Q: I recently met a nice fellow, who wants to be catechist. I inquired a bit more into his faith life and learned that he attends Mass “at least once a month” that is not every Sunday, which shocked me. I told him that weekly Mass is the beginning of serious faith life and sent him an article about Mass attendance obligation.
He responded that a long time ago, after he married, he told his parish priest that he cannot attend Mass every Sunday, because his wife (not Christian) is not happy about it. When I ask what impedes him going to Mass, he basically said that his wife wants him to be at home or they have some different activities outside.
I know that the parish priest can give dispensation for Sunday Mass attendance, but do not understand details of this dispensation. Can you enlighten me on this point? –Patrik
A: Patrik is a seminarian, engaged in parish work in a non-Christian country with only a tiny Catholic population. As a future priest, he is quite understandably bewildered about this situation, since it seems to suggest that parish priests have a lot more power, and the Sunday Mass obligation has a lot less importance than he thought! There are actually two separate issues here: the first involves dispensations in general, and the second involves the authority of a parish priest to grant one like this. Continue reading
Q: I have recently discovered that my Presbyterian baptism was invalid (improper matter—no flowing water). No investigation was done at the time of my conversion [to Catholicism], only a request for a baptismal certificate and so it was accepted by the Church at the time.
The method used was as follows: the Presbyterian minister dipped his fingertips into a bowl of water (so they were moistened but not dripping), then patted me on the top of the head 3 times. Any water present on his fingers would only have touched my hair. I remember it clearly, as I was 12 years old. I was also able to contact him to verify. Several priests I have spoken with indicated that this would not suffice for proper matter.
Since I was not validly baptized, am I correct that all my other sacraments were invalid as well (therefore, my confirmation & marriage would need to be repeated to be valid & I should also not attempt to receive absolution or Holy Communion until I am validly baptized)? My husband is a cradle Catholic, if that affects your response. –Irma Continue reading
Q: My wife and some of her Catholic girlfriends have befriended a travelling priest who stopped in our diocese for a while. He’s from [another diocese hundreds of miles away]. This priest promotes life-issues and traditional family values, etc. and he says this is his mission. He isn’t connected to any pro-life or other organization, though, he’s doing this on his own.
What got my attention is that he is soliciting money for his own support. He doesn’t seem to have much, he desperately needs new shoes, for example. Some people have contributed without hesitation. But I say that we donate to our parish every week, partly to support the priests who minister there. Why should a priest from another diocese come here and ask us to support him too? Does the law say anything about this? –Paul Continue reading
Q1: Is it written anywhere, or in any authoritative text from the Holy See (or Bishops Conference), that being in an irregular marriage bars one from being a godparent? The canon seems vague. One could argue that living in a state of unrepentant sin is contrary to leading a life of faith… –Nathan
Q2: I work in a parish and have the joy of helping families prepare for baptisms. I’m struggling with how to interpret the canons regarding sponsors for infant baptism. It can be hard to explain why someone’s sister, brother, etc., cannot be a godparent. This is complicated by the fact that different parishes seem to interpret the law differently.
The requirements are clear until the last part [of canon 874.1 n. 3] about living in keeping with the faith. I wish this were spelled out more clearly, because of course we are all sinners. Is a Catholic allowed to be a godparent if he/she was married in another Christian church? –Cecilia Continue reading
(The post below was written many years ago, but it addresses an issue which unfortunately is still with us, particularly before Christmas. That’s why it seems feasible to post it again. Have a happy and holy Christmas!)
Q: Last year, I visited my relatives at Christmas time, and we all went to their parish to a communal penance service before Christmas. There were probably almost a hundred people there, and only one priest. He didn’t hear each person’s confession, as we expected. Instead, he stood near the altar, said some prayers, and blessed all of us. Then he told us we were absolved of our sins, and that was it. Was that priest wrong to do what he did? Did God really forgive us our sins? –Robert Continue reading