Ask Father....


What is the difference between a Cross and a Crucifix?
A Crucifix has a corpus (body) on it a Cross does not.

Why during Peace, donít the parishioners shake hands & say hello to each other? Each parish that I was with, this was the procedure.
Prior to Vatican II, the "Kiss of Peace" was reserved only for the clergy at Solemn High Masses. When the "Sign of Peace" was introduced after Vatican II, it was never theologically explained, so instead of sharing the "Peace of Christ" - a holy and sacred moment Ė it became a time to say hello to your neighbour and disrupt the flow of the praying community. Its use is at the discretion of the celebrant. Within the last year or so, many dioceses are choosing to not to have the Sign of Peace because of the danger of passing on SARS & the Bird Flu.

Why do we cover statues and crosses in purple during Lent?
At the end of Lent we intensify our journey to Easter by focusing our attention on the Altar with no distraction.

If you were to eat 15 minutes before church, would you be able to receive Communion, since Mass is 45 minutes?
The rule is that you must fast 1 hour before Holy Communion. However there is no guarantee how long the Mass will last. Generally the rule of thumb is 1 hour before Mass begins. That way you are always safe.

In the light of John 6:53 how do protestants receive life?
"Unless you eat My Flesh & drink My Blood, you will not have eternal life". Jesus was speaking to those in the church, that He founded. As Roman Catholics, we believe that He was speaking to us as His followers.

Which sins are mortal ones?
This answer comes directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (ref.1857 Ė 1862). In order for a sin to be mortal it must meet three conditions: 1) The sin must be a grave matter. 2) You must have full knowledge that it is a sin. 3) You must give deliberate consent to the sin. Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments. All three conditions must be met in order for the sin to be mortal.

How come the Pope wears the white Jewish hat on his head?
The white skullcap worn by the Pope is called a Zucchetto. Popes wear white ones, Cardinals wear scarlet ones, Bishops wear violet ones and priests can wear black ones. It is not derived from the Jewish yarmulke. In centuries past, priests were tonsured, that is to say, the hair at the crown of the head was shaved. The zucchetto was designed to keep that part of the skull protected from the elements.

When we recite the Rosary we can pray for something in particular for each decade, (ex. The Annunciation, we pray for the love of humility. In the new Luminous Mysteries, is there something in particular that we should pray for?
Yes there is an intention for each decade. They are:
1. The Baptism in the Jordan, we pray for more docility to Godís Spirit.
2. The Wedding Feast at Cana, we pray for greater confidence in Maryís intercession.
3. The Announcement of the Kingdom, we pray for more trust in Godís mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation
4. The Transfiguration, we pray for knowledge of God and obedience to His word.
5. The Institution of the Eucharist, we pray for a fervent love for Jesus in the Eucharist.

Can people ask God for forgiveness without going to Confession?
We can always ask God for forgiveness and we must ask Him for forgiveness whether we go to confession or not. As Catholics, we have been taught that Jesus gave the Apostles the power to forgive sin through confession. Our present day priests are the successors of the Apostles. Mortal sin can only be forgiven through the sacrament of Penance

Can you get married outside of the church?
A Catholic should get married in their own church. However, under special circumstances, a Catholic can get married in a non-Catholic church. Special permission from the Bishop is required

Is Jesus always in the Church?
Jesus is always present in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, except on Good Friday, the day of His crucifixion and death.

Why do Easter and Lent fall on different dates each year?
Easter is determined by the full moon and the vernal equinox (Spring). Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of Spring.
For example:
This year Easter is April 20th.
The first day of Spring is March 21st. The first full moon after March 21st is on Wednesday, April 16th. The first Sunday after April 16th is April 20th, Easter Sunday.
Next year Easter Sunday is on April 11th.
Thatís because the first full moon after March 21st is on Monday, April 5th and the first Sunday after that is April 11th

I have noticed that some people take the host back to their pew to consume. I always thought that you should consume the host as soon as you receive it. Whatís the correct way?
The host should be consumed before you move away from the priest. As Catholics, we are to believe that this is the Body and Blood of Christ. We are to take every care to respect that this is Christ we are holding in our hands.

What do I do if I drop the host?
You should pick it up immediately and consume it or bring it back to the priest so that he may consume it and give you another host. Never, ever, leave it on the ground in case someone steps on it.

Can I bring the host to someone in their pew or to someone at home?
If you are with someone in church who cannot go in line to receive the host, please see Father before Mass and let him know where you are sitting. He will come and give that person Communion or will send one of the ministers. If you wish to bring Communion to someone who is ill or infirm at home, then see Father before Mass to let him know that you are doing this, as there is a receptacle called a pyx that is needed to carry the host. You only need to see Father the first time you are bringing someone the host for home. However, you must always use the pyx to do this.

Can I receive the host right after a meal or a snack?
The laws concerning receiving Jesus are very easy. You must fast from food and drink, except for water, for one hour before Mass. This rule also includes gum. If you are chewing gum during Mass, you should not receive Communion.

If someone who lives with is a baptized Catholic and doesnít want to go to Mass, because of unbelief, should you force him/her to go?
It depends on their age and what you mean by unbelief. Certainly if the person is under the age of 18, your child, and living with you, they should be brought to church. It would be a good idea to seek counsel from a priest to discuss the basis of the unbelief.

Why is Confession important?
Confession is one of the seven sacraments that Christ gave to His Church to help us on the road to salvation. Every time that we sin we strain our relationship with God. Confession, being a healing sacrament, helps us to heal our bond with God.

What does the sign on our tabernacle mean?
The Α (Alpha) and the Ω (Omega) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

When did you know you had to become a priest and what age did you become a priest?
I canít remember when I felt called to be a priest. Since I was an Altar boy, I guess, I needed to be close to the Church. I was 32 years old when I was ordained a priest.

Letís say Mother Teresa, for example, the world is voting for her to become a saint. Shouldnít God decide?
The world does not vote for a saint. It is a long process of investigation, where many things are taken into account, one of which is 3 miracles attributed to that person. After that process, the Holy Father (the Pope) declares a person a Saint, according to Godís will.

Did God create the devil?
God created the angels. However some of them rebelled or sinned against God and were thrown out of heaven, where they became devils.

How many miracles does it take for a person to become a saint?
During the three stages of becoming a saint they are called: (1) Servant of God; (2) Blessed; (3) Saint. Three miracles must be attributed to the person who is waiting to be named a Saint.

Do we still kiss a Bishopís ring?
In some countries we still do. We kiss the Popeís ring all the time to show obedience.

How do we address the Bishop?
We can address him by his name, Bishop Cyr, or call him Your Excellency.

Why do we do kneel and sit at different times during the Mass?
Body Language says a lot about what is happening at Mass. We sit to listen; we stand to praise; and we kneel as a sign of sacred moments or special prayers.

Do you need to be baptized in order to get married?
A Catholic can marry a non-baptized person Ė with a good reason Ė and with the proper dispensations.

Did Jesus have a brother?
Jesus was an only child. At that time they would often call close relatives, brother or sister.

Is there such a thing as hell?
Yes, there is a hell Ė what it is like we really donít know (or want to find out).

Why do we do the Sign of the Cross?
This practice began in ancient times. The Sign of the Cross is a reminder of our Baptism and a statement of our faith in the Trinity.

Why are the bells rung?
Sometimes we are distracted during Mass. The bells are rung at sacred moments, when we need to pay attention to what is taking place.

Why is it important to go to Mass every Sunday?
When the Ten Commandments were given to us in the Old Testament, we were called upon to set aside one day for God. In the New Testament, because of the Resurrection, Sunday is declared a Holy Day of Obligation. The best way to keep it Holy is to come as a family to Godís house to be strengthened by Godís Word, and sustained by the Eucharist. This gives glory to God and keeps His day Holy.

When are children obliged to attend Mass every Sunday?
Generally speaking, once your children are actively studying for their First Communion they should be attending Mass every Sunday and when they have made their First Communion, they are obliged to attend every week. As parents, it is necessary for us to show our children that Mass is important to us. If it is important to us it will be important to them.

I have noticed that we are having Baptisms at Mass. Is this something new?
Since Vatican II, we have incorporated the celebration of the sacraments within the context of Mass (e.g. Confirmation & Marriage). The sacraments are to be celebrated in "community". Community can mean anything from family; to family and friends; to family, friends and the parish. One of the effects of celebrating Baptism during Mass is the visible sign of support from the parish community. It has always been the decision of the family and the priest as to when the Baptism would be celebrated (privately or at Mass). As nuclear families are getting smaller and extended families are not always able to attend, the idea of celebrating Baptism during Mass has become more popular.

Why canít priests marry?
Originally priests were allowed to marry. Peter, our first Pope was married. However, over the years it was abused (priests having more than one wife and mistresses) which of course created scandals. The Church was also worried about losing valuable property through inheritance laws because unscrupulous families of priests would claim property owned by the church. The church also worried that a priest with a family might worry too much about the needs of his family and not enough about the needs of his flock (Parish). Therefore the Pope of the time declared that all clergy would be celibate and this is the way it has remained for centuries.

During Mass people stand; some kneel; others sit. This is particularly noticeable during the Eucharistic Prayer. What is correct and when?
Since Vatican II, there has been a deviation from the norm as to standing and kneeling. What the Church teaches is that the congregation kneels after the Sanctus (the Holy, Holy) until after the Great Amen and then we stand for the Our Father. Since Vatican II, individual priests have taken upon themselves to restyle the rubrics of the Mass without authorization. Therefore it is improper to stand after the Consecration when we say the Memorial Acclamation (Christ has died etc.).

Why do some people kneel in the aisle before they go in their seat and after the Mass when they leave their seat? Should everybody do this?
The answer to your second question is: yes, everyone should genuflect (kneel on one leg). The reason we genuflect is to acknowledge and to show reverence (respect) to the Divine Presence (Jesus) in the Tabernacle. The proper way to genuflect is: Facing the Tabernacle, you kneel on your right knee and rise to a standing position. The right knee must touch the floor. We genuflect before entering the pew and again when we leave the church. We also genuflect when we are walking across the church and crossing in front of the Tabernacle.

Does it really matter which hand my child uses to make the Sign of the Cross?
The proper way to make the Sign of the Cross is with the right hand. Children need to visualize and standing in front of them to show them how to make the Sign of the Cross is not the best way as they see things in mirror image. The best way is in front of a mirror. Stand beside your child or behind them. Both of you face the mirror and ask your child to follow what you do by watching your movements in the mirror. When they make a mistake, gently remind them how to do it properly.

What should I do if I come in late for Mass?
Be aware that Mass has begun so as not to distract anyone. If the first reading has begun, wait at the back of the church until the responsorial psalm has begun. If the second reading has begun, wait until everyone stands fro the gospel acclamation. If the gospel has begun, you have missed the entire liturgy of the word and half the Mass. You might consider coming back for the next Mass.

When is the proper time to stand for the gospel?
One should stand as soon as the first Alleluia is sung. If it is not sung, then we should stand as soon as the Priest stands.

When the priest says "May Almighty God have mercy on us" etc. just before the Kyrie, do we make the Sign of the Cross? I notice that some people do and others do not.
Before Vatican II, when the priest said the Mass facing the Altar, he said the opening prayers at the foot of the Altar. When he said, "May Almighty God..." he made the Sign of the Cross. Now it is not necessary but not wrong either.

Why is Confession important?
Confession is one of the seven sacraments that Christ gave to His Church to help us on the road to Salvation. Confession is the healing sacrament. Because of sin, we strain our relationship with God. Confession helps us to heal our bond with God.

What exactly do you mean by "Holy Day of Obligation"?
A "Holy Day of Obligation" is a day that as a Roman Catholic, we are obliged to attend Mass under the pain of serious sin. Each Sunday is a Holy Day of obligation, as are Christmas Day & New Year's Day in Canada. The Conference of Bishops of each country petitions Rome for the days that they wish to be Holy Days of Obligation. That is why the number of Holy Days vary from country to country.

What is the proper way to receive Communion?
When we approach to receive Communion, we either (1) make the Sign of the Cross, (2) bow, or (3) genuflect. Then we may receive the host, while standing or kneeling, and on the tongue or in the hand. We answer "Amen" when the priest or minister of the Eucharist says "The Body of Christ".

What is the Easter Triduum?
Triduum means three days. This begins on Holy Thursday at the Mass of the Lord's Supper, when Jesus gave us the Mass, the priesthood and the call to service, seen in the washing of the feet. It continues Good Friday at 3:00pm, when we remember His death through the unveiling of the Cross and its' Adoration. It ends on Holy Saturday, with the Vigil of all Vigils, when we light the new fire, the presence of the Light of the world, the solemn proclamation of Easter and the scripture readings that recall God saving His People.

What is the Large Candle in the Sanctuary for?
It is the Paschal Candle and it is the most important candle in the Church. For 50 days, from the Easter Vigil until Pentacost Sunday, it remains in the sanctuary to remind us of Jesus, Light of the World. It is blessed, inscribed and lit form the new fire at the Easter Vigil. It is used at all Baptisms and Funerals as a sign of our hope in Jesus, the Light.

Why, at the Gospel, do we sign ourselves three times?
When the Priest says, "A reading form the Holy Gospel...", we trace a small cross with our thumb on our forehead, saying, " May the Lord open my mind." on the lips, saying," May the Lord open my mouth", and on the heart, saying, "May the Lord open my heart to receive the Word of the Lord."

What is a relic?
A relic is a holy remembrance of a Blessed or Sainted person. There are three classes of relics. First class: a piece of bone or hair from the remains of the saint's body. Second class: Some piece of clothing that the Blessed or Sainted wore. Third Class: A cloth that has touched the body or the tomb of the Blessed or Sainted.

If a priest is an alcoholic, can he use grape juice instead of wine?
No. He must use real wine. However, when it cones time for Communion, he will only consume the Host, which is the Body & Blood of Christ.