Pope Warns Against Temptation of Euthanasia


Says Life Must Be Defended Against Culture of Death

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 18, 2007, (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI asked that the value of life be respected in the face of the temptation to euthanize the elderly sick, which he called a symptom of the culture of death.

The Pope said this Saturday upon receiving in audience participants in the 22nd international conference promoted by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. The theme of the meeting, which was held last week in the Vatican, was on "The Pastoral Care of Elderly Sick People."

The Pontiff said to the audience of scientists, researchers, medical personnel and pastoral workers that "today's mentality of efficiency" views elderly sick people as "a 'burden' and a 'problem' for society."
He added that euthanasia "appears as one of the more alarming symptoms of the culture of death that is advancing above all in the society of well-being."
"Those who have an understanding of human dignity, however, know that the elderly must be respected and supported while they face serious difficulties linked to their state," said the Holy Father.

Benedict XVI then recalled John Paul II, who in his "exemplary witness of faith and courage" in his illness exhorted scientists and physicians to never cede "to the temptation to have recourse to the practices of shortening the life of the elderly or the sick, practices that would in fact result in forms of euthanasia."
A gift of God
"Man's life is a gift of God, which all of us are always called to protect," he said. "This must also involve health workers, whose specific mission is to be 'servants of life' in all its phases, especially in that phase marked by the fragility connected with infirmity."
For this reason, the Pope added, "a general commitment is necessary so that human life be respected not only in Catholic hospitals but in every place of care."
Moreover, the elderly who are affected by incurable illnesses need palliative care that is able to mitigate the pain, the Holy Father said, in order to face "in a conscious and human way the last stage of earthly existence, to serenely prepare for death."

Pontiff continued: "In general it is opportune to do what is possible for the families themselves to welcome and with grateful affection take care of them so that the elderly who are sick can pass the last period of their life at home and prepare themselves for death in a climate of family warmth."
Benedict XVI said that this is important because "the sick need understanding, comfort and constant encouragement and accompaniment," as well as competent medical care.
"May the sick person in the most difficult moments, supported by pastoral care, be encouraged to find strength to face his difficult trial in prayer and the comfort of the sacraments," said the Pope. "May he be surrounded by brothers in faith, disposed to listen to him and share his sentiments."
The Holy Father invited believers facing illness and death to "not to lose their serenity, because nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of Christ."

Sacramental Wine

Question from Giovanni on 11/8/2007:

Dear Father,

I know for the celebration of Holy Mass special sacramental wine is supposed to be used. The priest in the local parish does not use sacramental wine. He says, it cost too much. Instead, he uses "Carlo Rossi" red table wine.

On the label it says "100% California grape wine, 12% Alcohol." I don't think this is legal, but I am wondering if his Masses are valid? Should I go to the bishop?

Thank you, Father, very much for you response.


Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/8/2007:

The use of such wine is valid and licit.

Wearing hats in church

Question from Oliver on 10/29/2007:

I have been told many times in church to take off my hat. I don't believe I have to as I have never read any documentation in the Bible or Catholic doctrine stating I have to. Am I wrong?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 10/29/2007:


Traditional Western etiquette states that in a church a man uncovers his head and a woman covers hers. This is based on St. Paul's exhortation to the Corinthians:

"Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head -- it is the same as if her head were shaven. ... For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man" (1 Cor. 11:4-5, 7).

Although the stricture about women covering their heads in church is no longer enforced by ecclesial law, some women choose to do so either out of personal piety or traditional courtesy. For a man, although he is not required by force of ecclesial law to uncover his head in a church, it is still ordinarily considered a matter of common courtesy for men to take off their hats while inside a building, particularly a church. The one exception that springs to mind is when a man visits a synagogue, where he is often expected to cover his head out of respect.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers

Jesus' Agony In The Garden

Question from Andy on 11/4/2007:

Thank you Dr. for the great work you are doing for us. The Rosary is my favorite devotion and as I pray the sorrowful mysteries, espically Jesus' Agony in the Garden, I wonder if he was asking God to spare us the cup he was about to drink, instead of thinking of himself. God bless you!

Answer by Richard Geraghty on 11/7/2007:

Dear Andy,

Being a full man as well as God, Christ quite naturally had fear, dread and sorrow about the suffering he knew that was ahead of him. He could not help but feel this since he was human. At the same time his human will was in perfect union with God and was ready to endure the sufferings that he knew was coming. Nevertheless he did sweat blood. Your thought that Christ also wanted to save us from such suffering has a point. A regular human being could not have sustained such suffering because the though of it would have killed them right on the spot. Only the God Man could have endured the thought of such suffering. By the same token, Christ did not wish to shield his following from all suffering. That is why he provided us with the model of how to suffer. And that model is to seek the help and grace of God in our suffering.

Dr. Geraghty

extraction of body parts as relics

Question from Marc C. on 11/5/2007:

Dear EWTN:

I have no reservations about the idea of relics, particularly that of bodies of saints that are incorrupt. I consider the incorrupt body of a holy person to be a miracle. One thing I struggle with, however, is the practice of extracting certain body parts as relics. It would seem to me that bodily dismemberment does not show respect for the dead. Furthermore, why not keep the entire incorrupt body intact if it should be venerated? Can you define and explain the Church's position on this? Thank you.

Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 11/6/2007:

Marc, I opine that it is mostly inconvenience that dictates to the Church this practice of venerating parts of the body of a saint or venerable person. Obviously it is much easier to move and honor a small part of a large body, to preserve it on a holy altar, etc. Fr. Bob Levis

Relics of St. Therese of Lisieux present at Pope’s General Audience


Rome, Nov 14, 2007 / 01:41 pm (CNA).- At this week’s General Audience with Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square, thousands of pilgrims were able to venerate the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux.

According to Vatican Radio, the relics were taken to the Vatican as part of a pilgrimage throughout Italy, giving Catholics the chance to venerate the relics of the French saint. The pilgrimage will also coincide with the 10th anniversary of her proclamation as Doctor of the Church on October 19, 1997, the 120th anniversary of her encounter with Pope Leo XIII on November 20, 1887, and the 80th anniversary of her proclamation as patroness of the missions, together with St. Francis Xavier.

The pilgrimage is being led by Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux and Lisieux, France and the Rector of the Basilica of Lisieux, Msgr. Bernard Lagoutte.

The relics of St. Therese have been venerated in numerous countries throughout the world in recent years, usually at Carmelite monasteries.

Euthenasia of people who are braindead

Question from Maureen on 11/9/2007:


I am a grade 12 Catholic student who would like to know what the Church teaches on the Euthanasia of people with Brain Death. Is it actually considered Euthanasia if they're not really alive, or are they alive?

I just had a huge debate on Euthanasia in Religion class and when this argument came up, none of us knew what to say. I don't know much about it.

Thank you so much for your time.


Answer by Judie Brown on 11/10/2007:

Dear Maureen

I recommend you read the complete text of a short brochure on the American Life League web site. You can read it at http://www.all.org/article.php?id=10259

The statement reads, in part,

People on both sides of the debate admit that “brain death” is flawed in theory and practice. Professor Dan Wikler, a noted ethicist from the University of Wisconsin who served on the presidential commission in the early 1980s, admits today that “brain death” is conceptually flawed.(6) Joining him and others is Robert Truog, who concludes in the January-February 1997 issue of the Hastings Center Report, that despite familiarity and widespread acceptance, “brain death” remains incoherent in theory and confused in practice.(7)

On a practical note, a number of physicians have pointed out that a diagnosis of “brain death” is disturbing because the patients do not “look dead.” Instead, they observe that these patients, aided by a ventilator [which supports but doesn't breathe for a patient] have spontaneously beating hearts, healthy skin color, warmth, digestion, and metabolism.(8) As a matter of fact, some “brain dead” patients have nourished and eventually given birth to living children via cesarean section.(9)

Seal of Confession

Question from RB on 11/2/2007:

Dear Father -- Our pastor on a few occasions has mentioned a few things he heard in confession during his homilies. The details have involved the mention of a specific sin, advice given and penance assigned. The identity of those confessing has not been revealed -- at least, not specifically, no names given. However, his mention of the above has me wondering:

What does the seal of confession protect? Does the seal of confession protect all that is discussed in confession or just the identity of the person?

Thank you, Fr. Levis, and may God bless you richly!

Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 11/5/2007:

RB, The seal is meant to protect the anonymity of the person confessing. Sometimes a preacher will mention something he obviously heard in confession years past, something is mentioned but with no details that another might recognize. Sometimes it is comical, always for the good of the congregation, but never so often that the hearers would be frightened off from confession. Specific names and sinners are most strickly forbidden the confessor, even to the point of his being excommunicated. He must be willing to die to preserve the seal. Fr. Bob Levis

Third commandment

Question from jam on 11/6/2007:

At my catechism class the other day we discussed the second and third commandments and my question has to do with the third commandment. In the catechism is said that it is a grave sin to not receive the Eucharist on Sundays but let's say that one has sinned and did not have a chance to go to confession the day before and they did not receive communion because of their sin(s). Did they commit a grave sin by not receiving the Eucharist?

Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 11/8/2007:

JAM, No, no, no, the Commandment is that we Catholics are bound to attend Holy Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation, but we are not bound to receive Holy Communion on each Sunday. We are bound, however, to receive the Eucharist at least once a day, during the Easter tide. God bless. Fr. bob Levis

Book About EWTN

Question from Mitzi on 11/9/2007:

Dear Fr. Levis: I accidentally came across a website which was about a book entitled: "EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong" by author Christopher A. Ferrara. I read a few excerpts and was dismayed by this book. I wondered if you are familiar with this book and what your assessment is of this publication. Thank you Father.

Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 11/9/2007:

Mitzi, Yes, I am. Actually the Editor calls me heretical 8 times in its pages and Father Groeschel the same but many more times, 30 in all. I suggest the finest action is to take this troubed book and start a fire with it. Fr Bob Levis

I am only sending this to my smart friends... and you are!


See if you can figure out what these words have in common...
Other than multiple double letters, this is a real puzzle.


Are you peeking or have you already given up?

Give it another try!

You'll kick yourself when you discover the answer.

Go back and look at them again; think hard.

OK... Here you go...

Hope you didn't cheat...

Answer . . .

In all of the words listed,
if you take the first letter,
place it at the end of the word,
and then spell the word backwards,
it will be the same word.

Body Piercings

Question from matt on 11/9/2007:

I'm sure you've had this question asked before, but what is the church's teaching on tattoos and body piercings?

Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 11/11/2007:

Matt, Body piercings are mutilation of the body and obviously sinful. Tattoos may be very small and covered by clothing and so could be less sinful. Large tattoos destroy bodily integrity, are in themselves pagan, and so sinful. Fr. Bob Levis

Communion service without priest

Question from Jun Correa on 11/5/2007:

Hi! I'm a convert from the Philippines. Since my conversion in 1999, I often hear the term "Dry Mass" which really pertains to a communion service without a priest. This is usually conducted by a extraordinary minister of the holy communion. I tried reading the GIRM for guidelines but couldn't find any. My questions are:

1. Is this term "dry mass" a legitimate term used by the Church? 2. Where can I find guidelines for this? 3. Can this fulfill our Sunday obligation?

I asked these questions because two Sundays ago, my family went to a nearby chapel where a Sunday Mass is supposed to be celebrated by a priest but then only a extraordinary minister came with consecrated hosts. My family and I hurriedly left the chapel when the service was starting so we could catch the Sunday Mass at our town's parish. My conscience was bothered because I felt that we ignored our Lord's true presence in the consecrated hosts.

Thanks for your help.


Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/5/2007:

The term "dry Mass" is not a canonical term. I have never heard of it before.

If a person is able to attend Mass on Sunday, then the person is obligated to attend Mass. Attending a Communion service is never required and does not fulfill the obligation to attend Mass. You did the right thing of leaving in order to attend Mass elsewhere.

A Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest is permitted on occasions when it is impossible to have Mass and when no other nearby Mass is available. However, there is no obligation to attend such a service.

If Adam and Eve did not sin

Question from Michelle on 10/26/2007:

When I read the question about Adam and Eve I thought about the Exultet the Church proclaims during the Easter Vigil, specifically the line, "O happy Fault, O sin of Adam that brought to us such a great Redeemer." From what I can best interpret from this line, the sin of Adam and Eve is what brought the wheels in motion for our Savior.

Had Adam and Eve not sinned, would we have not then had Jesus?

Answer by Richard Geraghty on 10/28/2007:

Dear Michelle,

St. Thomas maintains that all we know for sure is the revelation that Christ came down to earth to save us from our sins. As far as we known, then, he most likely would not have become a human being if Adam and Eve had stayed the way they were supposed to be. But they sinned, apparently ruining the plan of God for them. But God brought good out of this evil by becoming a man, as you pointed out in the prayer of the Exultet. There are Franciscan theologians, however, who hold that God would have become a man even if Adam and Eve had not sinned. This is the less common view.

Dr. Geraghty

John Paul II Named Patron for Youth Day '08


9 Others Chosen, Including Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

SYDNEY, Australia, NOV. 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- World Youth Day organizers say that Servant of God Pope John Paul II was a natural choice as one of the event's 10 patrons, since the Polish Pontiff invented the gatherings.
L'Osservatore Romano published the list of patrons chosen for WYD '08, to be held in Sydney in July.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a student and athlete who worked with Catholic Action of Italy, also made the list. Blessed Pier died at age 24 in 1925.
The Polish woman religious who inspired the future John Paul II, Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), was also chosen.
Another patron is a native of WYD's host country. Blessed Mary McKillop, the first Australian woman to be canonized, was also the first to found a religious order Down Under, the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Cross.
Also included are St. Peter Chanel and St. Therese of Lisieux. Another Oceanian is Blessed Peter To Rot, a lay catechist from Papua New Guinea, the son of a tribal chief, who was martyred in a Japanese concentration camp at the end of World War II.

St. Maria Goretti and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta were also chosen. And finally, the Virgin Mary under the title of "Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Help of Christians," protector of Australia, is being counted as one of the event's patrons.
The organizers are encouraging youth to consecrate themselves to the Virgin of the Southern Cross with the spirit of John Paul II's motto, "Totus Tuus."

brwon scapular

Question from joseph on 10/26/2007:

hello Dr. Geraghty,

i was wondering if my enrollment in the brown scapular will be void if i sin...

do i need to re-enroll again after i confess?

Answer by Richard Geraghty on 11/4/2007:

Dear Joseph,

Like the Church, the confraternity of the brown scapular is made for sinners. Just as one is part of the Church, so one is still enrolled in the brown scapular even when they sin. Unless one has deliberately cut themselves off from the Church, they are still part of the Church. What they have to do is go to confession. Unless one has deliberately cut themselves off from the brown scapular, all they have to do is go to confession to receive its graces again.

Dr. Geraghty

Significance of 40

Question from Kerri on 11/4/2007:

It seems to me that God uses "40" whenever He is doing something that shouldn't be rushed.

40 years in the desert - the people grew very impatient, but God has His own idea about when they were ready to enter the promised land.

40 days and 40 nights of the flood - a world fallen into so much sin certainly needs a thourough cleansing.

40 days fasting in the desert - even Jesus subjected himself to something requiring great patience and perseverence.

Even now, we have something occurring all the time that helps us relate to Christ, and God's frequent use of 40 - when women conceive a child, they are pregnant for 40 weeks (for full term). This duration of time seems to take forever, with the last month certainly trying a woman's patience - it certainly did for me, twice.

Anyway, it seems 40 is used when God is not in a hurry, doing something in His own good time, making sure to be thourough - and definitely testing man's patience.

Answer by Richard Geraghty on 11/6/2007:

Dear Kerri,

Thank you for the information.

Dr. Geraghty

Sister Bernardette/Lourdes

Question from john flora on 11/4/2007:

Intrigued by the state of preservation of sister Bernadettes body. Stories I've read indicate she was buried and removed several time from the grave for various reasons. Each time their were elements of decomposure but not really bad. But, photos of her lying in state show a perfectly perserved body, faultless with no signs whatsoever of decomposure. What gives? Is what I'am looking at a wax likeness or some other means of duplicating her body?

Answer by Richard Geraghty on 11/6/2007:

Dear John,

From what I understand, you are looking at the actual body of St. Bernadette.

Dr. Geraghty

Saudi king visits Pope Benedict

Vatican, Nov. 6, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) met on November 6 with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia: the first meeting ever between a Roman Pontiff and a Saudi monarch.

In a formal statement released after the meeting, the Vatican said that the Pope's 30-minute talk with King Abdullah, held in the library of the apostolic palace, had been conducted in "a cordial atmosphere," allowing the two "consider questions close to the heart of both sides."

Prior to the meeting, Vatican officials had quietly confirmed that the Pope would press the Saudi monarch to ease restrictions on religious freedom. The Saudi monarchy, which takes pride in its role as custodian of Islam's holiest shrines, at Mecca and Medina, forbids any public manifestation of other religions. The 1.2 million Christians living in the country (most of them foreign workers) are not allowed to build churches, hold public services, or wear religious jewelry and insignia.

The official Vatican account of the Pope's meeting with King Abdullah referred only obliquely to the question of religious freedom, saying that the two had discussed "inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue aimed at peaceful and fruitful coexistence." The statement also mentioned the "positive and industrious presence of Christians" in Saudi Arabia.

King Abdullah stopped in Rome during a tour of European cities. At a dinner hosted by Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano on the eve of his visit with the Pope, the Saudi monarch had said that he was hoping to strengthen inter-religious dialogue. "If everyone followed the principles of their religions, and did what Allah ordered, the world would be freed of conflicts," he said.

The Saudi leader has taken a keen interest in the peace process in the Middle East, and the Pope's talk with Abdullah included a discussion of "the need to find a just solution to the conflicts affecting the region, especially that between Israelis and Palestinians," the Vatican reported.

Although no Saudi king had ever visited the Vatican before today's historic meeting, Abdullah himself had met with Pope John Paul II (bio - news) in 1999. At that time, although his formal rank was crown prince, Abdullah was the de facto head of the Saudi government, since his brother and predecessor, King Fahd, had been crippled by a stroke in 1995. Abdullah became king upon Fahd's death in 2005.

After his meeting with the Pope, King Abdullah spoke separately with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (bio - news), and with the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries in the world that does not have formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

Altar servers sent to the pew

Question from Isabelle on 11/4/2007:

Is it right that all of the alter servers at Mass are sent to the pew for the readings and are called to return during the presentation of the gifts.This is a recently introduced practice at my parish and the explanation I have received is that the alter servers are a distraction to the people.

Answer by Richard Geraghty on 11/6/2007:

Dear Isabelle,

It seems that there are all sorts of things going on in parish liturgies. I have not heard of the one you mentioned and do not know whether this is permissible under the General Instruction for the Roman Missel (GIRM) Does anyone know the proper procedure?

Dr. Geraghty

Bishops: Beatification of 498 Martyrs Not Political


Spaniards Recognized for Witness to Faith

MADRID, Spain, OCT. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The beatification of 498 martyrs, victims of religious persecution in the 1930s, is a testament of their virtue and faith, not a political statement, according to the Spanish bishops' conference.
Father Juan Antonio Martínez Camino, secretary-general of the Spanish bishops' conference and director of the conference's office for saints' causes, made that affirmation in a recent interview with the Spanish Veritas news agency.
Speaking about the political reading that some have given to the beatifications, which will take place in Rome this Sunday, the priest said, "It does not surprise us that there would be incorrect political interpretations; those who have made a purely political reading of a clearly religious event have always been mistaken. But that is the law of history."
He continued, "The martyrs of the first stage of Christianity, who gave their lives for Christ, were classified as traitors of Rome; the martyrs of the French Revolution were classified as traitors of the revolution, and the martyrs of the 20th century in Russia, central Europe or Spain, were classified as people who have hindered the advance of history."
"To say that those who the Church now beatifies were a political group is to be ignorant of history, to fail to understand the religious fact, and to fail to do justice to the facts," Father Martínez Camino contended. "We Christians are hurt by this misrepresentation of facts, but it doesn't surprise us, and in this sense, we accept it serenely."
The priest said that what is most notable in the lives of those to be beatified is "the mix of strength, and at the same time humility, with which the martyrs accepted the tragic situation of having to choose between their lives or their fidelity to God and the Church."
He added, "Strength is the first thing that is noticed, but also humility, joy, the simplicity with which they confronted this situation, which was dramatic, singing on the buses that carried them to be shot, supporting themselves with prayer and with encouragement in the prisons, writing from prison to their families just hours before being assassinated […] leaving above all, a testimony of forgiveness and serenity for their families, or in some cases, for their girlfriends."
Father Martínez Camino explained that the Spanish bishops have tried to educate the faithful about the phenomenon of martyrdom.
"Every effort is being made to explain the difference between a martyr and a person who is unjustly assassinated," he said. "There were many people assassinated during the 20th century in Spain, during the '30s, before, during and after the Civil War.
"The bishops' conference, in 'God's Fidelity Lasts Forever. A Look at the 20th Century Through the Eyes of Faith,' published in November 1999, laments that there has been in the 20th century, and concretely in Spain in the '30s, so many unjust assassinations of our fellow citizens, and have declared that the blood of all of them continues clamoring to the heavens for pardon and reconciliation, so that violent methods are never again used.
"This petition of forgiveness of God made for all those assassinated, regardless of what group they were in, is clearly expressed. God is asked to forgive for all those 'actions the Gospel prohibits,' committed by one or another of the groups formed by the war."
Father Martínez Camino clarified that apart from those who were unjustly killed, "there were some that were assassinated expressly and specifically because they did not want to renounce their faith and their fidelity to Christ and the Church, and these are martyrs."
The priest affirmed that the Church and the bishops have often lamented the assassinations, but that those who are martyrs are honored as witnesses of the faith.
"And these witnesses of the faith are not witnesses because they have been or not been members of a political party or a fighting group," Father Martínez Camino said, "but rather because they have died for their faith, and all who have died for their faith will be recognized, regardless of the group to which they belonged."

Holy Days of Obligation

Question from anon on 11/2/2007:

Don't know if this topic applies here, but you guys usually give the clearest replies. My understanding of holy was shaken when I lived abroad and the holy days were different from the U.S. This was further shaken when I learned that these vary from diocese to diocese. How can the bishop be deciding that if we don't go to church on a particular day we will burn in hell forever, but if I drive 90 miles down the Interstate I don't follow the same fate?

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/2/2007:

The conference of bishops of a country is authorized, with the approval of the Vatican, to decide the holy days of obligations for the country.

The U.S. bishops have further divided this up into "regions" of the country for some of the days. This reflects the divisions among the bishops. Unfortunately, these decrees have been approved by the Vatican, although I was a bit surprised that they were approved.

Signs of Cross before Gospel

Question from von on 11/2/2007:

A friend of mine asked if we say anything while we make the sign of the Cross on our foreheads, lips and heart before the Gospel is read. She is Hispanic and she asked if we say anything special in english.


Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/2/2007:

There are no words to accompany this gesture.

Profession of Faith

Question from Anon on 11/3/2007:

I was recently on a retreat and during the Sunday mass the priest forgot to do the profession of faith after the homily. He remembered later in the mass and after communion, but before the final blessing, we recited the creed.

Just wondering if this counted as a valid mass.

Answer by Robert J. Flummerfelt, J.C.L. on 11/4/2007:


This was indeed still a valid Mass. No worries.

Peace, Bob

Baptized with Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues


Question from Anon on 10/24/2007:

Father, what is meant by "baptised with the Holy Spirit?" -- is it a "baptism" beyond Confirmation? And what is the purpose of "speaking in tongues?" (I saw the recent EWTN program on this, but don't really understand.)

Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 10/27/2007:

Dear Anon, If anyone be baptized, he is baptized with the Holy Spirit. The charismatics stress this reality but all the baptized share in the coming of the Spirit. Glossalalia or speaking in tongues is a charism given sometimes by the Spirit for the benefit of the community. Again, charismatic believers stress this charism. Fr. Bob levis

celebrating halloween

Question from BARBARA C BERGERON on 10/30/2007:

what does the catholic church teach about celebrating halloween? I see some pastors celebrate halloween for children with masses or get togethers - some priest teach that halloween is a holiday of saton.

Please advise.

Thanks - Barbara C. Bergeron

Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 10/31/2007:

Barbara. The position of the Church is to celebrate the Saints and to imitate them. All the other nonsense surrounding this Feast is just plain rubbish. Fr. Bob Levis

Question from JF on 10/30/2007:

please define doctrine

please define dogman

please list a few doctrines of the faith

Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 10/31/2007:

JF, Doctrine is the teaching of the Church. The common Catechism of the Church contains doctrine. Fr. Bob Levis

Question from D on 10/21/2007:

To Whom it Concern:

I went to a Cicerstan Monastery for Mass last weekend and I noticed something odd.

I should preface this with saying that the Mass had Georgian chants. During Communion the monks dipped the Host into the Cup while the laity just recieved the Host. From my limited experience, I have only seen that in those Anglican Use parishes but I am not sure if they are allowed to do that(the priest gave it to the lay recieving).

Is this allowed.

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 10/22/2007:

It is permitted for a concelebrating priest intinct the host in order to receive both species together. It is also permitted for the minister to intinct the host and give it to the laity so that they receive both species together. However, in this case, the host must be received on the tongue. It is not permitted for a person receive Holy Communion to do the dipping him or herself (except for the case of the concelebrating priest).

Reception of Holy Communion by intinction is an accepted practice of the Roman rite, even if it is not widely practiced in all places today.

communion rire

Question from claudette malley on 10/22/2007: at our church the priest does not say the this is the lamb of GOD who takes away the sins of the world, happy are those whoare called to his supper. i read he is not allowed to omit that, my question is is the mass still a valid mass?? ty wating for an answer GOD BLESS Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 10/28/2007: This does not affect validty, even if it is illicit.

Godparent to a non Catholic

Question from Molly F. on 10/28/2007:

Is it okay to be a Godparent for a non Catholic baby? I was asked by a friend to be the Godmother of her baby and she is Luthern. I thought it was okay but now as I have doen more research, it doesn't seem the case. What does the Church teach?

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/2/2007:

The Directory for the Application of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism issued by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity permits Catholics to serve as a Christian witness in such a situation.

I assume that the Lutheran is someone separated from full communion with the Catholic Church in good faith and not someone who is a former Catholic.

validity of sacrament

Question from Tim on 10/28/2007:

Hi Was this a valid Catholic sacrament?

Attended marriage ceremony recently in Catholic Church. Bride Catholic and groom Protestant (Methodist). Ceremony similar to Mass, except no Eucharistic Liturgy (Communion was provided after the service to those who had ordered it some time previous to the service).

The service was concelebrated by Catholic priest and Methodist minister. The Liturgy of the Word was shared between both ministers with the Methodist minister reading the Gospel. The “Our Father” was recited by the Catholic Priest and included “Thine is the Kingdom….”. The words of the marriage ceremony itself were split between both ministers.

Was this a valid Catholic sacrament? Any other comments?

Best regards, love your program,

Tim (Ireland)

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/2/2007:

Much of what you describe was illicit.

Only one officiant is permitted to "receive" the consent of the parties. Canon 1127, 3 states: "There is not to be a religious celebration in which the Catholic who is assisting and a non-Catholic minister together, using their own rites, ask for the consent of the parties."

I would say therefore that the marriage is invalid due to the defect of canonical form. If you have witnessed this recently, I would suggest that the parties ask for a radical sanation from the bishop (or his delegate).

Receiving Communion in Greek Orthodox

Question from Mitch on 10/22/2007:

My 20yr old daughter, who is a practicing Roman Catholic, is dating a Greek Orthodox young man. Her boyfriends sister is getting married in their Greek Orthodox church and my daughter is in the wedding party. My question is can my daughter receive Communion at this marriage ceremony? Thanks and may God Bless EWTN

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/1/2007:

It is my understanding of Greek Orthodox canon law that baptized individuals who are not Orthodox are not admitted to Holy Communion. It would be important for a Catholic to respect the canon law of the Orthodox Church, even in situations when it is stricter than the Catholic canon law.

Gospel Reading at Mass

Question from Betty Lampitt on 10/28/2007:

Our Pastor did now read the Gospel at mass yesterday. He permitted three (3) grade-school children to "take parts" in reading the Gospel. I was flabbergasted. Is this something new - that lay people read the Gospel?

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/2/2007:

Isn't that cute? Maybe he'll let them read the words of consecration also. Then it'll not only be illicit but also invalid.

when life begins

Question from Mary on 10/30/2007:

Dear Judie, Just wanted to run this by you. My teenage daughter had a debate on abortion at school. One of the girls said something along the lines that the child doesn't become 'a baby' till around the 2nd or 3rd month. In other words it's just a bunch of cells. A few years ago a student friend of my son wrote an abortion rights article for the school newspaper on the same thing. She said it wasn't a human being until a few months later. And this girl's mom is a registered nurse so I'm assuming she knows different. If a lot of these youth think this way, it's no wonder they think abortion is OK especially in the early stages. After all they're not killing a living human being, right? How do we combat such ignorance? God Bless Mary

Answer by Judie Brown on 10/30/2007:

Dear Mary

The most powerful way to educate is with pictures of the preborn at each of his stages prior to birth, and of course 4-D ultrasound. There is a copy of American Life League's BABY STEPS DVD on You Tube, and perhaps you should take a look, because as we say here aty ALL combatting ignorance begins with telling the truth in love and with patience.

The YOU TUBE location is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1uKCchuIjM

Judie Brown

Covenant House

Question from Jim on 10/30/2007:


I received a letter today from Covenant House asking for a donation. Is this a good Catholic Charity? I know they had alleged problems in the charity's early years when Father Bruce Ritter was running it. From what I read, today, Covenant House, is a great charity desperately needed by many children who have been abused, are homeless, etc.. I have read they don't associate with clinics that do abortions.

What are your thoughts on the charity Covenant House?



Answer by Judie Brown on 10/31/2007:

Dear Jim

If there is a problem with Covenant House, I am not aware of it.

Judie Brown

Signs of Cross before Gospel

Question from von on 11/2/2007:

A friend of mine asked if we say anything while we make the sign of the Cross on our foreheads, lips and heart before the Gospel is read. She is Hispanic and she asked if we say anything special in english.


Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/2/2007:

There are no words to accompany this gesture.

Canonizations infallible?

Question from Anonymous on 9/25/2007:

Are canonizations of the Saints infallible? When looking this up, some websites said yes, while others said no. Thanks for your time, and God bless.

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 10/22/2007:

I will answer this question purely from a canonical point of view. Perhaps the matter is debated more thorougly in theological circles.

The following is from the deree of canonization of Josemaria Escriva: "Therefore, today, in a solemn Mass in St. Peter's Square, before an immense multitude of the faithful, we have pronounced the following formula: In honor of the Blessed and Undivided Trinity, for the uplifting of Catholic faith and the increase of Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and that of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and our own, after careful deliberation, having called frequently upon God's help, and with the advice of many of our brother Bishops, we declare and define Blessed Josemaría Escrivá to be a Saint, and we inscribe his name in the catalogue of the Saints, ordaining that, throughout the universal Church, he be devoutly honored among the Saints. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And what we have declared, we desire to be in force both now and in the future, anything to the contrary notwithstanding."

Canon 749 is the canon pertaining to infallible teaching. It states: "§1. By virtue of his office, the Supreme Pontiff possesses infallibility in teaching when as the supreme pastor and teacher of all the Christian faithful, who strengthens his brothers and sisters in the faith, he proclaims by definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held. "§2. The college of bishops also possesses infallibility in teaching when the bishops gathered together in an ecumenical council exercise the magisterium as teachers and judges of faith and morals who declare for the universal Church that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held definitively; or when dispersed throughout the world but preserving the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter and teaching authentically together with the Roman Pontiff matters of faith or morals, they agree that a particular proposition is to be held definitively. "§3. No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident."

The key word in an infallible statement is "definitive." The decree of canonization does not use the term "definitive," although it certainly uses language close to it.

The alternative to "definitive" infallible teachings is not just errorneous teachings. There are other authoritative teachings. Perhaps canonizations fall into one of these categories.

People may respond to this posting with statements refuting what I have written. I will only be completely convinced if something says that canonizations are "definitive."

Use of Cell Phones in Church

Question from Steve on 10/22/2007:

Any direct prohibition of cell phone calls from the 2nd pew of church - 3 minutes after Sunday Mass?

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 10/28/2007:

There is no specific regulations on the use of cell phones, although it does seem appropriate to teach about is appropriate in sacred places.

By the way, I answered this question on my iPhone, although I am in a rectory.

catholic mass

Question from carol on 10/7/2007:

when and how did the mass begin and where in the catholic bible can it be found?

Thank you for your response.

Answer by Matthew Bunson on 10/14/2007:

The Eucharist is “The source and summit of the Christian Life” (Lumen Gentium, 11); the Eucharist is the sacrifice of the Mass and the sacrament in which Christ is really and truly present and is received under the appearances of bread and wine. Other names for the Eucharist are the Lord’s Supper, table of the Lord, breaking of the bread, the unbloody sacrifice, daily bread, the most blessed sacrament, the sacrifice of praise, Holy Communion, and agape.

The Sacrament of the Eucharist was described by the Second Vatican Council: At the Last Supper, on the night when he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the Sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, No. 47). (CCC 1322-1419.)

The place of the Last Supper is identified as a large upstairs room, termed the Cenacle (Lat. cenaculum, “supper room”), in a house in Jerusalem (Mk. 14:15; Lk. 22:12), probably the same location as the upper room where the Apostles stayed after the Ascension and before Pentecost (Acts 1:13). The accounts of the Last Supper are preserved in the three Synoptic Gospels (Mt. 26:20-29; Mk. 14:17-25; Lk. 22:14-38) and John (chap. 13), but they provide few details as to the physical circumstances of the meal. Jesus sent Peter and John to Jerusalem to make arrangements for the meal (Mt. 26:17-19; Mk. 14:12-16; Lk. 22:7-13). The participants likely ate reclining at the table (Jn. 13:25).

The Eucharist was instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. In doing so, the Savior fulfilled his own promise made earlier in his public ministry, to give himself as the “Bread of Life” (Jn. 6:26-59). The accounts of the institution are found in Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, and 1 Corinthians 11:23-25. In John, the institution is omitted, although he leaves no doubt as to his Eucharistic references in the Bread of Life discourse (chap. 6).

Baptized with Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues

Question from Anon on 10/24/2007:

Father, what is meant by "baptised with the Holy Spirit?" -- is it a "baptism" beyond Confirmation? And what is the purpose of "speaking in tongues?" (I saw the recent EWTN program on this, but don't really understand.)

Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 10/27/2007:

Dear Anon, If anyone be baptized, he is baptized with the Holy Spirit. The charismatics stress this reality but all the baptized share in the coming of the Spirit. Glossalalia or speaking in tongues is a charism given sometimes by the Spirit for the benefit of the community. Again, charismatic believers stress this charism. Fr. Bob levis