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Q. When I was in Europe last year, Communion from the chalice was nowhere to be found. But as I travel around the United States, I see it everywhere. Is this an American anomaly? Where does Church teaching say that Communion may be given from the chalice?
B.R., Boise, Idaho
A. Here’s a reply from OSV columnist Msgr. M. Francis Mannion:
In its Constitution on the Liturgy, the Second Vatican Council stated as follows on the matter of Communion from the chalice: "The more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest's Communion, receive the Lord's body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended" (No. 55).
Numerous Church documents since Vatican II promote the practice of receiving from the chalice. Among them, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, published in 2000, is probably the most important. It states: "Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it is distributed under both kinds. For in this form the sign of the eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clear expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the relationship between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Father's Kingdom" (No. 281).
Why the use of the chalice for the people is more common in the United States than it is in Europe is a matter of conjecture. The general lack of vigor in the Church in Europe may be among the reasons.
In any case, the giving of the chalice to the people is certainly not an anomaly, but an implementation of the practice of Christ himself at the Last Supper.
Jesus’ Return in Glory
Q. When the Creed says “He will come again in glory,” what are we really talking about here? Will angels accompany him? Will he be wealthy? Will we recognize him?
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
At Christ’s Ascension, angels said, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you … will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven” (Acts 1:11). We cannot know the particular elements that will accompany Jesus’ return, but these words suggest that angels will be part of the glory.
One thing is certain: We shall recognize Jesus when he comes. “Christ’s ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain . . . this humanity in the meantime [is hidden] from the eyes of men” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 665). Thomas Aquinas taught that seeing God is so impressive an experience, no one can see him without joy. The damned are deprived of this vision precisely because it would make them happy. Therefore, when Christ returns, he will come in human flesh, and be recognized by everyone — the just for their happiness, the damned for their despair.
St. Thomas adds an additional argument for the likelihood of recognizing Christ when he comes. He says that were we to be judged by the Father alone, we could easily lose hope. Therefore, when Jesus comes, he will come in our flesh so we may experience hope from being judged by the hand of one who shares our humanity.
Prayers for Orphans?
Q. Do you know any special prayers for orphans?
M.B., via e-mail
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D
Recently, I came across this prayer for orphans and needy children:
"Our Creator and heavenly Father, we pray for all the orphans in this world, who have no parents, or who have parents who cannot care for them. Watch over these children and bless them with Your great mercy. Comfort them when they are lonely, feed them when they are hungry, help them to be educated, Father. Heal them when they are sick or with fever, and give these children good dreams and rest. In the name of Jesus our Lord, Amen."
Here's another prayer, from the website of the Sisters in Jesus the Lord (www.cjd.cc), a new private association of Religious that is helping children at an orphanage in Vladivostok, Russia:
"Lord God, bless these children, so hungry and hurting. Bless their parents, whether living or deceased. Keep the hearts of the [orphanage] staff full of love for these little ones. Let these children be adopted into loving homes. Heal them from physical, mental and spiritual ailments. Help keep their hearts open to others that they may learn to trust and love, and be open to You, that when their life is done, they may live with You in heaven for all eternity. Angels of God, their guardians dear, to whom God's love commits them here, ever this day be at their side to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen."
If you have a special interest in praying for orphans, you may want to check out the website of the Blessed Nuno Society (www.blessednuno.org), a Catholic prayer apostolate and mission society of those "who have joined together to form a union of prayer" for "the educational, medical, spiritual and general welfare needs of orphaned and homeless children."
Q. While a Catholic marriage is celebrated publicly, the granting of a decree of nullity appears to be one of the better-kept secrets in the Catholic Church. In a sense, this gives rise to questions and gossip about the legitimacy of second marriages, when an annulment does not appear to have been likely. Why the secrecy?
A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:
Your question focuses on the public and communal nature of the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Indeed, a marriage is to be celebrated publicly in the presence of at least three witnesses, because marriage is for the common good. For the same reason, wedding banns are published in parish bulletins before the ceremony so that anyone who knows any reason why the marriage might not be valid should speak up.
Declarations of nullity are private matters. But if there is a reasonable doubt that a parishioner's current marriage is not legitimate, it is the responsibility of that person and the pastor to clear up the doubt, or people in the parish will be scandalized when they receive holy Communion. For that reason, if it is public knowledge that a Catholic is in an irregular marriage (for instance, divorced and civilly remarried), that person is not to be admitted to holy Communion.
On the one hand, a person has the right to a good reputation. On the other hand, parishioners have a right not to be scandalized. It's a classical case of individual rights versus the common good. In this situation, I think the common good demands that reasonable doubts about the validity of a fellow parishioner's marriage should be addressed and clarified.
Q. When a person dies, does he or his soul immediately enter eternity or does the soul remain in time? In other words, when does eternity start for a person who dies?
An ancient maxim states, “the Church believes as it prays.” Thus, if we wish to know what the Church teaches, we can begin our study by examining the Church’s prayer. Our prayer reveals a great deal about our belief in what happens when an individual dies. One preface for the funeral Mass says, “When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.” These words ought to be immensely consoling, for they mean nothing less than what they say: the body of someone who dies remains “in time,” but at the moment of death, the individual’s soul enters the eternal life God has prepared for it.
The Letter to the Hebrews assures us, “It is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment” (9:27). The Catechism of the Catholic Church adds, “Death is the end of man’s earthly pilgrimage, of the time … which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life … and to decide his ultimate destiny” (No. 1013). Our souls face that destiny when we die, and our faith assures us that at the end of time, our bodies will share our souls’ fate.
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