Waiting, as an Advent spiritual exercise, is harder than it seems

Last year, I wrote a blog post about the practice of waiting. Concretely. Here and now. It’s one thing I found to meditate on waiting in this expectant time of the liturgical year, it’s quite another to choose to wait in the secular season of “free two-day shipping.” Just how anxious does it make you to think of letting the person behind you in the supermarket go ahead of you? Now imagine actually doing it. After work. Three weeks before Christmas. It makes me quiver just thinking about it, which is why I keep doing it. Practice, I hear, makes perfect.

What to do about priests with flashy bling

Q. While I realize that diocesan priests do not take a vow of poverty, it is almost scandalous to see so many pastors in our area driving Cadillacs and other high-end automobiles, buying vacation homes, wearing Rolex wristwatches, etc. In every case I know about, these priests live in lower- to middle-class parishes, and -- especially in the present economy -- the vast majority of their parishioners live in much more difficult circumstances. I have found your advice on church matters in the past to be caring and realistic and am hoping that you can weigh in on this situation. (New Jersey)

Which eucharistic prayer to use, and who may wear a Roman collar

Q. What determines which of the eucharistic prayers is used at Sunday Mass? When I try to follow along in my missalette, I often lose my place at this point, because I am trying to figure out which eucharistic prayer the celebrant has chosen. Is it simply up to him? I know that you're probably thinking that I shouldn't be reading the missalette at that point anyhow, just listening to the priest. But I have a learning disability and become quickly distracted hearing the spoken word alone. (Superior, Wis.) A. The choice of which eucharistic prayer to use is left pretty much to the priest-celebrant's discretion. There are, however, in No. 365 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, some guidelines that help the priest decide which prayer might be most appropriate -- with respect, at least, to the four basic options.

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.