Q&A: Sign of cross at start of Gospel; Praying for the deceased

Q. When I visit my mother in the town where I grew up, the priest there regularly omits what I think is an important gesture at the beginning of the Gospel reading. He does not use his thumb to sign himself with the cross on his forehead, lips and heart. I had understood that by making that gesture you were demonstrating your intention to take the Gospel into your mind, proclaim his word to others and keep his message in your heart. Because the priest has foregone that important sign, his parishioners omit it, too. Has this gesture been declared optional now or perhaps dropped altogether? (City and state withheld)

Penance recognizes our inadequacy, helps us face future with hope

A priest counselor tells of how one man made it clear that he finally wanted to stop the battling and to be rid of the past. The sacramental ritual seemed to support that hope, for it shifted the focus from where he was to where he could be.

New books offer wealth of options for spiritual reading during Lent

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Here is a selection of recent releases that might be suitable for your spiritual reading during Lent and the Easter season:

What’s the difference between work and rest on Sunday?

Q. My grown children often work on Sunday, and I believe that they don't feel that it is sinful. Sometimes they ask me to babysit their children while they work -- anything from farm work, remodeling their house, mowing the lawn, etc. Am I guilty of aiding and abetting them if I babysit, or am I exempt from guilt because they don't think they're sinning? (I'm a little scrupulous and worry a lot about this.) (Morrilton, Ark.)

In business, common good should trump the march of the robots

Father John Catoir[/caption] For me, the concept of spirituality is not restricted to pious devotions. Everything we do reflects our spirituality, including the way we spend our money.

Does Mass on a weekday count? The meaning of Easter duty

Q. I am an old lady, and I have been privileged to attend daily Mass for most of my life. The various weekend liturgies in our area churches are most disconcerting to me, and I am considering a long leave of absence. My question is this: Can a weekday Mass be designated to fulfill the weekend obligation? (Clinton Township, Mich.) Q. What ever happened to the Easter duty? Is it still mandatory for Catholics to receive the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist at least once a year, during the Easter season, to remain in good standing? (city and state withheld)

Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer intentions for February

General intention: “That migrant families, especially the mothers, may be supported and accompanied in their difficulties.” Mission intention: “That the peoples at war and in conflict may lead the way in building a peaceful future.”

Faith is genuine only if coupled with charity for others, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Faith and charity can never be separated nor opposed to each other, just as faith by itself isn’t genuine without charity, Pope Benedict XVI said. “Faith is knowing the truth and adhering to it; charity is ‘walking’ in the truth,” the pope said in his annual message for Lent, which in […]

Calculating the 40 Days of Lent: Infant Baptism

Q. I always hear about the "40 days of Lent," but the math never seems to work out. When does it start, when does it end, and how do you arrive at 40 days? (Cherry Hill, N.J.)

Silence: The key to staying composed in a busy world

During a harried day, did we ever try to balance its rush with moments of composure in which we shut out distractions, went inside ourselves and enjoyed an inner sense of unity?