Q. What would be the proper reaction to our non-Christian (Muslim) friend who has offered to pray for us to “her God”? Should we decline the offer, so as not to offend our own God? (Midlothian, Virginia)
A. You should absolutely accept the offer and be grateful. How could it possibly hurt for her to pray for you? Since there is only one God, “her God” is your God as well. The Muslim view of the divine has striking similarities to the Christian view, but also some important differences.
The religion of Islam, like Christianity, is strongly monotheistic. For Muslims, as for Christians, God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer and judge of the universe. Muslims, though, would reject the Christian doctrines of the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus. The Christian notion of God as a loving, personal father who has entered human history to reveal himself and to rescue us from our sinfulness would be foreign to Muslims.
As to whether to accept the prayer of a Muslim offered on your own behalf, I would take my cue from Pope Francis. In June of this year, when he invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Vatican, the three were joined by an interfaith group of Muslims, Jews and Christians who prayed for the common cause of peace at the same time and in the same place, but each in their own traditions.
It was graphic testimony to their shared belief that they are brothers and sisters, and children of the same God.
Q. Recently, my wife and I were visiting friends in the Chicago area and decided to attend a weekday Mass. I was surprised when we did not recite the creed, which I had always thought was a critical part of the Mass.
My friend said that frequently, at this parish, they recite neither the Gloria nor the creed. I knew that during certain periods of the year, the Gloria was not recited, but I thought that the creed was always used. Has something changed with the Mass that I am not aware of? (Floyds Knob, Indiana)
A. According to the liturgical guidelines of the Catholic Church, on most weekdays neither the creed nor the Gloria is recited during the celebration of Mass. The creed is used during Sunday celebrations and on solemnities (e.g., on holy days of obligation, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the feast of SS. Peter and Paul.)
When the creed is called for, usually the Nicene Creed is the form used, but the Apostles’ Creed may be substituted, particularly during Lent and Easter. (Since the Apostles’ Creed is the basis for the baptismal promises, it is especially appropriate during that time of year when many adult baptisms occur.)
Liturgical aids (such as laminated cards in the pews) generally offer both options for the creed.
The Gloria, a hymn of joy and praise, is recited or sung on all Sundays except during Advent and Lent (which are penitential seasons) and also on many important feasts that occur on weekdays.
To illustrate, during the month of July, as I write this column, the creed is recited only on the four Sundays, while the Gloria is used on those Sundays as well as on the feast days of St. Thomas on July 3 and St. James on July 25.
And lest you think that a priest needs to be a genius to remember all of this, he doesn’t. He has in the sacristy a little book, called the “ordo,” which gives him the directions for each day.
Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at email@example.com and 40 Hopewell St., Albany, N.Y. 12208.