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Liturgy Corner

by: Sr. Marie Romano

Aug 12, 2018

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August 12, 2018

As a lay minister attending Mass, what can we do to assist the Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist should the consecrated host fall to the floor?

If a host falls to the ground (floor) during the distribution, the minister should pick it up and either consume it, or after the distribution is over, completely dissolve it in water and pour it into the sacrarium or directly into the ground if it seems to be contaminated and not advisable to consume. 

If you are attending Mass and see this happen, point it out to the Extraordinary Minister so that the host can be properly disposed. 

Aug 05, 2018

August 12, 2018

When receiving Communion, do we stand or kneel?

We all should stand when receiving Communion.

What should we do after receiving Communion?

I'll answer this question in this way. When I was I child, the good sisters taught us that after receiving Communion, we should not be distracted, put our face into our hands, and pray to Jesus. This was taught years ago in the pre-Vatican II era. But now times have changed. With the teachings of Vatican II and the renewal of the Church, we now have a better understanding of the sacraments, liturgy, and the Mass. We participate in the Mass. We are no longer alone. We are in communion with everyone else in church. [The word communion comes from the Latin meaning in union with]. When we receive Communion, we are in union with the Body of Christ and all others who are the body of Christ. To put St. Augustine's words briefly, he says, "Receive who you are." We are the body of Christ. We celebrate this in receiving Communion. We, all of us, are one body in Christ. So, rejoice, O people of God! After receiving Communion, keep standing, keep singing, for we are the BODY OF CHRIST!

Aug 05, 2018

August 05, 2018

What are the effects of Holy Communion?

Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ increases the communicant's union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins. Since receiving this sacrament strengthens the bonds of charity between the communicant and Christ, it also reinforces the unity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ. (CCC, no.1416)

Jul 29, 2018

July 29, 2018

Extraordinary Ministers of Communion

Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers in prayerfully serve our parish to assist our parish priest in distributing the Body and Blood of Christ to the assembly during the Eucharistic Celebration. We have been called to serve God's people in a very special way. In accepting this responsibility, not only we agreed to demonstrate our love and understanding of Eucharist, we have committed to grow in faith by experiencing Eucharist in our daily lives. In ministering to assembly at Mass and to each communicant the fullest meaning of Eucharist.


It is a gift to be a Eucharistic Minister - "to share the Body and Blood of Christ with another". Those called to this ministry have acquired the grace in movement and reverence in touch. It is especially important for Eucharistic Ministers since the whole work involves taking in hand, the vessels of the Body of Christ and of the Blood of Christ sharing them with one another.

Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers must be fully initiated Roman Catholics who have received Baptism, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation. They must be at least 16 years old, be the persons who sincerely try to live the gospel in their communal and individual lives. faithfully participate in the life of the Church and with God's grace and strive to live the faith in every aspect of their lives. If married, must be married in the Catholic Church and be properly trained in the parish and appointed by the Pastor for this ministry before they can serve. All Eucharistic Ministers must dress appropriately to serve.

Jul 22, 2018

July 22, 2018

Why to some people bow before receiving communion?

With the updating of the new missal, this was added to the gestures of the Mass. Before receiving communion, a simple bow is made to acknowledge the sacred species.

What is the proper posture to receiving communion: kneeling or standing?

Religious educators today teach the first communicants to stand when receiving communion. Hands should be extended with joined palms facing up like a cup to make it easier for the priest or Eucharistic minister to place the host in the hand. If you are right handed, the left hand should be placed on top of the right hand so that when the host is placed in your left hand, you  can easily take the host with your right and and receive. Reverse the process if you are left handed.

Jul 15, 2018

July 15, 2018

What is the significance of ringing the bell when the host is held up?

To answer this question, we have to look at the history of the Mass. During the Middle Ages, the Mass became very distant from the people. There was no participation, the people did not know what was going on at the altar, and many did not even  bother to come inside the church. To let the people know the host (now the Body of Christ) and the cup of wine (now the Blood of Christ) high into the air, and the church bells would be rung. The people who were out in the fields would stop their work to pray, and those who could would try to catch a glimpse of the sacred species.

Today, times have changed, and we are much closer to the Mass in participation and understanding, but the remnant of ringing the bells remain. Is the bell ringing necessary? No, there are some churches that do and some that don't. The bell ringing calls attention to the transubstantiation and to prayer. If the bells were not rung, would that affect transubstantiation? No, it would not. Transubstantiation takes place with the words of consecration. This is what is important! We should listen to the narrative and the words of consecration and deepen our prayer for the wonderful miracle that takes place on the altar.

Jul 08, 2018

July 8, 2018

When does transubstantiation actually place during consecration?

To answer this question, I will switch words to say by the consecration, transubstantiation takes place. At the Last Supper, the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. (1 Cor 11:23-26) During the Eucharistic Prayer at the consecration, the priest proclaims Jesus' words at the Last Supper over the bread and wine. "The power of the words and the actions of the species of bread and wine, Christ's Body and Blood, his sacrifice offered on the cross for all" (CCC, no. 1353). By the consecration, the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine, Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: His Body and Blood, with his soul and divinity. (CCC< no. 1413; Council of Trant: DS 1640, 1651)

Transubstantiation means that the substance of the bread and wine is changed into the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ. The appearances of bread and wine remain (color, shape, weight, chemical composition), but the underlying reality - that is, the substance - is now the Body and Blood of Christ.

Jul 01, 2018

July 1, 2018

This past weekend, instead of the Mass of the 12th Sunday in Ordinary time, the Mass of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist was said. Can you explain why this was done?

Sunday, indeed, is a special day. The Church celebrates the paschal mystery on the first day of the week, known as the Lord's Day or Sunday. This follows a tradition handed down from the apostles and having its origin from the day of Christ's resurrection. Thus Sunday must be ranked as the first holy day of all. Because of its special importance, the Sunday celebration gives way only to solemnities or feasts of the Lord. The Nativity of St. John the Baptist is ranked as a solemnity. The Sundays of the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter, however, take precedence over all solemnities and feasts of the Lord. Solemnities occurring on these Sundays are observed on the Saturday preceding.

Jun 24, 2018

June 24, 2018

The Gloria is sometimes sung or recited, and sometimes not. Can you be specific about the times the Gloria should be sung or said?

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal is specific on this. First of all, the Gloria is an ancient hymn in which the Church, assembled in the Spirit, praises the prays to the Father and the Lamb. It is sung by the congregation, by the people alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone. If not sung, it is to be recited by all together or in alternation.


The Gloria is sung or said on Sundays outside Advent and Lent, on solemnities and feasts, and at solemn local celebrations. 

Jun 17, 2018

June 17, 2018

Sr. Marie will resume her column next week.

Jun 10, 2018

June 10, 2018

During the Mass, do the people stand during or after Father prays: "Pray, my brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father...?" People stand while he is washing his hands. What is the correct timing of this gesture?

I'm glad you asked this question. There seems to be much confusion here in our church regarding the time to stand. It is clearly stated in the document General Instruction of the Roman Missal that at the preparation of the gifts (while the people are sitting), the altar is prepared and the gifts are brought forward (if there is an offertory procession). The gifts are place on the altar to the accompaniment of the prescribed texts. The priest then washes his hands as an expression of his desire to be cleansed within. Once the gifts have been placed on the altar and the accompanying rites completed, the preparation of the gift comes to an end. Then all stand when the people are invited to pray with the priest and the prayer over the gifts, which are a preparation for the eucharisitc prayer.

Do not be in a hurry to stand ahead of time. Wait until the offertory rites are completed. Be patient and wait  for the priest's invitation to pray. Patience itself is a prayer.

Jun 03, 2018

June 03, 2018

Is it appropriate for the laity to raise their hands towards the celebrant during the response "and with your spirit,"

To answer this, we must remember that there are different ways of praying. In the Mass, the rubrics and rituals remain basic, but an individual's form of expression varies. The priest's greeting "The Lord be with you" is responded with "and with your spirit." This can be answered simply or, depending on the individual, with much enthusiasm. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Focus on the words being said, but do not let devotional enthusiasm get in the way.

Are we allowed to join hands during the recitation of the Our Father?

The charismatic movement fostered much enthusiasm in the Spirit, and holding hands while praying the Our Father is one of the off shoots of this movement. It may be for some a sign of unity. Yet the Spirit works in different ways, in quiet movements or expressive gestures like holding hands. This should not be forced. An individual may be suffering from arthritic pain in the hands and fingers or even, like Howie Mandell, refrain from touching germy hands. The focus should not be on the gestures but on the prayer itself, on the words that Jesus taught us, and we should pray with meaning and sincerity.

May 27, 2018

May 27, 2018

Does silence have an importance in the liturgy?

First of all, we must understand that the liturgy of the word must be celebrated in a way that fosters meditation. Any haste that hinders reflectiveness must be avoided. The dialogue between God and his people demands short intervals of silence as an opportunity to take the word of God to heart and to prepare a response to it in prayer.

When should silence be observed?

Silence during the liturgy of the world should be observed before this liturgy begins, after each of the readings, and after the homily. This means that after the first reading, there is a short pause before starting the Responsorial Psalm, a short pause before the second reading, a short pause after the second reading before singing the alleluia or another form of the Gospel Acclamation, a short pause after the Gospel, and again after the homily. It is important that we use this time of brief silence to mediate briefly or praise God and pray to him in our hearts.

This, then, places a responsibility on the lectors to proclaim.

May 20, 2018

May 20, 2018

Should a cross or candles be on the altar?


The altar, the holy table, is a symbol of the Lord at which the presiding celebrant stands, which the bread, wine and their vessels, and the book are placed. A cross is a basic symbol in any Christian liturgical celebration, but it is placed appropriately elsewhere not only for non-liturgical liturgies but also so that in eucharistic celebrations the altar is used only for bread and wine and book. This is the same for candles and candlesticks. Like the cross, the candles should be visible without impeding the sight of the altar, ambo, and action. The focus is always the altar where the holy sacrifice of the Mass takes place. Candles are not needed at the ambo.

From the document on Environment and Art in Catholic Worship.

May 13, 2018

May 13, 2018

Questions were asked on some of the proper gestures at Mass. Should we bow or genuflect? In our day of old age, arthritis, pain, difficulty in kneeling, or to facilitate a procession, bowing is used. The reverence one gives comes from the heart.

Should the reverence be given to the tabernacle or the altar? Once the Mass starts, the focus is the altar where the sacred action takes place. We should bow, then, to the altar.

When should bowing take place? At the entrance procession which consists of the cross bearer, the altar servers, the lector or deacon who carries the Gospel book, the deacon and the priest celebrant, a profound bow is made at the altar. Because of the role in carrying the cross and the Gospel book, these ministers do not need to bow. Other ministers, a second lector and the Eucharistic ministers, do not need to process in. When the lector comes up from the assembly to read, a bow is made to the altar before proceeding up to the lectionary. There is no need to bow to the book. This also goes for the cantor who sings the responsorial psalm which should be sung at the lectionary. When the Profession of Faith (Creed) is said, we bow at the words "and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man." At the presentation of the gifts of bread and wine, those who carry up the gifts bow first before handing the gifts to the priest. The people are asked to bow before receiving Communion. At the closing of the Mass, the altar servers, the deacon, and the priest bow to the altar before leaving. The people in the assembly do not bow with the ministers.

Questions on the liturgy can be emailed to:

May 06, 2018

May 06, 2018

The word liturgy comes from a Greek term meaning "public work or work done on behalf of the people." Every liturgical celebration is an action of Christ and his Mystical Body, the Church. It therefore requires the participation of the People of God in the work of God (USCCB). In the Eucharistic liturgy, the Mass is the action of Christ and the people of God. It is the center of the whole Christian life. The celebrating assembly gather together and are led to that full, conscious, and active participation which is "The celebration of the Eucharist and the entire liturgy is carried out by the use of outward signs. By these signs faith is nourished, strengthened, and expressed. It is very important  to select and arrange the forms and elements proposed by the Church which will best foster active and full participation and promote the spiritual welfare of the faithful" (GIRM).

(USCCB) United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

(GIRM) General Instruction of the Roman Missal

Apr 29, 2018

April 29, 2018

Just recently, a visiting priest came to say Mass at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, Fr. Nick's day-off. 

When I arrived at the church, I found out that it was going to be a Latin Mass. There were changes at the altar, the priest had his back towards the people, the Mass was in Latin, and the people did not participate. I felt like I was thrust back to pre-Vatican II. I could understand more clearly now why Pope John XXIII in 1962 convened the Second Vatican Council, calling bishops from all over the world to Rome for "a pastoral renewal that would enable the Church to minister more effectively to contemporary society" (Unites Stated Catholic Catechism for Adults). He wanted to open the windows and doors of the Church to let the fresh air in.

From 1962-1965 much discussion, deliberations, an changes took place. Documents were written to be promulgated throughout the Catholic world. But we know the Church is vast and varied, and changes take much time to reach all the corners of the world and in dealing with the receptivity of people to change. Yet we also know that the Church is so large that all can be accommodated.
This column will highlight changes that have taken place in liturgy and the Mass that we know today.

Stay tuned.

(This column is by Sr. Marie J. Romano, who has a MA in Liturgy fro the University of Notre Dame.) 

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