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Ask Father Shawn

Q&A with Father Shawn Landenwitch:

Several parishioners have expressed an interest in starting a Q & A type segment with Father about the Catholic Faith, and putting it in the bulletin. This would be a place where Father could answer questions like "Why do we cross our foreheads, lips, and heart before the Gospel?", or "What did Jesus mean when he talked about ?"'


Questions can be sent to with the subject line "Father Q&A" or write questions and put in the manila envelope on the bulletin board in the foyer.

Father Shawn Landenwitch

April 23rd, 2023

Question: Do Catholics worship Mary and the saints?

Answer: No. Catholics do not worship Mary or the saints.

Catholicism teaches that worship is due to God alone. God made that apparent in Exodus 20:3: "You shall not have other gods beside me." We honor Jesus' mother and certain men and women the Church recognizes as saints because their life witnesses point us to Jesus. Mary shows all people how to perfectly love Jesus and give one's life over to God; the saints model the Christian life for us. When we "pray to" Mary or the saints, we are really asking them to pray for us. Just as you would ask a friend or family member to pray for you, we ask Mary and the saints — who are close to Jesus — to pray on our behalf.


God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

January 15th, 2023

Question: Outside of Lent, if you eat meat on Friday and don’t do another penance what kind of sin is it? Mortal or venial?

Answer: Penance is an important part of the spiritual life. Jesus said in Mark 2:20, ‘The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.’ By historical standards, and in comparison to many Eastern Rite Catholics, the requirements for fasting for Roman Catholics are extremely minimal. We are encouraged to do more than the minimum to build self-discipline and detachment from self-indulgence.

Fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstaining from eating meat on Fridays of Lent is a ‘serious obligation,’ which means it is a mortal sin to completely disregard these requirements. It is not a sin to accidentally eat meat on one of those days, but care should be taken to prevent that. It would be a venial sin to generally follow the requirements but to deliberately violate the law in a specific case.

Canons 1249-1253 of the Code of Canon Law require Catholics 14 and older to abstain from meat every Friday of the year (unless it is a solemnity, like Christmas). National bishop conferences have a right to adapt this requirement, which the US bishops have done. Outside of Lent, the US bishops maintain Friday as being a day of penance, and they urge Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays or do some other suitable penance. However, Friday penance outside of Lent is not mandated under penalty of sin.

If we strive for spiritual growth and perfection, we will do well to heed the bishop’s request to abstain from meat, or do some other suitable penance, on Fridays throughout the year. We should go beyond the minimum required, but not to extremes that would jeopardize our health.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

January 8th, 2023

Question: Why do the servers bow to Father before leaving the alter?

Answer: The custom of servers bowing to the priest is an ancient tradition. It is physical gesture done to show reverence towards the priest, who is acting in the person of Jesus Christ in offering the sacrifice of the Mass. Jesus Christ truly acts through the priest as a living instrument in the Mass. The General Instructions to the Roman Missal #275 say, “A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them.”

The consecration of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is not visible to our senses, but small acts of reverence convey to parishioners a sense of the sacred that can help them enter into the invisible realities. No single ritual action can even begin to capture the true realities present in the Mass. However, the Church gives us rubrics to follow and various customs that have proved helpful throughout time in helping people to enter more deeply into the worship and adoration of God.

Bows are used at other times during the liturgy. The priest and servers should bow to the altar when passing the center of the sanctuary. The priest bows his head slightly at the name of Jesus, Mary, or the saint of the day. We bow during the creed at the words, ‘and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.’

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

October 30th, 2022

Question: Why doesn’t the Vatican/Pope call the bishops to task and require them to support church teaching on LGBT+ and abortion or give up their position within the Church? Christ allowed non-believers to leave the Church.

Answer: The pope/bishops are entrusted with great responsibility in shepherding the Church. They are called to live an authentic witness to holiness and to proclaim the truths of the Gospel ‘in season and out of season’ (2 Tim 4:2). Often, the Church must teach truths that go against the erratic whims of the culture. However, bishops are fallen humans like the rest of us, and the spiritual attacks against them can be intense. Some bishops exercise their ministry well; others do not. We must pray fervently for our bishops because they play such an important role in the mission of the Church.

Except in rare occasions, the pope does not interfere with the bishop’s ministry within their diocese. Bishops are the chief shepherd of their diocese, and they are given a lot of autonomy. Sometimes we might wish the pope would do more, or that bishops would make different decisions. However, we must remember that the pope and bishops are not accountable to us; they are accountable to Jesus Christ. 

It is best if Catholics do not get fixated on the failings of some of our shepherds; that can be discouraging and unhealthy spiritually. The enemy wants nothing more than to turn us against each other and against the Church. We should keep our focus on the power of the Holy Spirit in the Church. That reality is far more important, and that focus will keep our faith and our parishes strong

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

September 18th, 2022

Question: How many prayers does it take to get a person out of purgatory?

Answer: We have no way of knowing who is in purgatory nor how many prayers an individual would need to complete their purification. The length of time a person is in purgatory and the intensity of their purification would depend on the amount of temporal punishment the person had when they left this world. Some could be there for only a few moments, while others could spend centuries there; we just don’t know. Time itself is probably different in purgatory, but purgatory is temporal in the sense that everyone there will eventually reach heaven.


It is best to continue to pray for our deceased loved ones throughout our entire lives. If they are in purgatory, those prayers will be a great assistance to them. If they are not in purgatory, God will use those prayers for some other good purpose.


It is also helpful to apply indulgences to a soul in purgatory. The effect of an indulgence in purgatory is not the same as the effect here in this life. For example, a plenary indulgence in this life removes all temporal punishment. A plenary indulgence applied to a person in purgatory will do much good, but it will not necessarily remove all punishment. The Church has jurisdiction to bind and loose with indulgences here in this life, but not in Purgatory. The application of prayers and indulgences to souls in purgatory belongs to Jesus Christ.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

September 4th, 2022

Question: How do you explain purgatory to a non-Catholic? I went through the Bible and found no mention of it.

Answer: Not every word used in Catholic Theology is in the Bible, but the concepts are there. For example, ‘Trinity’ is not used in the Bible, but God is revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Regarding Purgatory, 2 Maccabees 12 describes a group of men that had committed a sin before they died. Judas Maccabees took up a collection of silver for the temple and prayed to expiate their sins (after they had died), and in doing so, acted in a ‘very excellent and noble way insomuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view.’ This is clear Biblical evidence of sins that need to be purified/expiated after death.

2 Maccabees not only speaks about prayer for the dead, but also the resurrection. This is an important theological development in light of the Resurrection of Jesus. Unfortunately, Martin Luther removed the book of 2 Maccabees from the Bible (along with other books). Protestant Bibles either do not include this book or include it in an appendix. This raises major questions not only about Protestant theology, but also the authority upon which they would justify removing books from the Bible. In 1 Cor 3:11-15, St. Paul speaks about those who are saved, ‘but only as through fire.’ An analysis of this passage would require a longer article, but Protestant theology does not allow the possibility of someone being saved through fire.

Underlying the debate over Purgatory is a deeper issue. Catholic anthropology teaches that we are fallen, but we can be purified and become holy. Purgatory plays an important role in purification after death. Protestant anthropology teaches that a person is permanently corrupted by sin, and we are saved by faith alone. People either have faith and go to Heaven or they don’t have faith and go to Hell; there is no process of becoming holy. Catholics believe the saints in Heaven are truly holy; Protestant theology teaches that they are covered over by grace, but still corrupted on the inside for all eternity.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

July 24th, 2022

Question: Does it matter which knee you genuflect on?

Answer: The purpose of genuflecting is to show our reverence and adoration towards the presence of God. Because we are both physical and spiritual beings, it is appropriate that we express our faith both in our minds as well as our bodies. Genuflection is a physical sign of the adoration we should have interiorly.

The General Instruction to the Roman Missal instructs us to genuflect on our right knee. The right knee was reserved for God alone, while people would genuflect on their left knee towards kings or emperors. When the Eucharist is exposed in the monstrance for Eucharistic Adoration, it is a custom to genuflect on both knees to show greater humility and reverence. Those who are not able to genuflect physically should make some other physical gesture, like a bow of the body or at least of the head.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

July 17th, 2022

Question: Is Mary Magdalene the same person as Lazarus' sister, Mary, and the one who put perfume on Jesus' feet?

Answer: There has been some confusion in the past as to whether these three Marys are the same, and many modern scholars dispute that they are the same person. Modern scholars often hold erroneous positions. However, there are many voices in the Church's tradition, like St. Gregory the Great, that provide evidence that they are the same person. 

In 2021, Pope Francis changed the feast day on July 29th from St. Martha to the feast day of Saints Martha, Mary (Magdalene), and Lazarus. This confirms that they are siblings. In honoring these siblings, Pope  Francis wanted to emphasize the importance of the family unit. St. Lazarus, because he was raised from the dead, was a powerful witness to the identity of Jesus Christ. That created animosity with some of the Jewish leaders. 

Ancient traditions tell us the three siblings were placed on a boat by the Jews and sent off into the sea. They eventually landed in Saintes-Maries France and brought the Christian faith to the people of Gaul. The relics of all three saints are found in churches in Southern France.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

July 10th, 2022

Question: Could you please give me the title of a good History of the Christian Church from its beginnings to present times written by a Catholic author and with the seal of the imprimatur of a Catholic bishop?

Answer: An imprimatur, literally meaning ‘let it be printed’ in Latin, is the official approval a bishop can give to a book. This is a bishop’s certification that a book is free from errors of doctrine or faith. Granting an imprimatur is one way a bishop exercises his responsibility to guard his people against false teachings or corruptions of the faith that could endanger their salvation.

History books are no longer given an imprimatur. An author’s perspective on events in Church history is not necessarily a matter of faith or Revelation. Books that deal directly with Theology and Church teaching can receive an imprimatur, so it is good to select books with an imprimatur when reading about those topics. 

Two recommendations of history books that are written in line with a Catholic perspective:
⦁   Alan Schreck, The Compact History of the Catholic Church (Servant Press)
⦁    Steve Weidenkopf, Timeless: A History of the Catholic Church (Our Sunday Visitor)

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

July 3rd, 2022

Question: Where are you going?

Answer: In Latin, this question is "quo vadis?" Quo Vadis is the name of a church in Rome where a second century document, the Acts of Peter, tells us that Peter met Jesus. Peter was fleeing Rome because of a persecution. Jesus said that He was going to Rome to be crucified again (not literally, but through His Church that was being persecuted). Peter took this as a sign that he should return to Rome. Peter returned to Rome, where he received the crown of martyrdom.

The priest that preached at my first Mass after ordination, Father Anthony Brausch, posed this exact question to me in his homily 13 years ago. I suppose there are many ways to answer this question, but I would hope that I am embracing my cross and following Jesus faithfully like Peter. If I'm on that path, I suppose that is all that matters.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

June 26th, 2022

Question: Why is the presentation of the Lord after His Baptism when He was a baby at the presentation and at
Baptism He is an adult?

Answer: The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is on February 2. The Blessed Virgin Mary followed the Mosaic Law, which required her to go to the temple 40 days after giving birth to a son to be purified and to dedicate the child to the Lord. 40 days, counting December 25, takes us to February 2. 

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord falls on the last day of the Christmas season. This feast marks the end of the hidden life of Jesus, including 30 years from His infancy through His time in Nazareth, and the beginning of His public ministry. That makes it a fitting bridge from the Christmas season into Ordinary Time. 

Since the liturgical calendar includes the most important events in the life of Christ all in one year, it isn't always possible/necessary to put events that happened over the 33 years of His time on earth in the correct chronological order. The liturgical year is a valuable element of our Catholic prayer life because it enables us to reflect on the different elements of the Paschal mystery (the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus) each year.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

June 19th, 2022

Question: Why doesn't St. Mary of the Woods sing Ave Maria?

Answer: While there are different types of liturgical music, the purpose of music in the Mass is to be conducive to the worship and adoration of God. Vatican II teaches that Gregorian chant has pride of place in Catholic Liturgy, but the church allows for a variety of styles and types of music. Music/hymns should be appropriate for the liturgical season, and can often relate to the readings/Gospel of the day. The Church gives us antiphons based on scriptural texts that can be chanted that apply to the Mass of the day. 

Music should be chosen that has correct Theology and is of good musical quality. Hymns should be avoided that have bad theology or focus on ourselves rather than on God. Our musicians often sing the Ave Maria at funerals. It would also be appropriate to sing it on occasions like Marian Feast Days. Since I typically delegate the choice of music to our music department, I will pass this feedback on to the music department for their consideration.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

May 8th, 2022

Question: Why can't priests marry?

Answer: Jesus didn't marry; His mission was to give His life for the salvation of souls. A priest is called by God to imitate Jesus in dedicating his entire life to the same mission. If someone is married, their first priority is their family. A priest's first priority is to his people, and it wouldn't be right for a priest to be married and have to choose to put either his family or his parish second. Celibacy enables a priest to have an undivided heart.

While a priest doesn't have his own biological children, he does have a spiritual family. We call a priest "father" because he is truly a spiritual father. He gives life to his children through the sacraments, and he guides them as a spiritual father by his teaching and example.

A man is free to accept or reject a call from God to be a priest. A man who wants to marry can choose marriage; if a man chooses to be a priest, he must be prepared to embrace the life and mission that Jesus embraced.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

April 24th, 2022

Question: How old was Jesus when He died?

Answer: Jesus was 33 years old when He died. He began His public ministry when He was 30, and His public ministry lasted for three years. The Gospels give us evidence to support this. In the Gospel of John, it mentions the annual feast of Passover three separate times. 

St. Thomas Aquinas argued that, in the Resurrection, the blessed will all receive their glorified bodies appearing as they would have at age 33 (regardless of whether the person had lived to be 33 or not in their earthly life). He saw 33 as the perfect age based on the age of Jesus when He died and rose. This is not official Church teaching, but an interesting point to meditate on. 

What the Church does teach is that the saints will receive their glorified bodies, radiant with light, and without any defect of aging, at the final resurrection. Glorified bodies will not be subject of aging because they will be made for eternity.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

April 3rd, 2022

Question: Why do some make the Sign of the Cross in the Glory Be?

Answer: There is no rule specifying that someone should make the Sign of the Cross during the Glory Be. This would be a private devotion rather that something specified by the Church. Because the Trinity is being invoked, some people might find it meaningful to make the Sign of the Cross. Some Eastern Catholic Churches (who are in union with the Pope) and Orthodox Churches make the Sign of the Cross numerous times, including during the Glory Be.


Catholics can make the Sign of the Cross in cases of physical or spiritual danger, before and after prayers and meals, and any time we seek God's help. "Let the Sign of the Cross be continually made on the heart, on the mouth, on the forehead, at table, at the bath, in bed, coming in and going out, in joy and sadness, sitting, standing, speaking, walking — in short, in all our actions. Let us make it on our breasts and all our members, that we may be entirely covered with this invincible armor of Christians" (St. Gaudentius).

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

March 27th, 2022

Question: In Matthew 26:24, talking about Judas betraying Jesus, Jesus said it would be better if he had not been born. What does that mean?

Answer: Judas was present when Jesus said this statement. This was meant to be a last warning to him about the severe consequences for betraying Jesus, Jesus kept His identity secret to allow Him a chance to repent. Unfortunately, Judas did not heed the warning. One thing we can learn from this about Jesus is that He continues to reach out to sinners to try and bring about their repentance as long as there is still time. He doesn't give up on us, even when our hearts aren't right. Judas was not the only one to betray Jesus. Peter betrayed Him, too, but Peter later repented and turned back to Jesus.


We betray Jesus when we sin, and people often commit mortal sins that bring with them severe eternal consequences. It's important for us to recognize the true consequences of mortal sin and avoid it at all costs. If we do commit a mortal sin, we should follow the example of Peter in repenting by going to Confession as quickly as possible. Jesus doesn't want the sinner to die, but to return to Him and live. (see Ezekiel 33:11)

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

March 20th, 2022

Question: Why do people bow in church when Jesus' name is mentioned?

Answer: "At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, of those that are in Heaven, on earth, or under earth" (Phil 2:10). The name of Jesus has power - it gives us courage when spoken with faith and reverence. Demons flee from the Holy Name. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal instructs the priest to bow his head at the name of Jesus, Mary, or a saint on his/her feast day. Before the liturgical changes of Vatican II, it was specified that the head bow would be more profound for the name of Jesus. This gesture captures and teaches us the reverence that is due to His name.

St. Bernardine of Siena is known for promoting devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. He once said in a sermon, "When the human mind makes bold to speak of the Name of Jesus, and of its praise, it finds itself deficient; the tongue cleaves to the palate of the mouth and all speech dries up. Indeed, this Name is so great, so much more profound than the very oceans, that no human intellect is fully capable of expounding it."

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

February 27th, 2022

Question: Father, why do you always give Communion out on the same side of church?

Answer: There is nothing specified in the instructions for Mass about which side the priest should distribute from. That's up to the preference of each priest. Most priests, including Archbishop Schnurr, pick one place (usually the center aisle, on his right side) to distribute. This benefits those parishioners who prefer only to receive from a priest. If the priest is always in the same spot, they know where to sit.


The theological reason to receive from a priest acts "in the person of Christ" during Mass. When the priest distributes Communion, it reveals the reality that Jesus is feeding His people. The tradition of ordained deacons assisting with Communion is ancient, as well. We are fortunate to have a priest and a deacon for almost all of our weekend Masses.


Both sides are able to receive Communion from an ordinary minister of Holy Communion. Bishops, priests and deacons are ordinary ministers of Holy Communion. In extraordinary situations (real pastoral need), extraordinary ministers can be used. That determination is up to the pastor. Extraordinary ministers are instituted acolytes (seminarians are instituted acolytes in their second year of Theology), or if one isn't present, a trained lay person.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

February 13th, 2022

Question: At the Last Supper, Jesus said: "which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins." Who's the many? Wasn't it for all of us?

Answer: The Church draws from 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 and the Gospels in forming the words of consecration. The phrase "for many" comes from Matthew 26:28, which in Latin says "pro multis." This echoes Isaiah 53:10-11, which is a prophecy that the suffering servant shall justify (or take away the sins) of many. 


This reveals to us that Jesus was not only pouring out His blood for the apostles in the Upper Room, or for us as individuals at Mass, but for a great multitude of people. This was not meant to exclude anyone. At the same time, not everyone will accept Christ's offer of redemption and salvation. While Jesus offers this gift to everyone, and while "many" accept the gift that Jesus offers, there are many who refuse the gift.

It's important for us, through prayer and good example, to help lead people to conversion who have rejected this gift or who do not know about it.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

January 30th, 2022

Question: Why do priests wear a white collar?

Answer: The white collar, along with a black cassock or clerical shirt, is a distinctive and recognizable sign of clergy (bishops, priests, deacons, and sometimes seminarians). While the clothing of priests has developed over many centuries, priests wear distinctive dress so people can recognize their presence. Someone might need a priest to go to Confession, or people will often ask priests to pray for certain Intentions.

A priest is also a witness in the world to the presence of Jesus Christ. Sometimes people who have left the practice of the faith return because of a chance encounter with a priest. It's important to have symbols of Jesus Christ in our increasingly secular world. A priest, because he is consecrated to the service of the Lord, is a living witness to the presence of Jesus Christ.


For these reasons, Canon Law requires clerics to wear "suitable clerical clothing, according to the norms issued by the Episcopal Conference and according to legitimate local customs." (Canon 284) Priests are never "off-duty," so wearing proper attire helps the priest to live out his priestly calling. It is also a sign of strength to the faithful when they see their priest in uniform, even in places like a grocery store or restaurant.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

January 23rd, 2022

Question: What is the meaning of the painting behind the tabernacle?

Answer: I have received tremendous positive feedback from the paintings produced by Michael and Ann Blanck; they add a great deal of beauty to the church. The painting behind the tabernacle also has theological significance. When describing the New Creation, the Book of Revelation talks about streams of life that nourish the city of God. Those streams of life came forth from the side of Christ on the cross. His sacrifice gives us life.


Our painting depicts those streams of life coming from Christ on the cross. The streams branch off into seven streams; those seven streams represent the seven Sacraments. The sheep represent the people of God, drinking from the streams of life. The streams of life from the cross are made present to us every time the Mass is offered. We have the privilege of being able to drink from those streams when we attend Mass and when we receive the Eucharist.


I encourage each of us, as we look at that image during Mass, to meditate on the graces that are poured forth to nourish our souls and to drink deeply. 

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

January 16th, 2022

Question: What is one to do during Eucharistic Adoration? I know we are supposed to pray; are there certain prayers?

Answer: Eucharistic Adoration provides us with an extended period of silence. While some may initially be uncomfortable or bored by this, it is critically important that we develop a love for the silence of prayer. God speaks to us in silence; if we can't be silent in the Lord's presence, we probably aren't listening to Him. We need to take time outside of Mass to pray in order to nurture an authentic prayer life. Eucharistic Adoration gives us great flexibility in our prayer. The Holy Spirit will shape everyone's prayer a little differently; we should invoke the Holy Spirit to guide our prayer.

Praying the Rosary during Adoration is powerful; I often feel I am able to meditate more deeply on the mysteries during Adoration. Reading and praying with a passage of Scripture, perhaps the Gospel of the day, is a good use of time. Some people may choose to devote each Holy Hour to a specific intention, and then offer prayers for that intention. Good spiritual reading can support our prayer. Don't feel that you have to fill every moment of Adoration. It's good to simply enjoy spending time with Our Lord in silence. Good friends don't need to speak to each other at every moment. God can often work silently in ways we do not perceive. Put your trust in Him!

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

January 2nd, 2022

Question: Why in the English Mass are there two to a set of Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, and in the Latin Mass there are three to a set?

Answer: "Kyrie eleison" is a Greek phrase, meaning "Lord, have mercy." This is part of the "Penitential Rite," when we call to mind our sins and our need for mercy as we begin our worship of Jesus Christ. "Eleos" was the Greek word for oil; oil was poured on wounds to heal and to soothe the pain. God's mercy is the healing love of God poured out on our spiritual wounds like oil. 

In the Traditional Latin Mass (the Mass before the post-Vatican II changes) "Kyrie eleison" was repeated three times, then "Christe eleison" three times, and "Kyrie eleison" three times. There were three invocations directed to each person of the Trinity (three towards the Father, three towards the Son, and three towards the Holy Spirit). The symbolism is Trinitarian, and the repetition helps to emphasize the significance of the invocation for those praying the Mass.

In the post-Vatican II revisions, there was a movement to simplify the Mass and eliminate some of the repetition. Now there is one invocation by the priest or the choir, after which the congregation repeats the phrase. The Trinitarian dimension is still there, but slightly obscured, with three groups of two instead of three groups of three.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

December 19th, 2021

Question: Sometimes at Mass, all of the candles are lit on the altar and other times, there are only a few lit. Why is there a difference?

Answer: Candles are a symbol of the light of Jesus Christ shining in the darkness of our world. This is beautifully conveyed in the Easter Vigil Mass, which begins with the blessing of the Easter candle and a candlelight procession. We always keep a candle burning where the Eucharist is reserved in a tabernacle to point to the Presence of Jesus. At Mass, we are required to have a minimum of two candles lit by the altar. At Eucharistic Exposition, there must be at least six candles lit when the Eucharist is exposed on the altar. The concept of "progressive solemnity" is the idea that we should keep things as austere as possible during the penitential seasons of Lent and Advent. We would have a "normal" level of solemnity during Ordinary Time, and more candles, more decorations, and more elaborate music in seasons like Christmas and Easter. 

Now that we have a high altar and room for more candles, I've had to decide how many candles to light and when. I am planning that we will light all the candles during Christmas and Easter, as well as Holy Days and Sundays during Ordinary Time. We will only light the two by the altar and two by the tabernacle during Advent, Lent, and daily Masses.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

December 12th, 2021

Question: How does the Church view cremation?

Answer: In the early Church, pagans would burn dead bodies as a sign that death was the end. Christians, because they believed in the Resurrection, would not burn bodies. They would bury the bodies as a sign of hope in the Resurrection, when our soul would be reunited with our bodies. For most of Church history, cremation was forbidden for this reason.


Currently, the Church has changed this discipline a little. Burial of the body is preferred. While not preferable, cremation is now permitted as long as it is not done as a denial of the Resurrection. If a person plans on being cremated, the Church prefers that a funeral Mass is done first with the body, and then have the cremation and burial of the remains.

Abuses have crept up with cremated remains. Human remains should be buried or put in a columbarium at a cemetery. They should not be kept in someone's home as a keepsake, or divided among family members, or made into jewelry, or scattered in a park. People's remains are not a possession that we can do with as we please; they should be put to rest properly in a sacred place.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

December 5th, 2021

Question: Will we recognize our family members in heaven? If so, won't this make us love them more than others? Also, what about spouses of more than one marriage?

Answer: Yes, we will recognize our family members who are in Heaven. The glorified bodies of the saints will not have the effects of aging or disease, and they will be radiant with the light of Christ, but they will still be recognizable to us as the same person.

Our love for others will be perfected in Heaven because we will see each person and know them perfectly in their true dignity as children of God. No one will be a stranger in the communion of saints; we will love others even more than we love our family members in this life. At the same time, we will recognize the bonds of family members and friends from this world. We will also recognize the impact of prayers from various saints that had been praying for us during our earthly lives. All these relationships will lead us to give greater thanksgiving and glory to God, the source of all these blessings.

When Jesus is asked about a man who has married seven women, He responds, "For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven" (Mk 12:35). There will be a union of marriage in this life. In Heaven, the saints will recognize a special relationship with their spouse (or spouses) on earth, especially regarding how they assisted each other in growing in holiness. Marriage on earth is a sacrament that is meant to point us to its fulfillment in the marriage feast of Heaven between Jesus Christ and His Church. Those who embrace celibacy (priests, religious, virgins) live out a foretaste of this Heavenly union with Christ while still on earth.


God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

November 14th, 2021

Question: Are we required to go to Confession every year and during the Easter time under pain of mortal sin, even if we have no mortal sin to confess?

Answer: The 4th Lateran Council in 1215 instituted what is called today the "Easter Duty." At the bare minimum, Catholics were required to receive Communion at least once during the year (during the Easter season) and to go to Confession at least once a year. The goal was to correct people at two extremes: those who never went to Communion and those who weren't going to Confession. There was no distinction between mortal and venial sins; Confession was required once a year.

The current Catechism and Code of Canon Law say that Catholics must confess serious sins at least  once each year. They cite the 4th Lateran Council, but change the requirement from confessing sins to confessing serious sins. The Code of Canon Law is the law in force today, which means Catholics are required to confess serious sins once each year.


Keep in mind that this law is the absolute minimum requirement. We should never strive for the minimum, because anyone who is striving for the minimum lacks true love of God. We should strive for great holiness, which is why the Church teaches us to go to Confession as soon as possible after committing a serious sin or monthly for venial sins.


God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

October 24th, 2021

Question: Why do some people touch their chest with a fist during the consecration bells, or at 'through my fault...?"

Answer: Striking one's chest is an ancient sign of sorrow for sin and for repentance. There are a couple examples of this in Scripture. In Luke 18:13, Christ tells a parable about a tax collector who wouldn't even lift his eyes to Heaven, but struck his breast, saying, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner." This practice has been a part of our Christian tradition from early times. St. Jerome, who died in 420, said that we strike our chest because the heart is the seat of all our desires. Evil thoughts come from our hearts and repentance comes from our hearts. Striking one's chest is a physical manifestation of the spiritual sorrow and repentance that we experience. 

The rubrics for the Mass instruct the faithful to strike their chest three times during the Confiteor, the prayer that can be said during the penitential rite ("l confess, to Almighty God..."). We strike our chest when we say, "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault." Striking one's chest during the Consecration is not in the rubrics for Mass. That is a personal devotion of some expressing their humility or repentance before the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

God bless,

Father Shawn Landenwitch

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