Q: The 4 oz. bottles of Holy Oils (Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens, Sacred Chrism) do not meet our parish's needs through the year. Can the parish obtain more oil?
A: The Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is the repository of the Holy Oils for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Parishes are to refrain from requesting larger quantities of the oils simply for display. However, some of our parishes require more of the oils for the administration of the sacraments during the course of the year. If parishes have a significant quantity of oil remaining before receiving the fresh oil they should consider receiving less oil following Chrism Mass. Additional oil may be received from the Co-Cathedral during the course of the year if needed. A priest may also bless additional quantities of Oil of the Sick and Oil of Catechumens if necessary. Consecration of the Sacred Chrism is limited to the Bishop. Parishes should not add additional oil to their supply of Sacred Chrism during the year, as additional Sacred Chrism is available from the Co-Cathedral upon request.
Q: The rubrics for Holy Thursday refer to the washing of the feet of men. Is it permissible to include women? Can the number be more than 12? Our parish would like to invite all in the assembly to participate.
A: By the decree In Missa in cena domini of January 6, 2016, the following change has been made to the rubrics for Holy Thursday:
In order that the full meaning of this rite might be expressed to those who participate it seemed good to the Supreme Pontiff Pope Francis to vary the norm which is found in the rubrics of the Missale Romanum (p. 300 n. 11): "The men who have been chosen are led by the ministers…", which therefore must be changed as follows: "Those who are chosen from amongst the people of God are led by the ministers…" (and consequently in the Caeremoniali Episcoporum n. 301 and n. 299b: "seats for those chosen"), so that pastors may select a small group of the faithful to represent the variety and the unity of each part of the people of God. Such small groups can be made up of men and women, and it is appropriate that they consist of people young and old, healthy and sick, clerics, consecrated men and women, and laity.
With regard to the number of people, the rubrics are silent. The BCL Newsletter commented in January 1998 (Volume XXXIV, page 1), "The rite of washing feet should be seen as more than a mime in which the washing of the disciple's feet is reenacted. It is a rite in which the presiding priest so closely joins himself with Christ's act of perfect love, that the true nature of Christian love and discipleship is revealed. This is not just any act of service but is specifically a Gospel sign. Through this gesture, the community is encouraged to follow more closely the one who 'came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many' (Matthew 20:28)." While a parish community may choose to include more people in the ritual action, it should not unduly prolong the celebration of the Mass.
Q: Can anyone proclaim the Scriptures during a Mass or other liturgy?
A: Not exactly. Liturgical ministers serve a need. As such, they are expected to have been properly trained and commissioned for service to the community. The ministers should carry out the ministry competently for the building up of the Body. Proclamation of the Gospel is reserved to a deacon or a concelebrating priest. If none are present the priest presider then proclaims the Gospel. A lector who has been trained for the ministry should proclaim the first and second reading. Ministers, as a rule, are to be in good standing in the Church although there is no liturgical law requiring that they be Confirmed nor is there any law regarding age. (The exception to this is Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, who are to be fully initiated and in good standing with the Church (Archdiocesan Pastoral Manual)). However, because ministers are expected to be competent in carrying out the ministry assigned to them, they must be mature enough to adequately proclaim the Scriptures in the midst of the assembly.
On some occasions, it may be appropriate for non-Catholics to proclaim the Scriptures during the celebration of a liturgy. For example, during the celebration of Christian Marriage between a Catholic and a person of the Jewish faith, it may be that a lector of the Jewish faith would proclaim a Scripture passage from the Hebrew Scriptures (commonly referred to as the Old Testament). These pastoral issues are best discussed with the pastor who will be able to make an appropriate judgment.
Q: Are there people who are specifically not allowed to be godparents?
A: Godparents are called to be role models in the faith and, when serving as godparents for children, to assist the parents in handing on the faith of the Church to the child. Canon Law requires only one godparent, who must be an active practicing Catholic who is fully initiated (i.e., Baptized, Confirmed, and brought to Eucharist). If a Catholic has married, divorced, and subsequently entered into a new marital relationship, this situation should be discussed with the appropriate pastoral staff member as there are many issues involved. Godparents should be eighteen years of age although the pastor may make a judgment in this matter.
If two people are to be chosen as godparents, one must be male and the other female but they do not need to be married to each other. A non-Catholic Christian may serve as a Christian witness for significant pastoral reasons, but only alongside a Catholic godparent. This should be discussed with the pastor who will make an appropriate judgment.
Q: Do all Catholic parishes celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday?
A: Yes. The Second Sunday of the Easter Season has been named Divine Mercy Sunday, however, there are no "special" prayers or readings assigned as the prayers and readings of that day already speak of God's mercy. It is for this reason that Pope John Paul II named this Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday.
Some parishes may schedule prayers and devotions on this Sunday in addition to regular celebration of the Mass.