Saturday, December 19, 2009

Catholic Q&A: Part 6

Here is a recent batch of questions that I answered in the "Catholicism" category at WikiAnswers. Also see Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

  • Which days other than Sundays are Catholic obliged to attend Mass?

    Besides Sundays, Catholics are also obliged to attend Mass on Holy Days of Obligation. In the United States, the Holy Days of Obligation are:

    • January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God;
    • Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the solemnity of the Ascension;
    • August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
    • November 1, the solemnity of All Saints;
    • December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception;
    • December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Whenever January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption, or November 1, the solemnity of All Saints, falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend Mass is abrogated.

    Which early Church father is commonly referred to as the “Doctor of Grace”?

    "Doctor of grace" is a title commonly attributed to St. Augustine, because of his many brilliant works on the subject of grace.

    How could the souls in Purgatory be assisted?

    The Catholic Church teaches that the souls in purgatory are assisted by our prayers for them, and by our works of penance, or other good works, on their behalf.

    Why do some people kneel on one knee in front of the Eucharist but other times they kneel on both knees?

    The gesture of reverence depends on the degree of presence: the greater the presence, the more profound the gesture. When the Eucharist is in the tabernacle, you genuflect on one knee, since the Eucharist is present, but you can’t see it. However, when the Eucharist is exposed in a monstrance, then you can see it, so you kneel on both knees (and even bow with your face to the ground). As an aside, this also explains why we make a reverent bow (bending slightly at the waist) when we walk past the altar. The altar too is a symbol of the presence of Christ because it is there where the Sacrifice of the Mass — His sacrifice — takes place. But, Jesus is not as profoundly present in the altar as He is in the tabernacle or when the Eucharist is exposed for adoration.

    What is the small round container called that is used to carry the consecrated host to the sick?

    The container in question is called a pyx.

    Where was the first Church council held?

    The first ecumenical council of the Christian Church was held in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day Iznik in Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in A.D. 325. But, even before that, we see in Acts 15 that the apostles attended a council in Jerusalem that was also significant, for there the decision was made that Gentiles who convert to Christianity did not have to be circumcised.

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,

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