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Cost of liturgies
Q. I am planning my funeral and was told by another parishioner that the parish charges a fee for the funeral. Why should there be a charge for a Church ceremony?
A. Here’s a reply from OSV columnist Msgr. M. Francis Mannion:
No fees are properly charged by parishes for any of its ceremonies. Parishes often have a fee for the musicians who lead the music at a funeral but there is no fee for the rites themselves.
The one ceremony that often involves fees — though not for the rite itself — is marriage. Included here are fees for musicians, a wedding coordinator or the rental of a parish hall for a reception.
Q. When was the earliest date of the obligation of weekly Sunday Mass?
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church observes: “The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life. ‘Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church’” (No. 2177).
The Catechism also says, “The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship ‘as a sign of his universal beneficence to all’” (No. 2176). These are the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, who died in 1274, so the obligatory character of Sunday Mass attendance is at least that old.
The text continues, “Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.” The underlying feeling in these words — and those above — suggests that the obligation extends back to the Old Testament, by way of the early Church.
Can Demons Repent?
Q. It is my understanding that fallen angels do not have the option/ability to reconcile with the Lord; that Satan and all his angels-turned-demons cannot repent or be granted restitution. Assuming my understanding is correct, I wonder how the Church came to this understanding.
M.M., via email
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D
We read in sacred Scripture, “God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but condemned them . . . and handed them over to be kept for judgment” (2 Pt 2:4). The reason their sin is unforgivable is “the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect of the infinite divine mercy” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 393).
In other words, so hardened in their rebellion are Satan and his angels that a profound change has occurred in their nature. Their hatred of God and all of his creation is so all-consuming they do not want to be forgiven, and therefore cannot be forgiven.
Only the Catholic Church?
Q. Do we have to be Catholic to get into heaven?
A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:
The answer is yes and no, and depends on what you mean by Catholic. What can be stated with certainty is that anyone who is ultimately saved is saved through the merits of Christ that come to us through His one true Church, which subsists in the Catholic Church. The noble pagan who knows nothing of Jesus Christ or his Church, who nevertheless tries to live his life in accord with the first principle of moral behavior — that is, do good and avoid evil — can be saved by the merits of Christ and the grace of God.
Q. Is there a birth blessing ceremony for infants in the Catholic Church? A young couple has asked if it’s OK if a deacon can do that at a home.
Because baptism confers such immense blessings on newborn infants, the Church does not have a formal blessing for newborns apart from the sacrament. However, before the liturgical texts were revised and translated into English, the Church provided separate blessings for women who were preparing to give birth, mothers and their baptized children, as well as women who had delivered babies who had died.
The blessing for mothers of baptized children has been incorporated into the liturgy for the Sacrament of Baptism, but the other two ceremonies seem to have disappeared. This is understandable — who would want to remind a mother of the death of her child, after all? — but too bad, as the ceremonies are brief and quite beautiful.
Although our liturgical texts do not provide a ceremony for blessing an infant awaiting baptism, nothing says that a priest or a deacon may not bless such a child. However, the blessing should be extremely simple. For example, the child might appropriately be blessed after Mass on Sunday, as its parents are leaving the church. Theblessing ought in no way imitate the Sacrament of Baptism. Nor should it encourage the child’s parents to delay the child’s baptism.
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