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Silence before Mass
Q. I attend a parish where 10-15 minutes before Mass the musicians tune up their instruments, practice their music and talk loudly among themselves. I find it impossible to maintain an attitude of prayer. Should there not be a time of quiet before Mass?
A. Here’s a reply from OSV columnist Msgr. M. Francis Mannion:
I couldn’t agree with you more. I tell the musicians in our parish that they can practice up to 15 minutes before Mass, but that then there should be silence with a quiet and meditative organ prelude. Besides disturbing the peace, lots of practicing before Mass gives the impression that the musicians are not well prepared and have not been practicing during the week.
Silence before the liturgy and during appropriate places within the liturgy is really important. The Mass should proceed at a nice, slow pace with various periods of quiet. Silence makes many people nervous, but if it is explained, they accept and appreciate it. Pope Benedict XVI has really been promoting silence at various times during the liturgy. In an age of unprecedented noise, liturgical silence is of the greatest importance.
Q. My co-worker, a Christian Baptist, asks question about why Roman Catholics baptize a baby using in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy spirit, and not just baptizing in Jesus name; and where in the Bible do we get that the pastor or priest should sprinkle water. Please help me to explain.
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
Catholics are often criticized for not interpreting the Bible literally enough. Curiously, the same critics are dismayed by Catholics’ insistence that Jesus’ words “This is my Body” mean just that, and by their insistence on a rigid scriptural formula for baptism.
The words for the baptismal rite are taken – literally – from Jesus’ farewell to his disciples, recorded by Matthew, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19).
“Sprinkling” with water is another matter. The Catechism of the Catholic Church remarks:“Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water. However, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate’s head” (No. 1239). Merely sprinkling water over individuals to be baptized is not an option.
However, sprinkling holy water over the congregation may take place at Mass and other gatherings. This practice is derived from the Old Testament, which describes numerous sprinkling rites.
Whenever the Church employs holy water, whether for individual or congregational use, the water is meant to remind us of our baptism.
Accepting God’s Will
Q. This morning, while I was praying the second glorious mystery, the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven, and praying for hope, it occurred to me: Isn’t hope contrary to accepting the will of God? What exactly is hope, and how does it reconcile with accepting the will of God? Isn’t hope hoping for our own will? I thought of hope, too, in relation to the faith, hope and charity of 1 Corinthians 13. Thank you for any guidance you can offer.
C.S., via e-mail
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D:
It is true that ordinarily we use the word “hope” to refer to some event we want to occur. “Hope” in this sense is the expression of a human desire. But the theological meaning of hope is a totally different reality.
Hope is one of the theological virtues, along with faith and love. As such, it is also a desire: a desire for eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. This hope is “the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God; it is also the fear of offending God’s love and of incurring punishment” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2090). In this hope, we place our trust not in ourselves but in the promises Jesus Christ gives us. In this sense, then, “hope” and “trust” are almost synonymous.
Blessing of Throats
Q. My son lives on Long Island, N.Y. Neither his parish nor the Catholic church in Manhasset, N.Y., blessed throats on the feast of St. Blaise. Is this the way of the future of the Church?
A.Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:
The blessing of throats on the feast of St. Blaise (Feb. 3) is a custom which is quintessentially Catholic, and most Catholics I know look forward to it, especially since it occurs at the height of the cold and flu season. When I attended Catholic grade school, all the thousand-plus students lined up for the blessing. I guess we parochial students were ahead of the curve when it came to “wellness practices.” While the blessing is not mandatory — because it is in the nature of a sacramental or popular devotion — it is connected to the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and also to Our Lord’s practice of healing the sick, and helps to foster a healthy dependence on the intercession of the saints.
The prayer of blessing is quite simple: “Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
I rather doubt what’s happening in your parish is the “way of the future of the Church,” since I expect colds and the flu to be around as long as the human race is on earth. I also expect many will pray for good health and resort to the intercession of the saints when all else fails.
Relationships in Heaven
Q. At funerals, you often hear people say about a deceased spouse, well they are together now. But Jesus said we would not be married in heaven, so what do you think it will be like? Will we recognize our dead relatives?
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
When St. Thomas Aquinas reflects on Jesus’ words “At the resurrection they neither marry nor are give in marriage” (Mt 22:30), he remarks that human sexuality is a gift to continue the human race, members of which are always dying. In heaven, “in the state of the resurrection the human race will already have the number of individuals preordained by God” (Summa Theolgiae, Supplement, Q. 80.4), so sexual activity will be unnecessary.
However, this does not mean we shall not recognize one another in heaven, nor that the human relations that proved so enriching during our lives on earth will no longer have value. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of a future life characterized by a “blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ” (No. 1027). The text also quotes the Renaissance-era Council of Florence (1439), which urged us to look forward and anticipate “delight in the joy of immortality in the Kingdom of heaven with the righteous and God’s friends” (No. 1028).
Our faith teaches that our life with one another in the Church offers us a foretaste of heaven. Here we labor under the burden of our manifold weaknesses; in heaven we shall be free to shine as God intended.
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