Definitions / Questions Information



In the day-to-day operation of the parish, the term “Active Parishioner” is used in a number of instances.
When determining the cost of renting facilities (sanctuary, gym, mall, classrooms, Scout Hut), whether or not a person is an “Active Parishioner” is taken into consideration.

When we send our children to a Catholic school, the school checks with the parish to see if the parents are “Active Parishioners” prior to giving the parents a “break” on tuition.

When someone is asked to be a sponsor (Baptism, Confirmation, RCIA) by other parishes, the other parish wants to know if the potential sponsor is an “Active Parishioner.”

Because the term “Active Parishioner” is used in so many instances in this parish and the diocese, we feel that a definition of the term would be useful to all.

An “Active Parishioner” is defined as a registered parishioner who attends Mass on a regular basis, Sundays and Holy Days; contributes his or her TIME, (i.e. volunteering), TALENT (teaching, choir, parish ministry, etc.), and TREASURE (10% of weekly income or $20/week recommended) in the parish offertory and that the contribution of TREASURE is done in an accountable way, i.e. parish envelope. (Our volunteer collection counters may not recognize your check if it is placed loosely in the collection baskets and your contributions will not be posted to your name. Due to various checks and balances, one group does the actual counting while another person posts the amount written on each envelope to the parishioner’s contributions. If you choose not to use the parish envelope, your check is considered “loose” and counted as unknown contributions. Thus, we have no way of determining your weekly contributions. If you want to be considered an “Active Parishioner,” please use your envelopes.)

A SIX-month registration period is asked of all Catholic parents who seek
tuition assistance, Baptism for their children and Catholics being asked to serve as godparents or sponsors for Baptism or Confirmation.

Parishioners requesting a letter or a certificate of sponsorship for the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are required to complete a form in person. We are no longer able to accept requests over the phone or last minute requests. Please be aware that we will do all that we can to facilitate your request.
Online Giving is available. For more information, please go to our website and click on the online giving link.

Diocesan Numbers

Diocesan Office of Child Protection Services 843-853-2130 x 209
Diocesan Victim Assistance Minister 800-921-8122
Diocesan Office of Child Protection Services 843-853-2130 x 209
Diocesan Victim Assistance Minister 800-921-8122

The Catholic religion is the religion of the Catholic Church - i.e., that group of churches in communion with the Pope. If a group isn’t in communion with the Pope, it isn’t part of the Catholic Church.
Within the Catholic Church there are a number of individual Churches, sometimes called rites. One of these is the Roman Rite or Roman Church. It includes most of the Catholics in the Western world. A Roman Catholic is a Catholic who is a member of the Roman Rite.
There are many Catholics in the East who are not Roman Catholics, such as Maronite Catholics, Ukrainian Catholics, and Chaldean Catholics. These are all in communion with the Pope, but they are not members of the Roman Rite, so they are not Roman Catholics.
The Roman Rite is not stricter than these other Rites. They are equal. They all teach the same faith; it is only local customs that are different.


From Head to Toe

Pray for their mind:
Pray that your children would earnestly seek wisdom and understanding; that they would value knowledge and discernment; and that their thoughts would stay centered on the truth of God’s Word. (Proverbs 2:1-6; Proverbs 3:21; James 1:5; Psalm 119:97)

Pray for their eyes:
Ask God to guard your children’s eyes and protect their innocence. Pray that they would focus their attention on doing what is right. (Romans 16:19; Proverbs 4:25)

Pray for their ears:
Pray that your children would be quick to hear and that they would incline their ears to listen to instruction (James 1:19; Isaiah 55:3; Proverbs 8:32-34)

Pray for their mouths:
Ask God to keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking lies. Pray that all their words would be pleasing to Him and edifying to others. (Psalm 34:13; 19:14)

Pray for their heart:
Ask God to give your children a happy, cheerful heart. Pray that they’d come to faith early and would trust easily and completely in Him. (Proverbs 15:13; Psalm 28:7)

Pray for their hands:
Pray they would be diligent in their work and that their hands would not be idle, but that God would bless, confirm and establish the work of their hands. (Ecclesiastes 9:10; Ecclesiastes 11:6; Proverbs 10:4-5)

Pray for their legs:
Pray that your children would not walk in step with the wicked nor stand in the way of sinners, but that they’d find wise and godly companions along life’s journey. (Psalm 1:1)

Pray for their feet:
Ask God to direct their steps, to help them stand fast, and protect them from stumbling, (Psalm 17:5; Psalm 37:23-24; Psalm 121:3, Psalm 119:133)
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At what point in Mass does a late arrival not fulfill the Mass obligation?
Michelle Arnold

Prior to Vatican II, the common catechesis was that a person had to be present for the Offertory, Consecration, and Communion, or one had not fulfilled the Mass obligation and was required to go to another Mass. While a noble attempt to get people to church on time by giving them the time at which they were late, it had two unforseen effects:

• Those with freer consciences would arrive after the start of the Mass, knowing that as long as they got there on time for the Offertory all was well. It was not unusual for people to walk in after the Mass began by before the Offertory started.

• Those with tender consciences suffered deeply from scruples and would believe themselves in a state of mortal sin even though their tardiness to Mass was entirely out of their control (e.g. the car broke down; road accident that caused traffic to be delayed, etc.)

Both of these conditions were unhealthy, and following Vatican II the cut-off point of the Offertory was dropped. Another reason that contributed to that was the elevation of the Liturgy of the Word and the homily to their modern importance in the Mass.

If there is just cause for being late to a particular Mass, one has still met one’s Sunday obligation (and can receive Communion), but being later should not become a habit. If there is not just cause, one may still have met the Sunday obligation but the fact that one has not treated the Mass as a serious and holy event to which one should be prompt might be a matter to consider during an examination of conscience. If the matter is not mortally sinful because of lack of full knowledge or lack of free consent, one can still receive Communion. Because there is no longer a cut-off point after which you are late for Mass, the temptation to regularly budget one’s time around the Offertory and slide into the pew just as it begins is removed.

When considering the question, our primary concern should be to be present for the re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. Those who were present that day two thousand years ago gathered around their Lord as quickly as they could and stayed with him throughout his agony, praying and suffering as well. Two thousand years later, we owe our Lord no less devotion than our forefathers and foremothers in the faith gave him then.

The Doctors of the Church
The Doctors of the Church are great saints known for their defense and explanation of the truths of the
Catholic Faith. ‘Doctor of the Church’ is a very special title accorded by the Church to certain saints. This title indicates that the writings and preachings of such a person are useful to Christians "in any age of the Church." Such men and women are also particularly known for the depth of understanding and the orthodoxy of their theological teachings. While the writings of the Doctors are often considered inspired by the Holy Spirit; this does not mean they are infallible, but it does mean that they contributed significantly to the formulation of Christian teaching in at least one area.

The original four Doctors of the Church of the Western or Latin Rite are St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, and St. Jerome. The original four Doctors of the Eastern Rite are St. Athanasius, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Chrysotom. These eight Doctors of the Church were named by acclamation or common acknowledgment. Through the years, other saints have been named Doctors of the Church by various popes starting with the addition of St. Thomas Aquinas to the list by Pope Saint Pius V in 1568 when he promulgated the Tridentine Latin Mass.

In the 20 th century, three female saints, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux were added to the list. A fourth, St. Hildegard of Bingen, was added by Pope Benedict XVI on October 7, 2012 when he also added St. John of Avila to the list. Today there are 35 officially recognized Doctors of the Church.

Pope Francis is adding St. Gregory of Narek to the list of Doctors of the Church. All the news outlets are saying that Pope Francis has already declared him “Doctor of the Church,” but he is not yet on the Universal Calendar, although St. Gregory is on the calendar of the Armenian Catholic Church. People can only actually get the title when they are actually on Rome’s Universal Calendar because it’s a liturgical designation for that calendar, and not an arbitrary title.

What seems to actually have happened is that the Plenary Session for the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints put forward the proposal that he be named Doctor of the Church, and Pope Francis confirmed it. That would mean that the official declaration is yet to come. Gregory of Narek will make the 36th Doctor of the Church. ‘Doctor of the Church’ is a special, officially given liturgical title give in Rome’s Universal Calendar. It indicates

1. saints in the universal calendar who
2. were doctors (i.e. theological teachers) and who
3. have left theological writings that
4. are of extraordinary quality and considerable value
for the whole community of the faithful.
Because of (2), it is traditional not to consider martyrs for the title, despite a number of notable theologians in that category who fit all of the other criteria, because ‘martyr’ is a higher liturgical title than ‘doctor.’ Martyrs would never be liturgically given a Mass for doctors, only for martyrs, and thus the title would be pointless. Likewise (3) is pretty restrictive. There have been some excellent theologians who don’t qualify because we know of their work only indirectly and not from any writings they left. (St. Macrina comes to mind.) And, of course, there are extraordinarily important theologians who aren’t saints in any calendar. The following is a list of the Doctors of the Church by the year of their death with the year in parentheses when they were officially recognized as Doctor of the Church: 368 Hilary of Poitiers (1851)
373 Athanasius
373 Ephrem the Syrian (1920)
379 Basil of Caesarea
387 Cyril of Jerusalem (1883)
390 Gregory Nazianzen
397 Ambrose of Milan
407 John Chrysostom
420 Jerome
430 Augustine
444 Cyril of Alexandria (1883)
450 Peter Chrysologus (1729)
461 Leo the Great (1754)
604 Gregory the Great
636 Isidore of Seville (1722)
735 Bede the Venerable (1899)
749 John Damascene (1883)
1003 Gregory of Narek (2015)
1072 Peter Damian (1828)
1109 Anselm (1720)
1153 Bernard of Clairvaux (1830)
1179 Hildegard von Bingen (2012)
1231 Anthony of Padua (1946)
1274 Thomas Aquinas (1568)
1274 Bonaventure (1588)
1280 Albert the Great (1931)
1379 Catherine of Siena (1970)
1569 John of Avila (2012)
1582 Teresa of Avila (1970)
1591 John of the Cross (1926)
1597 Peter Canisius (1925)
1619 Lawrence of Brindisi (1959)
1621 Robert Bellarmine (1931)
1622 Francis de Sales (1877)
1787 Alphonsus Liguori (1871)
1897 Therese of Lisieux (1997)


What is a Scapular?

The scapular, the two small pieces of wool, is a sacramental based on an important piece of the monastic habit. A true scapular, in the original use of the word, is a piece of cloth, about shoulder width that is worn over the shoulders and falls not quite to the wearer’s feet. It is the most important garment for those in the monastic orders and has also been adopted by non-monastic religious orders for both male and female. In the past the scapular also had bands on the arm, connecting the front and back panel of fabric and thus forming a cross on the body of the wearer; this style of scapular is sometimes still used today. For this reason, the scapular was also simply called a crux, meaning ‘cross.’

The scapular is meant to be symbolic of an apron, indicating the wearer’s readiness and willingness to serve. That the scapular is symbolic and not merely a practical apron is based on the point in the St. Benedict’s Rule, where he says that it is to be worn “for work.” Benedict uses a non-specific word for work here, not the word for manual work or labor, which he uses elsewhere in the Rule, and not the words specific to ‘God’s work,’ which he used elsewhere to include prayer. So it is believed that “scapulare propter opera” (“scapular for work”) means a scapular to be worn always, whether at prayer or while doing manual labor.

In the middle ages, it was common for the lay faithful to join religious orders in an affiliate sense, as a tertiary. Since some did not take full vows, they would not wear the full habit. Some others who took private vows would be granted a “reduced scapular” to wear. This was two pieces of wool, about 2-inches by 3-inches each held together by a band or cord and worn over the shoulder with one rectangle in front and one in back. Still larger than the devotional scapular worn by many Catholics, the shape and small size of this scapular is closest in appearance to what many lay Catholics wear. They are still often worn by tertiary members of the Franciscan, Carmelite, and Dominican orders.

The Catholic Church has approved 18 small Scapulars that are used for spiritual devotions. They are:
The Scapular of the Most Blessed Trinity.
The Scapular of Our Lady of Ransom (B. Maria V. de Merced redemptionis captivorum)
The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
The Black Scapular of the Seven Dolours of Mary
The Blue Scapular of the Immaculate Conception
The Scapular of the Most Precious Blood
The Black Scapular of the Passion
The Red Scapular of the Passion
The Scapular of Help of the Sick
The White Scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Scapular of St. Michael the Archangel
The Scapular of St. Benedict
The White Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel
The Scapular of St. Joseph
The Scapular of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Scapular of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary
The Scapular of St. Dominic
The Scapular of the Holy Face

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the difference between an apologist
versus a theologian? Are they not the same?

A. No, they are not the same.

The theologian is one who does a systematic study of the existence and nature of God or religious truth and their relationship to and influence upon other beings.

An apologist is one who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something. In the case of the Christian apologist, it is a person who argues in defense or justification of something, such as a doctrine, policy or institution.

When it comes to defending the Catholic faith, a theologian should be able to act as an apologist. The apologist does not need to be theologian.

According to number 1285 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church...“Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation,” whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For “by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.”
In other words, Catholics, through the Sacrament of Confirmation, armed with the necessary spiritual tools, are required to act as apologists by spreading and defending the Catholic faith by word and deed. They are not required to be theologians.


What are the Liturgical Seasons of the Catholic Church?

The liturgy, or public worship, of all Christian churches is governed by a yearly calendar that commemorates the main events in salvation history. In the Catholic Church, this cycle of public celebrations, prayers and readings is divided into six seasons, each emphasizing a portion of the life of Jesus Christ. These six seasons are described in the “General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar” published by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship in 1969 (after the revision of the liturgical calendar at the time of the promulgation of the Mass of Paul VI). As the General Norms note, “By means of the yearly cycle, the Church celebrates the whole mystery of Christ, from his incarnation until the day of Pentecost and the expectation of His coming again.”

ADVENT - Prepare the Way of Lord
The liturgical year begins on the First Sunday of Advent, the season of the preparation for Christ’s Birth. The emphasis in the Mass and the daily prayers of this season is on the threefold coming of Christ - the prophecies of His Incarnation and Birth; His coming into our lives through grace and the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Holy Communion; and His Second Coming at the end of time. Sometimes called a “little Lent,” Advent is a period of joyful expectation, but also of penance, as the liturgical color of the season - purple, as in Lent - indicates.

CHRISTMAS - Christ is Born!

The joyful expectation of Advent finds its culmination in the second season of the liturgical year. Traditionally, the Christmas season extended from First Vespers (or evening prayer) of Christmas (before Midnight Mass) through Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (February 2nd), a period of 40 days. With the revision of the calendar in 1969, “The Christmas season runs,” notes the General Norms, “from evening prayers I of Christmas until the Sunday after Epiphany or after 6 January, inclusive.” That is, until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Contrary to popular celebration, the Christmas season does not encompass Advent, nor end with Christmas Day, but begins after Advent ends and extends into the New Year. The season is celebrated with a special joy throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas ending with the Epiphany of the Lord (January 6).

ORDINARY TIME - Walking with Christ
On the Monday after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the longest season of the liturgical year, Ordinary Time, begins. Depending on the year, it encompasses either 33 or 34 weeks, broken into two distinct portions of the calendar, the first ending on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, and the second beginning on the Monday after Pentecost and running until evening prayer I of the First Sunday of Advent. (Before the revision of the calendar in 1969, these two periods were known as the Sundays after Epiphany and the Sundays after Pentecost.) Ordinary Time takes its name from the fact that the weeks are numbered (ordinal numbers are numbers indicating positions in a series, such as fifth, sixth, and seventh). During both periods of Ordinary Time, the emphasis in the Mass and the Church’s daily prayer is on Christ’s teaching and His life among His disciples.

LENT - Dying to Self
The season of Ordinary Time is interrupted by three seasons, the first being Lent, the 40-day period of preparation for Easter, In any given year, the length of the first period of Ordinary Time depends on the date of Ash Wednesday, which itself depends on the date of Easter. Lent is a period of fasting, abstinence, prayer and almsgiving - all to prepare ourselves, body and soul, to die with Christ on Good Friday so that we may rise again with Him on Easter Sunday. During Lent, the emphasis in the Mass readings and daily prayers of the Church is on the prophecies and foreshadowing of Christ in the Old Testament, and the increasing revelation of the natures of Christ and His mission.

THE EASTER TRIDUUM - From Death Into Life Like Ordinary Time, the Easter Triduum is a new liturgical season created with a revision of the liturgical calendar in 1969. It has its roots, though, in the reform of the ceremonies of Holy Week in 1956. While Ordinary Time is the longest of the Church’s liturgical seasons, the Easter Triduum is the shortest; as the General Norms note, “The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. “While the Easter Triduum is liturgically a separate season from Lent, it remains a part of the 40-day Lenten fast, which extends from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, excluding the six Sundays in Lent which are never days of fasting.

EASTER - Christ is Risen!
After Lent and the Easter Triduum, the third season to interrupt Ordinary Time is the Easter season itself. Beginning on Easter Sunday and running to Pentecost Sunday, a period of 50 days (inclusive), the Easter season is second only to Ordinary Time in length. Easter is the greatest feast in the Christian calendar, for “if Christ is not risen, our faith is in vain.” The Resurrection of Christ culminates in His Ascension into Heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, which inaugurates the mission of the Church to spread the Good News of salvation to all the world.

ROGATION AND EMBER DAYS - Petition and Thanksgiving

In addition to the six liturgical seasons discussed above, the “General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar” lists a seventh item in its discussion of the yearly cycle: the Rogation Days and Ember Days. While these days of prayer, both of petition and of thanksgiving, do not constitute a liturgical season of their own, they are some of the oldest annual celebrations in the Catholic Church, celebrated continuously for over 1,500 years until the revision of the calendar in 1969. At that point, the celebration of both, the Rogation Days and the Ember Days were made optional, with the decision left up to the bishops’ conference of each country. As a result, neither is widely celebrated today.

Conquest, Desecration, and Phony History
Steve Weidenkopf

(With all the current media focus on ISIS in Iraq currently, we thought a brief history of the relationship between Christians and Muslims was appropriate.) Worldwide attention is focused on the crisis in Iraq as Sunni Muslim militant forces from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) sweep through the region killing and rampaging unimpeded.

A recent Washington Post article highlighted ISIS’s destruction of the purported tomb of the Old Testament prophet Jonah. The author did a good job describing ISIS’s motives (basically, if it’s not Sunni Muslim, it’s bad) and correctly noted that militants destroying sacred places in the
name of religion is not a new historical phenomenon. The rticle noted the Roman’s army’s destruction of the Jerusalem temple, the Nazi rampage against “degenerate
art,” and the Taliban’s attack on the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001.

However, mixed in with these historical acts was the false assertion that “during the Crusades, Christians destroyed mosques.” Though quite typical of W estern media treatment of the Crusades, linking the Crusades to the “caliphate of brutality” is historically inaccurate - as both Christian and Muslim contemporary sources attest. After the success of the First Crusade (1096-1102), most surviving Crusaders returned home, but a few settled in what historians call the Latin East. Some additional settlers came from Europe, but the Christian settlers were never numerous, and they remained minority rulers of large Muslim populations. They remained mostly in urban areas
and numbered approximately 150,000 people at their height.

The Franks, as their Muslim neighbors called them regardless of where in Europe they came from, soon found that accommodation with the local populace was the path to growth and success. Relations between the Franks and Muslims were shaped by mutual benefit and general indifference. There was very little cultural exchange and few conversions. One reason the lack of conversion was the allowance by the Latin settlers for Jews and Muslims to openly practice their faith. The Crusades were never wars of conversion, and this is borne out by the period of tolerance the followed the first and most successful Crusade.

The Franks allowed their Jewish and Muslim neighbors to construct synagogues and mosques, and even when they utilized former mosques for the side of churches, they set aside areas for Muslim prayer on the site. The Muslim traveler Usamah ibn Munqidh recorded how he was allowed not only to pray at a mosque near the former al- Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, which had been turned into a church, but that Templars - a military religious order of monks - even expelled a newly arrived Christian who was annoyed at how Munqidh prayed: Whenever I visited Jerusalem I always entered the Awsa mosque ... The Templars, who were my friends, would evacuate the little adjoining mosque so that I might pray in it. One day I entered this mosque ... and stood up in the act of praying, upon which one of the Franks rushed on me, got hold of me and turned my face eastward saying, “This is the way thou shouldst pray.” A group of Templars hastened to him, seized him and repelled him from me. They apologized to me, saying, “This is a stranger who has only recently arrived from the land of the Franks and he has never before seen anyone praying except eastward.

Muslims were not only allowed to pray and practice their faith openly in the Latin East but they also kept their own customs and administration. The Latin settlers even employed some Muslims in prominent roles of local administration. This policy of accomodation even manifested itself in a desire for some Muslims to live within the jurisdiction of the Latin settlers rather than that of their own rulers! (Another reason for this was the tax rate was lower for Muslims in the Kingdom of Jerusalem than in Muslim ruled territories.)

Rather than engaging in an ISIS-like campaign of widespread destruction, the Latin settlers spent their energies restoring and rebuilding holy places, and establishing mutually respectful co-existence with other religions in the area. This is because the Crusades were not undertaken to eradicate or destroy Islam, but rather to liberate ancient Christian territory that had been conquered by Muslim rulers. Comparing the Crusades to the current destructive operation of ISIS not only misunderstands the nature of the on-going conflict in Iraq, but also grossly distorts the authentic history of the Crusades, which ultimately, is an attack on the Church itself.

Steve Weidenkopf is a lecturer of Church History at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College and the creator and author of Epic: A Journey through Church History, an adult faith-formation program on the 2,000 year history of the Church.


Pentecost is the liturgical season after Easter which celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, ushering in a new era for the people of God. In Acts 2:1-41, the Holy Spirit descended upon apostles and allowed them to speak their native Galilean dialect but be understood by people of many different languages and nations. Pentecost begins the eighth Sunday, or 50 days, after Easter Sunday.

Pentecost is from Greek meaning “fiftieth.” The name Pentecost was originally given to the Jewish Feast of Weeks which fell on the fiftieth day after Passover, when the first fruits of the grain harvest were offered to the Lord (Leviticus 23:15-21 and Deuteronomy 16:9-11). The second chapter of Acts begins by noting that the Feast of Weeks had just passed.

Some people regard Pentecost as the birthday of the Church because from that point on the apostles carried the message of Christ to the whole world. It is indeed a new age of the Church through which Christ works in different means for our salvation.

In this age of the Church, Christ now lives and acts in and with his Church in a new way appropriate to the new age. He acts through the sacraments [...[; this is the communication of the fruits of Christ’s Pascal mystery in the celebration of the Church’s ‘sacramental’ liturgy. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1076)

In other words, in the absence of Christ’s physical presence to us due to his fulfillment of Scripture by his death and resurrection, Jesus has left us the sacraments through which the Holy Spirit conveys the grace of God in a physical and tangible way. Pentecost marks the beginning of this new, sacramental era in which we live today.

The liturgical color for Pentecost is red.


In the spirit of Pentecost, June 8th, we are seeking individuals to read the Prayer of the Faithful in their native language. If you speak Polish, Spanish, Tagalog, Lebanese, German, Swedish, Gaelic or another language and would like to participate, please contact the office (556-4611). Leave your name, phone number, the Mass you will attend and the language you speak. We will get back to you. Please call in by Thursday, May 29th so we can arrange for the specific Prayer of the Faithful for your chosen language.

Music In Catholic Liturgies:

Check the following link to read what the Catholic Church has to say about the importance of singing through rubrics detailed in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) in Chapter II: The Structure of the Mass, Its Elements, and Its Parts, Section II: The Different Elements of the Mass - The Importance of Singing (paragraphs 39-41).

A truly good place to read about why music is such a vitally important aspect of our Catholic liturgies is at the following link:

Read about the San Francisco project to promote beauty in music, liturgy By Carl Bunderson in the Catholic News Agency (CNA) at .

CANTOR: Concise Encyclopedia defines a cantor as follows. “In Judaism and Christianity, an official in charge of music or chants. In Judaism the hazzan (cantor) leads liturgical prayer and chanting. In medieval Christianity the cantor had charge of a cathedral's music—specifically, of supervising the choir's singing. The term also designated the head of a college of church music.” Quoted from

If you are a good singer, have the confidence to lead the congregation, and are willing to make a commitment to enhance the liturgies at St. Joseph Church, then please contact Gene Werner, Director of Music and Liturgy, through the church office, 556-4611. Practices will be scheduled with Mr. Werner based on his calendar.

CHOIR: We welcome you to join us if you are willing to make a serious commitment of time to make liturgies at St. Joseph as meaningful as they can be. Contact Gene Werner, Director of Music and Liturgy, through the church office, 556-4611. Practices begin promptly at 7 PM on Tuesday evenings AND at 9:30 AM on Sunday mornings in Room B of the Family Life Center. The choir sings during the 10:30 AM Sunday liturgy. All are welcome – sing, and pray twice!

HANDBELL CHOIR: We welcome anyone over the age of 10 years old, if you are willing to commit to regular practices. Please contact Gene Werner, Director of Music and Liturgy, through the church office, 556-4611. Practices begin immediately after the 10:30 AM Sunday Mass.


Catholic Purgatory: What Does It Mean?

For the Catholic, Purgatory is a period of purification after death. When we die, our souls are judged immediately by Christ in what's called the "Particular Judgment":

“Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven — through a purification or immediately, — or immediate and everlasting damnation.” (Catechism, 1022)

Purgatory is this period of purification before heaven. It's not always well understood by today's Catholics but Purgatory is still very much a part of Catholic doctrine.

It is not a "second chance."

Don't think that Purgatory is anything like a "second chance" for those who have not won the reward of heaven!

During our human life, we either accept or reject God's offer of divine grace. Once we die, our choice is definitive. We cannot change our mind after death. (Catechism, 1021)

Heaven and hell are real. They're part of a viewpoint that's fully Catholic and Purgatory is simply a transitional state for those who have merited heaven but still have aspects of their souls that are not yet fully purified. Purgatory is where that purification happens after death.

The souls in Purgatory are assured of salvation. They've died in God's grace and friendship, and will end up in heaven. But they're not yet in a full state of holiness — the holiness that's necessary to behold God "face to face" in heaven. (Catechism, 1030)

Basis in Scripture and Tradition

The Catholic Church is often accused of inventing the concept of Purgatory out of thin air. Not so! You don't hear about it from many who aren't Catholic but Purgatory does have deep roots in Sacred Scripture as well as Catholic Tradition — the full, living faith of the Apostles as received from Christ.

First, it's based on the ancient Jewish practice of prayer for the dead, as mentioned in Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin." (2 Macc 12:46)

The early Christians continued this practice: "From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God." (Catechism, 1032)

Inscriptions on the walls and tombs of the Catacombs testify to the belief of many early Catholics in Purgatory.

The words of the Apostles in the New Testament also clearly tell us about being "tested by fire" (1 Pet 1:7). St. Paul warns us that if someone builds on the true foundation of Christ but doesn't take care to build well, "the person will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Cor 3:15).

Finally, the Catechism quotes St. Gregory the Great:

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. (Catechism, 1031)

(It's worth reading the Catechism's brief section on Catholic Purgatory to see the straightforward teaching of Catholics about Purgatory.)

Purgatory: part of the Good News

Part of the faith of Catholics is that Purgatory is a good thing! Purgatory reveals the depth of God's mercy: even those who are not yet perfect can attain the fullness of heaven. For Catholics Purgatory helps us hope in perfection even when we can't completely achieve it in this life.



You may have noticed the beautifully crafted cover for the church’s Roman Missal. The cover depicts the four evangelists by their symbols. The following article explains how each of the four apostles came to have a special symbol.

Recognized as the traditional authors of the four canonical Gospels, there were four Evangelists named, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They penned the words of the Gospels which offered accounts of life, sayings and the teachings of Jesus. In this article, you will learn more about the Evangelists, as well as the symbols that represented the men.

The Gospels were a proclamation that the Messiah had come and the kingdom of God was at hand. The text was penned in Koine Greek, the method of communication in the eastern Mediterranean at the time of Christ. Artistic depictions of the men writing their Gospels often showed them with a symbol. Sometimes, the symbols of an angel, winged lion, winged ox, and eagle were solely used to refer to the men.


Matthew was often depicted with an angel that he looked at over his shoulder as he wrote. Matthew was one of the twelve Apostles, who is known for writing the first Gospel in 85 A.D. The text was penned after the fall of Jerusalem. It is believed that Matthew wrote the first Gospel in Antioch, Syria where he spoke to Jewish Christians. He often used quotes from the Old Testament as evidence that Christ is the Messiah and that his life is responsible for fulfilling a great prophecies found in Hebrew scripture.

Matthew’s Gospel starts by recounting the family tree of Jesus, who is a descendant of David and Abraham with mention of his foster father, St. Joseph.


While writing Mark is shown with a reclining winged lion by his side. He is known for writing the shortest of all the Gospels. His Gospel is typically seen as the earliest written around 65 to 70 A.D. However, some scholars believe that it was the second written. The text is thought to have been written in Rome and believed to be speaking to the Christians who were being persecuted at that time. The author of the text is believed to have been an associate of St. Peter or John Mark, who traveled with St. Paul and St. Barnabas.

It is thought that the lion is often the symbol of Mark because of a reference found at the start of his Gospel. Very similar to Christ’s Resurrection after three days in a tomb, the Gospel mentioned a lion that was supposed to sleep with its eyes open. The cubs belonging to the lion were thought born dead until the lion roared three days later.


As Luke writes the third Gospel in depictions, an ox is calmly chewing on the “cud of rumination.” It is believed to date back between 80 and 90 A.D. The author of the Gospel as well as its sequel (the Acts of the Apostles, which is the fifth book of the New Testament) is thought to have been written by a non-Jewish Christian. Luke is sometimes portrayed as a painting composing the image of the Virgin Mary because legend has that he once painted her portrait.

The start of the Gospel presents the Jewish priest Zechariah, who is soon to become the father of John the Baptist. He is offering a sacrifice in the Temple of Jerusalem, and because the ox is a symbol often associated with this practice, it is used to reference Luke. The Gospel of Luke is the only one that utilizes parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.


John the Divine is depicted as a man in his youth that has a soaring eagle in his presences. It is important to note that St. John (one of the 12 Apostles) did not write the Gospel of John. It is thought that a disciple of John at Ephesus, John the Elder, may have penned the Gospel. In the prologue of the Gospel, Christ was linked to God, as well as the Logos of Greek philosophy. The text is thought to date back to between 95 and 100 A.D. written in Asia Minor. The text mentions the ministry of Christ taking place in Judea for the majority of its existence. Other features of the text include Passover and Christ’s teaching in Galilee.



Of the various Christian holy days that take place throughout the year, Candlemass (or Candelaria), on February 2nd , may be one of the least well-known ceremonies in the Christian world. Evangelical Protestants do not count it as a major observance, while Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox churches hold it in high esteem.

History of Candlemass
The celebration of Candlemass originated in the late fifth century as a tribute to the light of God's glory that was manifested in Christ Jesus. The earliest known observance within the Church was in the year AD 496, during the time of Pope Gelasius. In AD 542 the Emperor Justinian ordained that the Eastern Church celebrate the festival, which he called Hypapante, or "Meeting". The name was derived from the Gospel of Luke 2:22-40, wherein Simeon the priest and Anna the prophetess met the infant Jesus in the temple at the time of his consecration. Simeon's prophecy declared Jesus to be the Lord's salvation and "a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." This passage continues to be the focus of the celebration.

During Candelaria, candles are blessed, lit, and borne in a procession in celebration to Jesus being the light of the world. In AD 638, Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, proclaimed the importance of the celebration in his sermon to the church, stating: "Our bright shining candles are a sign of divine splendor of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ." The candles are generally considered to represent the inner light of Christ, which he brought to share with the world.

The timing for Candlemass is also in accordance with the Mosaic Law, which required that a woman should purify herself for forty days after giving birth, and, at the end of her purification, should present herself to the priest at the temple and offer a sacrifice (Leviticus 12:6-7). The Roman Catholic Churches seem to devote greater focus to this aspect of Candlemass, as evidenced by their ritual of the Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, while the Anglican Churches celebrate the Wives' Feast, which is a time when women gather with feasting and socializing.

Candelaria on February 2nd
The date of February 2nd places the Candelaria celebration forty days after Christmas and continues the religious cycle that leads up to Easter Sunday. Additionally, it is also the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, which is the basis for various ancient European celebrations that commemorate the annual beginnings of the agricultural season.
Also of note concerning Candlemass is its connection to Groundhog Day, which occurs on the same date. This tradition also finds its origin in European folklore, as a prediction for the coming spring.
For the Church, however, Candelaria remains a day of hope and light. It is a time to honor the Lord as the Light of the World and to remind us that we too have that light within us.

Hierarchy of Angels

Until the New Testament there were only two orders of angel: the Seraphim and Cherubim. St. Paul extended the number by adding seven new orders bringing the number to nine orders. They are arranged according to their importance: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.

According to Celestial Hierarchy of Dionysis Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas there are nine angelic orders.

In the First Triad

(Choir 1) are Seraphim said to be:

• highest order of God’s Angelic Servants

• appear with six wings and four heads

• known as ‘fiery serpents’

• beings of pure light

• angels of love, light and fire

• keep negative energy from getting through to divinity

• shine so brilliantly with light that humans unlikely to see them

• chant the Trisagion, “Holy, holy, holy...”

guidance for:

humanitarian and planetary causes

(Choir 2) are Cherubim said to be:

• angels of Harmony & Wisdom

• guard the light and the stars

• channel positive energy from the divine

• angels of boundless love, knowledge

• can function as personal guards

• guarding religious temples

guidance for:

divine protection, knowledge, wisdom

(Choir 3) are Thrones said to be:

• angels of justice and will

• known as the “many-eyed” ones

• create, send and collect positive energy

guidance for:

relationships and planetary issues

In the Second Triad

(Choir 1) are the Dominions said to be:

• angels of intuition and wisdom

• divine leaders

• combining spiritual and material

• order of the law of cause and effect

• making adjustments when highest human interests are not followed by churches, politicians, leaders

guidance for:

mediating, arbitrating, divine wisdom

(Choir 2) the Virtues said to be:

• angels of movement and choice

• known as “The Miracle Angels”

• sending spiritual energy to the collective human consciousness

• helping those that strive to go beyond and accomplish what others call impossible

• loving positive people who try to help, enlighten, and lead others toward harmony

guidance for:

healing through elemental energies, Earth, Air, Fire, Water Spirit

(Choir 3) the Powers said to be:

• angels of space and form

• keep track of human history

• organizers for world religions

• dispensing justice and chaos

• sending messages if someone is out to harm you

• defending your home, family, friends

guidance for:

protection, defense

In the Third Triad

(Choir 1) the Principalities said to be:

• angels of time and personality

• guard continents, countries, cities, large groups

• working toward global reform

• channel positive energy

• protectors of politics and religion

guidance for:

extinction of animals, leadership problems, human rights, discrimination

(Choir 2) the Archangels said to be:

• angels of fire, ruling angels

• able to belong to several levels in the hierarchy of angels

• enjoy human contact

guidance for”

different attributes per archangel

(Choir 3) the Angels said to be:

• messenger angels, nature angels

• assigned to humans, such as guardian angels

• involved in human and physical manifestation

• channel from divinity to human

• needing to be asked, will not always interfere

• guardian angel can come from any level - communicating with all other angels

guidance for:

transformation, death, birth

defense and protection

Frequently asked Questions about the Catholic Church by non-Catholics

What are some of the differences between the Catholic and Protestant versions of the Bible?

The chief difference is in the omission of seven complete books and part of two others from the Old Testament in the Protestant versions. The books omitted are:

Tobias I Macabees

Judith II Macabees

Wisdom Esther (part)

Ecclesiasticus Daniel (part)


These omissions should certainly be a matter of concern and investigation. The entire Christian world accepted them as the inspired Word of God until the Reformation. If they did not belong there, then God had permitted the entire Christian world to be led astray for more than a thousand years. On the other hand, if they DO belong there, then Protestants are being deprived of a good portion of revelation and the inspired Word. No one would presume to say that anything inspired by God is unimportant.


Why not confess to God instead of to a mere man?

Yes, it is easier to go to God, and probably this is why Christ did not chose this method.

We confess to a man, not because he himself has the power to forgive sins, but because he acts as His agent, or a judge, in the name of God, and forgives sins in His name.

The words of institution prove that Christ intended specific confession of sins:

“He, therefore, said to them again, ‘Peace be to you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you.’ When He had said this, He breathed upon them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.’” St. John 20:21, 22

By these words Christ gave to His Apostles the power EITHER to forgive OR to retain. In order to exercise this judicial power it is necessary for the sinner to accuse himself specifically of his sins. Most sins are committed in secret and the priest-judge would have no other way of knowing their sins, except by specific confession.

Furthermore, the priest as a judge must give a penance or work of satisfaction which is proportional to the sins and helpful to the sinner. This he can do only if he knows what sins have been committed.

The fact that the priest is a sinner, as are all men, does not affect the power which he exercises. The power comes to him from his office. The same is true with a President or with a judge in our civil courts. The private lives of these individuals do not affect the authority which they have under the Constitution.(Http://

Is it not sufficient to “Accept Jesus” in order to be saved through the merits of Jesus Christ?

Christ could not have made mere “acceptance” of Himself sufficient for salvation since the observance of some of the commandments is required by natural law. His plan included not only hope or “acceptance: but also the observance of the commandments, faith, baptism, etc.

“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 7:21

Is it not true that all Churches are good, and that it makes no difference what we believe as long as we live right?

No, this is not true for:

• This would mean that truth and falsehood were equally pleasing to God.

• That the unity for which Christ prayed would be an impossibility.

• It DOES make a difference what we believe as well as what we do.

“He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned.” Matthew 16:16

“He who hears you, hears me: and he who rejects you, rejects me; and he who rejects me, rejects Him who sent me.” Luke 10:16

“But if he refuse to hear even the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican.” Matthew 18:17.


The Differences Between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism

On October 20, 2009, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced that Pope Benedict XVI had set up a procedure to allow “groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world” to return en masse to the Catholic Church. While the announcement was greeted with joy by most Catholics and many doctrinally orthodox Anglicans, others remained confused. What are the differences between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion? And what might this reunification of parts of the Anglican Communion with Rome mean for the broader question of Christian unity?

The Creation of the Anglican Church

In the mid-16th century, King Henry VIII declared the Church in England independent of Rome. At first, the differences were more personal than doctrinal, with one significant exception: The Anglican Church rejected papal supremacy, and Henry VIII established himself as the head of that Church. Over time, however, the Anglican Church adopted a revised liturgy and became influenced briefly by Lutheran and then more lastingly by Calvinist doctrine. Monastic communities in England were suppressed, and their lands confiscated. Doctrinal and pastoral differences developed that made reunification more difficult.

The Rise of the Anglican Communion

As the British Empire spread around the world, the Anglican Church followed it. One hallmark of Anglicanism was a greater element of local control, and so the Anglican Church in each ountry enjoyed a measure of autonomy. Collectively, these national churches are known as the Anglican Communion. The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, commonly known simply as the Episcopal Church, is the American church in the Anglican Communion.

Attempts at Reunification

Through the centuries, various attempts have been made to return the Anglican Communion to unity with the Catholic Church. The most prominent was the mid-19th century Oxford Movement, which stressed the Catholic elements of Anglicanism and downplayed Reformation influences on doctrine and practice. Some of the members of the Oxford Movement became Catholic, most famously John Henry Newman, who later became a cardinal, while others remained in the Anglican Church and became the basis of the High Church, or Anglo-Catholic, radition.

A century later, in the wake of Vatican II, hopes for the prospect of reunification rose again. Ecumenical discussions were held to attempt to resolve doctrinal issues and to pave the way for the acceptance, once again, of papal supremacy.

Bumps on the Road to Rome

But changes in doctrine and moral teaching among some in the Anglican Communion erected obstacles to unity. The ordination of women as priests and bishops was followed by the rejection of traditional teaching on human sexuality, which led eventually to the ordination of openly homosexual clergy and the blessing of homosexual unions. National churches, bishops, and priests who resisted such changes (mostly Anglo-Catholic descendants of the Oxford Movement) began to question whether they should remain in the Anglican Communion, and some began to look to individual reunification with Rome.

The "Pastoral Provision" of Pope John Paul II

At the requests of such Anglican clergy, in 1982 Pope John Paul II approved a "pastoral provision" that allowed some groups of Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church en masse while preserving their structure as churches and maintaining elements of an Anglican identity. In the United States, a number of individual parishes took this route, and in most cases, the Church dispensed the married Anglican priests who served those parishes from the requirement of celibacy so that, after their reception into the Catholic Church, they could receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders and become Catholic priests.

Coming Home to Rome

Other Anglicans tried to create an alternative structure, the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), but as tensions grew in the Anglican Communion, TAC petitioned the Catholic Church in October 2007 for "full, corporate, and sacramental union." That petition became the basis for Pope Benedict's action on October 20, 2009.

Under the new procedure, "personal ordinariates" (essentially, dioceses without geographical boundaries) will be formed. The bishops will normally be former Anglicans, though the tradition of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches will be respected, and thus candidates for bishop must be unmarried. Married Anglican priests, however, will be allowed to request ordination as Catholic priests once they have entered the Catholic Church. Former Anglican parishes will be llowed to preserve "elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony."

The Future of Christian Unity

While both Catholic and Anglican leaders have stressed that ecumenical dialogue will continue, in practical terms, the Anglican Communion is likely to move further away from Catholic orthodoxy as traditionalist Anglicans are accepted into the Catholic Church. For other Christian denominations, however, the "personal ordinariate" model may be a path for traditionalists to pursue reunification with Rome outside of the structures of their particular churches. (For instance, conservative Lutherans in Europe may approach the Holy See directly.)

This move is also likely to increase dialogue between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. The question of married priests and the maintenance of liturgical traditions have long een stumbling blocks in Catholic-Orthodox discussions. While the Catholic Church has been willing to accept Orthodox traditions regarding the priesthood and the liturgy, many Orthodox have been skeptical of Rome's sincerity. If the portions of the Anglican Church that reunite with the Catholic Church are able to maintain a married priesthood and a distinct identity, many fears of the Orthodox will be put to rest.


Pentecost is a Christian holy day commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament of the Bible. It is also known as Whitsunday, or Whit Sunday.

In the United States, Christians share their perspective about the meaning of Pentecost as well as how the diversity of languages and cultures can enhance their worship and fellowship with each other. Christians see Pentecost as an expansion of God’s favor and care from Judaism to all peoples.

As recorded in the New Testament of the Bible, it was on the 50th day after Easter that the apostles were praying together and the Holy Spirit descended on them. They received the “gift of tongues” - the ability to speak in other languages - and immediately began to preach about Jesus Christ to Jewish people from all over the world who had flocked to Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot.

Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians (16:8). It is the 50th day after Easter (if we count both Easter and Pentecost) and it supplants the Jewish Feast of Shavuot which took place 50 days after the Passover and which celebrated the sealing of the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai.On the surface, Shavuot and Pentecost have very different themes, in spite of their ancient links, one representing the law of God and one representing the theme of evangelism. On a deeper level they might be argued to have much in common, for both call to mind a God who wishes to reveal his plan, his power and his way to troubled humanities on earth.

Pentecost is often called “the birthday of the Church.” On this day, with the descent of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s mission is completed, and the New Covenant is inaugurated. It is interesting to note that St. Peter, the first pope, was already the leader and spokesman for the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday (see Acts 2:14ff).

The Acts of the Apostles recounts the story of the original Pentecost as well (Acts 2). Jews from all over were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast. On that Sunday, ten days after the Ascension of Our Lord, the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary were gathered in the Upper Room, where they had seen Christ after his Resurrection:

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with diverse tongue, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. [Acts 2:2-4]

Christ had promised His Apostles that He would send His Holy Spirit, and, on Pentecost, they were granted the gifts of the Spirit. The Apostles began to preach the Gospel in all of the languages that the Jews who were gathered there spoke, and about 3,000 people were converted and baptized that day.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit Lead to the Fruits of the Holy Spirit

When the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, they were granted the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Those gifts helped them to fulfill their mission to preach the Gospel to all nations. For us, too, those gifts – granted when we are infused with sanctifying grace, the life of God in our souls – help us to live a Christian life. These gifts are: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord.

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are enumerated in Isaiah 11:2-3. They are present in their fullness in Jesus Christ but are found in all Christians who are in a state of grace. We receive them when we are infused with sanctifying grace, the life of God within us—as, for example, when we receive a sacrament worthily. As the current Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, "They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them." Infused with His gifts, we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as if by instinct, the way Christ Himself would.

Wisdom is the first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit, because it is the perfection of faith. Through wisdom, we come to value properly those things which we believe through faith. The truths of Christian belief are more important than the things of this world, and wisdom helps us to order our relationship to the created world properly, loving Creation for the sake of God, rather than for its own sake.

Understanding is the second gift of the Holy Spirit, and people sometimes have a hard time understanding (no pun intended) how it differs from wisdom. While wisdom is the desire to contemplate the things of God, understanding allows us grasp, at least in a limited way, the very essence of the truths of the Catholic Faith. Through understanding, we gain a certitude about our beliefs that moves beyond faith.

Counsel, the third gift of the Holy Spirit, is the perfection of the cardinal virtue of prudence. Prudence can be practiced by anyone, but counsel is supernatural. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we are able to judge how best to act almost by intuition. Because of the gift of counsel, Christians need not fear to stand up for the truths of the Faith, because the Holy Spirit will guide us in defending those truths.

While counsel is the perfection of a cardinal virtue, fortitude is both a gift of the Holy Spirit and a cardinal virtue. Fortitude is ranked as the fourth gift of the Holy Spirit because it gives us the strength to follow through on the actions suggested by the gift of counsel. While fortitude is sometimes called courage, it goes beyond what we normally think of as courage. Fortitude is the virtue of the martyrs that allows them to suffer death rather than to renounce the Christian Faith.

The fifth gift of the Holy Spirit, knowledge, is often confused with both wisdom and understanding. Like wisdom, knowledge is the perfection of faith, but whereas wisdom gives us the desire to judge all things according to the truths of the Catholic Faith, knowledge is the actual ability to do so. Like counsel, it is aimed at our actions in this life. In a limited way, knowledge allows us to see the circumstances of our life the way that God sees them. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we can determine God's purpose for our lives and live them accordingly.

Piety, the sixth gift of the Holy Spirit, is the perfection of the virtue of religion. While we tend to think of religion today as the external elements of our faith, it really means the willingness to worship and to serve God. Piety takes that willingness beyond a sense of duty, so that we desire to worship God and to serve Him out of love, the way that we desire to honor our parents and do what they wish.

The seventh and final gift of the Holy Spirit is the fear of the Lord, and perhaps no other gift of the Holy Spirit is so misunderstood. We think of fear and hope as opposites, but the fear of the Lord confirms the theological virtue of hope. This gift of the Holy Spirit gives us the desire not to offend God, as well as the certainty that God will supply us the grace that we need in order to keep from offending Him. Our desire not to offend God is more than simply a sense of duty; like piety, the fear of the Lord arises out of love.

The example of the Apostles shows that the gifts of the Holy Spirit lead to the fruits of the Holy Spirit – works that we can only perform through the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the performance of such works in an indication that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian believer. The twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit are: Charity (or love), Joy, Peace, Patience, Benignity (or kindness), Goodness, Longanimity (or long suffering), Mildness, Faith, Modesty, Continency, and Chastity.

In the February issue of “The Catholic Communicator”, Rev. Dwight Longenecker, Administrator, Our Lady of the Rosary, Greenville, wrote the following article.

Is the Next Pope the Last Pope?

In the year 1140 an Irish bishop named Malachy visited Rome with a group of monks. They climbed the Janiculum Hill to thank God for the safe completion of their journey. While there (as the story goes) Malachy had a vision in which he “saw” 111 popes to the end of time. Each pope was chronicled with a short, cryptic epigram in Latin. What makes this ancient tale interesting is that with the retirement of Benedict XVI, the last pope on Malachy’s list is about to be elected. This is where it gets interesting. Because the Irish seer was supposedly given a prophecy that the last pope on his list is also the last pope before the return of Christ, the prophecy for the last pope is longer and contains an alarming vision. It reads:

“During the last persecution of the Holy Roman church there shall sit Peter of Rome, who shall feed the ship amidst the many great tribulations, and when these have passed, the City of the Seven Hills shall be utterly destroyed and the awful Judge will judge the people.”

Conspiracy theorists love poring over the prophecies of St. Malachy straining to make sense of their cryptic messages. John Paul II’s epigram was “the labor of the sun” so theorists dug around until they discovered he was born on the day of an eclipse and they found a medieval poem (but never published the reference that referred to an eclipse as “the labor of the sun.”

The epigram for Benedict XVI was a rather obscure phrase, “the glory of the olive.” After Benedict’s selection the prophecy hounds pointed out that there is a famous Benedictine monastery called Monte Oliveto, and the Benedictine crest has an olive branch in it (but they didn’t actually show a picture of that crest). Anyway, the connection is in the name he chose. St. Benedict is the glory of Monte Oliveto and the Benedictines who love olive branches.

Then, wide eyes and gasps of wonder are emitted when the name of Ghanaian Cardinal Turkson’s name is mentioned as a front runner to be the next pope. His name is Peter! And he studied in Rome!! In Ghana, they call him, “Peter of Rome”!!!

So, for them, Peter the Roman, is about to be elected. It’s all very exciting to think that the second coming and the end of the world is nigh! Just when were all so disappointed when the Mayan calendar end of the world thing fizzled out...

Unfortunately, these theorists fail to recognize a few facts. For example, although St. Malachy was a historic figure from the twelfth century, there is no mention of his prophecies before 1590. And surprise! surprise! - the prophetic mottos for the popes are quite accurate for the period between 1150 up to the late 1500s. Then they become obscure and inaccurate. Kind of fishy. Maybe like the whole thing was written about 1590 or so when the prophecies were purportedly discovered?

Scholars have judged the prophecies of the 12th century St. Malachy to be a rather poor 16th century forgery - probably produced to influence a papal election at the time. So you can probably sleep peacefully tonight. The end of the world is probably not nigh. On the other hand ... why not prepare your soul just to be on the safe side.

(Father Longenecker is the host of “More Christianity,” which airs on Thursday at 2 p.m. with an encore on Saturdays at 3 p.m. on Catholic Radio.)

* All this speculation is now moot since the College of Cardinals have elected a pope who was not on Malachy’s list.

Francis I’s To-Do List

Seven Challenges Facing the Pope

NBC News Vatican analyst and papal biographer, George Weigel, says Cardinal Bergoglio was the right choice, a man whose simplicity, austerity and gentleness can put the church on the road to a new future. Not a “maintenance guy” that merely oversees the status quo, Pope Francis is expected to teach the Church how to be missionary again.

Pope Francis has a to-do list as long as his cassock. He will lead 1.2 billion Catholics and a church at a crossroads - wrestling with scandal after scandal, changing demographics and calls for liberalization.

Here are seven pressing challenges for the new pope:

1. Cleaning house at the Vatican - Pope Benedict XVI ordered that a report on church bureaucracy be shown to only two men - himself and his successor. After he gives it a read, Francis will have to address backbiting, corruption and cronyism inside the Vatican and increasing pressure to makes its finances more open. Church analysts were watching closely to see whether cardinals would elect a Vatican insider protective of church secrecy. Instead they picked a man from halfway around the world.

2. Leading the church out of the sex abuse scandal - The crisis consumed Benedict’s papacy and threatened to overshadow the conclave, with abuse victims even calling for some cardinals to recuse themselves from the selection process. Victims’ groups still want the Vatican to disclose more about its role in failing to protect children. One such organization, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said it was grateful that Francis was not on its list of the worst choices for pope - but warned that very little about the crisis has been exposed in South America.

3. Getting along with other faiths - Benedict caused a furor when, in 2006, he quoted an emperor who had characterized some teaching of the Prophet Muhammad as “evil and Inhuman.” Benedict is credited with repairing rifts with Jews, however, and the new pope has also been praised for cultivating a strong relationship with Judaism. After Francis’ election, the head of the World Jewish Congress praised him as someone “known for his open-mindedness.”

4. Winning the West - Benedict couldn’t stop the decline of the church in its traditional stronghold of Europe. Meanwhile in the US, a Pew Study released last month found that only 27% of the church’s members defined themselves as “strong” Catholics - a four-decade low. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who was considered a papal contender, expressed hope that Francis would fight rising secularism: “We pledge our faithful support for the Holy Father as he leads the Church in proclaiming the New Evangelization, inviting all people to develop a closer relationship with Christ and to share that gift with others.”

5. Should women be priests? And should priests marry? - Francis will have to address growing debate within the church about the celibacy requirement for priests. A priest in Australia admitted last year that he had been married for a year and said “there are more like me.” Benedict also delivered a veiled rebuke to an Austrian priests’ group that wants the church to allow women to be ordained and to get rid of the celibacy requirement.

6. Modernization - Majorities of Catholics in the US have said in surveys that they want the pope to lead the church in a more liberal direction. A New York Times/CBS News poll of Catholics last month found that six in ten support gay marriage, and seven in ten want the church to allow birth control. Three-quarters supported abortion in at least some circumstances. In Argentina, then-Cardinal Bergoglio clashed with the president over a 2010 law allowing gay marriage. “It is a move by the father of lies to confuse and deceive the children of God,” he said.

7. Persecution - Open Doors, a group that documents Christian persecution, reported earlier this year that 100 million Christians are oppressed around the worldwide, with countries in Asia and the Middle East by far the worst offenders. Benedict claimed that Christians are the most oppressed religious group in the world, facing discrimination and often violence. As pope, Francis must also be church’s most prominent diplomat. “This situation is intolerable,” Benedict said in 2010, “since it represents an insult to God and to human dignity.”



The Scrutinies

The rites called the Scrutinies are celebrated with the catechumens (those to be baptized on Holy Saturday, are now referred to as the Elect) on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent.

To scrutinize means to examine something very closely. When we celebrate the Scrutinies at Mass, we are not scrutinizing the Elect. Rather, they are scrutinizing their own lives before God and we are called to do the same along with them. The goal is to be strengthened to overcome the power of sin.

The Scrutinies are most effective when the faith community, together with the Elect, identify concrete issues that they and we need to confront: we name the evils that prevent us from living the Gospel fully. These evils or obstacles then become the focus of the intercessions that are prayed during the Scrutinies

The scrutinies are intended to complete the conversion of the elect, to mirror the catechumens’ progress toward Baptism. Each of John’s three “baptismal” Gospels - the Samaritan woman, the man blind from birth, and the raising of Lazarus - features a principal character who progressively grows in his/her understanding of who Jesus really is.

In the first scrutiny on the Third Sunday of Lent (March 3rd at 10:30 a.m. Mass), the Samaritan woman begins by addressing Jesus politely, though not perceptively, as “Sir.” She progresses to, “I can see that you are a prophet,” and then provides an opening for Jesus to reveal his true identity: “I know the Messiah is coming.” Jesus replies, “I AM he” (Jesus ascribes to himself the Divine Name). Eventually, the townspeople make a “profession of faith” similar to the catechumens’ profession at Baptism: “This is truly the Savior of the world.”

In the second scrutiny on the Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 10th at 8 a.m. Mass), the parallels for reflection abound. The blind man washes in Siloam for the gift of sight; the catechumens “wash” in the baptismal font for the gift of faith. Samuel anoints David; Jesus anoints the man’s eyes; the Church anoints in Baptism and Confirmation. The Lord cautions Samuel not to judge from appearances; Jesus bestows not merely sight but faith’s insight. The man not only sees Jesus but “sees” who Jesus really is. Ephesians “sees” this as our miracle, too: “You were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”

As did the Samaritan woman, the blind man reveals his progress in understanding who Jesus is by the titles he uses to address Jesus, at first simply, “the man called Jesus.” Questioned by the authorities, the man formerly blind advances to “he is a prophet.” Ultimately, he professes his faith, “I do believe, Lord,” and worships.

The blind man’s progression toward faith is paralleled by the regression of the sighted characters. Jesus’ disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”“ The religious leaders embrace this explanation (which Jesus rejects), and it prompts their final insult: “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Ultimately, the man’s physical blindness is eclipsed by the sighted (religious) characters’ blindness of heart. “Surely we are not also blind?” Jesus seals the reversal: “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but you say, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”

In the third, and final, scrutiny on the Fifth Sunday of Lent (March 17th 5:30 p.m.), the raising of Lazarus crowns Jesus’ wonderous deeds. Ironically, it also heightens official hostility, thus making Jesus’ restoring another’s life the immediate cause of losing his own. Jewish tradition held that the soul hovered near the dead body for three days. By specifying that Lazarus had been in the tomb four days (Martha even warns of a stench), John emphasizes that Jesus has complete and sovereign power even over humankind’s moral enemy, death. Of special importance to communities with catechumens is the story’s concluding detail. When Lazarus comes forth from the tomb alive, by Jesus’ power, the community still has work to do. “Untie him and let him go,” Jesus commands. Raised to life by God’s power, summoned to a new beginning by Jesus, the newly baptized like Lazarus, are entrusted to the community, whose role is crucial to their being set free to walk in the new life to which God has called them in Baptism.

Copyright © Pastoral Patterns, Micheal E. Novak and Peter J. Scagnelli, World Library Publications, J.S. Paluch Company, Inc. Spring 2013


Paul Turner

A Christmas manger is a three- dimensional display of characters who populate the story of the birth of Christ. It is also known as a crib or a crèche. St. Francis of Assisi originated the custom in the 13th century, and it has been adopted by homes, churches and even some public squares around the world.

A manger scene usually shows Mary and Joseph together with shepherds and magi, all in reverent pose before the newborn Jesus, who lies in an animal feeding trough. Around them gather livestock - lambs, a cow, a donkey, and the camels that transported the magi. An angel may hover above the scene proclaiming “Glory to God in the highest!” Most of these figures can be traced to the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus (Mt 1:18-2:12 and Lk 2:1-20), but the cow and donkey (or ox and ass) come from a prophecy in Isaiah 1:3. Some scenes are filled with more delightfully fanciful figures. In all, the manger proclaims that Christ was born for all - the wise and the poor, angels as well as animals.

The manger foreshadows the Eucharist because Jesus would give his Body and Blood for food. It also foreshadows the cross; in art, the crib and swaddling clothes sometimes resemble a coffin and burial clothes.

When the manger is first erected, it may be blessed with prayers from the Book of Blessings, which are also found in Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers.

In a church, the manger is not supposed to occupy a place in the sanctuary, lest it block one’s view of the altar. Still, it is filling to arrange the scene in a place where the faithful can come, look, and be inspired to praise God for the miracle of Christmas.

Copyright © 2008 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia Street #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.



The Liturgy of the Hours is a small but bulky and intimidating-looking red-bound prayer book with lots of confusing multi-colored ribbons. It is that, but, of course, it is much more.

Also known as The Divine Office, the “hours” are comprised of a four-week cycle of psalms, biblical readings and songs, prayers of intercession, blessings, and other readings from spiritual writings, separated into morning, evening, daytime and night prayer, and an office (collection) of readings. It is the required daily prayer of clergy and many in consecrated religious life, but it is also a rich source of prayer for all the members of the church.

The Acts of the Apostles talks about how the early Christian community was faithful to the Jewish tradition of gathering for prayer at appointed times.

There is also the exhortation in St. Paul’s letters to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:17) as well as Jesus’ telling his disciples an entire parable about the “necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary” (Luke 18:1). Christians took these commands seriously. By the 200s they were gathering for morning and evening prayer. Daily prayer at regular intervals was something available to all Christians.

As the early church moved into the Middle Ages, however, the practice fragmented into two forms: The ‘monastic office,” the preserve of monasteries, and a simpler version, the “cathedral office,” celebrated in parish churches. Even the more accessible cathedral office, though, came to be viewed as something belonging to the clergy and, therefore, remote from lay people.

Centuries went by before the Second Vatican Council, in its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1963), sought to put the Hours back into the hands of the whole church. Vatican II recognized that the Liturgy of the Hours “is devised so that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praises of God... The purpose of the office is to sanctify the day.”

The Hours are a way to grow in several aspects of prayer. They are a ritual that opens those praying to a deeper recognition of the sacredness not only of the entire day bur also of all creation. They punctuate the day with prayer and thus make the time in between more prayerful.

They are a way to pray is not “without ceasing” then at least with “unceasing” consistency. They help to develop the habit of persistence in prayer. And the “public prayer of the church,” praying the Hours, whether alone of with a group, puts you in communion with the entire praying church.

Simplified versions of Liturgy of the Hours exist, but if you are going to make the effort to pray them, it is worth going to the real things, which with all its ribbons, is not that difficult to learn to use. The print version, Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours, is available from Catholic Book Publishing Co., and you can also find the Liturgy of the Hours itself online.


Paul Turner

An indulgence is the remission of punishment for a forgiven sin. If you child breaks a window at home and tells you, “I’m sorry,” you may forgive the young offender, but you may still issue a punishment. In the Catholic Church the sacrament of reconciliation brings forgiveness of sins, which may still carry punishments. Indulgences relax the punishments.

Indulgences first appeared in the 11th century as a way of reducing the penance one was required to perform after confessing a sin. Several hundred years later they were understood to relax punishments after death - partially or totally. During the Reformation, the abuse of indulgences received sound criticism. People were selling them outright, claiming that you could buy your way into heaven.

In the past, some indulgences came with a certain number of days or years attached. The church explained that if you gained the indulgence, it would speed your progress from purgatory to heaven by that amount of time. Today we no longer apply this metaphor of time.

Although the sale of indulgences has ceased, the practice of performing certain actions to obtain indulgences continues. The church believes that the good accomplished by Christ and the saints may be shared by the faithful who perform actions of prayer, charity, and self-sacrifice. Believers may even ask God to extend mercy to the faithful departed by remembering these benefits. An appreciation of indulgences is based on the belief that sinful behaviors carry consequences ever after death and that God will respond favorably to prayers for mercy.

An indulgence is obtained by performing a devotional action, celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation, sharing the Eucharist, and praying for the intentions of the pope. It celebrates the mercy of God.

Copyright © 2000, Resource Publications, Inc. 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, hold a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.

Silence Before Mass

Paul Turner

Silence is sacred. No words can adequately express the mystery of God. Everything we try to say falls short. In quiet, we can sense God’s presence even more deeply than in sounds.

At designated times of the Mass, we fall silent to offer prayers, to reflect on the Scripture or to thank God for the Eucharist. But “even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal 45).

Many sounds precede Mass. At home and in the car, you may have the television or radio on, or you may be conversing with family and friends about many things. At church, in the minutes before Mass begins, you might hear people greeting people, someone leading a rosary, musicians tuning their instruments, cantors rehearsing the psalm, or coins plunking into the poor box. The organist might play a prelude or the song leader might rehearse a hymn with you. All these sounds serve some purpose and they help prepare us for the Eucharist.

But some time of silence beforehand helps everyone enter the Mass devoutly. In silent prayer, we think about the role we are to play, the songs we will sing, the prayers we will offer, the Scriptures we will hear, the sacrifice we make, the service to give our neighbor, and the presence of Jesus Christ, who comes to us in sacrament to nourish us at this Mass and throughout the week. His holiness renders us speechless.

Copyright © Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, hold a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.



Swieconka (sh-vee-en-soon-kah) is one of the most enduring and beloved Polish traditions. Baskets containing a sampling of Easter foods are brought to church to be blessed on Holy Saturday. The basket is traditionally lined with a white linen or lace napkin and decorated with sprigs of boxwood (bukszpan), the typical Easter evergreen. Poles take special pride in preparing a decorative and tasteful basket with crisp linens, occasionally embroidered for the occasion and just enough boxwood and ribbon woven through the handle. Observing the beautiful foods and creations of other parishioners is one of the special joys of the event.

While in some older or rural communities, the priest visits the homes to bless the foods, the vast majority of Poles and Polish Americans visit the church on Holy Saturday once again praying at the Tomb of the Lord, normally a decorative mock-up of the Tomb.

The priest then sprinkles the individual baskets with Holy Water. More traditional Polish churches use a straw brush for dispersing the Water; others use the more modern metal Holy Water sprinkling wand. In some parishes, the baskets are lined up on long tables; in others, parishioners process to the front of the Altar carrying their baskets, as if in a Communion line. Older generations of Polish Americans, descended from early 19th century immigrants, tend to bless whole meal quantities, often brought to church halls or cafeterias in large hampers and picnic baskets. Newer Polish immigrants at Polish-language parishes along with Poles in urban Poland present the smaller arrangement of select goods described here.

A Traditional Polish Swieconka Basket

Basket Contents and Symbolism:

Maslo / Butter : This dairy product is often shaped into a lamb (Baranek Wielkanocny), reminding us of the goodness of Christ that we should have toward all things.

Chleb / Easter Bread : A round of rye loaf topped with a cross, symbolic of Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Chrzan / Horseradish : Symbolic of the Passion of Christ still in our minds, but sweetened with some sugar because of the Resurrection (May be white or pink [with grated red beets]).

Jajka / Eggs and Pisanki : Indicate new life and Christ’s Resurrection from the Tomb.

Kielbasa / Sausage : A spicy sausage of pork products, indicative of God’s favor and generosity.

Szynka / Ham : Symbolic of great joy and abundance. (In addition to the large ham cooked for the Easter Meal, often a special small ham, called the Szynka Wielkanocny, is purchased specially for Swieconka basket.)

Slonina / Smoked Bacon : A symbol of the overabundance of God’s mercy and generosity.

Sol / Salt : So necessary an element in our physical life, that Jesus used its symbolism: “You are the salt of the earth.”

Ser / Cheese : Shaped into a ball, it is the symbol of the moderation Christians should have.

Holy Water : Holy water is used to bless the home, animals, fields and used in religious rituals throughout the year.

Candle : A candle, often marked like the Paschal Candle lit during the Easter Vigil is inserted into the basket to represent Christ, Light of the World.

A colorful ribbon and sometimes sprigs of greenery are attached.


As we become acquainted with the new translations in the Mass, many of you are wondering what all these new words are and what they mean. Some of the new words we are using may be unfamiliar to many of you. The following list of definitions may help to increase your understanding of the rich theology that underlies these texts. This glossary of common liturgical terms come from the “United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in Washington, D.C.” IT MIGHT BE GOOD TO HANG ONTO THIS LIST FOR FUTURE REFERENCE.

ABASEMENT: The lowering of one of higher rank. Jesus abased himself in that, though he was God, he lowered himself and became a human person being so that he might save us from our sins (see Phil 2:6-11).

ADOPTION: In baptism, the Holy Spirit transforms us into children of the Father, thereby making us his adopted sons and daughters in the likeness of his eternal Son (see Eph 1:3-6). In this way, the faithful are made “partakers in the divine nature (cf. 2 Pt 1:4) by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior” (“Catechism of the Catholic Church,” 1129). In the sacraments, we become the sons and daughters of God by adoption through Christ Jesus.

ANGELS AND ARCHANGELS, CHERUBIM AND SERAPHIM, THRONES AND DOMINIONS: Spiritual, personal and immortal creatures, with intelligence and free will, who glorify God and serve him as messengers of his saving plan. Traditionally, the choir of angels has been divided into various ranks, including archangels, cherubim, seraphim, thrones, dominions, principalities and powers (see Col 1:16).

CHALICE: From the Latin word “calix” meaning “cup” (see Ps 116:13; Mt 20:22; 1Cor 10:16). The use of this term in the liturgy points to the chalice’s function as a particular kind of cup and indicated the uniqueness of what it contains, the very blood of Christ.

CLEMENCY: The loving kindness, compassion or mercy that God shows to sinners. Our fellowship and union with Jesus and other baptized Christians in the church, which has its source and summit in the celebration of the Eucharist. By receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, we are united to him and one another as members of his body.

CONSECRATION: The dedication of a thing or person to divine service by a prayer or blessing. In the Mass, “consecration” also refers to the words spoken by the priest whereby the bread and wine are transformed into the risen body and blood of Jesus.

CONSUBSTANTIAL: The belief, articulated in the Nicene Creed, about the relationship of the Father and the Son: that “in the Father and with the Father, the Son is one and the same God” (CCC, 262).

CONTRITE: To be repentant within one’s heart and mind for sins committed and to resolve not to sin again.

COVENANT: A solemn agreement between human beings, between God and a human being, or between God and a people involving mutual commitments or promises. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with the Jewish people. Jesus, through his death and resurrection, made a new covenant with all humanity. One enters into this new covenant through faith and baptism.

DAMNATION: Eternal separation from God’s love caused by dying in mortal sin without repentance.

GODHEAD: The mystery of one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

HOMAGE: The honor, respect and reverence due to another. Homage is especially due to God, for he is eternal, all good, all holy and all loving.

IMPLORE: To plead, beseech or ask with humility. This is an example of the self-deprecatory language in the Roman Missal that helps to express our dependence on God. We humbly beg the Father to hear and answer our prayers, for we ask them in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus.

INCARNATION: The Son of God assumed human nature and became man by being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Jesus is true God and true man. As man, the Son of God obtained our salvation. The use of this term in the Nicene Creed indicates that Jesus’ birth has a significance beyond that of any other human birth.

INEFFABLE: That which cannot be conceived or expressed fully (see 1Cor 2:6-9). One cannot, for example, adequately describe in concepts and words the mystery of the Trinity or the mystery of the Incarnation.

INFUSION: The Holy Spirit is poured into the hearts and souls of believers, and so they are filled, or infused, with grace.

INTERCESSOR: One who makes a petition on behalf of others. Our unique intercessor is Jesus Christ, who intercedes on our behalf with the Father (see Rom 8:34). The priest at Mass, acting in the person of Christ, intercedes on behalf of the whole church.

JUSTIFICATION: The gracious action by which God frees us from sin and makes us holy and righteous before him.

LORD, GOD OF HOSTS: From the word “sabaoth,” hosts are the invisible powers that work at God’s command over heaven and earth.

MEDIATOR: One who unites or reconciles separate or opposing parties. Thus, Jesus Christ is the “one mediator between God and the human race” (1 Tim 2:5). Through his sacrificial offering he has become high priest and unique mediator who has gained for us access to the Father through the Holy Spirit.

MERIT: The reward that God promises and gives to those who love him and who by his grace perform good works. One cannot earn justification or eternal life; they are the free gifts of God. Rather, our merit is from God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. The Father freely justifies us in Christ through the in-dwelling of the Spirit; and Christians, by the same Holy Spirit, are empowered to do good works of love and justice. In cooperating with the Holy Spirit, the faithful receive further grace and thus, in Christ, cooperate in the works of their salvation.

OBLATION: A gift or sacrifice offered to God.

ONLY BEGOTTEN SON: This title “signifies the unique and eternal relationship of Jesus Christ to God his Father: he is the only Son of the Father (cf. Jn 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18); he is God himself (cf. Jn 1:1)” (CCC, 454). Jesus is the Son of God not by adoption but by nature.

PASCHAL: Referring to Christ’s work of redemption accomplished through his passion, death, resurrection and ascension. Through the paschal mystery, Jesus destroyed our death and restored us to life. The paschal mystery is celebrated and made present in the liturgy so that we can obtain the fruit of Jesus’ death and resurrection, that is the forgiveness of our sins and the new life of the Holy Spirit.

PATRIARCHS: Title given to the venerable ancestors or “fathers” of the Semitic peoples, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who received God’s promise of election.

PRECURSOR: One who comes before as a herald. John the Baptizer is the precursor of Jesus.

PROVIDENT GRACE: The free and undeserved gift that God gives us as he protects and governs all creation.

REDEMPTION: Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer because he frees us from our sin through his sacrificial death on the cross.

TEMPORAL: What pertains to this world of time and history, as opposed to what pertains to God, such as our new life in Christ through the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit.

VENERATE: To show devotion and respect to holy things and people. Catholics venerate relics and saints. Veneration must be clearly distinguished from adoration and worship, both of which pertain solely to the Trinity and Jesus as the Son of God.

Who is St. Nicholas?

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests and deacons there was no room for the real criminals - murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th.

Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas’ life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value - a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift giver.

One of the oldest stories showing St. Nicholas as a protector of children takes place long after his death. The townspeople of Myra were celebrating the good saint on the eve of his feast day when a band of Arab pirates from Crete came into the district. They stole treasures from the Church of Saint Nicholas to take away as booty. As they were leaving town, they snatched a young boy, Basilios, to make into a slave. The emir, or ruler, selected Basilios to be his personal cupbearer, as not knowing the language, Basilios would not understand what the king said to those around him. So, for the next year Basilios waited on the king, bringing his wine in a beautiful golden cup. For Basilios’ parents, devastated at the loss of their only child, the year passed slowly. As the next St. Nicholas’ feast day approached, Basilios’ mother would not join in the festivity, as it was now a day of tragedy. However, she was persuaded to have a simple observance at home - with quiet prayers for Basilios’ safekeeping. Meanwhile, as Basilios was fulfilling his tasks serving the emir, he was suddenly whisked up and away. St. Nicholas appeared to the terrified boy, blessed him, and set him down at his home in Myra. Imagine the joy and wonderment when Basilios amazingly appeared before his parents, still holding the emir’s golden cup. This is the first story told of St. Nicholas protecting children - which became his primary role in the West.

Another story tells of three theological students, traveling on their way to study in Athens. A wicked innkeeper robbed and murdered them, hiding their remains in a large pickling tub. It so happened that Bishop Nicholas, traveling along the same route, stopped at this very inn. In the night he dreamed of the crime, got up, and summoned the innkeeper. As Nicholas prayed earnestly to God the three boys were restored to life and wholeness. In France the story is told of three small children, wandering in their play until lost, lured, and captured by an evil butcher. St. Nicholas appears and appeals to God to return them to life and to their families. And so St. Nicholas is the patron and protector of children.

Several stories tell of Nicholas and the sea. When he was young, Nicholas sought to be holy by making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There as he walked where Jesus walked, he sought to more deeply experience Jesus’ life, passion and resurrection. Returning by sea, a mighty storm threatened to wreck the ship. Nicholas calmly prayed. The terrified sailors were amazed when the wind and waves suddenly calmed, sparing them all. And so St. Nicholas is the patron of sailors and voyagers.

Other stories tell of Nicholas saving his people from famine, sparing the lives of those innocently accused, and much more. He did many kind and generous deeds in secret, expecting nothing in return. Within a century of his death he was celebrated as a saint. Today he is venerated in the East as wonder, or a miracle worker and in the West as patron of a great variety of persons - children, mariners, bankers, pawn brokers, scholars, orphans, laborers, travelers, merchants, judges, paupers, marriage maidens, students, victims of judicial mistakes, captives, perfumers, even thieves and murderers! He is known as the friend and protector of all in trouble or need.

Sailors, claiming St. Nicholas as patron, carried stories of his favor and protection far and wide. St. Nicholas chapels were built in many seaports. As his popularity spread during the Middle Ages, he became the patron saint of Apulia (Italy), Sicily, Greece, and Lorraine (France), and many cities in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Russian, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Following his baptism in Constantinople, Vladimir I of Russia brought St. Nicholas’ stories and devotion to St. Nicholas back to his homeland where Nicholas became the most beloved saint. Nicholas was so widely revered that more than 2,000 churches were named for him, including 300 in Belgium, 34 in Rome, 23 in the Netherlands and more than 400 in England.

Nicholas’ tomb in Myra became a popular place of pilgrimage. Because of the many wars and attacks in the region, some Christians were concerned that access to the tomb might become difficult. For both the religious and commercial advantages of a major pilgrimage site, the Italian cities of Venice and Bari vied to get the Nicholas relics. In the spring of 1087, sailors from Bari succeeded in spirting away the bones, bringing them to Bari, a seaport on the southeast coast of Italy. An impressive church was built over St. Nicholas’ crypt and many faithful journeyed to honor the saint who rescued children, prisoners, sailors, famine victims, and many others through his compassion, generosity, and the countless miracles attributed to his intercession. The Nicholas shrine in Bari was one of medieval Europe’s great pilgrimage centers and Nicholas became known as “Saint in Bari.” To this day pilgrims and tourists visit Bari’s great Basilica di San Nicola.

Through the centuries St. Nicholas has continued to be venerated by Catholics and Orthodox and honored by Protestants. By his example of generosity to those in need, especially children, St. Nicholas continues to be model for the compassionate life.

Widely celebrated in Europe, St. Nicholas’ feast day, December 6th, kept alive the stories of his goodness and generosity. In Germany and Poland, boys dressed as bishops begged alms for the poor -sometimes for themselves! In the Netherlands and Belgium, St. Nicholas arrived on a steamship from Spain to ride a white horse on his gift-giving rounds. December 6th is still the main day for gift giving and merrymaking in much of Europe. For example, in the Netherlands St. Nicholas is celebrated on the 5th, the eve of the day, by sharing candies (thrown in the door), chocolate initial letters, small gifts and riddles. Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes for the saint’s horse, hoping St. Nicholas will exchange them for small gifts. Simple gift giving in early Advent helps preserve a Christmas Day focus on the Christ Child.



Dispensation from Form

Paul Turner

Sometimes a Catholic engaged to a person of a different faith wishes to have the marriage in the fiancé’s church. Many Catholics believe that this can be done as long as a priest is present for the ceremony. That is not entirely true.

When a baptized Catholic marries, the wedding is expected to take place according to the canonical form of marriage. That is, it should be witnessed by a priest or a deacon in a Catholic church building according to the rite of marriage approved for use there. However, for good reasons, a Catholic may receive a dispensation from this canonical form. Most commonly, those reasons include the close connection between the non-Catholic party and the faith community of which he or she is a member. The dispensation shouldn’t be granted because the other building is prettier or has a more appropriate size.

A dispensation from canonical form is granted by the bishop, often through the chancellor, after the parish priest of the Catholic party requests it. The Catholic party requests this of the priest, who fills out the appropriate papers and sends them to the chancery for approval.

This is what many do not understand. A dispensation from canonical form applies to more than the church building. It applies to the rite of marriage and to the minister. No Catholic priest or deacon has to be present for the wedding once the dispensation from form has been obtained. Many priests and deacons are happy to be there, and their presence is normally welcomed by the couple and relieves the Catholic family. But what makes the ceremony “Catholic” is not the presence of a Catholic priest or deacon, but the paperwork that few people see.

Copyright 2009 © Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome


Simple Catholic Wedding

Paul Turner

A Catholic wedding can be a simple affair. When people think of a Catholic wedding, they often imagine an extravagant event with expensive clothes, multiple attendants, many ministers, and an elegant ceremony. Many beautiful weddings have happened that way. Others are done more simply.

Sadly, some couples who are otherwise ready for marriage put off the wedding because they cannot afford the ceremony, the reception, and other societal expectations. They may even be tempted to choose a civil ceremony at a courthouse just to avoid the complications of a Catholic wedding.

But a Catholic wedding does not have to be big or expensive. The ceremony can be conducted as simply as a typical daily Mass or prayer service in a parish church. Special clothes and a procession are not necessary. There should be Scripture readings, the exchange of consent, the blessings and some prayers. A little music would be nice, but even that is not essential. The ceremony should take place at church.

A Catholic wedding does not demand the participation of a large number of people. Just a bare minimum must be there: a priest or a deacon must witness the exchange of the couple’s consent, and two other witnesses must be present, but that’s all. Even in the smallest of ceremonies, some family members and close friends will want to attend, but the event can be kept very small.

A wedding is an important occasion for the couple, their families, the church and the society that will know them as husband and wife. For that reason, most weddings require the coordination of many complicated demands. But for good reasons, the ceremony can be done more simply, and is still a Catholic wedding.

Copyright 2009 © Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.



Paul Turner

A genuflection is the action begun from a standing position in which a worshiper moves his or her right foot back a step, drops the right knee briefly to the floor and then stands upright again. Most people naturally bow their head while performing this action some make the sign of the cross. Some hold onto a nearby pew for physical support. The purpose of genuflection is for the worshiper to honor Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist.

The priest genuflects three times at Mass. During the Eucharistic Prayer, he genuflects showing the Eucharistic Bread and after showing the Cup to the people. He genuflects again before announcing, “This is the Lamb of God.” Taken together, his genuflections affirm the central belief about the Mass: during the Eucharistic Prayer, the Holy Spirit changes the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ; that food then becomes communion for the faithful. Additional genuflections should be made in churches where a tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament is in the sanctuary. In those cases, the priest genuflects before and after Mass, and anyone passing in front of the tabernacle also genuflects to it. Since a tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament is commonly found in sanctuaries of Catholic churches, the faithful typically make a genuflection toward the tabernacle before entering and after leaving their place. In church where the tabernacle is not in the sanctuary, the faithful should bow to the altar before and after the service instead. Genuflection is directed not toward the altar, not toward the cross, not toward one’s proximity to a pew, but to the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

Formerly it was customary to make a genuflection before a bishop and a double genuflection (both knees to the ground) when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration. These practices have been eliminated. A single genuflection is always appropriate before the Blessed Sacrament whether it is in the tabernacle or exposed in a monstrance. You may bow to a bishop if you wish.

Copyright 1998 © Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.

“Hell” in the Creed

Paul Turner

In the Apostles’ Creed we say that Jesus descended into hell. After He died and was buried, and before He rose again from the dead, He entered hell. How is this possible? We generally understand “hell” to mean the place of the damned, the lake of fire described in Revelation 20:14-15. How could Jesus go there?

The word has another meaning. It also refers to the Old Testament realm of the dead where both the condemned and the saved awaited judgment. In Jesus’ parable of the beggar Lazarus and the rich man, both characters die and end up in a placed “Hades” or “the netherworld” - a place the creed calls “hell.” One rests in the bosom of Abraham, but the other suffers torment (Luke 16:22-23). Christians believe that they souls of both good and evil people who died before Jesus rose from the dead dwelled in this place. The reason Jesus descended there was to rescue the good. The Apostles’ Creed calls this place “hell.”

Ephesians 4:9-10 says that Jesus descended to the lower parts of the earth. It is this passage that the creed quotes. When the creed says that Jesus “rose again from the dead,” it means literally “from among those who were dead.” We believe not just that Jesus died and rose but that He visited the dead at the time.

Some icons depict Jesus trampling down the gate of this hell, grasping the arm of the first person in line of those formerly held captive and bringing them out to freedom. Traditionally, that first person is Adam, and he is followed by all the righteous people of the Old Testament who could not enjoy the resurrection until Jesus Himself rose from the dead.

Copyright © 2010 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. # 290 San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.

Consubstantial and Incarnate

Paul Turner


The Nicene Creed proclaims our belief in the Trinity. Among its points is that Jesus is consubstantial and incarnate. Neither of these words is common in our vocabulary, but their appearance in the creed shows how difficult it is for us humans to explain the mystery of God.

“Consubstantial” basically means “one in being,” but the word is more technical. It proclaims our belief that there is only one God, though the Godhead is manifest in more than one way. God has one nature, but three persons. Jesus existed with the Father before all ages - before He entered the world in time and place on the first Christmas Day in Bethlehem. He already existed, and He was always truly God - consubstantial with the Father.

This belief entered the creed after the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century because of a heresy spread by a man named Arius. He believed that Jesus had a beginning in time, and hence He could not share the same Godhead as the Father. This opinion did not fit with the evidence in the New Testament, so the early Church condemned the thought of Arius and clarified mainstream Christian belief by proclaiming that Jesus had always shared the same nature with the Father - that He was consubstantial with the Father - before and after He was born.

We also believe that Jesus became “incarnate,” a word that means that Jesus as God took on the flesh of a human. He was actually born, thought He lost nothing of the Godhead by doing so. If you had seen Jesus in the first century, you would have seen God in flesh and bone.

These two difficult words proclaim two sides of our belief. Jesus is God, and Jesus is human - He is consubstantial and incarnate.

Copyright © 2009 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290 San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, hold a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.


Saints in the Eucharistic Prayers

Paul Turner

When Catholics pray we often ask the saints to join us just as we ask friends and family. Privately, Catholics may pray to a particular saint, but at Mass we address prayer to the Father. Just as the assembly of the faithful on earth prays, the assembly of the saints in heaven join in. This is especially obvious in the eucharistic prayers that mention saints by name.

The clearest example is Eucharistic Prayer I, which has origins in the fourth century. The first versions of this prayer did not mention any saints, but as devotion increased in subsequent centuries, the names of several saints were added. The name of Mary appeared in the sixth century with her title “Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ” to proclaim a recently defined belief - not that God had a mother, but that Jesus, the Son of Mary is God. Joseph was included in 1962. The names of the 12 apostles follow - with Paul replacing Judas in the list. For balance, 12 martyrs come next - almost all of them from the early church in Rome.

Later in the prayer more saints are named. John the Baptist and Stephen head the second list as key biblical figures. Matthias, who replaced Judas, is finally mentioned, and then 12 more saints to balance the group of 12 earlier in the prayer. This second list includes seven women martyrs. Many priests do not read the whole list of saints in Eucharistic Prayer I; the abridgement is permitted for simplicity.

Other eucharistic prayers name a single saint - for example, the patron of the local church or the one whose feast is being celebrated. Whenever saints are included in the eucharistic prayer, they appear as intercessors who assist and as models to imitate.

Copyright © 2009 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290 San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, hold a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.



Paul Turner

In the year 2001, the Vatican issued new rules for translating the liturgy form from Latin into modern languages. Although the implications were not immediately apparent to most churchgoers, a new translation of worship texts has been undertaken, and the results will affect all who pray in Catholic churches around the world.

The Vatican still publishes its major documents in Latin, which serves as the source for translation into modern languages. For many years the English translation of the Mass followed a theory of translation that focused more on English idioms than on the Latin words and structures. Now the Vatican has asked that all modern languages adhere more closely to the Latin words. The results will change how Catholic worship sounds.

Many of the words at Mass are inspired by passages from the Bible. By translating the Latin more literally, allusions to the Scriptures should be clearer. For example, just before receiving communion, Catholics have been saying, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” But, the revised translation, which presents more of the Latin words, says, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” This will more readily call to mind the words of the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his son (Mt 8:8).

The translation will display a wider vocabulary than the present one. The Latin Missal employs a muscular vocabulary of words for prayer, love, service and other aspects of the Christian life. The revised translation captures more color from the original. The shape of the Mass will remain the same, but the new English translation should enhance the sound of what we say and hear.

Copyright © 2009 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290 San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, hold a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.

Dispensation from Form

Paul Turner

Sometimes a Catholic engaged to a person of a different faith wishes to have the marriage in the fiance’s church. Many Catholics believe that this can be done as long as a priest is present for the ceremony. That is not entirely true.

When a baptized Catholic marries, the wedding is expected to take place according to the canonical form of marriage. That is, it should be witnessed by a priest or a deacon in a Catholic church building according to the rite of marriage approved for use there. However, for good reasons, a Catholic may receive a dispensation from canonical form. Most commonly, those reasons include the close connection between the non-Catholic party and the faith community of which he or she is a member. The dispensation shouldn’t be granted because the other building is prettier or has a more appropriate size.

A dispensation from canonical form is granted by the bishop, often through the chancellor, after the parish priest of the Catholic party requests it. The Catholic party requests this of the priest, who fills out the appropriate papers and sends them to the chancery for approval.

This is what many do not understand. A dispensation from canonical form applies to more than the church building. It applies to the rite of marriage and to the minister. No Catholic priest or deacon has to be present for the wedding once the dispensation from form has been obtained. Many priests and deacons are happy to be there, and their presence is normally welcomed by the couple and relieves the Catholic family. But what makes the ceremony “Catholic” is not the presence of a Catholic priest of a deacon, but the paperwork that few people see.

Copyright © 2009 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290 San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, hold a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.

“N. our Bishop”

Paul Turner

During the eucharistic prayer at every Mass, we pray for the local bishop. In the text of the prayer, he is called “N. our Bishop.” The priest replaces the “N” with the bishop’s first name - the name with which he was baptized.

This ancient custom shows the bishop’s unifying role. The entire diocese prays for him by name in the heart of every Mass. The people learn their special relationship with this man, his responsibilities for them, and their responsibilities to him.

The bishop mentioned is the ordinary of the diocese in which the Mass is celebrated. If members of your parish visit another diocese to celebrate Mass, you do not pray for your own bishop. You pray for the bishop of the place where the Mass occurs. Whenever priests travel outside their diocese, they learn the name of the local bishop so that they can pray for him at Mass.

Other bishops may also be mentioned, including a coadjutor appointed to succeed the bishop currently in office. An auxiliary bishop, who assists the ordinary in office but will not succeed him, should also be mentioned by name. If there is more than one auxiliary bishop they may be mentioned as a group. When the bishop presides, instead of saying his own name, he prays for “me, your unworthy servant.” When the bishop of a diocese dies, these words are omitted from the eucharitisc prayer because there is no bishop in office.

During the Mass, we each pray for our own concerns - our families, our coworkers, our neighbors and all the people we love. But the church reminds us that we also need to pray for those we might otherwise forget, and one of them is N. our bishop.

Copyright © 2009 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290 San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, hold a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.




Of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ, Confirmation is probably the one that is least known or appreciated. That’s understandable because it focuses on the working of the Holy Spirit who is often the forgotten person of the Trinity. The Sacrament of Confirmation can be described as the sacrament of spiritual maturity. It enriches the soul of the person with deep graces (helps and assistance) of the Spirit. Confirmation is the sacrament that calls recipients to witness courageously the gift of faith by word and, especially, by the example of their lives. The Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution of the Church states that Catholics “are more perfectly bound to the Church by the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Holy Spirit endows them with special strength so that they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith, both by word and deed, as true witnesses of Christ” (Par. 11).

This sacrament harkens back to the great Pentecost event (Acts: 2) when the disciples were huddled in the upper room and the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus had promised them, came upon them in the form of a mighty wind and tongues of fire. The disciples gathered there had been commanded by Jesus to take the good news of his death and resurrection to the ends of the earth. Yet those gathered there, up to that point, lacked a real understanding of what Jesus’ life and death fully meant. But at the Last Supper Jesus assured them that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and teach them all they needed to know. They would be strengthened to go everywhere proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Savior. Pentecost was the moment of their confirmation.

Why do we have Confirmation? What does this sacrament do for us?

The basic effects of Confirmation are:

1. It roots us more deeply in our relationship with God.

2. It unites us more firmly with Christ and reminds us that every sacrament we receive is an encounter with Jesus himself.

3. It increases in us the gifts of the Holy Spirit:

• wisdom

• understanding

• counsel

• knowledge

• piety

• fortitude

• fear of the Lord

4. It strengthens our bond to the Church.

5. Finally, it gives us strength to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.

If you consider what strengths we need simply to live out Christian, Catholic lives in our present society and to make moral decisions in the face of serious temptation, it is easy to see how we need wisdom and strength. For example, a married couple raising children need to be able to counsel and encourage them to live their lives not by following the way of least resistance, but by taking the basic gospel message (“Love God and your neighbor”) and making it a part of their lives. No matter what our vocation, married, religious, priesthood or single, we need the strength of the Spirit in our lives.

What happens at the conferral of the sacrament?

The Sacrament of Confirmation is conferred by the bishop and is usually given in the early teen years when youngsters are mature enough to realize that they face serious religious and moral issues in their lives. Those received into the Church at the Easter Vigil (through Baptism or the Profession of Faith) are confirmed as part of their entrance rite into the Church. Adults who have never received the sacrament for one reason or another should contact their pastor to see when the sacrament can be received in a ceremony with other unconfirmed adults in their diocese. However, the Sacrament of Confirmation is not a prerequisite to being married in the Church.

The oil used in the sacrament symbolizes strength given to profess one’s faith in difficulty. The laying on of hands by the bishop is the symbol of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the person. Few, if any, of us may live in circumstances that demand we lay down our lives for our beliefs. Yet there is seldom a day when we are not faced with difficult choices that test the authenticity of our faith.

The Fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them:

  • Charity
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Generosity
  • Gentleness
  • Faithfulness
  • Modesty
  • Self-control
  • Chastity

Order of Mass

Paul Turner

The Order of Mass is the script we follow for every celebration of the Eucharist. It contains the words and movements that are repeated at every mass, from the sign of the cross to the dismissal. It does not include the readings nor any of the hymns. It is the parts of the Mass that stay the same.

The Order of Mass is located in the middle of the Sacramentary, a book that is also called the Roman Missal - the big red book that rests on the altar or in the hands of a server. The Order of Mass also appears in many books and pamphlets that people use to participate at Mass. Most Catholics know their lines very well, though sometimes they consult the Order of mass for long texts, such as the Glory to God and the Creed. Visitors find the Order of Mass helpful to figure out what is happening when, what words to say and what postures to adopt.

In the year 2002, the Vatican issued a revised edition of the Roman Missal. Although the Order of Mass did not change very much, the publication of this volume in Latin prompted a new English translation of its contents. During the summer of 2008, a comparison between the current and new translation of the people’s parts was published on this website: The use of the new words was not authorized until the completion of the translation of the entire missal - a project expected to take a few years.

The new words are expected to cause some initial confusion and frustration. But they have been published so that worshipers may prepare themselves in advance. It is hoped that the new translation will help Catholics pray with more attention and understanding.

Copyright©2009 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.


Paul Turner

A Christmas manger is a three-dimensional display of characters who populate the story of the birth of Christ. It is also known as a crib or a creche. St. Francis of Assisi originated the custom in the 13th century, and it has been adopted by homes, churches, and even some public squares around the world.

A manger scene usually shows Mary and Joseph together with shepherds and magi, all in reverent pose before the newborn Jesus, who lies in an animal feeding trough. Around them gather livestock - lambs, a cow, a donkey, and the camels that transported the magi. An angel may hover above the scene, proclaiming “Glory to God in the highest.” Most of these figures can be traced to the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus (Mt 1:18-2:12 and Lk 2:1-20), but the cow and donkey (or ox and ass) come from a prophecy in Isaiah 1:3. Some scenes are filled with more fanciful figures. In all, the manger proclaims that Christ was born for all - the wise and the poor, angels as well as animals.

The manger foreshadows the Eucharist because Jesus would give his Body and Blood for food. It also foreshadows the cross; in art, the crib and the swaddling clothes sometimes resemble a coffin and burial cloths.

When the manger is first erected, it may be blessed with prayers from the Book of Blessings, which are also found in Catholic Household Blessing and Prayers.

In a church, the manger is not supposed to occupy a place in the sanctuary, lest it block one’s view of the altar. Still, it is fitting to arrange the scene in a place where the faithful can come, look, and be inspired to praise God for the miracle of Christmas.

Copyright © 2008 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at

Baptism / Sponsor

Our office is often called about the qualifications needed for being a godparent for Baptisms in the Catholic Church.

Canon 874 of the Code of Canon Law is very specific about this requirement. First and foremost the general law of the Church requires only one godparent. That person must be a practicing Catholic and at least 16 years of age. In addition, church law provides that a baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community may be asked to serve not as a godparent but as a Christian Witness, providing that a suitable Catholic godparent is chosen and present.

It is expected that this person be practicing his or her faith. This person acts as an example of Christian faith for the parents of the child. As the Rite of Baptism makes clear, the parents are the primary educators of their children in the ways of faith. But the good example of others is always helpful.

If a prospective godparent/witness leaves the Catholic Church and joins another denomination they are not to serve as Christian witnesses. It is presumed that a person baptized and formed in the Catholic faith remains so for life. If a person chooses to leave the Catholic faith and joins another faith community, they must be made aware that there are consequences to their action. In this context, a former Catholic is not permitted to act as Christian witness for a Catholic baptism because that person would be required to “witness” to and see significance in something that they at some point in their life no longer value.

While this matter may seem complex, it does point out the significance of one’s decisions about one’s faith community. It also highlights the importance of parents’ carefully selecting godparents (or Christian witnesses) for their child’s baptism.

Some parents who wish to have their children baptized say that it is difficult for them to find a practicing Catholic to act as a godparent. While that is understandable, in that some people move to this area with all their family and friends living elsewhere, please remember that only one godparent is needed. If you have difficulty, your parish priest may be of assistance to you.

Why does the Church use a dove for the Holy Spirit?

The use of a dove for the Holy Spirit is actually not an official symbol of the Church. It is one of several images that the Church has used (along with fire, light, the wind and so forth) across the centuries to convey the presence of the Holy Spirit, but it does not have any “official” status. Artists seem to have chosen the dove as a “favorite” image of the Spirit, however, and the source of these inspiration is undoubtedly the passage in the Gospels describing the baptism of Jesus by John at the Jordan River. Those texts (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32) say that the Spirit descended on Jesus “like a dove,” but they do not specifically say that there was an appearance of the Spirit “in the form” of a dove. Nonetheless, the image of the dove has “stuck” in the artistic imagination and has become a regular part of Christian art. One of the limitations of this image is that the Holy Spirit is portrayed as a “dumb animal,” and not as a person capable of being in intimate, loving relationship with us. When using this image with children to help them understand the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, it is important that we also use images and descriptions of the Spirit that allow them to grasp the fact the Spirit is personal in nature and relates to us in the same way as the other Persons of the Trinity (who are more frequently imaged as Father and Son).

Disciple’s Will

A will is an important document for everyone to have, regardless of age or financial resources. It ensures that your wishes will be respected and carried out so your property will pass along quickly and smoothly to your named beneficiaries.

For the Christian steward, a will is even more of a necessity as it also allows him to remember his family of faith. Making a disciple’s will involves the four fundamental principles of stewardship:

? Praying to God with a grateful heart for guidance on the ultimate disposition of your estate.

? Nurturing your family with time and love, and being always mindful of their need to be cared for after your death.

? Sharing your giftedness with your faith community and providing means through your estate plan for Church ministries to be continued.

? Giving back to God the first fruits of your labors.

By remembering the Church in your will you thank God for the blessings received in this life and for the faith that sustains you. A bequest to our parish will support the works of education and Christian service and/or help to maintain a beautiful house of worship. This is the “gift that keeps on giving” and ensures that your Catholic faith and the good works of St. Joseph will be supported for years to come. Your will reflects what is most important in your life. Doesn’t it make sense to remember your family of faith in your final statement to the world as a Christian steward?

Contact Father Gabe with questions or more information.

What is an Annulment?

Jesus intended marriage to be a permanent commitment between a man and a woman, a relationship that would last throughout their entire lives. But some marriages break down, oftentimes because there is something missing from the very beginning - some element that keeps the relationship from being the kind of permanent commitment Jesus intended. An annulment is an official decree of the Church that says: Upon careful examination, after a thorough investigation, a particular failed marriage appears not to have been the kind of (sacramental) relationship that Jesus intended. A church annulment doesn’t mean the marriage didn’t exist; it simply says that from all appearances the failed marriage in question was not a sacrament in the full sense intended by Jesus. Children born in such marriages are not thereby declared illegitimate, since an annulment does not “dissolve” a marriage or declare that it never existed.

If you have questions about annulments or perhaps wish to begin the process of an annulment, please speak to Father Gabe.

Alpha and Omega

Paul Turner

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. They are both vowels. Alpha equates to our letter A and is shaped the same way. Omega looks like a horseshoe: S. It has a long O sound, so its aural equivalent appears earlier in our alphabet. In Greek, though, alpha leads to omega as A leads to Z.

These two letters appear several times in the Book of Revelation (1:8: 21:6; 22:13), at the end of the Bible. Together they form a title of Jesus Christ, who is the first and the last; the beginning and the end; the one who is, who was, and who is to come; the almighty; the one who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

At the Easter Vigil each year, the priest carves the letters Alpha and Omega into the candle while reciting a text that proclaims Christ as the beginning and the end. The symbols remain in the candle throughout the year. They may appear elsewhere in Christian art, often associated with the cross.

As one church year draws to a close and another begins on the First Sunday of Advent, it is appropriate to remember Christ, who stands above all time as the beginning and the end. He existed before time began. He will rule as judge at the end of days. And he appeared in human history, an event we recall every Christmas Day. Whether we are celebrating the turning of the church year or of the calendar year, we hail Christ as our Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the one to whom all time belongs, and in whom we live, move, and have our being.

Copyright © 2008 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at


Paul Turner

Paul TurnerThe letters “AMDG” sometimes appear as a decoration on architectural features of Catholic buildings. They abbreviate the Latin phrase Ad maiorem Dei gloriam, which means, “To the greater glory of God.”

The phrase occurs frequently in the writings of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), the founder of the Jesuits. Through it Ignatius expressed the dedication of his life and work to religious purposes. The phrase recognizes that God has glory and that an individual’s work should aim to enhance it. The word “greater” can have more than one meaning. It expresses that the work of Christians contributes to God’s glory, as the Body of Christ builds up the kingdom of God on earth. It also recognizes that the glory of God is greater than any glory assigned to the believer. Christians may win praise for the work that they do, but they devoutly realize that the real praise belongs to God, the giver of all gifts, Who enables them to accomplish all things.

The Jesuits have encouraged the use of the initials “AMDG” on items ranging from statues of St. Ignatius to the homework assignments of their students. Others have also found inspiration from the motto. It appears on religious medals or other emblems that some Christians wear to help center the activities of their day. Pope John Paul II frequently headed his writings with “AMDG” as a devotional reminder of the purpose of his work. Even Johann Sebastian Bach, a great Lutheran composer of church music, appended the letters “AMDG” to some of his manuscripts.

Wherever the initials appear, they remind us that faithful Christians dedicate their lives, their work, their music and their building to the greater glory of God.

Copyright © 2008 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at


Paul Turner

As you enter a Catholic church building, you say hello to those arriving with you. Your parish may have someone at the door to add to this friendly encounter. That person is the greeter.

This role is fairly new. It evolved from the church’s desire to encourage the “full, conscious, and active participation” of the people in harmony with Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (14). Human beings are more apt to pray together, sing together, and observe silences together if they are united in faith and service. This bonding begins at each Mass as soon as we arrive at church. Greeting one another is more than a social convention. It begins to form the Body of Christ assembled for worship on this day.

Our time together at Mass is framed by the formation of community before and after the service. When Mass is over, we go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Having worshiped as one, we leave to serve as one.

A greeter welcomes you to the building and helps you feel at home. If you are unfamiliar with the church you are visiting, the greeter will help you find participation aids, a place to sit, the location of restrooms, and any other useful information.

Even though some people take on the role of greeter at a parish church, everyone shares this responsibility. When you greet others on your way in or out of the building, you are connecting with them in faith, acknowledging the values you share, supporting them with your prayer, and reminding them that none of us is alone. God is with us always, manifested in the simple care of Christian brothers and sisters at church.

Copyright © 2008 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at

Easter Duty

Paul Turner

Going to communion is a treasured privilege among Roman Catholics. Most of the faithful present themselves for the Eucharist at every Mass they attend. It is hard to imagine a time when people received communion infrequently, but that was the case for many centuries. As the church stressed our belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, our ancestors began to feel unworthy to share it. Some people took this to an extreme and stopped receiving communion altogether.

That was never the idea. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “take and eat, take and drink.” He issued an invitation; he did not set up a barrier. Consequently in the year 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council decided to take action. It required the faithful who had reached the age of discretion to confess their sins at least once a year to their own parish priest and to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist reverently at least once a year at Easter.

A version of this rule is still in the Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church. After their first communion, each of the faithful must receive holy communion at least once a year during the Easter season (the 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost), But for a just cause, people may receive at another time of year (canon 920).

Having reached the age of discretion, Catholics are obliged to confess grave sin at least once a year to any priest (canon 989), which many have done during Lent to prepare for an Easter communion. Lent is still a good time to go to confession. Easter is a wonderful time to receive communion. But we should confess grave sin right away and receive communion every Sunday.

Copyright © 2010 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. # 290 San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.

(Are you asking yourself what a plenary indulgence is? Continue reading and maybe we will clear up some of your questions!)

Introduction to Indulgences

You don’t hear about indulgences anymore. It could be said that at one time they were over emphasized and today they are under-emphasized. Many Catholics simply don’t know what indulgences are and they’re at a loss to explain the Church’s position on indulgences when challenged by those of other faiths.

There is no better place to turn than to the Enchiridion of Indulgences. “Enchiridion” means “handbook,” and the Enchiridion of Indulgences is the Church’s official handbook on what acts and prayers carry indulgences and what indulgences really are.

An indulgence is defined as: the remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned.” The first thing to note is that forgiveness of a sin is separate from punishment for the sin. Through sacramental confession we obtain forgiveness, but we aren’t let off the hook as far as punishment goes.

Indulgences are two kinds: partial and plenary. A partial indulgence removes part of the temporal punishment due for sins. A plenary indulgence removes all of it. This punishment may come either in this life, in the form of various sufferings, or in the next life, in purgatory. What we don’t get rid of here, we suffer there.

Time off for Good Behavior?

If you uncover a holy card or prayer book, you’ll notice pious acts or recitation of prayers might carry an indication of time, such as “300 days” or “two years.” Many Catholics think such phrases refer to how much “time off for good behavior” you’d get in purgatory. If you perform a pious act labeled as “300 days’ partial indulgence,” then you’d spend 300 fewer days in purgatory.

It’s easy to see how misinformed Catholics might scurry around for years, toting up indulgences, keeping a little register in which they add up the days. “Let’s see, last year’s tally comes to one thousand three hundred twelve years, give or take a week or so, and my lifetime tally is now past the twenty thousand mark. I can cancel out a lot of sinning with this!”

Or so some people might think. Well, there are no days or years in purgatory - or in heaven or hell, for that matter - and the indication of days or years attached to in partial indulgences never meant you’d get that much time off in purgatory.

As God Sees Fit

What it means was that you’d get a partial indulgence commensurate with what the early Christians got for doing penances for a certain length of time. But there has never been any way for us to measure how much “good time” that represents. All the Church could say, and all it ever did say, was that your temporal punishment would be reduced - as God saw fit.

Since some Catholics were confused by the designation of days and years attached to partial indulgences, the rules for indulgences were modified in 1967, and now “the grant of a partial indulgence is designated only with the words ‘partial indulgence’ without any determination of days or years,” according to the Enchiridion.

To receive a partial indulgence , you have to recite the prayer or do the act of charity assigned. You have to be in the state of grace at least by the completion of the prescribed work. The rule says “at the completion” because often part of the prescribed work is going to confession, and you might not be in the state of grace before you do that. The other thing required is having a general intention to gain the indulgence. If you perform the required act, but don’t want to gain the indulgence, obviously you won’t gain it.

The requirements for a plenary indulgence are tougher than for a partial. After all, a plenary indulgence removes all the temporal punishment due for the sins committed up to that time. (If you sin later, of course, the temporal punishment connected with the new sins isn’t covered by the earlier plenary indulgence, but, at least the punishment for the old sins isn’t revived.)

“To acquire a plenary indulgence,“ says the Enchiridion, “it is necessary to perform the work to which the indulgence is attached and to fulfill the following three conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff. It is further required that all attachment to sin, even venial sin, be absent.”

The Toughest Requirement

The greatest hurdle is the last. Making a good confession is not particularly difficult and going to Communion and praying for the Pope’s intentions are easier still. It’s being free from all attachment to sin that’s hard and it’s quite possible that even evidently good people, who seek plenary indulgences regularly, never, in their whole lives, obtain one, because they are unwilling to relinquish their favorite little sins.

There is an account of St. Philip Neri, who died in 1595, preaching a jubilee indulgence in a crowded church. A revelation was given to him that only two people in the church were actually getting it, an old char-woman and the saint himself. Not exactly encouraging, is it? Don’t worry. If you are perfectly disposed and can’t get the plenary indulgence, you will at least come away with a partial indulgence.

It should be pointed out that the first three conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after doing the prescribed work, through receiving Communion and praying for the Pope are usually done the same day the work is performed. (The standard prayers for the Pope are one Our Father and one Creed, although you are at liberty to substitute other prayers.)

Blessing Religious Articles

Paul Tuner

Many Catholics like to use religious articles. Medals, crucifixes. Statues, pictures, scapulars, rosaries, and other items made from common elements may be set aside for religious use. They are usually obtained from dealers of church goods, but they may also be fashioned at home by hand. Some religious articles are hung on the wall at home, at school, or at work. Others are worn beneath or on top of clothing. It is customary for such articles to be blessed by a deacon or a priest.

Religious articles can be a means of evangelization. They depict a symbol of the faith that Catholics hold. They prompt discussion about biblical figures and events as well as the holy people who have kept the faith throughout history. Many Catholics carry religious articles with them as a reminder of God’s presence or to seek divine protection. A blessing sets the articles apart for this sacred purpose.

The blessing of religious articles may take place during liturgical prayer. People bring articles with them to church, where the celebrant introduces the service. A Scripture reading is proclaimed. For example, in Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, he says, “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit” (cf. 3:17b-4:2). Intercessions are made, and the celebrant concludes with a blessing over the objects and the people.

Alternatively, the priest or deacon may say a very short formula apart from a liturgical service: “May this (name of article) and the one who uses it be blessed, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.”

Copyright © 2006 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at


Paul Turner

A radical sanation is the means by which the Catholic Church grants validity to an invalid marriage without a liturgical ceremony (canon 1161). The words means “a healing at the root.” When people think of a Catholic wedding, they normally imagine an elaborate ceremony in church. That remains the best way for two people to marry. However, in some rare circumstances, the Catholic Church convalidates an existing marriage not with the liturgy but with paperwork.

The most common situation involves a couple who contracted a civil marriage. For example, consider the case of a Catholic woman who marries a man from another Christian faith without procuring the proper permission from the competent Catholic authority (canon 1117). By doing so, she is not permitted to receive communion in the Catholic Church. If, after some years, she decides that she would like to return to the sacraments, a priest or deacon may convalidate the marriage through a ceremony conducted in church. (If previous marriages are involved, annulments would have to be obtained first.) In this sample case, however, suppose that the husband says he prefers not to go through a ceremony again. For him, the marriage was valid, and a second ceremony would seem superfluous if not offensive to the consent he already gave. In this case, the wife may request a radical sanation of the marriage. When the appropriate papers have been assemble, the Catholic Church affirms the validity of the marriage from its beginning. The Catholic party may then return to communion.

A parish priest or another minister should be able to help the parties in this situation. It is one of the ways that the Catholic Church affirms the importance of marriage as a foundation in our society.

Copyright © 2008 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at


Paul Turner

Mystagogy is a period of post-baptismal catechesis. It usually coincides with the 50 days of Easter.

Unbaptized adults and children of catechetical age celebrate the three sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil. That night they are baptized, receive confirmation and share in the Eucharist for the first time. To prepare for that evening, they have spent a long time in catechetical formation, learning how to act, think and believe as Christians do. After their baptism, in the midst of the entire community, their formation continues for a while. That period is called “mystagogy.”

Mystagogy invites the newly baptized to participate more deeply in all the things that Christians do - meditating on the gospel, sharing in the Eucharist, and performing charity. In all this, they let the meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ take firm root in their lives.

Of course, catechumens are expected to behave as Christians even before they are baptized. They should be turning away from a life of sin and turning toward Christ, establishing him as their center. But after baptism things are different. Now they are truly one with the Christian community, even to the point of sharing in the Eucharist. With the power of the sacraments, the newly baptized are better able to live as Christians and to reflect on the gospel and its effect on their lives in a more complete way.

Mystagogical catechesis primarily comes from the preaching at Sunday Mass. During this time homilists proclaim the paschal mystery as they break open the meaning of the sacraments in which it always come to life. Preachers are to accomplish this task on the Sundays of the Easter season.

Copyright @ 2007 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at


Paul Turner

A feast is a day of special significance on the Roman Catholic Church calendar. Precisely, a “feast” does not rank as high as a “solemnity,” but it does rank above a “memorial.” In everyday speech we use the word to cover almost any special day, such as “the feast of St. Patrick.” But the official calendar does not include these in its special category of “feasts.”

Feasts include some special events in the lives of Jesus and Mary (Birth of Mary, Visitation, Holy Innocents, Presentation, Baptism of the Lord, Transfiguration); days associated with apostles, evangelists, and archangels; and days of historical significance honoring the deacon and martyr Lawrence, the dedication of the cathedral church of Rome (John Lateran) and the first display of the relics of the cross (Triumph of the Holy Cross). In the United States, the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe is observed as a feast.

Locally, feasts are observed for the principal patron of the diocese, the anniversary of the cathedral’s dedication, the patron of a region or a wider territory, and other days proper to an individual church or religious order. So, for example if your cathedral is named for St. Patrick, March 17 is observed as a solemnity there and as a feast in the parish churches of the diocese. But it is an optional memorial in other dioceses.

Mass on a feast day includes the Glory to God and special readings from the lectionary. When certain feasts fall on a Sunday (Presentation, Baptism of the Lord, Transfiguration, John Lateran, Triumph of the Cross), they replace the Sunday liturgy. Otherwise, feasts are never anticipated at Mass the night before.

Copyright @ 2006 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at

BAPTISM: A Workshop, required for Parents and Godparents who wish to have their children baptized here, is held by Deacon Tom upon request. Please call the office between 9:00a.m. and 4:00p.m. for more information.

WEDDING: It is a requirement of the Diocese of Charleston that all who wish to receive the Sacrament of Marriage must begin a Program of Instruction and Preparation at least six months prior to the planned date. Please contact Father Gabe for more information.

SACRAMENTAL PREPARATION POLICY: Children preparing for the Sacraments of Confirmation and or First Holy Communion are required to attend two full years of Religious Education. Children attending Catholic Schools need at least one full year of instructions with added sacramental preparation classes as needed. NO EXCEPTIONS.

PASTORAL CARE OF THE SICK: Please keep us informed that we might minister to those who are ill at home, in the hospital, or at a nursing care facility.

We warmly welcome new members. Please visit the Parish Office to register, or ushers will direct you to registration forms at church.

HEARING ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE: Our Church, including our Confessional, is equipped with a hearing assistance system. Please ask for a receiver.

WHEELCHAIRS: Assistance is available at the Lectors Table for the physically challenged. Church and Family Life Center are handicapped accessible.

Traveling? For nationwide Mass times and locations, dial 1-410-676-6000 or visit online at


Paul Turner

A sponsor accompanies another person on a journey of faith. The Catholic Church uses sponsors in these circumstances: the catechumenate, the reception of a baptized candidate, and confirmation of a Catholic.

“A sponsor accompanies any candidate seeking admission as a catechumen. Sponsors are persons who have known and assisted the candidates and stand as witnesses to the candidates’ moral character, faith, and intention.” (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults 10). A separate person may serve as the godparent for baptism.

If the person becoming a Catholic is already a baptized Christian, he or she receives a sponsor as well. “If someone has had the principal part in guiding or preparing the candidate, he or she should be the sponsor “(RCIA 483).

When those baptized Catholics as infants are confirmed later on, they each receive a sponsor for that ceremony. Ideally, the baptismal godparent returns as the confirmation sponsor (Canon 893/2). This practice indicates that the godparent’s work continues throughout life, and it unites the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. However, this ideal is widely ignored among Catholics, who typically choose a different person for the confirmation sponsor.

To be a godparent or a sponsor, a person must have completed the 16th year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause; be a Catholic who had been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on; and not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared (Canon 874/1).

Copyright @2006 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at



In the day-to-day operation of the parish, the term “Active Parishioner” is used in a number of instances.

When determining the cost of renting facilities (sanctuary, gym, mall, classrooms, Scout Hut), whether or not a person is an “Active Parishioner” is taken into consideration.

When we send our children to a Catholic school, the school checks with the parish to see if the parents are “Active Parishioners” prior to giving the parents a “break” on tuition.

When someone is asked to be a sponsor (Baptism, Confirmation, RCIA) by other parishes, the other parish wants to know if the potential sponsor is an “Active Parishioner.”

Because the term “Active Parishioner” is used in so many instances in this parish and the diocese, we feel that a definition of the term would be useful to all.

An “Active Parishioner” is defined as a registered parishioner who attends Mass on a regular basis, Sundays and Holy Days; contributes their TIME, (i.e. volunteering), TALENT (teaching, choir, parish ministry, etc.), and TREASURE (10% of weekly income or $20/week recommended) in the parish offertory and that the contribution of TREASURE is done in an accountable way, i.e. parish envelope. (Our volunteer collection counters may not recognize your check if it is placed loosely in the collection baskets and your contributions will not be posted to your name. Due to various checks and balances, one group does the actual counting while another person posts the amount written on each envelope to the parishioner’s contributions. If you choose not to use the parish envelope, your check is considered “loose” and counted as unknown contributions. Thus, we have no way of determining your weekly contributions. If you want to be an “Active Parishioner,” please use your envelopes.)

A three-month registration period is asked of all Catholic parents who seek Baptism for their children.

The Concluding Rite of the Mass

The dismissal of the people of God by the priest or deacon is not a liturgical farewell. The Concluding Rite of the Mass, while brief, contains a challenge and a command. It is a reminder of the great commission that challenges us to do our part by spreading the good news and bringing about God’s kingdom here on earth.

The General Instructions of the Roman Missal gives us an overview of the four parts of the Concluding Rite: announcements, final blessing, dismissal and reverencing the altar. Many parishes struggle with the problem of people sharing communion and leaving the church before Mass concludes. While most Catholic are accustomed to seeing people leave after communion, no doubt non-Catholics who visit our parishes find this rather extraordinary behavior. Obviously those who leave after communion are deprived of receiving the final blessing and the commission to go forth and do the work of the gospel.

Leaving Mass early is discourteous and disrespectful. While the closing hymn is not technically part of the Concluding Rite, it must be considered as an important part of how we are called to go forth. The Concluding Rite of the Mass sends us forth to be Christ’s disciples in the world. The final blessing sends each member of the assembly forward to do good works while praising and blessing the Lord. As the procession leaves the church, the altar is kissed by the priest and reverenced by all in the closing procession as an acknowledgment of God’s presence in our midst and in our lives.



A homily is a sermon preached by a deacon or a priest, but there are occasions when a lay person preaches. Most commonly these are celebrations outside of Mass. For example, some communities do not have a priest available to them every Sunday. They may gather without a priest under the liturgical leadership of a lay person. That person may read a homily prepared by a priest or offer a reflection on the readings. By definition, this reflection is “preaching,” though not a “homily.”

At Masses with children, a lay person may occasionally preach. “With the consent of the pastor or rector of the church, one of the adults may speak to the children after the gospel, especially if the priest finds it difficult to adapt himself to the mentality of children” (Directory for Mass with Children 24).

In some churches the pastor has invited a lay person to speak about the financial needs of the parish or the diocese. Non-ordained missionaries have also made appeals. Sometimes these talks are as inspiring as a homily, but they do not qualify as the same thing. Some churches have these talks during homily time, but if some instruction or testimony by a lay person is to be given, the homily comes at its normal time, and the lay person speaks following the prayer after communion (Redemptionis Sacramentus 74).

In places where priests and deacons visit so rarely that a lay person must be appointed for baptisms, the Rite of Baptism for Children permits that person to preach on that occasion (137).

In these various ways, the Church invites the spirit-filled reflection of the laity to nurture the People of God.



Thoughts on Giving

• People in most parts of the world can’t afford an appendectomy or a train ride or a television set - things most of us take for granted. We have blurred the difference between Needs and Wants.

• Stewardship changes our relationship to things, because it first of all changes our relationship to God. Things become less important and we have less need to hold on so tightly.

• Whether we know it or not, we have a need to give. Giving makes you feel freer. People who spend time in Third World countries are often amazed at how generously and how easily people share what little they have.

• One person has suggested that if you don’t want to give to the Church, then take that portion out in the backyard and burn it; only then can you feel free of the seductive power of money.

• Giving is good for your individual spiritual health. The natural response to being loved is to love in return. Not to love in return is a failure of will.

• Giving is good for our communal spiritual health, too. As the Body of Christ, we can’t be spiritually healthy without it.

Pro-Life Corner

“Since when does America abandon in despair an entire class of people, the most defenseless, innocent, and vulnerable members of the human family? How can we justify writing off the unborn child in a country which prides itself on leaving no one out and no one behind?” (The late Gov. Bob Casey of PA in 1994, NRLN, 8/2003)


The Tabernacle

When the Jews were led out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus, they were instructed to make a tabernacle (the word means hut, tent, or dwelling) which would contain their holiest objects, such as the Ark of the Covenant and the Ten Commandments. The tabernacle was the dwelling place of God on earth. It is easy to see why Christians would use this word tabernacle for the small box or cupboard in which the Blessed Sacrament was kept after Mass for later distribution to the sick and dying. For the Christians, this is “the dwelling place of God on earth.”

Keeping a large supply of consecrated hosts in the tabernacle was a practical and efficient way to always have enough for Communion of the faithful. But receiving hosts taken from the tabernacle obscures the fact that at the Eucharist we experience the presence of Christ in the gathered assembly, in the proclamation of the sacred Scriptures and, in a special way, in our shared sacred meal. In 1742, Pope Benedict XIV directed that the faithful “be nourished by hosts consecrated during the Mass.” The Second Vatican Council repeated this directive, “That most perfect form of participation in the mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s Communion, receive the Lord’s Body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #55). - TR



Paul Turner

On the inside, Catholic church buildings look different from one another, but they have many common features. On walking through the door of a church, you should be able to notice several things.

Narthex: Many churches bring you first into a narthex or gathering area. There you can meet other people or view bulletins and posters.

Nave: The body of the church is the nave. The word is related to “navy” because a church interior somewhat resembles a ship. The congregation assembles in the nave.

Sanctuary: The place where most of the action takes place is the sanctuary. It is set apart from the nave by its height and spaciousness. The three principal furnishings of the sanctuary are the chair, where the priest stands to begin the service; the ambo, where the Liturgy of the Word unfolds; and the altar, the center of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Choir: There may be another area designated for musicians. In older churches, musicians entered a loft behind the congregation because they created music to be heard, not shared. Today a choir area is more commonly visible to the entire assembly, so the musicians can better lead everyone in singing.

Sacristy: The vessels, vestments, and other items needed for Mass are stored in one or more sacristies. These are not readily visible when you enter a church, but they are essential for the smooth flow of worship.

Other items: Statues, stations of the cross, votive candles, the tabernacle, and other items may be seen in the church. These occupy devotional areas that are not essential for the celebration of the Mass, but they are part of the environment one customarily sees on entering a Catholic church.

This bulletin insert originally appeared in Ministry & Liturgy, a pastoral planning resource used by the worship leaders in your parish as an aid for better liturgy. Copyright @ 2006 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.


Paul Turner

On the outside, Catholic church buildings look different from one another, but they have many common features. Many people have a mental image of what a church should look like, and they are satisfied for disappointed when approaching one for the first time. There are no rules governing the exterior appearance of churches. Some look as plain as a storefront. Others look as breathtaking as a cathedral.

The appearance of a church exterior depends on the function of spaces inside, the demands of architecture, and the search for beauty. Hundreds of years ago, architects discovered that Gothic (pointed) arches were stronger than round ones, which permitted the height of churches to increase. Many beautiful churches and cathedrals were built with this new technology. Although height can be attained in other ways today, many people associate Gothic arches with what a church should look like, but genuine designs are better than artificial ones.

As the art of stained glass developed, it became popular with churches. Images depicted in windows taught people about their religion. The colors made a church interior look beautiful on a sunny day. The overall effect created a sense of awe conducive to prayer.

Towers elevate the bells used to summon people to worship. A higher bell can be heard at farther distances than a lower one. Some churches are surmounted by a dome, which imitates the vault of the heavens. Others are topped with a steeple that lifts a cross on high.

No matter what the outside looks like, the most important feature is the door. Church exteriors should invite you in. When you cross the threshold, you pass into a place designated for communion with God.

This bulletin insert originally appeared in Ministry & Liturgy, a pastoral planning resource used by the worship leaders in your parish as an aid for better liturgy. Copyright @ 2006 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.


Make the Comparison

More than one billion people in the world live on less than one dollar a day. Another 2.7 billion struggle to survive on less than two dollars per day. Poverty in the developing world, however, goes far beyond income poverty.

It means having to walk more than one mile everyday simply to collect water and firewood; it means suffering diseases that were eradicated from rich countries decades ago.

Every year eleven million children die - most under the age of five - from completely preventable causes like malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia.

In some deeply impoverished nations less than half of the children are in primary school and under 20 percent go to secondary school. Around the world, a total of 114 million children do not get even a basic elementary education, and 584 million women are illiterate.

Let us be grateful, and share from our abundance.



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