Questions and Answers


Liturgical Seasons


Special Circumstances


May a divorced or remarried person be accepted into the Order of Catechumens? What about a person married to someone who has been divorced?

If the pastor and RCIA Team discern that the person is sincere in her/his desire to be initiated into the Catholic faith, and have seen the beginnings of conversion in the person's life, then it is possible to accept them into the Order of Catechumens. The person must be told and understand that he/she may have to spend a significant amount of time in the Order of Catechumens since he/she will need to pursue resolution of the marriage situation through the annulment process along with the usual study and reflection process. A catechumen still in need of resolution of a marriage situation may not be called to the Rite of Election.

Is it necessary that baptized, uncatechized adults preparing for Confirmation and Eucharist celebrate the Rites preceding their reception into full Communion?

Article #401 in the RCIA instructs that the preparation of these Candidates requires considerable time. They will need full and suitable catechesis, familiarity with and practice in living the Christian way of life, time to establish patterns of prayer and worship, and understanding and cooperation with the notion that all of the baptized are called to be on mission. [See RCIA #75]
There is a need to make a distinction between uncatechized baptized Catholics and uncatechized baptized Christians of another Tradition when making a decision which rites are proper. Only those rites that would be appropriate to an individual would be celebrated for that individual. Therefore:

  • The Rite of Welcome would be appropriate for all since they are all beginning this journey together. This rite would be celebrated when a group of candidates are ready and the rite may be repeated as necessary in the course of the year
  • Presentation of the Book of the Gospels…only to those who are not familiar with the Word of God…have never read the bible…have no relationship with Christ
  • Celebrations of the Word…all candidates should be present at the celebration of the Eucharist every Sunday…but they are not ordinarily dismissed [all the baptized have an obligation to worship]. Catholic candidates are not dismissed. Christian candidates may be dismissed only if they choose to be dismissed. Perhaps some reflection on the Word and the celebration could happen after the Mass. Another option would be to begin the extended catechetical session with the Liturgy of the Word and time for reflection
  • Presentation of the Creed…either before or after an intense study of the articles of the Creed would be appropriate for all with the directive to memorize this prayer
  • Presentation of the Our Father…only for those who are not familiar with this prayer, have never prayed the Our Father
  • The Rite of Calling the Candidates to Continuing Conversion…this optional rite is meant for communities where there are no catechumens. The rite is celebrated at the parish with the pastor as presider. [A pastor has responsibility for all the baptized in his parish]
  • If there are catechumens and candidates the combined Rite of Election and Rite of Calling the Candidates to Continuing Conversion is celebrated at the Cathedral
  • The Penitential Rite…is an optional rite
  • Lent…is spent in reflective preparation for the reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation…it might be well to have all the candidates receive this sacrament more than once during the period of Lent
  • Reception of Baptized Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church is a rite for Christians...not for Catholics. At the Easter vigil all the candidates [Catholic and Christian] profess their faith with the community. In addition the Christian candidates only make a declarative profession and are received into full communion
  • Rite of Confirmation…all candidates [Catholic and Christian] are now confirmed by the presider

When only some of the Candidates will be celebrating one of the Rites the other candidates are present as members of the assembly praying for and supporting these Candidates.

Are there any changes in the Rite of Confirmation?

The new translation of the Rite of Confirmation is at the present time going through the review process and is scheduled to be considered at the next Bishops' meeting. For the foreseeable future the present Rite is to be used. The only changes a parish need concern itself with are the changes to the Mass texts prescribed by Roman Missal 3rd edition. This means that the present Guide for the Preparation of the Confirmation Liturgy is the proper guide to use.

The USCCB Committee on Divine Worship is presently working on the revision of the Rite of Confirmation. However, the new (interim) Roman Pontifical has been published and will be used by the Bishops at Confirmation until the Revised Rite is officially completed and approved. There are minor changes in the words used by the Bishop during the renewal of baptismal vows. The response of the confirmands is still the same. There is no need to print in a program all of these questions used by the bishop…the confirmands should be listening to the questions and then making their response. The only other change is the response” And with your spirit”….which confirmands and congregation have been using for a year now. For the sake of parishes preparing for the celebration of Confirmation a copy of the rite can be downloaded here.

Who from the RCIA group should be part of the dismissal from Mass?

The RCIA #73 states: Ordinarily when catechumens are present in the assembly of the faithful during the Mass they should be kindly dismissed before the liturgy of the Eucharist begins. They must await their baptism, which will join them to God’s priestly people and empower them to participate in the celebration of the Eucharist.  Therefore, catechumens should be part of the dismissal rite.

Baptized candidates from another Christian tradition are already members of the Church [though not in full communion] and children of God. Their baptism gives them the right to be present at the celebration of the Eucharist but they may not receive Holy Communion until they have been received into full communion with the Church. When these candidates are truly uncatechized they may choose to be dismissed with the catechumens, however, they must be continuously reminded of the fact that they are not catechumens.

Baptized Catholic candidates are never dismissed. By their baptism they have a responsibility to be with the community for the celebration of the Eucharist.

Is it proper for catechumens and candidates to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday?

Receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday would not be proper for catechumens.

However, because they are baptized, it would be proper for the candidates to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday.

At the Easter Vigil may the pastor confirm Baptized Catholics completing their initiation through the RCIA process?

The pastor has the faculty to administer the sacrament of confirmation at the Easter Vigil to baptized Catholics who, although baptized earlier, have not been reared in the Catholic Church, on the occasion of their reconciliation with the Catholic Church provided that such individuals have participated in the catechesis of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or its diocesan-approved equivalent. (Canon 883.2)

In the Archdiocese of Detroit, the pastor has the faculty to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation during the Easter Vigil to any persons who were baptized Catholic and raised Catholic but had left the practice of the faith and are now returning to the faith.  The faculty is limited to the Easter Vigil and may be used only for those who have been part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or an Archdiocesan approved equivalent.

However, the pastor does not have the faculty to confirm those baptized Catholics who have been “faithful” but for some reason or other have not been confirmed.  If the priest wishes to confirm these adults he would need to request a special faculty.  The ordinary way for these persons to receive the sacrament of Confirmation in the Archdiocese of Detroit would be at the Cathedral on the Feast of Pentecost or Christ the King.

I have a 4th grade girl in the RCIA whose mother would like her to receive only the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. The thinking of the mother is that she wants her daughter to keep going to formation and receive the sacrament of Confirmation in 9th grade with her classmates. Is there flexibility in this issue?

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults consistently calls for full initiation when the person being baptized is either an adult or a child of catechetical age. This is repeated in the National Statutes issued by the all of the Bishops in the United States, and by Archbishop Vigneron as a policy of the Archdiocese of Detroit. This is the only way for the 4th grader to be initiated. The important thing is not doing something with other peers but rather becoming fully initiated into God’s family according the Church’s ritual. The expectation with adults, as well as, with children is that their catechesis….learning about the faith…will continue and grow for the rest of their lives. The young girl would be expected to continue her formation. Formation is not just for reception of a sacrament.

When it comes time for the other children who are the young girl’s peers to be confirmed it is advised that she, as a fully initiated member of the Church, will be able to have a role as a liturgical minister at the celebration. For exapmle, server for the confirming bishop, etc.

Where is it stated that candidates in the RCIA process should receive the sacrament of reconciliation before the Vigil?

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Part II, Chapter 4 gives the instructions for the preparation of uncatechized adults for Confirmation and Eucharist and both those who were baptized Catholic and those who were validly baptized in another Christian tradition.

#408 states: During the Lenten season penitential services should be arranged in such a way as to prepare these adults for the celebration of the sacrament of penance.
#482 states: If the profession of faith and reception take place within Mass, the candidate, according to his or her own conscience, should make a confession of sins beforehand, first informing the confessor that he or she is about to be received into full communion.

In the National Statutes for the Catechumenate at the back of the RCIA book:
# 27 and #36 state: The celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation with candidates for reception into full communion [and candidates for Confirmation and Eucharist] is to be carried out at a time prior to and distinct from the celebration of the rite of reception. As part of the formation of such candidates, they should be encouraged in the frequent celebration of this sacrament.

One of my RCIA participants was baptized Catholic, joined another Christian community and was “born again” baptized. She no longer partakes in that religion. Does she do a profession of faith? She has been in our catholic community for about two years.

She would not make a profession of faith. Her way back is the sacrament of Reconciliation with individual confession and absolution. It would be best that this not be part of the Lenten Communal Celebration since she may require more time and pastoral care from the confessor. If she has not received Confirmation the pastor has the faculty to confirm her.

If a child was confirmed at baptism may they be presented for a blessing at the celebration of Confirmation of the class?

Most Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite confirm children at their baptism. A child who is confirmed may not be confirmed a second time. It is also not proper for them to be in the line of peers to request a blessing from the bishop. Only those to be confirmed and their sponsors belong in this line.

Rather, when the peers of the child are being prepared for Confirmation the already confirmed child should be made aware of the fact that because he/she is already confirmed he/she is a full member of the Catholic Church. As such, he/she may be called upon to exercise a liturgical ministry at the celebration of the confirmation of the other peers. The ministry to which the child is called will depend on the gifts he/she possesses.

May a parent be a sponsor at Confirmation of their son or daughter?

The Rite of Confirmation states, “even parents themselves may present their child for confirmation” (RC #5). However, if a parent does present the child it must be noted that the child has no sponsor. No sponsor is listed in the Confirmation Register. Furthermore, parents only present the child; they do not place their hands on the shoulder during the anointing. This is a ritual gesture of sponsors only. (Communicationes 15 [1983] 189)

Are the scrutinies for the Elect only?

Yes. Because the prayer of exorcism in the three scrutinies for catechumens who have received the Church’s election properly belongs to the elect and uses numerous images referring to their approaching baptism, those scrutinies of the elect are not proper rituals for candidates. In their place the RCIA provides a Penitential Rite for those preparing for confirmation and eucharist and has kept the scrutinies and the Penitential Rite separate and distinct. There is no combined rite for these celebrations. (RCIA #463)

Is it proper to include the candidates in the Rite of Presentation of the Creed and Presentation of the Lord’s Prayer?

It depends on the spiritual needs of these candidates. If the candidates are truly uncatechized, have no experience with the Church of their baptism, were never raised in any faith, the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer will be totally unfamiliar to them. The presentations would be proper and would be needed by them.

However, if the Lord’s Prayer has been part of their prayer life it would not make any sense to present them with this prayer. In a similar way, if a candidate has had some experience with their church of baptism and has prayed the Creed as part of religious services in that church then it would not make any sense to present them with the Creed which is already part of their prayer life.

All candidates would benefit from a deeper study of both these prayers as would all in our parish community, but to ritually present them with these symbols as if they had never heard of them before would be incongruous. (See RCIA # 407)

Is it possible to have two godmothers or two godfathers at the celebration of Infant Baptism?

NO. At the celebration of Baptism there is to be only one male or one female godparent or one of each. (Canon 873).

Can a white stole be used at the baptism and/or confirmation of a child or adult as the white garment called for in the Rite?

No. The traditional vesture of the newly baptized/confirmed is the white robe (alb). The stole is the proper vestment for an ordained minister…priest, deacon. “The distinction between the universal priesthood of all the baptized and the ministerial priesthood of the ordained is blurred when the distinctive garb of ordained ministers is used at (Baptism), Confirmation. “ [BCL Newsletter, Dec. 1984]

Who can be a godparent?

It is usual that at the time of baptism and confirmation a person has a godparent. This godparent takes on the responsibility of helping the person to live a Christian life in keeping with baptism/confirmation and to fulfill the obligations inherent in it.

To take on the responsibility of being a godparent a person:

1. must be a Catholic who is not a parent of the one to be baptized or confirmed
2. must have received all the sacraments of initiation;
3. must live a life of faith that befits the role to be undertaken;
4. cannot labor under a canonical penalty like excommunication;
5. cannot be under the age of sixteen.
If there is a just reason, someone of a younger age can be permitted by the pastor or the one
administering the baptism or confirmation;
6. must be nominated by at least one of the parents in the case of infant baptism, by the one to
be baptized in the case of an adult baptism, or by the pastor or the one administering the
baptism in cases where necessity requires it.
At the request of the parents, a baptized and believing person not belonging to the Catholic
Church may act as a Christian witness along with a Catholic godparent.
The Rite of Confirmation does permit a parent to present the candidate for Confirmation. In this
case there is no godparent and the parent does not place her/his hand on the candidate’s
shoulder. No godparent is noted in the Confirmation register.

At a baptism, is it permitted for the priest or deacon to pour the water and another person to say the words of baptism?

No. The actions and the words are very closely linked in the celebration of the sacraments. Both are necessary and both are done by the person administering the sacrament. Therefore, it is necessary that the person who baptizes says the proper words as the action of pouring is done.

How many intentions may there be for any particular Mass?

Canon 948 states that ordinarily there may be no more than one offering (intention) for one Mass. However, in 1991 the Congregation for the Clergy issued a decree …Collective Intentions…which permitted the practice of taking more than one offering for a single Mass.

The principle rules governing this practice are:

  • The donors must be informed and agree to combine their offerings with others in a single Mass
  • The time and place for the celebration of the Mass are to be made public
  • Masses for collective intentions may not be celebrated by a priest more than twice a week
  • If the total amount of the offerings given for a collective intention exceeds the amount of the usual offering the excess is to be given to the Ordinary for the purposes he has specified.

In our parish, we have a mother who is returning to the Church. Her 11 year old daughter has never been baptized. She is just beginning the RCIA process for children. Is it necessary for her to be in the Catechumenate for a full year? Why?

Yes it is necessary. A child who has reached the age of reason is capable of "...receiving and nurturing a personal faith and of recognizing an obligation in conscience." [RCIA 253] But that requires time and all of the steps that are part of the RCIA. It is necessary that the chilf acquire habits that will serve her for the rest of her life as a fully initiated member of God's family. As a catechumen she will be required:

  • to attend the celebration of the Eucharist every Sunday
  • she will be dismissed after the homily so jthat she will develop the habit of listening to the scripture to hear what God is saying to her
  • gradually during the course of a yea she will hear one full Gospel... what better way to develop a relationship with Christ than to hear, reflect, and respond to his full story
  • she will learn how to serve others by being given opportunities to join with the community in its service projects
  • she will learn who we are, what we believe, how we share our faith
  • she will come to acknowledge her sinfulness and at the same time come to know God's mercy, love and forgiveness... this takes time

Remember, you are preparing her for full initiation, i.e. baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.

Liturgial Seasons

May Baptisms and Weddings be celebrated during Lent?

Yes. Sacraments cannot be denied to the faithful during Lent. However, it would be well to share with parents of children for baptism and couples preparing for marriage the spirit of the season of Lent.

Lent is a season of penance and reflection for the entire community. It is meant to encourage all to take time to examine their conscience and determine how faithfully they have lived their baptismal vows. This reflection ought to be in the forefront of the Lenten experience. It is at the celebration of Easter and the weeks of Easter that the whole community traditionally welcomes new members into the community to join them on the path to holiness.

If a couple needs to celebrate the sacrament of Marriage during Lent they need to be reminded that the spirit of the season needs to be honored. Therefore, there should not be elaborate decorations in the worship space. This means no flowers or a very simple bouquet; music to support the singing only.

Who can impose ashes?

The ordinary minister for the blessing of ashes is a priest or deacon. Others may assist with the imposition of ashes where there is genuine need, especially for the sick and shut-ins.

What are the formulas to be used?

"Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." Or "Remember, man you are dust and to dust you will return."

Is it permissible for people to self-impose ashes on Ash Wednesday?


Ashes are meant to be received, not taken and self-imposed. The Ceremonial for Bishops in its explanation of Ash Wednesday states:

On the Wednesday before the First Sunday of Lent the faithful, by receiving ashes, enter upon the season appointed for spiritual purification. This sign of penance, biblical in origin and preserved among the customs of the Church until our own day, expresses the human condition as affected by sin. In this sign we outwardly profess our guilt before God and thereby, prompted by the hope that the Lord is kind and compassionate, patient and abounding in mercy, express our desire for inward conversion. This sign is also the beginning of the journey of conversion that will reach its goal in the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation during the days leading to Easter.[#253 Ceremonial of Bishops]

The blessing and imposition of ashes should take place either in the Mass or outside of the Mass. In the latter case, it is to be part of a liturgy of the word and conclude with the prayer of the faithful, Blessing and Dismissal. [Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts, #21]

The explanation in the Ceremonial of Bishops continues with directives for the Bishop himself to receive the ashes from another minister, concelebrant or deacon.

Is it proper to empty baptismal fonts during Lent?

Removing the holy water from the baptismal font during Lent is an innovation based on custom not liturgical law. The practice shows a lack of understanding of the season of Lent.

“Through its twofold theme of repentance and baptism, the season of Lent disposes both the catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery.  Catechumens are led to the sacraments of initiation by means of the rite of election, the scrutinies, and catechesis.  The faithful, listening more intently to the word of God and devoting themselves to prayer, are prepared through a spirit of repentance to renew their baptismal promises.” [Ceremonial of Bishops, #249]

For both catechumens and the faithful it is important to keep in the forefront of their mind the importance of the waters of baptism.  Catechumens passing by the baptismal font are led to yearn for the day when they will be claimed as God’s children and join the family of God.  The faithful passing by the baptismal waters are led to reflect on how they have been unfaithful to their baptismal promises and use the time of Lent to repent so that they are ready to renew those promises at the Easter Vigil. The waters in the baptismal font serve as a constant reminder to both groups.

There is no document that addresses this issue directly since it is the innovation of someone’s imagination.  The only time that emptying the baptismal font is addressed is in the Ordo.  In the directives for Holy Thursday the Ordo says: Holy water may be removed from all fonts. They are refilled with the water blessed at the Easter Vigil.

May the Stations of the Cross be prayed during Eucharistic Adoration? May the Stations be ended with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament?

Benediction is part of the Order for Solemn Exposition of the Holy Eucharist. This order of prayer is part of the Church's official liturgy. It is no longer permitted for benediction to be added to end any other service or devotion. The USCCB has a more complete explanation on their website.

In the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults there is reference to sponsors and to godparents. What is the difference?

The sponsor is a person from the community who comes to know the catechumen well, who accompanies the catechumen on the faith journey, and who testifies publicly in liturgical ceremonies to the catechumen’s moral character, faith and intention – that is, to the catechumen’s readiness to advance to each new step in the process. The community chooses and assigns the sponsor. A sponsor may also be the catechumen’s godparent; however, at the time of baptism, a different person can be chosen as godparent.

An individual’s godparent establishes a spiritual relationship with the catechumen that lasts forever. In the year that the catechumen will be baptized, the godparent journeys with him or her usually from the First Sunday of Lent through the entire Lenten season to the Easter Vigil and initiation, then continues through Mystagogy and post-baptismal catechesis. The catechumen chooses the godparent.

[From the Handbook for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Archdiocese of Detroit, 2006, p. 12]


May the celebration of a parish's patronal feast be transferred to Sunday when the feast occurs during the week?

A parish patron's or title's feast day and the parish church's anniversary of dedication are celebrated as solemnities in the parish. The anniversary of the church's dedication and the solemnity of the patron or title of a church may be transferred to all Masses of a Sunday if:

  • the Sunday is in Ordinary Time
  • and the anniversary of dedication is of a particular church
  • or the solemnity is of the principal patron of a specific place or of the title of a particular church.

It may not be transferred if:

  • the transfer would be to a Sunday of Advent, Lent, or the Easter season,
  • or to a Sunday on which any solemnity of the Lord, of Mary, or of the saints listed in the General Calendar, is celebrated.
  • or if the celebration involves the anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral church or the patron of a region or nation or a secondary patron.

How many intentions may there be for any particular Mass?

Canon 948 states that ordinarily there may be no more than one offering (intention) for one Mass. However, in 1991 the Congregation for the Clergy issued a decree …Collective Intentions…which permitted the practice of taking more than one offering for a single Mass. (See the full document here)

The principle rules governing this practice are:

  • The donors must be informed and agree to combine their offerings with others in a single Mass
  • The time and place for the celebration of the Mass are to be made public
  • Masses for collective intentions may not be celebrated by a priest more than twice a week
  • If the total amount of the offerings given for a collective intention exceeds the amount of the usual offering the excess is to be given to the Ordinary for the purposes he has specified.

How do I get a certificate to be a parish lector and/or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion?

It is the pastor of the parish, either himself or through his delegate (Coordinator of ministries), who calls a person to the ministry of lector and/or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. After preparation and formation have been given, the pastor/coordinator of ministries…discerns with the candidate readiness to provide this ministry for the community. A letter to that effect naming the candidate(s) is sent to the Office for Christian Worship. The Office will prepare the certificates and forward them to the parish.

May the priest baptize an infant at the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist?

Yes. The Rite of Baptism for Children, Introduction, Part III #9 states:

To bring out the paschal character of baptism, it is recommended that the sacrament be celebrated during the Easter Vigil or on Sunday, when the Church commemorates the Lord’s resurrection. On Sunday, baptism may be celebrated even during Mass, so that the entire community may be present and the relationship between baptism and eucharist may be clearly seen; but this should not be done too often.

Further clarifications were sent by the Congregation for Divine Worship in 1973 that state:

As often as baptism takes place during Sunday Mass, the Mass for that Sunday or on Sundays in the Christmas season and in ordinary time the Mass for the baptism of children is used. This can be found on p. 973 of the Roman Missal, third typical edition.

Is it proper to bring gifts for the poor during the Presentation of the Gifts? Where should they be placed?

It is important to remember that the gifts brought up are of two different kinds. First and foremost there are the gifts for the sacrifice…the bread and the wine…. These gifts, presented by the entire assembly, are the gifts to be transformed into the body and blood of Christ. They are received by the priest and deacon {or other servers} and placed on the altar by the priest or deacon. Secondly, there are those gifts meant to be used for the ministries of the community. These gifts which can be monetary and other gifts for the poor {food, clothing, etc.} may be brought in the procession and, given their purpose, they are to put in a suitable place away from the Eucharistic table [GIRM #73] but not in the sanctuary. Nothing should be placed on the sanctuary that would obstruct the sight line of the people to the altar of sacrifice or impede the movement of the ministers on the sanctuary in the course of the celebration.

Where should the manger be placed in church during the Christmas Season?

If the manger is set up in the church, it must not be placed in the sanctuary area. A place should be chosen that is suitable for prayer and devotion and is easily accessible by the faithful. {Book of Blessings, p. 583} Nothing on the sanctuary area should distract the people from the action of transformation taking place on the altar. The manger, to which children can be brought to see and touch, is a profound way for parents to catechize them.

Are the rules for fasting and abstinence different during Lent than they are during the rest of the liturgical year?

In their Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence the U.S. bishops state:

10. Beginning with the powerful lesson of Ash Wednesday, Lent has retained its ancient appeal to the penitential spirit of our people. It has also acquired elements of popular piety which we bishops would wish to encourage.

11. Accordingly, while appealing for greater development of the understanding of the Lenten liturgy, as that of Advent, we hope that the observance of Lent as the principal season of penance in the Christian year will be intensified. This is the more desirable because of new insights into the central place in Christian faith of those Easter mysteries for the understanding and enjoyment of which Lent is the ancient penitential preparation.

12. Wherefore, we ask, urgently and prayerfully, that we, as people of God, make of the entire Lenten Season a period of special penitential observance. Following the instructions of the Holy See, we declare that the obligation both to fast and to abstain from meat, an obligation observed under a more strict formality by our fathers in the faith, still binds on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. No Catholic Christian will lightly excuse himself from so hallowed an obligation on the Wednesday which solemnly opens the Lenten season and on that Friday called "Good" because on that day Christ suffered in the flesh and died for our sins.

13. In keeping with the letter and spirit of Pope Paul's Constitution Poenitemini, we preserved for our dioceses the tradition of abstinence from meat on each of the Fridays of Lent, confident that no Catholic Christian will lightly hold himself excused from this penitential practice.

14. For all other weekdays of Lent, we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting. In the light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience in all seasons, we urge, particularly during Lent, generosity to local, national, and world programs of sharing of all things needed to translate our duty to penance into a means of implementing the right of the poor to their part in our abundance. We also recommend spiritual studies, beginning with the Scriptures as well as the traditional Lenten Devotions (sermons, Stations of the Cross, and the rosary), and all the self-denial summed up in the Christian concept of "mortification."

15. Let us witness to our love and imitation of Christ, by special solicitude for the sick, the poor, the underprivileged, the imprisoned, the bedridden, the discouraged, the stranger, the lonely, and persons of other color, nationalities, or backgrounds than our own. A catalogue of not merely suggested but required good works under these headings is provided by Our Blessed Lord Himself in His description of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:34-40). This salutary word of the Lord is necessary for all the year, but should be heeded with double care during Lent.

May infants be baptized during Lent?

According to the Rite of Baptism # 9 “To bring out the paschal character of baptism, it is recommended that the sacrament be celebrated during the Easter Vigil or on Sunday, when the Church commemorates the Lord’s resurrection. On Sunday, baptism may be celebrated even during Mass, so that the entire community may be present and the necessary relationship between baptism and Eucharist may be clearly seen...”

Although baptism of infants is not strictly forbidden during Lent something may be lost from the celebration, particularly when it takes place at Mass, since it is the scripture of the day that must be used for proclamation and for the homily. In addition, the Circular Letter states that “it is not fitting that Baptisms and Confirmations be celebrated” on Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord through Holy Thursday. {#27}

Lent is that season of the Liturgical Year when parishes spend much time preparing the elect for their initiation at the Easter Vigil by helping them become aware of how God wishes to cleanse them from all sin they have committed. It is also the time for preparing the faithful for their reconciliation so that all can come ready for the renewal of their baptismal commitment at the Easter celebration. Lent then, is the time to prepare for baptism and the renewal of baptism not necessarily to celebrate baptism.

Of course, in case of necessity, infants may be baptized during Lent, but it is more suitable that infant baptism be deferred until Easter.

May an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion give blessings during the Communion procession?

There has been much discussion among liturgists, theologians and canonists about interrupting the Communion procession to give blessings to children, non- Catholics, and even Catholics not prepared to receive Holy Communion. In a private letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship, November 2008 the following observations were given:

  • “this matter is presently under the attentive study of the Congregation” so “ for the present, this Dicastery wishes to limit itself to the following observations”
  • The liturgical blessing of the Holy Mass is properly given to each and to all at the conclusion of the Mass
  • Lay people, within the context of the Holy Mass, are unable to confer blessings
  • these blessings are the competence of the priest
  • Laying on of hands is to be explicitly discouraged since this gesture has its own sacramental significance which is inappropriate during the Communion procession
  • The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio #84 “forbids any pastor, for whatever reason or pretext even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry”. To be feared is that any form of blessing in substitution for communion would give the impression that the divorced and remarried have been returned, in some sense, to the status of Catholics in good standing.
  • the Church’s discipline has already made clear those non-Catholics and those under the penalty of excommunication or interdict, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin should not approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing.

Can a person receive the consecrated host and then dip it in the chalice to receive the consecrated wine?

What you describe is a practice known as self- intinction. Self-intinction is strictly forbidden. At the Last Supper the invitation that Christ gave to the Apostles and gives to us at the celebration of the Eucharist is: “Take and eat. This is my body.” “Take and drink. This is my blood poured out for you…” The Eucharist we receive is truly the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. It is no longer bread and wine. In receiving it by eating and drinking we are called to become the Body of Christ pouring out ourselves for others.

Is the Funeral Mass allowed during the Octave of Christmas?

Yes, the funeral Mass may be celebrated during the Octave of Christmas. The funeral Mass is not permitted on solemnities of obligation, on Holy Thursday and the Easter Triduum, and on the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and the Easter Season.

The new Roman Missal does not contain Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children. Can we still celebrate Masses for Children?

  • The texts for this document are in the process of being re-done
  • They will not be included in the Roman Missal
  • The current texts may continue to be used with modification of the responses to match the Roman Missal
  • Please remember the use of the Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with children is restricted to Masses which are celebrated for children only or Masses at which the majority of the participants are children. Furthermore, an assembly of children is to be understood as one consisting of children who have not yet reached the age of preadolescence.

Since the Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children and the Directory for Masses with Children are no longer included in the Roman Missal, the prayers are available in a new publication of the USCCB – Product Code: 7-233; ISBN: 978-1-60137-233-8; 24 pages; 8" X 10.5" X 1/4"; paperback

Are Funeral Masses allowed in funeral homes?

Funeral Masses are not allowed in funeral homes. The Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass, as provided in the Order of Christian Funerals, is allowed in the funeral home.

Is the Gloria sung at a wedding Mass?

Yes. Most ritual Masses in the Third Edition of the Roman Missal include a Gloria. This includes confirmation, renewal of religions vows, and the dedication of the altar, among several others. See the Ritual Masses in the back of the Missal for more.

What is the proper way of receiving Communion in the hand?

St. Cyril of Jerusalem in 348 gave this instruction to his congregation: “When you approach Holy Communion, make the left hand into a throne for the right, which will receive the King. With your hand hollowed, receive the Body of Christ and answer ‘Amen’. [It is always helpful to review instructions for receiving Communion. Click here for a handout that can be placed in your bulletin for your parishioner.

What are the guidelines for Weekday Communion Services?

The Committee on the Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following Pastoral Response to this question. (Pastoral Response from the USCCB Daily Mass.pdf)

The proper ritual for the Liturgy of the Word with Distribution of Holy Communion is found in Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass. The specialized provisions of Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest are not appropriate to weekday celebrations. To view the ritual that can be used, click here

Where can I find the document that came out a few years ago for the Celebration on Sunday when the priest does not arrive for the celebration of Mass?

This document can be found on the Office for Christian Worship website in the section called Resources, found here.

Special Circumstances

May the body of the deceased lie in state in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the parish?

In his pastoral letter, Blessed Are They Who Mourn, Cardinal Maida encouraged parishes to arrange for the body of a deceased person to lie in state in the church proper or in the gathering space immediately prior to the Funeral Liturgy. Families took advantage of this privilege enabling family members who were not able to be at the wake to have time to view the body, pray for the deceased and be there for the mourning family.
However, it is important to read carefully this section of the pastoral letter….The proper place for the body to lie in state is the church proper…or the gathering area.There was no intent in the letter to encourage parishes to use the Blessed Sacrament Chapel for this purpose. In fact, when the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle in the church proper Cardinal Maida cautioned pastors that it might not be proper to have the body lie in state in the church because of the potential of a lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament. The gathering area would be a more appropriate place in this case.
It is important to remember that the purpose of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel is to provide a suitable place for private prayer and devotion to honor our Lord in the Eucharist. A sense of quiet awe should fill the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Nothing should detract from this purpose.
When the body of the deceased lies in state in the church proper it is most appropriate that the body be placed near the baptismal font. The faith journey of the deceased began in baptism. “In the act receiving the body, the members of the community acknowledge the deceased as one of their own, as one who was welcomed in baptism and who held a place in the assembly”…and at this funeral liturgy the community asks that the deceased have a share in the heavenly banquet promised to all who have been baptized in Christ.

We have children in our school/religious education process who have been baptized in other Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite. Is there anything we need to be aware of when preparing them for First Communion or Confirmation?

These children are under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of that particular Eastern Church. They should be prepared for and receive their First Communion at that Eastern Rite church. If the parents wish them to be prepared and receive Communion with their peers in the Catholic school or religious education process the pastor/or parents should request special permission from the Bishop of the Eastern Rite Church.

Most Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite confirm children at their baptism. A child who is confirmed may not be confirmed a second time. It is also not proper for them to be in the line of peers to request a blessing from the bishop. Only those to be confirmed belong in this line.

Rather, when the peers of the child are being prepared for Confirmation the already confirmed child should be made aware of the fact that because he/she is already confirmed he/she is a full member of the Catholic Church. As such, he/she may be called upon to exercise a liturgical ministry at the celebration of the confirmation of the other peers. The ministry to which the child is called will depend on the gifts he/she possesses.

How does a parish record the Reception into Full Communion?

Baptized Christians, who are received into Full Communion with the Catholic Church, are confirmed and receive Communion at the same celebration. This includes children of catechetical age. A notation about the Reception into Full Communion is made in the Baptismal register. The information about the original baptism is recorded as usual; then in the notations column the date and minister of The Reception into Full Communion is made. Confirmation is recorded in the Confirmation register.

Sometimes it happens that those severely affected by gluten intolerance are also not able to consume wine. Does that mean that they cannot receive Holy Communion at all?

It is possible for a person who is unable to consume the precious blood {wine} at the celebration of the Eucharist to ask the Archbishop for special permission to consume mustum, a specially made grape juice which contains no additives, is not pasteurized and has a very low alcohol content (less than 1.0%) due to the fact that the fermentation process has been arrested briefly after its start. There are only two suppliers of mustum in the United States:

Ranelle Trading/Ojai Fresh Juice Corporation
2501 Oak Hill Circle, suite 2032
Ft. Worth, TX 76109
Phone:  877-211-7690
Contact:  Mr. Mike Ranelle, President
Mont La Salle Altar Wine Company
385 A La Fata St.
St. Helena, CA 94575
Phone: 707-963-2521
Or: [toll free]  800-447-8466
Contact: Mr. James Cox, President

Are there any resources available for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who bring Communion to the Sick in homes, hospitals, and nursing homes?

The Office for Christian Worship has created a prayer card that can be given to the sick person so that he/she will have all the prayers and responses necessary. Also, a manual has been created containing the order of service and all of the prayers for the EMHC. You can download them here and/or order them from the Print Shop.

Can Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament be used to conclude the Divine Mercy Novena?

NO. Benediction is part of the Order for Solemn Exposition of the Holy Eucharist. This order of prayer is part of the Church's official liturgy. It is no longer permitted for benediction to be added to end any other service or devotion. Other devotions, [Stations of the Cross, novenas, etc.] although good and commendable, take attention away to a different object and should therefore be assigned to another time, either before or after exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The USCCB has a more complete explanation on their website.

Who supplies the special host when a person has celiac disease?

The parish is responsible for supplying the special low-gluten host for a person suffering from Celiac disease seeking to receive Holy Communion.  It is important to remember that this host is low-gluten not gluten free. Also, it is necessary for the person to seek the permission of the bishop to receive this special host. Resources for low-gluten altar hosts.

May a baptized Christian be a sponsor at the baptism of a child? How is this recorded?

A baptized Christian may not be a sponsor (godparent); however, he or she may be present at the baptism of a child as a Christian witness as long as there is a Catholic who is present and acting as the sponsor (godparent). In addition, if the catholic sponsor is male, the Christian witness must be a female; and if the catholic sponsor is female, the Christian witness must be male.

The name of the Christian witness is recorded in the Baptismal register followed by the words "Christian witness". The name is also placed on the Baptism certificate with the same notation.