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Placement of organ
Q. What do official guidelines say about the placement of the choir and the organ in church?
A. Here’s a reply from OSV columnist Msgr. M. Francis Mannion:
Official liturgical guidelines do not offer much in the way of specific guidance on the place of the choir and the organ. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states: “The choir should be positioned with respect to the design of each church so as to make clearly evident its character as a part of the gathered community of the faithful fulfilling a specific function. The location should also assist the choir to exercise its function more easily and conveniently allow each member full, sacramental participation in the Mass” (No. 312).
The “organ and other lawfully approved musical instruments” should be placed “in an appropriate place so that they can sustain the singing of both the choir and the congregation and be heard with ease by all if they are played alone” (No. 313).
My experience in this matter leads me to suggest that choirs and organs should be placed where they can function the best, but should not be obtrusive or distracting. In historic churches there are generally choir and organ lofts at the rear of the church. These will often be found to be the best place for musicians and instruments.
A New Order?
Q. In yesterday's Gospel (Nov. 18, 2012), Jesus said heaven and earth will pass away, but not my word. So, does that mean that the heaven that is there now will go away, or our present earth?
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
The eschatological passages in the New Testament (such as Mark 13) are confusing and, perhaps, frightening. To understand them requires study and research, but even when we do “our homework” we often discover that Scripture scholars and biblical historians do not always agree.
In the Gospel for the Thirty-third Sunday for Ordinary Time, Jesus tells us, “Heaven and earth will pass away.” What then? Jesus’ images in this passage echo the prophets, who say the world as we know it must end before a new heaven and a new earth, faithful to God, can take their place.
Does this mean the utter destruction of the material universe as we know it? Perhaps, although some scholars suggest creation will simply return to its state before our first parents upset God’s order. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting the Second Vatican Council, teaches, “The form of this world, distorted by sin, is passing away, and … God is preparing … a new earth in which righteousness dwells, in which happiness will fill and surpass all the desires … arising in the hearts of men” (No. 1048).
Angels as Saints?
Q. I have a question about St. Michael the Archangel. My understanding is that the angels are spiritual creatures created by God and that saints are human beings who live according to God’s will and then become saints sometime after death. So how can one be a saint and an angel at the same time?.
N.B, Georgetown, S.C.
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D
When we speak of a “saint,” we ordinarily refer to a person whose life reflects, or did reflect, what the Church calls “heroic sanctity” — that is, a life transparent to the mercy and love of Jesus Christ. Down through the ages the lives of many such persons have come to the Church’s attention, and she has recognized them with the title of “saint.”
Half a dozen of St. Paul’s letters are addressed to Christians as “saints.” In this context, the term refers to those individuals’ status as members of Christ’s Mystical Body. We speak of the Communion of Saints to designate the entirety of those who belong to Christ. The term “saint” does apply primarily to human beings.
Sacred Scripture singles out and names three great angels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael. The Church applies the term “saint” to these particular angels because of their great significance in the history of salvation.
Therefore, Catholics use the term “saint” in several contexts.
The Great Schism
Q. I have a friend who is Greek Orthodox. Sadly, she seldom attends church except for weddings and funerals. I get the impression it is not obligatory for her to attend Mass on Sunday. Am I correct? Can you tell me what happened to cause this split from the Roman Catholic Church? When did the split occur?
M.G., via e-mail
A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:
All human beings are obliged to “Keep the Lord’s day holy,” for this is what the Lord commanded in the Third Commandment. Christians keep the Lord’s day holy by worshipping God on Sunday: Catholics attend Mass, while Protestants have a form of worship derived from the Mass; and Orthodox believers should worship the Lord as well. Whether Greek Orthodox are required to attend services according to the law of their Church is beyond the scope of this magazine. This is The Catholic Answer, not the Greek Orthodox Answer. As for the Great Schism, it was crystallized in 1054, partly for theological reasons dealing with the Trinitarian Processions, but mostly for geopolitical reasons later exacerbated by the excesses of the Fourth Crusade in 1204 when Christian knights sacked Constantinople and briefly overthrew the Byzantine Empire. At any rate, Jesus prayed for the unity of the Church the night before He died, and we should do the same. Little by little, we hope and pray, Christians are moving toward the unity that Christ prayed for.
Q. Are Amish and Mormons Christian? There seems to be some disagreement about this in our Bible study group.
— Manuel Moreno
Amish are part of the Anabaptist tradition, Protestants who believe only adults should be baptized. Catholics would immediately recognize the Amish baptismal ceremony, in which water is poured over the head of the person to be baptized, while the minister says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father...”
The purpose of Mormon baptism differs considerably from that of the Christian sacrament. The second Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” By contrast, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins” (No. 1263). Moreover, Mormon belief in the nature (and conception) of Jesus is quite different from that of orthodox Christians. These theological differences are so great that Mormons cannot be recognized as Christian as we commonly understand the word.
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