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Out of the Question

by
26 September 2014

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Your answers

A priest who regularly presides at requiem masses recently said that a requiem was not appropriate in relation to a dead baby. Why?

An explanation of this comment may be found in a note appended to the Roman Catholic "Order of Christian Funerals", which makes a two-fold statement: "In its prayers the Christian community confesses its faith and makes intercession for deceased adults that they may reach their final happiness with God. The community's belief is that deceased children whom through baptism God has adopted as his own have already attained that blessedness."

This belief should not preclude or make a requiem mass inappropriate: an unwillingness or reluctance to offer one can indicate a failure to appreciate the purpose for which a eucharist is offered at funerals and on the anniversary of death, whether of an adult or a newborn baby. Many will contend that a requiem mass not only seeks to advance the progress of adult departed souls towards their final bliss, but, of equal importance, always celebrates the paschal mystery of Christ.

At the altar, where time and eternity meet, mourners, and not least the parents of a dead baby, are invited to share in and rejoice with the communion of saints. A baby's funeral eucharist will have a marked awareness that God in his infinite love and mercy will "bring the whole Church, living and departed in the Lord Jesus, to a joyful resurrection and the fulfilment of his eternal kingdom", and that includes infants.

Common Worship: Pastoral Services supplies valuable "Resources for the Funeral of a child" (pages 301-15), which can be used in the "Order for the funeral of a child within a celebration of Holy Communion" (page 298). At the eucharist, grieving parents and relatives find consolation and strength.

(Canon) Terry Palmer,  Magor, Monmouthshire 
 

How can a Christian explain the occurrence of walking on water? [Answers, 12 and 19 September] 

Surely we have moved on from the 1960s, when every miracle had to be explained in scientific terms rather than accepted for what it was. The explanation is so much simpler than Canon Palmer (12 September) would have us believe.

Jesus was the Son of God - was God. Nothing is impossible with God. Jesus walked on the water. Peter was human. Peter tried to walk on water and failed. End of explanation.

(Dr) Robin Rowles (LLM/Reader),  Bletchley, Milton Keynes 
 

Your questions

When I was a lad, the celebrant at every eucharist processed from the sacristy to the altar, carrying the sacred vessels with burse, paten, corporal, etc. Now the sacristan places them on the altar before the service. Why the change? R. W. C. 

Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.

questions@churchtimes.co.uk

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