Our website is made possible by displaying online ads to our visitors.
Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our site.

Question Corner

First slide

Prayer when entering church

Q. What prayers does one say in silence when you first enter your seat in church? And what about after Communion? I have developed my own but am wondering if I have been missing something for all these years. (Youngstown, Ohio)

A. There is no "official" prayer a Catholic says when first entering a church, so I think it is just right that you have "developed your own."

Speaking personally, what I do is to ask God to quiet my heart and make me more aware of his presence, his power and his peace. Then I thank him for the blessings of the day and speak to him about those for whom I have promised to pray.

I have always believed that we should converse with God as we would with any friend and that our own words serve us best.

As for praying after Communion, I try to spend some minutes in church after Mass to thank God for the gift of the Eucharist. In those moments of quiet, I often use the Prayer Before a Crucifix, which begins, "Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus."

Others use the "Anima Christi" prayer, which dates back to the early 14th century and starts, "Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Body of Christ, save me."

Lately I have become aware of a simple prayer from the 20th-century saint, Padre Pio. It seems perfect for those precious moments when the eucharistic presence is nestled in our hearts and reads: "My past, O Lord, I entrust to your mercy. My present, to your love. My future, to your providence."

Donating bodily remains

Q. At my death, I would like to donate my body to the local medical school for their continued research and training of students. Is this allowed in the Catholic Church? (Kailua, Hawaii)

A. Yes, it is allowed — but with certain cautions. The Catholic Church teaches that it is permissible and even laudable to donate one's body to scientific research after death. The intent is to enable others to live longer if any viable organs can be used — or to provide the material for research that might prevent disease in the future.

In October 2014, Pope Francis met with the Transplantation Committee for the Council of Europe and called the act of organ donation "a testimony of love for our neighbor." That same perspective is reflected in the U.S. Catholic bishops' Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services:

"Catholic health care institutions should encourage and provide the means whereby those who wish to do so may arrange for the donation of their organs and bodily tissue, for ethically legitimate purposes, so that they may be used for donation and research after death" (No. 63).

Medical students can learn from research on cadavers to become healers of other human bodies. One caution was expressed by St. John Paul II in a 1991 address to participants in a conference on organ transplants.

He said: "The body cannot be treated as a mere physical or biological entity, nor can its organs and tissues ever be used as items for sale or exchange."

Another caution is that, at the conclusion of their use for research, bodily remains should be treated with respect and properly entombed or buried.

Baptize great-granddaughter?

Q. Our granddaughter was not raised Catholic. Now she has a 2-month-old baby. Can I baptize the baby? (Chances are the parents will wait until she’s a teen to decide. But I feel that she needs the graces now.) (Broken Arrow, Okla.)

A. The church’s Code of Canon Law requires that for an infant to be baptized licitly there is normally required the consent of at least one of the parents. (The exception would be if the child were in danger of death.) In the language of the code: 1) "the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent"; and 2) "there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion" (Canon 868).

In your own situation, then, if the child’s parents are unaware that you are doing so (and even more, if they oppose it), you should not baptize the baby. To do so would undermine and usurp the parents’ role. Instead, what you might do is to entrust the child to God (who created the baby out of love) and pray that, helped by the example of your own life of faith, the parents will one day decide on their own to have the child christened.

Pope and grand ayatollah

Q. When the Holy Father and Ayatollah al-Sistani met recently, at the end they stood facing each other and seemed to be talking without an interpreter. What language did they use in order to communicate? (Powhatan, Va.)

A. According to the website of the Jesuit magazine America there was, in fact, an interpreter present. America said in its report on the March 6 meeting that "the two leaders of Christianity and Shia Islam sat beside a small wooden table and spoke with the assistance of the pope's Palestinian-born translator."

I am happy, though, that you have called our readers' attention to this important meeting in the cause of peace.

The 90-year-old grand ayatollah is a revered and highly influential leader in Iraq, where more than 60 percent of Muslims are Shiites.

The Vatican noted that the meeting had given Pope Francis a chance to thank the ayatollah and the Iraqi Shiite community, which "raised their voices in defense of the weakest and the persecuted, affirming the sacredness of human life and the importance of the unity of the Iraqi people" during the 2014-17 offensive of the Islamic State militants in which Christians suffered heavily.

After meeting with Pope Francis, the ayatollah said that the meeting served as an example of the importance of world leaders holding powerful nations to account and calling on them "to give priority to reason and wisdom (and) to reject the language of war."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021