Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

October AD 1995
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

A woman making Mass responses?
What is Viaticum?


Women Making Mass Responses?

      Question:  Is it permissible for a woman to make the responses to the Mass if no man or boy is available to serve?

      Answer:  Since the server takes the place of someone ordained to the order of Acolytes, the duties strictly proper to that order may be performed only by men.  Young men or boys are often employed as servers since this is an excellent way to introduce them to the possibility of a priestly vocation.  Serving in the place of acolytes, these men may carry the candles and minister the water and wine at the altar.  In practice, they see to these and the other practical needs of the priest during Mass.  At solemn Mass they minister to the deacon and subdeacon, who in turn deal directly with the priest.  Those serving at the altar ought to wear the cassock and surplice, the distinctive garb of the clergy.

      Canon 813 specifically authorizes a woman to make the responses when no capable man is available.  The rubrics of the Missal suppose that those present at Mass sometimes make the responses with the server, and the bishop can authorize the entire congregation to reply in what is called the dialog Mass, or to sing the high Mass.  A woman making the responses remains outside of the sanctuary throughout the Mass.  When no server is available, custom allows the men or women outside of the sanctuary to hold a Communion paten for themselves when receiving, and one of their number may ring the elevation bell.  (The ordination of Porters has them ring the church steeple bell as one of the functions of their order, but this is a "liturgically different" bell.).

      While these things are permissible, it is always desirable to have a properly trained server, capable of making the responses accurately and assisting the priest within the sanctuary.  Every Catholic man should consider this an honor, and should not have to be asked to serve at the altar.

      If you would like to learn to serve Mass, please ask Father.  We need your help.


       Question:  What is "Viaticum"?

      Answer:  Literally, "something to take along," Viaticum is the name given to the Blessed Sacrament received in Holy Communion when death is imminent.  In may be given in conjunction with the Sacrament of Extreme Unction and the Apostolic Blessing.  The Church considers dying with the graces of Holy Communion to be so important that Viaticum may be received at any time of day or night, without fasting, and on a day when Holy Communion has already been received under normal circumstances.  Likewise, priests are allowed great latitude as to celebrating Mass to consecrate a Host for the dying person if none is reserved in the tabernacle.  Viaticum may be received on several occasions if the illness persists.  In administering the Host, the priest says, "Receive, brother the Viaticum of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He may preserve thee from the malignant enemy and bring thee to everlasting life.  Amen."


Dei via est íntegra
Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
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