Canon Law and Simulating the Mass

Q: Last week we visited a missionary priest’s organic farm…. It was Sunday and I told the priest that we were worried that we wouldn’t get to Mass that day, since the farm is far away from the nearest parish church.

So the priest offered to say Mass for us. However he warned us that they do not have hosts or Mass wine.  He said he would use the whole wheat bread we had for breakfast and banana wine they made.

During the “Mass,” the priest did not follow the sequence provided by the Roman Missal, though the readings, Prayers of the Faithful, blessing of gifts, “consecration” and doxology were there.

I was shocked, really, by what I witnessed. But I convinced myself that the priest was aware that it was not intended to be a Mass since he warned us beforehand.

However, is the use of inappropriate species excusable?

We will be going back there…. I am planning to bring unconsecrated hosts and wine if ever we are faced with such an inconvenient situation. I am especially worried since we will bring a youth group there. –Kevin Continue reading

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How Has Canon Law Changed on Fasting Before Communion?

Q: What, if anything, does canon law say about fasting before receiving Holy Communion? It used to be that you had to fast since midnight of the night before; then it was three hours before, then one hour before, and now some Catholic friends tell me you don’t have to fast any more at all.  Others tell me that you do, but coffee and tea don’t count.  Who’s right? –Anna

A: Anna is right that the rules on fasting before receiving the Eucharist have changed in the past several decades or so. While the changes were meant to make it easier for Catholics to receive Holy Communion, the sad fact is that even the less strict, current requirements are frequently disregarded altogether.  And many Catholics don’t even know that the Eucharistic fast even exists!  Let’s look briefly at the changes that have been made in the law on this subject over the years, and then we can more easily understand and appreciate the law on fasting before receiving Holy Communion today. Continue reading

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Pedophile Priests and Sacramental Validity

Q: At a family reunion this summer, we learned that the priest who had married my cousin and her husband has been removed from the parish.  He was accused of pedophilia or some other sexual impropriety… and he admitted it.

When my cousin wasn’t listening, my aunt wondered out loud if the marriage was not celebrated validly?  She said that the priest was living a false life, which would also affect the sacraments he conferred.  I’m sure that this argument is bogus, but I didn’t know how to refute it.  Could you explain this issue so that I’ll be able to discuss it intelligently in the future? –Kelsey Continue reading

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Can a Catholic Priest Ever Officiate at a Non-Catholic Wedding?

Q1: Is it possible for a Catholic priest to assist at non-Catholic weddings? –Father N.

Q2: My fiancé is a Catholic and I was baptized Catholic but raised Lutheran…. We opted to have both our wedding ceremony and reception at a hotel.  Is it permissible for a Catholic deacon to officiate a non-sacramental Catholic wedding?  His willingness would be up to him, I know, but is he able, under the given circumstances? –Kathleen

A:  We’ve seen quite a few times before that as per canon 844.1, the Church’s general rule is that Catholic sacraments are for Catholics.  But we’ve also seen that there are exceptions: in very specific situations, it may be possible for non-Catholics to receive some of the sacraments from Catholic ministers (c.844.3; see “Can a Non-Catholic Receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church?” and “When Can a Non-Catholic Go to Confession?” for more on this).  So how do these two questions fit into this equation? Continue reading

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When Can We Have Our Child Baptized at a Different Parish?

Q1: Can parents have their infant/child baptized in a parish other than the one they regularly attend? –Linda

Q2: For around 20 years we have rented homes at different places within the territory of X parish, and also outside the parish.  We can live in one house for a period of one or two years only.  Sometimes we get a rental home inside the parish territory and sometimes outside.  But it is never more than a mile from X parish.  We are active members in the parish.

But our new priest has refused to allow the baptism of my brother’s son, because we are currently living in the territory of another parish.  The date was fixed for the baptism with the knowledge of the priest.  But at the last minute he said no.  We have no other options… –Joseph Continue reading

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