Frequently Asked Liturgical Questions
Q: Is it forbidden to display the American flag in a Catholic church?
- A: No, it is not forbidden to display the American flag in the church building. There are no official church documents regulating the display of flags in churches. At one time, the USCCB made a non-authoritative statement on this issue, in which it discouraged the display of flags. Today the U.S. Bishops' have no formal stance on the issue, leaving it to the discretion of the diocesan bishop. Our diocese has no policy regulating the display of flags in churches. Read the USCCB's statement on the location of flags here. For suggestions regarding the placement of the flag in the church building, read our "Simple Guide to Liturgical Environment" here.
Q: Is it proper for a lay person to purify the sacred vessels (chalice/paten/ciborium) during or after Mass?
- A: No, it is not proper for a lay person to purify the sacred vessels, even if the person has been appointed an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. This role belongs to either the priest or the deacon, who may purify them either after Communion or after Mass (see General Instruction on the Roman Missal n. 279). A lay person may clean and polish the vessels after the priest or deacon has purified them.
Q: Is every church required to display a crucifix with the body of the crucified Jesus on it?
- A: Yes, every church is required to display in the sanctuary a crucifix "with the figure of Christ crucified upon it." This cross should be "clearly visible to the assembled people," and should always remain displayed even outside of Mass, "so as to call to mind for the faithful the saving passion of the Lord" (see General Instruction on the Roman Missal n. 308). It is therefore not permitted to replace this crucifix either with a plain wooden cross or a figure of the resurrected Jesus.
Q: Can the "Lamb of God" be lengthened by the addition of Christological tropes (such as "Bread of Life," "Prince of Peace," etc.)?
- A: No, the addition or substitution of alternate Christological tropes is not permitted during the "Lamb of God" ("Agnus Dei"). In the 2007 edition of the USCCB document Sing to the Lord, an exception was made allowing the use of these tropes in the United States. However, this exception was later revoked by Rome, and was removed from the document by the USCCB in 2012. Music publishers have either made adjustments to settings composed before 2012 or removed them from circulation. Read the USCCB's statement on the matter here.
Q: Can a lay person expose and repose the Blessed Sacrament for Eucharistic adoration?
- A: Yes, a lay person can expose and repose the Blessed Sacrament if they have been appointed by the Bishop of New Ulm as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. In order to be appointed, their pastor must write to the bishop and request the appointment, as well as provide the proper training for this office. Click here for more information.
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