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Bows to Altar When the Tabernacle Is Nearby

July 24, 2022

Question: I am a bit confused about the way the veneration of the altar is happening here in Zambia at the beginning and the end of the Mass. I know that, according to the GIRM, Nos. 49 and 122, "When they reach the altar, the Priest and ministers make a profound bow." I suppose that this is in case where there is no tabernacle in the sanctuary, since No. 274 states, “If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is situated in the sanctuary, the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it.” Does this mean that when the tabernacle is in the sanctuary, the profound bow is still maintained because the altar is always there? Or it should be only the genuflection without the profound bow? Here, in most of our parishes, we do both (profound bow and genuflection), and I was told that it is because there is an altar and a tabernacle. I can’t find this explanation in the GIRM, and I find this double veneration too bulky. Could you enlighten us? – M.A., Ndola Diocese, Zambia

Bows to Book of the Gospels

July 17, 2022

Question: In one parish here, as the lector carries the Book of the Gospels during the entrance procession and as the priest or deacon carries the Book of Gospels from the altar to the ambo during the Gospel acclamation (the Alleluia), the faithful in the congregation make a profound bow to the Book of the Gospels while it is still being raised slightly and return to erect posture once the book is laid down. I do not see any explicit provision in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) that either allows or prohibits this practice of bowing to the Book of the Gospels by the faithful of the congregation. Is this practice allowed in the Roman rite? -- M.S., Philippines

More on Purification of Vessels

July 10, 2022

Question: This is a follow-up to the question-and-answer last week regarding deacons purifying vessels at the altar or credence table. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 183, was referenced in your response. I wonder if the 2004 instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum could also inform the answer, though I know it pre-dates the GIRM. 

Purification by a Deacon at Credence Table

July 3, 2022

Question: It is a custom in many dioceses in the United States for the celebrant to sit down after the distribution of Communion, while the deacon purifies the sacred vessels at the altar. Yet there is a note from the USCCB newsletter indicating that, if the vessels are purified during Mass at the altar (if not done at the credence table), then the deacon cannot purify them at the altar (see Page 15 of the attached document). In places where it is the custom for the vessels to be purified during Mass – and this is usually at daily Mass with smaller congregations – I usually purify at the altar while the deacon is at my side, who then hands the vessels to the servers and dresses the chalice with the veil, etc. Do you have any thoughts? -- G.S., Denver, Colorado 

Where Communion Should Be Distributed

June 26, 2022

Question: During communion at Mass, is there any guideline or indication as to where the ministers should stand to distribute to the faithful? It seems that most priests prefer to step down off of the last sanctuary step so as to be on the same ground level as the faithful, while a few others prefer to remain a step up so as to remain in the sanctuary. It seems one could argue symbolic significance for both locations. Sometimes the Church architecture with tight space in front of the altar requires the distributors to stand a step up. Is there an expressed preference in any of the guidelines? -- W.P., Leipsic, Ohio

When the Precious Blood Spills

June 18, 2022

Question: Can you explain the proper procedures when a chalice of consecrated wine is spilled during the Mass? -- R.H., Grand Rapids, Michigan

When a Church Is Used Again for Liturgy

June 12, 2022

Question: I have a somewhat technical question. A church building was originally dedicated in 1895. However, during the 1970s it briefly and illegally fell into non-Christian hands, liturgical worship was interrupted, and the high altar removed. After a while, the building was restored to Church ownership, and worship was renewed with a simple Mass on a new altar. Did this brief interruption constitute a loss of consecration? Finally, is the anniversary of the dedication automatically a solemnity in the Church or does this require a special decree to celebrate the solemnity? -- C.V., Middle East

The Hours at Eucharistic Adoration

June 5, 2022

Question: Can we integrate the Liturgy of the Hours during the Eucharist adoration? -- R.M., Meghalaya state, India

Composing the Prayer of the Faithful

May 29, 2022

Question: Please, would you say something about the "Prayer of the Faithful," the prayers of petition prayed by a reader after the Creed on Sundays? Is there a rule or tradition about who composes them? As they are "of the Faithful," it seems logical that the faithful should write them as well as pray them. In my parish, a team of three or four people takes turns every month to prepare these prayers. I volunteered when there was an appeal for more involvement in the parish. We have a new parish priest and he often does his own prayers or edits the ones from the team. – R.K., South West London

Folded Hands at Reading of the Gospel

May 22, 2022

Question: I would like to know why it is that when a priest or deacon proclaims the Gospel he does so with "folded hands." What is the significance of introducing the Gospel without extending the hands? In the seminary, we were not taught about this. Hence today many priests and deacons (including bishops) extend their hands when proclaiming the Gospel. ─ G.V.D., Pretoria, South Africa

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