Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

The Question Box

by Father I.J. Mikulski

(From the , 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. Is there an official rule that states when a person has attended a “whole Mass”? I have tried looking this up and getting a priest’s opinion but they disagree. I was told if you miss the 1st Reading and didn’t stay for the dismissal you did not attend a “complete” Mass. Is that so?

A. If we may re-phrase your question: Are some parts of the Mass more essential than other parts? If the high point of the Mass, the absolute apex, is the consecration of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, are other parts that lead up to that moment of increasing or diminishing importance? Or is the Mass a single piece – that cannot be dissected?

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) says the Liturgy of the Word is the second major division of the Mass and makes it very explicit that these words must be taken from Sacred Scripture. No substitutes allowed. The first reading begins, then a psalm, the second reading continues to the high point – the Gospel.

Only an ordained minister, deacon or priest, can proclaim the Gospel. The assembly stands. An acclamation is sung. Candles may be used. Obviously we have entered the sacred space. We must be present for the proclamation of the Gospel.

We hear a homily, declare our profession of faith, present gifts that will be consecrated and prepare for the Eucharistic Prayer that GIRM calls “the center and summit of the entire celebration.” At this stage we have entered a “whole” Mass.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist is absolutely essential, of course. It’s why we came, to share our Eucharist as Jesus requested: “Do this in memory of me.” A few minutes of silent prayers of gratitude. One final prayer by the celebrant. A blessing for all. A recessional hymn.

No one leaves before the priest-celebrant leads the way down the aisle. (Repeat: No one leaves before the priest-celebrant leads the way down the aisle.)

So where does a “complete” Mass start and end? It’s all one piece. We cannot be nit-picking Pharisees trying to set outside limits on how much we can omit before it counts. When certain factors like work schedules, illness or distance keep us away, that’s understandable, but trying to rationalize around “how much” misses the point.

Q. Before she died my niece was adamant about having a scapular. Fortunately I had one to give her that I had been given although I’ve never known the purpose or significance of one. Would you please enlighten me?

A. We could call a scapular a “mini-habit” – mini, as in tiny, and habit, as in distinctive garment worn by members of Religious orders.

Scapula is the Latin word for shoulder blade. Members of Religious orders, when they wear distinctive habits, have a sleeveless front and back panel over the tunic, ankle length, that displays their colors and emblems. Scapulars made it easy to recognize a Dominican from a Franciscan from a Benedictine and from all others.

Over the centuries, lay people adapted themselves as peripheral members of various Religious orders by wearing mini-scapulars, two small squares of cloth worn front and back connected by strings That’s what your niece requested. Presently there are five distinctive scapulars.

Wearing a scapular identifies a person having ties with a specific Religious order. It doesn’t guarantee salvation, of course, any more than members wearing full scapulars are certified saints.

Q. Is it wrong to have such a deep faith in God that she refuses to have her eyes checked for new glasses? God will provide, she says. Isn’t that a misuse of faith?

A. Yes. Two of God’s greatest gifts are intelligence and eyesight. God intends we should use one to preserve the other, and vice versa.

(Father Mikulski welcomes your comments and questions. Write to him at 7718 Westwood Dr., Oscoda, Mich. 48750.)

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