Saturday, November 28, 2009

Catholic Q&A: Part 3

Here is a recent batch of questions that I answered in the "Catholicism" category at WikiAnswers. Also see Part 1 and Part 2.
  • What is proper behavior in a Catholic church both before and after Mass?

    One should act reverently in a Catholic church both before and after Mass, and even when Mass is not being celebrated, because the Eucharist is present.

    When a Catholic first enters the church building, he dips his fingers in the holy water font and makes the Sign of the Cross. Once he finds the pew in which he would like to sit, he genuflects towards the tabernacle, makes the Sign of the Cross, and enters the pew. Once in the pew, he kneels in prayer, preparing himself spiritually for the Mass that is soon to begin. Silence is observed from the moment he enters the Church, so as not to distract anyone in their prayer.

    Once Mass has ended and the priest has left the sanctuary, then one is free to go, although it is praiseworthy to sing the entire closing song (or "recessional hymn"). Once the song has ended, it is customary (although not required) to kneel in the pew and say a prayer of thanksgiving, or the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. When the Catholic exits the pew, he genuflects towards the tabernacle, makes the Sign of the Cross, and then approaches one of the exits. Before leaving, he dips his fingers in the holy water font and makes the Sign of the Cross. Silence is observed once the closing song is finished, so as not to distract anyone in their prayer.

    Which sacrament is the greatest?

    The Church's greatest sacrament, the source and summit of her faith and worship, is the Eucharist.

    How is the Catholic bible different from other bibles?

    The Catholic Bible is different from other Bibles in that it contains 7 more books (Sirach, Tobit, Wisdom, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and Baruch) as well as additions to Daniel and Esther.

    What are the four main parts of the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

    Those are contrition, confession, absolution, and satisfaction. To learn about each one, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1450-1460.

    Who is called to defend the Catholic Church?

    All Catholics are called to defend the Church, and are empowered by the sacraments to do that very thing.

Do you know your faith? Help me tackle some unanswered questions. Of course, if you have any questions of your own, just leave me a comment or send me an email.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

2 comments:

Gil Garza said...

Very nice post series.

The primary purpose of the holy water ablution as the Christian enters the sanctuary is to prepare him to enter into Jesus' presence and to prepare him to celebrate the Holy Mysteries. The ablution with holy water with the proper intention is a conduit of grace insofar as it remits venial sin. Holy water as a sacramental serves to remind the Christian of his baptism and of the necessity of grace for worship which was won for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Christian practice of purifying oneself with Holy Water prior to entering a place of worship has its roots in the Jewish practice of performing extensive ritual ablutions prior to entering the Temple for worship. Therefore the Christian does not duplicate the ablution with holy water when leaving the Holy of Holies and entering the world. In the case of celebrating Holy Mass, the Christian would be filled with Jesus upon departing. Such a duplication of the entrance ablution would serve no purpose and only reinforce superstitious ideas about the power of holy water.

What do you think?

phatcatholic said...

Well, I disagree with the notion that "a duplication of the entrance ablution would serve no purpose and only reinforce superstitious ideas about the power of holy water." The custom in the Church has always been to bless oneself with holy water both when entering and leaving the Church. This, I think, is because the purpose for the blessing when leaving is not the same as the purpose for the blessing when entering the Church.

When you bless yourself upon entering the Church, you do so for all the reasons you cited. But, we bless ourselves upon leaving the Church b/c now we are entering the world, a place hostile to Christianity, a place where our spiritual battle is waged. Yes, the Eucharist strengthens us for that battle, but sacramentals like holy water strengthen us, too.

This is why many Catholic families have holy water fonts in their homes, and why parents are wont to bless their children before they go on long trips or before they embark on any trying endeavor. Holy water is of spiritual benefit to us. Plus, it's good to always recall our baptism and our status as children of God, not just when we enter a church, but also when we leave it.

I hope that answers your question.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

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