Ringing the Bells at Mass

July 20, 2024

Question: I have a series of questions relevant to the role of acolytes/altar servers in their use of bells at Mass. 1) Can you please comment on the validity of the practice in some local churches here of: first, continuously ringing the bell during the entrance procession from the back all the way to the front until it reaches the sanctuary; second, ringing the bells during the Gloria all throughout the year; third, ringing the bell continuously during the "Great Amen." 2) What is the proper way of ringing bells at the consecration (how many rings, continuous or single or clusters, etc.)? 3) When is the proper timing of ringing the bell "just before the consecration"? Is it during the epiclesis when the priest directs his palms down toward the gifts on the altar? Or is it in that short pause in the Eucharistic Prayer just before the priest begins the words of consecration? -- M.S., Iloilo, Philippines

Incensing a Deacon at Solemn Vespers

July 14, 2024

Question: This question has to do with when a deacon leads solemn vespers. During the time of the Magnificat, after he has incensed the altar, is the deacon also incensed or not? What about the people gathered at the prayer, are they also incensed? Some people say that the deacon is not a priest and thus should not be incensed, while others say that he is the presider and so should be incensed. Some say that if you don’t incense the deacon, then you shouldn’t incense the people either. Can you clarify this for me? -- J.N., Sunyani, Ghana

Position of Fingers After the Consecration

June 30, 2024

Question: I have seen some priests hold digits (thumb and index finger, specifically) together post consecration until the purification of the vessels. I have also seen priests wipe these fingers on the corporal and continue to not hold them together. Which is correct? -- A.K., Dallas, Texas

Final Commendation at a Funeral Mass

June 23, 2024

Question: I have searched, unsuccessfully, for guidance related to the final commendation following the funeral Mass. I have conducted this a few times in my 37 years as deacon when the deceased was a parent, family member or a close parishioner that I have known for many years. Some priests have said it is right that I send them forth from the Church as the last farewell, while others tell me it is reserved for the priest celebrant, and I should not do it. Can you direct me to a credible source that can clarify this issue? I appreciate any assistance you can provide. -- T.O., Mantua, New Jersey


When to Bless Water

June 8, 2024

Question: Appendix II of the Roman Missal mentions that the blessing of water may take place during Mass on Sundays. Can one bless water using these prayers at Masses said on days other than Sundays? -- J.B., Montreal

Reciting the ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’

June 2, 2024

Question: At Mass, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts” needs an internal pause, but where should it go? Many people recite “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord,” then pause, and continue with “God of Hosts.” But this does not seem to match Old Testament usage. Isaiah 6:3, the origin of these words, reads, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!” Here “Lord” goes with “hosts.” Separated from “Lord,” the phrase “God of hosts” does not sound very biblical. Also, pausing after the third “Holy” gives a more balanced sound: six syllables for the triple “Holy,” followed by four spoken syllables. Pausing after “Lord” makes it seven and three. The printed English missal provides no guidance on this matter. -- D.J., Buffalo, New York

Incensing at the Start of Mass

May 26, 2024

Question: The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), No. 276.b, prescribes that incense may be used “at the beginning of Mass, to incense the cross and the altar,” though the Ceremonial of Bishops, No. 86.b, mentions only “the altar.” 1) Some celebrants (even bishops), after incensing the altar and the cross, request with insistence to be themselves incensed. That is embarrassing for the master of ceremonies or the deacon either to do it or to ignore the request publicly. What should be done in such a case? 

Use of the Cope on Palm Sunday

May 18, 2024

Question: In a recent article you mentioned the cope for the procession on Palm Sunday. In many churches it is common for the celebrant also to wear the cope for the solemn entrance on Palm Sunday. The rubrics do not seem to indicate whether this is appropriate or not. However, a parallel situation seems to occur on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, in which either a procession or solemn entrance may be chosen. In that case, the rubrics clearly indicate that the celebrant should wear Mass vestments for the solemn entrance. What is your view on the use of the cope for the solemn entrance on Palm Sunday? -- J.Z., Weston, Massachusetts

Use of a Second Ambo

May 10, 2024

Question: Can you please comment on the validity of using an "extra lectern" to function like a "second ambo" for functions that are normally executed on the ambo (or lectern, if ambo is not present), e.g. proclamation of readings by designated lectors? And does this practice not destroy the symbolic meaning of the ambo as the "altar of the Word"? 

Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost

May 5, 2024

Question: You mentioned in your first discussion [on the use of Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost] that “Ghost” derives from German, Geist, whereas “Spirit” directly derives from Latin. It has always puzzled me that some traditional Catholics oppose the change of usage. I would think it would be applauded. However, it does create a paradox in the naming of the Third Person of the Trinity, with “Holy” coming from German, heilige, and “Spirit” from Latin. Perhaps consistency is the argument still in play. -- C.D., Alabama

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