Q: My wife has never gotten along with
my brother. I cannot exactly explain
why, but she clearly despises him, to the
point of not wanting him or his wife in our
Because my brother and I have always
been close, this situation hurts him and is
tearing me up inside. He says that my wife
controls me in several ways (for example,
restricting what I can eat, preventing me
from being alone and making life difficult
if she learns that I have contacted him).
Although I think that she loves me in her
own way, she refuses to accept any counseling
on this issue. I take our marriage
vows seriously, but this situation is getting
unbearable. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Marriage must be based on the
truth between a husband and a
wife. There are several truths at work
here: You love your wife, who despises
your brother; you want to have a relationship
with him and his wife; the
current situation is tearing you up
In Ephesians 4:15, Paul urges the
Christians there to live the truth in
love. I suggest that you speak to your
wife again, emphasizing how this situation
is affecting you. Being asked to
live a lie about your relationship with
your brother can hardly make you a
Do you think that your wife is trying
to control your life too much? If you
feel that she is making unreasonable
demands of you, that is part of the
truth that you need to say.
Living and speaking the truth in
love, however, also means listening.
Each of you has things that need to be
said, to be heard and pondered before
action is taken.
This conversation may require the
help of your pastor or a trained marriage
counselor. Several sessions may be
needed. If your wife refuses to accept
such counseling, perhaps she would
be willing to participate in a Retrouvaille
weekend. A Retrouvaille team
addresses various issues in large-group
sessions, followed by private conversations
between husband and wife.
Regardless of how these conversations
happen, if you can honestly say
to yourself, “I have tried to speak and
live the truth in love,” then this effort
will have helped you live in the truth
about your life and its many relationships.
May both of you accept the
Lord’s help to bring some healing into
this tense situation.
Why Does the Priest Sing Some Parts of the Mass?
Q: Why do some priests sing certain
parts of the Mass? This must be
optional because most priests do not. Is this
a holdover from pre-Vatican II days when
the priests sang everything in Latin?
Also, I find it awkward and distracting
whenever they sing Sanctus, Sanctus (“Holy,
Holy”) or Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”) and
the translation into English does not match
the Latin words.
A: According to section 40 of the
2002 General Instruction of the
Roman Missal, “...with due consideration
for the culture of the people and
abilities of each liturgical assembly, great
importance should be attached to the
use of singing in the celebration of the
Mass.” Although at weekday Masses
reciting some texts recommended for
singing is permissible, “every care must
be taken that singing by the ministers
and the people is not absent in celebrations
that occur on Sundays and
holy days of obligation.
“In choosing the parts to be sung,
however,” the Instruction explains,
“preference must be given to those that
are of greater importance and especially
to those to be sung by the priest,
or the deacon or the reader, with the
people responding, or by the priest and
Regarding the issue of singing in
Latin, section 41 of the Instruction says, “Since in these times the faithful from
different countries come together more
frequently, it is desirable that they
know how to sing together at least
some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass
in Latin, especially the profession of
faith and the Lord’s Prayer, set to the
When the pope celebrates Mass in St.
Peter’s Basilica, there is always singing.
Usually, that congregation comes from
many countries, speaking different languages
as their mother tongue. Readings
and petitions may be done in
several languages, but my memory
from living in Rome for six years is
that the eucharistic prayer is always
proclaimed in Latin.
The issue here is not whether God
prefers Latin to other languages, but
whether it is possible for some parts of
the Mass to be proclaimed or sung in a
language used by many nations and
over many centuries. This would hold
true in other international celebrations
and for Masses in countries that have
more than one major language.
In fact, most weekday Masses before
Vatican II did not involve singing. Also,
the Holy See approves all official translations
from the original Latin text.
Q: How are deacons chosen in the
Roman Catholic Church? What
exactly can they do? How are they trained?
I know that some deacons are married
and others are not.
A: Because the diaconate is part of
the Sacrament of Holy Orders,
the expectations are somewhat similar
to the requirements for those being
ordained a priest or a bishop. For example,
the person feels a call to this vocation
and the Church officially affirms
that call. Although the man is ordained
for a particular diocese or religious community,
he must be ready to serve the
This requires adequate training in
theology, liturgy, Scripture, canon law,
preaching and other areas. For those to
be ordained permanent deacons, this
training is usually done part-time over
several years. In the case of married
men preparing for the permanent diaconate,
there are often training sessions
for their wives. To my knowledge, no
diocese will ordain a married man
whose wife does not agree to his being
a deacon. Permanent deacons must be
at least 35 years old.
A man who is not married when he
is ordained a deacon must make a
promise of celibacy for the rest of his
life. If a married deacon becomes a widower,
he can remarry if he receives a
dispensation from the Holy See. This is
granted on the basis of his bishop’s recommendation,
the great pastoral usefulness
of the deacon’s ministry and
his having adequately provided for the
care of any minor children.
For men ordained as “transitional”
deacons (a step toward ordination to
the priesthood), several years of full-time
study are required.
Both permanent and transitional
deacons must receive “faculties,” permission
to exercise this ministry from
the bishop in the diocese where they
serve. Their ordination does not of itself
give them a right to exercise that ministry
wherever and in whatever manner
they like. Priests and bishops also need
faculties, from their local bishop or the
bishop of Rome, respectively.
Permanent deacons preach, baptize,
witness marriages and officiate at
funeral services. The Rite of Ordination
used for all deacons speaks of them
as ministers of the Word of God, of the
altar and of charity. This last category
includes service that is not predominantly
sacramental (prison ministry,
for example). However they serve, deacons
build up the Body of Christ and
are always personally “stretched”
through their ministry.
Q: If England’s King Henry VIII were alive today, would he have a declaration
of nullity case for his marriage to Queen Catherine of
Aragon? She was a widow, previously married to his older brother,
A: No, Henry VIII would not have a case on the grounds that he
presented. He was not directly related to Catherine by blood
(consanguinity) but through marriage (affinity). In Henry’s
day, such a marriage required a dispensation, which he and
Catherine requested and received.
After 18 years of marriage, however, Henry alleged that no sacramental
marriage ever existed, that no dispensation was possible because this
impediment arises from divine law. The Church responded that the
affinity impediment in the collateral line (for example, brother-in-law and
sister-in-law) arises from Church law and thus can be dispensed.
The marriage of a man to his sister-in-law was commanded by the Law
of Moses if a man’s brother had died without having sons (see Deuteronomy
25:5-10). Jesus’ followers have understood this as an option but not
as an obligation.
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