General Information

Updated 12/03/2008


Paul Turner

A Christmas manger is a three-dimensional display of characters who populate the story of the birth of Christ. It is also known as a crib or a creche. St. Francis of Assisi originated the custom in the 13th century, and it has been adopted by homes, churches, and even some public squares around the world.

A manger scene usually shows Mary and Joseph together with shepherds and magi, all in reverent pose before the newborn Jesus, who lies in an animal feeding trough. Around them gather livestock - lambs, a cow, a donkey, and the camels that transported the magi. An angel may hover above the scene, proclaiming “Glory to God in the highest.” Most of these figures can be traced to the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus (Mt 1:18-2:12 and Lk 2:1-20), but the cow and donkey (or ox and ass) come from a prophecy in Isaiah 1:3. Some scenes are filled with more fanciful figures. In all, the manger proclaims that Christ was born for all - the wise and the poor, angels as well as animals.

The manger foreshadows the Eucharist because Jesus would give his Body and Blood for food. It also foreshadows the cross; in art, the crib and the swaddling clothes sometimes resemble a coffin and burial cloths.

When the manger is first erected, it may be blessed with prayers from the Book of Blessings, which are also found in Catholic Household Blessing and Prayers.

In a church, the manger is not supposed to occupy a place in the sanctuary, lest it block one’s view of the altar. Still, it is fitting to arrange the scene in a place where the faithful can come, look, and be inspired to praise God for the miracle of Christmas.

Copyright © 2008 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at

Our office is often called about the qualifications needed for being a godparent for Baptisms in the Catholic Church.

Canon 874 of the Code of Canon Law is very specific about this requirement. First and foremost the general law of the Church requires only one godparent. That person must be a practicing Catholic and at least 16 years of age. In addition, church law provides that a baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community may be asked to serve not as a godparent but as a Christian Witness, providing that a suitable Catholic godparent is chosen and present.

It is expected that this person be practicing his or her faith. This person acts as an example of Christian faith for the parents of the child. As the Rite of Baptism makes clear, the parents are the primary educators of their children in the ways of faith. But the good example of others is always helpful.

If a prospective godparent/witness leaves the Catholic Church and joins another denomination they are not to serve as Christian witnesses. It is presumed that a person baptized and formed in the Catholic faith remains so for life. If a person chooses to leave the Catholic faith and joins another faith community, they must be made aware that there are consequences to their action. In this context, a former Catholic is not permitted to act as Christian witness for a Catholic baptism because that person would be required to “witness” to and see significance in something that they at some point in their life no longer value.

While this matter may seem complex, it does point out the significance of one’s decisions about one’s faith community. It also highlights the importance of parents’ carefully selecting godparents (or Christian witnesses) for their child’s baptism.

Some parents who wish to have their children baptized say that it is difficult for them to find a practicing Catholic to act as a godparent. While that is understandable, in that some people move to this area with all their family and friends living elsewhere, please remember that only one godparent is needed. If you have difficulty, your parish priest may be of assistance to you.

Why does the Church use a dove for the Holy Spirit?

The use of a dove for the Holy Spirit is actually not an official symbol of the Church. It is one of several images that the Church has used (along with fire, light, the wind and so forth) across the centuries to convey the presence of the Holy Spirit, but it does not have any “official” status. Artists seem to have chosen the dove as a “favorite” image of the Spirit, however, and the source of these inspiration is undoubtedly the passage in the Gospels describing the baptism of Jesus by John at the Jordan River. Those texts (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32) say that the Spirit descended on Jesus “like a dove,” but they do not specifically say that there was an appearance of the Spirit “in the form” of a dove. Nonetheless, the image of the dove has “stuck” in the artistic imagination and has become a regular part of Christian art. One of the limitations of this image is that the Holy Spirit is portrayed as a “dumb animal,” and not as a person capable of being in intimate, loving relationship with us. When using this image with children to help them understand the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, it is important that we also use images and descriptions of the Spirit that allow them to grasp the fact the Spirit is personal in nature and relates to us in the same way as the other Persons of the Trinity (who are more frequently imaged as Father and Son).

Disciple’s Will

A will is an important document for everyone to have, regardless of age or financial resources. It ensures that your wishes will be respected and carried out so your property will pass along quickly and smoothly to your named beneficiaries.

For the Christian steward, a will is even more of a necessity as it also allows him to remember his family of faith. Making a disciple’s will involves the four fundamental principles of stewardship:

? Praying to God with a grateful heart for guidance on the ultimate disposition of your estate.

? Nurturing your family with time and love, and being always mindful of their need to be cared for after your death.

? Sharing your giftedness with your faith community and providing means through your estate plan for Church ministries to be continued.

? Giving back to God the first fruits of your labors.

By remembering the Church in your will you thank God for the blessings received in this life and for the faith that sustains you. A bequest to our parish will support the works of education and Christian service and/or help to maintain a beautiful house of worship. This is the “gift that keeps on giving” and ensures that your Catholic faith and the good works of St. Joseph will be supported for years to come. Your will reflects what is most important in your life. Doesn’t it make sense to remember your family of faith in your final statement to the world as a Christian steward?

Contact Father Gabe with questions or more information.

What is an Annulment?

Jesus intended marriage to be a permanent commitment between a man and a woman, a relationship that would last throughout their entire lives. But some marriages break down, oftentimes because there is something missing from the very beginning - some element that keeps the relationship from being the kind of permanent commitment Jesus intended. An annulment is an official decree of the Church that says: Upon careful examination, after a thorough investigation, a particular failed marriage appears not to have been the kind of (sacramental) relationship that Jesus intended. A church annulment doesn’t mean the marriage didn’t exist; it simply says that from all appearances the failed marriage in question was not a sacrament in the full sense intended by Jesus. Children born in such marriages are not thereby declared illegitimate, since an annulment does not “dissolve” a marriage or declare that it never existed.

If you have questions about annulments or perhaps wish to begin the process of an annulment, please speak to Father Gabe.

We’ve Always Done It Better in the South

“After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, New York scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.”

Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers in the weeks that followed, an archaeologist in California dug to a depth of 20 feet and shortly afterwards, headlines in the LA Times read: “California archaeologists have found traces of 200 year old copper wire and have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers.”

One week later, The Greenville News, a local newspaper in South Carolina, reported the following: “After digging as deep as 30 feet in his pasture, near Travelers Rest, Greenville County, South Carolina, Bubba Mitchell, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Bubba has, therefore, concluded that 300 years ago, South Carolina had already gone wireless.”

Alpha and Omega

Paul Turner

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. They are both vowels. Alpha equates to our letter A and is shaped the same way. Omega looks like a horseshoe: S. It has a long O sound, so its aural equivalent appears earlier in our alphabet. In Greek, though, alpha leads to omega as A leads to Z.

These two letters appear several times in the Book of Revelation (1:8: 21:6; 22:13), at the end of the Bible. Together they form a title of Jesus Christ, who is the first and the last; the beginning and the end; the one who is, who was, and who is to come; the almighty; the one who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

At the Easter Vigil each year, the priest carves the letters Alpha and Omega into the candle while reciting a text that proclaims Christ as the beginning and the end. The symbols remain in the candle throughout the year. They may appear elsewhere in Christian art, often associated with the cross.

As one church year draws to a close and another begins on the First Sunday of Advent, it is appropriate to remember Christ, who stands above all time as the beginning and the end. He existed before time began. He will rule as judge at the end of days. And he appeared in human history, an event we recall every Christmas Day. Whether we are celebrating the turning of the church year or of the calendar year, we hail Christ as our Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the one to whom all time belongs, and in whom we live, move, and have our being.

Copyright © 2008 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at


Paul Turner

Paul TurnerThe letters “AMDG” sometimes appear as a decoration on architectural features of Catholic buildings. They abbreviate the Latin phrase Ad maiorem Dei gloriam, which means, “To the greater glory of God.”

The phrase occurs frequently in the writings of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), the founder of the Jesuits. Through it Ignatius expressed the dedication of his life and work to religious purposes. The phrase recognizes that God has glory and that an individual’s work should aim to enhance it. The word “greater” can have more than one meaning. It expresses that the work of Christians contributes to God’s glory, as the Body of Christ builds up the kingdom of God on earth. It also recognizes that the glory of God is greater than any glory assigned to the believer. Christians may win praise for the work that they do, but they devoutly realize that the real praise belongs to God, the giver of all gifts, Who enables them to accomplish all things.

The Jesuits have encouraged the use of the initials “AMDG” on items ranging from statues of St. Ignatius to the homework assignments of their students. Others have also found inspiration from the motto. It appears on religious medals or other emblems that some Christians wear to help center the activities of their day. Pope John Paul II frequently headed his writings with “AMDG” as a devotional reminder of the purpose of his work. Even Johann Sebastian Bach, a great Lutheran composer of church music, appended the letters “AMDG” to some of his manuscripts.

Wherever the initials appear, they remind us that faithful Christians dedicate their lives, their work, their music and their building to the greater glory of God.

Copyright © 2008 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at


Paul Turner

As you enter a Catholic church building, you say hello to those arriving with you. Your parish may have someone at the door to add to this friendly encounter. That person is the greeter.

This role is fairly new. It evolved from the church’s desire to encourage the “full, conscious, and active participation” of the people in harmony with Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (14). Human beings are more apt to pray together, sing together, and observe silences together if they are united in faith and service. This bonding begins at each Mass as soon as we arrive at church. Greeting one another is more than a social convention. It begins to form the Body of Christ assembled for worship on this day.

Our time together at Mass is framed by the formation of community before and after the service. When Mass is over, we go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Having worshiped as one, we leave to serve as one.

A greeter welcomes you to the building and helps you feel at home. If you are unfamiliar with the church you are visiting, the greeter will help you find participation aids, a place to sit, the location of restrooms, and any other useful information.

Even though some people take on the role of greeter at a parish church, everyone shares this responsibility. When you greet others on your way in or out of the building, you are connecting with them in faith, acknowledging the values you share, supporting them with your prayer, and reminding them that none of us is alone. God is with us always, manifested in the simple care of Christian brothers and sisters at church.

Copyright © 2008 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at

Stational Churches for the Year of St. Paul

Pope Benedict XVI is granting the faithful a plenary indulgence in recognition of the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul. This plenary indulgence will be in valid throughout the Pauline Year from June 29, 2008 to June 29, 2009.

The following church have been designated by Rev. Msgr. Martin Laughlin, Administrator, as Stational Churches:

• Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Charleston

• Precious Blood of Christ, Pawley’s Island

• St. Francis by the Sea, Hilton Head Island

• St. Paul the Apostle Mission, Seneca

• St. Paul the Apostle, Spartanburg

• St. Peter, Beaufort

• St. Peter, Columbia

(Are you asking yourself what a plenary indulgence is? Continue reading and maybe we will clear up some of your questions!)

Introduction to Indulgences

You don’t hear about indulgences anymore. It could be said that at one time they were over emphasized and today they are under-emphasized. Many Catholics simply don’t know what indulgences are and they’re at a loss to explain the Church’s position on indulgences when challenged by those of other faiths.

There is no better place to turn than to the Enchiridion of Indulgences. “Enchiridion” means “handbook,” and the Enchiridion of Indulgences is the Church’s official handbook on what acts and prayers carry indulgences and what indulgences really are.

An indulgence is defined as: the remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned.” The first thing to note is that forgiveness of a sin is separate from punishment for the sin. Through sacramental confession we obtain forgiveness, but we aren’t let off the hook as far as punishment goes.

Indulgences are two kinds: partial and plenary. A partial indulgence removes part of the temporal punishment due for sins. A plenary indulgence removes all of it. This punishment may come either in this life, in the form of various sufferings, or in the next life, in purgatory. What we don’t get rid of here, we suffer there.

Time off for Good Behavior?

If you uncover a holy card or prayer book, you’ll notice pious acts or recitation of prayers might carry an indication of time, such as “300 days” or “two years.” Many Catholics think such phrases refer to how much “time off for good behavior” you’d get in purgatory. If you perform a pious act labeled as “300 days’ partial indulgence,” then you’d spend 300 fewer days in purgatory.

It’s easy to see how misinformed Catholics might scurry around for years, toting up indulgences, keeping a little register in which they add up the days. “Let’s see, last year’s tally comes to one thousand three hundred twelve years, give or take a week or so, and my lifetime tally is now past the twenty thousand mark. I can cancel out a lot of sinning with this!”

Or so some people might think. Well, there are no days or years in purgatory - or in heaven or hell, for that matter - and the indication of days or years attached to in partial indulgences never meant you’d get that much time off in purgatory.

As God Sees Fit

What it means was that you’d get a partial indulgence commensurate with what the early Christians got for doing penances for a certain length of time. But there has never been any way for us to measure how much “good time” that represents. All the Church could say, and all it ever did say, was that your temporal punishment would be reduced - as God saw fit.

Since some Catholics were confused by the designation of days and years attached to partial indulgences, the rules for indulgences were modified in 1967, and now “the grant of a partial indulgence is designated only with the words ‘partial indulgence’ without any determination of days or years,” according to the Enchiridion.

To receive a partial indulgence , you have to recite the prayer or do the act of charity assigned. You have to be in the state of grace at least by the completion of the prescribed work. The rule says “at the completion” because often part of the prescribed work is going to confession, and you might not be in the state of grace before you do that. The other thing required is having a general intention to gain the indulgence. If you perform the required act, but don’t want to gain the indulgence, obviously you won’t gain it.

The requirements for a plenary indulgence are tougher than for a partial. After all, a plenary indulgence removes all the temporal punishment due for the sins committed up to that time. (If you sin later, of course, the temporal punishment connected with the new sins isn’t covered by the earlier plenary indulgence, but, at least the punishment for the old sins isn’t revived.)

“To acquire a plenary indulgence,“ says the Enchiridion, “it is necessary to perform the work to which the indulgence is attached and to fulfill the following three conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff. It is further required that all attachment to sin, even venial sin, be absent.”

The Toughest Requirement

The greatest hurdle is the last. Making a good confession is not particularly difficult and going to Communion and praying for the Pope’s intentions are easier still. It’s being free from all attachment to sin that’s hard and it’s quite possible that even evidently good people, who seek plenary indulgences regularly, never, in their whole lives, obtain one, because they are unwilling to relinquish their favorite little sins.

There is an account of St. Philip Neri, who died in 1595, preaching a jubilee indulgence in a crowded church. A revelation was given to him that only two people in the church were actually getting it, an old char-woman and the saint himself. Not exactly encouraging, is it? Don’t worry. If you are perfectly disposed and can’t get the plenary indulgence, you will at least come away with a partial indulgence.

It should be pointed out that the first three conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after doing the prescribed work, through receiving Communion and praying for the Pope are usually done the same day the work is performed. (The standard prayers for the Pope are one Our Father and one Creed, although you are at liberty to substitute other prayers.)

Paul Tuner

Many Catholics like to use religious articles. Medals, crucifixes. Statues, pictures, scapulars, rosaries, and other items made from common elements may be set aside for religious use. They are usually obtained from dealers of church goods, but they may also be fashioned at home by hand. Some religious articles are hung on the wall at home, at school, or at work. Others are worn beneath or on top of clothing. It is customary for such articles to be blessed by a deacon or a priest.

Religious articles can be a means of evangelization. They depict a symbol of the faith that Catholics hold. They prompt discussion about biblical figures and events as well as the holy people who have kept the faith throughout history. Many Catholics carry religious articles with them as a reminder of God’s presence or to seek divine protection. A blessing sets the articles apart for this sacred purpose.

The blessing of religious articles may take place during liturgical prayer. People bring articles with them to church, where the celebrant introduces the service. A Scripture reading is proclaimed. For example, in Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, he says, “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit” (cf. 3:17b-4:2). Intercessions are made, and the celebrant concludes with a blessing over the objects and the people.

Alternatively, the priest or deacon may say a very short formula apart from a liturgical service: “May this (name of article) and the one who uses it be blessed, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.”

Copyright © 2006 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at

Paul TurnerA radical sanation is the means by which the Catholic Church grants validity to an invalid marriage without a liturgical ceremony (canon 1161). The words means “a healing at the root.” When people think of a Catholic wedding, they normally imagine an elaborate ceremony in church. That remains the best way for two people to marry. However, in some rare circumstances, the Catholic Church convalidates an existing marriage not with the liturgy but with paperwork.

The most common situation involves a couple who contracted a civil marriage. For example, consider the case of a Catholic woman who marries a man from another Christian faith without procuring the proper permission from the competent Catholic authority (canon 1117). By doing so, she is not permitted to receive communion in the Catholic Church. If, after some years, she decides that she would like to return to the sacraments, a priest or deacon may convalidate the marriage through a ceremony conducted in church. (If previous marriages are involved, annulments would have to be obtained first.) In this sample case, however, suppose that the husband says he prefers not to go through a ceremony again. For him, the marriage was valid, and a second ceremony would seem superfluous if not offensive to the consent he already gave. In this case, the wife may request a radical sanation of the marriage. When the appropriate papers have been assemble, the Catholic Church affirms the validity of the marriage from its beginning. The Catholic party may then return to communion.

A parish priest or another minister should be able to help the parties in this situation. It is one of the ways that the Catholic Church affirms the importance of marriage as a foundation in our society.

Copyright © 2008 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at


Paul TurnerMystagogy is a period of post-baptismal catechesis. It usually coincides with the 50 days of Easter.

Unbaptized adults and children of catechetical age celebrate the three sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil. That night they are baptized, receive confirmation and share in the Eucharist for the first time. To prepare for that evening, they have spent a long time in catechetical formation, learning how to act, think and believe as Christians do. After their baptism, in the midst of the entire community, their formation continues for a while. That period is called “mystagogy.”

Mystagogy invites the newly baptized to participate more deeply in all the things that Christians do - meditating on the gospel, sharing in the Eucharist, and performing charity. In all this, they let the meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ take firm root in their lives.

Of course, catechumens are expected to behave as Christians even before they are baptized. They should be turning away from a life of sin and turning toward Christ, establishing him as their center. But after baptism things are different. Now they are truly one with the Christian community, even to the point of sharing in the Eucharist. With the power of the sacraments, the newly baptized are better able to live as Christians and to reflect on the gospel and its effect on their lives in a more complete way.

Mystagogical catechesis primarily comes from the preaching at Sunday Mass. During this time homilists proclaim the paschal mystery as they break open the meaning of the sacraments in which it always come to life. Preachers are to accomplish this task on the Sundays of the Easter season.

Copyright @ 2007 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at


Paul Turner

A feast is a day of special significance on the Roman Catholic Church calendar. Precisely, a “feast” does not rank as high as a “solemnity,” but it does rank above a “memorial.” In everyday speech we use the word to cover almost any special day, such as “the feast of St. Patrick.” But the official calendar does not include these in its special category of “feasts.”

Feasts include some special events in the lives of Jesus and Mary (Birth of Mary, Visitation, Holy Innocents, Presentation, Baptism of the Lord, Transfiguration); days associated with apostles, evangelists, and archangels; and days of historical significance honoring the deacon and martyr Lawrence, the dedication of the cathedral church of Rome (John Lateran) and the first display of the relics of the cross (Triumph of the Holy Cross). In the United States, the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe is observed as a feast.

Locally, feasts are observed for the principal patron of the diocese, the anniversary of the cathedral’s dedication, the patron of a region or a wider territory, and other days proper to an individual church or religious order. So, for example if your cathedral is named for St. Patrick, March 17 is observed as a solemnity there and as a feast in the parish churches of the diocese. But it is an optional memorial in other dioceses.

Mass on a feast day includes the Glory to God and special readings from the lectionary. When certain feasts fall on a Sunday (Presentation, Baptism of the Lord, Transfiguration, John Lateran, Triumph of the Cross), they replace the Sunday liturgy. Otherwise, feasts are never anticipated at Mass the night before.

Copyright @ 2006 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at

BAPTISM: A Workshop, required for Parents and Godparents who wish to have their children baptized here, is held by Deacon Tom upon request. Please call the office between 9:00a.m. and 4:00p.m. for more information.

WEDDING: It is a requirement of the Diocese of Charleston that all who wish to receive the Sacrament of Marriage must begin a Program of Instruction and Preparation at least six months prior to the planned date. Please contact Father Gabe for more information.

SACRAMENTAL PREPARATION POLICY: Children preparing for the Sacraments of Confirmation and or First Holy Communion are required to attend two full years of Religious Education. Children attending Catholic Schools need at least one full year of instructions with added sacramental preparation classes as needed. NO EXCEPTIONS.

PASTORAL CARE OF THE SICK: Please keep us informed that we might minister to those who are ill at home, in the hospital, or at a nursing care facility.

We warmly welcome new members. Please visit the Parish Office to register, or ushers will direct you to registration forms at church.

HEARING ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE: Our Church, including our Confessional, is equipped with a hearing assistance system. Please ask for a receiver.

WHEELCHAIRS: Assistance is available at the Lectors Table for the physically challenged. Church and Family Life Center are handicapped accessible.

Traveling? For nationwide Mass times and locations, dial 1-410-676-6000 or visit online at


Paul Turner

A sponsor accompanies another person on a journey of faith. The Catholic Church uses sponsors in these circumstances: the catechumenate, the reception of a baptized candidate, and confirmation of a Catholic.

“A sponsor accompanies any candidate seeking admission as a catechumen. Sponsors are persons who have known and assisted the candidates and stand as witnesses to the candidates’ moral character, faith, and intention.” (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults 10). A separate person may serve as the godparent for baptism.

If the person becoming a Catholic is already a baptized Christian, he or she receives a sponsor as well. “If someone has had the principal part in guiding or preparing the candidate, he or she should be the sponsor “(RCIA 483).

When those baptized Catholics as infants are confirmed later on, they each receive a sponsor for that ceremony. Ideally, the baptismal godparent returns as the confirmation sponsor (Canon 893/2). This practice indicates that the godparent’s work continues throughout life, and it unites the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. However, this ideal is widely ignored among Catholics, who typically choose a different person for the confirmation sponsor.

To be a godparent or a sponsor, a person must have completed the 16th year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause; be a Catholic who had been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on; and not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared (Canon 874/1).

Copyright @2006 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at



In the day-to-day operation of the parish, the term “Active Parishioner” is used in a number of instances.

When determining the cost of renting facilities (sanctuary, gym, mall, classrooms, Scout Hut), whether or not a person is an “Active Parishioner” is taken into consideration.

When we send our children to a Catholic school, the school checks with the parish to see if the parents are “Active Parishioners” prior to giving the parents a “break” on tuition.

When someone is asked to be a sponsor (Baptism, Confirmation, RCIA) by other parishes, the other parish wants to know if the potential sponsor is an “Active Parishioner.”

Because the term “Active Parishioner” is used in so many instances in this parish and the diocese, we feel that a definition of the term would be useful to all.

An “Active Parishioner” is defined as a registered parishioner who attends Mass on a regular basis, Sundays and Holy Days; contributes their TIME, (i.e. volunteering), TALENT (teaching, choir, parish ministry, etc.), and TREASURE (10% of weekly income or $20/week recommended) in the parish offertory and that the contribution of TREASURE is done in an accountable way, i.e. parish envelope. (Our volunteer collection counters may not recognize your check if it is placed loosely in the collection baskets and your contributions will not be posted to your name. Due to various checks and balances, one group does the actual counting while another person posts the amount written on each envelope to the parishioner’s contributions. If you choose not to use the parish envelope, your check is considered “loose” and counted as unknown contributions. Thus, we have no way of determining your weekly contributions. If you want to be an “Active Parishioner,” please use your envelopes.)

A three-month registration period is asked of all Catholic parents who seek Baptism for their children.

The Concluding Rite of the Mass

The dismissal of the people of God by the priest or deacon is not a liturgical farewell. The Concluding Rite of the Mass, while brief, contains a challenge and a command. It is a reminder of the great commission that challenges us to do our part by spreading the good news and bringing about God’s kingdom here on earth.

The General Instructions of the Roman Missal gives us an overview of the four parts of the Concluding Rite: announcements, final blessing, dismissal and reverencing the altar. Many parishes struggle with the problem of people sharing communion and leaving the church before Mass concludes. While most Catholic are accustomed to seeing people leave after communion, no doubt non-Catholics who visit our parishes find this rather extraordinary behavior. Obviously those who leave after communion are deprived of receiving the final blessing and the commission to go forth and do the work of the gospel.

Leaving Mass early is discourteous and disrespectful. While the closing hymn is not technically part of the Concluding Rite, it must be considered as an important part of how we are called to go forth. The Concluding Rite of the Mass sends us forth to be Christ’s disciples in the world. The final blessing sends each member of the assembly forward to do good works while praising and blessing the Lord. As the procession leaves the church, the altar is kissed by the priest and reverenced by all in the closing procession as an acknowledgment of God’s presence in our midst and in our lives.



A homily is a sermon preached by a deacon or a priest, but there are occasions when a lay person preaches. Most commonly these are celebrations outside of Mass. For example, some communities do not have a priest available to them every Sunday. They may gather without a priest under the liturgical leadership of a lay person. That person may read a homily prepared by a priest or offer a reflection on the readings. By definition, this reflection is “preaching,” though not a “homily.”

At Masses with children, a lay person may occasionally preach. “With the consent of the pastor or rector of the church, one of the adults may speak to the children after the gospel, especially if the priest finds it difficult to adapt himself to the mentality of children” (Directory for Mass with Children 24).

In some churches the pastor has invited a lay person to speak about the financial needs of the parish or the diocese. Non-ordained missionaries have also made appeals. Sometimes these talks are as inspiring as a homily, but they do not qualify as the same thing. Some churches have these talks during homily time, but if some instruction or testimony by a lay person is to be given, the homily comes at its normal time, and the lay person speaks following the prayer after communion (Redemptionis Sacramentus 74).

In places where priests and deacons visit so rarely that a lay person must be appointed for baptisms, the Rite of Baptism for Children permits that person to preach on that occasion (137).

In these various ways, the Church invites the spirit-filled reflection of the laity to nurture the People of God.



Thoughts on Giving

• People in most parts of the world can’t afford an appendectomy or a train ride or a television set - things most of us take for granted. We have blurred the difference between Needs and Wants.

• Stewardship changes our relationship to things, because it first of all changes our relationship to God. Things become less important and we have less need to hold on so tightly.

• Whether we know it or not, we have a need to give. Giving makes you feel freer. People who spend time in Third World countries are often amazed at how generously and how easily people share what little they have.

• One person has suggested that if you don’t want to give to the Church, then take that portion out in the backyard and burn it; only then can you feel free of the seductive power of money.

• Giving is good for your individual spiritual health. The natural response to being loved is to love in return. Not to love in return is a failure of will.

• Giving is good for our communal spiritual health, too. As the Body of Christ, we can’t be spiritually healthy without it.

Pro-Life Corner

“Since when does America abandon in despair an entire class of people, the most defenseless, innocent, and vulnerable members of the human family? How can we justify writing off the unborn child in a country which prides itself on leaving no one out and no one behind?” (The late Gov. Bob Casey of PA in 1994, NRLN, 8/2003)


The Tabernacle

When the Jews were led out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus, they were instructed to make a tabernacle (the word means hut, tent, or dwelling) which would contain their holiest objects, such as the Ark of the Covenant and the Ten Commandments. The tabernacle was the dwelling place of God on earth. It is easy to see why Christians would use this word tabernacle for the small box or cupboard in which the Blessed Sacrament was kept after Mass for later distribution to the sick and dying. For the Christians, this is “the dwelling place of God on earth.”

Keeping a large supply of consecrated hosts in the tabernacle was a practical and efficient way to always have enough for Communion of the faithful. But receiving hosts taken from the tabernacle obscures the fact that at the Eucharist we experience the presence of Christ in the gathered assembly, in the proclamation of the sacred Scriptures and, in a special way, in our shared sacred meal. In 1742, Pope Benedict XIV directed that the faithful “be nourished by hosts consecrated during the Mass.” The Second Vatican Council repeated this directive, “That most perfect form of participation in the mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s Communion, receive the Lord’s Body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #55). - TR

Our Church Bulletin

You probably know that this church bulletin you are reading is a free service provided to our parish through the courtesy of the local business people and entrepreneurs who are listed on the back page. (In addition to the benefit of having this bulletin printed and delivered to us at no cost, according to the contract we negotiated with the company who handles this kind of publication, our parish could also receive payments periodically from the fees paid by the advertisers.) Please take a few moments today and every few weeks to look over the back page of our bulletin and notice the people who are supporting our parish and are offering your services you might need. It would be a good thing to do business with them and to mention our parish and thank them for their ad when you talk with them. If you would like to advertise your business or service, please call the parish office and we will gladly give you the information you will need. In order for us to receive a cash “bonus” we would need to fill two pages worth of ads. (With additional advertising, the bulletin company will be able to give more back to our church!) We have the people and the business within our parish to do this.

Help us out...Help your business out. Advertise in the parish bulletin! Father Gabe


Paul Turner

On the inside, Catholic church buildings look different from one another, but they have many common features. On walking through the door of a church, you should be able to notice several things.

Narthex: Many churches bring you first into a narthex or gathering area. There you can meet other people or view bulletins and posters.

Nave: The body of the church is the nave. The word is related to “navy” because a church interior somewhat resembles a ship. The congregation assembles in the nave.

Sanctuary: The place where most of the action takes place is the sanctuary. It is set apart from the nave by its height and spaciousness. The three principal furnishings of the sanctuary are the chair, where the priest stands to begin the service; the ambo, where the Liturgy of the Word unfolds; and the altar, the center of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Choir: There may be another area designated for musicians. In older churches, musicians entered a loft behind the congregation because they created music to be heard, not shared. Today a choir area is more commonly visible to the entire assembly, so the musicians can better lead everyone in singing.

Sacristy: The vessels, vestments, and other items needed for Mass are stored in one or more sacristies. These are not readily visible when you enter a church, but they are essential for the smooth flow of worship.

Other items: Statues, stations of the cross, votive candles, the tabernacle, and other items may be seen in the church. These occupy devotional areas that are not essential for the celebration of the Mass, but they are part of the environment one customarily sees on entering a Catholic church.

This bulletin insert originally appeared in Ministry & Liturgy, a pastoral planning resource used by the worship leaders in your parish as an aid for better liturgy. Copyright @ 2006 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.


Paul Turner

On the outside, Catholic church buildings look different from one another, but they have many common features. Many people have a mental image of what a church should look like, and they are satisfied for disappointed when approaching one for the first time. There are no rules governing the exterior appearance of churches. Some look as plain as a storefront. Others look as breathtaking as a cathedral.

The appearance of a church exterior depends on the function of spaces inside, the demands of architecture, and the search for beauty. Hundreds of years ago, architects discovered that Gothic (pointed) arches were stronger than round ones, which permitted the height of churches to increase. Many beautiful churches and cathedrals were built with this new technology. Although height can be attained in other ways today, many people associate Gothic arches with what a church should look like, but genuine designs are better than artificial ones.

As the art of stained glass developed, it became popular with churches. Images depicted in windows taught people about their religion. The colors made a church interior look beautiful on a sunny day. The overall effect created a sense of awe conducive to prayer.

Towers elevate the bells used to summon people to worship. A higher bell can be heard at farther distances than a lower one. Some churches are surmounted by a dome, which imitates the vault of the heavens. Others are topped with a steeple that lifts a cross on high.

No matter what the outside looks like, the most important feature is the door. Church exteriors should invite you in. When you cross the threshold, you pass into a place designated for communion with God.

This bulletin insert originally appeared in Ministry & Liturgy, a pastoral planning resource used by the worship leaders in your parish as an aid for better liturgy. Copyright @ 2006 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.


Make the Comparison

More than one billion people in the world live on less than one dollar a day. Another 2.7 billion struggle to survive on less than two dollars per day. Poverty in the developing world, however, goes far beyond income poverty.

It means having to walk more than one mile everyday simply to collect water and firewood; it means suffering diseases that were eradicated from rich countries decades ago.

Every year eleven million children die - most under the age of five - from completely preventable causes like malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia.

In some deeply impoverished nations less than half of the children are in primary school and under 20 percent go to secondary school. Around the world, a total of 114 million children do not get even a basic elementary education, and 584 million women are illiterate.

Let us be grateful, and share from our abundance.



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