Catholic Questions and Answers -
Liturgy and Sacraments
This section covers some of most frequently asked questions (FAQ) that we receive here at The Crossroads Initiative about the Liturgy and Sacraments. If you have any questions you can check this page frequently for more Catholic Q & A. We are adding new Questions and Answers every week. Please select the topic that you have questions about. If you don't find an answer to your question, feel free to contact us and Dr. D'Ambrosio will try to answer.
Main Q & A Page
Q -I am recently returned to the Church after a forty year absence so I hope this isn't a dumb question. I like to go to mass as often as I can. I go Sunday morning and again at 5:00p.m. for the same mass but with a different priest. So I get a different homily. My question is can I go to communion (or is it called Eucharist now) at both services?
Hi Cindy! I'm happy to tell you that yes, you may receive up to 2x per day as long as the second reception takes place at Mass (rather than in a hospital room or communion service).
Q -Dear sir,
If water baptism is needed for salvation how come the Bible only says that unbelief send a person to hell, John 3:16-18?
The answer to your question comes from the same chapter that you cited. See John 3:5 “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Born of water and the spirit refers to the sacrament of baptism.
Faithfully in Christ,
Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio
Q -Dr. D’Ambrosio,
How will this new relationship between the Anglican Church and the Catholic church effect me as an Anglican and my husband as a Catholic? Will I be able to take part in the Holly Mass along with my husband in his church as he does in mine?
There is no mention in the announcement of any change in Catholic Canon Law regarding intercommunion.
Certainly, you are always welcome to worship at a Catholic Eucharist, but currently it would not be licit for you to receive communion there unless there was an impediment to you receiving the Eucharist in your own Church for some length of time.
What this will lead to will be parishes that are Anglican in liturgical custom and practice, with married priests, but which are in full communion with the Church of Rome. They will have regularized status in the Church and will be connected to a bishop who will have responsibility over many parishes of this type.
We shall see as time goes on what further developments will result from this new and exciting change.
Faithfully in Christ,
Q -Dr. D’Ambrosio -
Do Episcopalians receive the true presence of Christ in their Communion...I say no...what is the truth on this question?
If you can elaborate on the difference between them and the Roman Catholic church.
Been having a discussion at work...gets very heated at times...
In 1896, Pope Leo XIII in Apostolicae Curae declared that the sacrament of Holy Orders was null and void in the Anglican communion due to irregularities in Episcopal ordinations over the course of an entire generation back in the 16th century that caused a break in apostolic succession.
What has complicated matters since then is that some sacramentally valid bishops from the Old Catholic Schismatic Church have served as co-consecrators of several Anglican bishops which means that the Anglican bishops they ordain may have valid orders (and the priests they ordain as well).
So we generally don’t recognize Anglican orders and hence the validity of the Eucharist, but there may be exceptions due to the ordinations mentioned above.
Faithfully in Christ,
Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio
I have a question I would like answered
I was told that the Holy Father approved the General instruction of the Roman Missal for the United States in 2007 which does not allow kneeling for the reception of the Eucharist #160.
Is there any truth to this? Could you provide me also with the quote from #160 and your interpretation of it? Are the faithful allowed to kneel for Communion.
I have to say that I'm a bit confused about how to put all the documents together regarding posture for receiving communion -- various documents of different editions from Roman and from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops would have to be examined and put together, and that is a job for an expert in liturgical law which I am not!
From a theological and pastoral point of view I'd say this. The most important things in the reception of communion are reverence and the expression of unity. The US bishops have a clear preference for the reception of communion standing and the act of reverence before communion being bowing, not genuflecting. My personal preference would be to genuflect as a sign of reverence before receiving communion, but for me it is an act of mortification and penance to forego my own preference to follow the preference of the bishops and to exhibit unity with the congregation.
If the congregation I'm worshipping with receives kneeling, I kneel. If they stand, I stand in the presence of the king. This is what I'd advise you to do, regardless of whether a canon lawyer would judge that you have a right to receive kneeling.
One thing that is indisputable is that every Catholic in the US has the right to receive the host on the tongue or on the hand. This is a matter of personal preference which the minister of communion must respect.
Here are some links to the latest forms of the documents in question that we can find online:
I hope this is of help to you!
Faithfully in Christ,
Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
Q -I hope you will answer my question; ‘Why is there no mass on Good Friday?”
We've often heard that the Mass is a re-enactment of Christ's sacrifice, and of course this is true. It makes Calvary present again. But it is equally true that it is a celebration of his resurrection as well -- It makes Easter present again. The body and blood of Christ which we receive is the body and blood of the Risen, glorified Lord.
For this reason, it was always deemed inappropriate to celebrate the Eucharist on Good Friday and Holy Saturday in the Roman rite. Instead we have a communion service on Good Friday with elements that have been pre-consecrated or pre-sanctified on Holy Thursday. In the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church (and orthodox Church as well), there is only a Pre-sanctified liturgy on all the Fridays and Wednesdays of Lent, Friday and Wednesday being fast days in the early church and still fast days today in the Eastern Church.
Q -Dear Marcellino,
Thank you for your prompt answer to my query re. Civil Marriage Celebrant.
I have another Question. As a Eucharist Minister I have always consumed any Precious Blood left after all have received Communion. Recently I was told that this is not the correct thing to do as it is giving yourself Communion and that the Priest should consume any that is left.
As we are going to train some new Eucharist Ministers soon I would like this cleared up. [I am not doing the training, Our P.P. will be doing the training.]
Thanks in advance and may you and your family have Holy and Blessed
Dorothy J Smith+
A -Hi Dorothy,
I'd ask your priest how he wants you to handle it. In my humble opinion, you've already been given communion by the priest or deacon who handed you the chalice in the first place, so finishing the chalice would not be equivalent to giving yourself communion. I think you can do it as long as that is OK with the celebrant.
Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
Q -Dr. D'Ambrosio, I once heard you speaking on Catholic Answers Live about the
Reformation and a question about the distinctions of belief in the real presence came up. You mentioned something about the concept of consubstantiation being philosophically impossible or illogical. Can you please explain why it's philosophically impossible or point me to a resource that explains this. I have Lutheran relatives and would like to understand this. The idea of consubstantiation as being bread and God reflecting the reality of Jesus as fully God and fully man makes sense to me. I would have trouble defending transubstantiation compared to consubstantiation on this point. I understand that Jesus didn't say "this bread 'contains' my body", but I need more to go on. Does transubstantiation rely solely on Aristotelian philosphy? I am sure you are very busy, but any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. I very much enjoy listening to you on the radio. Thanks for all your hard for our Church and ecumenism. Paul
A - Hi Paul,
The analogy used by Lutheran theology between the hypostatic union of Jesus'
human and divine natures and the relationship between bread & wine and the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist is an inept one. Here's why. The divine nature of the Eternal Word is immaterial. It is not limited by time or space. The human of nature of Jesus of Nazareth of course has a material dimension in space and time (signified by the phrase 'body and blood'--his human soul, of course, is immaterial). There is nothing philosophically impossible in an immaterial reality being united to a material reality.
However, the humanity of Christ and bread and wine are two material realities that occupy space. It is an impossibility for two material realities to occupy the same space at the same time. Therefore, for the sacrament to be constituted of two material realities occupying the same space at the same time is absurd.
This is not dependent on Aristotelian thinking, but really on common sense.
And the Church's teaching, though using Aristotle's handy categories of essence (substance) and accident as a handy tool of explanation of clarification, predates the rediscovery of Aristotle in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Scriptures and the Fathers use the language of "transformation" and change (see St. Justin Martyr's First Apology, I think paragraph 66 or thereabouts, dated 165 AD or so). I'm not aware of anyplace in tradition prior to Luther where anyone tried to describe the sacrament as simultaneously ordinary bread AND the body and blood of Christ.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
Q - Marcellino,
As a young Catholic, I'm still trying to learn this faith and I am starting to encounter situations where its vital for me to be able to explain it...especially to Protestants. That said...I was speaking to a Protestant just the other day about the 7 Sacraments. This Protestant was taught by her Pastor that Catholics believe we receive salvation from the Sacraments (implying not from Christ). I hope I explained this correctly... I pointed out that salvific grace comes as a free gift to us through Christ and that sanctifying grace comes through the Sacraments. Since listening to your first CD about God's 7 gifts...I'm not sure if I got that correct...b/c you speak of sacraments as salvific on your CD. I also looked up in CCC 1129 and this is the kind of statement that gets Protestants in an uproar. Perhaps its semantics or perhaps its my ol' Protestantism still in me but I didn't think that I was 'saved' by the sacraments. Can you please help clarify?
A - Hi Terry,
God’s grace is the free gift of his love. Sanctifying grace is the grace that makes us “just” or “righteous” or holy. The sacraments are privileged channels of grace (sanctifying or otherwise), but not the exclusive channels of God’s grace. The Trinity is the ultimate source of all grace but the sacraments are instruments of grace. You can call a particular medicine the cause of a person’s healing, but then there is the doctor but ultimately God who created both medicine and doctor. So it is with the sacraments.
Protestants often have an either/or problem. It’s either God who is savior, or the Church. God OR the sacraments. For Catholics, its God THROUGH the priest. God THROUGH Mary & the Saints. God THROUGH the sacraments. There is no dichotomy between God and the instruments he uses, and when he does things he usually works through channels: people, sacraments, the Bible.
I hope that helps.
Q -To Whom It May Concern:
I have a question for Dr. D'Ambrosio. I heard inferences on Catholic Answers that we are not hold hands during the Our Father, but couldn't find out why not. Our church does that and most of the ones I've been too, in TX, NE, and MI have done so. Can you explain? I have heard you speak a number of times and purchased many of your tapes and cd's and I really enjoy hearing you speak. Thanks for your help. Cyndi J
A - Hi Cyndi,
In Church law, mandatory actions and postures are written in the missal in red. They are called "rubrics". To my knowledge, there are no mandated "rubrics" for what people are to do with their hands during the Our Father.
In Church law, if something is not prohibited, it is assumed to be allowed.
Therefore, as far as I know, there is no reason why the congregation should not hold hands during the Our Father.
This may be distasteful to some, but I don't think a case can be made that a priest and congregation may not or should not do it.
Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.
Q -Dr. D –
Reference Theology of the Body, Spirit vs. Flesh, are you saying that the body has no spirit unless, or until the Holy Spirit enters via Baptism and Confirmation?
A - Hi Bob,
Not at all. The human person, created in the image and likeness of God, is a created being who happens to be an enfleshed spirit. Sin has wounded and weakened the human spirit, however. The Death and Resurrection of Jesus caused the Holy Spirit of God to be poured out upon broken human to heal and elevate the human spirit, making us sharers in the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1), able to love with the very love of God (agape, caritas, charity).
Q -Dr. D -
Can you say a bit more about 'Eat my flesh and drink my Blood' as sometimes this causes confusion and misunderstanding - it seems an odd even a weird (apologies for my poor faith to you and the Lord) thing to say so can you help with this - I have an idea what it means but I can sympathize with those in the Bible who found it difficult so any help would be appreciated.
I receive your newsletter so maybe there is something already on the site.
A - David –
I’m responding to you while flying and therefore do not have access to my website resources. But if you click the library tab on the left navigation menu, then on the categories tab, you’ll see that there is a selection for Eucharist. There are lots of articles there on the real presence and Eucharist as sacrifice, etc. If you use the search engine on the site, you can also get to pertinent articles that way.
Basically, the Lord said lots of things like this. The shock value so to speak, causes us to stop, think, ask questions and listen. Some departed, others stayed with the Lord and sought for and prayed for understanding. Imagine the apostles on the night of the last supper. Perhaps the light went on at that moment “So THIS is what he meant when, by the lake, he spoke about eating his flesh and drinking his blood.”
On the Passover, lambs were sacrificed and then were eaten by the Jews. If you did not partake of the sacrificial victim, you did not share in the benefit of the sacrifice. God received a portion of the victim (always at least the blood) and the worshippers received a portion. Partaking of the sacrifice together with God meant sharing with him a common life. So Jesus, as the new Passover lamb, insists we share in the sacrifice, just as Jews shared in the old Passover sacrifice. He gives us his flesh and blood, however, under the forms of ordinary food, bread and wine. We receive him really and truly, but sacramentally.
All this is laid out in greater detail in articles on the website and in the CD/DVD series, available on my site, called the Feast of Faith.
Q - In your article on the Priesthood of the Laity (titled “Secret Agents” by Our Sunday Visitor), you raise the question of why the Catholic Church does not allow women or married men to be ordained priests, but you don’t really answer the question.
A- Hi N,
I didn’t mean to be evasive, but to make an important point – every married Catholic male and Catholic woman has a call to very powerful share in the priesthood of Christ that often is not being actualized on a day to day basis. I wanted to raise consciousness of this and make a very clear case against a residual clericalism that I see subconsciously operative, in “conservatives” and “progressives” alike—
clericalism meaning the idea that if you REALLY want to participate in the work of the Church and in leadership, you must be a priest or religious.
We certainly need more ministerial priests, no doubt. The reason we don’t have women priests is quite simple,
because when Jesus selected the 12 from his disciples (the holiest and most faithful of whom happened to
be women), he did not select women. And though women served as deaconesses in the New Testament Era
as well as the subsequent era of the Church Fathers, women were never called to the priesthood or episcopacy.
John Paul II saw this as a binding norm of Scripture and Tradition which he and future popes do not have the
authority to change. You can read JP II’s words yourself (brief document) by going to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
As for the Latin Rite discipline of normally requiring celibacy for those ordained to the priesthood, this is
not a matter of Scripture or universal unchangeable Tradition, but is a longstanding preference of the Western or Latin Rite of the Catholic church. We have always had Eastern Rite Catholic priests who are married, and we currently have about 100 Roman Rite married priests in the US who were formerly Protestant clergymen.
I hope that helps
Yours in His service,
Q. - Dr. D'ambrosio,
Have a question that I can't find the answer to; during Communion when those not yet Catholic come forward with hands crossed over chest, is it appropriate for an extraordinary minister of Communion to bless them? We were told it was not to be done, but we hear from others that it is widely done. (??)
Thank you for all your help and all you do for the Faith.
A. - Hi N!
In the context of Catholic liturgy, only ordained clergy (priest, deacon) ought to give a blessing with the sign of the Cross, with the Eucharist, or with hands outstretched together and/or saying the words “I bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son . . .
This is very clear in the rubrics of the Book of Blessings.
What is not as clear is the best way a lay extraordinary minister ought to deal with people who come forward with arms crossed. A hand on the shoulder, a smile, and a prayer “may the Lord bless you” is OK I think. One can make an argument that it would be OK to trace the sign of the cross on the forehead of a person since parents and Godparents do this during the course of the baptismal rite.
Hope this helps!
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God's Seven Gifts: The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church - 6 CD Set
The Catholic Church has always emphasized how important the seven sacraments are for our lives. Yet many take these 7 sacraments for granted. With little understanding of the sacraments, many are simply going through the motions. This CD will give you new insight into the meaning of these seven unique embraces of divine love that will unlock the power of the sacraments in your life!