Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 18, 2010 when a Centennial Mass was celebrated in honor of St. Margaret of Scotland (Waterbury) Church.
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msgrliptak tnQ. I have a question: when a priest celebrates Mass and fails to use the new translation, especially the words of consecration, is the sacrament valid? Are his actions illicit? This is not a case of an occasional “slip up” but rather a continuing refusal to use the new language because he judges it awkward.

A. The Church’s formulary for the heart of the Ma

ss – “the words of the Lord” spoken over the bread and the chalice of wine, generally referred to as “the Consecration” – must be followed by the celebrant of Mass; no one is permitted to alter them on his own. Absolutely essential are the words, “This is my body,” and “This is the Chalice of my Blood…” The pronoun “my” emphasizes the truth that the priest (or bishop) stands in the place of Christ, because the Mass constitutes a sacrificial banquet made by Christ to the Father. If the essential words are absent, the liturgical action has to be assessed as invalid. It goes without saying that deliberately causing an invalid sacramental action is a serious violation of the reverence that must surround all holy procedures.

There are those who argue that minor changes are simply illicit and do not invalidate sacramental actions. Such an attitude is a puzzlement, however. A priest acts in the name of the Church; he should strive to act in concert with the Church, by whom he is empowered to minister. The Church has a 2,000-year history; how can a priest possibly claim superiority over an institution that has weathered all kinds of innuendos and arrows down through the centuries? More than simple hubris seems to be indicated here.

When lecturing in sacramental theology on the graduate level in the seminary (once a favorite task of mine), I repeatedly insisted that seminarians learn to be deliberate (and not scrupulous) when conferring a sacrament. In other words, there is a need to pray and think beforehand so that one’s sacramental action never approaches the threshold of the habitual, nor even the virtual. “Do what you are doing” (Age quod agis) is a norm that is helpful here; the Latin means “Pay attention to what you are doing.” (This was a corrective constantly made by seminary rectors and professors in my years of study and/or teaching; it applies both to attention and intention.)

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Q. Where in Church law is it said that there must always be a lamp burning before the Tabernacle of Reservation?

A. One key reference to the need for a lamp near the tabernacle is Number 316 of the General Introduction of the Roman Missal. The liturgical regulation reads:

“In accordance with the local traditional custom, near the tabernacle a special lamp, fueled by oil or wax, should shine permanently to indicate the presence of Christ and honor it.”

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.