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

The Host at and After the Fraction

April 28, 2024

Question: The Order of the Mass 132 says that “The priest genuflects, takes the host and, holding it slightly raised above the paten or above the chalice, while facing the people, says aloud: ‘Behold the Lamb of God .…’” In practice, many priests reassemble the two parts of the broken host and hold it up as if nothing had happened to it. Having split the host in half and then broken a particle into the chalice, they hold the two remaining parts together and conceal the missing area with their fingers. 1) Is it allowed, instead of breaking the host with one’s hands, to use the paten to cut the host which is put on the corporal? 2) Is there a need to put back together the two parts of the broken host, and to conceal the missing area with the fingers, in order to show it to the people? Or should the two parts be shown as such to indicate that they were really broken? Otherwise, does it make sense to break the host if after that we must show it as if it was not broken? -- F.X.K., Ndola, Zambia

The Double ‘Alleluia’

April 21, 2024

Question: On Easter and Divine Mercy Sundays we sing the Alleluia at the dismissal at the end of Mass. I had a priest tell me that when the dismissal is recited for the remaining weeks of Easter it concludes, “Alleluia, Alleluia” (not actually sung). So, it might be, "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life. Alleluia. Alleluia.'” This would end on Pentecost Sunday. I would appreciate a clarification to settle this matter. -- T.O., Mantua Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey

An Unlit Paschal Candle

April 14, 2024

Question: Some churches here in the Easter season keep the paschal candle unlit from the start of the Mass up until the time when the priest proceeds to ambo to read the Gospel, at which point an altar server comes out to light the candle. I cannot find any such specific instruction in the Roman Missal or the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). Can you comment on the validity of this practice? Also, we also noted the priest incensing the still-unlit paschal candle in the beginning of the Mass just after he venerated the altar. May an unlit paschal candle be incensed during Mass? -- M.S., Philippines

Mandates for Confirmations by Priests

April 7, 2024

Question: Most of the time, there are baptisms of adults at the Easter vigil Mass. Does the parish priest (pastor) need a mandate from the bishop to confirm adults? If, in the course of the year, a couple is planning to get married and the parish priest discovers that one or both of them were not confirmed, can he confirm them, or must he wait for the bishop’s visit for them to be confirmed? -- F.X.N.K., Ndola, Zambia

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