5th Candle in the Advent Wreath

December 19, 2021

Question: Regarding the Advent wreath: It seems that some churches use a fifth candle at the Christmas liturgy to represent Christ. I couldn’t tell if it was the paschal candle. Is this a correct use? -- C.U., Moorpark, California

Office of Readings With Midnight Mass

December 12, 2021

Q: As a priest praying the Liturgy of the Hours, I'm always struck by the rubric that allows for a longer, more solemn celebration of the Mass at Midnight for Christmas by combining the Office of Readings with Midnight Mass. In a practical sense, how exactly would you go about doing this? I would like to try implementing this solemn liturgy in my parish at some point. Paragraph 98 of the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours speaks about starting Mass with the Gloria immediately following the second reading and responsory of the Office. However, this would leave out the Te Deum, which seems to be rather integral to the Office of Readings on one of the principal celebrations of the year. I tried looking in Peter Elliott's book, Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year, but he merely mentions the possibility without going into anything practical, and seems to prefer celebrating the Office of Readings immediately prior to and separate from Mass without combining the two. Furthermore, where would you put the Christmas Proclamation from the Roman Martyrology in such a celebration? Again, Peter Elliott suggests putting it after the second reading and verse, but before the Te Deum. What would you suggest? -- M.S., Rome

Elevation of the Consecrated Host

December 5, 2021

Q: I have three questions. 1) I've noticed a priest tends to take a long time during the elevation, or showing, of the consecrated host, and then when he genuflects, he takes a long time on his knee. How long should the elevation of the host and chalice take? Are there any indications on what is dignified and what is an exaggerated length of time? 2) I've noticed celebrants and concelebrants bowing to the altar or the consecrated species each time they approach and retreat from the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist when, for example, they must say a part of the Eucharistic Prayer, or move out of the way for a concelebrant to approach to read from the altar missal, or to prepare the altar or tidy up what is on the altar: missal, corporal, etc. The Roman Missal indicates a bow when passing in front (or behind) the altar, but not when moving to and from it (e.g., from and back to the credence table), or moving closer or moving back a little for the reading I just mentioned. 3) There seem to be no rubrics on genuflection when removing the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle in a reservation chapel and bringing it to the altar during Mass. Is it sufficient to genuflect just before opening the tabernacle door and then simply uncover the ciborium, go to the altar, place the ciborium on the corporal, and step back if you are an assisting minister? -- F.R., Rome

Communion After Mass

November 28, 2021

Q: I would like you to help me with this liturgical doubt. This is the situation: A faithful attends Mass without receiving Communion. After Mass, this faithful asks for confession and, after receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, asks the priest to give him or her Communion. It is my understanding that in this particular case, it is not necessary to follow all the rites indicated in the “Rite of Distributing Holy Communion Outside Mass. The Short Rite with the Celebration of the Word” (Nos. 42-53 of “Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass”: Introductory Rites, Short Form of the Reading of the Word, Holy Communion and Concluding Rites). I think it would be sufficient to show the host to the communicant and say, “The body of Christ,” because all the rites have been already observed in the Mass that has been celebrated some minutes ago. However, I have seen a priest following all the steps indicated in the rite in a similar situation. -- D.A., Granada, Spain

A Lapse in the Formula of Absolution

November 21, 2021

Question: I recently made a confession (of mortal sins) where the priest used the full absolution formula, but instead of saying, "I absolve you FROM your sins ...," he said, "I absolve you OF your sins ..." Do I need to redo this confession? Last year's story of the priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit who found out he was never validly baptized because the deacon said, "WE baptize you" instead of "I baptize you" has me concerned. -- J.P., New Jersey

Hand Gestures by Cantors and Lectors

November 14, 2021

Q. I often see cantors or lectors raise their right hand when they are wanting the congregation to respond or participate at Mass. Is this a permissible hand gesture at Mass or should it be discouraged? -- N.H., Kansas City, Kansas

Confession at End of Life

November 7, 2021

Question: At the time of death, to make a final confession, how does one go about recalling sins of a lifetime, although they have been confessed and forgiven during a lifetime. What does a final confession entail? -- E.C., Calgary, Alberta

Location of the Choir

October 30, 2021

Q: I am relatively new in the Catholic faith, and it would be my desire to learn the right things from the word go. I recently found myself confused regarding the location of the choir with respect to the ambo and the sanctuary. The information I've heard doesn't have historical backing. It keeps changing, and I wish for some clarity on this issue. -- A.N., Nairobi, Kenya

Bride and Groom as Readers at Wedding Mass

October 24, 2021

Q: In the Vietnamese wedding Mass, the bride and the groom usually read the Lectionary. Some people say that the bride and the groom shouldn’t do it because of the following reasons. First, some brides and grooms can’t read the Lectionary very well. Second, they don’t wear the clothes of the minister of the Word, but rather a wedding dress and a suit. For these reasons, some parish priests prohibit the bride and groom from reading the Lectionary. On the contrary, some people say that the bride and groom should do it because many have the ability to read well and they can practice the readings. Moreover, they would love to read the Lectionary for their solemn wedding Mass. -- D.T., Phu Cuong, Vietnam

White as a Default Liturgical Color

October 17, 2021

Q: Everybody assumes that the default liturgical color is white. In other words, they say that the white color can be used for every Mass. For example, if you are traveling for a week and you are going to celebrate Mass in a hotel room, you only need to pack in your suitcase white ornaments, instead of packing the various liturgical colors needed for that week. Another example, in Masses with a big number of concelebrants, the majority of them wear white ornaments, regardless of the liturgical color of the day, if there are not enough ornaments of the liturgical color of the day for the concelebrants. I assume this is right, but I cannot find anything in the liturgical norms in this regard. Could you tell me if this assumption is right? If so, is there any liturgical law that approves this practice? -- D.A., Granada, Spain

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