sleeping.
Recently we were told by a different priest that this isn’t allowed… he said there’s a part of Canon Law that says you can only sleep where there’s a Tabernacle in certain circumstances, like if there’s no other option or if there’s an emergency. Is this correct? The priest who originally gave us permission to sleep in the chapel is very strict and to the T so I thought if there was anything wrong with it he would have told us… so now I’m curious. -Rosa

I didn’t see anything in Canon Law about sleeping during adoration, at the tabernacle or in church.

Sleeping in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or before Jesus in the tabernacle doesn’t strike me as being “respectful” or “prayerful”. I wouldn’t do it, unless it was an “accident” because I had been praying too long instead of going to bed. Church is for praying, bedrooms and dorms are for sleeping and also praying.Jacob Slavek


The functions of a deacon at Holy Mass

November 8, 2004

What are the parts of the Liturgy of the Mass that a deacon can say?

At Sunday Mass, a deacon said the prayers usually said by the priest at the beginning of the Mass at the part called the Penitential Rite. He also purified the chalices that held the Holy Communion and Precious Blood after Holy Communion was given, while the priest sat down at the altar. At the dismissal part of the Mass, the deacon said “The mass is ended.” Was the deacon supposed to be doing these things and saying the prayers he did? –Linda

The deacon can do all these things except say the penitential rite… only the priest may do that.

The GIRM contains a section for deacons. Here is a brief summary of what they do:

If he is present at Mass, he should be vested and perform his ministry.  He assists the priest with incense. He proclaims the Gospel and may give the homily. He announces the intentions at the general intercessions. He pours the water and wine and says “By the mystery of this water and wine…” He holds the chalice during the doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer. He invites the people to make the sign of peace. He is an ordinary minister of the Eucharist. He cleanses the vessels. He dismisses the people.

Again, the complete instructions are found in the Sacramentary. Jacob Slavek


Using the church for choir practice

November 10, 2004

My friends and I are having a disagreement about what is appropriate or not in the church. Piano lessons for children and choir practice are now being held in our church on certain days of the week for about 2 hours on each day. A couple of people I know and myself are used to having a Holy Hour in front of the tabernacle every day and we are being disturbed by the noise going on. What if there was someone that was in the process of having a conversion and needed some quiet time with our Lord? That person may just turn around and walk out and never come back. Some of my friends think there is no problem with this kind of thing going on, that we should expect this, and say that we don’t own the church and are being to strict. What do you think? Just what kind of things are appropriate or allowed in the church, if any? –Shelley



The choir should be practicing in the church, especially since that is where they will be performing their ministry. Hopefully though will keep the chatter to a minimum even if the church is empty since Christ is present in the tabernacle. However though there will be noise and the director and members will be talking to each other, there will be questions and bad music and books dropping and confusion. This is a good thing, since they are working on their ministry to get it perfect for Sunday.

They should be posting their practice times in the bulletin, so that the members know when to be there and that so that other people know that they are there. I myself could even purposely schedule a holy hour during that time so that I can use the music for prayer, and tune out the “downtime” for my own personal prayer so that I wouldn’t be alone in the church. Just my preference, though, the important thing is that you are making the holy hour in the first place.

Hopefully any stranger that happens to show up to have a conversion experience during those two hours would understand what is happening.

I really can’t see any reason why there would be piano lessons in church. Surely there must be a better place, perhaps in the instructor’s home, or in the school (if the parish has one) or in the parish hall if they have a piano there. Private pipe organ lessons however must be held in the church since each pipe organ is played differently. Jacob Slavek


Lifeteen Mass/Youth Mass abuses; See

November 17, 2004 [See also]

Our Parish started the Lifeteen program. The attendance so far has been super. The activities after mass are well organized and teens enjoy themselves. We need to keep our youth in the church, and I think this program is a good beginning. However, the mass, I am not in agreement with electric guitars, drums etc… I think the youth, 14 and over are old enough to learn the sacred and respect it (otherwise, when are they going to grow up?). My 8 year old granddaughter started dance motions in the pew. Her mom told her to stop. She answered: “Mom, it’s not a real mass!” The truth comes out of the mouths of babes! –Anne

Yes I agree with you. Actually this is the worst horror story I’ve heard of the Lifeteen Mass.  The Lifeteen “authorities” (whoever they are) need to wake up and see what impact they really are having on youth. I think that what your granddaughter has said is a right-on indication of the attitude many of these kids have. They need the “real” Mass.Jacob Slavek


Why aren’t old-time prayers in the new liturgy?

November 28, 2004

The Divine Mercy prayer says, “Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world”. Likewise also a venerable old prayer of St. Gertrude the Great says, “Eternal Father, I offer You the most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family.”
I always thought these prayers were an incredible summa of basic Christian Faith in Christ and the efficacy of His Cross. In fact, I thought they represented a devotional synopsis of the sacrificial meaning of the Eucharist.
But this is not really the style of contemporary worship, is it? No one would ever newly compose those prayers based on the way Mass is celebrated today. I’ve definitely noticed that this core “ethos” seems to have been marginalized as much as possible in contemporary worship. Frankly, I’m perplexed. Can you offer some perspective on this? –Rich

Yes I agree with most of what you have said, all I can really do though is offer an opinion. I am also perplexed that this style of prayer is rare in today’s Liturgy, my hope is that the new translation will bring back some of the beauty. Of course though we still won’t have the prayers you mentioned, they are devotional and not part of the Liturgy.

As Catholics it is obvious we need to get back to saying these prayers in the home and in the church outside of Mass. They need to be taught to children in religious education.

Also it is my hope that new prayers will be composed despite an absence of this style from the modern Liturgy. Jacob Slavek


Candles and incense in the liturgy

November 30, 2004

What are the purposes of lighting candles and incense? Are there any CCC references to these traditions? –Brittany

Candles and incense are signs that add dignity and beauty to the Liturgy.

As you said, candles are a sign of prayer. They are also a sign of keeping vigil and of the risen Christ  (The Paschal candle) and a sign of light, Christ the light.

Incense is a sign of offering and of prayer rising to God.

The Catechism doesn’t say much about candles and incense, so I would recommend checking the Catholic Encyclopedia which is available on-line.  Simply look up “candle” and “incense”. Jacob Slavek





The Gloria – when is it sung or omitted?

December 7, 2004

The Gloria is to be omitted on Sundays during Advent and Lent.

It is still said however on solemnities (Immaculate Conception) and other solemn occasions.Jacob Slavek


Statue of Our Lady on an altar

December 13, 2004

On December 11, 2004, the church was having a procession and mass to commemorate the Virgin de Guadalupe. We carried a statue of the Blessed Virgin and walked about a mile to the Capilla de Virgin De Guadalupe. When we reached the Capilla we were directed into a courtyard where Aztec dancers performed. We were allowed into the church and when the mass began the Aztec dancers entered first, and then the Cross followed by the priest. The dancers were dressed with huge headdresses and in full costume. ON the altar was an enormous statue of the Blessed Virgin De Guadalupe and just above the large statue of the Virgin was a very small statue of Jesus on the cross. I felt very uneasy about this whole ceremony. Would this be appropriate? I live in a predominantly Hispanic community and feel there are many inappropriate things happening in our church, including the holding of hands during the Our Father and clapping at the end of mass. There was even a holy mass hosted by one of the priest where there was a lot of singing and swaying it was almost like dancing. The priest says things like they were trying something different because of the many Mexican families and this how its done there. I especially felt uncomfortable about this commemoration of the Blessed Virgin. I almost felt like we were worshiping her instead of honoring her. -Rebecca

The statue does not belong on the altar. The altar is not a table or a shelf; rather it is an altar upon which sacrifice is offered.

As far as I know there is no sacred Aztec dance, so that would be inappropriate and forbidden as well. Also I believe there is no Mexican religious dance either.Jacob Slavek


Are dogs allowed in church?

December 13, 2004

Yesterday at Mass a man brought his big, quiet dog to Mass. He had it on a short leash and it wore a saddle-thing so he could grab it easily if he needed to. He sat on a chair in the back of the church but went up to the communion line with the dog. The priest (a Franciscan) knows he brings the dog to Mass, but is this permissible? Do I have any responsibility to say anything to him or to the priest this Sunday? –David

You will not find anything in Church documents that forbid a dog a church, but you really shouldn’t have to since it is so obvious. Sacraments are for people. Yes, I would talk with the priest. Jacob Slavek


“Healing Mass” and praying in tongues at Mass

December 17, 2004

I went to a “Healing Mass” the other day, and was a little concerned about the structure of this particular Mass.
During the Eucharistic Prayers, the priest would occasionally speak in tongues (as he was elevating the Host and Wine, for example). As he started, the congregation joined him in speaking in tongues. I was a little uncomfortable with this since I prefer the traditional Mass – the ones that follow the Order of Mass.
Is the “Healing Mass” exempt (so to speak) from the Order of Mass guidelines? I really felt like I was at the Vineyard, or some other non-denominational church that I attended in my younger years. Please let me know your opinion. -Joe

I don’t know much about speaking in tongues since I have never experienced it first hand, but I do know that if this priest truly has this gift then it is a good thing. However it seems to me that the priest would be able to control it such that he would not speak in tongues during the even greater gift of the Eucharist. Liturgical law mentions nothing of speaking at tongues at Mass. It is not called for in the documents and would distract from the greatest gift of Jesus present on the altar.

Although healing is a great part of the Mass and sacraments, I don’t believe a Mass is referred to officially as a “Healing Mass”, even a Mass in which there is anointing of the sick.

There is reconciliation to God of our venial sins also at Mass, but this is not called “Healing Mass” either.

I would guess that this priest is calling it a “Healing Mass” to emphasize that aspect, hoping to draw the people into greater reconciliation. The speaking in tongues should wait for another time if at all possible.Jacob Slavek

December 23, 2004

There is no such thing as a “Healing Mass.” Any anointing for healing and the like must be done outside of Mass — usually after Mass.
The priest praying the Eucharistic prayer in “tongues” is forbidden. Also the congregation joining the priest in speaking in tongues is also absolutely forbidden as is the people praying the Eucharistic prayer with the priest.



The people are not co-celebrating the Mass, they are not priests, and thus are not to pray, even silently to themselves, prayers that are reserved to the priest.
St. Paul makes it clear in the Bible about when and where speaking in tongues is to be done and the Mass ain’t the time. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Genuflecting and bowing at Mass

December 18, 2004

We are to bow at one point during the creed. On the solemnities of the Nativity of the Lord and the Annunciation of the Lord, we are to genuflect instead. Does this instruction to genuflect only pertain to Christmas Day Masses or does it pertain to all Masses dealing with Christmas, from the Vigil to Midnight Mass to Morning Mass to Mass during the Day? –Rob

The instruction to genuflect is found in the rubrics in the Missal, not in the GIRM. It is only at the words “and became man”, whereas the bow takes place at “by the power of the Holy Spirit” until “he became man”

The genuflection takes place at all the Christmas Masses, meaning the Vigil, Midnight Mass, Morning Mass and Mass during the day. Each of these masses has a specific instruction to genuflect found in the Proper of Seasons.

The bow of course takes place whenever the creed is said during the entire year.Jacob Slavek


Are dogs allowed in church?

December 19, 2004

In regards to David’s question about dogs being allowed in church, based on the description he gave of the dog’s harness, it sounds to me like the dog was a seeing-eye dog, and was thus was providing a much needed service. The dog’s master is likely blind or visually impaired, and would have needed the dog to guide him through the communion line. The master may have also been a member of the local Lions Club or other community service organization who was tasked with training the dog to be a seeing-eye dog.
From David’s question, it sounds like the priest was aware of the situation, and everything is in good order here. Seeing-eye and leader dogs should be welcome at mass when they are doing their jobs to assist the blind and visually impaired. -Rob

I very nearly mentioned that it could be a service dog but ultimately decided not to since I believed that the original poster should have been able to determine whether or not it was a service dog and therefore would have mentioned it.

Also, it didn’t immediately strike me as odd that the dog could be a pet since a relative of mine has brought a large pet dog to church a few times. At any rate, it is now mentioned so thanks to all for the input. Jacob Slavek


Deacons’ vestments

December 27, 2004

What is the symbolism of the “sideways” stole deacons wear (versus the around-the-neck wearing that priests do)?
What are the rules for what a deacon wears for Mass? In some churches I see deacons wearing a full vestment similar to the priest, and in others, just the white robe and the sideways stole. -Adam

The stole means the same for a deacon as it does for the priest: it is a mark of the sacramental role of the minister. The only difference is that it is worn differently, as you said, “sideways”. This means that the cleric is not yet a priest, or also since the changes of the Second Vatican Council a permanent deacon.

In addition to the alb and stole the deacon must also wear the dalmatic, which is a large vestment like a robe with wide sleeves. It is worn over the alb and stole. Because of its shape, it is a symbol of the cross. Its material, design and color should match that of the chasuble of the priest.Jacob Slavek


Reserving and adoring the Blessed Sacrament

December 30, 2004

Can a youth group in a parish sit around the altar while Jesus is exposed in the monstrance? In some parishes, they go as far, in a prayer group, to sit around the altar while Jesus is exposed in the monstrance, and touch the altar cloth! Is this allowed? Can the young people of Lifeteen sit in the sanctuary for prayers when there is no exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance, and the tabernacle is on the high altar?
Who is allowed to expose and repose the Blessed Sacrament? I heard it was only Priests, Deacons and ordained acolyte; an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist may repose the Blessed Sacrament with special permission. Where could I get the rules on this very important subject? Many are making their own rules. -Anne

The document that contains the rite for exposition is “Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass”.  Inside you will not find any rule about approaching the altar, but I would think that rule for Mass, found in Notitiae, would also apply to adoration and any other time.

During the liturgy of the Eucharist, only the presiding celebrant remains at the altar. The assembly of the faithful take their place in the Church outside the “presbyterium,” which is reserved for the celebrant or concelebrants and altar ministers: Notitiae 17 (1981) 61. See



You are correct about the minister of exposition; this is also found in the document.

I think many times a problem is that the “boundaries” of the sanctuary aren’t as clear as they should be, thus “inviting” anyone to come forward.Jacob Slavek


“Simplex priests”

December 31, 2004

Reading a biography of Ven. Solanus Casey, I first encountered the term and concept of “simplex priests” — someone ordained with restricted faculties, authorized to say Mass but not administer Penance or perform certain other functions. In the case of Solanus Casey, authorities (wrongfully) thought him incapable of understanding theology to the degree needed to be a confessor or preacher. Is the concept of “simplex ordination” still around today? Has anyone discussed whether simplex ordinations of selected deacons could be a partial solution to priestless parishes and the “Eucharistic drought” seriously affecting some areas? –Edmund

Yes, occasionally I hear this idea tossed around, but I’m not aware that it has been officially considered anywhere. Obviously though if this were to happen it would only temporarily heal symptoms of the far greater problem of many parents and religious educators failing to pass on the faith and encourage young men to consider their vocation. I can’t say that I like the idea of simplex priests.Jacob Slavek


Silence and prayer after receiving Holy Communion

January 5, 2005

The Church I attend plays music with singing during communion. After receiving Our Lord, I like to pray, but it is very distracting when everyone is singing. Then I wonder if I should be singing along with everyone else, and find myself struggling to balance the big hymnbook while kneeling (can’t hold on) and feeling awkward. What happens is, if I try to pray, I feel like I should be singing. When I sing, I feel like I should be praying. If I had my druthers, I would be kneeling, eyes closed, head bowed, hands clasped in prayer, but the music is so darn loud, I feel like instead of fighting it, maybe I should just go with it. I just want to do what God wants me to do. What do you say? -Sandy

I actually feel pretty much the same way as you do. This is what I do: As soon as I take my seat I pray “O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine…” three times. Then whenever possible I pick up the hymnal and make the communion song part of my prayer. Usually it is an appropriate prayer, even if it is “modern”. After the hymn is over there usually is a short period for personal prayer. After Mass is over is another necessary time for prayer since Jesus is still present inside us in the Blessed Sacrament. Unfortunately at this time many churches become social halls, but I’ve just learned to overcome this and ignore it. When I have a special need for more time in prayer with the Eucharist, I’ll make a visit at a perpetual adoration chapel. A habit of a weekly adoration is good, or at least monthly.

Simply though what I would say is take all the time for personal prayer you need, quiet, kneeling with your hands folded and eyes closed, but when your done make the communion song part of your prayer as well.Jacob Slavek


The functions of a deacon at Holy Mass

January 8, 2005

A bit of clarification in your response that the priest only says the penitential rite at Mass. True, he does say the introduction to the rite. The GIRM says for Form C, “the priest (or other suitable minister) makes the following invocations:” This would/should be prayed by the deacon and then the priest would then intone the absolution. –Deacon Larry

Yes thank you for the clarification, another minister may do this part of the rite.

Here’s a link to the original question:
Jacob Slavek


Why is it called the Holy “Mass”?

January 11, 2005

I need to know why we call the Mass, Mass? When did we start using the word Mass? –Claire

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a good article that has information about the word mass that you may like:

Simply though, the article says that the word was used after the time of Pope Gregory the Great (d. 604). The Latin word is “Missa” which means “sent out” or “released” or “dismissed”.

In Latin, the last words of the Mass are “Ite missa est” which does not translate easily into English. “The Mass is ended” is not a good translation. You could say something like “Go, it is sent, or simply, “go, it is the Mass” but again these are not good translations.Jacob Slavek


Using the Holy Communion line to bless people / May deacons bless people?

January 14, 2005



What is the Church’s position on blessing small children who accompany their parents to Communion? I frequently see the priest bend down and make the Sign of the Cross over a small child or baby, then touch their head. Is this allowed or should the priest be reported for an abuse? Similarly, in some parishes with deacons, I have seen the deacon distributing communion do this also. Can a deacon even perform a blessing, or is that restricted to priests? –Karl

I don’t believe this has ever been addressed officially, at least it’s not in the instructions for the Mass. The communion line is for receiving Communion, not for other blessings. The children and other adults not receiving communion still receive the blessing after communion. [See also]

Deacons can only give blessings where it is prescribed in the ritual books during the Liturgy. Jacob Slavek


Antimensiums and relics; See

January 19, 2005

I was given a corporal for my ordination by a community of Poor Clares. On the upper right hand corner of the cloth is sewn a rectangular patch which, I was told, contained a relic of St. Faustinus the Martyr. It is an ordinary linen corporal like we of the western Church use. Now I know our brothers and sisters in the East use an antimensium for their liturgies, so, do we of the Roman Rite have an equivalent to this? I have asked our diocesan liturgist but he knows nothing about it and now thinks I am crazy for worry about such minor unnecessary things. So now I turn to you for help. –Fr Anthony

The use of the antimensium was not retained in the Latin Rite; rather it was required to place relics in the altar. In the East, it takes the place of relics in the altar. The Catholic Encyclopedia has an article on the antimensium. –Jacob Slavek


How many times in a day may one receive Holy Communion?

January 23, 2005

I realize that, intrinsic to the actions of the Mass, the priest receives Communion at each Mass he celebrates on a weekend. But I also recall restrictions on the number of times others may receive. May the deacon receive at each Mass he assists at, even if he assists at 3 or 4 Masses on a weekend? Similarly, if the same organist plays at each of 4 weekend Masses, may he or she receive at each Mass? In general, are there different rules for those involved in the Mass itself versus the congregation? –Wayne

Canon Law states that a person may receive a second time.  It doesn’t mention a third or fourth time. (#917)

I would say then that the organist should receive no more than twice each day, twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday.

I can’t think of any reason why a deacon would assist at more than two masses a day, but if he were to be at three for whatever reason I really don’t think it would be wrong for him to receive at each. –Jacob Slavek


When deacons appear to be concelebrating the Mass

January 31, 2005

In the new GIRM: The priest is to consume the Body and drink the Precious Blood of Jesus before he gives Holy Communion to the deacon who assists him to celebrate mass. This in order to show that the deacon is not con celebrating the mass with him as he does not have the faculties.
It used to be after the Eucharistic prayer, before the priest elevated the paten, or Consecrated Host, gave the chalice to the deacon and sang: “with Him, through Him etc…”
Is this still valid? To me it shows that the deacon is concelebrating the mass with the priest. What do you think? -Anne

Yes this is still done, but I don’t see how it shows that the deacon is “concelebrating”.  As you said in your quote, the deacon is assisting with the chalice.

I suppose I see how it could be confusing, but in the celebration and ritual there is nothing wrong with it. –Jacob Slavek


Mass at an interfaith marriage

February 5, 2005

Because I’m not Catholic, my wife to be is scared about two issues:
1) Our wedding wont be considered a sacrament, though I accept the children to be Catholic and will have a Church wedding
2) Whether we can have a mass at our wedding, being that I am not Catholic, nor baptised in the Christian faith? –Sameer

Since you are not baptized, the marriage will not be celebrated within Mass. The Rite of Marriage has a special rite for this situation. (Rite of Marriage, n.8) If you haven’t already, make an appointment with the pastor of your wife-to-be, since you’ll also need to get permission from the bishop. –Jacob Slavek


Using the Holy Communion line to bless people / Giving sweets to non-communicants

February 10, 2005

[See also]



I asked often the same question and was always told by the priest that Jesus said to let the children come to him. There and then, he would bless them. So his gesture is following and imitating Christ.
My question still stand today unanswered. I am aware of spiritual communion and blessings instead of receiving communion for those who often are unable to distinguish the presence of Jesus in a rational way and with a present mind and or, are unable to receive it like children or a very sick person.
Are children falling under the category of those who can’t distinguish the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist but yet can still receive the Eucharistic blessing? Can you define in this case what would Eucharistic Blessing mean? It seems to me that having the entire congregation get up again and going all the way to the front to have their children blessed seems to be a little off hand. It would prolong the mass a great deal. In that case I have no trouble in seeing that done at the same time as the parents receive communion. It would be nice as well to see families get up and receive communion all together weather it be spiritually or eucharistically. Communion also means family as I was told several times in the past.
Here in a parish near me they have the children pick up a candy or a little blessed object that the little servers hold in a bowl in the middle of the line. The children don’t even get to be blessed. NOW what is worse is this or the previous case talked about. This, to me, is what I call abuse and over the edge. Everyone seems to glorify that gesture around here and give praises to the priests for doing such a thing for the children. The Bishop seems to be in accord with this because he celebrates mass there sometimes and lets that happen. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated on this mater. –Sandy

Yes, of course children can receive a Eucharistic blessing.  This is when the priest makes the sign of the cross with the Host over those blessed. This isn’t done at Mass, however, it is done at the benediction at the conclusion of solemn adoration with the Host inside a monstrance.

Of the two, I would say that the worse abuse is distributing candy and blessed objects in the communion line. This can be done AFTER Mass.

As far as imitating Christ:  it seems to me that the greater concern for the priest during the celebration of Mass should be the proper celebration of Mass. It doesn’t strike me as “turning children away” to have them wait until Mass is nearly finished before they receive the blessing. If a parent wishes that the child receives a special blessing then they can approach the priest after Mass. This would be a more appropriate time. –Jacob Slavek


Use of secular/profane musical instruments at Mass

February 10, 2005


In reading Psalm 150, it would seem that just about any musical instrument should be used to praise our God. Let me quote from previous response on this topic in reference to guitars and drums, “One thing that these documents are absolutely clear on is that musical instruments that are associated with the secular culture are absolutely barred from the Liturgy.”
Somehow, I think that something got lost in the translation. How the music is played – rather than what instrument is being played – would be the determining factor as to whether it is appropriate for liturgy or not.
Do we not, as Catholics, encourage people from all cultures to bring what talent they have to the Lord? Do we not, as Catholics embrace all people and all cultures? Was the answer to the original post not clearly thought through? –Deacon Pat

Yes, any musical instrument can and should be used to glorify God. However the Psalms and Scripture were never meant to be guidelines for the modern Liturgy, that is what the Missal and other documents are for. As I said in my previous reply, Rome has decided that instruments associated with the profane are not to be admitted into the Sacred Liturgy. That does not mean that you cannot use drums and guitars in your own private or public non-liturgical worship.

Yes, the Catholic Church embraces all people and cultures, all are called to salvation in the Church, however profane or sacrilegious elements of any culture or any incorrect teaching must not be admitted to the Church. This includes profane elements of our own culture, and musical instruments that are so closely associated with the profane that they cannot be separated. –Jacob Slavek


Robes for the choir

February 13, 2005

I am wondering if hand bell robes are appropriate to wear and liturgically correct. There is a conversation going on at my church and some feel that the use of robes sets the hand bell choir apart from the congregation. Some feel that we are ministers of music and should not be set apart from the congregation, others feel that by wearing black skirts and slacks and white shirts is an appropriate “uniform”. I see the robes as a “uniform” that enhances the liturgy and shows humility. I am asking for your assistance with this question. I can find nothing in GIRM and do know other local churches that do wear robes. This is not a monetary issue as someone donated the money after they attended a concert where we played. He was moved to buy the robes as a remembrance of his wife. –Zoe

in the GIRM you will find that an alb is the vestment for those with a lower rank than deacon, or also that street clothes may be worn.

In my opinion, those who are in the choir should wear something more special that what the people are wearing, white shirts and black slacks seem appropriate. 



Albs I believe would also be okay or some other “robe” as long as they do not resemble a vestment that the priest would wear, such as a stole.  If the choir consists of seminarians or clergy then cassocks and surplices would be an option.

As for those who worry that separate dress may separate the choir from the congregation: In my opinion this sounds like it is coming from people who have nothing better to do with their time than complain about something that honestly doesn’t matter to anyone anyway. –Jacob Slavek


Who may read the Gospel?

February 14, 2005

At our parish, normally during Mass either a Deacon or Priest proclaims the Gospel. However during a couple of Sundays in Lent we will have the gospel read by different folks (multiple people reading different parts of the Gospel – for a more dramatic reading) during mass. I have been asked to read a part of this, but was under the impression that only a Priest or Deacon could read the gospel during mass. I would like to assist, however I would like to make sure this is OK to do.
Could you shed some light and possible provide a link to some documentation that could clarify this for me? -Sal

The GIRM clearly says that the priest reads the Gospel (# 95 in the old English edition) or deacon.

NOTHING has been changed since then about this.  So when you are approached to read a part of the Gospel and are asked “Why not” reply simply that you are not a priest or deacon, in front of as many of the other readers as possible, and when they question what you mean refer them to the GIRM.

The exception of course being for the reading of the Passion. –Jacob Slavek


Where do I go? [Dancing in the Liturgy of the Holy Mass] [Use of the terms “presider” and “table”]

February 21, 2005

This past weekend I attended the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, California. While, I enjoyed several of the workshops, some of the speakers didn’t hold everything the Church held. It seemed this extended beyond the workshops. At the three Masses I attended there was liturgical dancing when the presider entered carrying jars of incense, when the table was prepared (which the dancers prepared) and after Communion. As far as I know, liturgical dancing isn’t allowed in the Latin Church unless it’s an organic part of that culture. At the Congress, it seemed only the “Samoan” Mass qualified. I know I can express my complaints to the bishop under Redemptionis Sacramentum, but there seems little point since the closing Mass was not only attended by the Bishop of Orange, in whose diocese this was held, was presided over by Roger Cardinal Mahoney. Also, there were several bishops from Canada, England, and Vietnam. Many enjoyed the dancing (I closed my eyes most of the time), but I can’t help but think the solemnity of the Mass was pushed aside to keep the “grace” of the Congress going and to entertain us. So, where do I go, what can I do? –Miguel

Yes I agree with what you have said and feel as you do.

Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot that you can do since ultimately it is the priests’ and bishops’ decision whether or not to disobey to the instructions. Of course you can and should express your disappointment. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but the more people that do, the more likely you will see positive action.

If I may comment on the words: “presider” and “table”.

The word “presider” is used by some Catholics to lessen the importance of the priest, to emphasize that he is simply a member of the assembly who happens to be leading prayer. I don’t like this. Of course the priest is presider in the sense that he leads the assembly, but he is so much more. He is a priest, and so one of his primary roles is to offer sacrifice, specifically the Sacrifice of the Mass. He is not on “equal footing” as the rest since he is ordained to Holy Orders.

The word “table” is also used by some to diminish the importance of the sacrifice. A table is furniture upon which things are set, such as food that is laid out for a meal. An altar is a “table” upon which sacrifices are offered, such as the Mass. An altar should NEVER be called a table, at least in my opinion. –Jacob Slavek


Use of the Nicene creed/Profession of Faith,

February 21, 2005

We have not said the Profession of Faith at the last two Sunday Masses. I was confused and went to your site for an answer to as why this might be happening. I found you to say that “the recitation of the profession of Faith by the Priest and together with the people is obligatory on Sunday’s and Solemnities”.
I went to our Priest and asked him as to why the Profession of Faith has not been recited at Mass. He told me that it is not said during Lent. I called a friend who is in the same Diocese and she told me they to have not said the Nicene Creed (Profession of Faith) either for the same length of time.
I am confused. I do not want to cause trouble. I only want to know and do the right thing.
I cannot go to another Church. We live on an island and the only way off in winter is by plane and summer by ferry boat. We live in the USA. I respect our Priest and am grateful that we even have one available to us.
Please help me. I feel as though I am the only one here that thinks this is a “big deal”. I am afraid of confronting our Priest about this. I do not know what to do or for that matter what to think. Your advice on this matter will be a blessing. –Ann

See also


You are right; the Nicene Creed is recited during Lent. It is the GLORIA that is omitted. This is found in the GIRM, the part in the Missal at the beginning that gives the detailed instructions for the Mass. Every priest must be VERY familiar with it.

If the rites of the RCIA take place on the Sundays of Lent the Creed may be omitted.
Jacob Slavek


Requiem Masses

February 23, 2005

Are Requiem Masses still performed today in the Catholic Church? How is it different from the Funeral Mass given today which as I’ve seen, amounts to nothing more than a “pit stop mass” (for lack of better words) from the funeral home viewing enroute to the cemetery celebrated by a plain daily mass with incense and sprinkling of holy water on the casket? Also, could you explain musical Requiems (e.g. Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, Brahms, and the like) and how they are indeed connected to the Mass? Although they have Latin/Liturgical texts in these giant pieces, are they ever performed in the Catholic Church during a funeral? Would it be fairer to say they are (more or less) Grand Symphonic pieces of music, or even an opera? It would seem impossible to have such a Grand Mass for the Dead, rehearsed by the choir, cantor, organist etc., to be ready for “performance” at Church on such short notice, since most all of the dead are buried within 1 week or less? Any information gathered will be used for research. You may contact me at –John

I’m assuming that when you say “Requiem Mass” you are referring to the great musical works.  YES, they are still used in Catholic churches in the United States, but it is somewhat rare.  They may be used at funeral Masses or at any Mass of the Dead. They are indeed “connected” to the Mass as the text is (or at least should be) exactly the official text for the Mass, usually in Latin.

Some parishes have a small orchestra or a visiting orchestra called a sacred orchestra that plays these great works.  The Second Vatican Council ordered that this sacred music be preserved in the Catholic Church.  (not all orchestral masses are masses for the dead)  More often than not these works are performed by secular orchestras but they do indeed have a place in church on Sunday morning or at other times. Masses for the Dead such as Mozart’s Requiem for example can be used at Mass on Nov. 2, All Souls day. It can also be played at someone’s funeral or at another Mass of the Dead.

I believe that most of the great musical mass settings for the dead were actually composed for a specific person such as a king or queen. If parish has the talent, they can be used for anyone. –Jacob Slavek


Deacons’ vestments

February 24, 2005

I will shortly be ordained a deacon and am unclear as to the proper times and usage of a cope. In our study of various rituals, I’ve noted occasions (baptism outside of Mass, weddings outside of Mass) where a deacon celebrant seems to have the choice of wearing a cope. The cope at our parish is very old and does not have the same appearance as our contemporary vestments. I certainly want such occasions to have the proper solemnity, but to me the cope seems a little “fussy” and I’m just not sure about its proper use. Could you explain when its use is appropriate, mandatory, optional, etc? –Richard

Yes you are correct, the celebrant has the option to wear the cope, so it is appropriate with and without, whichever you choose. If it IS worn, it is more appropriate that it matches the other vestments, if there are any.

Other occasions for which it is worn are at Vespers by the celebrant, at confirmation if the minister of confirmation is not the celebrant of the Mass, at confirmation by the celebrant not within Mass, and at Benediction by the celebrant. –Jacob Slavek


Extraordinary ministers and disposing of the Holy Eucharist

February 27, 2005

I took the course to become an extraordinary Eucharist minister. I believe and adore the real presence of my Lord Jesus in the Holy Host.
Unfortunately for our Lord and the Church, there is a lack of faith in many members of His Church to this very important TRUTH or there is confusion in what are the rules for this ministry.
The last speaker on this four-hour course was a lady who was in charge in giving us the guidelines for our ministry. When asked what to do with the Holy Host if He felt to the floor, she answered: “what I do is this: I pick it up an eat it, or you could pick it up and place it on one side of the chalice and you could dispose of it later.” (English is not my main language but using IT is not correct when referring to our Lord)
I try at the end of the talk to ask a question about what she meant when she said “dispose of it”, but we were too many (450) so I could not do it. The people around me asked me what the question was. I answered, She said, “You will dispose of it” what did she mean, that you would throw HIM away! THANK GOD, ALL of them said “oh no you misunderstood, what she meant is you eat Him later.” Afterwards I asked the teacher and to my amaze she explained to me what she meant when she said to dispose HIM, “you let the HOLY Host dilute in a little amount of water and you pour it in the sacrarium”.
PLEASE explain to me the TRUTH. PLEASE tell me if this is the teaching of the church because it does not make any sense to me, NOT at all. If we believe HE IS present on the holy HOST and we believe that HE IS GOD why would you dispose of HIM. And if possible, could you please give me the referential quotes, of the church’s documents that give the guidelines for the extraordinary Eucharist ministers. I need them for me and also because I think this lady is a good catholic and she needs to know what to teach the next time.
Do you think it is ok to be an extraordinary minister even though the ones in charge don’t follow rules? –Rosana



If there is an accident and the Host becomes soiled to the point which it cannot safely be consumed, then yes it can be “disposed” of in this way. I’m not sure that “disposed” is the best word for it though. When I first heard of this years ago I was also upset, but really it is a reverent way to deal with an accident. I would use blessed water and put it in a safe place for a while.

Remember that once the Host loses the appearance of bread then the Real Presence no longer exists. I honestly don’t know at what point this happens once placed in water and later down the sacrarium, because I’ve never had to do this before.

Yes, you can still be an extraordinary minister even if the teacher isn’t following the rules exactly. If she instructs you to do something illicit then do not obey her, and then if serious problems arise then they are her problems and not yours. My guess would be though that there won’t be any problems, especially since you will have the Church on your side.

Guidelines for extraordinary ministers are found in Ecclesiae de Mysterio. It is online. –Jacob Slavek


Lay persons opening the tabernacle

March 1, 2005

I saw an episode of World Over Live on EWTN. Raymond Arroyo was interviewing Cardinal Francis Arinze. Cardinal Arinze implied that lay people opening the tabernacle was an abuse. This happens in my church on Sundays and Saturdays so I expressed my concerns to the parish priest. He said, he is trying to correct the problem but he can not change parish practice too quickly. I assumed that it might cause other problems if he did. If I continue to receive the Sacrament, am I committing a sin when lay people open the tabernacle to help dispense Communion? Should I leave the parish?
Another question: Should a woman be (almost) behind the altar during Consecration to ring Sanctus bells? Should I avoid the church until these things are corrected? I feel that I am being scrupulous. -George

Yes, this is an abuse, clarified in the new GIRM.

These ministers do not approach the altar before the priest has received Communion and always accept from the hands of the priest the vessel which contains either species of the Blessed Eucharist for distribution to the faithful. (n.162)

After the distribution of Communion, the priest himself immediately consumes at the altar any consecrated wine which happens to remain, but if there are extra consecrated hosts left, he either consumes them at the altar or carries them to the place designated for the reservation of the Eucharist. (n.163)

There are times when laypeople can open the tabernacle, but it should not be happening regularly on a weekly basis.

Yes a woman can serve in the sanctuary, provided that she’s fulfilling a licit role and not there pretending to “concelebrate”.

No, I don’t see any sin on your part but if you think it’s causing problems then yes move on.  I really wouldn’t worry about it though. –Jacob Slavek


Taking pictures of the Blessed Sacrament

March 3, 2005

A friend told me she thought taking pictures of/near/around the exposed Blessed Sacrament was allowed. Is this true? Are there any rules/guidelines as far as that’s concerned? –Rosa

Yes, this is allowed. It would only be wrong to take a picture with the Blessed Sacrament if the Blessed Sacrament were not the subject of the photograph, such as a picture of a person with the monstrance in the background. I would find a better place. –Jacob Slavek


Eastern and Western rites

March 4, 2005

In a previous post someone asked about Eastern-Catholics. I had two questions: In the reply to that post it was stated that in the West we have one Rite, the “Latin Rite.” Don’t we have many Rites (e.g. Tridentine, Ambrosian, Carthusian etc)? And secondly, what is the criterion for someone to legitimately be of a certain Rite? Is it at confirmation? I attend Tridentine Mass; does that make me a Tridentine Catholic? And lastly the Black Pope (aka Father General of the Society of Jesus) is of an Eastern Rite and says his daily Liturgy in that Rite and offers Latin Rite Mass in the presence of others. Does the Pope ever celebrate in the Eastern Rite? –Patricius

Yes there are some smaller Rites in the West.  Besides Roman there are Mozarabic, Ambrosian, and Bragan which are attached to a particular place.  Some religious orders also have their own Rite, the Dominicans, Carmelites and Carthusians.

I would hesitate to say “Tridentine Rite Catholic” since those who attend these Masses are still Roman Catholics.  It’s the same Rite, Roman, but according to another Missal.  Rome has never encouraged a “separation” between traditionally minded Catholics and the others; rather the Church has allowed the use of the Missal to those who desire it.

Someone “belongs” to a rite if the parents do.  There really isn’t much room for choice as far as I know, if you live in the West you are Roman and if in the East then one of the Eastern churches.

Lastly, I honestly don’t know if the Holy Father has celebrated Mass in another rite.  If he licitly can though I wouldn’t doubt that he has. –Jacob Slavek





Deacons’ vestments

March 9, 2005

I am a recently-ordained deacon, and have 2 questions concerning the proper use of deacon’s stoles that I have been unable to find definitive answers to in my own diocese.
(1) My understanding is that a stole is normally worn under the dalmatic, when a dalmatic is worn. However, in travels to other dioceses, I have seen the stole worn over a dalmatic. There is also a theory that when the dalmatic is plain, the stole is worn over it, but if there is ornamentation on the dalmatic, then the stole is worn underneath. What is the correct usage?
(2) I was given a stole in the heavily-designed “Celebration” weave. What liturgical color is this design appropriately used for? It is a many-colored pattern, and it isn’t clear what liturgical color it should correspond to. –Deacon Paul

Yes, the stole is always worn under the dalmatic when the dalmatic is used. (GIRM n. 338, N.300 in the old edition) This is regardless of how the stole is designed.

I’ve never seen the “celebration” weave, but I have a suspicion that since it’s made with many colors it may not be appropriate for use. If it indeed is an appropriate design, then I would use it at more solemn occasions, such as when white would otherwise be used. –Jacob Slavek


“Prayer service” in lieu of Holy Communion

March 18, 2005

Yesterday, I attended what I thought was Daily Mass, but was instead a “prayer service” led by a Deacon, because all the priests were out of town. The Daily Liturgy of the Word was read. We said most of the prayers of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Eucharistic prayer was omitted. At the conclusion, the Deacon removed a chalice filled with pre-consecrated hosts from the tabernacle and distributed them to those present.
Can you tell me more about these “prayer services” and exactly what is and is not allowed in terms of Liturgical law? Mary

Sounds like everything’s okay since the priests were out of town. Hopefully the deacon was following the official rite of Holy Communion outside of Mass instead of “inventing” his own service.

The only problem I saw is that the ciborium should have been placed on the altar after the general intercessions, and that Holy Communion should have begun with the Lord’s Prayer. –Jacob Slavek


Abuse of the Blessed Sacrament

March 20, 2005

To my absolute horror, after Last Sunday’s Mass, the Deacon set up a TV set and VCR directly in front of the altar and Tabernacle and proceeded to show the RCIA candidates and catechumen a religious education video.
I see this as sacrilege. There is no excuse for using the chapel as a classroom, for ours is a big parish with lots of other available rooms. Also, what a bad example! The Deacon teaches the new Catholics that the Holy of Holies is no different than their living rooms! I am outraged. Seeing this spectacle literally made me want to vomit.
This parish also conducts bible studies in the main chapels of the church, when other rooms are available. This also seems sacrilegious.
The Holy of Holies is not a town hall, a stage, a classroom, or a cafeteria. It is the Dwelling Place of God, and it is a place to offer Sacrifice.
I was taught that the rooms containing the Blessed Sacrament are holy, and that the only sounds coming from us should be in the form of prayer or song. I was taught not to have conversations with others within the vicinity of the Blessed Sacrament; unless absolutely necessary, and in the case of the latter, only in the form of low whispering.
What is your opinion? –Mary Ann

I think you are absolutely right, I feel that this should have been done in a classroom and not in the church.  I agree with everything else you have said. –Jacob Slavek


Transparent tabernacle for the Blessed Sacrament

March 21, 2005

My parish has set up a perpetual adoration Chapel at the back of the Church in a separate room. The Church Tabernacle is now located in this Chapel. We do not have enough people coming to really call it perpetual adoration so the Tabernacle has been modified. When the outer brass door is opened the Eucharist is exposed in a small monstrance behind another inner Perspex door which is locked separately. The key to the outer brass door is hidden so that only the faithful know where it is. The inner door key is kept in a separate place all together. The idea is that you can come at any time of the day or night, open the outer door yourself and close it again when you are finished. To get in at night you need to know a code to open the front door of the Church. This means that a lot of the time only one person is in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament. Can you see any problems with this practise? -Peter

I have never heard of this before and I don’t believe the church has ever addressed it.  However the Church HAS forbidden transparent tabernacles, and in my opinion this qualifies as a transparent tabernacle so in my judgment anyway this is wrong. If a parish does not have the resources to provide perpetual adoration, then it shouldn’t. –Jacob Slavek



Incense: swinging of the censer; See

March 23, 2005

Our deacons have started looking for documentation as to the number of swings of the censer and for what situations.
The GIRM talks about “three swings” or “one swing”, etc. Is there a correct number for incensing the Eucharist (elevation, benediction), for the Book of the Gospels, for the bishop, priest and for the people? Does “three swings” mean three sets of three? Or just three swings?
We have always “assumed” there were 3 of 3 for the Eucharist, 3 of 2 for the Book of the Gospels and 3 of 1 for the people.
Is this based on tradition, custom or are there instructions found somewhere? –Deacon Larry

Yes the use of incense has been simplified from the traditional usage. The new GIRM has a bit more detail than the one it recently replaced: everything you mentioned is incensed with 3 swings. Also three are: relics of the holy Cross, images of the Lord exposed for public veneration, the gifts, the altar cross and paschal candle. Two swings: exposed relics and images of the saints, at the moment the altar is incensed at the beginning of Mass. The altar is incensed with many single swings.

There is no mention of double swings here, but if I recall correctly in the Ceremonial of Bishops there is a section about incensation. I’m sorry but I no longer have a copy so I can’t quote and I don’t trust my memory well enough, but maybe one of my readers has a copy at can help. –Jacob Slavek


Lectors’ vestments/Lector carrying the Book of Gospels to the altar

March 24, 2005

GIRM, no. 339 states “…lectors, and other lay ministers may wear the alb or other suitable vesture or other appropriate and dignified clothing.” Another section says that if a deacon is absent during the Mass then during the procession the lector may carry the Book of Gospels to the altar. We do not wear any liturgical vestment at my parish and our deacons are retired so they never assist at Mass. Should lectors wear albs and carry the Book of Gospels to the altar? What should I do if the answer is yes but my priest does not want to? –William

You’re correct with what the GIRM says about this so whatever the priest chooses will be okay.

In my own opinion though, street clothes and business attire should not have a regular place in the sanctuary, so I would choose to ask the lectors to wear albs.

Also, it is important to be sure that the lectors are not carrying the Lectionary… the instruction specifically says the Book of Gospels.Jacob Slavek


Antimensiums and relics

March 25, 2005


I have just read Fr. Anthony’s question of a couple of months ago, and thought the following might help:
I first came across the sort of corporal that Fr. Anthony mentions when I was at school and served as sacristan in the school chapel. I also encountered one when I was at university, and have heard them referred to as “relic cloths” or “Greek corporals”. The explanation I was given is that they are essentially to be considered as portable altars in the same way that “altar stones” were. An altar stone was a stone or concrete slab, a little more than a foot square, containing relics. It was consecrated like an altar, and set into the top of a temporary altar-like structure (usually of wood) to give the appearance of a normal altar, in such a way that it would be under the corporal at Mass. The altar stone was the true altar and the “altar” just a support for it. They were often used in temporary chapels (e.g. in missionary areas) or where the “altar” had to be portable such as in schools or hospitals.
The relic cloth was an even more portable version, and could be placed on a table under an altar cloth to provide a makeshift “altar”. We used one at school when the chapel was too small and Mass was said in a hall or classroom. Similarly, the university chaplaincy used one as part of a travelling Mass kit when Masses were said in the various colleges of the university.
Their use is no longer essential, since relics have not been compulsory for temporary altars since Vatican II, however it would still be appropriate to use one out of devotion, recalling as it does the practice of saying Mass over the tombs of martyrs in the early Church. I would suggest that Fr. Anthony might use his if he is called to say Mass in a school or even a private house. -Steven


Holy Communion for Eastern Rite children in Latin Rite churches and vice versa; See

March 26, 2005

I was baptised and chrismated in the Latin Rite, but most of my family is Melkite Rite. When my relatives go to a Latin Rite parish, the children do not come forward for the Eucharist, as it will be denied. In turn, the Latin children do not come forward for the Eucharist during Divine Liturgy (or other Eucharistic occurrences) if they have not received “First Communion.”


I feel that the latter case is appropriate, but the former is not. Latin Rite priests have refused communion to children who have been receiving Christ’s Spotless Body and Precious Blood for years, even if the priest is told that they are Melkite and regularly receive the Sacraments (since baptism, indeed). The children feel excluded, especially since Antidoron (bread blessed and distributed at the end of Liturgy) is not a Latin tradition; there is nothing, neither Sacrament nor Sacramental, in which to partake.
Is there a way to explain politely to the priest to give the Eucharist to a child who is already baptised, enchrismated, and regularly partakes of the Sacrament? I’ve been told that since the priest is Latin, he must abide by the rules of St. Pius X, but I feel that this denies the Eucharist to someone accustomed to it, and that the priest’s disposition shouldn’t matter as much as the person in question’s. -Dave

I don’t know that this problem has ever been addressed, at least in the Latin Church.  Latin priests are trained not to give Communion to small children; it is a part of Canon Law.  I agree it is a terrible problem if the children feel excluded, especially since they may not understand the difference between the rites.

To help answer your question though I suppose it would depend on the previous understanding of the priest whether or not you could successfully explain your problem. –Jacob Slavek


Holy Communion for Protestants

March 27, 2005

A Catholic friend of mine, whose husband is Protestant, is having her husband going to Church with her, where he receives Communion without going to Confession. He has no desire to join the Catholic Church. She is doing this in an attempt to save their marriage. What are the liturgical rules concerning this? –Mary Ann

Actually this man should not be receiving Holy Communion at all since he is not Catholic, it doesn’t matter whether or not he has gone to confession.  This doesn’t apply since he is not in full communion with the Catholic Church.  This is found in Canon Law, n.844. So when they go to a Catholic church together, when communion time comes he should simply remain in the pew while she goes forward to receive. –Jacob Slavek


About claims that the Novus Ordo mass is not valid

March 30, 2005

I have a friend who wonders if the Novus Ordo Mass, at least when said in English, might be invalid. The reasons he gives regard the fact that at the consecration the English version uses “for all” instead of “for many” in regard to Jesus shedding His Blood. I thought that for the Mass to be valid at the very least “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood. Do this in remembrance of me” must be said. His concerns don’t apply to the original Latin version, by the way.
But then there’s the fact that in the consecration of the chalice, prior to the elevation, the phrase “mysterium fidei” is missing, unlike in the canon of the Tridentine Mass (Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei novi et aeterni testamenti mysterium fidei qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum). He claims that it seems that [the Council of] Florence defined that this is part of the necessary form of the Sacrament.
And then the final issue is that he says there’s controversy in general as to whether or not Paul VI’s Missale Romanum properly promulgated a Mass at all. -Dave

What would motivate anyone to believe that the so-called “Novus Ordo” Mass is invalid in the first place?  Of course it is valid, and it was given to us by the Church.

Anyway, on to your specific concerns. “For all” is an acceptable translation of “pro multis”. I admit that it is not the translation that I personally would use, but it still is linguistically good and theologically correct. Ultra traditionalists will attempt to pick nits but there really is nothing to pick here, it is good. The Church has approved “for all”.  Besides, it is not exact words that are required for validity; if they were then translating the Liturgy would not be possible at all. Sacraments are gifts from God and do not come from “magic words” of priests. (Although exact words are required for licit celebration)

The “mysterium fidei” is not missing, it rather has moved so that the people can respond to it. In English it has become “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith” which although is not an exact translation, sounds better to an English speaker. In any case, the “mysterium fidei” is not essential for validity anyway.

Finally, you didn’t mention any specific controversy that your friend had mentioned. I’m sure in any large community such as the Church or governments or committees that there will be much controversy and debates and discussions when there are about to be major changes. Controversy can be healthy and good, and does not invalidate any changes. When all is said and done though, in the Catholic Church, the changes ARE promulgated, the changes ARE valid, and the Holy Spirit Guides the Church. –Jacob Slavek


Holy Communion for Eastern Rite children in Latin Rite churches and vice versa

April 4, 2005


According to the rights of Catholics, once one is admitted to Holy Communion no priest may deny the sacrament except in those exceptions spelled out in law.

Because of the difference in practice Eastern Rite Catholics should approach the priest before Mass so that he knows what is going on and not taken off guard at Communion.
I have an Eastern Rite family that attends Mass at my parish regularly and their baby comes to Communion. In my diocese the Bishop’s Office will occasionally remind us that Eastern Rite children MUST be admitted to Holy Communion (if they have been admitted in their own ritual church, obviously)
If the priest will not give Eastern Rite children Communion, it would be appropriate to write the Bishop’s Office and ask for clarification of his diocese’s policy. –Fr. Smith


Incense: swinging of the censer

March 23, 2005


In regard to incense swings, this is the way we were taught at our church. Of course our parish is AU but I believe it’s the same everywhere.
For the altar servers and congregation, it’s one set of two swings. For the deacon, or non-concelebrating priest, its two sets of two swings. For the celebrating priest, its two sets of three swings, and for Our Lord during Sanctus, the Consecration and the “By whom, with whom and in whom” its three sets of three swings. -Edward

Thank you for the help, but I would really need to be able to reference this with something official before I can tell my readers that this is the way it must be done.

What you’ve said seems to be more traditional usage and not in agreement with today’s GIRM, but as I said before I believe the best source for incense is the Ceremonial of Bishops, and I could just kick myself for not making sure I have this book available. –Jacob Slavek


Has the Mass changed over time?

April 7, 2005

I was wondering if there are any written materials on how the early Church Masses were celebrated. I hear from anti-Catholics that “we” (the RCC) have changed our Masses over the centuries, but I can’t really respond since I have no real knowledge on this subject. I’ve looked at the Didache on-line but can’t really tell…
If our Mass has changed, how has it and what are the really important parts that can never change if this is so? -Claire

Yes, actually I just did a search with a search engine and found several interesting and easy to read web pages on this subject. I wouldn’t say that it is the MASS that has changed over time, the Mass, the sacrifice, is the same always. What has changed many times over the years is the WAY that the Mass is celebrated. Words, prayers and rituals can change, but it is always the same sacrifice, which of course is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. I guess I don’t understand your friend’s claim against the Church… Of course the celebration of the Mass has changed, what could possibly be wrong with that?

As far as a “bare minimum” of what must happen, I would say that Christ’s command be followed: “take this all of you and eat it” and “do this in memory of me”, meaning that there is a meal at which bread becomes the body of Christ and that wine becomes His blood. –Jacob Slavek


Can a cantor substitute for a deacon?

April 8, 2005

Is it permissible for the Celebrant Priest/Pastor to allow the Cantor, during Mass, to read the words written in the Missal that are directly identified and assigned specifically, in bold print, for the Deacon? –Vince

No.  If for some reason the deacon cannot sing his words, then he should recite them.  If the is no deacon, then the priest should sing/recite them.

There is only one time I believe that the Missal allows that a cantor may take the deacon’s words:  for the singing of the lengthy Exultet at the Easter Vigil. –Jacob Slavek


Can a lay person serving at Mass wear an amice?

April 21, 2005

I was wondering if the amice is acceptable to use, even if one does not have the faculty of preaching. I usually serve at Mass and I don’t favour the cut of modern albs; I prefer the square-yoked ones to be used with an amice that have no ties, buttons, or snaps, or zippers, or what-have-you. However, I know that the amice is symbolic of having the faculty of preaching in addition to its label as the “helmet of salvation” and I’m not entirely sure if one may be used by laity in the Latin Rite. –Dave

Yes, anyone who wears an alb should also wear an amice to cover the street clothing.  This includes the laity.  (GIRM, n.336) –Jacob Slavek





Children standing around the altar at Mass

May 6, 2005

I attended a Mass at which a group of children received their First Communion. They were invited to stand around the Altar during the consecration. I believe that this is illicit and was wondering if this practice is specifically addressed and reprobated in any documents. -Kevin

Yes you are correct this is illicit. This is found in Notitiae, in which Rome has official interpretations of liturgical law.  The following is from 1981:

101. QUERY: At the presentation of gifts at a Mass with congregation, persons (lay or religious) bring to the altar the bread and wine which are to be consecrated. These gifts are received by the priest celebrant. All those participating in the Mass accompany this group procession in which the gifts are brought forward. They then stand around the altar until communion time. Is this procedure in conformity with the spirit of the law and of the Roman Missal?

REPLY: Assuredly, the Eucharistic celebration is the act of the entire community, carried out by all the members of the liturgical assembly. Nevertheless, everyone must have and also must observe his or her own place and proper role: “In liturgical celebrations each one, minister or layperson, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to that office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy.” (SC art. 29)  During the liturgy of the Eucharist, only the presiding celebrant remains at the altar. The assembly of the faithful take their place in the Church outside the “presbyterium,” which is reserved for the celebrant or concelebrants and altar ministers: Not 17 (1981) 61. Jacob Slavek


Is it a must to use a paten?

May 15, 2005

I witnessed the Pope’s mass at which he was ordaining deacons and priests for the diocese of Rome. At Communion, the Holy Father distributed the Eucharist without using a paten. Can you say why? –Frank

The GIRM does not require the use of the communion plate or paten unless the Eucharist received by intinction (dipping the Host into the Precious Blood). It can still be used though if the pastor so wished it for those who receive on the tongue. –Jacob Slavek


Where have all the Tabernacles gone?

May 16, 2005

If our Lord is really and truly present in all the Tabernacles of the world, in body, blood, soul, and divinity, why have all the Tabernacles, been removed from the altars. Here in New Zealand our altars are bare. No pictures, statues, Tabernacle, usually no crucifix. Some churches do have some of the goodies, very few. Even the Carmelite nuns’ Church have removed their Tabernacle, it’s on the back wall from their altar. St Anthony’s, well take a sprint to the far left, way of the beaten track. If you really stretch yourself, you might get lucky to find something of an icon, but not much of anything worth raving about. No altar railings either. I sometimes think I would be better of in a paddock. How can they hold Holy Mass on the altar without the Tabernacle? They do. Would any one build a castle and omit the throne room and not invite the King as well and hold court without him? It seems like they have chucked the king outside and hold court without him except when they need a favour from him. Do you know if this Pope might sort this out? Or am I just blowing in the wind? –Bob

Yes I agree with much that you’ve said, I really don’t understand why so many priests would want to remove the tabernacle from the altar. Sure many think they have reasons but in my opinion they are really bad reasons. Jacob Slavek


Priests not available for confession

May 16, 2005

Most of the local parishes have regular hours for confession. The trouble is that no one seems to be following them. Our church is on Sat at 1 pm. I went to go to confession and there was a note posted on the door just saying, no confessions today. So I and another lady went to another church across town that had the same hours for confession. We entered and there were at least 25, 30 people waiting. I said nothing and sat and prayed. After about an hour went by no priest was available. They were having a church festival in their parking lot. One of the gentlemen in the church went out to ask Father when he was coming in to hear confessions. Father told him he was busy with the festival and there would be no confessions today. I then went to The Society of Brothers of St. Francis, and had my confession heard. I would like to say that this is not a one time occurrence; this has happened a lot in the past few years. I feel this is unfair to the penitent as many were older and traveling to another city is really a burden for them. Am I wrong to be concerned, even a bit miffed at this? Even though the Brothers always find time (through a Priest) to hear mine and others confession, I feel our own parish should be doing this. I realize we all have a life but this, sadly is a common occurrence. I thought about writing to our Bishop at the Diocese but do not want to cause trouble, especially if I am wrong. What exactly is the correct way to handle this, or, am I being selfish, and ignorant of church law regarding confessions? –James

Yes I would be miffed also and I have been. Honestly I don’t know what to do though since it is the priest’s responsibility to make himself available, not your responsibility. The Rite of Penance says that:



“The confessor should always show himself to be ready and willing to hear the confessions of the faithful whenever they reasonably request this” (n.10, b)

I believe it to be reasonable to request that the priest be ready at the scheduled times.

If you really are upset about this and this has happened with several parishes, go ahead and write the bishop. I wouldn’t mention any specific priest’s names but rather say that you noticed a problem with several parishes in the diocese. That’s what I would do anyway. –Jacob Slavek


Tabernacle difficult to locate

May 24, 2005

I am very concerned about the recent reordering of the Catholic church of a parish a few miles from home, and where many years ago I went to school. I visited the church today while I was in the area, having not seen it since the interior underwent a major reordering about 18 months ago, and was dismayed by what I saw and wonder what the pastor (who was responsible for initiating and planning the changes) is trying to achieve.
The experience must be very similar to that of English Catholics in the 16th century who saw their familiar churches transformed to suit protestant worship at the Reformation.
The church in question is quite an imposing late Victorian building in a sort of Romanesque style. Until recently the interior was in keeping, with a main altar, two side altars, various statues on plinths next to pillars, etc. – very much a typical Catholic parish church. I recall that in the early 1980’s, the old high altar was modified to suit post-conciliar usage, the mesa being separated from the old reredos and moved to the centre of the sanctuary as a free-standing altar. This was done very sympathetically, and all the original architectural elements were kept.
In the present reordering, the reredos has gone, the side altars have been removed completely, several statues appear to have vanished, and those that remain have been relocated to dark corners where it is literally impossible to see them fro the main body of the church, and, perhaps most worrying, the tabernacle, which used to be part of the old reredos, has been relocated in an obscure former aumbry in a wall at the side of the nave (I wanted to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and took several minutes to actually find where it was!).
In short, it seems to me that deliberate efforts have been made to obscure the distinctive Catholic elements of the building.
Is this an abuse? Should I be concerned? Would the Bishop be able to insist that at least the tabernacle and images be moved back to more prominent places? -Matthew

Well it’s entirely possible that deliberate efforts HAVE been made to obscure the Catholic elements, which of course would be horrible. I believe the bishop would have the authority to insist that the tabernacle and images be moved back since that’s where they belong in the first place. He also could insist that the other changes be undone. I would express to both the pastor of the parish as well as the bishop how disappointed I would be with the changes. –Jacob Slavek


Holy Communion for non-Catholics

June 24, 2005

The Orthodox are now allowed to receive Holy Communion at Mass. This, of course, was approved by the Holy See under the guidelines for the reception of Holy Communion by non-Catholics.
As you know, there are some very rare occasions when a non-Catholic can receive Holy Communion. An example of this would be during times of persecution, war, national disasters, etc. when the non-Catholic is unable to avail himself of his own minister.
In these types of circumstances, the non-Catholic Christian must have the same Eucharist faith as we do. In other words, he must believe in the Real and True Presence of Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Needless to say, with the exception of some high Anglicans or high Lutherans this would exclude most Protestants.
In the case of the Orthodox the policy is different. If they attend a Catholic Mass, and are regular communicates in the Orthodox Church, and if of their own volition they approach the Catholic priest for Holy Communion, they may receive. This same policy applies to the Polish National Churches. Orthodox bishops, however, are not too pleased with this policy. The Catholic document states, that while members of the Orthodox Churches should follow the sacramental discipline of their own churches in this matter, they would not be refused Holy Communion in the Catholic Church.
In the same document we find that Catholics who attend Divine Liturgy may also receive Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church, and may even approach them for the other sacraments. However, the documents states that most Orthodox priests will not allow Catholics to partake of the Sacred Mysteries.
These guidelines are now found in most diocesan directories for ecumenical relations. Several years ago, when reading about this new policy, I remember seeing the footnotes from both the documents of the Holy See and canon law. Since it is an approved policy by the Holy See, the US bishops have allowed this information to be printed in the Missalette under the “Guidelines for the reception of Holy Communion.”
In my opinion, this policy does not mean to imply that the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are in full communion with each other. However, as you know, they do have valid sacraments, and there are already substantial agreements in matters of faith and morals. Rather, I see it as a individual response to certain pastoral situations which do occur from time to time between members of the Orthodox Churches and our own. –Fr. Taurasi



“Generating” relics

July 10, 2005

I know that an object (usually cloth) touched to a first-class relic becomes a third-class relic.
I also know that a first-class relic is customarily encased (and sealed) in a theca.
When generating a third-class relic, is touching the cloth to the theca sufficient, or must the first-class relic be removed from the theca?
If it is desired to generate several third-class relics in the form of snippets of cloth, is it possible to touch a large cloth to the first-class relic and then divide the cloth, or must one reduce the cloth to snippets and apply each snippet individually?
If it is permissible to touch the large cloth to the first-class relic and then divide the cloth, must the first-class relic touch a large area, or all, of the cloth? –Mack

I believe that the cloth must actually touch the first-class relic.

I’ve never heard of “generating” relics in the way you describe, I don’t particularly like the idea. –Jacob Slavek


Use of candles at Mass

July 10, 2005

A new priest to my parish says that candles during celebration of the mass symbolize the saving presence of Jesus. For that reason now the candles on the altar will not be lit before mass. Instead only two candles by the lectern will be lit. They are extinguished after the homily and then two candles on the altar are lit. Right after communion these candles are extinguished and the people reminded that now since we have Jesus in us, to remember the candle that was given to our parents during our baptism and that we should keep that flame burning. I this something new and are things like this allowed? Also should the candle by the Tabernacle be a real candle or can an electric candle be lit? –Mabel

The instructions make no mention of these things; rather it says that the altar is to be prepared with lit candles.  To me this means that the candles are lit before Mass begins and stay lit until the celebration is completed.

Electric candles have been banned, from Notitiae (#10 (1974) 80, no. 4.) in order to preserve authenticity and the symbolism of light. –Jacob Slavek


Singing “Happy Birthday” during the Mass

July 11, 2005

Recently before the closing of Mass, our priest announced that it was the birthday of a long time (elderly) parish member, and welcomed her large family and the choir started to play “Happy Birthday” and the congregation sang it to her.
I, and some others I spoke with, felt uncomfortable having this done before Mass was officially ended. I was wondering if it was acceptable to have this done. -Clair

I really don’t think that inside Church is the best time for “Happy Birthday”, despite that it may be the most convenient time.  Following the Mass outside in the hall would be much better. –Jacob Slavek


Cardinal Mahony’s Mass for pro-abortion Mayor

July 16, 2005

I, along with many other devout Catholics, am upset about Cardinal Mahony’s mass he celebrated for the openly pro-abortion “catholic” mayor of Los Angeles, Villaraigosa. As a prelate of the Church, does he not have an obligation to at least appear Pro-Life? Saying this mass for the mayor is a scandal in the highest sense. This is sheer hypocrisy.
He seems to want to be more politically correct than to be a Catholic example for his flock. My question to you is what action can we simple, Catholic laypeople take to send a message loud and clear that we won’t tolerate such actions as this? Cardinal Mahony has a long history of questionable things he has done. Please respond and advise. -Arthur

After reading a little about this bishop on the Internet it seems that there is great reason to complain. Being a simple lay person myself I can’t think of anything better than simply calling him in his office in person and letting him know. As disappointing as it may be though I wouldn’t expect things to change without some sort of miracle.  –Jacob Slavek


Priest leaving the sanctuary during the Mass / Orans and holding hands during the Mass

July 18, 2005

At our parish (which is wide open to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal) our two wonderful Polish priests have never hesitated in the past to leave the sanctuary and share the Sign of Peace with us in the congregation. However, all of a sudden, this has stopped and they no longer do this. I was informed last night that someone complained to the Bishop and he has put a stop to our priests leaving the sanctuary to share the Sign of Peace with us. I have also done some research and have found out that priests leaving the sanctuary during Mass to share the Sign of Peace with the congregation is a liturgical abuse! I think this is quite absurd! Surely, if the Sharing of the Peace is done decently and in order (as it is in our parish) priests leaving the sanctuary during Mass would definitely not be a liturgical abuse.



Similarly, the lifting of hands during praise and worship during Mass – is this also a liturgical abuse? What do you think? I look forward to your reply. –John, Sydney

Yes this is a liturgical abuse, even if it is hard to understand why. Peace is of course one of the most important parts of Catholicism, but at Communion time, the focus must be on the Eucharist. Catholics prepare themselves to receive the Eucharist by exchanging the sign of peace since a person is not prepared to receive the Lord if he cannot be at peace with his brother. In my opinion at least the primary focus at the sign of peace is not exclusively to build the community, but rather to prepare to receive the Lord. Therefore it is not necessary for the priest to leave the immediate area to exchange the sign of peace. Secondly, it is unnecessary for the priest to leave the sanctuary to exchange the sign with the people since he has just done it. “The peace of the Lord be with you always” – “and also with you”.

Lifting of the hands is not called for at all for the people at Mass, also the “Praise and Worship” style of prayer which I believe consists of guitar, drums and popular forms of music. Remember that it is Rome that regulates the Sacred Liturgy, not local customs that have popped up over the years. The beauty and point of the Liturgy is that it belongs to the Church, the entire universal Church. The Catholic Liturgy is not made up of many local groups but rather one authority united under Rome. Local customs can be permitted with permission from Rome. I’m not saying that Praise and Worship and raising hands is wrong, rather what I’m saying is that it is not a part of the liturgical prayer of the Church. –Jacob Slavek


Holy Communion for non-Catholics

July 20, 2005

Regarding members of Orthodox Churches receiving Holy Communion in the Catholic Church:
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops provides guidelines for the reception of Holy Communion. These guidelines are to be printed in missalettes and other published worship aids. Part of the guidelines states:
Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 § 4). Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 § 3).
For the full text, visit: -Gary


Use of candles at Mass

July 20, 2005


There should be at least 2 candles on or near the altar burning during Mass.
If the priest wants to use candles in the way he proposes the Missal provides for processional torches to be held by the servers at the Ambo for the reading of the Gospel and at the Altar for the Eucharistic Prayer.
It sounds as if what he is doing is making an adaptation of that rite provided for in the Missal and so while it is rubrically incorrect, unless there are major abuses liturgically and sacramentally and preaching which is not faithful to the Church’s teaching, this could be a case of “no harm, no foul” and something that in charity could be mentioned to the priest and then in charity overlooked. –Fr. Smith


Catholics receiving Communion in a non-Catholic church

July 26, 2005

Realizing that only Catholics believe in the true meaning of the Eucharist, transubstantiation, can I, as a Catholic attend a non-catholic service with my wife, who is non-catholic, and partake in their communion service? I feel that their communion is only a representation and not the Real Body and Blood of Christ, so I know I’m not receiving a sacrament. -Paul

No, you can never receive communion at a Protestant service.  For Catholics, Communion is a sign of unity regardless of what the other Churches teach so to receive in another church would be a sign of unity with that church.

Canon Law says that the only occasions in which a Catholic may receive Communion in another church are when all four of these conditions are met: There is genuine necessity, there is no danger of error, a Catholic minister is not available and that the Sacrament is received in a church which has valid sacraments. –Jacob Slavek


Is it a must to use a paten?

August 1, 2005


I have just read with interest Frank’s questions regarding handling of the Blessed Sacrament during distribution, and would like to add a few additional pieces of information and some thoughts. I serve as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist in my parish, and have encountered “first hand” some of the issues mentioned.


1. The communion plate or paten has largely fallen into disuse, I believe as a result of the majority of communicants now receiving the Host in their hands. Here, it would be awkward to use, and also the hands practically prevent any particles from falling to the floor. When receiving by mouth, a plate would be useful, although it is rarely provided (I have seen some priests hold the ciborium under the chin of a communicant, especially if this is of the shallow “bowl” variety, but this too is awkward). Perhaps there is a case for the return of the ancient “houselling cloth” which was held between the minister and communicant (usually by two servers) to catch particles.
2. A small covered bowl of water should be provided near the tabernacle to facilitate washing of fingers after ministering communion (I always use this if I have been distributing Hosts, although I’m not sure how many ministers do – perhaps catechesis should be better). This is periodically emptied into the sacrarium.
3. Some priests (noticeably our pastor) lie to use a very large Host at Mass and break this into pieces, some of which are distributed to the people: while the symbolism is laudable, there is a tendency to produce crumbs which increases the risk of accidents.
4. Sometimes when receiving the Blessed Sacrament by hand (when I am not myself ministering), I find particles adhere to my hand. I will do my best to consume these, and also try to keep the forefinger and thumb of my right hand joined (like the priest at a Tridentine Mass) and purify these as I take the holy water on leaving the church. (Maybe there is something to be said for the Anglican custom of licking the host from the left hand when receiving, although I always feel this looks indecorous). -Steven


Does one mention the Pope in the Eucharistic prayer said in Rome?,

August 1, 2005 / August 22, 2005

How is the reference to the Bishop in the Eucharistic prayer made in the diocese of Rome, where the Pope is local ordinary? It would seem silly to mention him twice in the same sentence, once as Pope and then as Bishop. I would assume the logical formula would be something like “Benedict our Pope and our Bishop”; or is the Bishop reference omitted altogether? –Steve

“Benedict our Pope” – and then one omits the following mention of “N. our Bishop”. –Fr. Smith


Can a deacon say Mass with consecrated hosts?

August 7, 2005

If there are hosts already consecrated by a priest, can a deacon say Mass? -Irene

There is no Mass if there is no consecration and priest. If there is no priest available, a deacon may lead a Communion service which resembles some parts of the Mass. However it should never be called a “Mass”, not even in passing. –Jacob Slavek


Can women open the tabernacle, distribute Holy Communion?

August 23, 2005

Can women distribute eucharist during mass? Are they allowed to open the tabernacle? I am under the impression that they are allowed to do this because the church has many parishioners and the priest can have helpers during mass. Is this correct? –George

Yes women may serve as extraordinary ministers wherever there is a need. Anyone who is authorized to distribute Communion may also open the tabernacle. 

Really though at Mass this should be done by the priest since he is the ordinary minister. –Jacob Slavek


Problems with the Novus Ordo, ecumenism; leaning toward the SSPX

August 23, 2005

I am person that has recently started going to an Indult Mass after a lifetime of Novus Ordo, and frankly am leaning towards the line of thought of the SSPX. Every one seems to have really negative things to say about them, but I am coming to the conclusion that they are right. There really is something wrong with the New Mass, and Ecumenism.

I do not want to question the Holy Father, but I simply can not understand how it can possibly be ok to have a Church desecrated like in Assisi*, or how it is possible that the Vicar of Christ* would kiss the Koran – which repudiates the Trinity and our Saviour, but yet the Tridentine Mass is not accessible. We can have every single type of Mass under the sun –clowns, ethnic, women taking over priestly roles — but no Tridentine Mass. On the other hand our Lord told St. Peter the gates of hell would not prevail, so I don’t know whether I am being brainwashed or if I truly have a point in starting to have these thoughts. –Mark

*The “spirit of Assisi” **Pope John Paul II

Your question seems to be “am I being brainwashed”.  I can’t really answer that but I can address your specific concerns.  If the Holy Father did kiss the Koran, you can be assured that it was NOT because he rejects the truth of the Trinity and Jesus Christ, and NOT because he endorses any other errors.  Any respect he would have shown would have been respect only for the truths that are contained within the book.



As for ethnic “problems” I’m afraid you must realize that Christianity is MUCH larger than the American Catholic Church.  Yes there are ethnic differences in the Liturgy and there pretty much always were once the Church began to spread. The SPPX people really can’t or shouldn’t believe that the Tridentine Mass is the only rite that should be celebrated, in Latin, with all the Latin traditions and customs, worldwide. It certainly never has been before.

For women taking over priestly roles: the more serious of these incidents really are abuses and are not endorsed or authorized by the Church or the Holy Father.

The Tridentine Mass: Well the Tridentine Mass is not widely available because the rites were revised by order of the Second Vatican Council. The Tridentine Mass no longer is the “principal” rite in which the Mass is celebrated, that is simply why it isn’t widely available. The Church saw a need for a change.  The problem seems to be that many liberal thinkers have misinterpreted the new instructions and felt they had the authority to make other changes that the church officially never authorized (such as the virtual abandonment of Latin)

By the way, when the new Mass is celebrated properly and reverently, and in Latin, it can resemble the old Mass and is very beautiful. In my opinion THIS Mass is what needs to be made widely available.

I understand how cheated a lot of younger Catholics feel once they discover much of the beauty of the Church that seems to have been discarded before they were born. I am one of these Catholics. However I really can’t see how straying from the Church and the Holy Father is the answer to the problem. It is my hope that you will be able to find an indult Tridentine Mass celebrated with permission from the bishop in a community in union with the Holy Father. –Jacob Slavek

September 8, 2005

The Pope did, in fact, kiss the Koran. He, also, kissed the ground when he came to the United States, should we infer by that that he was endorsing the Roe vs. Wade decision?
One also has to remember that today when the Missal of Pius V is offered by SSPX or Society of St. Peter or Society of Christ King and High Priest is being offered by priests who love the rite and who take care that it is being done properly.
Don’t assume that in pre-conciliar days all priests did so or that there were no abuses of the liturgy in the “good old days” but the “private” nature of these liturgies and the attention of the faithful on either their Missals or rosaries made them less noticeable.
For example, things that I have heard from those who were there:
A few priests would allow their dogs to accompany them into the sanctuary.
One priest would dry his hands at the lavabo on the server’s surplice as a joke.
One priest in order to charge for a solemn high Requiem Mass that required a deacon and subdeacon trained the altar boys where these ministers would stand if they were there and they would move mannequins wearing vestments into position
In one parish at the beginning of Midnight Mass the statute of the infant would fly from the choir loft over the heads of the congregation on piano wire into the manger. –Fr. Smith

September 16, 2005

I have had good experiences with the Novus Ordo Latin Mass. Some years ago I made a vocation retreat with the Legioniers of Christ who celebrate the Novus Ordo Latin Mass facing the congregation- a full minute genuflection of the Priest after each part of the consecration of the Blessed Sacrament. I was at St. Agnus Church in St. Paul, Minnesota celebrated by Msgr. Schuller; it was a beautiful Novus Ordo Latin Mass facing the Tabernacle (priest’s back to the people) using the only Altar in the sanctuary – The High Altar. I was with the Franciscan Friars of Mary Immaculate- Fr. David celebrates the Old and the Novus Ordo Masses in Latin; on Wednesdays and Fridays the Mass is in the Old Rite in Latin and on Sundays Mass is the Novus Ordo High Mass in Latin, the rest of the week it is the vernacular Masses – all Masses are facing the Tabernacle. When all the Masses are celebrated according to the written established rubrics- there’s barely any real distinction especially those in Latin and facing the Tabernacle. –Michael

Yes I agree with what you’ve said, Mass celebrated in this way is very beautiful.  I’ve actually been to Mass and Vespers many, many times at St. Agnes when I lived in St. Paul, I think very highly of that parish, especially in light of the many vocations to the priesthood that have come from there. –Jacob Slavek


Liturgical innovations: ecumenical mixing, dramatised Gospel

October 21, 2005

1. Is it liturgically correct to “mingle” non-Catholic Christian “liturgy” with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated by a validly ordained Catholic priest? For example the practice of having the Protestant minister and his Congregation conduct the “Liturgy of the Word” and then the Catholic priest continues the Eucharist as usual according to the Roman Rite (Offertory to the Holy Communion). If this happens, has a valid Sacrifice of the mass occurred?
2. Is it permissible to act out the Sunday Gospel by groups of young people using a kind of drama-like setting with different young people playing different parts!
3. Is it permissible to change the Good Friday celebration and introduce new prayers and actions different from that prescribed in the “official” Roman Liturgy?




4. Is it permissible for a priest to “leave out” the Offertory Prayers and go direct to the Washing of the Hands? Is the Offertory necessary for Validity? –Flavio

1. It is not “correct” to mingle the Holy Mass with anything. Ecumenical efforts are of course very good, and many parishes have done many things in terms of joint prayer services; however the sacred Liturgy itself should not be touched.  Protestants are welcome to attend mass in Catholic churches, but there never should be a “half-Catholic half-Protestant” service that involves the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

If this were to happen, it would be a valid Mass meaning that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus, if of course the minister is a validly ordained priest, the formula of consecration is used and bread and wine is used etc.

2. Any sort of drama or acting out the Gospel needs to done outside of the context of holy Mass.

3. The Good Friday service, as is all other Liturgy, is not open to personal innovation.

4. The priest may NOT leave out the offertory prayers. If he were to leave them out, the Mass would still be valid, but illicitly celebrated. –Jacob Slavek


Charismatic practices during the liturgy of the Mass

November 23, 2005

The local church I have attended for many years is becoming charismatic. I find some of the practices bizarre and disturbing. What is the Church’s position on the following practices?
1. speaking in tongues- the priest and the entire prayer group participates.
2. falling down (being slain) on the altar after being prayed over; this happens to the great majority of people as well.
3. prophesizing, as if the spirit of God has spoken directly through the person to the group; several people claim to have this gift. –Francis

Liturgically speaking, the Church does not have a “position” on these gifts of the Holy Spirit. You will not find anywhere in the Mass or other Liturgy where these charismatic practices take place. Not everyone has these gifts (speaking in tongues, etc); not even all priests do. However these gifts are very real and there are people who have them that are called to use them to serve the Church. Christians are called to worship together using them, but I really think it would be better if they did so outside of the Holy Mass.

I have never heard of being slain on the altar, but I do question its practice since the altar in a Catholic church is where CHRIST is sacrificed. I personally would have a great deal of trouble being “slain” on Christ’s altar. –Jacob Slavek


Use of an inappropriate crucifix on the altar

November 10, 2005

An altar cross, in the conventional sense, does not exist on the altar at this shrine. In its place is a huge plexiglass cross with a deformed body of Christ, showing only the nail wound holes in both hands and feet, hangs before it. Even the processional cross does not represent a Crucifix because North, South, East, and West are adorned with colored glass. It has been my understanding that to have a valid Roman Catholic Mass a true Crucifix must be in full view upon the Altar. -Patricia

Yes you are correct that the altar cross must have a figure of the crucified Christ.

But just to clarify some vocabulary: an INVALID mass means that there actually was no sacrifice, that the bread and wine never actually become the Body and the Blood. This is relatively rare.

If there is no altar cross present, that doesn’t mean that the Mass is invalid. Many people would refer to this as an “illicit” mass, meaning a mass within which liturgical laws were broken, disregarded or changed for whatever reason. Priests and other ministers are required to celebrate mass licitly, but when they don’t for whatever reason, it doesn’t mean the mass must be invalid. In order for a mass to become invalid something very serious must happen. Three examples: the priest using something other than bread and wine, omitting the consecration, or someone other than a validly ordained priest/bishop celebrating the mass. –Jacob Slavek


Deacons’ vestments

December 14, 2005

It is clear that the deacon can/should wear the dalmatic when assisting at Holy Mass. The question arises as to other times. What about a daily Communion service? At the rite of Baptism? Wake service?
I understand the statement in the GIRM, which I presume refers only to the Mass vestments. All I can find otherwise is in the Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest where it states the deacon wears …”the alb with stole, and, as circumstances suggest, the dalmatic.” What other source should I go to? There is a footnote referring to the 1988 CDW Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest – but I can’t locate the document. –Deacon Larry

Typically the dalmatic is worn at Mass, Eucharistic processions, and at benediction. When the document mentions “as circumstances suggest” I believe this to be a reference to the GIRM which does not absolutely mandate the dalmatic (n.338) in circumstances of lesser solemnity. This would include, at least in my opinion, both Sunday celebrations without a Mass and daily communion services. –Jacob Slavek




Extraordinary ministers and disposing of the Holy Eucharist

January 15, 2006


In my parish I have witnessed extraordinary ministers of Holy Communon who have dropped the host during communion. To my surprise, with no reverence whatsoever, these ministers pick up the host and hold it under the ciborium. At the end of communion, they simply discreetly toss the host back into the ciborium.
When I was trained at my former parish, we were taught to stop communion, kneel down in front of the dropped host, make the sign of the cross, and then consume the host. Not perfect by any means, and a far cry from the procedure I witnessed when young, but more adequate than simply tossing the host back into the vessel.
I feel that I should bring this issue up to the clergy and ask them to make corrections if necessary. To me, it seems like a total desecration of the body of Christ. And it upsets me greatly.
What is the proper procedure for recovering a dropped host? -Dominick

Yes the procedure you described is quite suitable for these unfortunate occasions.  While I would never “wait till no one’s looking” then toss the host back in, it is far better than the sinful alternative of leaving the host there until the end of Mass or simply discarding it into the trash.

I personally do not have an issue with consuming a host after it has touched the floor, that is after inspecting it for debris and if found reverently removing it while CAREFULLY ensuring that no particles of the host are lost.  I understand that some ministers may have a problem with this, if the do, they can reverently reserve the host while immediately finding someone that can help them. –Jacob Slavek


Priest messing with the liturgy/rubrics

January 19, 2006

I recently went to a Mass where the priest changed one word of the consecration. He said, “It will be shed for you and for EVERYONE so that sins may be forgiven.” Is it still the Body and Blood of Jesus with the one word changed? -Jennifer

I’m pretty sure that most sacramental theologians would agree that this change would not invalidate the Mass. But that doesn’t mean AT ALL that this change is permissible. No priest has the ability or right to play with the Mass in this way. –Jacob Slavek


Sacred music and Gregorian chant

January 31, 2006

In the old days of the Tridentine Mass, whenever there was High Mass, the choir would sing beautiful chants to the Introit, Gradual, Offertory antiphon and the Communion antiphon. Can these same chants still be incorporated into the Novus Ordo mass? –Charles

Yes. In fact the Benedictine Monks at Solesmes have published a wonderful missal for just that purpose.

By the way, YES the second Vatican council ordered that sacred music be preserved. (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n.114)  Gregorian Chant is to be given “pride of place” in sacred Liturgy. (n.116) –Jacob Slavek


Kneeling during the Consecration discouraged

February 6, 2006

I live in Canada, and in Mass we used to kneel during the Consecration. Now, we were discouraged from doing so (told it was too noisy with the kneelers hitting the floor) so we stand and only bow during two times of bread and wine being raised then lowered. I really miss the kneeling and it seems as though we are losing the solemnity and worship during this miraculous moment. What is the proper procedure? -Claire

That has got to be one of the STUPIDEST reasons I have ever heard for not kneeling. I personally LOVE the sound, ruckus and noise of kneelers falling and hitting the floor in adoration of the Lord made present in that very same room. At the name of Jesus, every knee must bend (Philippians 2:10). –Jacob Slavek


How many times a day may a priest consecrate the host? -Carol

February 12, 2006

Without special permission, a priest may celebrate Mass twice on a given day.  He cannot consecrate the host outside of Mass without a REALLY good reason. –Jacob Slavek


Rude, divisive priest

February 21, 2006



My wife is one of the extraordinary ministers for our church. A few weeks ago, she was scheduled to serve at the Mass and was so upset that she almost could not do it. Later she said that she felt “unworthy” because she felt so much anger toward our priest before Mass began. That morning before Mass, he displayed one of his “temper tantrums” in front of the children and adults that were coming into church. We have had many people switch parishes because of his cruel behavior. He has no problem with scolding people (for trivial things) in a loud manner in front of a whole group of people. He lacks any of the loving characteristics that I would expect from a “man of God”. He is very unwelcoming to visitors who, unknowingly, come in chewing gum. He will point in their face and tell them that they “had better not even think of going to Communion”. (These are non-Catholics who are just “searching” for a place where they feel welcome. They do not understand that we fast for one hour before Communion.) He even called a woman an idiot within earshot of our 9 year old daughter! Our Parish is suffering because of this. No one wants to volunteer for anything for fear of not doing something right and then having to deal with our priest. The people who have not already left are very unhappy and talk about him with such disrespect. We feel like our faith family has gone down hill since he came a few years ago. Others have suggested going to a different church and we have talked about it, but my wife cries every time I bring it up so that is not an option. She just keeps praying that “God will soften his hardened heart”.

He was really angry before Mass a few weeks ago–does this in any way invalidate the Mass? Jacob

No, that by itself would not invalidate the Mass. –Jacob Slavek


Hymn instead of the Responsorial Psalm

April 17, 2007

Is it ever permitted to substitute a hymn for the responsorial psalm? Not the psalm put to music, but a different song entirely that may have NOTHING to do with the prescribed psalm for the day. The former music minister at my parish insisted that a priest from Franciscan University told him that it was permitted at a “youth Mass,” and he took that to mean a Mass with contemporary music. At first I didn’t question it, but then my husband pointed out that it would be illicit to replace, for example, the second reading with a poem. The new music minister learned this policy from the former minister, and I’m wondering whether it could possibly be correct.
Also, as a matter of opinion, if this is NOT licit, would it be appropriate for a member of the music ministry to sit out on the responsorial “song,” or would they not be culpable for the liturgical abuse and not be required to do so, provided that they have pointed out the Church’s position to the appropriate persons? -Rachel

No, it is not permitted.  I know it is a common abuse, but as the General Instruction says, the responsorial psalm “is an integral part of the liturgy of the word and holds great liturgical and pastoral importance, because it promotes meditation on the Word of God.” (n.61) It goes on to say that the gradual may be used in it place, but says nothing of a hymn.

If you feel like you should sit out, go ahead. I doubt that you would be culpable if you did not sit out if you had voiced your concerns. –Jacob Slavek


Use of recorded music in the liturgy

April 28, 2007

We have several priests that play CDs at various parts of the Mass when there is no choir. -Charlie

First of all I need to mention that I do not consider the CD playing to be liturgical since liturgical law does not allow the use of recorded music (there is an exception in the Directory for Masses with Children, n.32). There should not be any CD music at all during the Mass; if the priest absolutely must play his CDs in church for whatever reason they must be played BEFORE Mass starts of AFTER it has finished. –Jacob Slavek


Use of “fistula” to receive the Precious Blood

June 19, 2007

During a recent class on the Liturgy, Father mentioned that small metal tubes, or “straws”, were once used to receive the Precious Blood during communion. Can you please give me any information on this and/or lead me to historical references where I can research this surprising statement? I’m hoping to find out why the use of these objects became acceptable, the approximate time they were used in the Church, and when their use was discontinued. I found a reference online about golden straws being used by the Cardinals at the first concelebration at St. Peter’s, but it only a statement of recollection and didn’t give any other information. -Joanne

I also had a hard time digging up information on this, but here is what I’ve found.  First of all, their use was never completely abolished, in fact in the current Roman Rite there is still mention of the “tube”.

Properly it is called “fistula”, which is also a medical term for an abnormal passageway within the body.

According to my source, the fistula originated in the Eastern Church and was never commonly used in the West. Since 1385, it has only been used in pontifical masses. –Jacob Slavek


Tridentine Mass and “Summorum Pontificum” [Traditionalists]

July 9, 2007



What is your view on the letter sent from Pope Benedict XVI to bishop Zubik on lifting the restrictions of the old Tridentine mass, and do you think it will confuse people or add an ambient element that is currently missing in the local catholic community? And do you think it will draw more people to attending the Sunday mass? -Ted

Actually this was a papal decree issued motu proprio, “Summorum Pontificum” rather than a personal letter to Bishop Zubik.

My personal opinion is that it will NOT confuse many people, because for most people there will not be any change at all.  I’ve heard it first hand from Bishop Zubik, who spoke at my home parish this last Sunday, that the purpose of this decree is to reach out to those Catholics who would otherwise leave the Catholic Church in order to satisfy a liturgical need that they would not find while in communion with Rome. It would be terrible to have to lose these people since in matters of faith and morals they would still be in union with the universal church.

I don’t see that we will actually have an increase Sunday mass attendance; that is not the purpose of the decree. Most parishes will not see any liturgical changes at all. The purpose is not to “ADD LATIN” to what most parishes are already doing, but rather to make the TRADITIONAL Latin “option” more readily available to those who need it. –Jacob Slavek


What is the role of a deacon at Holy Mass?

August 20, 2007

What is the difference between the way a Deacon prays and the Priest prays during Liturgy? I notice the Deacon prays all the Litanies and the priest says a lot of silent prayers. Are their petitions that different? –Tom

During the Liturgy, the deacon prays in the same way as the priest and laity, that is, in union with not only the congregation present in his particular celebration, but also the entire universal church.

If you are asking about what the deacon’s specific purpose is during the Mass, there is section in the GIRM that describes his ministry.  In summary, He assists the priest at the altar, he proclaims the Gospel, he may preach the homily, he gives instruction to the faithful (at the sign of peace, at the end of Mass etc), and he announces the intentions.

He also is an ordinary minister of the Eucharist. –Jacob Slavek


What is the Holy Mass?

November 9, 2007

I believe the bread and wine at mass is the body and blood of Jesus. What I don’t understand is the Sacrifice of the Mass. Keith Green has written the Mass is Jesus Christ being offered up again, physically, as a sacrifice for sin. Keith Green has written the sacrifice of the Mass is a renewal of the sacrifice of the cross. Christ is forever offering himself in the Mass. Do we perpetually re-sacrifice Jesus at every Mass? Am I missing the true meaning of Sacrifice of the Mass? What gifts are given to us in the Eucharist every time we receive the body and blood of Jesus? Please help, I am very confused. -Leslie

First of all I must say that Keith Green is not at all a teacher of the faith, he is not even Catholic. I had not heard of him before so I searched his name and came up with his website. Turns out he is an evangelical gospel musician.

Many times Protestants who are attacking the Catholic faith will cite Hebrews 9:28 saying, “Christ, offered once to take away the sins”… claiming that this biblical teaching contradicts the idea of the sacrifice of the Mass, because as they say at Mass Christ is “re-sacrificed” at each “individual” Mass. They of course are mistaken or ignorant of what really happens at the Mass. I really would advise everyone NOT to read too heavily into the works of Keith Green, from what little I know of him he certainly does NOT teach the truth and probably has a serious anti-Catholic pro-Fundamentalist bias in his writing. When studying theology it is much better to stay with the writings of the saints or any writing that has an imprimatur/nihil obstat.

Every time we go to Mass, we are seeing the same sacrifice of Christ, which is the same sacrifice at Calvary. From our own point of view, the same sacrifice is re-presented each time we attend Mass. But, God is not constrained by time and is thus able to apply the same sacrifice at Calvary on all the altars in the world in all time in an unbloody manner.

So, NO, the priests do not perpetually re-sacrifice Jesus. He does not die again and again each time we celebrate Mass.  He died once, was sacrificed once, and rose once. But, YES we witness this same sacrifice each time we attend Mass.

About gifts given to us in the Eucharist:  well pages and pages can be written on this subject, but just to get you started here’s some of the basics from the catechism: Holy Communion augments our union with Christ, giving life through the Holy Spirit. It separates us from sin, wipes away venial sins, preserves us from future mortal sins, makes the church, commits us to the poor, and of course is the source and summit of the Christian Life. –Jacob Slavek


Kneeling or standing when receiving Holy Communion?

December 1, 2007

Watching Mass on EWTN, I noticed that all recipients of Holy Communion either genuflect or kneel beforehand. Is this the correct thing to do? No one at any Mass I attend now ever does this.
As a child I recall every one kneeling around the altar to receive communion. I didn’t attend Mass for many years and wonder if this was changed?
If it’s respectful to kneel on both knees when coming into the presence of the exposed Eucharist at adoration, it seems strange not to do the something similar when we are actually receiving this precious gift. –Mary



If the communicants are not kneeling, then they need to be making some other gesture of reverence before receiving the Sacrament.  Genuflecting would do wonderfully, as long as it does not interfere with the procession.  I myself have never had a problem with someone crashing into me as I genuflect.

The following is from the 1980 document Inaestimabile Donum:

11. The Church has always required from the faithful respect and reverence for the Eucharist at the moment of receiving it.

With regard to the manner of going to Communion, the faithful can receive it either kneeling or standing, in accordance with the norms laid down by the Episcopal Conference. “When the faithful communicate kneeling, no other sign of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament is required, since kneeling is itself a sign of adoration. When they receive Communion standing, it is strongly recommended that, coming up in procession, they should make a sign of reverence before receiving the Sacrament. This should be done at the right time and place, so that the order of people going to and from Communion is not disrupted.”

The same is also said in the 1967 Eucharisticum Mysterium. (#34a-b)

Other signs of reverence that one could also do are the Sign of the Cross or a profound bow. –Jacob Slavek


Ad orientem

January 25, 2008

During a Tridentine mass the priest’s posture should be ad orientem, so the people and priest face the altar in one direction. In the parish Church which I attend Tridentine mass, the priest faces the altar but I recently discovered that he was actually facing west by doing this, (the Tridentine Mass here is celebrated at night so I did not know that the people and priest were actually facing the west). This is maybe because of the way the church was built, but is this okay? –Joseph

“Ad orientem” does not always mean literally geographically facing east. There are many churches built that have the altar placed at another side, for example St. Peter’s Basilica faces west.  Not to worry, it’s okay.  Liturgically thinking, it’s still facing the East. –Jacob Slavek


Rampant liturgical abuse

January 28, 2008

Living in Brazil, I am amazed at how some Catholic churches are equally used for the pagan Candomble worship, that Catholic priests allow Candomble priestesses to “bless” Catholic faithful with popcorn and offer sacrifices to their deities within the walls of the Church, and even participate in their processions for the sea goddess — and our Pope did not do anything about it even though this is all common knowledge!
A “less serious” offense, one priest in my parish, cuts out various Scripture readings on Sundays (the Gospel is always read but he’ll cut out sometimes both one reading AND responsorial psalm!) and prefers to lead the assembly in song. He also does not distribute Communion; he remains seated behind the altar.
And everyone in Brazil holds hands during the Our Father even though it is considered illicit.
During the “youth” Mass on Sunday evenings, the music is beautiful, but they spend an hour before Mass begins rehearsing in the Church and expect the people who get there early and are there to pray, to sing with them; the singer walking all around with his microphone like some Protestant rock star (even though the music is very reverent and holy!). Is this allowed? I find it so disrespectful to our Lord.
Where can one go to complain about liturgical abuses if the bishop doesn’t do anything? I have already complained about this priest (esp. cutting Scripture readings) but NOTHING has been done and I doubt it ever will. Given how Brazil is in spiritual chaos (the rate of Protestant growth corresponds exactly with the rise in murder and violent crime; there are in fact 53,000 deaths annually from violent crime in Brazil) and our Pope remains silent (coming here last year and pretending Brazil is a Catholic nation with only 30% of Catholics, 30% of “Protestants” — a figure that includes denominations and cults; and the rest spiritists, atheists and pagans), I guess all I can do is pray. –Tim

I know how frustrating things like this can be, but many times there really isn’t much that can be done. The Vatican doesn’t have a “complaint” department. I suppose if you really wanted you could write them and explain the situation, but I couldn’t guess at all what response you would get.  The reason being is that it isn’t usually the Vatican’s job to “police” individual dioceses… that duty belongs to the local bishop, who is of course appointed by the pope. I really would encourage that all concerns be brought to the bishop.

As for why Rome doesn’t do anything about the problem:  Liturgical and theological texts are already VERY CLEAR that these things are unacceptable. The bishop, as the appointed overseer of the diocese, is to see that all is in union with Rome.

By the way I don’t know what the specific situation is like in Brazil, but if it is like many other places in the world, it is only a few local parishes that are seriously problematic, which are the ones to get the most of the negative attention.

Just one more side note: when complaining about liturgical abuses it is fair to go to the pastor first before the bishop, if for no other reason than to at least hear his side.  But ultimately the responsibility lies with the bishop.

Oh yes and of course prayer must be mentioned: for your own diocese and then the entire Church. –Jacob Slavek


Combining of novena with the Holy Mass?

February 1, 2008




In the parish where I attend the novena to our Mother of Perpetual help, the priest, after saying all the novena prayers with the people, will just proceed to the Collect of the Mass. Is this all right or is it illicit? –John

Private devotional prayers, even when said publicly, should not be “combined” with the Liturgy like this.

They should be said before or after Mass, even though they could immediately precede or follow Mass. There must be a clear break between the two, so that the Mass may be celebrated strictly as provided in the Missal, such as beginning with the sign of the cross or hymn, etc, or with the Mass concluding with the dismissal.

Also, just so that there is no confusion, the Liturgy of the Hours, which is also liturgical prayer, may be combined with the Mass. When this happens, usually on weekdays, the collect of the Mass is started after the psalmody of Morning/Daytime/ Evening Prayer (GILH, n. 94-96) –Jacob Slavek


Gluten-free hosts

February 18, 2008

What is the Church’s position on a child receiving a gluten free host and how is this handled with a priest who has to deal with Celiac Disease? Is a gluten free host invalid matter? –Deacon Larry

Yes, gluten-free hosts are invalid matter. So are rice wafers and anything else made with any ingredient other than wheat and water.

The USCCB has addressed this issue and has approved bread made by Benedictine sisters in Missouri. Their hosts contain 0.01 percent gluten. If someone is unable to consume even this amount of gluten, then they would need to receive Communion under the form of wine only. They of course should be reminded that they still are receiving the same full blessings and graces of the Body and the Blood.

Once again, hosts MUST contain at least some gluten in order to be valid matter.

For those that may not know what gluten is: it is a protein found in wheat and a few other grains. When mixed with water it becomes elastic, which is what allows leavened bread to rise when used with a leavening agent such as yeast or baking soda.

Here are a few relevant links: –Jacob Slavek


What if a priest does not believe in transubstantiation?

February 20, 2008

If a priest does not believe it the Transubstantiation is it an invalid Mass and if so do the bread and wine still become the Body and Blood of Christ?

If a celebrant at the offering of the gifts instead of lifting the bread and the cup separately lifts them both up at the same time is this in error? –Wally

I think this would all depend on the intention of the priest regarding transubstantiation. For example if the priest is suffering doubts and is struggling in his faith during the Mass, but still intends to offer the sacrifice despite his own personal failings, then I think that transubstantiation would still occur. Remember that it is God himself who causes the change; the priest’s role is to consecrate the bread and wine and offer the sacrifice to God.

On the other hand if the priest is openly defiant of the church’s teaching, either open with himself alone or publicly, then he would not intend to consecrate the bread and wine and therefore transubstantiation would not occur.

Of course I should mention that obviously a priest like this needs to be removed immediately and a decision on his return to ministry not made until this problem is resolved.

About your other question: if the celebrant lifts them both at the same time at the offertory then he is not following the rubrics correctly. However it is not serious enough to invalidate the Mass. Regardless, he still must raise them separately.  There is no room for personal preference at this point in the Liturgy. –Jacob Slavek


Cross or crucifix on Good Friday?

February 21, 2008

The USCCB rubrics and the GIRM always say “cross” for veneration. This can be interpreted in two ways – a plain cross and a crucifix. How does one find out which is correct? We know in the Catholic Church a cross implies it is with a corpus. The GIRM made it clear that the processional cross must be with a corpus. But Good Friday still has two interpretations. –Deacon Larry

Yes you are correct that the new GIRM has not clarified whether or not a cross or crucifix may be used.  The Holy Week document “Paschales Solemnitatis” also only says “cross”.

However the USCCB has issued a document in 2000 that explicitly states that either is approved for use.  Here’s a link to it from their website: –Jacob Slavek




Must a priest wear a chasuble?

February 23, 2008

The celebrant priest arrived and processed down the aisle – and I noticed he wasn’t wearing a chasuble (only an alb and a stole). To me this seemed quite strange. I was under the impression that the chasuble is an essential garment that must always be worn by the principal celebrant (particularly at Sunday Mass). Am I correct in assuming he was inappropriately attired? He also referred to the Gospel as the “Gospel story” (all this seems rather odd). –John

Yes he must be wearing a chasuble at Mass. But I wouldn’t say “essential” if mean that it is essential for the validity of the sacraments. I think a better word would be “required”, meaning that under normal circumstances there is no excuse at all for not wearing one. So yes, he was inappropriately attired, unless there is some fact that we do not know about, for example the priest arrived for mass only to find that there was no chasuble and did not bring one of his own.

The Gospels actually are a story, among several other things. I wouldn’t worry about calling them the “Gospel Story” unless the priest was actually saying that that’s ALL they are. I doubt that’s the case.  I personally wouldn’t refer to them as the Gospel Story myself on a regular basis, but perhaps your priest was referring to a specific story in the Gospel in context of his homily. –Jacob Slavek


Holding hands and Orans position during the Our Father

February 24, 2008

I had written my Bishop about my concerns in that many people were adopting the hand-holding during the Our Father, and he mentioned that the Rubrics do not forbid it. This bothered me, because elsewhere I had been reading that the lay people shouldn’t be hand-holding during the Mass, when reciting the Our Father.
What is the Vatican’s position on this? Has the Pope addressed this issue? If the Vatican has ruled whether it is acceptable or not, where can I find this information? -Claire

I would have to say that it’s really bad logic to say that hand-holding and the people taking on the orans posture is okay because neither the GIRM nor rubrics forbid it. The GIRM also doesn’t forbid the chicken dance at Mass either; are we to believe then that it is now okay? What Rome HAS said is that no priest has his place adding to the Liturgy any thing that is not already there in the liturgical texts. (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 22(3))

I don’t believe that Rome has specifically addressed the orans abuse. However in 1997 a document was released that did very clearly prohibit any action on the part of the people that imitates gestures that are proper to the priest. The raising of the hands does qualify as “proper to the priest” since in the rubrics it is the priest alone who is instructed to raise his hands.

The hand holding issue HAS been specifically addressed: and Rome has said, “It is not in the rubrics”.

I will post the link to the question that I answered several years ago on this forum.  I’m also going to post a link to a very recent essay written on the subject by Bro. Ignatius Mary in our BBS forums. –Jacob Slavek


Priest messing with the liturgy/rubrics

March 2, 2008

During Lent, our priest has moved the Penitential Rite from its normal place at the beginning of Mass to just before the Creed. He say’s it’s to give it more focus during Lent. Is this allowed? –Isaac

No, neither the GIRM nor rubrics allow for the Penitential Rite to be moved like this. If he wanted to add more focus, he would need to make some changes that are approved in the Missal, such as using “similar words” for the invitation. He could use words of his own that would add focus to the rite. He could have the Kyrie said in Greek, if it is not being done already. –Jacob Slavek


Priest messing with the liturgy/rubrics

March 9, 2008

If a priest changes the words in the Mass in almost everything save the Consecration, does that still make it a valid Mass? For instance, instead of praying, “happy are those who are called to this supper,” the priest says “happy are those who are called to this Eucharist”. He says many other differing things from the Order of the Mass. –Maria

Yes, I wouldn’t worry about the validity unless he started messing with “This is my body…” etc.

Of course that does not mean at all that it is okay to change the other words, I’m just saying that it is not essential for a valid consecration.  The priest is still required to say the rest of the rite as written in the missal.  The Sacred Liturgy does not belong to individual priests of congregations, but rather to the entire Church. –Jacob Slavek


Washing the feet of women on Holy Thursday

March 11, 2008



Is it permissible for the celebrant priest to wash the feet of both men and women on Holy Thursday? It was my understanding that only men were to have their feet washed because the twelve apostles were the first priests and women will never, according to Pope John II, be ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. –Patricia

No. The Missal, in the Proper of Seasons, during Holy Week for Holy Thursday, says “selected men”.

This is also said in Paschales Solemnitatis which is another document that contains instructions for Holy Week.  I really can’t understand why so many priests and liturgists have such a hard time understanding this or accepting it.  It couldn’t be any easier: “The men who are chosen are led by the ministers to chairs prepared in a suitable place.” –Jacob Slavek

March 15, 2008

You mentioned to a previous poster on March 11th that Holy Thursday foot washing is reserved only for men. This had been my understanding until it had come up elsewhere, and I learned, much to my chagrin, that it IS now allowed:
In the archdiocese of Boston (I will bite my tongue now), the Archbishop O’Malley sought clarification from the Vatican on the issue, when there apparently were people taking issue with having only women’s feet being washed (in 2004):
In August 2004,
“at the time of the ad limina visit to Rome, the archbishop sought clarification on the liturgical requirements of the rite of foot washing from the Congregation for Divine Worship, which has the responsibility for administering the liturgical law of the Church,” said an archdiocesan statement released in March. “The Congregation affirmed the liturgical requirement that only the feet of men be washed at the Holy Thursday ritual, which recalls Christ’s service to the apostles who would become the first priests of the Church.”
“The Congregation did, however, provide for the archbishop to make a pastoral decision concerning his practice of the rite if such a decision would be helpful to the faithful of the archdiocese,” the statement added. “Archbishop O’Malley has determined that he will participate in a modified rite of foot washing at the Cathedral this year. The participants in the rite will include men and women from the Cathedral parish and from social service agencies providing support to community members in need.”
In short, the Vatican allows for pastoral decisions to be made in local areas as to whether the feet of women should be washed on Holy Thursday, without any real justification for it, given that previous documents and statements clearly specify it is only MEN who participate, in imitation of the Apostles. If my church allows this, I’ll go to another one! –Tim

I decided not to include this in my original answer since it only applies to one parish, NOT the entire United States. Well I should say only one parish that we know of, that is, the cathedral in Boston. Maybe Archbishop O’Malley allows it in other parishes in his diocese, I don’t know. As far as I know he is the only bishop in the United States that has been given this “special permission”. I took the chance that the original questioner was not a member of that particular parish. –Jacob Slavek

March 18, 2008

Trying to get a clear picture of the foot washing rite using men and women, I came across this from the USCCB Committee for Divine Worship web site. Seems the way this is worded is that women can be included. Here is what the site said:
Regarding the phrase viri selecti, the Chairman of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy, after a review of the matter by the committee, authorized the following response which appeared in the BCL Newsletter of February 1987:
#4. Because the gospel of the mandatum read on Holy Thursday also depicts Jesus as the “Teacher and Lord” who humbly serves his disciples by performing this extraordinary gesture which goes beyond the laws of hospitality,2 the element of humble service has accentuated the celebration of the foot washing rite in the United States over the last decade or more. In this regard, it has become customary in many places to invite both men and women to be participants in this rite in recognition of the service that should be given by all the faithful to the Church and to the world. Thus, in the United States, a variation in the rite developed in which not only charity is signified but also humble service.

–Deacon Larry

I guess I’m just not so sure that this works… the language used doesn’t sound liturgically forceful, and I’m not sure the Chairman of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy even has that authority. In fact I’m pretty sure he doesn’t.

Let’s take a look at some of the statements:

“In this regard, it has become customary in many places to invite both men and women to be participants in this rite…”

Well, many things in the United States have become customary. A lot of these things still remain liturgical abuses, some of them severe liturgical abuses. It’s still an abuse until Rome approves it for liturgical use. Here are two examples that started out as “customs” and technically were abuses until Rome finally approved both for use in the US: receiving Communion on the hand and kneeling immediately after the Sanctus. My personal opinion is that one of these two is a good thing and the other is not, but my point is that they are now both approved by Rome and therefore okay. Washing the feet of women has NOT been approved by Rome, except in one diocese that I know of, the Archdiocese of Boston. In fact since this statement was released in 1987 Rome has made clear again that it is just men. (Paschales Solemnitatis, 1988) Zenit has also reported on this in recent years In 2004 The Congregation for Divine Worship affirmed personally (personally I guess because there was no cite) to Archbishop O’Malley that the requirement is just men.

The second statement that caught my eye:

“Thus, in the United States, a variation in the rite developed in which not only charity is signified but also humble service.”



Again, this is not liturgically authoritative language, and does not even mention women but rather charity and service.  Nothing here to fear, especially since in the VERY NEXT SENTENCE (the next paragraph) the chairman CLEARLY admits that this “variation” (referring now to women again, rather than charity I guess) differs from the rubrics. So if I had to choose between the two, I would go with the one approved by Rome rather than the innovation.

“While this variation may differ from the rubric of the Sacramentary which mentions only men (“viri selecti”)” (paragraph 5)


Can a non-Catholic receive the Sacraments of Anointing of the Sick and Confession?

March 12, 2008

Can a non-Catholic (baptized), confined to a nursing home, receive the Anointing of the Sick and the Sacrament of Penance? –Deacon Larry

Usually non-Catholics do not receive these sacraments. Catholic ministers may administer them (and also Holy Communion) if the following conditions are present:

1.)  There is danger of death (or some other grave necessity determined by the ordinary)

2.)  A minister from the non-catholic’s church is not available.

3.)  The non-catholic seeks the sacrament on his own accord.

4.)  He shows Catholic faith in the sacraments.

5.)  He is properly disposed.

(From Canon Law, can. 844 §4, also in the Catechism, n.1401) –Jacob Slavek


Blessing oneself at the Penitential Rite

March 12, 2008

Is the proper gesture of the laity to bless oneself as the priest pronounces, “May Almighty God have mercy on us …” at the penitential rite? Or is this an option? The GIRM seems to be silent on this. –Deacon Larry

If the gesture you mean is the Sign of the Cross at the penitential rite, yes you are correct it is not present in the current rite.  I think many people do it anyway because it was done in the Tridentine rite, and they don’t realize that it no longer exists in the current rite. –Jacob Slavek


Priests leaving the sanctuary during the Mass / Orans & holding hands during the Mass

April 2, 2008


In my parish in Pennsylvania, our pastor always leaves the sanctuary to exchange the sign of peace with people sitting in the first pews. The parochial vicar does not. Also, for the longest time they both would leave the ambo and walk down to the people and give their homily while pacing back and forth. It was more intimate that way and they seemed to be speaking to everyone. All of a sudden this has come to an abrupt stop. Is either practice acceptable and a personal preference of the clergy, or is it some sort of liturgical abuse to leave the ambo and sanctuary at any time during mass? Our church also does the hand holding during Lord’s Prayer and those who do not hold hands put them in the orans position. I never felt comfortable doing either. What ever happened to the good old folded hands in prayer they taught us in Catholic school? I mean, some of these people will actually turn around and almost twist their necks to hold hands with someone two pews behind them in some of the masses with fewer people. –Janet

Yes both of these practices and not allowed by the Church.

The priest is to stand at the chair or ambo for the homily. (GIRM n.136) It also leaves an option open for the priest to use another suitable place when appropriate, but says nothing about pacing back and forth. It only says standing.

Included for the first time in the current GIRM is the statement that the priest is to remain in the sanctuary for the sign of peace. (n.154)

I don’t know if you’ve already seen this or not but if your interested in reading comments about the hand-holding and orans posture issue at the Our Father I have recently answered those questions. –Jacob Slavek


Flowers on the altar

May 2, 2008

Are flowers allowed to remain on the altar during the mass or should they be taken off and replaced later. -Mary

I am guessing that you are asking about a freestanding altar. No, there must not be any flowers on the altar at all.

“The arrangement of flowers should always be modest, and placed around the altar rather than on top of it” (GIRM, n.305)

“On the mensa of the altar should be placed only those things required for the celebration of the Mass.”(n.306) –Jacob Slavek


Holding hands during the Our Father / Blessing other faithful at Mass

May 4, 2008


My husband and I are wondering how to handle a couple situations that always seem to crop up during Mass at our church. 1. Everyone routinely holds hands during the Lord’s Prayer, but we have heard this is not appropriate. We worry that we might appear unwelcoming or rude if we don’t join in, and otherwise don’t know what to do. Do you have any suggestions for how we can handle this tricky situation? Are we wrong to just give up and join in on the handholding for the sake of not making a scene?

2. Also, we feel uncertain about another common practice in our parish, never knowing what to do. The priest frequently has us raise our right hands in blessing during Mass upon certain people, such as children gathered up at the altar before they are dismissed for “kids’ word” during Mass, or over anyone who needs special blessings. It somehow feels inappropriate, like something only a priest or deacon should be doing. -Carol

One time at the Lord’s Prayer someone actually became rude with me when I respectfully declined to hold her hand… in this case I decided it would be better to simply hold her hand rather than make a scene. Normally though when someone extends his hand to me I would just return a warm smile and maybe a small hand gesture to acknowledge that I am aware he wants to hold hands. Then I return my hands to their normal position and that ends it. An extra sincere “Peace be with you” might help afterwards.

This “raising our right hand in blessing” also occurs regularly in my parish. Theologically I suppose there’s nothing wrong with it, there is nothing wrong with raising a hand while asking for a blessing. However it really doesn’t belong within the Liturgy, so whenever it happens in my parish I usually don’t raise my hand. I WILL however use the time to mentally make a prayer for the person being blessed, usually using the same words that the priest uses. –Jacob Slavek

June 20, 2008

What might help is closing your eyes and clasping your hands together in prayer. That way someone would just have to literally pull your hands apart. -Kayla

Sounds like good advice to me. Even though the Liturgy is public and communal worship, there is nothing wrong with closing your eyes while praying with the rest of the Church. –Jacob Slavek


Secular concert in a Cathedral

June 9, 2008

A non-Catholic (possibly non-Christian) singer was on television last night singing from inside a Catholic Cathedral in Austria. What would have to have happened in order for her to do this? Would she have to have the Archbishop’s approval to sing in the church? Mind you, none of the songs are religious in nature. –Maria

I suppose the pastor/rector of the cathedral could make that decision, but of course the bishop would have the authority to override it and disallow the event.

I don’t know the details of the singer or the concert, but from what you’ve told me I don’t see anything appropriate at all of holding this event in a church. I know sometimes we have secular classical organ recitals in our churches, but at least there is a practical reason to hold them there… which is because that’s where the organ is located. Even so a lot of times people can use this music to lift their hearts to God, which is why this music is often used before and after weekend masses.

But for a modern secular singer I would think at least at first that a concert hall would be a much better place to hold the concert. –Jacob Slavek


Priest messing with the liturgy/rubrics

September 15, 2008 [See also]

The priest at our parish has, on three separate previous occasions omitted the Profession of Faith for no apparent reason. Today, on this Sunday celebrating the Exaltation of the Cross, he has once again eliminated the saying of Creed. It has been my understanding that on every Sunday and on every Holy Day of Obligation “The Profession of Faith” must be recited by the congregation. If there are any exceptions that allow the Celebrant to eliminate the Creed could you please make me aware of them, and, if there are no reasons, please give me the information so that I may present it to our priest in a manner which will not offend him. –Patricia

No, there are no exceptions that allow the creed to be omitted. (note: it can be REPLACED with the Apostle’s Creed for Masses with Children)

From the GIRM:

68. The Creed is to be sung or said by the priest together with the people on Sundays and Solemnities.

There is nothing in the Liturgy that is “optional” or may be omitted unless it is explicitly stated somewhere in an official liturgical document.  This of course applies to the recitation of the Creed.

As for gently reminding your priest:  I would use text from Vatican II, from “Sacrosanctum Concilium”  (the document that ordered the revision of the Liturgy..  all liturgists should read it) which states that NO ONE including priests may add, remove or change the Liturgy on their own authority.  (n.22)

Finally, I understand that we need to be charitable when it becomes necessary to correct our priests, but personally I find it offensive to leave the Creed omitted. What a way to honor the saints and martyrs who have died rather than give up that same creed. It’s a great privilege to be able to recite it publicly, and all Catholics should take it very seriously. –Jacob Slavek



Use of secular/profane musical instruments at Mass

September 27, 2008

I have been part of my parish for 10 years. At one point I was asked to join the “folk” group. I have since left this group, but since the main “singer” has married the local Methodist minister I notice the hymns chosen never mention the Eucharist.
Now they have found a drummer, and the drum set is in the centre of the Blessed Sacrament chapel.
I find all of this really distracting and have told my priest I feel I have to hear mass elsewhere because I do not feel recollected when this type of music is used.
I have nothing against drums or drummers but I feel this isn’t giving my kids the right example / approach to Catholic adoration. Am I being unreasonable to want to hear mass elsewhere? Are drums acceptable at mass? –Mary Jean

Before I answer your first question I want to clear up a little vocabulary problem: We do not just “hear” Mass.  We celebrate it, and we pray it.

So are you unreasonable in wanting to attend Mass elsewhere? Well if the only Masses available were celebrated so irreverently to include secular and profane music, you bet I would want to go somewhere else.

There are several liturgical documents that deal the music in the Liturgy: I will quote three of them here. The first is an old one, it’s from 1903, but it’s the best one to use for making the argument that drums are not allowed.

“The employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is also that of noisy or frivolous instruments such as drums, cymbals, bells and the like.” (Tra le Sollecitudini, n.19)

“It is strictly forbidden to have bands play in church” (n.20)

Tra le Sollecitudini is a Motu Proprio of Pope St. Pius X.

For the 100th anniversary of Tra le Sollecitudini, Pope John Paul II wrote a centenary letter on the subject, a follow-up of sorts. Although he didn’t mention any of the “banned” and didn’t “un-ban” any instruments by name, he did note that there are new compositions that use instruments other than the pipe organ.

“Nonetheless, it should be noted that contemporary compositions often use a diversity of musical forms that have a certain dignity of their own. To the extent that they are helpful to the prayer of the Church they can prove a precious enrichment. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that instruments are suitable for sacred use, that they are fitting for the dignity of the Church and can accompany the singing of the faithful and serve to edify them.”  (n.14, the entire text of this letter can be found at

So how can it be determined which instruments are “suitable for sacred use”?  For the answer I turn to the post conciliar Vatican II document, “Musicam Sacram” which says:

“63. In permitting and using musical instruments, the culture and traditions of individual peoples must be taken into account. However, those instruments which are, by common opinion and use, suitable for secular music only, are to be altogether prohibited from every liturgical celebration and from popular devotions.”

I really don’t think that it can be argued that the guitar and drum sets are not associated with secular music.

Besides, it goes against common sense to use these instruments at Mass, since in our culture they are used for profane entertainment.  Holy Mass is NOT entertainment, rather it is a sacrifice and it is worship (among other things). Only those things that are sacred are to be permitted for use at Mass. Guitars and drums are not sacred. When you go to Mass, there should never be any question in your mind where you are:  at church or at a rock concert. –Jacob Slavek

October 1, 2008

Thanks for the reply, it was really helpful.
I was quite shocked having been brought up with the Novus Ordo rite, and schooled by nuns to learn that guitars were considered profane instruments. (I admired the sisters who were musically gifted and primarily played guitar for Masses in our school chapel.)
I fully understand how the actual affect of the sound of music can be reverent and raise people’s hearts to God, or take them elsewhere.
I could not see the guitar specifically mentioned in the Papal references you gave.
Before I play the guitar at my church I pray to Saint Cecilia, and spend some time before the Blessed Sacrament. I thought my contribution was valid, as few people would make the effort to sing before I provided an accompaniment.
O Bread of heaven if played classically is still very beautiful.
(No organ players in our congregation.)
In trying to re-assess where my contribution stands, or if I should no longer assist at Mass at all. If I am in disobedience then I would rather not contribute.
So please can I ask how the church regards the hymn Silent Night – first hymn written for guitar between 1816-18 and how all of the hymns since written for guitar should be regarded?
This is a genuine question because most of the churches in my area have hymnals which contain at least 50 -75% guitar – based hymns, which I thought implied the guitar was o.k. –Mary Jean

Good questions.  I had not even realized that Silent Night was written for the guitar. One of the legends is that it was written for the guitar because the pipe organ was not functioning. 🙂




Anyway that doesn’t really matter, nor does it matter that the carol was originally written for the guitar.  Although I was not present in Austria in the early 1800’s, I think I can safely say that guitar music of that period was not as profane and secular as it is today in the USA.  It isn’t even the same guitar (classical guitar vs. folk or electric guitar)

The point of Musicam Sacram is that instruments that are suitable for secular use only are not acceptable for worship in Catholic Liturgy, according to “common opinion and use” (n.63)

I don’t think that this opinion can be applied to “Silent Night”, which, although was probably originally composed as a guitar piece, today is generally played in church on the organ with the choir and the people singing.  The organ is an instrument generally associated with sacred use.  So are the choir and the congregation. “Silent Night” is generally considered a sacred piece. Therefore there are no problems with using it, played in a sacred style, at a catholic Mass (at the appropriate times).

Even though Silent Night has been borrowed by hundreds (I would guess) of secular bands and has been arranged in every possible style you can imagine, including rock, it STILL is considered as belonging to sacred use and worship of the incarnate word. –Jacob Slavek


Eulogies at funerals

November 13, 2008

In the Order of Christian Funerals #27 Homily it states, “A brief homily … is always given …; but there is never to be a eulogy” And in #141 “… but never any kind of eulogy.”
Then #170 (p.89) states
“A member … may speak in remembrance of the deceased…”
So, when is a eulogy not a eulogy and just a remembrance – is there a difference? A homily on Scripture but at that time not in praise of the deceased? But before the final commendation a “eulogy” is OK? I’m slightly confused. –Deacon Larry

I can’t cite any liturgical documents other than the one you already have, but I can offer my thoughts.

I think the main point of the first instruction was that a eulogy was not to REPLACE the homily. Many people, especially those who don’t regularly attend church, don’t know the difference between a homily and a eulogy. They see the minister get up and make a “speech” using his own words, so it is assumed that he SHOULD be talking about the deceased.  Therefore to eliminate any confusion, the church absolutely banned eulogies in place of the homily, I believe.

Also, by definition, a eulogy is not the same thing as a remembrance. I looked up “eulogy” in the dictionary. There were two definitions, both of which defined a eulogy as a piece of praise. You yourself used the word praise in your original post. I believe the church allows the possibility of a “remembrance” mostly for pastoral reasons. It seems that exactly what is said during a remembrance isn’t clearly defined by the church, but I don’t think it absolutely must contain praise.

When you read through the rite for funerals, you’ll see many times that the church leaves options open for pastoral reason: I think the addition of a “remembrance” and its contents is for that same reason.

Again, those are just my thoughts. –Jacob Slavek


Resources for proper liturgical catechesis

December 28, 2008

I’d like to present to my parish an adult catechesis on the Mass. Here is what I’d like to accomplish with this.
1. I’d like to get them to stop signaling a touchdown after the Lord’s Prayer and start striking their breasts during the “I Confess”.
2. To know what their postures mean: genuflecting, profound bowing, head bowing, standing, folding hands in prayer, etc.
3. To appreciate the role of the priest as our intercessor.
4. To understand that it’s okay if the Commons or Propers are in Latin and not every word is understood (i.e. what “active participation” really means)
5. To deepen their understanding of each section of the mass
6. To receive the Eucharist with the proper disposition.
7. To learn, as Fr. Edward McNamara once put it, that liturgical worship is not, “something that we do rather than something we enter into and receive as a gift.”
8. To celebrate the feast instead of celebrating our gathering.
My wife is using books like The Mass Explained to Children for our homeschool, and it’s easy to see that most pre-communicants in earlier days were better educated in these matters than we are today. Can I help my parish catch up? Is there an educational tool that can help? –John

Actually the best educational tool I can think of is a good priest. Have your pastor come in for one of the first class sessions and have him go through pretty much all the issues that you just mentioned.

Secondly, make sure everyone has his own hand missal. Real ones, not the newspaper style ones your parish probably already has with no rubrics and hymns like kum-ba-ya. They run about $20-$30 at local Catholic bookstores.

As for instructional materials, I recommend Msgr. Peter J. Elliott’s “Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite”, which is, as stated on the cover, a manual for clergy and all involved in liturgical ministries. It’s a step-by-step instruction for the Mass and other public celebration of the Liturgy. It does NOT address abuses, though.

There are many liturgical books that are very simple to read and appropriate for a class-style setting. 




Two titles that I have in my own library: The popular “Mass Confusion” (James Akin) and “Liturgical Question Box” (also by Msgr. Elliott) Both of these titles directly tackle issues with abuses.

Finally, I of course need to mention Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Vatican II document that ordered the revision of the Liturgy.  There’s lots of good stuff in there also, it’s just a little more difficult to read for the average catholic in the pew.

I can’t recommend a video resource because I’ve never seen one or even heard of one.  You might want to check with your diocese’s education department.  Who knows if any would be solid liturgically, I just did a Google search and all I got were liturgical DANCE videos. –Jacob Slavek


Use of secular/profane musical instruments at Mass

January 14, 2009

Mr. Slavek, going back to your reply on September 27, 2008 []

From Musicam Sacram:
“63. In permitting and using musical instruments, the culture and traditions of individual peoples must be taken into account. However those instruments which are, by common opinion and use, suitable for secular music only, are to be altogether prohibited from every liturgical celebration and from popular devotions.”
Would you agree that this is open to many types of interpretation?
Starting with “…the culture and traditions of individual peoples…”, what does this mean exactly? Is this talking about culture and traditions of say people in Africa where drums and dancing are very common in worship? What about in Japan where various types of string instruments are used?
Also in Mexico mariachi music is extremely traditional and imbedded in their culture. As a child growing up pre-Vatican II in the US, I remember mariachi groups used for devotions to our Lady of Guadalupe and still in use to this day.
However since in the US there are people of many diverse cultures, wouldn’t the use of musical instruments of these individual peoples be allowed if there are enough people of that culture in certain parishes? I know in our city there is usually a “Dixieland” mass once year in our Cathedral. I don’t attend. I don’t think I could put up with a screeching clarinet, blaring trumpet, trombone all going different directions as they play “O Sacrament Most Holy” while processing up to communion.
Also the words “…suitable for secular music ONLY…” I can understand electric guitars, or acoustic steel string guitars, but acoustic guitars with nylon string have been around for centuries. How can we say that acoustic nylon string guitars are suitable ONLY for secular music? -Chas

I don’t agree that the actual statement is open to interpretation, but what IS open is exactly what instruments by name are suitable for sacred use. The authority responsible for making that interpretation would be the local bishops. This would mostly be an issue only in mission areas where evangelization is difficult enough without the added burden of introducing a whole new culture as well as the Faith.

About the classical guitar: the documents usually stop short of naming specific instruments, so personally I would group the nylon guitar with any other classical instrument. When deciding whether or not to use these instruments, one question to ask is “what sacred music is written for this instrument”. In other words, you can’t just play folk music on a classical instrument, the music itself must be appropriate as well. There is a large body of works written for the sacred orchestra, but I am not aware of any written for the classical guitar. (I could be wrong on that) Personally I would pass on the classical guitar in favor of the instrument that Rome has praised many times, that is the pipe organ. –Jacob Slavek


Use of candles at Mass

January 16, 2009

You stated that the liturgical documents call for the candles to be lit and placed on the altar during the entire liturgical celebration. Can you point me to those documents please? -Chas

Actually I didn’t quote the GIRM on that issue because it doesn’t contain the word “entire”, I added that on my own.

Anyway, the related cite you’re looking for is n. 117 of the GIRM, which states that “On or next to the altar are to be candlesticks with lighted candles”…. and n. 307 “Candles are to be used at every liturgical service”…”either on or around the altar and the sanctuary”. Since there is no instruction that says they are to be extinguished, that means they MUST be lit for the entire celebration. –Jacob Slavek


Deacons’ hands position at Mass

January 25, 2009

Where is there guidance, documentation as to the posture of the deacon’s hands when assisting the priest at Holy Mass?
In the COB I read that they are folded, palms together “whenever he is walking from place to place or carrying something.” At the Our Father he does not assume the orans position as does the priest but stands with hands folded, or does he? When proclaiming the Gospel greets the people with hands joined. But what about his hands when reading the Gospel? Other than the above the COB is silent on the hands position at other times.
Bishop Elliott’s book Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite states, “Hands folded as usual when reading the Gospel.” I understand that this book does not have the force of law but is a guide. Are there other sources that could help me?


Or, are these hand positions optional as they are not specifically addressed in the GIRM? We have a variety of opinions and practices in our deacon community. –Deacon Larry

Sounds to me like you have a good enough understanding. You are correct that the documentation isn’t always clear what you are to do with your hands. I wouldn’t worry about it, as long as they are in a reverent position. Do NOT of course hold them in the orans position during the Our Father, since neither the GIRM nor rubrics call for it.

Of course Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite has no authority, but I have yet to find anything within it that is questionable. I would say that on any issue that is not clearly explained in authoritative documentation, the Ceremonies of the Modern Rite would provide the best clarification. –Jacob Slavek


Should candles be used at ALL liturgical celebrations?

January 26, 2009

Since “Liturgy” is any public celebration of the Church and not just the Mass … it seems that it is “required” to have candles for a baptism, a wedding (sans Mass), confirmation, etc. Is that a correct assumption? We have been told that since the Eucharist will not be on the altar that we should not have lit candles for baptism in our daily Mass chapel or at weddings when there is no Mass. –Deacon Larry

Here’s the GIRM first for a quick review: n. 307 “Candles are to be used at every liturgical service”…”either on or around the altar and the sanctuary”. I’m not sure exactly how this should be interpreted. Perhaps the intended meaning was that candles must be used at every celebration of the Mass. The reason I say this is because not all the other liturgical rites call for use of candles: some obviously don’t even call for an altar or even the sanctuary! Some liturgical rites, Compline for example, are generally celebrated individually immediately before bed… for many right even in the bedroom. Of course there is no problem at all for lighting candles when praying Compline individually. I don’t believe that the documentation necessarily requires it. The General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours does not even contain the word “candle”. In my opinion as a rule candles should be used during any communal liturgical celebration. I can’t argue that they are strictly required because the individual rites may not call for their use, but I do believe there is a general preference for them. (Back to n. 307) The argument that candles should not be used because the Eucharist is not placed on the altar is pointless. –Jacob Slavek


Blessed Sacrament adoration chapel / Holy Communion service [outside Mass]

February 2, 2009

We have an Adoration Chapel which has recently been redecorated. A few changes have caused debate and our objective is to do what is correct.

1. The crucifix, previously located on the wall just above the monstrance is now to one side of the altar. On the other side is a picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Many people have requested the crucifix be returned to the previous location.

2. The altar, previously away from the wall, allowing space behind for the lay person to conduct the weekly Communion Service, has been moved against the wall and a table is brought in for the Communion Service.

3. The ciborium is removed from the tabernacle and placed on the altar before the Communion Service begins rather than going to the tabernacle at the time of the distribution of Holy Communion. Are there guidelines for the placing of the crucifix, the use of the altar or a table for the Communion Service and whether the ciborium should be brought into the Chapel before the start of the Communion Service? –Cyril

The document that addresses Holy Communion outside Mass is “Eucharistiae Sacramentum” known in English as “Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass”.  It handles both “communion services” and eucharistic adoration. It is available here:

To answer your questions, the document doesn’t mention the place for the crucifix or altar. I would say that since the Mass is also celebrated in your chapel that whatever is suitable for Mass would be the same for Holy Communion outside Mass.

Eucharistiae Sacramentum DOES mention that the ciborium is removed from the tabernacle and placed on the ALTAR (does not say table) at a specific point during the rite, NOT beforehand.

For some reason the online edition of the document omits the actual rites, but both the short and long rite mention that the ciborium is removed “after the prayer”. I’ll quote from the long rite:

“After the prayer the minister goes to the place where the sacrament is reserved, takes the ciborium or pyx containing the body of the Lord, places it on the altar and genuflects.  He then introduces the Lord’s prayer…” (n.30, in the short rite similar wording is used in n.45). –Jacob Slavek


Removal of holy water during Lent

February 26, 2009

In searching your current and archive files for an answer regarding whether or not holy water can be removed during Lent, my findings only produced uncertainty with regard to this question.
Fortunately I was able to find the answer through The Catholic Liturgical Library web-site shown below.


I am sending a copy of a letter sent from the Congregation for Divine Worship responding to the above question.
I will leave the publishing of this letter entirely to your discretion with regard to its informative nature to Catholic’s, like myself, presently being forced to accept Holy Water being removed during Lent. Holy Water is a Sacramental which we are entitled to and which we, as sinners, need. –Vince Parise

The Catholic Liturgical Library

Question: Removing Holy Water during Lent
No. Here is a letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship responding to this question on 3/14/03:
Prot. N. 569/00/L
Dear Father,
This Congregation for Divine Worship has received your letter sent by fax in which you ask whether it is in accord with liturgical law to remove the Holy Water from the fonts for the duration of the season of Lent.
This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:
1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being praeter legem is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.
2. The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the [sic] of her sacraments is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The “fast” and “abstinence” which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church. The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday).
Hoping that this resolves the question with every good wish and kind regard, I am,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Mons. Mario Marini


The Sign of Peace

March 4, 2009

When was the sign of peace established in our Mass, and what is the history of this gesture?
I know in the New Testament Christians greeted one another with a “kiss”, and many places in Scripture “go in peace” was said.
Did the early Church use any such gesture in Mass?
And if so, when and why was it omitted later, then used again? I am glad to offer one another the sign of peace. -Claire

There is an article on this subject in the Catholic Encyclopedia, under the title “Kiss”.  Here’s a link:

In summary, the Kiss of Peace existed in some form since the very beginning, becoming part of the Liturgy in the early centuries.  Because of abuses, sometime in the twelfth or thirteenth it become much more regulated until finally it was exchanged individually only by the clergy. The article doesn’t say exactly at what date this began, but of course we know that it continued up until after the reforms of Vatican II, when the option was made available of the entire congregation exchanging the sign with one another. –Jacob Slavek


What to do when particles of Holy Communion fall to the ground

March 17, 2009

Today when I was receiving Communion, the priest broke a Consecrated Host into pieces because there wasn’t enough for everybody. He gave me 2 quarters and as I was lifting them up to my mouth, I saw a speck of something float down to the ground. This may or may not have been a crumb of the Consecrated Host. I could not catch it. Is that a problem, and what should I have done about it? -Maria

Yes, it is a problem when a particle of the host is dropped to the ground, even the smallest piece.  If it can be retrieved it should be given to the priest, he’ll take care of it.  If the particle is too small then the priest still needs to be informed so he can take care of floor after the Mass, some priests may even want to clean up right away during the Mass.

It would have been entirely appropriate to stop the communion line to investigate whether or not an accident had occurred.  I don’t believe the Church has any rules that actually oblige the laity in this area, but it should be done anyway out of respect for the Eucharist. I know some people may not at first realize what has happened, or may be too shy to “make a scene”, if this is the case then the priest should be informed immediately following Mass.  Once he’s told, it becomes his problem and you wouldn’t need to worry any more.

By the way you should tell your pastor about what happened.  Just in case it really was a particle of the host that you saw falling, he needs to know so he can be more careful in the future. –Jacob Slavek



Priest messing with the liturgy/rubrics

March 26, 2009

Father has now, upon his own choosing, eliminated the recitation of our Profession of Faith on three Sundays. His reason for doing so was stated to me as being justified because we have several catechumens present during Mass and they require attention, so he has chosen to eliminate the Profession of Faith.

I have already spoken to him regarding this matter but with no success. Other than re-mentioning it, and giving him a copy of Norm 43 and Norm 44 of the G.I.R.M, i.e. the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, is there any other Church Documentation that I could also provide for Father’s consideration. Also, as a last resort, should he persist in this choice, would I be causing an even greater problem by making the Bishop aware of the present situation should it continue? –Vincent

Sounds to me like you’ve already shown him enough documentation.  If he can’t understand big words like “obligatory” then the problem is with him, not with the documentation.

I’m still sitting here trying to figure out what good removing the creed would do with all those catechumens present.  Assuming that they’re in RCIA, in the third week of Lent they are to be PRESENTED with the Creed! (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, n.160)

Speak with whoever’s in charge of your faith formation/RCIA and see if you can figure out what’s going on.

Whether or not you contact your bishop is your own personal decision, but I can’t imagine any harm that could come from it for at least trying.  Usually the unspoken rule about contacting the bishop is to at least make the priest aware beforehand just to be sure there are no misunderstandings.  At least that’s what I would do. –Jacob Slavek

April 2, 2009

The documentation that Vincent is searching for is on the side of the pastor this time. The rubrics found in the RCIA for each of the rites contains the instruction “But for pastoral reasons these general intercessions and the profession of faith may be omitted”
–Fr. Smith

Yes you are correct; the instruction is in nos. 137 and 156 in the rite. I’m still trying to figure out what counts as a “pastoral reason”. –Jacob Slavek


April 6, 2009

Thank you for you concern regarding my uneasiness with regard to the Profession of Faith being omitted during Sunday Mass. With all do respect to Fr. Smith, although I accept the importance of the RCIA, I do not believe that it should override the GIRM whose sacred responsibility has been, and always will be, what is, and what is not, mandatory, during the Liturgical celebration during Sunday Mass at any Roman Catholic Church.
What I am sending is, or is not, for publication leaving that decision solely to your discretion with regard to its
importance and whether or not, your readers will benefit by what it states.
I would ask that you open this web-site below:

I think you will find this to be exhilarating.
Once there, please scroll down until you see, “A PowerPoint Exploration of The Nicene Creed”
Once there, right click and read “slide #4” which references RCIA # 147 at the bottom of the page.
Slide #4 states the following:
The Creed is very important in the RCIA process and is a wonderful framework around which the Period of the Catechumenate (Instruction) can be based.
During the Period of Purification and Enlightenment (Preparation) the Elect are presented with the Creed during
the week after the first Scrutiny, preferably in the presence of the community i.e. in public.
After the homily a Deacon or other assisting minister says:
‘Let the elect now come forward to receive the Creed from the Church.’
Before beginning the Creed the Celebrant addresses the Elect with these beautiful words:
‘My dear friends, listen carefully to the words of that faith by which you will be justified. The words are few but
the mysteries they contain are great. Receive them with a sincere heart and be faithful to them.’ RCIA 147 -Vincent

I agree with you that the profession of faith should always be said when required, however Rome HAS approved the entire rite of RCIA so the priest DOES have the option of omitting it on the first (n.128, RCIA) and third(n. 146) Sundays of Lent.  Let me stress: he has the OPTION. It seems that the preference would be to recite the creed as normal, and its omission would be for unusual “pastoral reasons” (n.137 and 156). What those reasons could be, I HAVE NO CLUE. You could try asking your pastor.

Regarding the information and link you provided: that all refers to the presentation of the creed, which takes place usually on the fourth Sunday of Lent.  The recitation of the profession of faith is obviously obligatory on that Sunday and onward.

Jacob Slavek



Singing the Gloria and breaking of abstinence during Lent

April 24, 2009

My parish priest who was ordained during Lent in 1999 celebrated his 10th anniversary on a Friday.
Was it proper that the GLORIA be sung at his anniversary Mass?
Some parishioners had a party it his honour after Mass. Can you really have a celebration during Lent?
His dinner had wine and red meat. I thought eating meat on Friday is not permissible. –Concerned

Regarding the Gloria, the GIRM says that it is said “in special, more solemn celebrations” (n.53) Whether or not that would include a personal anniversary on a Friday during Lent I suppose could be up for debate, but in my own personal opinion I wouldn’t recite it.  But I can’t say for sure that it’s absolutely “banned” either.

You may have celebrations during Lent.  Anniversaries, birthdays, and whatever, occur at all times during the year.  Although the character of Lent is penitential, one still may mark personal achievements with a celebration, even on a Friday.

In order to eat meat on Friday, though, your pastor would need to have gotten a dispensation from his bishop.  Honestly I don’t know if the bishop even has the authority to grant a dispensation for a personal reason (the ten-year anniversary).  I know that if it were me, I wouldn’t even ask, I’d probably either not serve meat at all or better yet move the celebration to Saturday.

But to clarify, the priest does NOT have the authority to excuse himself and his guests from the obligation to abstain, for any reason. –Jacob Slavek


Use of candles for the readings

May 3, 2009

Is there any rubric for the candles to be lit at the ambo for the readings? Candles if the priest reads the Gospel and/or no candles if the deacon reads the Gospel? I’ve been asked and can’t find a definitive answer. –Deacon Larry

I’m at a loss to find any instruction that says permanent candles are to be placed at the ambo… I really don’t think there is one. I know many parishes have them there, probably just because it’s more convenient (a bad reason of course), but I’m not exactly sure from where that practice is originating. Here’s an appropriate link: the Gospel: yes, candles are also used when the deacon reads the Gospel. It’s in the rubrics as well as the GIRM. (n.175) –Jacob Slavek


Men wearing hats in church

May 4, 2009

This past Saturday Mass we had numerous fourth degree Knights of Columbus attending Mass with their wives and they were in full costume (a special ceremony to be held after Mass in our Church hall). I was shocked that as soon as Mass was ended, before the Priest left the Altar, some of the Knights put on their feathered hats.
I was raised and taught that a man is never permitted to wear a hat in Church especially during Mass. Even in our Catholic schools the boys are not allowed to wear hats – only outside.
What is the teaching of the Church? Are men allowed to wear hats in Church? Does the Vatican allow Knights of Columbus to enter St. Peter’s wearing their hats? And if Knights are allowed why not all men then? -Claire

I really wouldn’t worry about it, I think the difference is that for the Knights it’s part of their ceremonial dress.  Remember, clergy also wear “hats” in church, even during Mass.  They wear miters, zucchettos and birettas.

I didn’t see any official rules regarding men wearing hats in any liturgical documents or in Canon Law, I think it’s matter of widespread custom, possibly going all the way back to the scriptural reference in 1 Corinthians. –Jacob Slavek


Singing the entire Mass

May 10, 2009

Is it permissible for the celebrant to sing the entire celebration of the Mass including the Words of Consecration? -Vincent

Absolutely, yes, the priest may sing the entire Mass, including the words of consecration.  Well almost the entire Mass anyway, I suppose it wouldn’t make much sense for him to sing the homily, as well as some other inaudible prayers.   But even the readings can be chanted!

Anyway, in the GIRM we read “In the rubrics and in the norms that follow, the words “say” (dicere) or “proclaim” (proferre) are to be understood of both singing and speaking” (n.38)

Regarding specifically the Eucharistic Prayer and other presidential prayers, there MUST NOT BE MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT when the priest sings.  (n.32) I know that it’s a common practice for the priest to sing, for example, the Mass of Creation which has a song written for the Eucharistic prayer. If the priest wishes to use this song, he must do so WITHOUT the organ or other instruments.

In my personal opinion, it just sounds bad for the priest to sing a song without the organ, so instead he is far better off CHANTING the prayers, even in English chant sounds good without the accompaniment of other instruments. –Jacob Slavek



Partaking of the Precious Blood at a Wedding Mass

May 18, 2009

A priest suggested that it would be beautiful for the bride and groom to act as extraordinary ministers of the blood of Christ even though they are not trained to do so. Would this be acceptable? It’s my understanding, too, that only the bride and groom receive the precious blood. Is this correct? -Joan

No of course it would not be acceptable. I’m sure it would be cute and sentimental and whatnot, but if it’s not clear that the couple is 100% sure and aware of what they are dealing with (the Precious Blood of Jesus) then it’s a serious abuse. Your priest should know better.

Regarding who may RECEIVE the Precious Blood, the same rules would apply that apply to any other Mass in your area.  That decision is made by the conferences of bishops and the local bishops.

In the previous GIRM there was a specific instruction that the bride and groom may receive under both species. That’s probably what you are thinking of. There is no instruction anywhere that says ONLY the bride and groom receive. –Jacob Slavek


Mass in Latin+English

August 10, 2009

Could you tell me if it is allowed for a priest to say Mass speaking English for the parts of the Mass that change but speaking in Latin for the parts that stay the same, like the Agnus Dei, etc…??? He also faces away from the people at times.
The altar is in the middle of the sanctuary like it would look for the Mass said in English, but the priest stands on the other side so he is facing away from us. He uses that form of Mass that we hear every Sunday when they say it in English. This is not the form of the Mass that was in use pre-Vatican II.
I hope I’m not confusing you 🙂 I don’t have a problem with this, actually like it and it seems more in line with what the Council Fathers envisioned but is it allowed to do??
I thought that each country’s Conference of Bishops decided and U.S. Bishops decided that the Mass would be totally in English with the priest facing us. Am I wrong in thinking this? -Linda

Not only is it allowed, it is ENCOURAGED/highly recommended. Some could also argue that it’s required. The Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus (holy, holy, holy), and Agnus Dei are parts of the “ordinary” of the mass since they don’t change and are sung/recited at every mass (with exceptions of course)  The Vatican II document “Sacrosanctum Concilium” stated that the people should be able to sing the ordinary in Latin. (n. 54)

In 1974 Pope Paul VI released a booklet containing the bare minimum of chants that the laity should know.. most of these chants were taken from what was the simplest Mass setting to learn and sing… the chants from the Mass of the Dead.  There were also other easy to sing chants included, and together all these chants were considered “minimum repertoire”.

It also contains chants for the Mass other than the ordinary, such as chants for dialogue.

Jubilate Deo was later expanded and re-released by the Congregation for Divine Worship in 1987. It was intended to be used at Masses said primarily in the vernacular, but so that at least the ordinary could be sung in Latin.

Regarding the freestanding altar… I’ve never heard of one being used in the manner… I can’t immediately think of a problem with it, but it seems that if the altar is movable and freestanding with the priest able to walk around it, then the priest should face the people.

Personally if it were me I’d try to move the altar so that it is up against the back of the sanctuary/tabernacle so that the priest would NOT be able to walk around it, and therefore would say the Mass not facing toward the people. Or better yet if at all possible try to invest in or construct a non-portable high altar. –Jacob Slavek


Laity mimicking the Mass

August 31, 2009

At our Parish’s Religious Education training class, a lady demonstrated the prayer right before the Consecration of the Holy Mass, and she prayed over a loaf of bread and passed it around. Her gestures, demeanor, etc. were those of the Priests. Is this action appropriate? –Ann

No, they were not appropriate, at least in my opinion. If these people are to be giving religious instruction to children or anyone else, then they should already be attending “real” Mass regularly and thus would have no need at all for a layperson to demonstrate what the priest is doing.

Currently, Canon Law prohibits the laity from actually saying Mass (n.907), the past edition has said more and has prohibited the laity mimicking the Mass. –Jacob Slavek


Inclusion of jokes in the homily

October 19, 2009

Every Sunday our priest begins his homily with one or two jokes. He also adds another joke during the middle of the homily, and, at times, at the close of his homily.

Is the telling of a joke or jokes, during the Homily, according to the G.I.R.M. permitted?
The congregation does not appear to object. In fact they seem to enjoy the laughter it brings. However, that laughter, in my opinion, could distract them from the truth of Christ’s message.
I, personally, do not appreciate them. I do not feel that they are appropriate during the Homily of Sunday Mass.
Please advice me. If I am wrong I will learn to accept them. –Vincent

Actually the Church doesn’t give specific guidelines about what may or not be said/done in a homily.  Of course there are the general guidelines that the homilist must explain the readings, nurture the Christian life, etc.

I don’t see a problem with having jokes in the homily as long as they have something to do with the readings of the day or pertain in some way to the lesson of the homily which normally should be taken from the Gospel.

Any joke that doesn’t have anything to do at all with the aid of religious instruction has no place during Mass, because the Church is not a standup comedy club.  However if the homilist is able to use the joke in some way to explain the Gospel, even if the joke itself has nothing to do with the Gospel, then I don’t see a problem. –Jacob Slavek


Reading an introduction to the readings at Mass

October 23, 2009

At my parish lately, they have had the readers that read the first and second readings give an explanation of the reading prior to actually reading it during Mass. I feel this is not a good thing, but am not sure how to go about fixing the problem. –Cathy

The priest himself may give a very brief introduction prior to the first reading, but it sounds like in your parish the lector himself is reading a meditation. Anyway to answer your question, your concern would need to be sent along either to your pastor or if your parish has one, a liturgical coordinator/planner who may or may not be the priest. –Jacob Slavek


Use of incense at Mass

January 1, 2010

I would like to ask why the use of incense (at solemnities etc.) is decreasing in Latin Rite Churches. Is it because it’s now been scientifically verified that incense can be a health-hazard for some people (triggering off asthma attacks etc.)? Personally, I absolutely love incense and for me, it enhances my worship during Mass. However, our parish priest is an asthmatic and is allergic to it – nonetheless, he is a very holy young man and loves the Lord dearly. Do you agree that incense can cause dangerous allergic reactions with some people and therefore (in the case of our parish priest, for instance) should not used? As much as I love incense at Mass, I would have to concur and say yes. –John

Your pastor needs to discern, through thought and prayer, whether or not he is able to use incense at Mass.  If he is a holy man as you have said, then he’s probably already done that.

If he decides that he cannot because of his own health reasons, then of course there should NOT be incense at Mass, because it’s simply not required and his safety and health are more important.

I love the use of incense also, and in my own opinion it should be used at least once every weekend at the “high” Mass.  I know this may hurt a little, but as a parishioner you’ll simply have to trust your pastor that his decision is the correct one.

Jacob Slavek


Washing the feet of women on Holy Thursday

April 24, 2010

Has the Church now approved the washing of women’s feet on Holy Thursday? In my diocese several parishes have done this, so I am wondering if our Bishop has given permission, and if indeed, the Bishop has this authority. –Vincent

Well this is a very complicated issue that can’t easily be answered.  I recommend checking out this link here which has a good explanation.

Simplified, here is what Rome has said in the document “Paschales Solemnitatis” which is SUPPOSED to be the highest authority.

51. The washing of the feet of chosen men [viri selecti] which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the service and charity of Christ, who came “not to be served, but to serve.” [58] This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained.

Anyone who is able to read can clearly see that specifically men are called.

Here’s what the United States bishops have said in 1987 regarding the custom of inviting women:

While this variation may differ from the rubric of the Sacramentary, which mentions only men (vir selecti), it may nevertheless be said that the intention to emphasize service along with charity in the celebration of the rite is an understandable way of accentuating the evangelical command of the Lord, “who came to serve and not to be served”, that all members of the church must serve one another in love. (BCL Newsletter, February 1987, Volume XXIII)

Now I don’t really want to get myself into too much trouble, but the local bishops do not have the authority to make such a change without prior approval from Rome. As far as I know, there has never been any such approval.

Like I said though, please check out the above link, there is a very detailed explanation and commentary there. In my opinion a must read for anyone involved in Liturgy. –Jacob Slavek



Singing a response after the Gospel

June 4, 2010

Is it proper to sing an “alleluia” after the Gospel is read rather than singing “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ”?
Or should there be any singing at all after the Gospel and the congregation just responds? –Chas

No, the Alleluia is not to be repeated after the Gospel. However the “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ” may be sung, in fact the entire Gospel may be sung. –Jacob Slavek


Modified Orans position!

July 20, 2010

I know of a priest who works for the Archbishop and takes care of setting up special Masses wherever the Bishops goes. He has told his parishioners that they are NOT to hold hands during the Our Father. All fine and dandy. However, he tells them that they are instead to lift up their hands NOT palm up but palm facing forward. Sorta like when told by a robber, “stick-em up”, but elbows to your side. He said this will be the norm. Have you heard of any such thing? –Martin

Nope, I have never heard of such a thing.  The first and only thing that came to my mind is, and believe me this is a long shot, that maybe the priest is addressing the main argument against the “orans” position by the people.  That argument is that the people are not to assume it because it imitates a posture that is specific to the role of the priest (which by the way is a good argument)

My thought was that by changing the posture slightly, it would no longer be imitating he priest and therefore in his opinion acceptable. Like I said it’s a long shot but that is possibly what this priest is thinking.

Of course, I do not agree with that logic in the slightest, since neither the instruction nor the rubrics call for a posture to be made by the people at that moment (other than of course standing)

If it is the case that that is NOT what the priest is thinking, then I don’t have the slightest clue what if anything he is thinking. –Jacob Slavek


Exactly when do the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ?

August 15, 2010

I’m currently studying a “Liturgical Foundations” course held by our diocese. During the first session held last Saturday, I made the statement that at the precise moment when the words of consecration are pronounced over the bread and wine, the bread and wine at this point cease to be symbols and become, literally, the Body and Blood – Soul and Divinity – of Jesus Christ. The lecturer disagreed with me, saying that the words of consecration aren’t really necessary because in fact the consecration commences at the very beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer and so is not restricted to the words of institution. To support his argument, he referred to the liturgical practice of the Assyrian Church of the East which employs one of the most ancient Eucharistic liturgies – The Holy Qurbana of Addai and Mari. Apparently, this is the only ancient Mass ritual still in use that does not explicitly contain the Words of Institution. The lecturer emphasised that our dear Pope John Paul II approved this ritual and affirmed that it was a valid Eucharistic consecration (even though it omits the explicit mention of the words of institution). The lecturer used this to downplay the importance of the words of consecration, saying that the symbols of bread and wine remain symbols conveying the reality of Christ’s Real Presence.
Please comment on the above. I was under the impression that in order for a sacrament to be valid, there must be correct form (which in the case of the Eucharist is the pronouncement of the words of institution). Does John Paul II’s affirmation of the Eucharistic liturgy of the Assyrian Church of the East negate this? –John

First of all before I start I want to point out that there is nothing to worry about, The Holy Qurbana of Addai and Mari is completely valid.  I’m not sure that I would agree with your lecturer about downplaying the words of consecration.

Now, about the words of consecration and the change of bread to wine to Body and Blood…

Actually before I get to that I need to correct some vocabulary. You said that at the words of consecration that the bread and wine cease to become symbols. This is incorrect… they never were symbols. REAL bread and REAL wine stop existing as bread and wine and become the REAL Body of Blood of Christ. There is no symbolism involved whatsoever involving the four substances (bread, wine, Body and Blood)

Okay. Now again, you said that at the moment of consecration (This is my body) that the bread becomes the Body of Christ. This is partially correct. It would be correct to state that this is true in the LATIN or Western Rite or Liturgy.

When I was in school several years ago I was shocked to discover that in most Eastern celebrations, the consecration of the bread and wine takes place PRIOR to the epiclesis, meaning that at the consecration, the bread and wine are NOT YET changed into the body and blood. This change takes place at the epiclesis, which in the Eastern rites of course is the “high point” of the Mass since that is the point at which the bread and wine are changed.

We of course have the epiclesis in the West as well.. it is know as the “Invocation” or calling down of the Holy Spirit.  It takes place in the West shortly before the consecration, at the words “And so Father, we bring you these gifts. We ask you to make them holy by the power of your Spirit, that they may become the body and blood or your son, our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Traditional parishes will ring the altar bells at this point (quote taken from Eucharistic Prayer III)




I just mentioned all of that to emphasize the difference between the Eastern rites and the West about the exact moment of the change of the bread and wine. In the West, the change occurs when the bread and wine are consecrated, in most Churches of the East, the bread and wine are consecrated first, and THEN the change is completed at the invocation of the Holy Spirit.  As your lecturer said, some of these churches believe that the change begins taking place earlier, particularly at the Liturgy of the Preparation. BUT, the change is completed at the epiclesis, not the consecration.

BUT, since you and I both live in Western rite dioceses, your lecturer was completely WRONG to state that the change does not occur at the moment of consecration, at least during celebration of the Latin Rite (which of course is translated into English). During our Mass, the words “This is my Body” and “This is the cup of my Blood” are the most important words of our Liturgy.  It is despicable to play around with these words or downplay their importance.

Now, moving on to the Eastern Assyrian Church, first of all, as you said, it has been verified as valid. There is no question about that at all, here is the link:

Section 3 is the relevant section.

In summary, the difference between that particular rite and the prayers we are familiar with is that we are accustomed to a NARRATIVE form of the consecration, meaning the language we use tells a story, “The day before He suffered…” etc.,

whereas the words of institution are present in the Assyrian rite in a “dispersed euchological way”, as the Church says, rather than a coherent narrative. –Jacob Slavek


Priests messing with the liturgy, polluting the faith

October 10, 2010

I’m becoming increasingly concerned about our diocese. Unfortunately, many priests are omitting more and more parts of the Mass (and all this is happening with the approval of our diocesan bishop!). In short, our diocese (in the name of ecumenism) is becoming increasingly liberal in its theology and practice. Eucharistic Prayer #1 (the Roman Canon) has disappeared completely – it’s no longer used. And even the other Eucharistic prayers are being modified to such an extent that they no longer correspond to what’s in the Roman Missal.

Last night, the epiclesis was omitted entirely (however, the words of consecration were still pronounced, but most irreverently). The way things are going, it won’t be long before the consecration is modified! I reiterate, all this is happening with the express permission and sanction of our bishop!

I’ve been studying at the diocesan college (no longer a seminary as there are no longer any vocations in our diocese) and the prospect of “priestly vocation for women” and feminist liturgies are being entertained!!! I’ve been studying “Liturgical Foundations”, and our lecturer openly and unapologetically stated that the whole concept of “the Real Presence” in the Eucharist needs to be re-interpreted because the teaching/philosophy of Thomas Aquinas is now “old hat”! I am not exaggerating. Another interesting note is that our bishop has started consecrating ecclesial women and hermits (rather than traditional religious!).
The other two dioceses in our city are very orthodox and very traditional (and faithful to the magisterium of the Church).
I’m physically disabled and confined to a wheelchair and my only means of travel is via wheelchair taxis – so it’s a fairly lengthy journey for me to travel to one of our neighbouring dioceses each Sunday for Mass. If the worst comes to the worst and the Mass in our diocese is eroded any further (to the extent that the words of consecration are modified) would I still be receiving a valid Communion?

In other words, if the consecration is omitted – or significantly modified – can those of us who are properly disposed still receive the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in Holy Communion?

Bear in mind that my disposition is longing to receive our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. But if the consecration changes or is omitted, would I still be receiving Jesus and the grace of the Sacrament? Please help me, and tell me what I should do in these circumstances.
–John [See also, March 16, 2011]

Sounds like parts of the Faith aren’t just watered down, sounds like they’re downright polluted. It really is frustrating to hear stories such as yours, but the Church has been facing errors and heresies right from the beginning. The Truth eventually will always win; and this is evident in that your diocese has no vocations.

Sounds to me like it might to helpful for you to speak with a spiritual director to determine your ability to travel to an authentic parish, keeping in mind that if you simply are not able to travel that distance, then you face no obligation.

Now on to your specific question: if there is no valid consecration, then there is no Eucharist. Don’t receive, since I believe it would be a sacrilege to “imitate” the reception. The grave sin would fall on those present who know better yet still participate in this garbage.

If you unexpectedly find yourself at Mass and there is an invalid consecration, you would still of course be able to make a spiritual communion, many prayer books have good acts of spiritual communion or you could simply make one up yourself.

Jacob Slavek


What parts of the liturgy must be sung?

October 28, 2010




Most importantly, MUST the responsorial psalm be sung? -Heather

The Psalm is NOT absolutely required to be sung. The instruction says that the “psalmist or reader sings or recites the psalm verse”. (GIRM, no. 129)

The Alleluia verse must be omitted if it is not sung, so that means that it cannot be recited.

Then there are other parts of the Liturgy that would make absolutely no sense at all to recite, such as Gregorian chant, but I suppose an argument could be made that that too could be recited.

Hymns are often recited during the Liturgy of the Hours. –Jacob Slavek


Use of Missals at Mass/Priests messing with the liturgy

November 21, 2010

1. I was surprised to see, in the parish newsletter, the priest asking (effectively, telling) people to stop using their missals or other printed service sheets to follow the Scripture readings and listen instead.
Surely the use of missals is perfectly permissible? Otherwise, why would the Church issue them with Concordats, etc and sell them in its shops? And why do some Churches provide printed service sheets if we’re not meant to use them?
What’s more, research has shown that if one reads text, or listens to something, then one has a certain level of recollection, but if one does both than that recollection level is greatly increased. So surely reading as well as listening enhances, not detracts from, one’s understanding of the readings?
Moreover, today’s Mass was especially aimed at children about to start preparing for their first Communion and the level of noise from the children was such that I couldn’t hear most of the first Reading and part of the Gospel; the second Reading was omitted altogether. Had I not had my missal I would have been clueless as to what the Word of God was today – surely it is better to read and understand, than try to listen only and miss most of it? And how can we listen to a Reading if it’s not even read out! I have used a missal throughout mass since I was a child – is it now wrong to do so, at least for the Scripture Readings?
2. The second Reading, as I say, was omitted altogether, as was the Profession of Faith, with no explanation. At Masses in other parishes recently I have regularly come across priests changing the words of the Roman Missal, often significantly (for example, in the Eucharistic Prayer), missing parts out altogether, such as antiphons, or inserting completely new parts altogether. In one parish, parish notices are now announced in the middle of Mass before the offertory procession, rather than at the end, and some members of the congregation have even started interjecting their own prayers (out aloud) after Communion. Do priests really have this level of discretion about what should be said and by whom? At the weekly mass at my university campus, both the Gloria and the Profession of Faith and never said.
I have not come across this outside the city where I live, at least to anything like this extent, and can’t help thinking that this may in part be an attempt to incorporate elements that the largely immigrant congregations may be used to in their native countries.
Can you please advise me as to how much of this is permissible discretion and how much is simply abuse of the liturgy as clearly set out in the Roman Missal? –Stuart

So a priest said that missals should not be used? Well that certainly is news to me. As far as for an explanation, you would need to ask this priest yourself. Trust me, his reasons won’t be good. The use of missals ABSOLUTELY is permissible.

Regarding the children and the first Communion, well wherever there are a lot of children, there certainly will be noise, but of course adult supervision must be present to control the disruption. I agree with you that following along with a missal would be a tremendous help.

About the omission of the second reading and the Profession of Faith, I just wanted to make sure that this was a Sunday Mass you were attending, on Nov 21, 2010. On weekdays, there is no second reading and the profession of faith usually is omitted (in accordance with the liturgical calendar). But if this was a regular weekend Mass, then there is no excuse for removing the second reading and the Creed. (Note: at masses with children in the United States, the Profession of Faith may be replaced with the Apostles’ Creed)

About the removing and inserting of specific texts, no priest, bishop or anyone has the authority to make these changes, unless it is specified in the GIRM or rubrics. For example, the antiphons are not used when a hymn is sung.

I would consider all of these “changes” abuses of the Liturgy at least in my opinion, regardless of the intentions of the celebrant. Whether or not he is attempting to ease the celebration for the immigrants I can’t answer, but it seems to me that if he is trying for a universal celebration, which is what the Liturgy is, then he should try to celebrate it as authentically as possible. –Jacob Slavek


What does it take to consider a Mass as “complete” or valid?

December 23, 2010

I know that for the Eucharist to be valid there are four requirements that have to be met: 1) Minister: a validly ordained priest, 2) Form: the priest correctly says the words of consecration, 3) Intent: the priest intends to confect the Eucharist, and 4) Matter: unleavened bread (leavened bread would be valid but illicit) and wine fermented from grape juice.
I know the priest has to confect the Eucharist and consume both Sacred Species to complete the sacrifice. Is the Eucharist valid or invalid if the priest does not complete the sacrifice?

Although the Eucharist can be valid or invalid and the priest can complete or fail to complete the sacrifice, can the Mass be valid or invalid or as the Mass is a liturgy and not a sacrament would it be better to say the Mass is complete or incomplete? What would render the Mass incomplete/invalid? E.g. omitting the homily on a Sunday, reading the wrong reading, missing out the Gospel, etc. –Andrew

The four things that you mentioned, minister, form, intent and matter: these are the requirements for transubstantiation to occur…  that is, the bread and wine are changed to the Body and Blood. The Eucharist is “valid” as long as these four conditions are validly present.

I think it would be best to say that the “sacrifice is complete” though once the Liturgy of the Eucharist is properly celebrated, that is, the priest offers the gifts at the offertory, all of the preparatory prayers are said, the wine is mixed with a little water, the prayers of adoration, thanksgiving and petition are said, the priest receives etc…

Keep in mind though that actually the sacrifice is already complete, that is, Jesus died on the cross. Jesus himself is the priest.  To say that the sacrifice was not complete at this Sunday’s Mass celebrated by father so-and-so would mean that only this particular celebration of the sacrifice was not complete.

In regards to the homily being omitted, the wrong readings read etc I wouldn’t say that the sacrifice of the Mass is incomplete, rather that the Mass was simply celebrated illicitly, as would also be the case if the priest didn’t finish the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

In order for the Mass to be invalid and by that I mean no sacrament is present, there must be a defect in minister, form, matter or intent, for example the priest would need to skip the consecration or alter it into something irrelevant. If the wrong Gospel were (purposely) read, that alone wouldn’t invalidate the Eucharist, but it would be an illicit celebration.

If the priest for some reason did not receive the Eucharist, again it would be illicit, but the sacrament is still valid and present. –Jacob Slavek


What occurs in transubstantiation?

April 6, 2011

Does the bread and wine only undergo Transubstantiation when the Priest says the accepted words of consecration in the format of the Mass? I was told that it can be consecrated without a Mass so long as a validly ordained Priest says the words.
Additionally, I was told that intent and the words are needed, however, I recall being taught that intent does not matter – that if a Priest doubts or doesn’t believe in Transubstantiation (lost the belief but no one else knows) and celebrates the Mass that the bread/wine still undergo Transubstantiation since it is not the Priest who changes this, but God.
Just like the miracle of Lanciano, the Priest celebrating Mass had doubted Transubstantiation, yet the bread became the actual flesh and blood (testing showed it to be heart cells!)
Would that still be considered Transubstantiation since it no longer looked like bread, but actual flesh? I was told that this was not considered transubstantiation since the substance and appearance changed; that it would have only the substance change but the accidents of appearance NOT change. –Liz

Theologically speaking it is possible to validly consecrate bread and wine outside of the context of the celebration of the Mass, however the Church absolutely prohibits it. (can. 927)
A priest can still have doubts, but as long as he intends to do what the church does, the consecration is valid.  If he has recurring doubts and is seriously struggling with his faith, he needs to consider asking for a leave of absence.  That being said though I would imagine that few priests are 100% solid in the faith at all times at least internally.
About miracle you described: the bread changing to actual physical flesh…  YES transubstantiation has occurred, BUT, there is more to it than that.  Not only have the substances changed (transubstantiation) but the ACCIDENTS have also changed
as well, resulting in a “double” miracle, a complete transformation of both substance and accidents.
Whoever told you that “it would have only the substance change but the accidents of appearance NOT change” is wrong, because obviously the appearance has changed from that of bread to that of heart cells. –Jacob Slavek


Veiling of statues during Passiontide

April 14, 2011

Why are crucifixes and statues covered during Passiontide? –Mark

I did some digging on the Internet in an attempt to find an answer, but nothing really jumped out as satisfactory.  It seems nobody really knows for sure WHY this started, however the Middle Ages was frequently mentioned as a start time.  It seems that the practice was officially limited to two weeks during the 17th century, and then following Vatican II it is officially recommended to begin after Holy Thursday although the two week period is still permitted (Paschale Solemnitatis)

Back to your question WHY, the best reason I could find is because of the Gospel reading of that Sunday, which was the passion according to John (remember this is an old rite)  John 8:59 reads “They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple”.  This is the explanation that is offered in the Catholic Encyclopedia, in fact the article mentions that the cross was covered at the exact moment those words were pronounced during the reading.  (Article: “Passiontide”)

Another reason I read was more practical… in order to be unveiled on Good Friday, the crucifix must first be veiled.




When I first read your question I was tempted to answer with “progressive solemnity”, the idea that more solemn liturgical celebrations and feasts such as Easter and Christmas are filled with more “stuff”, by that I mean fancier louder music, more flowers, more bells, incense etc… and that simpler occasions and seasons such as Advent and Lent are celebrated more quietly, with no flowers and little or no music.

Historically speaking though I wasn’t able to find any evidence that this is the reason why crucifixes and statues were veiled.

Jacob Slavek


What constitutes a Mass?

May 3, 2011

Can a gathering of a Priest outside of a Church, with a stone for an altar, and the so-called Mass only lasting a few minutes mean it is a Mass?
What would that be called?
I though all Masses in the Catholic faith consisted of three readings (OT, NT and Gospel) along with a particular Psalm, and of course the Eucharist (consecration of the bread and wine).
If no consecration takes place, (but previously consecrated Hosts are used), is this a Mass?
I guess I would like to know what exactly is the definition of a Catholic Mass. –Mary

Well the Mass is a lot of things, but most importantly it is a sacrifice, that is, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We celebrate this sacrifice the way to told us, by offering the bread and the wine as His Body and Blood.  “Do this is memory of me”.

The Word “Mass” itself by definition is from the Latin word “missa” which is used at the end of the Latin Mass as “Ite missa est”  which commands the people to go out (ite) into the world and bring Christ to the people. The English word “mission” also comes from this referring to the mission of Christians to evangelize. The word “dismiss” is also related, meaning the Mass is over so the people can then leave.

But from reading your question it seems that you’re wondering what makes a VALID Mass.  The difference between a Communion Service and a Mass is that at Mass bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood.  At Communion Services, Hosts that are used have been previously consecrated, so they are NOT Masses.

As far as what happened with the priest celebrating “Mass” outside on a stone “altar” lasting only a few minutes, well technically if the bread and wine were changed then it probably was a Mass (although extremely illicit for several reasons)  If it only lasted a few minutes though I would suspect that previously consecrated hosts were used.

Regardless if it was a Mass or a Communion service, it wasn’t the right thing for the priest to do, at least based on the limited information you provided. Even Communion services should at least have a Gospel reading, and if it was a Sunday celebration then the entire Liturgy of the Word should have been used (ignoring the fact that the celebrant was a PRIEST so the entire Mass should have been said. –Jacob Slavek


The Risen Christ on a Cross

September 15, 2011

This past Sunday my wife and I attended Sunday Mass in Florida. The Pastor had just recently purchased a new Crucifix which he has placed above the Altar.
It is my understanding that a Mass can not be offered without a proper Crucifix being present, this Crucifix, to me, does not appear to be a proper Crucifix. I was unable to send a photo of the Crucifix do to technical difficulty.

Since the Crucifix appears to be both, the Crucified Christ with the right hand nailed to the Cross, and the Risen Christ with the left hand reaching up toward heaven, I am somewhat confused. –John

Yes I’ve seen these “crosses” before.  Here’s what the Church says on the matter:

308. There is also to be a cross, with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, either on the altar or near it, where it is clearly visible to the assembled congregation. (From the current GIRM)

A figure that is only “half crucified” in my opinion does NOT satisfy the requirement to be CRUCIFIED, because Jesus was crucified with both arms nailed to the cross.  Although it may be considered an inspiring work of art that tells a miraculous story, it is not appropriate to serve as the crucifix in our Liturgy. –Jacob Slavek


Priest leaving the sanctuary during the Mass

October 11, 2011

My question relates to the celebrant Priest leaving the altar area, walking up the center aisle while giving his homily. Is there any liturgical reason that I can offer regarding his choice to deliver his homily in this manner?
The problem is that once he gets past my pew, I seem to have difficulty absorbing his message because I can no longer see him as he speaks. –John

Well the priest would have to have a pretty darn good pastoral reason for walking up and down the aisle for the homily, and quite honestly I can’t think of one at all.
Here’s what the GIRM says:
136. The priest, standing at the chair or at the ambo itself or, when appropriate, in another suitable place, gives the homily.

Key word here is “standing”. I think language this clear does NOT allow for any personal interpretation on the part of the priest to justify walking around. –Jacob Slavek


Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

November 6, 2011

I had a booklet that I bought sometime back and might have given it away. Actually it was one of Blessed John Paul II’s letters where he talked about the EMHCs. In it he stated the over abundant use of EMHCs. I love the parish I currently attend as it is very conservative with all organ music and great hymns many in Latin. I have been approached by some of the EMHCs that I should volunteer to be one. However, they already have about 20 of them, two deacons, three priests, three brothers in residency and about three sisters from their school. I never see other priests assisting in the distribution and the deacons will do so only when they are assisting at mass. And of course I have never seen the sisters or the brothers help out. I thought there was some protocol as to who is in line to assist. Is there a need for more EMHCs? I haven’t talked to the pastor about my concern but I can’t locate that letter written by the pope. Can you help so that I can show my pastor my concern? –Chuck

Well first of all, if the other priests and deacons happened to be in attendance at a celebration of the Mass, then they would be obligated to assist. If they are in residence at the parish, then they should still be assisting with distributing even if they attend another weekend Mass, provided they don’t have some other valid commitment.

Regarding the brothers and sisters, well technically they are not ordinary ministers as the priests and deacons are, but in my personal opinion the brothers at least would fall next in line before the laity, oh and I should probably say with affection the sisters as well. 

Assuming that none of these ministers are available, then it would be up to the bishop to decide whether or not the use of laymen should be permitted because of time issues, and for practical reasons most bishops defer this decision to the pastors of parishes since the bishop cannot personally attend each parish on a regular basis.

If you’re concerned that an abuse might be occurring, please be sure you know exactly where the “extra” priests are when they could be assisting at Mass… With the current priest shortage in most dioceses maybe the priests are helping out at other nearby parishes.

I would only be too concerned if the deacons and priests were sitting in the pews rather than helping out with Communion, or if there were three or more EMHCs helping out with anything but a large congregation. –Jacob Slavek


Do instructions given during Mass constitute liturgical abuse?

November 14, 2011

Every mass the priest always says just before descending to hand out communion:
“Jesus Christ is present right now. This is no longer bread and wine, but His body and blood come down from heaven. Remember there are two conditions for receiving communion. First, you have to go to confession with the priest so that your soul can be clean to receive Our Lord. If you don’t believe in confession, sorry, but you cannot receive communion until you do. If you are married, but not in the Church, speak to a priest but do not receive until you have been married in the Church. Second, you must have fasted for one hour prior. All who can properly receive Our Lord please approach the altar.”
I understand no priest can add anything to the rubrics of the Mass on his own accord, but does this even count as really “adding” anything, or just saying a quick reminder before handing out communion?
Personally, I admire these priests tremendously for emphasizing orthodoxy and recognition of the Real Presence. I think it’s great. I often wonder why it is that I never see this happen in American-said Masses (at least not in my lifetime, and not yet). –Ryan

Remember that the priest is given a small amount of liberty in instructing the faithful in how to behave at Mass, and from what you’ve told me, if in the priest’s own judgment the “reminders” are necessary, then everything he has said is a GOOD thing. Technically I wouldn’t consider the comments “liturgical” since they are not the prayer of the universal Church but rather instruction to this one particular group.  Therefore, it should not be considered “adding to the Liturgy of his own accord”. Secondly, I would not consider it an abuse because the priest is not saying “We are going to do it this way, because MY way is better than the Church’s way” which is what the intention usually is when an abuse occurs. Your priest CLEARLY is following the intention of the Church in this matter. –Jacob Slavek


Use of incense at Mass

December 6, 2011

Do you know if there is a booklet or website that gives in detail the proper way of using incense during Mass? I have seen it used differently at various churches and there seems to be no correct way.
At the parishes where I have seen incense used regularly and both very traditional and conservative the swings of the censor (or thurible) vary.
One of the parishes (besides using it at the beginning of the Mass, and before the Gospel) swings the thurible towards the altar during the Holy, Holy, Holy, and during the preparation of the gifts (the ringing of the bells is also done at this time.)




After the preparation of the gift the priest incenses the altar, followed by the deacon or acolyte incensing the priest(s), altar servers and last the congregation. The thurifer will incense first the left side of the church, then the right, then the center. After this the thurifer swings the thurible during the consecration and last during the Doxology, “Through Him, With Him, and In Him”. The other parishes does not ring the bells or use the incense until the consecration and stops after incensing the congregation.
I understand also that there is a protocol as to the number of swings, which vary from parish to parish. My understanding is the following: For the congregation and altar servers, it’s two swings one time. For the Deacons, it’s two swings two times, for the Priest(s), Bishop, two swings three times, and for our Lord, it’s three swings, three times.
I love the smell of incense and at these two churches, the instant you step inside the building you get this nice fragrance of incense that lingers. It reminds me so much of the old days. Some parishes do not use incense because “some of the parishioners may be allergic to incense.” Well, it does NOT have to be used at all the Masses, and the priest can announce a week ahead a time that incense will be used so that those allergic to it may make alternate plans. Growing up as a kid I don’t ever remember priest’s not using it because of allergies; nobody complained. Incense adds so much to the beauty and sacredness of the Mass. –Adam

Yes I pretty much agree with all your comments regarding the decision whether or not to use incense. My mother suffers from asthma and I seem to recall her saying a few years ago that she wishes that we would use incense once in awhile. 

I personally do not have allergies so I really can’t comment on how bad incense hurts, or even if it does at all. I’m not trying to judge the decisions of our priests since they DO have the option to not use incense, but I really wish more parishes would get into the habit of using it at least one weekend mass every week.

Now on to your question about documentation: actually the new GIRM that was published a few years goes into better detail than the previous one did, so I’ll direct you to the link at the USCCB website. The actual instruction is just a bit too long to post here.

Scroll down quite a bit to Part IV; it’s near the end of the document.

NOTE: the number of swings has been simplified quite a bit from what was traditional. –Jacob Slavek


Ad orientem

January 15, 2012

Is it permissible for a priest to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word in its entirety facing the congregation, but then to perform the Liturgy of the Eucharist facing the crucifix, i.e., with his back to the congregation?
I ask because I am curious, since I am in discernment, if and when I may be ordained if I will be able to do this. I personally think there’s a very mysterious beauty involved in offering up the Eucharist during the consecration facing the crucifix. I believe it represents a kind of special intimacy with Christ and an extra emphasis on the intensely sacred nature of this part of the Mass, as well as the focus being on the entire congregation with the minister facing the crucified Christ who gave Himself up as a sacrifice, and continues to manifest Himself and His sacrifice in the Eucharist. Thus, in my opinion, it is a profound spiritual statement. But, my opinion must be utterly subordinate to the GIRM and what the Church allows Her priests to do during the Mass.
This is not to say I am stating that it is in any way less reverent at all to celebrate the entire Mass facing the congregation, but this is just my feeling on the matter. Is this allowed by the Church? –Ryan

Absolutely. I agree with all your comments about Mass celebrated “Ad Orientem”.

Mass celebrated ad orientem is not in conflict with our current GIRM, however it’s not as simple as that. You would also need to make sure that you’re in line with your bishop’s wishes.  Depending on the diocese and bishop, you might even want to ask him directly. I don’t believe you’ll actually need his explicit permission, however if he does ask you to stop then you would need to obey. Once you’re sure there are no problems with the bishop, then you yourself will have to make a pastoral decision whether or not ad orientem is right for your particular parish. Let’s face it, some “modern” parishes just won’t be able to make such a radical change and it could do more harm than good.

However I really think people are looking for greater reverence than they were in recent decades and I know that once you become a pastor you’ll be able to tell just fine. –Jacob Slavek


Use of charismatic gifts/speaking in tongues at Mass

January 16, 2012

Further to a question (and your reply) back in 2005 [see on page 26] concerning the use of charismatic gifts – in your opinion, what is the most appropriate way for these gifts/manifestations to be expressed during Mass? St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (chapter 12) lists these charismatic gifts (vv 8-10) and it seems to me St Paul is referring to these gifts being used in the assembly during worship. Would this be during the Eucharist, or some other meeting outside the liturgy? I have attended many charismatic Masses where the charismatic gifts have been exercised very beautifully and in an orderly fashion – after the canon of the Mass – immediately before the final blessing. Although these Masses are quite long (due to praise and worship, charismatic gifts, etc.) – I can readily testify how beautiful they can be when there is order, and respect for the rubrics and content of the Mass.



I have also been to charismatic Masses (not many) where there is no order and no respect shown. My personal view is that there is room for the charismatic gifts during Mass. Do you think what I have expressed is also the view of St Paul (in the context of what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 12)? I am definitely not a cessationist, and neither is the Catholic Church. These gifts are still be used to build up the Church, but in what context? Liturgical, missionary, or a combination of both (wherever and however the Holy Spirit directs)? –John

This isn’t exactly a liturgical question at least in the sense that it pertains to liturgical law, but nonetheless I’m delighted to take a crack at it and offer MY OPINION rather than a definitive answer.

Let’s take a look at the gifts mention in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12: expression of wisdom, expression of knowledge, faith, healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment, tongues and interpretation of tongues, all of these gifts of course referring to the Spirit.

Well in today’s modern Liturgy my guess would be that expressions of faith and knowledge are made manifest in the priest’s homily. Along with these expressions we also find prophecy in the actual texts of the Liturgy, especially of course the reading of Sacred Scripture.

It seems to me that both mighty deeds and discernment are the people’s response to what has happened at the Liturgy, not necessarily at the celebration itself but taken from there out into the world.

That leaves speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues: and before I comment on that I want to remind you this is my PERSONAL OPINION. Back when St. Paul wrote this letter, there was not the mass communication that we have today.  It was common in that world for people to be fluent in many languages, just like it is in that part of the world today. Even though they had all these people speaking all these languages, it would still be considered a gift to have an interpreter present as Christianity grew and grew to new lands and people of new languages, because they did not have the communication capabilities that we take for granted today. So in MY opinion, the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues, AS IT PERTAINS TO TODAY’S LITURGY, is the fact that our Liturgy is translated into hundreds of languages and despite that it’s in many languages, we are all praying the SAME THING as a worldwide universal Church.  Most areas of the Catholic world have priests speaking in the native language, using printed texts translated from a common Latin source (in the Latin rite). That to me is a gift of the Holy Spirit. The only difference is, in our modern world, we are accustomed to it.

With all that having been said, I’d like to add that in my college years I frequented charismatic celebrations, both at Mass and as separate services. I was quite fond of the prayer meetings where members often found themselves with the gift of speaking in tongues; however there never was someone present with the gift of interpretation so I’ll never know if the gift was genuine and if it was, what they were saying.

Regarding the celebrations of Liturgy where charismatic gifts were encouraged (such as praise and worship): well personally I found it distracting when used at Mass.  Charismatic prayer is a FORM of prayer, as is liturgical prayer, private prayer, devotional prayer, contemplative prayer, etc… of all these forms of prayer, liturgical prayer is the highest, and just as you would not insert a another form of prayer into the liturgy for example devotional prayer such as the Rosary into the Mass, in my opinion you would not insert charismatic prayer into the Liturgy. –Jacob Slavek

January 23, 2012

Further to my last post concerning charismatic gifts at Mass, in 1 Corinthians 12, what is the context (liturgical or otherwise) in which St Paul envisages these charismatic gifts (vv.8-11) being used? Further in chapter 14 St Paul refers to these gifts occurring “when you come together” (vv. 28-33) and this would suggest the context is a liturgical one – but following the Canon of the Mass. Note usually in Mass there is a time for “announcements” between the Canon and the final blessing – and this doesn’t interrupt or interfere with the eucharistic liturgy (it’s over by now). In charismatic Masses I’ve attended (the most beautiful and reverent) time for the Lord to speak through the charismatic gifts of prophecy/tongues and interpretation/words of knowledge etc. have taken place here (not during the main body of the Mass) and this has had episcopal approval. Secondly, these gifts have been exercised in an orderly fashion. Thirdly, and most importantly, the prophetic revelation gifts have been carefully discerned before being shared publicly to the congregation.
Is this the scenario referred to by St Paul in 1 Corinthians – where he emphatically states that these gifts are to be manifested in an orderly way during – or immediately following – the liturgical celebration while everyone is still assembled?
Note that at the beginning of chapter 12, St Paul emphasises the importance of these gifts (v. 1) and in 1 Thess.5:19-20 again he says that these gifts (prophetic utterances) are not to be despised, but tested and discerned. This seems to indicate that – unless we err on the side of the cessationists/dispensationalists – these gifts are indeed still with us today. The Catechism says these gifts are to be welcomed but discerned (paragraphs 800-801). Historically – where – and how – were these charismatic gifts manifested? -John

I know that many bishops and popes have recently showed great support for the Charismatic Renewal and to being open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but I don’t think liturgically speaking there is a mention of a time and place for speaking in tongues during the actual Liturgy. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Now there IS time allowed during the Mass for brief announcements of course, but remember this is more for a practical reason. If there is a genuine gift of the Holy Spirit being made manifest, it shouldn’t crammed into a specific 2-minutes time slot just because it is convenient to have it then. 

One thing that disappoints me about Catholics today is that it seems that the only time we gather is for Sunday Mass, and then leave as soon as possible. 




I’m not a historian, but it seems to me that in the early church Christians gathered much more frequently and for reasons other than the Lord’s Supper. Remember that most people were illiterate so a great deal of time must have been spent gathered in groups teaching and “speaking”. I see no reason why we can’t get back into that habit today and gather with our fellow Christians weekly for prayer and discernment, and if so called, speaking in tongues.

Regarding the history of speaking in tongues the Catholic Encyclopedia has articles about charismata and glossolalia. I also checked out the Wiki on it and many of the early church fathers, as expected, commented or wrote about it. Nothing I saw though gave a specific time on WHEN it happened (such as, after the canon). –Jacob Slavek

January 27, 2012

There is no such thing as a Charismatic Mass. The Mass is the Mass and must be performed according to the Liturgical laws to the letter.
Tongues is absolutely not to be done in the Mass by the Priest or by the Faithful.
The only Charismatic gifts that could possibly be used during Mass by the priest are the Gifts of Prophecy, Evangelism, Teaching, Word of Knowledge, and Word of Wisdom during the Homily. The Gift of Prophecy is almost universally mis-defined by the Charismatic Renewal. The Gift of Prophecy (which means forth-telling) is the gift of supernatural ability to preach. Word of Knowledge and Word of Wisdom are also about universally mis-defined.
Readers can check out the article, Charism Gifts Building up the Church, for details on the pros and cons of the Renewal. This document also has a chart of 30 charism gifts found in Scripture and defines each. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

February 1, 2012

The Gift of Speaking in tongues is one of the Ten Gifts of the Holy Spirit; however, it is not a gift that is given to everyone. The gift of speaking in tongues benefits, if there is no one present to interpret it, only the one who speaks in tongues.
One may also believe that the Holy Spirit would never allow anyone to speak in tongues during the celebration of Holy Mass, yet, on more than one occasion, I have had the misfortune to experience such a blasphemous act taking place during the Consecration.
Scripture is quite clear on speaking in tongues. If one were to consider themselves to have such a gift from the Holy Spirit they would do well to read, in its entirety, the words of St. Paul regarding the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. This can be found in 1 Cor. 12: through 1 Cor. 14: 40.
According to St. Paul, anyone who speaks in tongues benefits no one but himself, that is, provided that his gift is real. To speak in tongues without having someone there to interpret what is said must be construed to be coming, not from the Holy Spirit, but from the evil spirit. Never forget that even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, in his book titled “The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius” has provided us with two chapters on the “Discernment of Spirits,” a teaching designed to help us determine which spirit is attempting to lead us.
St. Paul says, in 1 Cor 14:6, “So when I come to you, my brothers, what use will I be to you if I speak in strange tongues? Not a bit, unless I bring you some revelation from God or some knowledge or some inspired message or some teaching”.
In 1 Cor. 14: 18-19, St. Paul tells us, “I thank God that I speak in tongues much more than any of you. But in Church worship I would rather speak five words than can be understood than speak thousands of words in tongues”. This is in no way meant to be a criticism of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Group within the Church provided that they, in their devotion, do not, during Mass, and especially not during the Consecration, disrupt it with a ungodly blasphemous act of impiety. I find such a demonstration, to be an act that has been specifically, not only orchestrated, but motivated and controlled by Satan himself, and under no circumstance should such a profane act of irreverence be tolerated.
Mr. Slavek, your words, in response to John’s question on January 27, 2012 were,
“With all that having been said, I’d like to add that in my college years I frequented charismatic celebrations, both at Mass and as separate services. I was quite fond of the prayer meetings where members often found themselves with the gift of speaking in tongues; however there never was someone present with the gift of interpretation so I’ll never know if the gift was genuine and if it was, what they were saying.”
You also said, “Regarding the celebrations of Liturgy where charismatic gifts were encouraged (such as praise and worship): well personally I found it distracting when used at Mass.
Charismatic prayer is a FORM of prayer, as is liturgical prayer, private prayer, devotional prayer, contemplative prayer, etc… of all these forms of prayer, liturgical prayer is the highest, and just as you would not insert a another form of prayer into the liturgy for example devotional prayer such as the Rosary into the Mass, in my opinion you would not insert charismatic prayer into the Liturgy.”
Mr. Slavek, Thank you for a most concise answer to the question that I’m sure many Charismatic and non-Charismatic people were pondering within their hearts. This Charismatic Renewal group, as it continues to grow, could, in fact, be the shot in the arm that the Church needs. However, as with all things, there is always the chance that one can be mislead. For this, we must be steadfast and pray constantly.
Our prayers should be constant, and should always ask the Holy Spirit for the His gift, the gift of the “Discernment of Spirits”. Without the ability to discern which spirit is attempting to lead us, we may find that we can easily be misled by Satan who has the power to disguise himself, even as an angel of light. –John R




Thank you for your comments. I agree with them all, which is why I was very careful not to say that the college kids actually HAD the gifts of tongues, but rather that they found themselves with them. After reflecting on this subject a little more I think that I should have used language that was even less strong that that since I’m sure that they meant to say that they were PRAYING in “tongues” (to God) rather than SPEAKING in tongues… a gift from the Holy Spirit.

If that is true, then I wonder if technically they should be calling themselves charismatic. –Jacob Slavek


The shape of the Communion host

April 2, 2012 [See]

Last Sunday my family went to a neighboring parish for mass. The Eucharist they distributed was cube shaped – maybe a 1/4 inch on each side – and somewhat like wheat bread. Everyone in my family was surprised and our consensus was “Well that was different”. Is this innovation OK? –John

There aren’t any instructions that state what shape the bread to be used must be.

But common sense should tell you that small cubes are not a good idea at least in a parish setting since it is not practical to safely place them on the recipient’s tongue without the Host falling out.

Oh and by the way, the bread should not be “somewhat like wheat bread”, it needs to be ONLY wheat. If there is any question in your mind that ingredients other than wheat and water were used, I would encourage you to investigate further and if necessary contact your bishop’s office since that would be a serious abuse. –Jacob Slavek


Why is water mixed with the wine? -Heather

June 4, 2012

The practice of mixing water and wine has both a practical and symbolic meaning. During the time of Christ most wine would be cut with water anyway, I guess it was a little too strong or sweet for most people’s tastes. In Liturgy, this practice continued to the present time even though in the secular world it stopped. It continued in Liturgy because for Christians, the mixing also has a symbolic reason since as scripture records when the side of Christ was pierced by the soldiers, both blood and water flowed out.
Jacob Slavek


White wine instead of red,

October 16, 2012/October 27, 2012

I watch the Canadian daily mass on you tube and I was wondering why they use white wine instead of red wine as the blood of Christ. I emailed them some time back but no one ever answered. Can you tell me? -Wendy

That’s a good question, but I’m afraid that they are the only ones that can answer it.  Strange that nobody has replied.

In case you’re wondering about the validity, it’s perfectly okay, assuming of course that the other guidelines are followed  (made from grapes, no additives)

I’ve never seen white wine used before, and in my own personal opinion red is the way to go. –Jacob Slavek

There are generally two reasons for the use of white wine.
The first is practical. It doesn’t stain the linens.
The second is theological. During the Reformation, those (Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican) who held to a belief in the Real Presence (albeit defined differently) preferred the use of white wine against those (Calvinist, Zwinglian, etc) who held to a purely symbolic interpretation of the Lord’s Supper and only used red. –Fr. Smith


Priest messing with the liturgy/rubrics

October 31, 2012

The past several Sundays, when the priest distributes communion to the Extraordinary ministers, he is singing.
Before he begins his solo, he points to the Body and says “Body of Christ”, (still on the altar) and then pointing to the Blood he says “Blood of Christ”, and of course they respond with “Amen”. Now he is singing, and while he is singing, he distributes communion to them. Is there something wrong with this picture, or is it just me? -Kay

Oh my goodness, this is the first time I’ve heard *this* one. Unbelievable. Well let’s just forget for the moment that he’s singing in the first place instead of performing his priestly ministry… Hasn’t this poor man’s mother taught him that pointing is rude? 

You aren’t missing anything at all, there is definitely something wrong. Here’s some cites from the GIRM:

“160. The Priest then takes the paten or ciborium and approaches the communicants”

It does not say “points to the Host while beginning the singing”

“161. The Priest raises the host slightly and shows it to each, saying, The Body of Christ. The communicant replies, Amen, and receives the Sacrament either on the tongue or, where this is allowed, in the hand”

Notice the instruction does NOT say that the communicant “takes” the Host, but rather the word used is “receives”. The only way the communicant can “receive” the host is if the priest “gives” the Host, rather than the communicant “taking” this host himself from the altar.



Quite frankly as serious as these “abuses of the letter of the law” are, the more serious issue is the lack of reverence to the Blessed Sacrament and also to the ministry of the priest being displayed. –Jacob Slavek


Prayers for the dead and the catafalque,

November 16/20, 2012

I remember that during my Catholic grammar school days back in the early 1960s, there was a ritual at our church every morning during the month of November in which there was a coffin like structure covered with a black and gold mantle in the middle of the aisle. The priest also had on a black and gold chasuble and would recite prayers for the dead while incensing the coffin. For some reason, I used to feel so close to God during this ritual. I was wondering how come this beautiful and at the same strange ritual is no longer in use? Was it suppressed during the 1960s when Pope Paul VI changed a lot of things in the church? -Anthony

I did a bit of research on the internet regarding the mock coffin and the prayers for the dead in November and it was a Pre Vatican II custom in which Latin Tridentine Masses for the dead were offered during the month of November which is the month dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. When there wasn’t a funeral with a body present, the mock coffin or catafalque would be covered in black and placed in the nave of the church with non bleached wax candles surrounding it. The priest also in black vestments would offer prayers for the deceased person the Mass was being offered for and he would incense the catafalque at the conclusion of the Mass. I was talking to an elderly woman I know about this custom and she told me that she remembers seeing these Masses with the catafalque when she lived in Cuba before the communist take over in 1959. She was the one who told me that the mock coffin was called a catafalque or tumba. I did a Google search with “Pre Vatican II catafalque masses for the dead in November” and got some information. I also clicked on ‘Images’ and saw pictures of the ritual. The Free Dictionary online describes the catafalque as: 2. Roman Catholic – A coffin – shaped structure draped with a pall, used to represent the corpse at a requiem mass celebrated after the burial. Before Vatican II, stipends were offered for these much requested Masses and that’s probably why I saw them on a daily basis when I used to go to Mass during the month of November. -Anthony

I did the same search you posted above and got the same results, everything seems to be quite correct.  We also had another reader post about this as well. Being 34 years old I missed out on a lot of tradition that ended as a result of the reforms, but I am pleased that there seems to be renewed interest in a lot of it.
Jacob Slavek

November 23, 2012

The questioner is referring to the custom of erecting a catafalque (“mock coffin” describes what it looks like) for a solemn requiem in the Tridentine form of the Liturgy. On November 2, for solemn Memorial Masses for individuals, or for Funerals where there were no remains of the deceased a full Funeral Mass, complete with absolutions and commendations, would still be celebrated. The catafalque was used as a “stand in” for the coffin and body. In some places these were irreverently called a “smoke and water” Mass and the catafalque given a name like “Herbie” or “Uncle Charlie” (As in the pastor telling the sacristan “Put out Uncle Charlie for tomorrow’s Mass”). It is possible that the questioner is correct in his remembrances but that would have been a local and not universal practice to carry out the absolutions every day in November. –Fr. Smith


Holding hands during the Our Father

January 3, 2013

I just ran across an article stating that it’s wrong for people to hold hands during the Our Father. The church I attend has been doing it for years. (I was fallen away for awhile but when I came back, this was the practice.) What is correct? –Kristin

The Church makes no such instruction at all to hold hands during the Our Father…  therefore the correct thing is to NOT hold hands, but rather simply hold whatever reverent posture you already normally have during the Mass when standing.

Now in your particular case you may need to make a judgment call whether or not to hold hands this Sunday, of course I don’t want you to make a scene.  If the priest specifically instructs the people to hold holds, well then hold hands because the Church values uniformity in postures…  but quite frankly if the priest DID make such an instruction, he would be wrong and overstepping his authority.

Whenever I find myself at a Mass where the people start to hold hands, and if there is NOT a specific instruction from the priest, then I simply politely decline to those standing nearby, and I haven’t had any problems. –Jacob Slavek


Can we use “Hallelujah” during lent?

January 28, 2013

We have a prayer gathering every week in our parish. Are we allowed to say hallelujah during lent because the church doesn’t use the word hallelujah during the season of Lent? So should we say it or not and if not how do we Praise God or if we just say Praise the Lord it is the same as saying hallelujah. -Lessly

If your group so desires, they may pray with the word “alleluia”, even during Lent. I would suggest that you could follow the Church’s liturgical lead and save them for after Easter.


With that being said, the word “alleluia” is not “banned” during Lent. It is rather “omitted” from liturgical prayer during that time.  Since liturgical law does not apply to private prayer, it doesn’t need to be omitted from your prayer gathering.

So to answer your question, should you say them or should you not…  well I say that if there’s a simple question on how to regulate your private prayer. I say do like the Church does and omit them for now. But if for some reason the group just does what it always does, I wouldn’t get too upset about it. Just my opinion. –Jacob Slavek




Priest messing with the liturgy/rubrics

April 23, 2008

I recently had some correspondence with my pastor who in the past has discouraged frequent Confession. His text is in quotations. What are your thoughts about what he has to say?
“The rubrics of the Mass (from the Latin word meaning red -the color the instructions are written in the Sacramentary) are not uni-dimensional. There are many options, indigenizations and cultural adaptations. The Tridentine Mass was frozen for about 4 centuries, but that is only a small fraction of our 2000 year history as a Church. it is no more sacred or special or magical than other liturgical uses that the Church relied upon for worship in its time. In fact, in proportion, the Tridentine rubrics are the anomaly, not the norm.”
Why can’t people leave well enough alone?
“If they had, we would still be gathering in people’s homes, speaking in Aramaic and making the prayers and actions up as we went along – just as the apostle’s did in the first century and the various communities did for the next 9 centuries. Liturgy and worship are not static, they are organic and living, which also means changing. To attempt to petrify words and actions is what magicians do – it is superstition. We are not Harry Potter’s Hogwart’s where one learns incantations and gestures by wrote. Someone from apostolic times would be aghast at our “temples” and rituals and vesture and would conclude from their faith experience that we were closer to the pagans (who put great stock in such things) than we were to the Jesus of the Upper Room. God doesn’t stop interacting with us.”

The Mass is a sacrifice, not a Broadway Production. It isn’t meant for our entertainment.
“Actually, it is meant precisely for that – not in the definition of distraction, but in the definition of being performed (which is the technical term for what one does in liturgy) to engage the whole person, body and mind and spirit. It is a holistic participation. Remember that secular theatre had its roots in the morality plays of the Middle Ages that were enacted in the Church.
And the Mass is not only the re-enactment of the Sacrifice of Calvary, but also of the Eucharistic meal of the Last Supper. To exclude either dimension means that one is not truly Catholic. It is not either/or, but always both/and to be true to the great gift that Christ gave us of Himself not only as our redeemer, but as our food and sustenance.

It may be difficult for us who live only one lifetime – 70 years more or less – to appreciate that our experience is fleeting compared to what the Church as the body of Christ has experienced in two millennia in every land and culture. Tradition has a capital T for the Church, and to be authentic must include all that God has given us and wants from us. I sympathize with the emotional longings of individuals for “stability” in their expression of faith and worship, but God has lots of children who have lots of different needs and He has tried through the ages and places to provide for each of us.
Remember, the meaning of Catholic is “universal” not “uniformity”.
My words may not be very consoling to you, but they are authentic and accurate.”

Well, my first reaction is that this priest is an idiot.

The rubrics of the Mass cannot be changed by anyone, not even a priest, on his own authority, according to the Vatican II Fathers. There are options in the rubrics, but the only options available to a priest are those written in the Sacramentary. He may not do ANYTHING outside those official options.

As for the Mass being entertainment, what can I say? That is such a load of nonsense as to be beyond words to respond. “To perform” does not mean “entertainment”. Is this guy literate? A surgeon “performs” brain surgery. Is that entertainment? The Mass is performed, but it is not entertainment.

The meaning of Catholic is universal. We are universally uniform in our faith. That uniformity is regulated by the Holy See, and secondarily by the local bishops. We are to be in UNION with the Holy See. Those who seek to be hetero-form are in disunion with the Holy See and thus not authentically Catholic. While indeed there are local and cultural differences and needs, those variances may NOT be reflected in liturgy except as authorized by the Holy See.

This priest’s words are NOT authentic and are NOT accurate. Perhaps he needs to be re-educated. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Priest messing with the liturgy/rubrics

August 24, 2011

Recently I relocated to a new parish and shortly thereafter began noticing some really disturbing things. The most disturbing are the actions of one of the priests of the parish: I witnessed on several occasions, this priest (after the Consecration) when giving Communion to the Eucharistic Ministers (who were gathered around the altar and also, on another occasion, down the steps from the altar) take the large Host used for Consecration away from the altar, with no paten or ciborium nor even using his hands -break the Host and distribute It to the EMs.



Over time I became aware that the demeanor of this priest during Mass, while not doing anything overt was also disturbing. He really seemed that he didn’t like, or even hated Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When the people would come up for Communion you could see the distaste in his manner of putting the Host in hands or on tongues. I also personally heard this priest say that we shouldn’t be too quick to judge politicians etc who are for abortion, too quick to judge or excommunicate them.

I also witnessed on several occasions another priest of this parish allowing lay readers for the Gospel at Mass, including women. When I asked the priest about this he said he had a dispensation from the Bishop to allow lay readers due to “bronchitis”.

I also observed the EMs come to the tabernacle to get Hosts (I assumed to take to the sick) sometimes with little ( a short head nod) or no sign of reverence. It didn’t surprise me, after seeing the attitude of the priests, that the people had no reverence either.

My question is, is it possible that the priests of that parish, or even the parish as a whole has “spiritual problems”?

I was thinking of writing a letter expressing my concerns to the Pastor and possibly to the Bishop. Do you think that my concerns warrant that action? Mary

Whenever we see disobedience there is a probability that a demon is hanging around somewhere nearby. Disobedience attracts demons like moths to a light bulb.

I would certainly pray for this priest and for the parish in a way that includes asking God to remove any demonic influences that may be involved and any bondage that the priest or others may have.

In addition, these irregularities ought to be reported, first to the Parish Pastor and then to the Bishop if the situation is not resolved. In speaking or writing to the Pastor/Bishop be very professional and business like. Detail the facts and do not editorialize those facts. For example your observation, “When the people would come up for Communion you could see the distaste in his manner of putting the Host in hands or on tongues”. That is a very subjective observation to which you may be misinterpreting. I would not mention that in any report you offer. Stick to observable and objective facts.

We will be in prayer for this priest and for your parish. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


The earliest documented Holy Mass

February 26, 2012

When was the first documented “Mass” as we know it? I completely understand the “Last Supper” however, did the apostles immediately start and when did we make it formal. -Vickie

The oldest documented Order of Mass is found in the First Century document called the Didache (Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles). The description of the Mass is fundamentally very close to the way the Mass is celebrated today.

Resources: Catholic Encyclopedia, English Translation of the Didache. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Which direction did the priest face at the early Masses?

June 22, 2013

During the first centuries of Christianity, did the priest face the people during the Mass as in the Novus Ordo Mass, or did he face east at the altar with his back to the people as in the Latin Tridentine Rite Mass? -Anthony

Once churches began to be built (remember Christianity was illegal for 300 years. The earliest Churches in Rome were built with the asp and the altar so that the priest faced east. The Nave was also to the east side with the people facing west, so the priest faced the people. It just depended on the structure of the Church as to whether or not the priest faced the people.

Certainly, by the 8th century or so Churches were structured when everyone, the faithful and the priest, faced east (or liturgical east if the Church was not positioned literally to the East). Thus, the Priest faced the asp with his back to the people.

The imagery of the priest facing the altar with his back to the people is certainly, in my opinion, a richer symbolism, as it represents the priest as shepherd leading the flock toward their true homeland, but the priest facing the people can also have its symbolism.

The significance of the east was well known to the early Christians. Like the rising sun, Christ (the Sun of Justice and Light of the world) rose in the early morning on the first Easter Sunday. The major prophet Ezekiel announces: “And behold the glory of the God of Israel came in by the way of the east … And the majesty of the Lord went into the temple by the way of the gate that looked to the east. And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and behold the house was filled with the glory of the Lord” (ch 43). St. Basil tells us: 

It is by reason of an unwritten tradition that we turn to the East to pray. But little do we know that we are thus seeking the ancient homeland, the Paradise that God planted in Eden toward the East.

Christianity was and is the only one to face east, to the New Jerusalem. Jews look toward Jerusalem, and Muslims look to Mecca

This is sort of like baptism. The preferred method of baptism in the Catholic Church is immersion, but pouring (the most common method today) is also valid. But, pouring lacks the richer symbolism of dying to self (immersed under water) and rising to new self in Christ (coming out of the water). Nevertheless, both methods are valid.

Whether the priest faces the people or not, it is still a valid liturgical form, albeit lacking in the richer symbolism.



Father Uwe Michael Lang stated about the phrase “with his back to the people”:

That catchphrase often heard nowadays, that the priest “is turning his back on the people,” misses the crucial point that the Mass is a common act of worship in which priest and people together — representing the pilgrim Church — reach out for the transcendent God.
What is at issue here is not the celebration “toward the people” or “away from the people,” but rather the common direction of liturgical prayer. This is maintained whether or not the altar is literally facing east; in the West, many churches built since the 16th century are no longer “oriented” in the strict sense.
By facing the same direction as the faithful when he stands at the altar, the priest leads the people of God on their journey of faith. This movement toward the Lord has found sublime expression in the sanctuaries of many churches of the first millennium, where representations of the cross or of the glorified Christ illustrate the goal of the assembly’s earthly pilgrimage.
Looking out for the Lord keeps the eschatological character of the Eucharist alive and reminds us that the celebration of the sacrament is a participation in the heavenly liturgy and a pledge of future glory in the presence of the living God.
This gives the Eucharist its greatness, saving the individual community from closing in upon itself and opening it toward the assembly of the angels and saints in the heavenly city.

It should be noted that Vatican II never mandated that priest must face the people. I think the current Roman Missale allows for either way.

P.S. It should also be noted that there is no such thing as a Novus Ordo Mass. The proper name for any Mass is “Roman Missal of _____ year”. If nicknames are used then the appropriate nicknames are Tridentine Mass / Vatican II Mass, or “Pope Pius V Mass / Pope Paul VI Mass. Or, one might say the new Mass (in English), though it is no longer “new.” But when use the Latin Novus Ordo, there is confusion because Latin is the official language in the Church and the official language of all titles. There is no official title of the Mass called Novus Ordo. In fact, the term was a term of derision by Ultra-Traditionalists. Unfortunately, it caught on. Nevertheless, the term is improper, misleading, and inaccurate. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Tired of the liturgical abuses, etc.

August 18, 2004

I had assisted at SSPX Masses over three years long. By the end of last year I decided to return to my “Novus Ordo” parish for some reasons as I was no longer pleased with the whole situation. I really did my best to accept Vaticanum II, the so-called “New Mass and the ecumenism of the “Conciliar Church” but I ´m afraid that I can no longer deal with it. It doesn’t make me happy at all.

I hate those modern 1970s style songs, I hate the many liturgical abuses and I refuse the wrong ecumenism of today. Now it is said that “The Catholic Church lacks unity”, but Pius XI said “Christian unity IS the Catholic Church”, now we hear “Muslims worship the One True God”, Gregory XVI said “ONLY Catholics can worship God”, John Paul II said “Heretical sects have an apostolic mission”, Leo XIII: “The Catholic Church is the ONLY apostolic mission”. Once the faithful were told “Buddhism is a religion of damnation” but now Buddhism is a religion of salvation (CH: 84-85, 1994). These are just a few examples among countless ones.

That’s too much for me and I can not understand nor love the modernist statements of the current Pope. I was deeply hurt and I am very disappointed by the Church. I don’t want the 1970s songs during the Sunday service; I don’t want liturgical abuses, that kind of ecumenism and all those contradictions.

Now I can not live the Catholic faith, I believe or I want to but after all that, many things are quite unbelievable. What happened to the Church and what should happen with me? –Gabriel

Well, Gabriel, you have come to the wrong place if you want your ear tickled or if you want sympathy.

The first thing that needs to happen to you is to grow up. To go to a SSPX chapel or to leave the Church is childish rebellion and abject Pride. Your post is filled with “I” and “I want”. Who cares what you want? Instead of whining why don’t you offer your suffering to God and pray for those priests who abuse the liturgy. If all the energy spent in whining and complaining was put into a mature and adult self-mortification, offering up, and prayer, there would be no abuses for all the priests and laity involved would be converted.

The second thing is to stop listening to the schismatic blather from people who are no longer in communion with the Church. Pope John Paul II is NOT, and I repeat, is NOT a modernist. He is not within a million miles of being a modernist, or teaching anything remotely modernist. You are slandering the Pope calling him a heretic when you characterize him this way. To slander the Pope is GRAVE sin.

In addition, the Pope and the Church continue to teach that salvation subsists in the Catholic Church alone. Whoever told you that the Church has said that salvation can be found in Buddhism is a evil liar. While an individual person who happens to be a Buddhist can find salvation, he does not find it in Buddhism, but only through the Catholic Church even if he is not aware of it.

The third thing is to stop quoting popes out of context and misinterpreted and in ignorance of how various documents work together to form a consistent whole. Stop listening to the interpretation by those no longer in communion with the Church and with the evil dissension on their lips. The Church and the Church alone has the authority to interpret its own documents, not you, or me, or the SSPX, or anyone else.




The fourth thing is to get an education. Your ideas about the so-called “modernist” influences are patently wrong. for example, the ecumenism taught by the Vatican II and by our Pope is NOT an incorrect ecumenism. The Church and the Pope are not compromising one dotted-i of the faith. The ecumenism, as defined by the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, is in response to the teachings of Jesus.

The fifth thing is for the very real liturgical abuses; focus your energies on prayer and worship. I don’t care what kind of abuses are taking place, as long as the Mass is valid Jesus is there. Focus on Jesus like a man, instead of the storm around you like a boy. Do not leave Jesus alone with the abusers. Maintain a vigil with Him. Cannot you pray with Him for even one hour?

“You of little faith” is what Jesus said to his disciples when they were acting childish and as a result the devil stiffed them like wheat. Where is your faith? The very gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. That is either true or God is a liar.

Sixth thing is to get an education on the TRUE teaching of Vatican II. It is a beautiful Council that called all the Faithful to holiness. “Be holy as the Father is holy” Jesus commanded us. Vatican II renewed this command of Jesus and called upon all the Faithful to live a life of holiness.

The Seventh thing is to learn history. The abuses and liberalisms and modernisms that have cropped up since Vatican II were present BEFORE Vatican II. ALL of the bishops and priests who mis-represented Vatican II and lead the people into modernism were PRE-VATICAN II bishops and priests. They were the leaders of the rebellion.  This rebellion had been going on for more than a hundred years before Vatican II. All that happened after Vatican II was that it came out in the open where before it was behind rectory doors. Vatican II itself had NOTHING to do with all the abuses we see today.

Which leads to the Eighth thing you need to do — learn how to think. It is only an unthinking person who attributes all this mess of today as the fault of Vatican II. One of the primary tenets of thinking is that “co-relation DOES NOT equal causation”.

The Ninth thing to do is to submit your ego, your wants, your preferences, and your pride to the Church. Vatican II is binding upon all Catholics to which it applies, your obedience is required.

I am always in amazement at these so-called Traditionalists. The PRIMARY tradition of the Church is OBEDIENCE, yet that is the first thing to go in these SSPX-types.

Bottom line: stop being a baby whining about what you want. Instead be a disciple who is obedient and loyal to the current Pope and Magisterium in union with him. Why? Because God tells you to do that. Period. Then work through education and prayer to deal with the legitimate abuses that are taking place.

But first you must come to educate yourself on the REAL abuses and modernisms instead of the bugaboo nonsense spouted by ultra-traditionalist rebels who are consumed by their Pride, have lost their faith, and who serve the devil to bring division into the Church.

This may not be what you want to hear, but I do not care what you want. I care only for the Truth, and I have given you the truth.

Fall before your God and give yourself up to Him. Die to self, and humble yourself in obedience to the Pope and the Magisterium in union with Him that God Himself has appointed in authority over you and me and all of us.

As for our current Pope, John Paul II, there is no better champion for the True Church than John Paul II. Have you actually read his writings? I mean read them cover to cover, not a quote here or there used by some ultra-traditionalist wacko.

This Pope is a living saint. I believe he will be canonized a saint. I think he will be declared a Doctor of the Church. And I think that history will give him the honorary title of “the Great”.

The contributions of this man to the spirit of man and to the glory of God and the anointed leadership of this man to wade through the muck of our age and be a shining beacon on a hill to guide the way, justifies my opinion about this Pope’s future. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Outdoor Mass

September 1, 2004

I attended a Young Adults retreat this past weekend at the San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville, run by the Franciscans. I’ve undergone a painful month and the retreat allowed me to enjoy fellowship and the peace there to clarify things and I appreciated the experience overall. However, a few things concerned me.

They held Mass outdoors on a Saturday night, instead of the chapel, since many of the young adults encouraged it. The water fountain and the crickets outside were so noisy that the priest was difficult to hear. Also, we couldn’t be reverent (kneel or stand) because of the environment we were in. Should Mass be held outdoors? -May

Except under certain circumstances with the permission of the bishop, Masses are NOT to be held outside.
This is one of the reasons that I suggest that people check very carefully whether or not a Retreat Center is actually orthodox.
The problem of Retreat Centers not being fully Catholic is sooooo bad that I recommend that we PRESUME a retreat center to be heterodox until proven otherwise.
We can visit any retreat center for a private retreat and enjoy the pastoral and peaceful surroundings, but I advise against a “guided retreat” or receiving spiritual direction from retreat personnel, or taking classes and whatnot unless the Retreat Center is CLEARLY loyal and obedient to the Pope and Magisterium in union with the Pope.



This is a sad commentary, but Satan knows the best places to get to the people and contaminate them — schools, retreat centers, CCD, colleges, seminaries, pastoral training, and such. In other words, the best place to contaminate the people is to infiltrate education and spiritual formation. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Priest messing with the liturgy

September 2, 2004

My church has a certain priest (who is also a psychologist) that comes every now and then to perform Mass. His homilies are great and everyone loves him for it. My only objection to this man is the way he performs the liturgy. His liturgy and the liturgy the Church has laid out are almost two different things and no one seems to notice or care.

A few examples would be instead of “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” It’s changed to “Father, Brother, and Friend.” Another would be instead of “The Lord be with you,” it’s changed to “The Lord is with you.” And even another, at the end of Mass, it’s changed from “This Mass has ended. Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” to “The Mass never ends; it is to be lived out. Let us go forth to love and serve the Lord and each other.” During the Our Father, he even comes into the congregation to hold hands after explicitly saying “Let us now hold hands and pray the prayer our brother taught us.”
He also seems to have a distorted view on the teaching of salvation. He pretty much spelled out the Protestant explanation word for word. And lastly, when consecrating the bread and wine, his words are “And so Father we bring you these gifts of bread and wine, and of ourselves and each other…” This almost makes it seems like he’s consecrating the laity as well as the bread and wine. Does this make the Holy Communion invalid?

Why would this priest do it this way? I don’t understand why some priests just don’t do it the way it’s supposed to be done. Whenever I talk to my parents about it, they say “Don’t be more Catholic than the Church” in which I reply “You’re not being Catholic enough.” What can I do?! Sorry for the long question, it’s just been bothering me a lot. -Matt

Your question is not really about the liturgy, it is about a rebellious priest and what to do about it.

If this priest is doing what you have outlined then that priest is in serious rebellion against the Church. It also sounds like his Masses may not be valid.

You are not being more Catholic than the Church by your concerns over this. The CHURCH says that the liturgy is to be done “as written” and not changed by the priest. The CHURCH says that you and I have a RIGHT to expect the liturgy to be done properly. The CHURCH says that we have the right to complain to the bishop, for example, about issues like this.

Thus, concern over this errant priest IS BEING CATHOLIC.

You need to take precise and accurate notes on what the Priest is saying. Then get a copy of the document that says that the liturgy cannot be changed, even by a priest. Then confront the priest privately. Explain your concern in a business-like manner; do not be emotional or accusatory. Do not argue with him. Merely ask him about why he is making these changes when the Church says he is not to do so.

Carefully write down his answer.

If the priest does not stop this, your next step is to write a very business-like letter to the Bishop that includes your notes of what the Priest has said and express your concerns for the faithful and your concern that the Mass may not be valid.

After that, the ball is in the bishop’s court.

Continue to pray for the conversion of this priest. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Use of electric candles

September 12, 2004

My church has electric candles. What do you have to say about that? I, personally, do not like them.
Also, can one burn candles in their own home for the same spiritual value? Must they be blessed candles? –Therese

I do not like electric candles at all, but the intent is still the same.
By the way, replacing real candles with electric candles is not a “liberal” aberration. These days, insurance companies are requiring churches to stop using real candles due to the fire hazard.
Sure, one can burn candles in your home. It would be best to have them blessed. In a pinch, sprinkle the candle with Holy Water and ask God to bless it. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Use of non-Christian symbolism in the Mass

September 22, 2004

As I asked in another post, what makes a symbol become a Christianized symbol?
From what I came to understand from your given answer is that any symbol that used to represent or give honor to a man made god and that is now used to represent our Almighty God is what it’s really all about. The change of it’s destination in adoration makes it Christianized or pagan. Now does that have to take place in the entire church and approved by it or can it be on a personal level as well in our faith and relationship with God and others?
Here is my dilemma in all of this. I have met many natives that now use in mass some type of shell to bring offerings in and to burn incense in and some feathered wing to send the smoke raising from the burning incense onto the altar during special celebrations done the Native American’s way. For them, they say it has been Christianized and does not mean that it is going to the Great Manitou.


Now to me that seems a little far from what I was always thought but I could understand it to some point. I have seen a native priest before use a stole made of leather and carved very nicely in a deep Christian way in all its symbols and hanging fringes.
My question is can it be on a personal level such as the priest or must it always be approved by the church such as the mass?
Is it just really a question of faith and the way we see it in our relationship with God? Must it go case by case with each person and discerned by a spiritual director? Who can confirm such a change has been made in the society, in the community, in the church or the life of a single person to say that a particular symbol has been Christianized?
Where is the line drawn in all of this? Surely, to me, it will not mean the same as it would to someone else? –Sandy

Usually, as far as I know when non-Christian symbols are co-opted and Christianized there is no “official” procedure, it is just a matter of developing custom. This can come from the Vatican or it can come from an individual priest missionary, for example, who is trying to evangelize a local peoples.

No symbol becomes a universal symbol used by the Church unless it is generally accepted over time. A local Christianized symbol created by a missionary is not likely to become a general symbol used by the Church.

How a symbol happens to capture universal attention that it becomes a custom in the Church, is the much the same as anything becoming a custom in society — it is really by chance of the circumstances popping in just the right way in just the right time.

As for your concern about American aboriginal symbolism used in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, this would be illegal unless permission from the Bishop or the Holy See has been given, depending on the issue.

The rubrics of the Mass are determined by the Holy See. NO ONE, not even a priest, can change one dotted “i” upon their own authority. The Bishop does have some authority for some things in the liturgy, but only the Holy See has ultimate authority over liturgy.

These so-called “Native American” Masses, “African-American Masses” and the like do not exist. The rubrics of the Mass is what the Holy See determines it to be and NO ONE can make changes without permission from the competent authority. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Immodestly attired women serving at Mass

September 28, 2004

Recently, in the churches in our diocese, I have noticed that there are increasing numbers of female Eucharistic Ministers. There are many troubling aspects about that for me. One thing is that sometimes more women than necessary go up to the altar and the priest ends up giving his spot giving Communion to one of them.

Also, they do really strange, distracting things on the altar. For example, when they are offered the Blood of Christ, the lift it up in the air and then give it back to the priest w/o drinking from the chalice.

Finally, about 98% of the women who come to serve there dress so immodestly that it is sickening. They wear really tight skirts, jeans, low rise pants, low cut shirts, overly bright and shiny clothes and worst of all most of them ‘forget’ to wear an undergarment under their tops/blouses which is very revealing and would obviously distract a male parishioner from the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. It really bothers me and I have two questions as a result. One, are women even allowed to serve as Eucharistic ministers and two, do I have grounds for a complaint to the Bishop? -Jacinta

The things you are describing are blatant abuses of the liturgy. The altar server is NOT to hold up the chalice like that, they are NOT priests for example.
By the way, there is no such thing as a female Eucharistic Minister. A Eucharistic Minister is a priest or deacon and no one else. Laity who are serving at the altar, distributing the Eucharist and the like are EXTRAordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Don’t forget the “EXTRAordinary.”
When the extraordinary ministers, male or female, become the “ordinary” thing at Mass, something is wrong. Laity serving at Mass is only suppose to be done in TEMPORARY and extraordinary situations.
As for the dress, this is a major scandal and these women will be held accountable for their immodesty that causes others to sin. St. John Chrysostom calls women (or men) who do this criminals and murderers of souls.
With the Legion of St. Michael, at our liturgies (Mass or Divine Office) this immodesty is not allowed. We have a dress code that is enforced for both women and men. We do not tolerate this abomination of immodesty disgustingly and shamelessly flaunted before our Lord when anyone is at our liturgies.
We need to remember the teaching of St. John Chrysostom on modesty. Remember as you read this that the teaching the Saint is giving was 1603 years ago (the 5th century). Nevertheless notice just how applicable it is today in the 21st Century.

You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not, indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment and much more effectively than you could by your voice.

When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent?

Tell me, whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges in court punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death-dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul. And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity, nor provoked by injury, but out of foolish vanity and pride.
Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

September 29, 2004

I just have a follow-up question to Jacinta’s. She mentioned seeing female Extraordinary Ministers lift up the chalice and hand it back to the priest without consuming any of the precious blood. I have also seen this done in my own parish by a very devout woman (who also happens to be an EM). When she does it, she recites a prayer that includes something about the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I think. Is this something that the Church allows, perhaps in the case of alcoholics or those that cannot consume any wine or alcohol at all? I’ve always been rather curious about it. When I watch her do it, she is very reverent. –Rachel

What this woman is doing is condemned by the Church. What she is doing smacks of concelebration with the priest. It is a misplaced devotion. She is not a priest and is not allowed to raise the blood up like that and say a prayer as if she is come priest junior.

I am not sure what the issue of an alcoholic priest has to do with this. The priest can still present the blood without drinking from it.

In any event there is no occasion or excuse for laity to make gestures and actions that to closely resemble the actions reserved to priest and/or deacons. What this woman you mention is doing, and any other extraordinary ministers out there doing the same thing, is wrong and should be stopped immediately.


§ 2. To promote the proper identity (of various roles) in this area, those abuses which are contrary to the provisions of canon 907 are to be eradicated. In Eucharistic celebrations deacons and non-ordained members of the faithful may not pronounce prayers — e.g. especially the Eucharistic prayer, with its concluding doxology — or any other parts of the liturgy reserved to the celebrant priest. Neither may deacons or non-ordained members of the faithful use gestures or actions which are proper to the same priest celebrant. It is a grave abuse for any member of the non-ordained faithful to “quasi preside” at the Mass while leaving only that minimal participation to the priest which is necessary to secure validity.

In the same way, the use of sacred vestments which are reserved to priests or deacons (stoles, chasubles or dalmatics) at liturgical ceremonies by non-ordained members of the faithful is clearly unlawful.

Every effort must be made to avoid even the appearance of confusion which can spring from anomalous liturgical practices. As the sacred ministers are obliged to wear all of the prescribed liturgical vestments so too the non-ordained faithful may not assume that which is not proper to them.

To avoid any confusion between sacramental liturgical acts presided over by a priest or deacon, and other acts which the non-ordained faithful may lead, it is always necessary to use clearly distinct ceremonials, especially for the latter.

In Article 8 we read:

To avoid creating confusion, certain practices are to be avoided and eliminated where such have emerged in particular Churches:

— Extraordinary ministers receiving Holy Communion apart from the other faithful as though concelebrants…
Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


More abuses at Mass

September 30, 2004

I have attended several Parishes in my area where local Parish traditions differ. There are a couple of Parishes where the doxology-“Through Him, with Him and in Him…..” are either sung by the congregation or recited by the Celebrant and the congregation. At some, there are hand gestures-raised open palm, followed by lifting of the arms with palms up at the “For the Kingdom the power and the glory are yours….” -by the Celebrant and the congregation. I have continued to resist these changes, but often someone next to me will grab my hand at the Our Father, and lift it at the end.

I believe that I heard on the EWTN “Web of Faith” that these are not appropriate things for the congregation to engage in.
What is the Church’s official stand on these changes/local traditions? –Dottye

The “customs” you have listed are all illegal. According to the official teaching of the Church, no one, not even a priest, may change the words or the rubrics of the Mass on his own authority. These “local traditions” are rebellious and illegal and need to stop immediately. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Priests messing with the liturgy

September 30, 2004

At the church I attend the priests never say the consecration or Eucharist prayer that is the better translation of the prayer that was said in the Mass of 1962. They always pray the Eucharist prayer III which is shorter but leaves out the beauty of the Eucharist prayer I. We also never hear the I Confess prayer. If it wasn’t for an occasional mass in another parish that say both of the above prayers, my children would never hear them said.

I don’t mean to be negative about the Mass in English; I believe it is a valid mass but rarely said reverently. Also I noticed that when the priests face the people they tend to entertain, talk to the people. They make eye contact with the people and even nod when the prayer is to be addressed to God. It’s very distracting so what I do is look away from the priest. Not every Mass is said like this.


There are a few who use the Latin for the Holy, Holy prayer and the Lamb of God prayer, don’t look at the people when praying to God and use the I Confess and Eucharist prayer I. The Mass is valid no matter which Eucharist prayer the priest chooses but why always the shorter prayer? -Linda

First we have to separate that which is actually part of the Mass and that which has been perpetrated upon it.

The issue of how well the Mass has been translated into English, whether priests are chatty and entertain, one’s preference on which Eucharistic prayer to use, things omitted by priests, things added by priests, and any and all other abuses and innovations have nothing whatsoever to do with the subject at hand about the need to reform the Tridentine Mass and the improvements made in the Vatican II Mass.

The reforms that were needed, include the following, quoted from Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy):

50. The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as well as the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved.

For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance. Parts which with the passage of time came to be duplicated, or were added with little advantage, are to be omitted. Other parts which suffered loss through accidents of history are to be restored to the vigor they has in the days of the holy fathers, as may seem useful or necessary.

51. The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly…

53. The “common prayer” or “prayer of the faithful” is to be restored after the gospel and homily…

Then Pope Paul VI offers some specifics in his Missale Romanum that obrogated the Roman Missal of 1962 with the Roman Missal of 1970:

In the Roman Rite the first part of this prayer, known as the Preface, has indeed acquired many different texts in the course of the centuries; but the second part, known as the Canon, assumed an unchanging form about the fourth or fifth century…

Besides enriching the Eucharistic Prayer by providing a larger selection of Prefaces (some drawn from the more ancient traditions of the Roman Church and some newly composed) we have decided now to add three more Canons (anaphoras) for use in that prayer. Their purpose is to emphasize different aspects of the mystery of salvation, and to express a variety of motives for giving thanks to God.

The bottom line is that the current Mass is just as holy and just as reverent as the “Tridentine” Mass. One only needs to look at the Masses said at EWTN. Those Masses are the current Mass, NOT the Tridentine Mass, yet have great beauty, reverence, and holiness.

Most of the parishes I have visited have had great reverence in the current Mass and rarely use Eucharistic Prayer III. I know there are many parishes where that is not the case, but we need to keep things in perspective. If we find our parish Masses irreverent or lack-luster, the problem is NOT the Mass, the fault is the Celebrant. Do not blame the Mass for something the Celebrant is doing or not doing.

It sounds to me that the problem is your parish priest, because it ain’t the Mass itself. Pray for him.

Other issues, like the quality of the English translation are issues that will be worked out eventually. Be patient, the Church works slowly. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Liturgical abuse

October 2, 2004

I need some authoritative Church pronouncements about those considered abuses of the liturgy of the mass such as praying in tongues during mass, clapping and swaying to the music, prophecy, laying on of hands, holding hands at the Our Father, etc. Also would contemporary praise and worship be considered the same as folk music as a rule if so I would also like help with sources concerning thus. -Susie

The issues of the abuses of liturgy, ANYTHING that is added to the Mass that is not specifically allowed by the Roman Missal of 2000, the General Instruction to the Roman Missale. Often the specific address of a particular abuse is dealt with in the Notitiae (Clarifications and Interpretations of the GIRM). Here are a couple examples:

The 1975 ban on liturgical dance is found in the document called “Religious Dance, An Expression of Spiritual Joy”, published by Rome in its journal Notitiae, and described itself as “AN AUTHORITATIVE POINT OF REFERENCE FOR EVERY DISCUSSION ON THE MATTER.” Most of the document praises religious dance, yet becomes quite stern when forbidding dance to take place during Mass.

Concerning holding hands the Notitiae states:

REPLY: The prolonged holding of hands is of itself a sign of communion rather than of peace. Further, it is a liturgical gesture introduced spontaneously but on personal initiative; it is not in the rubrics. Nor is there any clear explanation of why the sign of peace at the invitation: “Let us offer each other the sign of peace” should be supplanted in order to bring a different gesture with less meaning into another part of the Mass: the sign of peace is filled with meaning, graciousness, and Christian inspiration. Any substitution for it must be repudiated.

The Notitiae is binding legislation.

The contemporary “praise and worship” music is, by definition, folk music, not sacred music. Thus there is no need for the Church to speak specifically to it. Only Sacred music is allowed in the Mass. See the Vatican II document, Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), #112-120.

Also the article What is Sacred Music? by Monsignor. Richard J. Schuler. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM



Liturgical abuse through false ecumenism

February 9, 2005

My Church is holding an ecumenical “service” for Ash Wednesday. I’m a little angry about this, and this has led me to be angry about the practise of ecumenism in general. In theory, I know it’s supposed to communicate the traditions and practises of the Catholic Church in a way that the Protestants can understand them. But with the butchering of Vatican II by several bishops and parish priests, it seems like “ecumenicalism” means more Catholics becoming like Protestant rather than Protestant becoming Catholic (just take the music and the language of the mass for my example). Could you respond to this? Am I right or is my opinion short-sighted and just plain wrong? -Jonathon

We must remember that the Vatican II Council was a Holy Council called by the Pope under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and confirmed by the Holy Spirit. All Catholics are bound to obey the tenets and directives of Vatican II as it applies to them.

The abuses we see in Liturgy and in ecumenism (which is actually a false ecumenism) are abuses of Vatican II and are the result of sinful bishops and priests and not the fault of Vatican II or the Church.

We indeed can be angry at the abuses, but we must be careful not to let our proper angry turn into sinful anger, as the Bible warns. It is sad to see sinful and rebellious bishops and priests harming the Faith with their disrespectful and arrogant notions and teachings. It is even more sad to see the contamination of the people of God who sit under the teaching of these rebels.

We must dedicate ourselves to pray, instead of grumble, for these bishops and priests who dishonor our Sacred Liturgy and the Holy Teachings of the Church. Grumbling can be sinful, but praying for these people instead is a virtue that God will reward and through which some of the rebels may eventually repent.

We must also avoid the proverbial “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” when we see these abuses. Because we witness a false ecumenism does not mean that ecumenism is to be distrusted or thrown out. When we witness a “false ecumenism” we must remember that there is a “true Ecumenism.” In fact, the True Ecumenism is required for all Catholics.

Canon Law 755 §1 It is above all for the entire college of bishops and the Apostolic See to foster and direct among Catholics the ecumenical movement whose purpose is the restoration among all Christians of the unity which the Church is bound to promote by the will of Christ.

§2. It is likewise for the bishops and, according to the norm of law, the conferences of bishops to promote this same unity and to impart practical norms according to the various needs and opportunities of the circumstances; they are to be attentive to the prescripts issued by the supreme authority of the Church.

But what is this “ecumenical movement?” Since there is a “false” ecumenism, what is the “true” ecumenism? The Church gives us and teaches us a “true” ecumenism that clearly does not compromise the True Faith in any way. It does seek unity among Christians, which is the command that Jesus made to us all. That unity, however, is not made at the expense of Truth.

Here is the Church on Ecumenism from the Catechism:

“The sacred mystery of the Church’s unity” (UR 2)

813 The Church is one because of her source: “the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.” The Church is one because of her founder: for “the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross . . . restoring the unity of all in one people and one body.” The Church is one because of her “soul”: “It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church’s unity.” Unity is of the essence of the Church:

What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her “Church.”

814 From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God’s gifts and the diversity of those who receive them. Within the unity of the People of God, a multiplicity of peoples and cultures is gathered together. Among the Church’s members, there are different gifts, offices, conditions, and ways of life. “Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions.” The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church’s unity. Yet sin and the burden of its consequences constantly threaten the gift of unity. And so the Apostle has to exhort Christians to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

815 What are these bonds of unity? Above all, charity “binds everything together in perfect harmony.” But the unity of the pilgrim Church is also assured by visible bonds of communion:

– Profession of one faith received from the Apostles;

– Common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments;

– Apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders, maintaining the fraternal concord of God’s family.

816 “The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it…. This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.”

The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism explains: “For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God.”




Wounds to unity

817 In fact, “in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church – for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame.” The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ’s Body – here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism – do not occur without human sin:

Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.

818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers …. All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”

819 “Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.” Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”

Toward unity

820 “Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.” Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: “That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me.” The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit.

821 Certain things are required in order to respond adequately to this call:

– A permanent renewal of the Church in greater fidelity to her vocation; such renewal is the driving-force of the movement toward unity;

Conversion of heart as the faithful “try to live holier lives according to the Gospel”; for it is the unfaithfulness of the members to Christ’s gift which causes divisions;

Prayer in common, because “change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name ‘spiritual ecumenism;”‘

Fraternal knowledge of each other;

Ecumenical formation of the faithful and especially of priests;

Dialogue among theologians and meetings among Christians of the different churches and communities;

Collaboration among Christians in various areas of service to mankind. “Human service” is the idiomatic phrase.

822 Concern for achieving unity “involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike.” But we must realize “that this holy objective – the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ – transcends human powers and gifts.” That is why we place all our hope “in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

No loyal and obedient Catholic can disagree with this. The teaching of the Church is the teaching of Christ — “Be one.”

As for an Ecumenical Ash Wednesday “service”, it is permissible for the blessing and giving of ashes to take place outside of Mass. Obviously, only the Ash Wednesday Rite outside of Mass could be used in an Ecumenical Setting. Even then, the rubrics MUST be as specified in the Sacramentary. I am not aware of any permission given to have an Ecumenical Service, for example, where non-Catholic ministers conduct the service along with Catholic priests.

Without knowing exactly what happened in your parish, there is no way for me to respond specifically. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Role of women in the liturgy

May 19, 2007

At times I find myself struggling with the subordinate role women have in the church. It’s difficult for me to overcome cultural conditioning, yet I trust that Scripture is the Word of God. I pray that I can accept the Wisdom found there, even when it seems to go against human logic. No matter how I read a certain section of the bible, there seems to be no way around it–women should not be lectors during Mass:
St. Paul wrote:
“Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith. But if they would learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church.”
Is allowing women to be lectors some sort of Western concession to the feminist movement or the result of a deeper understanding of the passage?
I’ve heard it explained that St. Paul was speaking from his time and culture and this teaching doesn’t apply today. Applying this line of thinking would to the entire bible, would allow a great portion of it to be dismissed, so I’m not buying it. Should I be?



I try to reason it away by playing the “obedience to the Church” card, convincing myself that if the Church says women can be lectors, then women can be lectors. But not even the Church has the authority to change Scripture, so maybe I’m just misinterpreting what St. Paul meant.
Please, help me here. When and why did this change come about? –Carla

First we must affirm that women are not subordinate in the Church. St. Paul makes one of the most vigorous cases for equality between men and women ever known in the ancient world (cf. Gal 3:28) and which forms the basis of understanding of equality and dignity of God’s children with each other.

Women are not second class in the Church as some people assert. About 80% of the non-clergy positions in the Church are held by women. It is a woman the Church venerates as the First Christian, the First Disciple, the Queen of Heaven, and model for all Christians male and female.

It was the Catholic Church, through St. Paul, who for the first time in history raised women to equal dignity with men.

Women are hardly subordinate.

The roles within the Church are not separated by the sexes, but by status of clergy and laity. The fact that that only men can be priests is something chosen by God and is a fact that is compatible with the essential equality of men and women. The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Inter isigniores, 6, said:

“…the priesthood does not form part of the rights of the individual, but stems from the economy of the mystery of Christ and the Church. […]It therefore remains for us to meditate more deeply on the nature of the real equality of the baptized, which is one of the great affirmations of Christianity: equality is in no way identity, for the Church is a differentiated body, in which each individual has his or her role. The roles are distinct and must not be confused; they do not favour the superiority of some vis-à-vis the others, nor do they provide an excuse for jealousy; the only better gift, which can and must be desired, is love (cf. 1 Cor 12-13). The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven are not the ministers but the saints.”

A discussion of a male-only priesthood is for another time, except to say that this was the choice of Jesus and no Pope has the power to change that. The priests are the “fathers” of God’s children, not the “mothers”.  Only men can serve in the role of “father.”

We need to remind ourselves that the priesthood is not a right. Not every man can be priest. The restrictions given for women are also restrictions given to all lay men. This is what I meant earlier in saying this is not about men and women, this is about clergy and laity.

Now with that as a background, to your specific question.

St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 was dealing with a specific problem in the Corinthian Church but was also establishing a norm based upon the doctrinal economy taught by Christ. St. Paul was not saying that women could not speak. In fact he recognizes women speaking in the form of prophecy in 1 Corinthians 11:5. This passage in 1 Cor 14 is referring to women in the role as official teachers in the liturgy. This is made a little clearer in St. Paul’s teaching to Timothy (cf. I Timothy 2:12) in which he says that “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men…” In both instances St. Paul is talking about the Church assembly, the liturgy. Thus, his teaching is not a blanket teaching that woman cannot teach or have authority outside of the liturgy and Church hierarchy. It is okay, then, for women to be captains of industry with authority over men, bosses, managers, teachers in universities, teachers in seminaries, etc. The prohibition is teaching in the liturgy (e.g., the homily) and authority in the Church hierarchy (the charism of governance belongs to the bishops).

Now to the specific issue of readers in the Mass. Technically, “lectors” are men. Those authorized to read are first clergy and then those “installed in the office of Lector.” The Installed offices of Lector and Acolyte must be men (either clergy or lay).

If there are insufficient numbers of clergy or installed officers to fulfill the function of Lector, then regular laity may do so on a temporary basis. Since women are members of the laity, that includes them.

Traditionally, the office of Lector was one of the minor orders of a man preparing for priesthood. Vatican II suppressed the minor orders in favor of the three main orders of deacon, priest, and bishop with what use to be the minor orders of acolyte and lectors given the status of “installed offices.” Since then many times bishops would appoint to these “installed offices” young men studying for the priesthood, but in actuality these offices may be held by any Catholic lay man in good standing and who is otherwise qualified.

If bishops appointed sufficient numbers of men to be lectors and acolytes, there would be no need for the extraordinary ministers from the pews. The extraordinary AGAIN have become the same as ordinary.

Extraordinary non-installed lectors are supposed to be used only when needed and only on a temporary basis. Canon Law recognizes that in some parishes there may be lacking sufficient numbers of clergy and installed officers. Thus, these roles must be filled by somebody. The laity may be temporarily deputed to fill that need. But this is to be temporary, not ordinary. The bishops need to be appointing installed officers.

I suspect that the reason bishop’s do not appoint installed officers is that the people would be in an uproar since they would no longer be able to participate as readers and altar servers (or more specifically, the women would up in an uproar).

Canonically, however, whenever these roles of reader and altar server are open to regular laity and not just to clergy and installed officers, then women may be included because they, too, are laity.

It was the same canonical technicality that allowed women and girls to be altar servers. But, as I said, if the bishops appointed sufficient numbers of installed officers (who must be men) then there would be no reason for women (or men) from the pews to serve as readers or altar servers (with the exception of boys as altar servers which Pope John Paul II said is a tradition that is to be maintained).

Anyway, that is how women can be readers.




This role of reader, for men or for women, however, is not a teaching role or a role of authority. It is merely reading the Scripture. Thus St. Paul’s comments, which refer to teaching and authority, do not apply to the role of reading. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Avoiding criticism of priests who commit liturgical abuse, and the validity of the Mass?

June 12, 2007

In the Pieta Book there is a revelation given by our Lord to Mutter Vogel titled “Criticism of Priest”.
Accordingly, we are told that we should never, even if a priest is in error, criticize him. Instead, we should pray and do penance so that the Lord will again grant him His grace.
It also states that even if a priest celebrates the Holy Mass un-worthily say nothing about him, instead tell it to Me, meaning Jesus, alone. I, meaning Jesus, stand beside him on the altar. It also states:

“Certainly the Holy Sacrifice is one and the same when it’s celebrated by an unworthy priest, but the graces called down upon the people is not the same!”
What I do not understand is this, if the Mass is celebrated unworthily, which could cover multiple reasons for the invalidation during the Consecration of bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. And, if this invalidation were to take place, would we, if we are aware of the abuse or offense committed, in receiving the host, be guilty of the sin of idolatry?
Also, if one were aware of a priest who has abused a young boy or young girl, are we to keep silent and simply pray, as the Pieta Books “Criticism of Priests” suggests, or, is it not our obligation to immediately report this abusive priest to the police?
I am very confused and need your guidance so that I may better understand the meaning of this “Criticism Of Priests” found in the Pieta Book. –Patricia

Many people are confused by the Pieta Book. We must remember that the advice given by Mutter Vogel is a “private revelation.” As such we have no obligation to believe it, and we certainly are not bound by it.

One of the problems of private revelation is that even if they are genuine and approved by the Church, they must still be interpreted. Oftentimes it is in the interpretation that the visionary himself or others may go off the mark. 

We must also remember that when the Church approves a private revelation she is only saying that it appears the private revelation is supernatural (that is, from God) and it is worthy as an aid to our devotion. The approbation of the Church does not apply to every dotted “I” revealed in the Private Revelation.

An imprimatur is similar. It merely says that nothing contained in the book is contrary to the faith; it is not an endorsement of the ideas in the book. It is possible for something to not be contrary to the Faith, but still not prudent or beneficial. St. Paul says this in the Bible.

Another aspect we need to consider is the language style of the time. In times past the style of language was such that to the 21st century ear it may sound definitive and absolute, when in fact it is not. This is the mistake the Ultra-Traditionalists make about the Tridentine Mass. They see the Pope making statements of hyperbole that were rather common for the era and presume the Pope was making an infallible statement. He was not.

Here we have something similar. To NEVER criticize a priest is a hyperbole. We certainly should give the priest the benefit of the doubt, offer him respect that is due to the priesthood (even if he himself is not respectable), and never be critical (in the sense of grumbling and petty and critical for the sake of being critical).

But, this does not apply to taking notice of a priest who is abusing the liturgy, teaching heresy or some other form of heterodoxy, committing crimes, etc.

In fact, according to Canon Law, we have a right and even a duty to speak out at times. Canon 212.2 and 212.3 are examples of this right:

§2 Christ’s faithful are at liberty to make known their needs, especially their spiritual needs, and their wishes to the Pastors of the Church.

§3 They have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ’s faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.

So, we cannot take the private revelation of Mutter Vogel in an absolute manner. I think her message is more toward the gossipy, petty criticalness that is so often present among any group of human beings.

It is certainly the case that in every parish there is at least one group of people that have nothing good to say about the pastor. They do nothing but criticize. This is obviously not pleasing to God.

The Bible has a phrase, “love covers a multitude of sins.” When we love someone we do not take notice of every single little quirk and sin in the person’s life. We are all sinners; none of us can survive such a close scrutiny. We should love our priests and pray for, instead of criticize them for every little imperfection they may have.

But, on the big stuff, like violating canon law, liturgical law, heresy or otherwise failing to teach the faith properly (which canon law says we have a right to expect), committing crimes such as embezzlement of Church funds or sex abuse, these things we have a DUTY to point out and deal with for the good of the Church in a way that is appropriate. Even so, we must always do it with due respect for the priesthood.





I know some priests who teach that the Catholic Church no longer requires us to attend Sunday Mass. I know other priests who teach that masturbation is okay, or that living together without marriage is okay, getting married without an annulment of a previous marriage is okay, and on and on and on. These are things that we have a duty to criticize and depending on the circumstances to report to the bishop.

As for the validity of the Mass, the unworthiness of the Priest has NOTHING to do with it. The Church is worthy and the Church steps in to provide whatever is lacking in the priest.  As long as the priest does what the Church intends, and the elements of the Eucharist are valid, the Mass is valid.

The Mass is valid if the proper elements are present: minister, intent, matter, and form.

The proper minister is a validly ordained priest.

The proper intent means that the priest does what the Church does. The priest may not even believe in the Real Presence. It doesn’t matter. As long as he does what the Church does in the Mass, the Mass is valid. Any lacking of faith in the priest is fulfilled by the faith of the Church.

About the only way a priest could offer an intention that would invalidate the Mass is that while he is going through the motions he says to himself, “I am not convecting the Eucharist, this is all a lie, and I am deliberately fooling the people.” It would be VERY rare for any priest to do that. I would think the only priest who might do that is one who is possessed by Satan, or who is a hidden Satanist.

Even if that happened, the people would not know it and could not know it. God would give a grace to the people anyway.

Matter refers to the proper matter of the bread and wine. These elements must be prepared in the way prescribed by Canon Law.

Form refers to the words of the consecration. However, contrary to the scrupulous, even if the words of consecration are not said properly it does not invalidate the Mass automatically. While messing around with the words of consecration may be illicit as long as the essential message of “This is my Body” and “This is . . . my Blood” then the consecration will be valid.

It is extremely rare to experience an invalid Mass no matter how many liturgical abuses are present, no matter what the faith of the priest, no matter how unworthy the priest is.

What I am about to say is terrible, but I say it to bring home the point in a dramatic way. If the priest molested an altar boy in the sacristy five minutes before Mass, the Mass is still valid. The Mass is simply not dependent upon the impeccability of the priest. The Mass is holy because the Church is holy, not the priest. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

June 13, 2007

There was one part of your excellent answer to Patricia that contained a mistake.
In discussion the intention of the minister (which you correctly stated is necessary for validity) you spoke of an internal intention to not consecrate. This, in and of itself, would not invalidate the Mass.
Sacramental intention must be publicly manifested (this can be explicit in words or implicit in actions) not merely internally formed.
Remember that the necessary elements for validity are there so that the faithful will have the assurance of a valid celebration of a Sacrament or the awareness of an invalid celebration. If the personal and internal intention of the minister could invalidate there would be no way to determine what it is. See ST III Q64 A8 –Fr. Smith

I appreciate the note, but in looking into it does not appear that the statement is wrong (a statement that I took from an article in This Rock magazine.

The thought that the private intention cannot affect the validity because no one can know the priest’s interior thoughts is precisely the question that St. Aquinas was refuting. Objection 2 (ST III Q64 A8) states:

Further, one man’s intention cannot be known to another. Therefore if the minister’s intention were required for the validity of a sacrament, he who approaches a sacrament could not know whether he has received the sacrament.

St. Aquinas refutes that proposition in his Reply to Objection 2 where he states:

Consequently, others with better reason hold that the minister of a sacrament acts in the person of the whole Church, whose minister he is; while in the words uttered by him, the intention of the Church is expressed; and that this suffices for the validity of the sacrament, except the contrary be expressed on the part either of the minister or of the recipient of the sacrament.

The article from which I borrowed the analogy of how a priest could intend to not confect the Eucharist was an article by James Akin in This Rock Magazine, entitled, Invalid Masses:

Thus for the Eucharist, but also for other sacraments, only the general intention to “do the thing that Christians do” is needed for validity: “Objectively considered, the intention of doing what the Church does suffices. The minister, therefore, does not need to intend what the Church intends, namely to produce the effects of the sacraments. . . . It suffices if he has the intention of performing the religious action as it is current among Christians” (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 344). This is also the interpretation of Aquinas (ST III: 64:9-10).

In order for a minister to lack valid intention, while outwardly performing the rites of the Mass and the Eucharistic prayer, he virtually would have to say to himself, “What I am doing is not the Eucharist. I’m only play acting and fooling all of these people into thinking I’m performing a sacrament, when really I’m not.” Needless to say, a priest is almost never going to have such an intention.

But, since you brought it up I wanted to check with other sources concerning the interpretation of St. Aquinas in this matter. It could always be possible that Mr. Akin and I are misinterpreting.



There are two more sources that bear mentioning. One is from Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum University, who said:

According to the doctrine of Council of Trent, the sacramental intention must be to do as the Church does whenever it performs this rite. This means that the celebrant must at least intend to consecrate the bread and wine.

It does not mean that he intends to follow all Church norms in doing so. Provided that correct matter and form are united to the intention, the Church would normally recognize the validity of an abusive Eucharistic celebration where many norms were flouted.

This seems to agree with Akin and myself. The priest must have the Intention to do as the Church does. He must “at least intend to consecrate the bread and wine.” If this be the case, if the priest does not intend to consecrate the bread and wine, which is the rare contention proposed, then the Mass is invalid. All sort of other abuses do not matter, but the intention of the Priest does. Father McNamara seems to suggest that merely going through the motions and the words is does not in itself constitute intention.

And then another quote from Colin B. Donovan from the EWTN Q & A states:

The priest must intend to do what the Church does in offering bread and wine at Mass, transforming them separately into the Body and Blood of Christ, and thereby offering the sacrifice of Christ to the Father. In being ordained he accepts this duty, and therefore makes this intention, which will continue in him even if he should not explicitly form that intention when actually celebrating Mass. He has Christ’s authority and power even if he is distracted or otherwise not explicitly forming an intention, just as we can walk and do many other kinds of things without having them in the front of our mind, simply because we have the power and habit of doing them. So, it is a very high hurdle to say that a priest doesn’t intend to do what the Church intends. However, if a priest rejects the Church’s intention then he positively wills to NOT do what the Church intends. I know of a case where a priest said “I don’t do that hocus pocus,” referring snidely to the Latin form of the Consecration (“Hoc est enim corpus meum”). In doing so he warned, at least the more knowledgeable of his listeners, that he did not offer the Mass and his “communions” were a nice picnic. Flee O faithful ones! And tell the bishop! Thankfully, this is a rare occurrence, the standard of invalidity being very high, as I noted.

Mr. Donovan also seems to agree with the interpretation that has been posited here. He even gives an example of a priest who deliberately did not intend to do that the church does.

Lack of faith of the priest, sinfulness of the priest, liturgical abuses, lack of attention to the intention of the Sacrament, all do not invalidate the Sacrament. But, in the extremely rare instances where a priest purposely, consciously and deliberately does not intend to confect the Eucharist and intends to render it nothing but ordinary bread and wine, then Intention is lacking and the Mass is not valid.

Now, this is a very rare thing, but theoretically it is possible according to St. Aquinas — a “contrary” intention can invalidate the Mass, at least as I read him and apparently as the men I quoted read him.

Thus, I am not sure where this is wrong.

Perhaps the problem here is one of interpretation of St. Aquinas; the Saint can be hard to interpret sometimes. Can you provide some sources that interpret St. Aquinas the way that you do? I’d be interested if you can. Although this is such a rare possibility as to be almost non-existent, it is still important to know the boundaries of the possibilities. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

June 14, 2007

Here is where we agree: “In the extremely rare instances where a priest purposely, consciously and deliberately does not intend to confect the Eucharist and intends to render it nothing but ordinary bread and wine, then Intention is lacking and the Mass is not valid.” (Probably because we are both faithful Catholics and this is what the Church teaches)
Where we disagree is if a merely internal intention invalidates.
For a complete treatment of the whole question see:

It’s a fascinating but tedious read.
It appears that both of our positions are theologically defensible.
I would base my argument on Thomas who says
“except the contrary BE EXPRESSED on the part either of the minister or of the recipient of the sacrament.” (Emphasis mine)
and Leo XIII in Apostolicae Curae wrote:
33. With this inherent defect of “form” is joined the defect of “intention” which is equally essential to the Sacrament. The Church does not judge about the mind and intention, in so far as it is something by its nature internal; but in so far as it is manifested externally she is bound to judge concerning it. A person who has correctly and seriously used the requisite matter and form to effect and confer a sacrament is presumed for that very reason to have intended to do (intendisse) what the Church does. On this principle rests the doctrine that a Sacrament is truly conferred by the ministry of one who is a heretic or unbaptized, provided the Catholic rite be employed. On the other hand, if the rite be changed, with the manifest intention of introducing another rite not approved by the Church and of rejecting what the Church does, and what, by the institution of Christ, belongs to the nature of the Sacrament, then it is clear that not only is the necessary intention wanting to the Sacrament, but that the intention is adverse to and destructive of the Sacrament. –Fr. Smith





In my mind, at least, I was not arguing in favor of a mere internal intention invalidating the Mass. That cannot be true since the a priest could in essence have no conscious interior intention at all, or be distracted from it, or even have no faith, and the sacrament is still valid. The only point I was asserting is the statement that you say we agree upon:

“In the extremely rare instances where a priest purposely, consciously and deliberately does not intend to confect the Eucharist and intends to render it nothing but ordinary bread and wine, then Intention is lacking and the Mass is not valid.”

If it seemed that I was arguing for more than this point, and then I mis-spoke, I apologize.

Fortunately, the scenario described in that paragraph is extremely rare. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Priest changing the rubrics

May 25, 2008

If the Priest is validly ordained, and if he changes any part of the words of consecration, would the bread then become the Eucharist (the Real Presence)? Or would it just be “cracker” or plain whatever? –Claire

Any change in the Eucharistic Prayer is illicit, but does not make the Mass invalid unless the priest changes the wording of the consecration itself (This is My Body, This is…My Blood).

We must be careful, however, about rash judgment concerning the priest’s motivations. It is possible the priest has failing memory or failing eyesight as to read the Sacramentary.

Whenever a valid priest says a Mass that is not valid – which is EXTREMELY rare – the transubstantiation does not happen and we have only a cracker. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


The Sign of Peace

January 22, 2009

At the sign of peace some Catholic apologists say that we should all give each other a hand shake and that it is inappropriate to show preference to any of our loved ones by giving them a hug.

The GIRM simply says “As for the sign of peace to be given, the manner is to be established by Conferences of Bishops in accordance with the culture and customs of the peoples. It is, however, appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner.”

I know that many people go extra lengths and walk up or down the isle to give a friend or relative a sign of peace which is inappropriate but nothing that I have found says that we must shake hands only. I always turn to my wife and give her a hug and a peck on the cheek, and a hug to my son. To those in front or behind me I extend my hand and give them a smile and a handshake. I feel quite odd giving my wife just a handshake. –Chas

My opinion is those Catholic Apologists are idiots. Of course you can hug your wife and kids. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Hymn with the name of a pagan deity

March 3, 2009

I was rather disturbed at Mass on Sunday. I live in Brazil where the majority of people are either spiritualist (talking to the dead, supposedly) or pagan (candomblé or macumba) and in many parts of Brazil, such as Bahia, the Catholic bishops permit the priestesses of candomblé to “bless” Catholics with popcorn, or to use the Catholic Church to offer pagan sacrifices to their gods, right in front of the Tabernacle, all with the blessings (and sometimes participation) of the local bishop.
So I was astounded that in my very devout Catholic parish in Rio de Janeiro, we sang a song in which we sang, “Oxalá”–now supposedly this is an exclamation from the Bible (see 2 Co. 11:1 or Job 19:23 for example) that means something like, “so be it, God!” However, it is also the name of one of the primary pagan deities in candomblé (although the etymology is different – there is no linguistic connection between the African-based deity and that of the exclamation) and I was taken aback that a “hymn” that could cause confusion would be used in a Catholic Church.
Should I make mention of this to the pastor? Should I refrain (as I did) from ever singing the hymn for fear I am unintentionally invoking the name of a pagan god? –Tim

I am not familiar with the language issues you mention, but based on what you have described I would think there would be a great confusion, especially in the culture in which you live, to have a hymn with the same name as a false god. It would seem to be to be prudent to hot have such a hymn.

I think you should mention this to your pastor and see what he says. If he doesn’t do anything, then I would write a business-like letter to your bishop detailing your concerns. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick at Mass

April 30, 2009

Our parish offers the Anointing of the Sick during Mass once per month. Because I understand that it is a sacrament for the very ill and elderly, I have not availed myself of it. However, a friend advised that I should receive it because it will strengthen me spiritually and physically. I do suffer some bodily ailments – hearing loss, tinnitus, and anxiety sometimes. Do those sufferings warrant the anointing of the sick and, if so, how often may I receive it? –Belle



When you say that the Anointing of the Sick is during Mass, I hope you mean that the Anointing takes place after Mass. It would be illegal to do the Anointing during the Mass itself. Usually the Priest does this after the Mass.

As for who should receive the Sacrament of Anointing, the Sacrament answers that question:


In case of grave illness…

1514 The Anointing of the Sick “is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.”

1515 If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced.

Ailments that are not grave would not qualify. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

May 18, 2009

The answer to the question regarding Anointing of the Sick was partially incorrect. As noted in The Text of the Rite (97) states that the sacrament of anointing can be administered to an individual whether at home, in a hospital or institution, or in church; and several sick persons may be anointed within the rite, especially if the celebration takes place in a church or hospital; the celebration may also take place within Mass. So it is not illegal to do so within the mass.
Also Canon 1004 of the Code of Canon Law indicates succinctly who may receive the sacrament: “The anointing of the sick can be administered to any member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger by reason of illness or old age.” A new illness or a renewal or worsening of the first illness enables a person to receive the sacrament a further time. And “in the case of a person who is chronically ill, or elderly and in a weakened condition, the sacrament of anointing may be repeated when in the pastoral judgment of the priest the condition of the sick person warrants the repetition of the sacrament” (Rite of Anointing of the Sick, 102).
So anyone that is chronically ill may receive the sacrament.
It should be added that although the sacrament does remit sin, those receiving it should avail themselves of confession if able to do so before hand, but as soon as possible after if they have mortal sins. –Jane

You are correct. I made a presumption I should not have made. I was thinking of the Charismatic “so-called” healing masses where even laymen anoint people who come forward and all are invited to come up.

The Sacrament of Anointing itself may be done within the Liturgy of the Mass. The Sacrament of Anointing, however, may only be performed by a priest, and the priest must care to ensure that those who receive it are proper candidates for the Sacrament. A general invitation is not permitted, and people are sick, but not seriously, are not qualified.

According to the Church’s law (cc. 988, 1004.1) and in the rite for the pastoral care of the sick (8), the sacrament may be administered only to those who are seriously ill, specifically those who begin to be in danger due to sickness or old age. This includes those about to undergo surgery when a serious illness is the reason for the surgery (PCS #10)

As for performing the Sacrament to a mass of people the PCS states:

99. The priest should ensure that the abuse of delaying the reception of the sacrament does not occur, and that the celebration takes place while the sick person is capable of active participation, However, the intent of the conciliar reform (Sacrosanctum Concilium 73) that those needing the sacrament should seek it at the beginning of a serious illness should not be used to anoint those who are not proper subjects for the sacrament. The sacrament of the anointing of the sick should be celebrated only when a Christian’s health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age.
100. The priest should inquire about the physical and spiritual condition of the sick person and he should become acquainted with the family, friends, and others who may be present. The sick person and others may help to plan the celebration, for example, by choosing the readings and prayers. It will be especially helpful if the sick person, the priest, and the family become accustomed to praying together.

Specifically as to a mass celebration of the Sacrament the PCS continues:

108. The rites for anointing outside Mass and anointing within Mass may be used to anoint a number of people within the same celebration. These rites are appropriate for large gatherings of a diocese, parish, or society for the sick, or for pilgrimages. These celebrations should take place in a church, chapel, or other appropriate place where the sick and others can easily gather. On occasion, they may also take place in hospitals and other institutions.
If the Ordinary decides that many people are to be anointed in the same celebration, either he or his delegate should ensure that all disciplinary norms concerning anointing are observed, as well as the norms for pastoral preparation and liturgical celebration. In particular, the practice of indiscriminately anointing numbers of people on these occasions simply because they are ill or have reached an advanced age is to be avoided. Only those whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age are proper subjects for the sacrament. The Ordinary also designates the priests who will take part in the celebration of the sacrament.

Of all the anointings I have witnessed during a Mass, or afterward, exactly NONE of followed the law concerning the Sacrament. And, furthermore, few if any were the Sacrament of Anointing in the first place as laity were involved in “anointing” people.




In all instances there was a general invitation for anyone to come forward to be anointed and there was no preparation at all. The priest never talked to anyone in advance and there was no determination of who was and who was not qualified to receive the Sacrament.

There is a reason for that — this is not the Sacrament but a healing blessing and thus may not be done during the Liturgy of the Mass.

If, the priest in these situations intended it to be the Sacrament, then he performed it illicitly as these rubrics described above break the very specific rules for the proper celebration of the Sacrament with several people.

That is what I had in mind when I responded earlier and skipped over the fact that the genuine and properly performed Sacrament of Anointing may indeed be part of the Liturgy of the Mass. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

October 27, 2009

I recently read that you mentioned no one should receive The Anointing of The Sick unless in danger of being sick. I have attended Masses where at the end once a month the priests would allow this sacrament for anyone who was ill, mentally or physically or spiritually. I was told by a priest that is why they changed the way it is referred to now and not called the last rites anymore.

Last year I fell and hurt the medial meniscus of my left knee and had a bad limp. After mass I asked the priest if it was appropriate to have the sacrament for my knee and he said it was. An hour after my knee literally felt 25-50 percent better. It hasn’t completely healed yet but it seemed to really help especially when I am stressed temptations really set in of the flesh for the relief factor. Was I wrong then to ask for the sacrament? Maybe I misunderstood you. When I read the Catechism I do not remember it specifically stating it was only to be offered to the sick and dying but I think I read it said it was encouraged (I do not have it in front of me currently to verify this.) -Joe

You did no wrong to ask, but the priest did wrong to say that the Sacrament of Anointing was appropriate. The Priest is obligated to obey Canon Law. To not do so is rebellion. The priest is either sinning in rebellion or is ignorant of the rules of the Sacrament and needs to be re-educated. The priest has the solemn obligation to know and obey the rules for all Sacraments.

Canon Law states:

Can. 1004 §1 The anointing of the sick can be administered to a member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age.

§2. This sacrament can be repeated if the sick person, having recovered, again becomes gravely ill or if the condition becomes graver during the same illness.

Can. 1005 This sacrament is to be administered in a case of doubt whether the sick person has attained the use of reason, is dangerously ill, or is dead.

Can. 1006 This sacrament is to be conferred on the sick who at least implicitly requested it when they were in control of their faculties.

Can. 1007 The anointing of the sick is not to be conferred upon those who persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin.

The Catechism says, “The anointing of the sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived” (CCC 1514).

The Sacrament is not for the merely sick or suffering. It is for those who “begin to be in danger of death”. This includes those, for example, who may be going into surgery in which the possibility of death may occur.

Your knee injury does not qualify for the Sacrament of Anointing. The priest, however, can blessing you and pray for healing, but to administer the Sacrament of Anointing for a knee injury that did not pose you any danger of death was illicit.

Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Priest changing the rubrics

December 11, 2009

If the priest says “It is my body” and “It is my blood” instead of “This is my body” and “This is my blood”, is the mass invalid? -Katie

Canon Law  846 §1 states: “In celebrating the sacraments the liturgical books approved by competent authority are to be observed faithfully; accordingly, no one is to add, omit, or alter anything in them on one’s own authority.”

Any change made by the priest to any part of the Mass that is not approved by the Church is illicit. If he does this with disregard for what he knows the Church expects, then he commits a grave sin.

The change of words by this priest is certainly illicit, but the question here is the validity of the Consecration.

First, it must be said that you could have heard the words wrongly and that it only sounded like “it”; or it could have been an unintentional mistake on the priest’s part. If this priest did it deliberately then we have a problem. If he continues to change the words of consecration I would certainly contact the Bishop.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P, from Catholic Answers, says: “As long as the priest conveys what the Church conveys in consecrating the bread and the wine, the consecration is valid, though illicit (unlawful) if he changes the words.”





This opinion is suspect, however, in my opinion. Catholics United for the Faith, in a Faith Facts article, states: “Summarizing the Church’s theological tradition, Ludwig Ott believes that “Jesus effected the transmutation by the words: ‘This is My Body,’ ‘This is My Blood’.” These words, which are never omitted in any formula of consecration, are undoubtedly essential for the validity of the sacrifice.”

Ott states that the form of the consecration is Sent. Certa, which means that it is definitive doctrine.

Ultimately, I would contact your bishop and ask about the validity of the consecration. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Messed-up Mass

February 3, 2010

I am a very practicing Catholic, and because of my current “missionary placement”, my team and I recently attended, by invitation, a weekend which, in principle, was meant to prepare the youth of the Diocese for WYD 2011. Leaving aside details about how the whole weekend felt very protestant and new age-ish, it was very unorthodox and lacked substance, and did not really address WYD. Consider this a background to the next part.
What I want to ask is about the “mass” they had. Here’s the layout. It was Sunday.
– Entrance hymn: played by on a CD
– Priest reads an opening prayer composed by one of the people responsible for organizing the weekend, no sign of the cross to open mass.
– Psalm, second reading, and alleluia entirely omitted
– A selected gospel passage was interpreted (not read by the priest) by laywoman in song and dance
– Reflection was given by same laywoman, no homily
– Offertory consisted of a power point presentation about Haiti, and gifts “for Haiti” were brought up (bread and wine were already at the altar)
– The entire Liturgy of the Eucharist was ad-libbed by the priest, and the words of consecration of the wine were slightly modified
– During communion, the priest announced that there were not enough hosts for everyone, and asked the congregation (of 40ish) to simply take a host, break it and share it with the people around them. He proceeded to pass hosts out from his clay ciborium (am I wrong in thinking that ciboriums are supposed to be at least lined with gold on the inside?), and people broke up the Eucharist into bits and passed them around. Being assigned to play a communion song, I managed to avoid receiving. I didn’t notice if he cleaned up properly afterwards, but he didn’t sweep the room and eat the dust so my guess is that he didn’t.
– For the final blessing, another priest who was present and not concelebrating invited several people up into the “sanctuary” (we were in an ecumenical center, so it wasn’t a real church) and they had a little chat, talked about how nice family was, then the “presiding” priest proceeded to take the baby in both hands, and in the same fashion as one would do while doing the benediction holding a monstrance at the end of adoration, “blessed” the congregation.
– At no point in the “mass” did the priest say “The Lord be with you”
I felt like tearing up the place. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite that angry before.
1. Was the mass valid?
2. Should these priests be put into exile or be excommunicated for allowing these things to happen?
3. Am I guilty of any sin for not leaving, reprimanding them all, or participating in the “mass” by playing music?
4. Should I put anything specific in my letter to the Bishop of the diocese (who, by the way, is a Cardinal)? Or should what I wrote here suffice?
Thanks a bunch! I plan on never ever returning to that place, just for the record. –Phil

To say this Mass, as you describe it, was a mess is an understatement. If I was the Bishop, I would suspend this priest and have him re-educated in a mountain-top monastery in Turkey.

What you describe is certainly illicit (unlawful according to liturgical law) to say the least. It would appear the entire Mass was illicit in nearly each of its elements.

This priest has no right to say a Mass that is different than that outlined in an approved Sacramentary. The Vatican Council specifically stated that “no one, not even a priest, may change anything in the Mass on his own authority” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, n. 22)

As for validity, that will depend on the consecration of the Eucharist. You said he altered the words of consecration slightly. It will depend on exactly what he said.

To the Cardinal I would outline what you have outlined here. Try to remember the exact words the priest used in the consecration. Be matter-of-fact and business-like. Avoid being accusatory or presuming the priest’s motivations. Just the facts.

I presume you did not know all this was going to happen, thus you have no culpability in supporting this mess. As for walking out, that could have been done, but no sin to remain. I would have remained mostly to find out what was going to happen so I could report it to the bishop.

Since the validity of this Mass is in reasonable doubt, I would not have received the Eucharist, and I would seek out another parish Mass, if one was available later in the day. I would also lift up to God the suffering of enduring this illicit Mass for the conversion and salvation of the priest.

Lord help us with these rebellious priests. Save them before they damage more parishioners. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM



Use of non-liturgical sacred vessels

May 17, 2011

Before the offertory, the priest brought out a glass or crystal bowl with hosts in and glass or crystal chalice with wine in it.

Is this right? –Frank

Glass vessels are not to be used. Any vessel that can easily be broken is not permitted.

More specifically, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2002) states:

328. Sacred vessels are to be made from precious metal. If they are made from metal that rusts or from a metal less precious than gold, then ordinarily they should be gilded on the inside.

329. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, sacred vessels may also be made from other solid materials that, according to the common estimation in each region, are precious, for example, ebony or other hard woods, provided that such materials are suited to sacred use and do not easily break or deteriorate. This applies to all vessels which hold the hosts, such as the paten, the ciborium, the pyx, the monstrance, and other things of this kind.

330. As regards chalices and other vessels that are intended to serve as receptacles for the Blood of the Lord, they are to have bowls of nonabsorbent material. The base, on the other hand, may be made of other solid and worthy materials.

A commentary in Canada (well know for its liturgical irregularities) called the “Vision of the Eucharist” said that “durable glass” could be used for sacred vessels. Durable glass is rather an oxymoron, but is also not the “noble and solid” and “worthy” material that the 1975 General Instruction required. Glass stemware is a common material and thus is not suitable for a sacred vessel.

The 2000 Instruction was more specific in its language requiring sacred vessels to be “noble and metal” with preference given to materials that do not break easily or deteriorate (GIRM 2000, 328)

The 2002 General Instruction is even more specific. It seems that with immature people, one must be very specific or they will take advantage of any slight vagueness like little children.

Even more recently the Congregation for Divine Worship in 2004 decreed in Redemptionis Sacramentum:

117. Sacred vessels for containing the Body and Blood of the Lord must be made in strict conformity with the norms of tradition and of the liturgical books. The Bishops’ Conferences have the faculty to decide whether it is appropriate, once their decisions have been given the recognitio by the Apostolic See, for sacred vessels to be made of other solid materials as well. It is strictly required, however, that such materials be truly noble in the common estimation within a given region, so that honour will be given to the Lord by their use, and all risk of diminishing the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species in the eyes of the faithful will be avoided. Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily. This norm is to be applied even as regards metals and other materials that easily rust or deteriorate. [Emphasis added]

Your priest needs to be informed of the Church’s legislation on this. If he wishes to rebel against the Church, then a report to the bishop is warranted. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Liturgical irreverence in America

September 2, 2011

What are the true reasons for the differences between the United States and the rest of the world? I am talking about, for example, the communion norm standing and (relative) norm receiving on the hand as well as dietary regulations for Fridays confined to Lent, etc.
I am wondering about this for a couple reasons. The first is obvious, simple desire for knowledge. But for the second, to be completely honest, sometimes I believe that the United States more than anyone should be fasting extra, or receiving communion with more reverence. I don’t say this just to be antagonistic, more so, because I sometimes ponder whether these provisions might have encouraged (of course, at the complete fault of the people and not the Holy See) a more “loose” interpretation of the faith.
For example, sometimes I wonder to myself that perhaps the norm of receiving on the hand and standing has been abused. I do not think things such as, “what a mistake the Magisterium has made in declaring this” at all. I fully recognize before everything the importance of obedience and respect for whatever disciplinary or liturgical measure is either mandated or allowed by the Holy See.
However, sometimes I really wonder how well people here in the U.S. actually deal with what was originally an act containing some kind of wisdom on behalf of the Holy See. There are so many problems here in the U.S., sometimes regarding outright heresy, that is of course on both the public and lazy bishops/priests for fault, but it makes me wonder what implications this holds for our society.
When I speak of abuses, I am speaking of course regarding the fact that not only are some people chastised (depending, of course, on the priest) for things like kneeling for communion, but also that many seem to have taken the norm of standing and made it into a blasé approach to the offering of the Eucharist, as if they were coming up to receive a wafer – without bowing and sometimes without even an “Amen,” and just rushing up to receive and leaving. Ryan

Sometimes the Holy See, upon request of country’s Council of Bishops, will allow modifications to the universal norms. Such modifications are supposed to be based upon pastoral reasons that may be present in one region, or one country, and not another.


The Conferences of Bishops of the United States and Canada have made such modifications. For example, in Canada all but two Holy Days of Obligation have been transferred to Sunday. In the United States, only four to six (out of ten listed in the universal norms) Holy Days of Obligation are observed outside of Sunday.
Supposedly, this decision was made because of the hustle and bustle of the American culture that results in a burden upon the people if they were to observe Holy Days of Obligation according to universal norms. Personally, I find that to be bunk. But that is me.
The issue of communion in the hand, however, is a completely different matter. Parishes in the United States practiced communion in the hand illegally, and in rebellion to the Holy See, for many years. I believe the Pope gave his permission for communion in the hand, (which was given with the proviso that it be experimental, that the people properly catechized, and the risk of abuses dealt with) because United States is a big bunch of babies and it just wasn’t worth the battle. Every father must pick his battles with his children. Since United States is without question the most profoundly immature culture on the planet, we present a pain in the backside to the Pope.
As for receiving communion, the new norm in the United States is to remain standing by giving a slight bow. The Holy See, however, has affirmed that those who wish to give a profound bow, or to kneel, or to genuflect may do so and are not to be chastised for it. The same goes for receiving our Lord on the tongue. We have a choice to receive in the hand or on the tongue, and those who wish to receive on the tongue are not to be disrespected. I have met priests who gave me a dirty look because I presented my tongue, instead of my hand. Those priests were out of line.

As far as the general irreverence that people display, that is another issue. We live in a culture that does not understand, nor does it respect, the sacred. We live in a profane and pedestrian society. Since Catholics grow up in such a society and if they are not willing to reflect upon themselves, learn the nature of the sacred, and deliberately practice acts of reverence, they will likely not display much reverence. Unfortunately, human beings tend to act “on default”. That is, human beings tend to follow the path most traveled, path that is easiest, the path that requires the least amount of thinking or reflection.
While that is the default culture of human beings Christians are called by God to be countercultural. We are called to rise above the default, and we are called to excellence and not mediocrity. Billy Graham once said, “Many people sacrifice the best on the altar of the good.” Indeed that is true. We tend to settle for that which is good and are satisfied with that. But, what father wants merely the good for his children. Any parent, rather, wants the best for their children. Our Father in heaven wants the best for us; he wants what is excellent for us. But most of the time we disappoint Him and settle for the mediocre, or only the good, and thus rob ourselves of the excellence that God has for us.
We need to be in prayer for those people who do not understand the sacred, who may not even know how or do not think to practice proper reverence. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

September 8, 2011

I saw your reply to Ryan in which you state that you felt it was “bunk” that the Bishops removed some Holy Days because of the “burden” it caused people having to attend Mass. I totally agree with you and I even sent an e-mail to the NCCB when they were debating about moving some of the Holy Days to Sundays. I got no reply.

I pointed out that there is one day that is NOT a Holy Day yet people flock and come out of the woodwork and will go to great lengths to go and have ashes placed on their foreheads on Ash Wednesdays. If the masses can attend Mass (no pun intended) on that day, they can surely make an effort for Holy Days. The churches are packed to the brim on Ash Wednesday (not to be judgmental) then they will disappear the following Sundays.

I remember in my youth that there would be Mass at six in the morning and we would attend Mass on Holy Days at that time before going to school. One parish even had Mass at five in the morning every Sunday. Once I started working I would go during my lunch hour for Holy Days and I never thought it was a burden.

Do you think that there will ever be a time when more days are added to Holy Days, or is there any way the people can petition for those days to come back? –Chas

You make an interesting point about Ash Wednesday. Surely if people can take time out of their day in the middle of the week to attend Ash Wednesday services, which is not an obligation, then why can’t say attend Mass on Holy Days of Obligation on the days in which they are suppose to be celebrated.
In the 19th century there were thirty-six Holy Days of Obligation in the Latin Church. Pope Pius X reduced that number to eight in 1911. The feasts of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of St. Joseph were added in 1917 bringing the total Holy Days of Obligation to the current ten.
There are only two places on the planet that I am aware of which observe all ten Holy Days of Obligation. Those two places are Vatican City and the Swiss Canton of Ticino in the southernmost Switzerland. As far as I know no country other than those two celebrate more than six Holy Days of Obligation. There are some countries that celebrate only two, and at least one country that celebrates only one — Christmas.
A continuing lack of devotion that we see among the faithful overall is a symptom of our times. It is a symptom of the secularization not only of our culture but even of our Church.
But with all this said we must remember that the universal norms for the Church are based upon minimum standards. For example, the minimum standard for receiving the Eucharist is only once a year during the Easter season. Obviously, that is not a healthy thing to do, but it’s the absolute minimum the Church requires. The same goes for Holy Days of Obligation.
From the point of view of the Holy See, who must oversee 1.4 billion Catholics, the pastoral obligation of the Pope is to be lenient on absolute requirements because out of one billion Catholics there’ll be people at all levels of faith and maturity.



We need to be careful not to do as the Pharisees did to place too much of a burden upon the people.
Nevertheless, I do personally question the bishops of some countries, such as Canada, who has reduced Holy Days of Obligation to only two.
It should be noted, however, that these obligations are only a minimum not a limit, just as the minimum requirement to receive the Eucharist once a year is not a limit. The Church encourages us to receive the Eucharist at least once a week if we are properly disposed. 

In fact, there are some countries that have Holy Days of Obligation which are not on the universal list. For example, in Ireland the feast of St. Patrick is a Holy Day of Obligation. In the Oblates and Missioners of St. Michael we have some thirty Holy Days of Obligation.

In like manner, we can make a personal devotion to practice a feast day of our favorite Saint as if it is a Holy Day of Obligation.
The bottom line is that God calls us to do more than minimum standards. We are called to excellence, we are called high devotion, and we are called to intimacy with our Father in Heaven, and with Jesus Christ our Lord, and with the Holy Spirit. It is hard to accomplish those goals if we practice our Christianity according to minimum standards.
Thus, regardless of what the Conference of Bishops may decide concerning Holy Days of Obligation it does not prevent us from practicing universal Holy Days on the days in which they were intended by the universal Church. Nor does it prevent us from celebrating the feast of a favorite Saint and treating that feast day in the same manner as a Holy Day of Obligation. Indeed such a personal devotion is a Holy Day of Obligation for us, even if it is not for anyone else.

We should never feel restrained by the minimum standards of the Church. We are always free, and indeed encouraged, to do more than the minimum. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Over-exuberant usher

December 5, 2011

There is this usher who, when he is taking up the collection, has to thank everyone who donates, “Thank you, God Bless You”, Thank you, God Bless you” over and over. This is usually when the choir and the congregation are singing and the other ushers are very quiet. Also, and this is what bugs me, this same usher, when the ushers are directing people pew by pew going up to communion, has to greet every one coming out of the pew. He either shakes their hand, pats them on the back, gives them a hug, pats little children on the head and at times I have seen him sort of caress the hair of young ladies, all the time speaking to everyone, greeting them, smiling at them, etc. This bothers me because I want to have my thoughts directed at our Lord, praying to Him and maybe contemplating on the Communion Song. In other words, it seems like this usher HAS to touch everybody and be friendly with them. A kind smile if eye contact is made is no problem but the rest can be very distracting. He greets people with a smile and a greeting when they come in and when they leave the church and that is great. But I feel communion time is a very solemn time and the ushers should quietly direct people and not get all chummy with them. My wife also finds this disturbing. He seems like a very nice gentlemen and I’m sure he means well. Should I mention something to the pastor or am I over reacting and let things be. –Carl

As things go this is rather unimportant. However, when communion is distributed it is a solemn time. It is not a time for greeting. There is a place in the Mass for greeting and that is when it is to be done.

In addition, while this man is well intentioned, he is also being unintentionally rude. Some people do not like to be unsolicitedly touched. Giving a hug is particularly rude. I would recoil at that.

As a child, I would be irritated at pats on the head. That is rather patronizing. Caressing the hair of girls or woman is WAY out of line in my view.

This is a delicate situation because the man, I am sure, is well-intentioned and thinks he is doing the Christian thing. But, the Mass provides for a greeting. It is liturgically improper to offer that greeting during the Mass procession.

If it was me, I would talk to the man privately and as delicately and diplomatically as I can explain to him that people are bothered by his forwardness and feel like their meditation is disturbed as they proceed to receive the Eucharist. I would remind him that there is a place for greeting in the Mass and that it needs to be restricted to that time. I would probably also explain to him that some people are very uncomfortable being hugged or patted on the back.

He needs to understand that the Mass is not a fellowship time. It is worship and our focus is to be on God, not each other like we would in the Church hall.

This also relates to people clapping when someone sings. It is not appropriate. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Casual conversation with others inside the church

December 3, 2012

The adoration chapel, or the nave of the Church with the Blessed Sacrament on the Altar, wherever Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament takes place, should be a place of solemn silence. God tell us in the Bible, “Be Still and Know that I am God.”

This is also true for the nave of the Church. In most parishes the nave of the Church after Mass sounds like a sports arena after a game. Shameful. The Sanctuary and the Nave of the Church ought to be a solemn place of peace and decorum 24 hours per day.




One time, after a Mass, I knelt at my pew, bowed my head, and was in a gesture of obvious prayer for several minutes when a couple came up to me to welcome me to the parish. I appreciated the welcome, but not the rude interruption of my prayer. While they talked to me I remained kneeling. They did not get the hint. They were well intentioned, but obviously did not think before they acted.

I understood that and did not get mad or even irritated. I talked with them politely, still kneeling, and then returned to my prayer when they left.

Oftentimes the problem is that people just do not think before they act. This can happen to anyone, but it is true that it happened more today since the past couple of generations have never been taught the virtues of those virtue of consideration for others, anticipating others’ needs, and courtesy.

Whatever the cause of those who disturb the silence and prayer in Adoration, those people are not blasphemous. What they are is rude.

Rudeness does seem to be the standard behavior in today’s world. My generation, perhaps the last generation to be taught this regularly, learned virtues I mentioned above, such as consideration for others, anticipating others’ needs, and courtesy. These virtues, and the maturity they require, are lost in today’s society. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


May a person receive a blessing instead of Holy Communion?

June 5, 2010

You have stated that if one is not in a state of grace then they are required to sit in the pew and not go up to receive a blessing instead. I have seen the opposite everywhere I’ve been, and this is the first time I heard this. I know you are reliable and research things diligently, so I would please ask if you could provide the source so I can bring it up. –Claire

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has given guidelines based upon liturgical law why we are not to go forward to receive a blessing in lieu of the Blessed Sacrament in response to a letter sent to them (Protocol No. 930/08/L), dated November 22, 2008, signed by Father Anthony Ward, SM, Under-secretary of the Congregation):

1. The liturgical blessing of the Holy Mass is properly given to each and to all at the conclusion of the Mass, just a few moments subsequent to the distribution of Holy Communion.
2. Lay people, within the context of Holy Mass, are unable to confer blessings. These blessings, rather, are the competence of the priest (cf. Ecclesia de Mysterio, Notitiae 34 (15 Aug. 1997), art. 6, § 2; Canon 1169, § 2; and Roman Ritual De Benedictionibus (1985), n. 18).
3. Furthermore, the laying on of a hand or hands — which has its own sacramental significance, inappropriate here — by those distributing Holy Communion, in substitution for its reception, is to be explicitly discouraged.
4. The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio n. 84, “forbids any pastor, for whatever reason to pretext even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry”. To be feared is that any form of blessing in substitution for communion would give the impression that the divorced and remarried have been returned, in some sense, to the status of Catholics in good standing.
5. In a similar way, for others who are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in accord with the norm of law, the Church’s discipline has already made clear that they should not approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing. (My emphasis) This would include non-Catholics and those envisaged in can. 915 (i.e., those under the penalty of excommunication or interdict, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin).

The Congregation appears to be studying the issue, but in the meantime this practice of people coming forward to receive a blessing is illicit.

The priest’s blessing at the end of Mass includes everyone present thus there is no need to present oneself in the communion line for a blessing.

Personally, I think one reason this illicit practice began and flourishes is that liberals did not want to single out those not receiving and thought it was more compassionate for them to avoid the embarrassment of remaining in their pew.

We should never feel embarrassed by remaining in our pew, nor should be judge anyone who does so. If we do feel embarrassed consider it mortification and an act of humility. St. Francis de Sales says, “An ounce of humility is worth more than a thousand pounds of honor.”

When I am not receiving I remain in my pew, even if I am in full monastic habit. Believe me I am noticed. Remaining in the pew is an act of great respect for our Lord when we are not receiving and a great witness to the community. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Holy Communion falls on the floor, retrieval and disposal

November 17, 2012

At Mass when the Priest administered the Host it hit my tooth and fell to the floor. I was mortified and didn’t know what to do. I figured I would wait for the Priest to do something. (He would know the correct protocol). However, in a split second (felt more like forever) the woman behind me jumped in and picked the Host up off the floor while saying “I got it”. Then she said, while looking at the Priest “I’ll take it”, before she was to put it in her mouth. The Priest in his stern but warm look motioned with a tilt of his head; in essence saying without words that the Host belongs to me. So, she offered it to me by saying “the body of Christ”, I said, again the “Amen”.


Was it up to me to pick up the Host? The Priest was a little slow in responding and now I think that maybe I should have picked the Host up myself. After all, I did say “Amen” so technically the Host had been administered to me and is mine.
Also, the line continued and I thought that was rather strange. Everyone walking over where the Host had fallen. I would think that the area should have been sectioned off for a proper cleaning. What do you think?
What is the procedure to follow when this happens? –Christina

The Sacred Host falling to the floor happens from time to time. When it happens preferably the priest or deacon, or the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, whoever is distributing the Sacred Host, should retrieve the Sacred Host immediately. The communicant, however, can also retrieve the fallen Sacred Host. Unless the Sacred Host is unsuitable for consumption due to being on the floor, it should be consumed immediately. Anyone can consume the retrieved Sacred Host.

In my opinion, however, the woman who picked up the Sacred Host really should not have presented the Host to you as if she was an extraordinary minister. If you wished to receive on the tongue, then she should give the Sacred Host to the priest or extraordinary minister and then he present the Sacred Host to you again. If you receive in the hand (which is an extraordinary form), then the woman could have simply given the Sacred Host to you (without saying “The body of Christ”, etc.

If consumption of the Sacred Host is not possible or is not prudent for any reason, then the Priest can isolate the Sacred Host to rinse it down the sacrarium (a special sink in the sacristy that empties directly to the ground under the Church) after Holy Mass.

The priest or extraordinary minister needs to take care to ensure that no particles remain on the floor. If there are any particles, then a linen needs to be placed over the area where the Host fell to make sure no one steps on it. Then, after Mass the area needs to be cleaned with water and the water disposed in a sacrarium. 

If any of the Blood is spilled on the floor, again a linen should be placed over it to avoid people stepping on it, then as soon as possible the area needs to be cleaned with water, and the water drained into the sacrarium.

The water in which the Host was dissolved, or in which the floor was cleaned where the Blood was spilled, is never to be poured into a drain that goes into the sewer system. It is always to be drained into the sacrarium.

This is not a trivial issue, thus the communion line should be halted until the Sacred Host is retrieved, and, if necessary, a linen placed over the area when there are particles remaining on the floor. The same for the line for the blood. The line should be halted until the spilled blood can properly cleaned or be covered with a linen.

Unfortunately, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are often not taught what to do in situations like this. It is the pastor’s duty to ensure the extraordinary ministers are fully informed and trained on these issues. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

December 10, 2012

A Eucharistic minister shared that when an old person who was sick spat the Holy Communion out, that the Eucharistic minister was informed by a nun to bury the Host in her garden. I am shocked at this. Also another Eucharistic minister added that it was ok that she was informed by a priest to do the same with a similar happening. This just can not be right. This did not take place in Church but on their visitations. –Maria

For clarification, a Eucharistic Minister is clergy. There is no such thing as a lay Eucharistic Minister. Laity to assist at the altar are Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. It is important to use the right terms as to not blur the roles of clergy and laity.

In the situation you describe the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion should bring the host back to the Church and dispose of it in the sacrarium, which is a special sink in the sacristy that drains directly to the ground under the Church. 

If for some reason bring the host back to the church is not possible, then burying the Host in the ground would be a second option. But, I cannot see why the Extraordinary Minister can’t bring the Host back to the Church. If the Church is locked, then wrap the host in a clean linen or tissue, and then once all other Hosts have been distributed, place the host in the pix and bring it to the Church the next day. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Priest messing with the Mass

January 3, 2013

Our priest skipped leading us in the Creed so it did not get recited during the Mass for Our Blessed Mother on New Years Eve. -Kristin

The Instructions to the Roman Missal state:

68. The Creed is to be sung or said by the Priest together with the people on Sundays and Solemnities. It may be said also at particular celebrations of a more solemn character.

The Feast of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, is a solemnity, thus the Creed is to be said whether the Mass of the solemnity is on the day, or on the vigil.

Thus, it was not okay to skip. Your priest violated the law if he did not say the Creed on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


May words be added when setting the Mass to music?

September 14, 2013



When someone is composing a Mass setting, are they allowed to add words to fit the music? If such a thing happened, would a bishop be able to licitly approve it? –Cody

Words cannot be CHANGED at all to fit the music…  this means that words cannot be added that are not ALREADY THERE.

This does *not* mean that words cannot be repeated to fit the music.  We see words and phrases repeated quite often, and this has all been approved since it adds beauty to the music and helps emphasize certain key ideas in the texts.

So basically no words can be added that are not already there, and no words may be OMITTED at all.  Also, the words cannot be repeated or rearranged in such a way that the meaning is changed.

Finally yes the bishops may licitly approve musical arrangements, as long as the text of the prayers is unchanged.  If there are any words that are added that are not in the original text, or if any words are omitted, or if the meaning of any phrase is changed, then the bishops cannot approve it without first submitting the work to Rome. –Jacob Slavek

Categories: Liturgical Abuses

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