Liturgical Documents

While there are many documents issued by the Catholic Church that provide direction and insight into her worship, the three documents listed below are the most fundamental for the preparation and celebration of the sacred liturgy.

Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium)—This document, promulgated by the Second Vatican Council in 1963, holds the most weight out of all liturgical documents and describes the spirit of the sacred liturgy.  For this reason, all subsequent liturgical documents are to be interpreted in light of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. 

General Instruction of the Roman Missal—First promulgated in Latin in 2002, this document serves as the introduction to The Roman Missal, the ritual book that contains all of the prayers, responses, and rubrics for Mass.  In addition to describing proper procedures and directives for the celebration of the Mass, this document also weaves a theology of the Eucharist and of the Church’s worship throughout its guidelines.

Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship—Issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2007, this document replaces the earlier music documents, Music in Catholic Worship and Liturgical Music Today, and provides a comprehensive and pastoral overview on the use of music in the sacred liturgy.  This text could be considered the handbook for all parish directors/coordinators of liturgical music.

The following topics contain liturgical guidelines frequently asked by pastors, parish life coordinators, and other parish leaders. Most of the guidelines are based on Church documents, although some are policies of the Diocese of Scranton. To search by topic, please use the rolodex below.

Advent
  • Sense of the Season–The season of Advent begins the liturgical year and consists of a two-fold character of spiritual preparation: the first in anticipation of the Christmas season when we commemorate the mystery of the Incarnation and nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the second in joyful expectation of Christ’s return in glory at the end of time. The weekdays from December 17 through December 24 are focused more directly on the preparation for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar #39-42)
  • Flowers during Advent—Floral decor of the sanctuary should used in moderation during Advent so as to anticipate the festivity of the Christmas season. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #305)
  • Advent Music—Music during the Advent season should reflect the moderation of the season in anticipation of the festivity of the Christmas season. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #313)
All Saints, Solemnity of

The Solemnity of All Saints, celebrated on Friday, November 1, 2019 is a Holy Day of Obligation this year.

Altar Servers

Code of Canon Law, Canon 230.2 permits lay persons, men, women and children, to serve in liturgical ministries at Mass at the discretion of the diocesan bishop. In the Diocese of Scranton, men and women, boys and girls are permitted to serve as altar servers.

All Souls, Commemoration of

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls) is observed every year on November 2, and is non-obligatory unless it falls on a Sunday.

Ascension of the Lord, Solemnity of

Holy Day of Obligation–The Diocese of Scranton is part of the Ecclesiastical Province of Philadelphia which voted to retain the Solemnity of the Ascension on a Thursday. Therefore, in the Diocese of Scranton, the Ascension is observed on the Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter and is Holy Day of Obligation.

If on that Thursday a person (whose diocese normally observes the Ascension on that day) is in another ecclesiastical province where the Ascension is observed on the Seventh Sunday of Easter, there is no obligation to attend Mass that Thursday. The ecclesiastical provinces that have retained celebration of the Ascension on a Thursday are New York, Newark, Hartford, Boston, Philadelphia, and Omaha. All other provinces in the United States have transferred the solemnity to Sunday.

Ash Wednesday

Although not a Holy day of Obligation, Ash Wednesday is a solemn day by which Catholic Christians begin the penitential season of Lent. On this day, those who attend Mass or Liturgy of the Word services are marked with ashes, symbolic of our mortality, our sinfulness, and our dependence on God’s mercy. Ash Wednesday is also a day of fasting and abstinence—please see the ‘Fasting and Abstinence’ section below.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemnity of

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated on Thursday, August 15, 2019 is a Holy Day of Obligation this year.

Books, Liturgical

How to Dispose of Old Copies of the Sacramentary
(From the USSCB Committee on Divine Worship Newsletter, March/April 2011)

There is relatively little written about exactly what to do with liturgical books which have been replaced by updated or revised editions, but some related writings, as well as some common sense, can provide some context. The Book of Blessings, no. 1343, indicates that the Sacramentary, the Lectionary, and other liturgical books are counted among those articles used in the Sacred Liturgy which ought to be blessed using the rite provided for that purpose, the Order for the Blessing of Articles for Liturgical Use (nos. 1341-1359). The Latin De Benedictionibus, editio typica, however, does not explicitly mention the Missale among the articles that are properly blessed.

Whether or not the Sacramentary has been blessed by an official rite, it is appropriate to treat it with care as it has been admitted into liturgical use. Its disposal should be handled with respect.

  • It is advisable to retain a copy of the Sacramentary for parish archives or liturgical libraries.
  • For the proper disposal of the Sacramentary or other liturgical books replaced with updated or revised editions the Secretariat recommends:
  • Burying the Sacramentary in an appropriate location on church grounds, or perhaps in a parish cemetery if there is one.
  • Placing Liturgical books or Bibles are in the coffin of the deceased as a sign of devotion and love for the Liturgy (a custom observed in various Eastern Churches)
  • Burning Liturgical books and placing the ashes in the ground in an appropriate location on church grounds.
Calendar, Liturgical

Click here for the current Liturgical Calendar provided by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. See also “Days of Prayer for Various Needson this page

Candles
  • Use of Candles during the Liturgy
    • While using candles made of beeswax has been the tradition in the Catholic Church, current liturgical documents do not specify the material of their composition.
    • It is preferable that candles be placed around the altar rather than on the altar (Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture, and Worship #307).
    • If candles are placed on the altar, they should not impede the members of the assembly from having a clear view of the elements placed on the altar or the sacred actions taking place there. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #307).
  • Disposal and Replacement of the Paschal Candle
    (from the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship Newsletter, April 2014)

The Secretariat of Divine Worship offers the following protocol for the disposal old Paschal Candles:

The first response must be that they may not be reused.  The paschal candle must be new each year and receive its blessing at the Paschal Vigil.  Paschale Solemnitatis, the 1988 Circular Letter concerning the preparation and celebration of the Easter feasts, states that the paschal candle must “be renewed each year” (no. 82).  This does not mean that the old candle must be thrown away.  Most suppliers of candles accept the return of used candles (and will sometimes even offer a discount for the exchange).  These suppliers will then recycle the wax to produce new candles.  If, for some reason, a parish is unable to recycle the candle wax, then the old paschal candle, as a blessed object (a sacramental) must be appropriately disposed of.  This could involve burning the candle in a devotional manner (privately as opposed to publicly and liturgically) or even burying the candle in blessed ground.  Candles are made to be burned, however, and it is better to find a way either to recycle or burn the wax.

Cantor/Psalmist

The cantor is the leader of congregational song and may also function as the psalmist in proclaiming the text of the Responsorial Psalm and the verse of the Gospel Acclamation. To promote sung participation, the cantor’s voice should not be heard over the singing assembly. The cantor should be visible to the assembly from separate stand but not from the ambo, except when proclaiming the Responsorial Psalm. (Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship #34-40)

Celiac-Sprue Disease
  • Celiac-Sprue and the Liturgy—In your parish, you may have a handful of parishioners who suffer from Celiac-Sprue disease. Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat that gives elasticity to dough, and some individuals suffer intolerance to different amounts of gluten. Non-gluten hosts are not allowed for Mass, but low-gluten hosts are permitted. These hosts are usually consecrated with the other hosts at Mass, but usually kept in a separate pyx on the altar and given specifically to those persons with this disease. A lay person who is severely affected by celiac disease may choose to receive Holy Communion under the species of wine only.
  • Resources for Those with Gluten Intolerance
    (compiled from the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship Newsletter from November 2003, March 2012 and August/September 2012)

In recent years, pastors across the United States have received numerous questions from those afflicted with various manifestations of gluten intolerance, such as Celiac-Sprue disease, as well as alcohol intolerance in relation to the reception of Holy Communion. Many gluten intolerant sufferers are unable to ingest wheat flour commonly used in the preparation of communion wafers in the United States.

Those who suffer from gluten intolerance, especially that form of it known as “Celiac Sprue” disease, may each react differently to varying amounts of gluten contained in wheat bread and other products. Medical opinion on the best treatment for such people varies greatly. While many doctors advise patients with this condition to adopt a totally gluten-free diet, others merely restrict gluten intake. As a result, the common advice given to many Celiac Sprue and gluten-intolerant patients is to receive only the Precious Blood at Holy Communion. However, additional concerns can emerge when the Precious Blood has been “contaminated” with gluten at the co-mingling rite. As a result, the administration of the Precious Blood – whether under the form of wine or of mustum – to persons with these conditions must carefully take into account the need to avoid any mixing of the sacred species at the altar or a communion station.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, products containing less than 20 ppm may be labeled as “gluten free.” An article in the magazine Gluten–Free Living states that the equivalent of 27,000 ppm (10 milligrams) per day is usually safe, though this number may well vary from person to person. The low–gluten hosts provided by the three suppliers approved by the USCCB contain 20 ppm, 100 ppm, and 162 ppm— all far below the recommended safe allowance. In any event, the hosts contain sufficient amounts of gluten to be used as valid matter for the Eucharist.  Individuals seeking to purchase these hosts should do so through their parishes.  Here is a listing of approved low-gluten host suppliers in the United States:

  • Congregation of Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
    Altar Breads Department
    31970 State Highway P Clyde, Missouri 64432
    Phone:1-800-223-2772
    Web: www.altarbreadsbspa.com

E-mail: altarbreads@benedictinesisters.org

  • Parish Crossroads
    P.O. Box 84
    Zionsville, IN 46077-0084
    Phone: 1-800-510-8842, Fax 1-800-735-7133
    Web: www.ParishCrossroads.com

Email: orders@parishcrossroads.com

  • GlutenFreeHosts.com Inc.
    100 Buckley Road
    Liverpool, NY 13088
    Phone: 1-800-668-7324 ext. 1
    Web: www.GlutenFreeHosts.com

E-mail: info@glutenfreehosts.com

  • Cavanagh Company
    Putnam Pike
    Greenville, RI 02828

Phone: (800) 635-0568

Web: www.cavanaghco.com

Christmas
  • Holy Day of Obligation—During the Christmas season, the Church celebrates the mystery of the Nativity of the Lord, the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus Mary and Joseph, the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, the Epiphany of Our Lord, and the Baptism of the Lord. The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (December 25) is always a Holy Day of Obligation, and the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God (January 1) is a Holy Day of Obligation except when it falls on a Saturday or Monday.
  • Genuflection during the Profession of Faith—At all Masses for the Nativity of the Lord, the assembly genuflects during the Profession of Faith (Nicene Creed) at the words “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” This genuflection also occurs during the Profession of Faith on the Solemnity of the Annunciation (March 25).
  • The Christmas Proclamation—the formal declaration from the Roman Martyrology announcing the birth of Christ can be found in the Roman Missal, Appendix I. It may be chanted or recited during the Liturgy of the Hours on December 24 or before the beginning of Christmas Mass during the Night.
Communion
  • Bowing and the Reception of—The faithful should be make an act of reverence, that is, a slight bow of the head, before receiving Holy Communion, both before receiving the Precious Body and the Precious Blood. The communicant has the option to receive Holy Communion either in the hand or on the tongue. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #160)

  • Procession—The Communion procession is only for those who present themselves to receive Holy Communion and should not be used for the distribution of any other object or even a blessing. However, those parents who feel uncomfortable leaving their small children alone in the pews may certainly have their children accompany them during the Communion procession. (Redemptionis Sacramentum #84)

 

  • Posture—The norm for receiving Holy Communion is standing, however, a communicant who chooses to receive Holy Communion while kneeling is not to be denied the sacrament. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #160)

Confirmation, Sacrament of

Adjustments to the Preparation for and Celebration of Confirmation—The celebration of Confirmation will take place this year in all of our parishes on the Solemnity of Pentecost (including the Pentecost Vigil) on Sunday, June 9, 2019 with Bishop Bambera extending the faculty to confirm to all pastors and sacramental ministers.

Since the bishop is the ordinary minister of Confirmation, Bishop Bambera will continue to celebrate Confirmations during the Easter season across the diocese as part of the revised Confirmation plan.  However, given the logistics of implementing this new process, combined celebrations of Confirmation will not begin until Spring 2020 on a three or four year rotation.

In this way, each parish in the Diocese will have candidates confirmed by the bishop over the course of a three or four year period.  In each intervening year, the pastor or sacramental minister will confirm.

For more information, please contact David Baloga, Director for Worship at David-Baloga@dioceseofscranton.org or at 570-207-2213, ext. 1158.

Cremation

The Order of Christian Funerals ritual book that contains Appendix 2: Cremation contains text variations and liturgical procedures for those times when people choose cremation.

The Appendix points out that the Church still prefers that the body be present for the funeral liturgies. Even if cremation is chosen, it can occur after the Funeral Mass. However, there are circumstances when people choose cremation immediately after death and before the funeral liturgies. This might be done for economic reasons, the difficulty of transporting the body to another location, or for hygienic reasons. In these circumstances, many people would like for the cremated remains to be present for the funeral.

The Appendix reminds us that the cremated remains of a body should be treated with respect. The ashes should be placed in a “worthy vessel.” They should be handled in a dignified manner. They should also be buried in a grave or mausoleum or columbarium. It is not proper to keep the cremains in one’s home or to scatter them in water or on ground.

For the Funeral Mass, the vessel containing the person’s remains may either be carried in the entrance procession or placed beforehand on a table or stand in the location where the casket would normally be placed. Although the cremated remains may be sprinkled with holy water, no pall is used. Prayers should be chosen that do not refer to honoring the body or its burial. Alternate forms for the words of dismissal and committal are provided in the new text.

Days of Prayer for Various Needs and Occasions
  • January 6-12, 2019 National Migration Week
  • January 18-25, 2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
  • January 22, 2019 Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn Children
  • January 27-February 2, 2019 Catholic Schools Week
  • February 2, 2019 World Day for Consecrated Life
  • February 3, 2019 Boy Scouting Sunday (USA–First Sunday of February)
  • February 8, 2019 International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking
  • February 10, 2019 World Marriage Day
  • February 11, 2019 World Day of the Sick
  • February 24, 2019 Developmental & Intellectual Disabilities Awareness Mass (Cathedral of St. Peter)
  • March 1, 2019 World Day of Prayer
  • March 10, 2019 Girl Scouting Sunday (USA—Second Sunday of March)
  • May 2, 2019 National Day of Prayer
  • May 12, 2019 World Day of Prayer for Vocations Mother’s Day Adoption Mass (Cathedral of St. Peter)
  • June 2, 2019 World Communications Day
  • June 28, 2019 World Day of Sanctification of Priests
  • September 1, 2019 World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
  • September 11, 2019 Patriot Day
  • September 15, 2019 Catechetical Sunday
  • October 6, 2019 Respect Life Sunday
  • October 20, 2019 World Mission Sunday
  • October 27, 2019 Priesthood Sunday
  • November 3 -9, 2019 National Vocations Awareness Week
  • November 17, 2019 World Day of the Poor
Disabilities, Persons with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities

Ratified in 2017, the USCCB document, Guidelines for the Celebration of Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, reflects the pastoral response of the U.S. Catholic Bishops to the growth in knowledge and understanding of the gifts and needs of individuals in parish communities who live with disabilities and their desire for full participation in the sacramental life of the Church. In addition to stating general principles to be followed for the celebration of the sacraments in this revised document, the Bishops address each specific sacrament and the issues pertinent to that sacrament for persons with various disabilities. The document is a revision of an earlier version, last updated in 1995. These new Guidelines take into account medical and technological innovations of recent years, and emphasize the importance of the inclusion of all members of parishes. While not legislative in nature, they will be a helpful resource for dioceses and parishes.  The document is available free on the USCCB website.

Easter

see Paschal Triduum

Epiphany
  • Date of—Traditionally observed on January 6, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord has been transferred to the Sunday between January 2 and 8.
  • Proclamation of the Date of Easter—It is an ancient practice to include the Proclamation of the Date of Easter on the Solemnity of the Epiphany. For the chant notation, please consult the Roman Missal Appendix (pages 1448-1449 in the USCCB edition).
Eucharist, Sacrament of
  • Eucharistic Fast—Those who wish to receive the Lord’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist must abstain from any food or drink except for water or medicine for at least one hour prior to receiving Holy Communion. Please note that the one-hour fast is based on the last consumption of food or drink to the time of reception of Holy Communion, not the time the Mass begins. (Code of Canon Law, Canon 919 §1, §3)
  • Guidelines for the Reception of Holy Communion—On November 14, 1996, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the following guidelines on the reception of Communion. These guidelines replace the guidelines approved by the Administrative Committee of the NCCB in November 1986. The guidelines, which are to be included in missalettes and other participation aids published in the United States, seek to remind all those who may attend Catholic liturgies of the present discipline of the Church with regard to the sharing of Eucharistic Communion.
    • For Catholics—As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.
    • For Our Fellow Christians—We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ’s prayer for us “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 §4). Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 §3).
    • For Those Not Receiving Holy Communion—All who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.
    • For Non-Christians—We also welcome to this celebration those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and the unity of the human family. © 1996, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
  • Functions of the Ministry–As Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, lay persons may serve the following functions:
  • Administering Holy Communion at Mass in the absence of ordinary ministers (bishop, priest or deacon)
  • Taking Holy Communion to those who are sick, homebound, in nursing homes, hospitals, or prisons in collaboration with the pastor or parish life coordinator
  • Exposing and Reposing the Blessed Sacrament for Eucharistic Adoration with the explicit permission of the pastor or parish life coordinator
  • Vision of the Ministry–Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion supplement and fill a need that arises when the ordinary ministers (bishop, priest or deacon) are not available or that the number of communicants is so great that the priest distributing Holy Communion alone would unduly prolong the liturgy.
  • Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are deputed for a particular parish, not the entire diocese or other areas.
  • They serve in collaboration with the pastor to assist in the smooth and reverent distribution of Holy Communion at Mass.
  • If needed, a priest can commission someone to serve as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion on the spot using the ritual provided in the Roman Missal, Appendix III.
  • Requirements of an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion
    • Pastors should invite parishioners to this ministry or candidates should have the recommendation of their pastor
    • Must be at least 18 years of age
      • Must be a fully initiated Catholic in good standing
      • Must be registered and active members of the parish
      • If married, he or she must be in a valid marriage.
      • His or her life must be led according to the values and morals of the Catholic Church
Eucharistic Prayers

With the authorization of His Holiness, Pope Francis, the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments in Rome, has decreed that the name of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, be inserted into the Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV.

Accordingly, the name of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is henceforth to be added at Mass to Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV, as they appear in the third typical edition of the Roman Missal: 

  • Eucharistic Prayer II
    English – that with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with blessed Joseph, her Spouse, with the blessed Apostles… 
  • Eucharistic Prayer III
    English – with the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with blessed Joseph, her Spouse, with your blessed Apostles and glorious Martyrs… 
  • Eucharistic Prayer IV
    English – with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with blessed Joseph, her Spouse, and with your Apostles…
Fasting and Abstinence

(from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website—usccb.org)

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. Here are the guidelines for fasting and abstinence:

    • For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59.
    • When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.
    • If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.
Flags in Church

Flags in the Sanctuary—Although current liturgical documents make no mention of the use of flags in church, an older document of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, Environment and Art in Catholic Worship (1978), stated: “Although the art and decoration of the liturgical space will be that of the local culture, identifying symbols of particular cultures, groups, or nations are not appropriate as permanent parts of the liturgical environment. While such symbols might be used for a particular occasion or holiday, they should not regularly constitute a part of the environment of common prayer (#101).”

Flags at Funerals—In the Order of Christian Funerals, the white pall serves as an extension of the baptismal garment given to a deceased person at his or her baptism. Since the Funeral Liturgy makes constant allusion to baptism, the pall should be retained at Mass. “Only Christian symbols may rest on or be placed near the coffin during the funeral liturgy (#38).” “Any national flags or the flags or insignia of associations to which the deceased belonged are to be removed from the coffin at the entrance of the church. They may be replaced after the coffin has been taken from the church (#132).” The honors paid by the nation to one of its soldiers or veterans (symbolized by the use of the American flag and, perhaps, other military honors) is more appropriately incorporated into the graveside rites.

Flowers
  • Flowers during Advent—Floral decor of the sanctuary should used in moderation during Advent so as to anticipate the festivity of the Christmas season. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #305)
  • Flowers during Lent—Flowers are not permitted during the season of Lent, except for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday) and solemnities and feasts.
  • Flowers in general—Flowers in the sanctuary should always be used in moderation so as not to compete with the altar. Floral decoration should be placed around the altar rather than on the mensa. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #305)
Foot Washing
  • In 2016, Pope Francis altered the rubric for the Mandatum rite on Holy Thursday, “so that pastors may select a small group of the faithful to represent the variety and the unity of each part of the people of God. Such small groups can be made up of men and women, and it is appropriate that they consist of people young and old, healthy and sick, clerics, consecrated men and women and laity.” (from the Decree from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, January 6, 2016)
  • Revised Rubrics for Holy Thursday (#10-11) in the Roman Missal—“After the Homily, where a pastoral reason suggests it, the Washing of Feet follows. Those who have been chosen from among the people of God are led by the ministers to seats prepared in a suitable place. Then the priest (removing his chasuble if necessary) goes to each one, and, with the help of the ministers, pours water over each one’s feet and then dries them” (Rubrics 10-11 for Holy Thursday, Roman Missal)
Funerals
  • Words of Remembrance— According to the General Introduction to the Order of Christian Funerals # 27“A brief homily based on the readings is always given after the gospel reading at the funeral liturgy and may also be given after the readings at the vigil service; but there is never to be a eulogy.  Attentive to the grief of those present, the homilist should dwell on God’s compassionate love and on the paschal mystery of the Lord, as proclaimed in the Scripture readings…” Rubric # 170 of the Order of Christian Funerals states, “A member or a friend of the family may speak in remembrance of the deceased before the final commendation begins.”

These directives indicate a difference between a eulogy and Words of Remembrance.  A eulogy recounts some or all of the significant events in the life of the deceased, whereas Words of Remembrance do not attempt to give a biography, but to share some insight into the faith and values of the deceased as seen in one or two examples from his/her life. A eulogy by its very nature tends to be lengthy, while Words of Remembrance are brief.

Diocesan directives on Words of Remembrance at Funeral Masses are:

  1. At the funeral Mass, only one member or friend of the family may speak in remembrance of the deceased.   Others may speak at the Vigil Service at the funeral home, or at the Committal at the cemetery.
  2. This practice is to take place only following the prayer after Communion and prior to the Final Commendation.
  3. The member or friend of the family is to speak no longer than three to five minutes, always respecting the sacredness of the liturgy and the sensitivities of those present, and, in particular, avoiding inappropriate language.
  4. Any exception to these directives must be approved by the Diocesan Bishop

These guidelines are necessary to ensure that the funeral liturgy is foremost an act of sacred worship and an offering of prayers for the deceased.

Some practical guidelines for parishes to consider in adhering to these directives:

  1. Remind the member or friend of the family speaking that the Words of Remembrance should be brief, about 3-5 minutes, or one typed page.  Ask them to consider the following when putting together his/her reflection:
      1. Be mindful of the amount of time needed afterwards to travel to the cemetery and/or luncheon
      2. The schedule of the cemetery or crematorium workers that may have several services scheduled that same day
      3. The need for some people at the funeral Mass, including servers, music ministers, and those in the assembly, to return to work or fulfill other responsibilities
  1. The Words of Remembrance should be prepared beforehand and ideally submitted to the pastor/priest prior to the funeral liturgy to avoid undue length or embarrassing situations.  You may even want to make this a parish requirement for anyone wanting to offer Words of Remembrance.
  2. Poetry, stories, or songs would best be offered at the Vigil Service at the funeral home or at the Committal Service at the cemetery, so as to not take away from the sacredness of the Funeral Mass.
  3. It is recommended that the family of the deceased select an individual that will remain emotionally strong while offering the Words of Remembrance to avoid any awkwardness or distraction from the liturgy.

The following may be some helpful advice to those preparing Words of Remembrance for the funeral of a friend or family member:

  1. The reflection should be about the deceased person’s human qualities, including his or her life of faith, and how he or she inspired others.
  2. It should not be the time to recall the life history of the deceased person’s life.  A listing of his or her accomplishments and significant moments (or the obituary) could be included inside a printed funeral program or worship aid, but not read at the funeral Mass.
  3. While only one person should speak in remembrance of the deceased, he or she can offer a summation of memories gathered from family members.
Gluten Intolerance

see Celiac-Sprue Disease

Godparents (sponsors for Baptism)
  • Vision of a Sponsor—The role of the sponsor is to serve as mentor to an adult or a child in how to live the Catholic faith. The one who is to be baptized is an apprentice in the Catholic faith and learns what it means to be an active and faithful Catholic from his or her sponsor. (Code of Canon Law, Canon 872).
  • Qualifications of Sponsors (Code of Canon Law, Canon 873)
    • At least one sponsor/godparent is required, but if there are two sponsors/godparents, one must be a male and the other female.
    • Must be designated by the one to be baptized, by his or her parents or guardians, or, in their absence, by the pastor or minister and is to have the qualifications and intention of performing this role;
    • Be at least 16 years of age
    • Be a Catholic who has been fully initiated into the Catholic faith, that is, receiving the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist
    • Lives a life according to the values of the Catholic Church and is able to assume the responsibilities of being a sponsor/godparent
    • Parents of the one who is to be baptized cannot be his or her sponsor
    • A baptized person who belongs to another Christian denomination may not be sponsor, but together with a Catholic sponsor, can serve as a Christian witness to the baptism.
Good Friday

see Paschal Triduum

Gospels, Book of the
  • Only the Book of the Gospels is to be carried in during the Entrance Procession and not the Lectionary for Mass.
  • Neither the Book of the Gospels nor the Lectionary for Mass is carried out during the procession at the end of Mass.
Grail Psalter, Revised

In March 2010, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments approved the use the Revised Grail Psalter in the dioceses of the United States. This means that there are currently two approved texts for the Responsorial Psalm at Mass: the New American Bible translation currently found in the Lectionary, and the Revised Grail Psalter published by GIA Publications. This new translation of the psalms incorporates the rhythm of the original Hebrew text and the cadence of each line and stanza allows the verses to be sung easily. The Revised Grail Psalms will be the official English-language Psalter used in future Roman Catholic liturgical books published in the United States and throughout the world. GIA Publications (www.GIAmusic.com) currently offers the following settings of the Revised Grail Psalter:

  • Cry Out with Joy– by David Haas / Kathleen Harmon SND de N / Stephen Pishner / Paul Tate / Lori True
  • The Lyric Psalterby Tony Alonso / Marty Haugen
  • Lectionary Psalms—by various composers (corresponds with Lead Me, Guide Me hymnal, Second Edition)
  • Lectionary Psalms –by Joseph Gelineau / Michel Guimont (corresponds with Worship hymnal, Fourth Edition)
  • Lectionary Psalms –by Michel Guimont (corresponds with Gather hymnal, Third Edition)
  • Revised Grail Psalms—Singing Version—by Conception Abbey/The Grail
Holy Days of Obligation
  • Holy Days of Obligation in 2019
  • Tuesday, January 1, 2019–Mary, Mother of God—Holy Day of Obligation
  • Thursday, May 30, 2019—Ascension of the Lord—Holy Day of Obligation
  • Thursday, August 15, 2019—Assumption of Mary—Holy Day of Obligation
  • Friday, November 1, 2019—All Saints—Holy Day of Obligation
  • Sunday, December 8, 2019—Immaculate Conception of Mary—NOT a Holy Day of Obligation this year. December 8th is usually the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, but because it falls on a Sunday in Advent in 2019, the 2nd Sunday of Advent takes precedence. Therefore, the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday, December 8th remains, but the feast of the Immaculate Conception is transferred to Monday, December 9th with no obligation to participate in Mass that day.
  • Wednesday, December 25, 2019—Nativity of the Lord—Holy Day of Obligation
  • Obligation attached to the Day, not the Mass texts–The obligation to participate in Mass on Holy Days is attached to the day itself and not necessarily dependent on the texts of the prayers and readings of the Mass being celebrated. For example, if the Solemnity of Immaculate Conception (December 8) falls on a Saturday, one could fulfill his or her obligation by attending the 4:00PM Mass for that day even though the Mass texts being used at that anticipatory Mass are for the Second Sunday of Advent. In doing so, one would still need to fulfill his or her Sunday Mass obligation by participating in Mass again the next day (Sunday). In short, you cannot fulfill two Mass obligations by attending one Mass.
Immaculate Conception, Solemnity of the

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation in 2019. December 8th is usually the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, but because it falls on a Sunday in Advent in 2019, the 2nd Sunday of Advent takes precedence. Therefore, the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday, December 8th remains, but the feast of the Immaculate Conception is transferred to Monday, December 9th with no obligation to participate in Mass that day.

Influenza and Liturgical Adaptations

Due to the widespread influenza (flu) activity that takes place during the late fall and winter months, the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton are urged to observe the necessary standard precautions in protecting the health of others during the flu season. Because influenza is a contagious respiratory illness, some basic measures that can help to prevent the spread of influenza include:

  • Practicing good hygiene, especially by washing your hands frequently with soap and water, and if possible, to use a hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose
  • Covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough
  • Getting a flu vaccine each year

Parishioners are reminded that:

  • If they are sick, especially with flu-like symptoms, they should stay home for their own well-being and that of others.
  • If parishioners are sick or suspect they are sick with a contagious illness, they are not bound by the Sunday Mass obligation.
  • The faithful should also be reminded that they should not receive from the chalice if they are feeling ill.

Upon receiving notice from the Vicar General of the Diocese of Scranton and at the pastor’s/parish life coordinator’s discretion, the following directives may be set forth temporarily until the influenza activity in our region subsides:

  • Parishioners are urged, but not required, to receive Holy Communion on the hand instead of the mouth
  • Offering the Precious Blood to the faithful at Mass may be suspended, except for those who receive Holy Communion from the chalice out of medical necessity. Church teaching states that Christ, whole and entire, is received even under one form of Holy Communion.
  • Exchanging the Sign of Peace without physical contact (i.e. shaking hands)—parishioners may still exchange nods, offer a verbal greeting, a smile, or a simple bow of the head

For more information on influenza and the Liturgy, please visit the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops website at www.usccb.org. You may also want to visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.CDC.gov/flu for up-to-date information regarding the influenza activity in your area.

Intinction

Intinction is the practice of partly dipping the consecrated host into the Precious Blood before consuming. This is rare, but it is an option. It is important to note, however, that only the priest can do it, and the host must be received on the tongue. Please see the priest before Mass if you need to receive Holy Communion by intinction.

Lamb of God

During the singing of the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) litany, the only invocation that is to be used is “Lamb of God,” “Agnus Dei,” or another language translation of “Lamb of God.” Other invocations such as Bread of Life, Saving Cup etc. are not to be used.

Lectors
  • Functions of the Ministry—Lectors are called upon to carry out the following functions in the Church:
    • To proclaim the First Reading and/or Second Reading at Mass
    • May read the Universal Prayer, also known as the Prayer of the Faithful or Intercessions, when a deacon is not available.
    • It may be the practice of the parish to have Lectors read the announcements at Mass or offer instructions to the assembly as a Commentator. Such announcements should be made from another stand and not the ambo.
  • Basic Requirements for Lectors in the Diocese of Scranton:
    • Must be a fully initiated Catholic in good standing. Typically, lectors are at least of high school age (14 or 15) and have received the Sacrament of Confirmation. The exception is at Masses with Children.
    • Must be a registered and active member of the parish
    • If married, he or she must be in a valid marriage
    • His or her life must be led according to the values and morals of the Church
Lent
  • Fasting and Abstinence–(from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website—usccb.org)

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. Here are the guidelines for fasting and abstinence:

    • For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59.
    • When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.
    • If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.
  • Flowers during Lent—Flowers are not permitted during the season of Lent, except for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday) and solemnities and feasts. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #305)
  • Music during Lent—During the season of Lent, the playing of organ or of other instruments is permitted only to support the singing of the liturgical assembly. Musical embellishment and instrumentals are not allowed except for Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday), solemnities and feasts. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #313)
Marriage
  • New Ritual Book—All priests and deacons are to be using the new Order of Celebrating Matrimony ritual book which was promulgated in 2016. Click here for a list of publishers and other resources. [link to Order of Celebrating Matrimony—Resources]

  • Forms of Celebrating Matrimony—There are three forms of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony:

  • Order of Celebrating Matrimony within Mass

  • Order of Celebrating Matrimony without Mass

  • Order of Celebrating Matrimony between a Catholic and a Catechumen or a Non-Christian

When two Catholics are married, the ceremony would normally take place within Mass. The marriage of a Catholic and a baptized person of another church or a Catholic and a person who is not baptized, will normally take place without Mass. The decision of the form of celebration for your marriage should be made in consultation with the priest.

  • Day of Matrimony within Mass–On certain days of the liturgical year that have great solemnity (e.g Easter, Christmas, holy days), the Nuptial Mass is neither permitted nor appropriate. In that case, Matrimony is celebrated within the Mass of the day using the readings and prayers proper to the day.

Mary, the Holy Mother of God, Solemnity of

The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, celebrated on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 is a Holy Day of Obligation this year.

Paschal Candle

Disposal and Replacement of the Paschal Candle
(from the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship Newsletter, April 2014) 

The Secretariat of Divine Worship offers the following protocol for the disposal old Paschal Candles:

The first response must be that they may not be reused.  The paschal candle must be new each year and receive its blessing at the Paschal Vigil.  Paschale Sollemnitatis, the 1988 Circular Letter concerning the preparation and celebration of the Easter feasts, states that the paschal candle must “be renewed each year” (no. 82).  This does not mean that the old candle must be thrown away.  Most suppliers of candles accept the return of used candles (and will sometimes even offer a discount for the exchange).  These suppliers will then recycle the wax to produce new candles.  If, for some reason, a parish is unable to recycle the candle wax, then the old paschal candle, as a blessed object (a sacramental) must be appropriately disposed of.  This could involve burning the candle in a devotional manner (privately as opposed to publicly and liturgically) or even burying the candle in blessed ground.  Candles are made to be burned, however, and it is better to find a way either to recycle or burn the wax.

See also Paschal Triduum

Paschal Triduum

Eighteen Questions on the Paschal Triduum (from USCCB website)

The following eighteen questions address the most commonly received questions concerning the Sacred Paschal Triduum, and may be freely reproduced by diocesan Offices for Worship, parish Liturgy Committees, and others seeking to promote the effective celebration of these most sacred days.

  • When does the Triduum begin and end?
    The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday.
  • May another Mass besides the Mass of the Lord’s Supper be celebrated on Holy Thursday?
    Ordinarily, no other Mass may be celebrated on Holy Thursday. However, by way of exception, the local Ordinary may permit another Mass in churches and oratories to be celebrated in the evening, and, in the case of genuine necessity, even in the morning. Such Masses are provided for those who in no way are able to participate in the evening Mass.
  • How are the Holy Oils, consecrated and blessed at the Chrism Mass, to be received in the parish?
    A reception of the oils may take place before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The oils, in suitable vessels, can be carried in procession by members of the assembly. Go to the Reception of the Holy Oils page for more information.
  • Is the Mandatum, the washing of feet at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, required?
    No. The Roman Missal only indicates, “After the Homily, where a pastoral reason suggests it [ubi ratio pastoralis id suadeat], the Washing of Feet follows.”
  • When should the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion take place?
    Normally it should take place in the afternoon, at about 3:00 PM, to enable people to assemble more easily. However, pastoral discretion may indicate a time shortly after midday, or in the late evening, though never later than 9:00 PM. Depending on the size or nature of a parish or other community, the local Ordinary may permit the service to be repeated.
  • May a deacon officiate at the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion?
    Although the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion appears to be a service of the Word with the distribution of Holy Communion, the Roman Missal does not permit a deacon to officiate at the celebration. Historically, even though the Eucharist is not celebrated on this day, the liturgy of Good Friday bears resemblance to a Mass. At one time it was called the “Mass of the Presanctified” (referring to the pre-consecrated hosts used at Communion, even when only the priest received Communion). This is also reflected in the prescribed vesture for the priest: stole and chasuble. The liturgy of Good Friday, as an integral part of the Triduum, is linked to the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. While there may be cases where a parish with multiple churches or chapels (e.g., mission churches or a cluster of parishes under one pastor) might rotate the liturgies among the various locations, it would not be appropriate for a community to celebrate only part of the Triduum.
  • May any of the readings at the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion be omitted?
    The Lectionary for Mass does not indicate that any readings may be omitted at the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. All three readings (Isaiah, Hebrews, and the Passion according to John) are required. It should be noted, however, for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, the Lectionary indicates that while all three readings provided should be used, there may be circumstances in which one or more of the readings at Mass could be omitted: “Given, however, the importance of the account of the Lord’s Passion, the priest, having in mind the character of each individual congregation, is authorized to choose only one of the two readings prescribed before the Gospel, or if necessary, he may read only the account of the Passion, even in the shorter form. This permission applies, however, only to Masses celebrated with a congregation.” Thus, the account of the Passion is never omitted.
  • Does the Church encourage any other liturgical celebrations on Good Friday?
    On this day the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer could appropriately be celebrated with the participation of the people in the churches. Note that Evening Prayer is only prayed by those who do not participate in the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion.
  • Do devotions have a particular importance on Good Friday?
    The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (2002) provides the proper perspective in paragraphs 142-145. Clearly the central celebration of this day is the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. In no way should manifestations of popular piety, either by the time or manner in which they are convoked, substitute for this solemn liturgical action. Nor should aspects of the various acts of piety be mixed with the Good Friday celebration, creating a hybrid. In recent times, Passion processions, celebrations of the Stations of the Cross, and Passion Plays have become more common. In such representations, actors and spectators can be involved in a moment of faith and genuine piety. Care should be taken, however, to point out to the faithful that  a Passion Play is a representation which is commemorative and they are very different from “liturgical actions” which are anamnesis, or the mysterious presence of the redemptive event of the Passion.
  • How does the Adoration of the Holy Cross on Good Friday begin?
    The Adoration of the Holy Cross begins with one of two forms of the Showing of the Holy Cross. The First Form begins as the deacon or another suitable minister goes to the sacristy and obtains the veiled Cross. Accompanied by two ministers with lighted candles, the veiled Cross is brought to the center of the sanctuary in procession. The priest accepts the Cross and then, standing in front of the altar and facing the people, uncovers the upper part of the Cross, the right arm, and then the entire Cross. Each time he unveils a part of the Cross, he sings the acclamation, Behold the wood of the Cross. In the Second Form of the Showing of the Holy Cross, the priest or deacon goes to the church door, where he takes up the uncovered Cross. Accompanied by two ministers with lighted candles, he processes to the sanctuary, stopping at the door of the church, in the middle of the church, and before entering the sanctuary, to sing the acclamation, Behold the wood of the Cross.
  • How is the cross venerated by members of the congregation on Good Friday?
    After the showing of the Cross, the priest or deacon may carry the Cross to the entrance of the sanctuary or another suitable place. The first person to adore the Cross is the priest celebrant. If circumstances suggest, he takes off his chasuble and his shoes. The clergy, lay ministers and the faithful then approach the Cross. The personal adoration of the Cross is an important feature in this celebration and every effort should be made to achieve it. The rubrics remind us that “only one Cross” should be used for adoration. If the numbers are so great that all cannot come forward, the priest, after some of the clergy and faithful have adored the Cross, can take it and stand in the center before the altar. In a few words he invites the people to adore the Cross. He then elevates the Cross higher for a brief period of time while the faithful adore it in silence. It should also be kept in mind that when a sufficiently large Cross is used even a large community can reverence it in due time. The foot of the Cross as well as the right and left arm can be approached and venerated. Coordination with ushers and planning the flow of people beforehand can allow for this part of the liturgy to be celebrated with decorum and devotion.
  • When should the Easter Vigil take place?
    The Vigil, by its very nature, must take place at night. It is not begun before nightfall and should end before daybreak on Easter Sunday. The celebration of the Easter Vigil takes the place of the Office of Readings of Easter Sunday. The Easter Vigil begins and ends in darkness. It is a nocturnal vigil, retaining its ancient character of vigilance and expectation, as the Christian people await the Resurrection of the Lord during the night. Fire is blessed and the paschal candle is lighted to illumine the night so that all may hear the Easter proclamation and listen to the word of God proclaimed in the Scriptures. For this reason the Solemn Beginning of the Vigil (Lucernarium) takes place before the Liturgy of the Word. Since sunset varies at different locations throughout the country, local weather stations can be consulted as to the time of sunset in the area, keeping in mind that twilight concludes (i.e., nightfall occurs) somewhat later.
  • What considerations should be given for the paschal candle used at the Easter Vigil?
    This candle should be made of wax, never be artificial, be replaced each year, be only one in number, and be of sufficiently large size that it may convey the truth that Christ is the light of the world. The paschal candle is the symbol of the light of Christ, rising in glory, scattering the darkness of our hearts and minds. Above all, the paschal candle should be a genuine candle, the pre-eminent symbol of the light of Christ. Choice of size, design, and color should be made in relationship to the sanctuary in which it will be placed.
  • In the case of mission churches and cluster parishes, can multiple paschal candles be used for the Service of Light?
    The Roman Missal, not envisioning the pastoral situation of mission churches or cluster parishes, specifies that only one paschal candle is used. To accommodate the particular circumstances, the Secretariat of Divine Worship might suggest that the candles from the mission churches or other parish churches could be present at the Easter Vigil, having been prepared in advance, and blessed alongside the main candle (perhaps having deacons or other representatives holding them). In keeping with the rubrics, for the lighting and procession only one candle should be lit (the principal one, or the one which will remain in that particular church). As the other candles in the congregation are lit, the other paschal candles could be lit and held (but not high, in order to maintain the prominence of the one principal candle) by someone at their place in the assembly. Once all the candles are extinguished after the singing of the Exsultet, the other paschal candles are put aside. On Easter Sunday morning, those candles could be taken to each of the missions and carried, lit, in the entrance procession at the first Mass at each church and put in place in the sanctuary.
  • How many readings should be proclaimed at the Easter Vigil?
    One of the unique aspects of the Easter Vigil is the recounting of the outstanding deeds of the history of salvation. These deeds are related in seven readings from the Old Testament chosen from the law and the prophets and two readings from the New Testament, namely from the Apostle Paul and from the Gospel. Thus, the Lord meets us once again on our journey and, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets” (Lk 24:27) opens up our minds and hearts, preparing us to share in the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup. The faithful are encouraged to meditate on these readings by the singing of a responsorial psalm, followed by a silent pause, and then by the celebrant’s prayer. Meditation on these readings is so significant for this night that we are strongly urged to use all the readings whenever it can be done. Only in the case of grave pastoral circumstances can the number of readings be reduced. In such cases, at least three readings from the Old Testament should be read, always including Exodus 14.
  • How is the First Communion of the neophytes to be emphasized during the Easter Vigil?
    The celebrant, before he says, Behold the Lamb of God, may make a brief remark to the neophytes about their first Communion and about the importance of so great a mystery, which is the climax of initiation and the center of the Christian life. This is a night when all should be able to receive Holy Communion under both forms.
  • What directions are given for the celebration of Masses on Easter Sunday?
    Mass is to be celebrated on Easter Day with great solemnity. A full complement of ministers and the use of liturgical music should be evident in all celebrations. On Easter Sunday in the dioceses of the United States, the rite of the renewal of baptismal promises may take place after the homily, followed by the sprinkling with water blessed at the Vigil, during which the antiphon Vidi aquam, or some other song of baptismal character should be sung. (If the renewal of baptismal promises does not occur, then the Creed is said.  The Roman Missal notes that the Apostles’ Creed, “the baptismal Symbol of the Roman Church,” might be appropriately used during Easter Time.) The holy water fonts at the entrance to the church should also be filled with the same water. On the subsequent Sundays of Easter, it is appropriate that the Rite for the Blessing and Sprinkling of Water take the place of the Penitential Act.
  • Where is the paschal candle placed during Easter Time?
    The paschal candle has its proper place either by the ambo or by the altar and should be lit at least in all the more solemn liturgical celebrations of the season until Pentecost Sunday, whether at Mass, or at Morning and Evening Prayer. After Easter Time the candle should be kept with honor in the baptistery, so that in the celebration of Baptism the candles of the baptized may be lit from it. In the celebration of funerals the paschal candle should be placed near the coffin to indicate Christ’s undying presence, his victory over sin and death, and the promise of sharing in Christ’s victory by virtue of being part of the Body of Christ (see Order of Christian Funerals, no. 35). The paschal candle should not otherwise be lit nor placed in the sanctuary outside Easter Time.
  • Time for the Easter VigilThe following is taken from the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy Newsletter vol. 37. This statement is not official law, but it is an official explanation of the law.During the past thirty years, the BCL Newsletter has addressed the question of the time for the Easter Vigil on several occasions. Each time, the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Roman Calendar, no. 21, has been cited:”The Easter Vigil, during the holy night when Christ rose from the dead, ranks as the ‘mother of all vigils.’ (Augustine, Sermon 219: PL 38, 1088). Keeping watch, the Church awaits Christ’s resurrection and celebrates it in the sacraments. Accordingly, the entire celebration of this vigil should take place at night, that is, it should either begin after nightfall or end before the dawn of Sunday.”In 1988, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments addressed this question with greater specificity in its Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts. After repeating the rubric cited above, the Congregation noted that “This rule is to be taken according to its strictest sense. Reprehensible are those abuses and practices which have crept in many places in violation of this ruling, whereby the Easter Vigil is celebrated at the time of day that it is customary to celebrate anticipated Masses (no. 78).”The intention of the Missale Romanum is clear: the Easter Vigil is to take place in darkness. Thus the approved translation of post initium noctis is after nightfall, that is, after the time in the evening when daylight is last visible. This time is roughly equivalent to astronomical twilight, which is defined by the Naval Observatory as the time after which “the Sun does not contribute to sky illumination.” Tables of sunset and astronomical twilight for each locality in the United States are available at the Naval Observatory website.In Washington, DC, by way of example, sunset will take place at 6:45pm on Holy Saturday, April 15, 2001. However, Astronomical Twilight in the nation’s capital will not occur until 8:21pm, or 96 minutes later. Likewise, sunset in Los Angeles occurs at 6:25pm, but Astronomical Twilight (when “the Sun does not contribute to sky illumination”) occurs at 7:53pm, about 88 minutes later. While some pastoral flexibility concerning the astronomical mathematics of the question is reasonable, it is clearly the intent of the Church that the Easter Vigil not begin until it is dark.
Penitential Act

If the celebrant uses option A (“I confess to Almighty God…) or option B (“Have mercy on us, O Lord…”) of the Penitential Act, he must still recite or have the cantor sing the Kyrie eleison/Lord, Have Mercy.

Pentecost

Sequence and Double-Alleluia Dismissal–The Solemnity of Pentecost and its Vigil call for the Sequence (between the Second Reading and the Gospel Acclamation) and the Double-Alleluia dismissal at the end of Mass.

Postures and Gestures
  • Bowing and the Reception of—The faithful should be make an act of reverence, that is, a slight bow of the head, before receiving Holy Communion, both before receiving the Precious Body and the Precious Blood. The communicant has the option to receive Holy Communion either in the hand or on the tongue. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #160)

  • Posture—The norm for receiving Holy Communion is standing, however, a communicant who chooses to receive Holy Communion while kneeling is not to be denied the sacrament. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #160)

Profession of Faith
  • Option between Nicene Creed and Apostles’ Creed—The Order of Mass #19 states, “Instead of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, especially during Lent and Easter Time, the baptismal Symbol of the Roman Church, known as the Apostles’ Creed may be used.”
  • Bowing—During the Nicene Creed, all present bow during the words, “…and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” On the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (December 25) and the Solemnity of the Annunciation (March 25) all genuflect during these words. If reciting or singing the Apostles’ Creed, all present bow during the words, “…who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary…
Responsorial Psalms

It is the policy of the Diocese of Scranton that the text of the Responsorial Psalm at Mass is to be faithful to the text found in the Lectionary for Mass or the Revised Grail Psalms. Seasonal psalms may be used but the translation must still match either of these sources.

Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults

Many questions raised by pastors and RCIA coordinators concerning the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) can be answered by consulting the Christian Initiation: General Introduction found at the beginning of the RCIA ritual book, as well as National Statutes for the Catechumenate found in Appendix III of the RCIA ritual book. Here are some the most inquired topics from pastors and RCIA coordinators:

    • Difference between a Catechumen verses a Candidate—Only an unbaptized person enters into the full RCIA process and is accepted into the order of catechumens and once recognized by the bishop, becomes one of the elect for the Sacraments of Initiation. One who is validly baptized in another Christian tradition who is seeking to become Catholic would be referred to as a “candidate” and the overall RCIA process is adapted to meet the spiritual and formational needs of the candidate.
    • Reception into Full Communion with the Catholic Church can be done at any time of the Year—Those who are candidates, that is, validly baptized non-Catholics, can be received into the Catholic Church and receive the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist at any time of the year. There is no need to wait until the Easter Vigil if a candidate has completed the formation necessary and is ready to be received into the Catholic Church. What a powerful example it would be for members of your parish community to experience individuals who are learning what it means to be Catholic and received into the Catholic Church throughout the year!
    • Children of catechetical age who receive Baptism are also to receive Confirmation and Eucharist—According to the Code of Canon Law, Canon 866, any person having attained the age of discretion (around age 7) who is baptized must also receive the sacrament of Confirmation immediately and participate in the Eucharist and receive Holy Communion. For a person having attained the age of discretion being received into full communion of the Catholic Church, the priest has the faculty to confirm that candidate during the Rite of Reception (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults #481) That candidate completes his or her Initiation through participation in the Eucharist and receiving Holy Communion. Thus, the reception of the sacraments of Confirmation or Eucharist are never to be separated from Baptism or the reception into full communion with the Catholic Church except for grace reason. In other words, Confirmation or Eucharist cannot be postponed so that a child may receive those sacraments with his or her class.
Sign of Peace

Five Questions on the Sign of Peace

(from the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy Newsletter, November 2006)

  • What is the rite for the Sign of Peace at Mass?

The General instruction of the Roman Missal describes two moments of this rite: (1) the Church’s prayer for peace and unity and (2) a sign of peace exchanged by the faithful. This sign which the faithful exchange is an expression of “their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament.” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #84).

  • How do the faithful exchange a sign of peace with one another?

After the invitation to exchange a sign of peace, all present “offer one another a sign that expresses peace, communion and charity. While the sign of peace is being given, one may say, The peace of the Lord be with you always, to which the response is Amen. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #154)

  • With whom does the Priest exchange a sign of peace?

“The priest may give the sign of peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so as not to disturb the celebration. In the dioceses of the United States of America, for good reason, on special occasions (for example, in the case of a funeral, a wedding, or when civic leaders are present) the priest may offer the sign of peace to a few of the faithful near the sanctuary.” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #154)

  • In what circumstances may the Priest omit the exchanging of the sign of peace?

The Order of Mass (#128) makes clear that the invitation to exchange a sign of peace is given “if the occasion so suggests” (ex opportunitate). The Priest may, for example, omit the sign of peace when an exchange of a sign of peace would be difficult in the light of the physical condition or arrangement of those present, or if it would present a health danger.

  • May the Priest omit the exchange of peace because he does not like it?

The sign of peace should never be omitted due to the personal preferences of the Priest, who “in planning the celebration of Mass, should have in mind the common spiritual good of the people of God, rather than his own inclinations. He should, moreover, remember that the selection of different parts is to be made in agreement with those who have some role in the celebration, including the faithful, in regard to the parts that more directly pertain to each.” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #352)

Silence

Silence in the Liturgy—Deliberate silence is to be observed at the following points in the Mass:

  • After the priest celebrant’s invitation to the Penitential Act
  • After the priest celebrant’s invitation to pray (“Let us pray.”)
  • After the proclamation of reading and after the homily
  • After the assembly’s reception of Holy Communion before the priest celebrant prays the Prayer after Communion

(General Instruction of the Roman Missal #45).

Tabernacle
  • Placement of—“It is more appropriate as a sign that on an altar on which Mass is celebrated there not be a tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved. Consequently, it is preferable that the tabernacle be located, according to the judgment of the Diocesan Bishop:
    1. Either in the sanctuary apart from the altar of celebration, in an appropriate form and place, not excluding its being positioned on an old altar no longer used for celebration
    2. Or even in some chapel suitable for the private adoration and prayer of the faithful and organically connected to the church and readily noticeable by the Christian faithful” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #315).
Tetragrammaton, Divine

(From the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship Newsletter, August 2008)

“The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a letter on June 29, 2008 which included a number of directives on the translation and pronunciation of the Divine Name as signified in the sacred tetragrammaton in the Liturgy. The letter explains that the Divine Name as revealed in the Old Testament, YHWH or in English, Yahweh, has been held as unpronounceable as an expression of reverence for the greatness of God. Historically, the Divine Name was rendered in Hebrew as Adonai, in Greek as Kyrios, and in Latin as Dominus. The Directives indicate that the name of God in the form of the tetragrammaton is neither to be used nor pronounced in the Liturgy, and that the translation of the Divine Name, in accord with Liturgiam authenticam, no. 41, is to be rendered by the equivalent of Adonai/Kyrios, in English, ‘Lord.’”

Veneration of the Cross

See Paschal Triduum