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Hand washing at Mass
Q. One of our priests never uses the hand washing during the preparation of the gifts at Mass. Another parishioner told me that the priest thinks the action is “liturgical clutter” that has no meaning today. What is your opinion?
A. Here’s a reply from OSV columnist Msgr. M. Francis Mannion:
The washing of the priest’s hand during the preparation of the gifts is not a central feature of the Mass; but if we were to strip away all that is not essential, there would be little left. The washing of the hands brings out an important aspect of the Mass — the priest is asking for God’s forgiveness from his sins as he prepares to celebrate the liturgy of the Eucharist.
Personally, I find the washing of hands comforting. It serves as a means of stating that I never come to the Eucharist perfect in heart and mind, but that I am always an imperfect celebrant of the Eucharist. God accepts my prayer on behalf of the people anyway.
Recognizing my sinfulness in the middle of Mass reminds me that the gifts of the Body and Blood of Christ are not the result of any virtue on my part, but are always the result of God’s action.
Work on Sunday?
Q. How much work is allowed on Sundays?
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
When discussing the Sabbath, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is quite direct: “If God ‘rested and was refreshed’ on the seventh day, man too ought to ‘rest’ and should let others, especially the poor, ‘be refreshed.’ The sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money” (No. 2172).
The Third Commandment directs us to worship God on Sunday, “and enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate … familial, cultural, social and religious lives” (No. 2185).
St. Augustine wrote, “The charity of truth seeks holy leisure; the necessity of charity accepts just work.” Thus, “how much” work we can do on Sunday depends largely on the type of work and its importance. The needs of ill or infirm family members must be attended to; major home renovation projects probably do not.
One of the precepts of the Church forbids “unnecessary servile” labor on Sunday, which perhaps gives an additional clue to what is acceptable. Obviously, we must eat on Sunday. But must we exhaust ourselves in meal preparation? We might profitably ask how we can simplify our lives on Sunday, to provide generous amounts of time for prayer and rest.
Baptism for Mary?
Q. Was Mary baptized?
A.E, via e-mail
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D
Our Blessed Mother had no need of baptism. She was entirely free of original sin, because she had been immaculately conceived.
Q. I am about to go into the hospital, and I have been given a very generic "Living Will" form to fill out. I am not comfortable with some of the wording. I feel it could open the door to euthanasia.
I want to comply with the ethics of the Catholic Church, and yet I cannot find any Catholic "living wills" online. Do you have any advice or guidance for me?
E.W., via e-mail
A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:
You raise a very important point, and your concerns are justified. If you are not satisfied with the "very generic 'Living Will'" you have been asked to fill out, I suggest that you attach the amendment below so you can be confident that you will be complying with the ethics of the Catholic Church.
I hope you will find it helpful. Not all will agree with its wording and stipulations, but I think it is unarguably a most prudent course of action.
Because it is impossible for me to foresee all the circumstances under which health care decisions may be made for me by others, and because I cannot know all the decisions I would make without knowledge of such circumstances, it is my desire to set forth the moral principals that I want others to observe in making health care decisions for me as well as provide specific instructions in certain cases.
Those making decisions on my behalf should be guided by the moral teachings of the Catholic Church contained in, but not limited to, the following documents: Declaration on Euthanasia, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Rome, 1980; Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1994; and Nutrition and Hydration: Moral and Pastoral Reflections, Committee for Pro-Life Activities, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1995.
If the time comes that I am incapacitated to the point that I can no longer take part in the decisions for my own life, and am unable to direct my physician as to my own medical care, I wish this statement to stand as a testament of my wishes.
If I should have an incurable and irreversible injury, disease or illness that will result in inevitable and imminent death without the administration of death-delaying procedures, and I have received the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, I direct that all, but only, those forms of treatment and care be provided that offer a reasonable hope of benefit without serious risk of death or excessive pain, expense or other excessive burden, consistent with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. The continued sustenance of my life by any treatment or care and the benefit of life itself shall not be considered a risk or burden in this analysis. I direct that when such decisions involve the withholding or removal of death-delaying procedures, they be made in consultation with a Catholic priest and after consultation with my health care agent, whenever feasible. In no event may anyone refuse or withdraw from me, or administer to me, any medical treatment if in doing so death is intended as an "end" or chosen as a "means."
In accord with the teachings of the Catholic Church, I have no objection to the use of medication or procedures necessary for my physical comfort even if they may shorten my life, provided my death is not intended as an "end" or chosen as a "means." Accordingly, I direct that I be provided with compassionate nursing care and pain management.
There shall be a presumption in favor of providing me with nutrition and hydration, even by artificial means, so long as death is not inevitable and imminent so that effort to sustain my life is not futile, or unless I am permanently unable to absorb and utilize food or fluids. While some treatments may be futile in combating or curing a disease, treatment or care which sustains life is not futile.
If I am pregnant, I direct that all means possible be utilized to maintain my life until my unborn child reaches such a state of viability that he or she may be delivered by cesarean section or other means.
With respect to any anatomical gift, I direct:
_________ that no such gift be made by my agent.
_________ that such decisions shall be limited to the use of organs or body parts for transplantation into a living human being or for therapeutic use in a living human being. Such gifts may be made only in the event of the complete and total cessation of all respiration and circulation from which resuscitation is not possible, or the complete and total cessation of all brain activity, including the brain stem, confirmed by at least two electroencephalograms taken at least six hours apart, the results of which are confirmed by a neurologist.
Which Bible Should Catholics Use?
Q. What Bible translation is best for Catholics to use?
The importance of the Bible cannot be denied. At the same time, the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God … has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone” (No. 85). Catholics, therefore, must pay attention to the version of the Bible they choose to read or study.
An “imprimatur” guarantees a Bible has the Church’s recognition. Choosing among approved translations – the seeker will soon discover many – will depend upon one’s interests and purpose. The Douay-Rheims (1582-1609), the first English translation, is quite poetic, but its language may prove difficult for some modern readers. The Catholic edition of the Revised Standard Version (now also known as the Navarre Bible) is excellent for study. It maintains the poetry of earlier editions, but avoids the pitfalls of archaic vocabulary. The Jerusalem Bible was translated by masters of English (including J.R.R. Tolkien) and is pleasant to read.
In 1970, Pope Paul VI wrote an introduction to the New American Bible, recognizing the Second Vatican Council’s demand for “up-to-date and appropriate translations … from the original texts of the sacred books.” Because Scripture scholarship is ongoing, we should be on the lookout for new translations, without abandoning old favorites.
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