Q: Some time back there was a news
item about removing God’s name
(Yahweh) from the liturgy and music.
Does this include new Bible printings?
What is the reason behind this change? I
know that the Israelites forbade the use of
A: On August 8, 2008, Bishop
Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson,
New Jersey, chairman of the U.S. bishops’
Committee on Divine Worship,
wrote to all the U.S. bishops that six
weeks earlier the Congregation for
Divine Worship and the Sacraments
had communicated a directive from
Pope Benedict XVI that the “sacred
Tetragrammaton” (YHWH for Yahweh)
is not to be spoken during the liturgy,
either in Scripture readings or in
At least 100 years before Jesus was
born, Jewish people were substituting
the spoken word Adonai (Lord) where
the written text read YHWH—out of
respect for God’s name. Translations
of those same passages into Greek and
Latin have long substituted Kyrios and
The congregation’s letter pointed out
that “the sacred Tetragrammaton was
never pronounced in the Christian context
nor translated into any of the languages
into which the Bible was
translated.” This tradition was reaffirmed
in Liturgiam Authenticam, the
congregation’s 2001 document on liturgical
The New American Bible and the New
Revised Standard Version already print
the word LORD wherever YHWH occurs
in the original Hebrew text. The Sacramentary
Although this change affects mostly
hymns, which are being revised in light
of this directive, some music companies
had already been following this practice
for years. Prayer books and translations
of the Bible published under Catholic
auspices will be phasing out the use of
YHWH or the word Yahweh.
The name YHWH was revealed to
Moses (Exodus 3:13-15) when God,
speaking through the burning bush on
Mount Sinai, commissioned Moses to
lead the Hebrews out of Egypt.
Bishop Serratelli’s letter is summarized
at www.usccb.org/liturgy/innews/August2008.pdf. The full text
of the congregation’s original letter is
posted at www.usccb.org/liturgy/
Q: Some friends were recently talking
about the Jewish Feast of Unleavened
Bread. I had never heard anything
What does it commemorate? How is it
celebrated? How long did it last in the time
of Jesus? Is it still celebrated?
A: Biblical scholars such as John
L. McKenzie (Dictionary of the
Bible) suggest that the Feast of Unleavened
Bread (mazzoth) existed before
the Exodus, when Moses led the
Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt.
In time, this feast, which called for
eating unleavened bread for a week,
was combined with the feast of
Passover, lasting seven days in the
spring. That was true in Jesus’ day and
is still true. It occurs in March or April;
the feast’s date can vary as much as 28
days from year to year because Jewish
feasts are governed by a lunar calendar.
See Exodus 12:15-20, 13:3-7, 23:15
and 34:18 for more information about
this feast. It seems that it was originally a thanksgiving festival for the
start of the grain harvest.
New Testament references to the
feast include Matthew 26:17, Mark
14:12, Luke 22:1,7, plus Acts 12:3 and
St. Paul’s allusion to it in 1 Corinthians
5:7-8 suggests that gentile Christians
used unleavened bread during
the Eucharist; indeed, the Latin rite of
the Catholic Church continues that
Q: I am concerned about two members
of my family. My one elderly
sister attends Mass daily and receives the
Eucharist, but she does not make her Easter
Although my brother goes to Mass every
week and receives Holy Communion, he
has not received the Sacrament of Penance
during the Lent/Easter season for the past
A: The obligation to go to Confession
and receive Holy Communion
at least once between the first
Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday (in
the United States) applies if people are
conscious of having committed a mortal
sin since their last Confession.
If your siblings have no mortal sins
to confess now, they are strongly
encouraged to confess any venial sins
but, strictly speaking, they are not
obliged to confess them.
See Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1455-1458) for more information on
Q: My boyfriend (28) and I (22)
have been going steady for seven
months. He hasn’t mentioned marriage
yet or that he loves me, yet he seems to like
being with me.
He insists on kissing after every date, and
although he has not stepped out of line so
far, there have been close encounters. He
says that we can kiss repeatedly as long as
he stops when he gets to the point of being
I feel that prolonged kissing until he
has to stop to avoid arousal is wrong in
itself. Am I being prudish? When does kissing
A: How committed has your boyfriend
said he is to this relationship?
I ask this because you write
that you have been dating steadily for
seven months and yet he hasn’t said
that he loves you. Perhaps he thinks
that he has said that already—in his
If prolonged kissing makes one person
uncomfortable, that may suggest
that the partner who insists on this
prolonged kissing is using the first person.
That is not necessarily true in your
situation, but it might be.
You already have a sense of when
your kissing no longer reflects the
truth about your mutual commitment.
Have you been clear about your
needs? Have you conveyed your discomfort
with his approach to prolonged
Kissing decisions should be mutual,
but from what you are describing it does
not sound as if this is the case here.
Genuine love always involves self-sacrifice.
Is that mutual as regards your
kissing now? If not, then perhaps it is
time to find a boyfriend who is ready
to make self-sacrifice more integral to
his love for you. Or perhaps your current
boyfriend’s love includes more
self-sacrifice than he has shown until
I encourage you to share with your
boyfriend your feelings about prolonged
Q: If a priest is not in the state of grace when he baptizes someone,
hears Confession, celebrates Mass, anoints a sick person
or officiates at a marriage, is that sacrament valid? What if
some bishop is not in the state of grace when he confirms or
A: In the early fourth century, a North African bishop named
Donatus contested the election of Caecilian as bishop of
Carthage, saying that he had denied the faith under persecution
and therefore could no longer celebrate sacraments validly.
Donatus soon had many followers. Even though a synod in Rome in 313
formally rejected his teaching, this controversy was very much alive for
Although the Church wants its priests and bishops to be in a state of
grace (as it wants the same for all followers of Jesus), the Church denies
that a sacrament’s validity depends on the holiness of the priest, bishop
or layperson (in the case of emergency Baptism) who celebrates it. The
Church acts in Christ’s name.
The authorized person must perform the action, say the prescribed
words and “intend to do what the Church does” in this sacrament. St.
Augustine of Hippo addressed this issue in his famous work Concerning
Baptism. The Donatist position, in fact, casts doubt on the validity of every
celebration of each sacrament. The Church rejected the teaching of
Donatus, who died around 350 A.D.
Address change: The April 1996 “Wise
Man” column listed a request from
Nigeria for rosaries, medals and
religious books. That address is now:
Agwe David Akomaye, Bebua Ukatia
Maria Apostolate, 77 Ogoja Road,
P.O. Box 36, Obudu, Cross River State,
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