Spirituality

Advent: An opportunity to celebrate the beauty of order

In the corridors of the U.S. Capitol's House of Representatives, a colorful painting contains William Jennings Bryan's quotation, "Our government conceived in freedom and purchased with blood can be preserved only by constant vigilance." It echoes Christ's parable of the wise virgins who kept their lamps filled with oil in anticipation of the bridegroom. Scripture reminds us constantly to keep vigilance and be prepared. Why emphasize this? It is to be prepared to meet God.

On holding hands during the Our Father

Q. Most of the parishioners at our current parish hold hands during the Our Father and then raise their hands when saying, "The kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever." At our previous parish, a priest had said that this was not to be done and that only the priest should raise his hands. Is there a correct method on this, or does it depend on the parish and the local priest's preference? (Davenport, Iowa)

Can a Christian who is not a Catholic receive a sacrament?

Q. My mother, a baptized member of the Baptist tradition, is 92 years old. She is currently hospitalized with some very serious health issues that may result in the end of her natural life. I am a Roman Catholic, an ordained permanent deacon. I would like to know your view on whether to have my parish priest administer the sacrament of anointing (of the sick) to my mother. She is not asking for this, is likely not sufficiently lucid to understand and would not have understood the sacrament even before the deterioration of her health. At some level, I suppose having her anointed would provide a sense of peace to my wife and me. Are we off base? (Evansville, Ind.)

The trap of inactivity

Many people these days fall into the trap of inactivity. They become utterly passive. For instance, when they read the Scripture quote, "Ask and you shall receive," they think that God is a servant, waiting to do their bidding. Unfortunately, it means something quite different. Allow me to explain.

Missing in translation and Communion for lesbians and their children

Q. I am puzzled as to why, in the Our Father (the Lord's Prayer), we would ask the Lord not to lead us into temptation. Surely he doesn't. The Spanish say, "Let us not fall into temptation." I am told that our English version is a mistranslation, but I wonder why we don't correct it.

Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer intentions for November

General Intention:  That bishops, priests, and all ministers of the Gospel may bear courageous witness of fidelity to the crucified and risen Lord.   Mission Intention: That the pilgrim Church on earth may shine as a light to the nations.

Including an ancient hymn at a funeral, and an unconventional Mass

Father Kenneth Doyle[/caption] Q. I would like to have the "Dies Irae" played at my funeral Mass (which I hope will be in the distant future). Is this permissible? (Towson, Md.) A. The "Dies Irae" (literally, "day of wrath") is a 13th-century hymn that served until 1970 as the sequence prayer (following the Gospel) in the standard Catholic funeral ritual. It had been set to soaring and majestic music by such composers as Mozart and Verdi. That hymn was removed from the "ordinary form" of the funeral ritual in the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council.

Faithfully celebrating ‘feasts of quiet remembering’

“…and we remember James Collins, who died on this day in 1893.” Every day at Morning Prayer, we remember members of the local Augustinian province who died on that date. Here we are gathered, briefly holding in prayer a young Augustinian priest, who died a more than a century ago, just a year after his ordination by Archbishop Patrick Ryan of Philadelphia. There is no one left alive who knew him. But we pray, regardless.

Should a diocesan appeal replace a homily?

Q. I feel very disappointed and perplexed at the decision of our diocese to omit the homily, without any reference to the Sunday readings for the day, in order to use the time instead to campaign for our annual diocesan appeal. It happened last year and again this year. Shouldn't better judgment be used? What, after all, are our priorities? (Richmond, Va.)

On holy days of obligation and sacramental sponsors

Q. While visiting family in Maryland on the weekend before the feast of the Ascension, I attended a local Catholic parish and heard the priest announce that the feast would be observed on the following Sunday. When I got back to Pittsburgh, I went to work that Thursday unaware that it was a feast day; I was very upset to learn later that in the Pittsburgh diocese, the Ascension is still observed on Thursday, making it a holy day of obligation. My question is this: How could I have sinned in one diocese when I would not have sinned in another? I find this inconsistency quite confusing. (Pittsburgh)