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Offices Worship FAQs

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Worship FAQs

The list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) provides a comprehensive list of resources from the Office of Worship on popular topics/questions asked.


Communion Rite Posture

Why are we being asked to stand during Holy Communion?

Standing for the Communion Rite during the distribution and reception of Holy Communion and the singing of the Communion Hymn, has been part of the Church’s instructions for Mass since 1969; however, in many places across the country, this has been ignored. In 2004, then-Bishop Pilla used the promulgation of the third edition of the General I... More

Standing for the Communion Rite during the distribution and reception of Holy Communion and the singing of the Communion Hymn, has been part of the Church’s instructions for Mass since 1969; however, in many places across the country, this has been ignored. In 2004, then-Bishop Pilla used the promulgation of the third edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal as an opportunity to clearly restate the Church’s desire for the faithful to stand during the Communion Rite by issuing a particular policy reinforcing the Church’s Communion Rite posture policy. Bishop Perez has chosen to retain and reaffirm this particular policy, in keeping with his desire to both follow the instructions of the Church and unify the postures of the faithful during Mass.

Consider that, throughout Mass, the Church asks us all to stand for certain moments - we stand for the Entrance Procession and the singing of the Entrance Chant/Song; we stand for the Gospel Procession, the singing of the Gospel Acclamation and the proclamation of the Gospel; we stand for the Intercessions (Prayers of the Faithful); we stand for the praying of the Lord's Prayer. In each case, we are standing because we are addressing prayer to God, and are doing so corporately, as the Body of Christ gathered together. In the case of the Entrance and Gospel Processions, we are also standing because we are processing. Standing for the Communion Procession, for the distribution and reception of Holy Communion and the singing of the Communion Chant/Song (our corporate prayer) follows this pattern.

Isn't standing during Holy Communion disrespectful?

Many people feel that standing during the Communion Rite is disrespectful. This is understandable; however, it may be helpful to know that our feelings on this are largely based on our own personal histories, what we ourselves grew up doing. Standing is not inherently any more respectful or disrespectful a posture than kneeling. It is entirely pos... More

Many people feel that standing during the Communion Rite is disrespectful. This is understandable; however, it may be helpful to know that our feelings on this are largely based on our own personal histories, what we ourselves grew up doing.

Standing is not inherently any more respectful or disrespectful a posture than kneeling. It is entirely possible to kneel disrespectfully, just as it is entirely possible to stand reverently. The attitude of reverence and respect begins in the heart. Indeed, canon XX of the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 stated that the faithful were not to kneel on Sundays. This was largely from the Church’s understanding of Sunday as a day when we celebrate the Resurrection, as well as a long history among both Jewish and Christian liturgical traditions of standing when addressing prayer to God.

Consider that, throughout Mass, the Church asks us all to stand for certain moments - we stand for the Entrance Procession and the singing of the Entrance Chant/Song; we stand for the Gospel Procession, the singing of the Gospel Acclamation and the proclamation of the Gospel; we stand for the Intercessions (Prayers of the Faithful); we stand for the praying of the Lord's Prayer. In each case, we are standing because we are addressing prayer to God, and are doing so corporately, as the Body of Christ gathered together. In the case of the Entrance and Gospel Processions, we are also standing because we are processing. Standing for the Communion Procession, for the distribution and reception of Holy Communion and the singing of the Communion Chant/Song (our corporate prayer) follows this pattern.

Is the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland's Communion Rite Posture Policy mandatory?

The Church asks us all to adopt particular postures throughout Mass for specific reasons. These postures are considered normative. Standing for the Communion Rite has been part of the Church’s instructions for Mass since 1969; however, in many places across the country, this has been ignored. Consider that, throughout Mass, the Church asks ... More

The Church asks us all to adopt particular postures throughout Mass for specific reasons. These postures are considered normative.

Standing for the Communion Rite has been part of the Church’s instructions for Mass since 1969; however, in many places across the country, this has been ignored.

Consider that, throughout Mass, the Church asks us all to stand for certain moments - we stand for the Entrance Procession and the singing of the Entrance Chant/Song; we stand for the Gospel Procession, the singing of the Gospel Acclamation and the proclamation of the Gospel; we stand for the Intercessions (Prayers of the Faithful); we stand for the praying of the Lord's Prayer. In each case, we are standing because we are addressing prayer to God, and are doing so corporately, as the Body of Christ gathered together. In the case of the Entrance and Gospel Processions, we are also standing because we are processing. Standing for the Communion Procession, for the distribution and reception of Holy Communion and the singing of the Communion Chant/Song (our corporate prayer) follows this pattern.

Exceptions to the posture directives of the Church have always been allowed, without prejudice, in cases of illness or infirmity, advanced age, or for parents with small children.

Finally, it is worth noting that after an individual has received Holy Communion, “the prescription of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal number 43, is intended, on the one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.” Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments [CDWDS], Prot. n. 855/03/L, May 26, 2003, as quoted in the BCL Newsletter, vol. XXXIX, July 2003, pg. 133

I'm still confused about when I am being asked to stand, and when I am allowed to kneel.

There are four moments of posture during Mass which the Bishop’s posture clarification addresses: 1. The time from after the Lamb of God until the celebrant receives Holy Communion. Posture: GIRM # 43 defers to the authority of the diocesan bishop in determining the posture of the faithful in his diocese, either kneeling or standing. Si... More

There are four moments of posture during Mass which the Bishop’s posture clarification addresses:

1. The time from after the Lamb of God until the celebrant receives Holy Communion.

Posture: GIRM # 43 defers to the authority of the diocesan bishop in determining the posture of the faithful in his diocese, either kneeling or standing. Since 2004, the policy of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland has been tostandfrom the end of the Lamb of God until the celebrant receives Holy Communion, and Bishop Perez has reiterated this norm for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

2. The time from when the celebrant receives Holy Communion until the end of the distribution of Holy Communion

Posture: The GIRM and supporting documentation from the Bishop’s Committee on the Liturgy clearly indicates that the ordinary posture of the faithful isstandingfrom the time the celebrant receives Holy Communion until the end of the distribution of Holy Communion.

3. The time after an individual Catholic receives Holy Communion (which overlaps # 2 above)

Posture: Francis Cardinal Arinze clarifies in his dubium response that after an individual Catholic receives Holy Communion, the ordinary posture isstanding; however, this is not to be enforced so rigidly that those who wish to kneel or sit after their individual reception of Holy Communion would not feel free to do so.

4. The time of sacred silence after the distribution of Holy Communion has ended.

Posture: The GIRM clearly indicates that the faithful may choose to eitherkneel or sitduring the sacred silence after everyone has received Holy Communion. It is not necessary to remain standing for the reposition of any remaining hosts in the tabernacle, nor is it necessary to remain standing for the purification of the sacred vessels.

I can't stand for the whole Communion Procession! What should I do?

Exemptions from the Church's posture directives are always allowed without prejudice in cases of age, infirmity, injury, or for parents with small children. Finally, it is worth noting that “the prescription of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal number 43, is intended, on the one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniform... More

Exemptions from the Church's posture directives are always allowed without prejudice in cases of age, infirmity, injury, or for parents with small children.

Finally, it is worth noting that “the prescription of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal number 43, is intended, on the one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.” Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments [CDWDS], Prot. n. 855/03/L, May 26, 2003, as quoted in the BCL Newsletter, vol. XXXIX, July 2003, pg. 133

Why doesn't every diocese stand during the Communion Rite?

Standing for the Communion Rite during the distribution and reception of Holy Communion and the singing of the Communion Hymn, has been part of the Church’s instructions for Mass since 1969; however, in many places across the country, this has been ignored. Prior to 1969, everyone received Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue. The commo... More

Standing for the Communion Rite during the distribution and reception of Holy Communion and the singing of the Communion Hymn, has been part of the Church’s instructions for Mass since 1969; however, in many places across the country, this has been ignored.

Prior to 1969, everyone received Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue. The common posture for the entire Communion Rite, then, was kneeling. The only reason for standing and walking was to get from point A (pew kneeler) to point B (Communion rail kneeler) and back again. The change in 1969 was from kneeling during the Communion Rite to standing during the Communion Rite, with the restoration of the option for reception of Holy Communion in the hand. Both of these decisions were in response to one of the principles of the second Vatican Council known as ressourcement, or “return to the sources.” The ancient posture for the distribution and reception of Holy Communion was standing, and reception in the hand (see footnote 24 on the posture chart from St Cyril of Jerusalem on how to receive Holy Communion), while all joined in a communal prayer addressed to God, the Communion Chant/Hymn.

Most parishes removed Communion rail kneelers in response to this change. But, pew kneelers were usually left in place, so that people could kneel for the Eucharistic Prayer (which is still the normative posture for the Eucharistic Prayer). Many people received little to no catechesis or instruction back in 1969, and in the absence of such instruction, continued to do physically what they had always done – kneeling in the pew, standing and walking to get from point A to point B, but not kneeling to receive Holy Communion since there was no longer a kneeler there, then returning to the pew and kneeling again – and this response to change with no instruction is a very human thing to do.

Remember the importance of the Church asking the faithful to do what a clear majority of the faithful physically CAN do. Not everyone CAN physically kneel. Not everyone can physically stand, either, but more people can stand than can kneel. And so, the Church asks us to take a common posture that a majority of the faithful physically CAN take, so that we might be in greater unity.

Change in the Church does not happen immediately – it takes time. It’s only been about 50 years since the 1969 Roman Missal, and that is just a blink in “Church years!” We are still in the transitional period between kneeling for the Communion Rite and standing for the Communion Rite. There is bound to be some confusion and disparity of practices while we make the transition.

My pastor said that if we kneel during the distribution and reception of Holy Communion, we will be denied Holy Communion.

In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”. Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not... More

In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”. Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds [of posture]. (Redemptionis sacramentum, 91; c.f. canon 843, 915, GIRM 160, BCL Newsletter November-December 2002, pgs 106-107)

My parish priest told us to continue to kneel for the distribution and reception of Holy Communion back in 2004. Why?

The Bishop is the “Chief Steward of the mysteries of God and the overseer, promoter, and guardian of the liturgical life.” (Ceremonial of Bishops, 9. c.f. Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops Christus dominus, 15) “Every legitimate celebration of the Eucharist is directed by the Bishop, either in person or through Priests who... More

The Bishop is the “Chief Steward of the mysteries of God and the overseer, promoter, and guardian of the liturgical life.” (Ceremonial of Bishops, 9. c.f. Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops Christus dominus, 15)

“Every legitimate celebration of the Eucharist is directed by the Bishop, either in person or through Priests who are his helpers.” (GIRM 92)

It is unfortunate that some priests chose to disobey Bishop Pilla’s directives in 2004, and instructed their entire parish to continue to kneel during the distribution and reception of Holy Communion and the singing of the Communion Chant/Hymn. This has caused division in the Body of Christ in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

Liturgical Year

What are the regulations for fasting and abstinence during Lent?

from the USCCB: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as ... More

from the USCCB:

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.

For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.

El Miércoles de Ceniza y el Viernes Santo son días obligatorios de ayuno y abstinencia para los católicos. Además, los viernes durante la Cuaresma son días obligatorios de abstinencia.

Para los miembros de la Iglesia de rito latino, las normas son obligatorias desde la edad de 18 años hasta los 59. Cuando se ayuna, se le permite a la persona comer una comida completa, así como dos comidas más pequeñas que juntas no equivalgan a una comida completa. Las normas sobre la abstinencia de carne son vinculantes para los miembros de la iglesia católica de rito latino desde los 14 años en adelante.

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion Formation

How do I become an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion?

Those who assist as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion must be fully initiated in the Roman Catholic Church, that is, they are to have received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, and must be capable of fulfilling the physical requirements of this ministry (e.g. climbing stairs, holding vessels). If you feel called to this... More

Those who assist as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion must be fully initiated in the Roman Catholic Church, that is, they are to have received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, and must be capable of fulfilling the physical requirements of this ministry (e.g. climbing stairs, holding vessels). If you feel called to this ministry, contact your pastor, hospital chaplain, or campus minister to discuss this ministry. It is the responsibility of the pastor, or his equivalent, the hospital chaplain, or the campus minister to select those faithful who live a life in accord with the faith of the Catholic Church for service as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. (IBID. 11)

How old must I be to serve as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion?

Young people who are entering their senior year of high school may be trained for this ministry in their parish or at the Catholic high school they may be attending during the spring semester of their junior year. Beyond this, there is no age requirement. (IBID. 15)

How do I register for a diocesan emHC Formation session?

Parishes or institutions (high schools, hospitals, etc.) are responsible for registration of attendees. Our office uses a third-party event-management system, Eventbrite, for session registration. This is all done online, and is password-protected. The password is sent to parishes and institutions in the body of the email advertising the formation ... More

Parishes or institutions (high schools, hospitals, etc.) are responsible for registration of attendees. Our office uses a third-party event-management system, Eventbrite, for session registration. This is all done online, and is password-protected. The password is sent to parishes and institutions in the body of the email advertising the formation sessions. This password is not given out to individual parishioners or students. Parishes or institutions which have difficulty registering attendees should view the registration instructions found on our website or contact the Office for Worship.

Funerals

How much does a funeral Mass cost?

Masses are not bought and sold, and so, in that sense, a funeral Mass does not “cost” anything. The inability of an individual to make a donation to the parish church should never be a reason for a parish not to provide a funeral Mass for a practicing Catholic. That being said, parish churches do incur costs for the use of the building,... More

Masses are not bought and sold, and so, in that sense, a funeral Mass does not “cost” anything. The inability of an individual to make a donation to the parish church should never be a reason for a parish not to provide a funeral Mass for a practicing Catholic. That being said, parish churches do incur costs for the use of the building, the time invested by the parish staff, and for the skills of parish musicians, altar servers, and others involved in celebrating your loved ones’ funeral Mass. A donation from the family to offset these costs, while not required, is greatly appreciated. If your family wishes to make a donation to the parish to offset funeral expenses, make these arrangements with the pastor or the parish secretary.

My loved one was not an active Catholic. May they still have a funeral Mass?

The pastor of your loved ones’ parish church is the best person to determine this, in consultation with the family. The Catholic Church has other options for Catholic funeral liturgies that may be more appropriate if your loved one was not a practicing Catholic.

My loved one has died. What should I do now?

First, contact your loved ones’ Catholic parish. If you are not sure which Catholic parish they belong to, start with the parish church closest geographically to your loved ones’ home. Then, contact a funeral home. The parish and the funeral home cooperate to provide care and comfort to families preparing funerals and burials.

Where does a funeral Mass take place?

The preferred location is your loved one’s parish church. In some circumstances, the parish church of someone else in your loved one’s family may be appropriate. The permanent chapel of a Catholic nursing home may also be used, if your loved one was a longtime resident. The pastor of your loved ones’ parish church should be part o... More

The preferred location is your loved one’s parish church. In some circumstances, the parish church of someone else in your loved one’s family may be appropriate. The permanent chapel of a Catholic nursing home may also be used, if your loved one was a longtime resident. The pastor of your loved ones’ parish church should be part of the discussion when determining where to celebrate your loved ones’ funeral Mass.

Does the Catholic Church allow cremation?

Yes, the Catholic Church allows cremation, within certain guidelines (2016 Vatican Instruction: to Rise With Christ): The Church continues to prefer the practice of burying the bodies of the deceased [in cemeteries or other sacred places], because this shows a greater esteem towards the deceased. When cremation has been chosen, the ashes of the f... More

Yes, the Catholic Church allows cremation, within certain guidelines (2016 Vatican Instruction: to Rise With Christ):

The Church continues to prefer the practice of burying the bodies of the deceased [in cemeteries or other sacred places], because this shows a greater esteem towards the deceased.

When cremation has been chosen, the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place: a cemetery, or in a church or another area which has been set aside and dedicated by the bishop for this purpose.

A simple but worthy funeral urn is most appropriate for containing the ashes after cremation.

Keeping the ashes of the deceased in a domestic residence is not permitted.

The ashes may not be divided among various family members.

It is not permitted to scatter the ashes in the air, on land, at sea.

It is not permitted to [preserve the ashes] in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects.

When does a funeral Mass take place?

Catholic funeral Masses may be celebrated on any day except: Sundays, Holy Days, and the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday). Generally speaking, funeral Masses are celebrated on days and at times that are convenient to family members, and suitable for the schedule of the parish church and the funeral home.

Is there a book that can tell me about Catholic funerals?

The Order of Christian Funerals, published in 1989, contains a clear theology of the attitude of the Catholic Church toward life after death and the respect the Church has for the human person, body and soul. An appendix to this ritual on cremation was published in 1997. The use of both is required in the United States. There are various Catholic f... More

The Order of Christian Funerals, published in 1989, contains a clear theology of the attitude of the Catholic Church toward life after death and the respect the Church has for the human person, body and soul. An appendix to this ritual on cremation was published in 1997. The use of both is required in the United States. There are various Catholic funeral preparation guidelines published for use by the faithful on the occasion of a loved ones’ death. Your parish will be able to direct you to one of these resources, or you may contact the Office for Worship to learn more.

Does the Catholic Church allow eulogies? How are eulogies different from homilies? What are “remarks/words of remembrance?”

A eulogy (“to speak well of someone”) is a brief speech about the good qualities of the deceased person. Eulogies are appropriate when spoken at the funeral home during the visitation, during the Vigil in the church, or during a family gathering after the Committal (burial); eulogies are not appropriate during the funeral Mass. In contr... More

A eulogy (“to speak well of someone”) is a brief speech about the good qualities of the deceased person. Eulogies are appropriate when spoken at the funeral home during the visitation, during the Vigil in the church, or during a family gathering after the Committal (burial); eulogies are not appropriate during the funeral Mass. In contrast, the homily, given by the priest (or in some cases, the deacon) during the funeral Mass brings together the Scripture readings of the funeral Mass, the Catholic belief in the resurrection, and some qualities of the deceased person’s life that may be examples of the Scripture texts, or of Christian living in general.

Remarks/words of remembrance are an option before the prayers of Commendation, near the end of the funeral Mass. These remarks are not a eulogy, but a brief word of thanksgiving for the life and faith of the deceased. Only one person should make these remarks, and that person should stand next to the priest celebrant to make these remarks, rather than standing at the ambo or lectern.

Does the Catholic Church allow organ or body donation?

Yes, the donation of one’s organs is a commonplace and praiseworthy option. The donation of the entire body to scientific study is also permitted. Once the scientific study of the entire body has been completed, the body should be properly buried, or cremated and properly interred.

What are the parts of the funeral Mass? How should we prepare our loved ones’ funeral Mass?

Funeral Masses include songs and hymns, Scripture readings, prayers, and sharing of the Eucharistic elements: the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearance of consecrated bread and consecrated wine. Your loved one may have made some funeral Mass plans before their death. If these can be found, they will be a good starting place. Your loved ones... More

Funeral Masses include songs and hymns, Scripture readings, prayers, and sharing of the Eucharistic elements: the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearance of consecrated bread and consecrated wine. Your loved one may have made some funeral Mass plans before their death. If these can be found, they will be a good starting place. Your loved ones’ parish church staff will also have many resources to assist you in planning your loved ones’ funeral. Contact your loved ones’ parish church as soon after their death as possible, so that the church staff is able to assist you in making your loved ones’ funeral Mass plans.

My loved one was an active, practicing Catholic, but the family is not. Is a funeral Mass required?

The Church’s care for Catholics includes the celebration of their life, and their faith in the resurrection, with a funeral Mass. Even if other family members are not practicing Catholics, a funeral Mass is the best choice for a practicing Catholic who has died. Remember, the parish church community was also a part of your loved ones’ l... More

The Church’s care for Catholics includes the celebration of their life, and their faith in the resurrection, with a funeral Mass. Even if other family members are not practicing Catholics, a funeral Mass is the best choice for a practicing Catholic who has died. Remember, the parish church community was also a part of your loved ones’ life, and many members of the parish will also want an opportunity to mourn and to celebrate your loved one.

My loved one is gravely ill, hospitalized, on hospice care, or actively dying. What should I do now?

Contact your loved ones’ Catholic parish. If you are not sure which Catholic parish they belong to, start with the parish church closest geographically to your loved ones’ home. The Church is able to provide comfort and consolation to your loved one, including the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, Holy Communion as Viaticum, and pasto... More

Contact your loved ones’ Catholic parish. If you are not sure which Catholic parish they belong to, start with the parish church closest geographically to your loved ones’ home. The Church is able to provide comfort and consolation to your loved one, including the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, Holy Communion as Viaticum, and pastoral visits. These visits may also comfort and console your family and friends.

Sacraments

What are the Church's regulations for serving as a godparent or sponsor?

To be permitted to take on the function of godparent or sponsor a person must: 1. be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function; 2. have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the dioces... More

To be permitted to take on the function of godparent or sponsor a person must:

1. be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;

2. have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;

3. be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;

4. not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;

5. not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized. (Canon 874 §1)

What is a Sponsor Certificate? Why do I need one? How do I get one?

Sponsor Certificates or Sponsor Verification forms are not simply a series of hoops for persons to jump through. They are intended to offer evidence that an individual is qualified in the eyes of the Catholic Church to represent the Catholic Church to someone being Baptized/Confirmed, and to also represent the person being Baptized/Confirmed to the... More

Sponsor Certificates or Sponsor Verification forms are not simply a series of hoops for persons to jump through. They are intended to offer evidence that an individual is qualified in the eyes of the Catholic Church to represent the Catholic Church to someone being Baptized/Confirmed, and to also represent the person being Baptized/Confirmed to the Catholic Church. This dual responsibility goes beyond just being a trusted family member, a close friend of the family, or someone we admire.

Godparents/Sponsors have specific jobs relating to both the person to be Baptized/Confirmed as well as to the Catholic Church. Sponsor Certificates or Sponsor Verification forms offer evidence that someone is qualified to perform these jobs.

Godparents/Sponsors:

  • Assist in final sacramental preparation for Baptism/Confirmation
  • Help the one to be Baptized/Confirmed to persevere in the Christian life
  • Testify publically before whole Catholic Church to the faith of the person to be Baptized/Confirmed
  • Profess the Catholic Church’s faith publically together with the person to be Baptized/Confirmed (or with the infant’s parents)

THEREFORE, the Godparent/Sponsor must…

  • … be chosen by the person to be Baptized/Confirmed (or by the parents of the infant to be Baptized)
  • … have the ability, understanding, and intention to carry out role of Godparent/Sponsor
  • … be mature enough to fulfill this role (age 16 or older)
  • … be a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church (must have already received Baptism and Confirmation, and must be regularly receiving Holy Communion)
  • … be living a life consistent with the Catholic faith and with the responsibility of a Godparent/Sponsor (must be regularly practicing the Catholic faith; if married, must be married validly in the Catholic Church; must not be in a state of mortal sin)
  • … be neither the father nor mother of the one to be Baptized/Confirmed
  • … not be prohibited by Church law from serving as Godparent/Sponsor
  • be judged by the Pastor of the person being Baptized/Confirmed to be qualified to serve as a Godparent/Sponsor*

There may be two people serving as Godparents; but, if two, then one male and one female. Usually there is only one Confirmation Sponsor (preferably, one of the Baptismal Godparents).

One baptized non-Catholic Christian may serve as a “Christian Witness,” but there must be one fully qualified Catholic Godparent in addition to the Christian Witness (Because of the close communion between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches, it is permissible for a just cause for an Eastern faithful to act as Godparent, together with a Catholic Godparent (DAPNE, 98b))

*How does the Pastor of the person being Baptized/Confirmed know that a Godparent/Sponsor meets the above qualifications?

The prospective Godparent/Sponsor provides a Sponsor Certificate or Sponsor Verification Form!

  • The Godparent/Sponsor should request from their church of Baptism a ‘long form’ copy of their Baptismal certificate, which should include notations as to the dates of Confirmation and Marriage (if married). This should be sent/presented to the Pastor of the person to be baptized at least one month before the Baptism/Confirmation.
  • The Godparent/Sponsor should request a signed affidavit (‘Sponsor Certificate’ or ‘Sponsor Verification’) from their own Pastor that they are a practicing Catholic in good standing at their parish. This should also be sent/presented to the Pastor of the person to be baptized at least one month before the Baptism/Confirmation.

Sponsor Certificates or Sponsor Verification forms are the best way for a Pastor to judge if an individual who seeks to serve as a Catholic Godparent/Sponsor for a member of his parish is in fact qualified to do so.

But, how does the Pastor of any given Catholic Church determine if an individual who requests a Sponsor Certificate from him is a practicing Catholic in good standing at his parish?

Most parish Pastors have only a few ways to objectively determine this:

The prospective Godparent/Sponsor requesting the Sponsor Certificate is…

  • registered at the Pastor’s parish
  • uses weekly parish contribution envelopes (even if there is no money inside the envelope)
  • is regularly involved in some parish ministry
  • greets the Pastor weekly before or after Mass

If the above objective testimony does not apply to you for whatever reason, then you may request a Sponsor Certificate based upon subjective testimony, such as a signed affidavit from a fellow parishioner that they see you regularly at parish Masses; however, this subjective testimony might not be accepted by the parish Pastor, precisely because it is subjective.

Sponsor Certificates or Sponsor Verification forms offer evidence that someone is qualified in the eyes of the Catholic Church to represent the Church to someone being Baptized/Confirmed, and to also represent the person being Baptized/Confirmed to the Church. This dual responsibility goes beyond just being a “good person,” and evidence of someone’s qualification to serve as a Godparent/Sponsor usually takes the form of a Sponsor Certificate or Sponsor Verification form.

I cannot tolerate gluten. May I receive a gluten-free host?

Gluten-free hosts are invalid matter for the celebration of Mass. However, a low-gluten host has been developed. Its contents are unleavened wheat and water and it is free of additives, which conforms to the requirements of the Code of Canon Law (canon 924, §2). This low gluten content is still enough to obtain the confection of bread for the... More

Gluten-free hosts are invalid matter for the celebration of Mass. However, a low-gluten host has been developed. Its contents are unleavened wheat and water and it is free of additives, which conforms to the requirements of the Code of Canon Law (canon 924, §2). This low gluten content is still enough to obtain the confection of bread for the Eucharist. Many gluten-intolerant persons may be able to consume it, or some portion of it. Such persons, however, are strongly advised to consult in advance with their physicians.

Click here to read the USCCB newsletter regarding this matter (pg 38).

The contact information for ordering from the four USCCB approved distributors of low-gluten hosts is as follows:

Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
Altar Breads Department
31970 State Highway P
Clyde, MO 64432-8100
Phone: (800) 223-2772
E-Mail: altarbreads@benedictinesisters.org
Web: www.BenedictineSisters.org
Gluten Content: 0.01%


Parish Crossroads

P.O. Box 84
Zionsville, IN 46077-0084
Phone: (800) 510-8842
E-Mail: admin@parishcrossroads.com
Web: www.ParishCrossroads.com
Gluten Content: 0.016%

GlutenFreeHosts.com Inc. [a mis-nomer, as they also produce hosts which are low-gluten; use caution when ordering]
100 Buckley Road
Liverpool, NY 13088
Phone: (800) 668-7324 ext. 1
E-Mail: info@glutenfreehosts.com
Web: www.GlutenFreeHosts.com
Gluten Content: 0.002%

Cavanagh Company
610 Putnam Pike
Greenville, RI 02828
Phone: (800) 635-0568
Web: www.CavanaghCo.com
Gluten Content: 0.00042%

The common advice given to many Celiac and gluten-intolerant patients is to receive only the Precious Blood at Holy Communion. Additional concerns, however, can emerge when the Precious Blood has been “contaminated” with gluten at the commingling rite. The administration of the Precious Blood, whether under the form of wine or of mustum to persons with these conditions must carefully take into account the need to avoid any mixing of the sacred species at the altar or a communion station.

Low Gluten Hosts: Suggested Procedures

A person with gluten intolerance should keep a supply of low gluten hosts for use as needed. The parish could buy the hosts or the individual could buy hosts directly from one of the three approved suppliers listed above. (Recall that only hosts from the suppliers listed above are valid matter for the Eucharist. Low-gluten hosts from other suppliers or No-gluten/Gluten-free hosts are not valid matter for Eucharist.)

  • A person with gluten intolerance should speak with the priest before Mass when providing a low gluten host.
  • It is recommended that a person with gluten intolerance should use a small pyx in which to place the low gluten host to be consecrated. This will lessen the chance of this host getting mixed in with others.
  • The pyx should be brought to the altar when the chalice, paten and other vessels are brought to set up the altar at the Preparation of the Gifts.
  • The procedure for coming forward to receive Communion should be worked out with the pastor and/or liturgy staff of the parish.

Alcohol Intolerance and the Reception of Holy Communion

Those who are unable to consume alcohol, whether lay faithful, deacons, or priests, may now substitute mustum for regular wine in the reception of Holy Communion, with appropriate permission. Mustum is grape juice which contains no additives, is not pasteurized, and has a very low alcohol content (less than 1.0%) due to the fact that the fermentation process has been arrested briefly after its start. Any pasteurized grape juice product, including pasteurized mustum, is invalid matter for Mass due to the fact that the high temperatures used in the pasteurization process evaporate all of the remaining alcohol in the juice.

I am alcoholic. Is there any option other than sacramental wine for receiving the Precious Blood?

Those who are unable to consume alcohol, whether lay faithful, deacons, or priests, may now substitute mustum for regular wine in the reception of Holy Communion, with appropriate permission. Mustum is grape juice which contains no additives, is not pasteurized, and has a very low alcohol content (less than 1.0%) due to the fact that the fermentati... More

Those who are unable to consume alcohol, whether lay faithful, deacons, or priests, may now substitute mustum for regular wine in the reception of Holy Communion, with appropriate permission. Mustum is grape juice which contains no additives, is not pasteurized, and has a very low alcohol content (less than 1.0%) due to the fact that the fermentation process has been arrested briefly after its start. Any pasteurized grape juice product, including pasteurized mustum, is invalid matter for Mass due to the fact that the high temperatures used in the pasteurization process evaporate all of the remaining alcohol in the juice.

For mustum approved for use at Mass by the USCCB Secretariat for the Liturgy, please contact:

Mont La Salle Altar Wines

605 Trancas Street, Suite D
Napa, CA94558
Phone: (800) 447-8466
E-Mail: info@montlasallealtarwines.com
Web: www.MontLaSalleAltarWines.com

Monks Wine & Candles
P.O. Box 681248
Schaumburg, IL 60168
Phone: (800) 540-MONK (6665)
E-Mail: info@monkswineandcandles.com
Web: www.MonksWineAndCandles.com

Contact your parish office to discuss the possible use of mustum at parish Masses.

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