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Mass of anointing
Q. Recently we had an anointing Mass in the parish. This is the first time we had something like this. Who may receive anointing at this Mass?
A. Here’s a reply from OSV columnist Msgr. M. Francis Mannion:
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick may take place inside Mass or outside Mass. Since most anointings are given in homes, health care facilities or hospitals, they are celebrated outside Mass.
However, in order to keep the elderly and homebound in touch with the larger parish, as well as to show forth the full dimensions of the sacramental anointing, parishes ideally have a communal anointing within Mass in the parish church (or some similar location) once or twice a year. Every effort should be made to invite and facilitate the attendance of those who are prevented from attending Mass regularly.
The Constitution on the Liturgy, from the Second Vatican Council, stated that the anointing of the sick "is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived" (No. 73).
Stations of the Cross at Easter?
Q. The laypeople at our parish say the Stations of the Cross every Friday after Mass. Somehow it doesn’t seem appropriate around Christmas, which is a joyful time, not sorrowful; and they also do it right after Easter Sunday, another joyful time. Please clear this up for me.
Pat, Warren, Mich.
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
When the Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses the various forms penance may take in Christian life, it pays special attention to Catholic liturgical life: “The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice” (No. 1438).
To be sure, Advent and the days of the Christmas (or Easter) season may seem odd times to reflect on Christ’s passion and death, but we must remember that the reason Jesus took on our humanity was to offer it up — on the cross. Bethlehem is a “rest stop” on the road to Calvary, and without the agony and pain of Good Friday we would have nothing to celebrate at Easter.
The events in Christ’s life are eternal — their saving power reaches backward and forward in our history — and the Mass allows us to touch them (see No. 1436). At some times or seasons of the year we pay more attention to one or another of these events, but the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist makes each of them present, and allows us to encounter each of them, every day.
Can Holy Souls Pray for Themselves?
Q. I have heard that souls in purgatory cannot pray for themselves. Is this true? If so, then why can't they?
A.D. via e-mail
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D
The Church teaches us that there cannot be further spiritual growth after death. The level of our spiritual maturity at the moment of death is the level at which we shall spend eternity. This puts a premium on striving for the greatest possible growth in sanctity in this life.
Once soul and body are separated at death, the soul has no power to merit or make satisfaction for its sins in this life. It has only what theologians call the capacity for satispassion. Satisfaction implies cleansing oneself. Satispassion means "being cleansed."
The Church's defined teaching on purgatory consists of two doctrines. The first is that those who die in a state of grace, but not yet completely cleansed from all sin and stain of sin, will enter the state of purgation. The other is that we who remain behind have the duty of praying for those in purgatory.
Interruption of the Liturgy?
Q. I recently attended Mass where the priest elevated the Blessed Sacrament for about one minute, then knelt down for about two minutes to adore the Real Presence. Is this too much time given to private devotion and interruption of the sacred liturgy, or do the liturgical rules give some guidance in this matter?
A.L., Vienna, Va.
A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:
To my knowledge, no rubric specifies how long the celebrant should elevate (show to the people) the consecrated Host or the chalice, nor is there any indication how long the genuflection should last. But common liturgical sense should prevail, and when in doubt, do what the pope does.
When he celebrated Mass at Yankee Stadium on April 20, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI elevated the Blessed Sacrament for 5-10 seconds, and genuflected for about the same amount of time, if not less. When he celebrates Mass, the man Joseph Ratzinger seems to disappear, and the liturgy flows serenely without calling attention to his own personality.
It is very good for a priest to be pious, devoted and reverent in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, but he should also avoid any hint of pious affectation.
Chronic Pain Offering
Q. My question: If a person has chronic pain, can they offer it up to the Lord for penance for their sins?
Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23). These words sum up Church teaching on the value of penance. They teach us that penance is not our own invention; it is a means of following Christ, and a way of uniting our self-denial with Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation.
This self-denial can take many forms. The Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions “gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right … revision of life, examination of conscience … acceptance of suffering” (No. 1435).
The patient endurance of chronic pain is certainly among the forms of “interior penance … which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others” (No. 1434). Most of us have heard the expression “offer it up” when something goes wrong. Usually this means nothing more than “get over it!” but “offering something up” is a real way to make it holy — whatever “it” is — by uniting it to Jesus’ sacrifice. This may be nothing more than a small self-deprivation we embrace during Lent, or the heroic sacrifice of a terminal illness. Our willingness to follow the example of Christ sanctifies and redeems the act.
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