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Questions & Answers  


Latest Questions:

Q: When do we celebrate the Ascension?
Q: How can we give special notice to the remembrance of the dead in the month of November?
Q: Which bible should I buy to coincide with the texts proclaimed during Mass?
Q: What are we supposed to be doing during the proclamation of the Word during Mass?
Q: What is the appropriate time for the celebration of the Easter Vigil (how early)?
Q: Why do we have to have extra rituals for the people coming into the Church at the Easter Vigil?
Q: Could you please tell me the origin and meaning of the ROSE vestments and candle in the advent wreath?


Q. When do we celebrate the Ascension?

A. Ascension Thursday is now called “Feast of the Ascension” because it has been permanently moved to the 7th Sunday of Easter. The day commemorates the Ascension of Christ into heaven (see Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:2).

Masses celebrated regularly on Saturday late afternoon/evening use the Ascension texts. Masses celebrated Saturday morning through Saturday early afternoon (before 4:00 PM) use Easter Weekday texts.

About 5 years ago, most of the regions of bishops in this country (all but about 7 ecclesiastical provinces of this country), with the approval of Rome, made the decision to move the feast from a weekday (Thursday) to the following Sunday because many people could not attend the weekday celebration. The Ascension is too important a part of the whole Paschal Mystery - Christ's dying, rising, ascending to the Father, and sending the Holy Spirit, to not be available to the greater community of the faithful.

A regular weekday in Eastertide is celebrated on that (original) Thursday. The Ordo, the small book of "everything you need to know for Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours," indicates what scriptures for Mass and references for Liturgy of the Hours are to be followed when the Ascension is moved to Sunday. It is because calendars and ordos have to be used by the whole country that you find the double reference (Thursday and Sunday). For the Ascension itself on Sunday - the preacher may choose to use the 2nd reading and the gospel from the Seventh Sunday of Easter texts.


Q. How can we give special notice to the remembrance of the dead in the month of November?

A. Many parishes use special envelopes or small pieces of paper on which you may write the names of all those who have died and for whom you wish to pray. These are collected and placed near the altar as a visible reminder to all on Nov. 2nd (the feast of All Souls) and sometimes throughout the month of November.

I am going to suggest another way, which takes more time to achieve than you will have time to achieve this year, but you can put it in your collection of "things for next time."

For this project, give each household a 3-hole punched sheet of blank paper, on which they will design in simple or complex ways a listing of all those whom they wish to remember and to pray for during November. The “design” may be a simple list of names, a drawing of a family tree, a decorated page of symbols, both religious and secular, around the names the household has gathered that remind them of those who have died.

One way to involve the whole family is to spend some time, perhaps at a meal, talking about friends and family members who have died. Look up pictures of them in your photo albums (or photo drawers). Then let whoever wishes decorate the page. (Decoration is not necessary.)

On the weekend before Nov. 1st or Nov. 2nd the pages are returned to the church and placed in a covered binder. The binder may be decorated with a cross, a “tree of life”, or some similar image appropriate to our remembering the dead. The book may be brought forward with the gifts on Nov. 2nd and placed in a prominent position in the altar area for the month of November.

Each year thereafter the pages are put out in early October for any additions, new pages are set out for new members, and all again are gathered for the presentation and remembrance during November.


Q. Which bible should I buy to coincide with the texts proclaimed during the Liturgy of the Word?

A. There is actually no edition of the Bible which will coincide exactly with the liturgical text proclaimed. There are introductory lines which give the context of the reading - not needed if you were reading along previous verses in the Bible. There are omissions of verses for one reason or another. There are short and long forms of various texts. All of these "differences" were put into the text so that the proclamation could be better understood. The Bible, on the other hand, is meant to be read and prayed with by the individual who takes up the scripture and follows as the Spirit leads.

The closest translation, actually the translation used by the editors with the addition of the above-mentioned adaptations, is the New American Bible (NAB). The Catholic Study Bible, an edition of the New American Bible, also provides excellent commentary for study.


What are we supposed to be doing during the proclamation of the Word during Mass?

A. The answer lies in a document called "Introduction to the Lectionary, Second Typical Edition," issued by Rome (specifically, the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments):

When God communicates his word, he expects a response, one, that is, of listening and adoring "in Spirit and in truth" (John 4:23). The Holy Spirit makes that response effective, so that what is heard in the celebration of the Liturgy may be arried out in a way of life: "Be doers of the word and not hearers only" (James 1:22).

The liturgical celebration and the participation of the faithful receive outward expression in actions, gestures, and words...Accordingly, the participation of the faithful in the Liturgy increases to the degree that, as they listen to the word of God proclaimed in the Liturgy, they strive harder to commit themselves to the Word of God incarnate in Christ. Thus, they endeavor to conform their way of life to what they celebrate in the Liturgy, and then in turn to bring to the Celebration of the Liturgy all that they do in life.

So listening is our responsibility, proclaiming well is the responsibility of the lector. Let's be honest here: several things can militate against being able to hear God's word: among others - various levels of physical deafness; poor sound system; children in action behind, before, and around; and ineffective lectors.

Still I encourage folks to read the scriptures ahead of time, then listen to the living proclamation - it's surprising what we can hear that we did not catch in reading the texts. With children it is good to read the scriptures for the day with them ahead of time, talk about what they hear and understand, then listen together during Mass and share afterwards what each one heard.

A mother told me that she and many parents want, when their children begin reading, to have them read everything! But perhaps with the knowledge mentioned above we can develop an effective way for helping children embrace the Word of God.


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Q. What is the appropriate time for the celebration of the Easter Vigil? How early can we begin?

A. The Sacramentary is quite clear in its explanation of the Easter Vigil that it must begin after nightfall. The first part of the liturgy that night is built on the premise that we who (literally as well as figuratively) are in darkness look to the One who is Light. Hence, in darkness we light the new fire and bless the Paschal Candle. Then it becomes the beacon of light that we follow into the church. The church itself is in darkness until the entrance of the Paschal Candle, and gradually as the Candle’s flame is passed to all, our darkness is turned into light.

In this diocese twilight closes around 8:20 PM. So the earliest time is 8:30 PM.

I suggest you keep an eye on the Liturgical Calendar listed on this site. It will remind you not only of dates for important occasions but also of times (for the Easter Vigil) and questions concerning holy days (e.g. is this one obligatory this year or not?). That doesn’t mean you can’t still call the office for more background!


Q. Why do we have to have all those extra rituals during Lent for the people coming into the Church at the Easter Vigil?

A. "All those extra rituals...for the people coming into the Church…" are what Lent is all about. Lent began in the early Church as a time of prayer and fasting by those who were to be brought into the community at the Easter Vigil. But members of the Church surrounding and supporting these men and women joined them in prayer and fasting themselves both to support the new Christians and to renew their own commit-ment to their baptismal promises.

The rituals you will see probably (depending on how many Masses are celebrated in your parish) will be:

  1. The sending of these fledgling members to the bishop, who "calls" them to the final days of preparation before baptism or profession of faith
  2. The "scrutinies" which are done on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent.

The sending ceremony in the parish includes presentation to the community of the catechumens and the candidates at this stage of their journey, the witness given by their godparents and sponsors to their readiness, the signature of the catechumens and the pastor in the Book of the Elect (which will be presented later to the bishop for his signature), and the sending of these men and women by the parish community to that meeting with the bishop.

The "scrutinies" have such an awkward sound, given the way most of us understand "scrutiny." In truth, the ritual celebrated on the three great Sundays (the Woman at the Well, the Man Born Blind, and the Raising of Lazarus) consists of naming the evils which surround the catechumens and candidates (and us) and calling on the power of the Lord to free them from harm.

Each Sunday has a slightly different :flavor" — the Woman at the Well, caught in the web of a sinful life, yet thirsts for truth and release; the Man Born Blind knows his lack of sight is deeper than the physical eyes of the body and believes even before he can see Jesus; the Raising of Lazarus is a convincing example of the Lord’s power even over our greatest enemy, death. Listen to the intercessions and to the prayer of the presider and make those imploring words your own.

The important thing to remember when you see a notice of one of these rituals scheduled for Mass is that the catechumens and candidates are witnesses to us of where our hearts should be in this holy season.


Q. Could you please tell me the origin and meaning of the ROSE vestments and candle in the advent wreath. I know they are used for Gaudete and Laetare Sunday. But why Rose? Notice I ask for the Origin and meaning. The WHY of them is of interest.

A. It's interesting to note that for the first 1000 years there was no rule of color, other than white and in the tenth or eleventh century, a mention of red stripes on the vestments of deacons. In the 12th century Augustinian canons at Jerusalem organized a list of liturgical colors, which proposed among other things the use of black for Christmas and for feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There is also mention of blue for Epiphany and Ascension, but the common practice was simply to wear the newest and best vestments on special occasions, regardless of color!

The organization of the sequence of colors was not formally defined in rubric until 1570 in the missal under Pius V. The general rule was violet-blue-black for Advent and Septuagesima through Ash Wednesday, then veiling (?) of colors during Lent. Easter, Christmas, Trinity were white; Ordinary Time was green; Pentecost, martyrs, apostles, and evangelists were red; feasts of Mary were white or red.

The Liturgical Movement which began in the 1800's brought about radical changes in the design and decoration of vestments and in the liturgical use of colors. The actual organization of purple with rose as the colors for Advent and Lent can be found at this time but probably existed earlier. The "why" of the use of rose (or pink) seems to be an emotional lift in the midst of an extended period of penitence: the 3rd Sunday of Advent (Gaudete = Rejoice), the 4th Sunday of Lent (Laetare = another word for Rejoice). Currently the Ordo (The Order of Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours and Celebration of the Eucharist) lists rose as an alternate, not as a replacement for the purple of these two Sundays. Hence, you will find Advent Wreaths with 4 purple candles side by side with those set up with 3 purple and 1 rose.

There is not much more by way of explanation other than a growing awareness of the emotional effect of colors, coupled with a sense of tradition.

Dictionary of the Liturgy by Rev. Jovian P. Lang, OFM, © 1989 by Catholic Book Publishing Co., N.Y.
The New Westminster Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship edited by J.G. Davies, © 1986 by SCM Press, published in the United States by The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


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Deacon Don WarnerDeacon Don Warner
Director of Liturgy & Worship

Irma Jimenez
Administrative Assistant


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