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Women Leading Communion Services?
Q. We have at least two priests at all times in our parish. We have a morning Mass each weekday, and on some days we have an early Communion Service as well. I was asked about a year ago if I would be willing to help with the Communion Service as a leader. Because I am a woman I had mixed feelings about this. But because we really needed another person, I said yes.
I love serving the Lord in any capacity, but am I doing right? This is so close, and actually is, replacing a priest, and I know what our Holy Father says about women priests: no. There don’t seem to be any more men who will help the one man who is a Communion Service leader at this time.
N.N., via email
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:
It appears that there is no lack of good will in your parish, but I understand your hesitation. In fact, as earlier noted in my column in The Catholic Answer (“Only in Extreme Cases?” TCA March/April 2005, Pages 26–27) in response to some very clear indications published in the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, it is the mind of the Church that Communion Services are not normally to be held on weekdays, especially if a Mass will be celebrated at that church that day.
If there are two priests in the parish, perhaps two Masses could be scheduled, one early and the other later. If there is a true pastoral need, a priest can in fact be permitted to celebrate Mass more than once a day (cf. Canon 905).
Your reservation about leading a Communion Service has less to do with your gender than with the fact that as a non-ordained member of the faithful you are not the ordinary Minister of the Holy Eucharist. The fact that other men are not willing to help in this capacity may be an indication of their proper sense of reverence and restraint regarding the Most Blessed Sacrament, rather than a sign of laziness.
Mass at the First Thanksgiving?
Q. Is it true that the first celebration of a Thanksgiving feast in America was actually held by Catholics in Florida, rather than Puritans in Massachusetts?
H.H., via email
A. We might well say that the feast that should be recognized as the first “Thanksgiving” in the European colonies of America actually occurred on September 8, 1565, in St. Augustine, Florida — 56 years before the English Pilgrims had their feast in Massachusetts.
The leader of the Catholic Spanish colonists, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, along with 800 Spanish settlers, celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving and then invited the native Seloy tribe, who occupied the site, to join them for a grand meal. They probably feasted on the food items that had been stocked on their ship for the long voyage: cocido, a stew made from salted pork, garbanzo beans and garlic; plus hard sea biscuits and red wine.
If the Seloys contributed food to the meal, then the menu might have also included wild turkey, venison, gopher tortoise, mullet, corn, beans and squash.
Even before the event in St. Augustine, numerous Masses of Thanksgiving for a safe voyage and landing had been held in Florida by priests with Spanish explorers such as Juan Ponce de Leon (in 1513 and 1521); Panfilo de Narvaez (1528); Hernando de Soto (1529); Father Luis Cancer de Barbastro (1549); and Tristan de Luna (1559).
A blessed Thanksgiving to all today!
Upper or Lower Case?
Q. Why do some Bibles have upper-case references to God, while others have lower-case references? Why do some have “he” or “him” or “his” instead of “He” or “Him” or “His”?
J.Z., via email
A. Historically speaking, capitalization is a relatively recent development in typography. The ancient manuscripts of the Bible were written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic alphabets that did not have, at that time, distinct upper-case and lower-case letters. By the time Scripture was translated completely into English, our language had both upper- and lower-case letters, but the oldest English Bibles, such as the (Catholic) Douay-Rheims and the (Protestant) King James (or Authorized) Versions, did not capitalize personal pronouns referring to Deity.
Some later translations, such as the (Protestant) New American Standard Bible, adopted the practice, and it certainly has practical advantages. For example, when a passage involves both God and a man, you can know instantly which one is referred to by a personal pronoun, simply by its upper- or lower-case letter. In my book, any element of typographical style that lessens ambiguity is a good thing.
Perhaps more importantly, capitalizing pronouns referring to God seems to many readers (including myself) an expression of reverence. For this reason, a number of Catholic and other Christian book and magazine publishers long ago adopted the practice; our magazine, The Catholic Answer, does so, as does this online column.
Nevertheless, for some years now, the trend in publishing has been toward fewer capitalized words of any sort. Actually, this trend has been going on, more broadly, for some time: Take a look at a photo of the Declaration of Independence, for example, and notice all the nouns capitalized in 18th-century English that we would not normally capitalize today. Might this habit of capitalizing so many words have been rooted in the Germanic ancestry of our language? In German, all nouns are capitalized.
In any case, most Bible translations today don’t capitalize personal pronouns referring to God. Nevertheless, I personally prefer to capitalize pronouns (and nouns) referring to Deity. And I especially despise today’s evolving style that lower-cases nouns such as “Scripture” and “Eucharist.”
TAN in Bankruptcy?
Q. I recently heard that one of my favorite Catholic publishers, TAN, was in bankruptcy. Do you know anything about this distressing situation?
F.T., via email
A. TAN Books and Publishers, widely known for publishing traditional Catholic books and many Catholic “classics,” was established in 1967 and based in Rockford, Ill. It has published more than 600 titles, including the Baltimore Catechism series, the Douay-Rheims Bible and numerous saint biographies.
In recent years TAN has struggled to survive financially. Eventually it had to operate under the protection of the United States Bankruptcy Court. The good news, however, is that last week, Saint Benedict Press, a North-Carolina-based publisher of Catholic classics, announced its acquisition of TAN’s assets.
“TAN Books and Publishers” will remain an independent imprint within Saint Benedict Press, maintaining its brand identity and publishing direction under Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brent Klaske, who will assume general management duties.
I should note that I’m personally acquainted with the good folks at Saint Benedict Press, and I was thrilled to hear about this new development. TAN will be in good hands.
Was Charles Carroll a Mason?
Q. The film National Treasure depicts Charles Carroll, the one Catholic signer of the American Declaration of Independence, as a Freemason. Is that true?
T.S., Savannah, Ga.
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D.:
Charles Carroll, who also became a U.S. Senator from Maryland, outlived all other signers of the Declaration of Independence, dying at the age of ninety-six. He was the cousin of John Carroll, our first American bishop (Archbishop of Baltimore). None of the accounts of Charles Carroll’s life I consulted has mentioned his having been a Freemason. The claim is probably not true.
On the other hand, Charles’ cousin Daniel Carroll (John’s brother) was indeed a Mason. Daniel was one of only two Catholics in the Constitutional Convention, and he served as a U.S. Congressman from Michigan.
It’s puzzling to learn that Archbishop Carroll did not object to the Lodge until long after the Revolution. In his lifetime, several popes condemned Freemasonry and forbade Catholics to be Freemasons.
Nevertheless, we must keep in mind that at the time, these papal bulls had not been promulgated in the U.S. and many other countries. The archbishop’s initial attitude toward Freemasonry may also have been influenced by his brother and his friendships with prominent American Masons such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.
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