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Answering the Tough Questions
October 04, 2011
Rubrics for the care of sacred linens and sacred vessels
By Father Rocky Hoffman

What is the proper procedure for washing the towel, the purificator and other linens and vessels used in the Mass? Thank you for your help.

And thank you for asking.  This is an important subject.  Briefly, the “proper procedures” is the ‘traditional care” outlined in “Redemptionis Sacramentum” (2004, no. 120):  "Let Pastors take care that the linens for the sacred table, especially those which will receive the sacred species, are always kept clean and that they are washed in...

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September 27, 2011
No need for two weddings
By Father Rocky Hoffman

My fiancé and I would like to have two Catholic weddings. You see, we are college students applying for graduate school, and we will be more eligible for the loans we need if we're married by February 2010. Since we're getting married anyway, it seems that we should be married by a point which will secure our future financially. We'll have completed pre-cana by the time we are married, but the date of the wedding is rather time sensitive and would need to be done by Feb. 1.

Here is the...

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September 20, 2011
Verses for the Agnus Dei?
By Father Rocky Hoffman

I have a question about music in the Mass. Are we supposed to sing “verses” for the Agnus Dei rather than to repeat Lamb of God three times, or are both forms correct?

This question comes up from time to time.  When I last studied the issue in November of 2005, I wrote:  “No. 83 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal addresses the specific issue which you raise: “The supplication Agnus Dei, is, as a rule, sung by the choir or cantor with the congregation responding; or it...

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September 13, 2011
Eucharistic protocols
By Father Rocky Hoffman

In a local Catholic church that I occasionally attend with a dear friend of mine, the tabernacle is not located in the sanctuary, or even in the main church. The tabernacle is located in the chapel. Although the chapel is under the same roof as the main church, the two are separated by the parish hall. 

Before and after Holy Communion (during Mass), the Eucharist and the sacred vessels are brought through the parish hall (which includes a bookstore, a nursery, storage closets and...

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September 06, 2011
Protocol for extraordinary ministers
By Father Rocky Hoffman

I have a question about Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion coming up on the altar before receiving Communion. “Legal” or not?

Not legal to come forward before the priest has received Holy Communion.  Here’s what the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) no. 162 points out: 

“These ministers should not approach the altar before the priest has received Communion, and they are always to receive from the hands of the priest celebrant the vessel containing either...

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August 30, 2011
Signs of mortality
By Father Rocky Hoffman

Could please tell me the significance of the skull that appears at the base of some religious statues?

I am not sure which statues you refer to, but I recall having seen something like what you describe.  The human skull in religious iconography is nothing more than a stark reminder of our mortality, and as no one knows when he will die, it is necessary that we are always prepared and use the means to remain in the state of grace.

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August 23, 2011
Making sense of the Memorial Acclamation
By Father Rocky Hoffman

What does “proclaim Your death” mean, exactly? It sounds almost celebratory. Does it truly mean, “we remember Your death?” If so, ought not it be more clear - we “commemorate” or the priest re-enacts the death?
 
This recitation has only recently begun to disturb me, as I attempt to ponder seriously everything the members of the congregation recite.

You ask about the meaning of one of the responses to the invitation “Let us proclaim the Mystery of Faith” which occurs right...



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August 16, 2011
American flag in the sanctuary
By Father Rocky Hoffman

We have had the American Flag at the side of the sanctuary for years and years and now our new pastor has decided he doesn't want it there, only for national holidays. He really did not give us a very good reason for the change other than saying the flag is not liturgically correct. Is this something new?

Neither the Code of Canon Law nor the General Instruction of the Roman Missal nor any other document of universal jurisdiction mentions the display of a national flag in a Catholic...

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August 09, 2011
Helping an atheist make sense of the Bible
By Father Rocky Hoffman

How can I answer the statement below that an atheist sent me?

“So what does the Bible tell us? Who should we kill?  Homosexuals (Lev. 20:13, Rom.1:26-32); Adulterers (Lev.20:10, Deut.22:22); Disobedient children (Deut.21:20-21, Lev.20:9, Exod.21:15); Women who are not virgins on their wedding night (Deut.22:13-21); All non-Christians (parable told by Christ, Luke.19:27); Those accused of wickedness by at least two people (Deut.17:2-7); Anyone who works on the Sabbath (Exod.35:2-3,...

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August 02, 2011
Third Orders
By Father Rocky Hoffman

What exactly is a Third Order, and what must a person do to become a member of one?

“Third Order” is typically an association of the lay faithful who try to live the spirit of a particular religious order.  The most well known Third Orders are the Carmelites, Dominicans, and Franciscans.

As an association of the faithful, the members can be male or female, married or single, young or old, but they at least must be a practicing Catholic, and they live at home and not in the convent or...

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