Ask a Priest: Mass times, visiting priests and confirmation
by Diocese of Des Moines | July 18, 2018
Q. Is there an easy way to find out what time Masses are celebrated in our diocese?
A. Yes, search online www.MassTimes.org. It’s not always up to date, but the website lists parishes all across the country. You can also find the times for reconciliation and other liturgical services.
Q. Is it “good form” to ask my pastor whether it is OK for a relative or a friend who is a priest to witness a wedding or conduct a funeral for our family? I don’t want to be pushy.
A. As you might guess, it depends on your pastor. Some pastors feel responsible to personally celebrate those liturgies. Other pastors are amenable to welcoming another priest or deacon to step in. Sometimes, pastors are delighted to do so, especially if they don’t know the bride and groom very well. In larger parishes, pastors have more than enough work to do and are happy to have the extra help. In any case, if you ask your pastor personally, I’m sure he’ll permit a friend or a relative conduct the service.
Q. I learned as a youngster that only bishops can preside at the sacrament of confirmation, but at the Easter Vigil, our pastor confirmed those joining the Church. Help me out.
A. Right now, the general practice is for the bishop to confer the sacrament. However, when an adult is joining the Church, the priest who conducts the baptism (or the reception into the Church for someone already baptized) is also authorized to confirm that person. In a related situation, the bishop can delegate another priest to conduct a confirmation Mass for young people in certain circumstances. If the bishop is ill or has been called away for some reason, he can ask that the pastor celebrate confirmation.
Q. I heard that Pope Francis has issued a new document called an “apostolic exhortation” called Gaudete et Exsultate(Rejoice and Be Glad). What is an apostolic exhortation, and how can I learn more about this?
A. An apostolic exhortation is much like an encyclical letter. Usually such an exhortation is meant to encourage the faithful in their daily life. This recent document from Pope Francis reminds us that everyone is called to holiness, not just “official” people like priests and deacons and sisters. The Second Vatican Council said that the call to holiness is universal. Notice, we’re not called to be perfect but to be holy. You can check the Vatican website www.vatican.va or the United States Bishops’ Conference website www.usccb.org. You’ll also probably find it if you use a search engine and type in Gaudete et Exsultate.
Q. Immigration seems to be in the news a lot. Immigrants to our country and immigrants in other parts of the world seem to have a difficult time. What does the Church have to say about this?
A. We have a responsibility to treat people with respect and dignity. It can be easy to forget that. All of our ancestors were immigrants to this country. It wasn’t always easy for them. We sometimes think of our country as something that we “own” and that others just want to get in on a good deal. Well, that was the same for our grandparents and great grandparents. The U.S. Bishops and the Holy Father have been very supportive of just treatment for immigrants. Sometimes it can become a political battle over border security, and politicians are very vocal on this issue. Some immigrants have been treated with great disrespect and without dignity. It might help to pictures ourselves as immigrants – how would we want to be treated? Or if Jesus were standing along a border, how would he treat those looking for a better life for their families? Of course, there are security concerns that can get complicated. But for followers of the Lord, everyone should enjoy the dignity and respect that children of God deserve.
Q. Is there a Catholic approach to health care?
A. You ask a hard question. It’s not only a Catholic question, of course. If we go back in history, we discover that hospitals and hostels and hospices were primarily conducted by religious communities of men or women. Many other religious groups have also had a strong ministry to the sick. Think of the names of so many hospitals in this country – Mercy, Jewish, Sinai, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, etc. These all began as ministries. As time has passed, many of these health care efforts have become corporate. That’s not bad in itself, mind you. But often the financial bottom line becomes ever more important. Some countries have universal health care that is available at no additional cost to every person. Right now, corporate hospitals and insurance companies call most of the shots. There are countless people involved in health care today who still see their work as a ministry. So is there a Catholic approach? If there is, dignity, fairness, equality, and respect will be the important elements.