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The Display of American Flags in Catholic churches


Actually, there are no current regulations specifically governing the display of flags in Roman Catholic Churches. The decision is left to the judgment of the diocesan bishop and/or the pastor. In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, display of flags is strongly discouraged.


The reasons for not displaying the flag in church come from both the principles of Catholic worship as well as honor and respect for the American flag itself.


In the US Bishop’s 1978 document, Environment and Art in Catholic Worship, display of the flag was explicitly discouraged: “…identifying symbols of particular cultures, groups, or nations are not appropriate as permanent parts of the liturgical environment. While such symbols might be used for a particular occasion or holiday, they should not regularly constitute a part of the environment of common prayer.” The more recent bishops’ document, Built of Living Stones, published in 2000, omits specific reference to the flag but repeatedly articulates the principles that exclude furnishings and articles that are not part of our worship. We come to worship as Americans, proud of our heritage and our history, but our focus at Mass is not on our Americanism but on our faith – our union with Christ. The most important symbols of our worship are the cross, the bread and the wine, and the gathered assembly – gathered as the Body of Christ. All other symbols and elements of the environment should enhance these primary symbols and emphasize that we gather as the people of God, no matter what our nationality, political preference, gender, age or background.


In addition to liturgical principles, the US Flag Code states: “When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience…” Such prominence is not possible in a Catholic church, where the predominant image is that of the crucified Christ.


Because of this stipulation, it would be better to give the flag a place of greater prominence outside of the church in a special area, or perhaps in the vestibule or gathering space rather than in the main body of the church.


These principles are similar to those for funerals, in which the flag is removed from a flag-draped coffin before entering the church, signifying that we are all one in the Lord and before the Lord. When the body enters the Church, the pall is placed on the casket as a symbol of the white baptismal garment - to remind us that the person was baptized into Christ, and that is what is celebrated at the funeral Mass.




Bread for the Eucharist: Approved Recipes


Bread for the Eucharist is made only of wheat flour and pure water, without the addition of other ingredients. The bread can indeed look like real bread. “Following the example of Christ, the Church has always used bread and wine with water to celebrate the Lord’s Supper…” The nature of the sign demands that the material for the eucharistic celebration truly have the appearance of food.” GIRM # 281-283. (When communities begin using a form of bread which looks like bread, there might be a bulletin announcement to address this matter to explain that the recipe being used is in conformity to the norms established by the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith.)


The following recipes fulfill the requirements of the Church for eucharistic bread. These breads are easily broken with very few crumbs. Nine inch round breads are recommended for Sunday Mass.

Recipe #1
  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 ¼ cups warm water.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Knead very well for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and pliable.


Roll the dough out into the desired size and shape, to about ¼ inch thick. Prick around the edge to help prevent the formation of air bubbles. No need to score.


Bake on a not-stick-baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for about 16-17 minutes depending on the size of the breads. Two 9-inch rounds can be obtained from this recipe. Cool and wrap in plastic or foil, or put in a baggie. The bread may then be frozen or refrigerated until needed.

Recipe #2
  • 2 ½ cups wheat flour
  • ½ cup unbleached white flour (put flour in freezer ahead of time)
  • 1 ¼ cups cold Perrier water

Mixed all the ingredients in a bowl. Knead very well for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and pliable. (May use small amounts of oil on hands to keep from sticking.)


Roll the dough out into the desired size and shape, to about ¼ inch thick. Prick around the edge to help prevent the formation of air bubbles.


Score bread into ¾ -inch pieces before baking. Bake on a non-stick baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for about 16-17 minutes, depending on the size of each bread. Two 9-inch rounds can be obtained from this recipe. (Cardinal Mahony prefers 7 ½ inch breads for the archdiocesan stational liturgies). Cool the bread and wrap in foil, or put in a baggie. The bread may then be frozen or refrigerated until needed.

Recipe #3

For 70 communicants, use ¼ cup whole-wheat flour to 2/3 cup unbleached white flour. The mixture of flour should be kept in an airtight container in the freezer and used while cold. (The cold flour helps prevent a separate crust from forming.)


Use one cup of the flour mixture to approximately ½ cup of naturally effervescent water (Perrier, for example). The water should be refrigerator cold.


Quickly mix the flour and water together with a fork until all the flour is moist. Form dough into a smooth ball. Usually more flour needs to be sprinkled on the surface of the dough to prevent stickiness.


Gently flatten the ball of dough into a circular loaf about ½ to ¾ inch thick. If necessary, turn any uneven edges underneath.


Place un-scored loaf on a lightly oiled baking sheet.(Use Pam and wipe off excess.)


Place in a preheated oven at 425 degrees.


After approximately 12-15 minutes the top crust should have raised slightly. Pick the crust with a toothpick in several places, turn the loaf over and continue to bake about five minutes. (This gives evenness to the top of the loaf.)


Turn the loaf right side up again and continue to bake until the crust is very lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes more, for a total of 25-30 minutes. Baking time when using more than 1-1/2 cups of flour may need to be extended.


Resources: Bishops Committee on The Liturgy, The Sacristy Manual




Implementation of Redemptionis Sacramentum in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles


Cardinal Roger Mahony issued a statement with guidelines ​for the implementation of this Instruction within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.




Divine Mercy Sunday and Devotions

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles Office for Worship has received many inquiries regarding Divine Mercy Sunday and Divine Mercy devotions.


The Essential Celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday consists in the celebration of the liturgy of the Second Sunday of Easter during which the homily should focus on the scriptural readings of the day. It should be noted that the three cycles of scriptural readings and the orations are all centered on the forgiveness of sins and God’s infinite mercy, which endures forever.


There are also options for enhancement of the celebration. Our response to inquiries about this enhancement (i.e. novenas, etc.) is given within the context of the following statement from the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: "Popular devotions of the Christian people are to be highly endorsed, provided they are in accord with the laws and norms of the Church…. But these devotions should be so fashioned that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some way derived from it, and lead the people to it, since in fact, the liturgy by its very nature surpasses any of them."


When asked about the desirability of beginning the Divine Mercy Novena on Good Friday in the parish, for example, the response is to remind the inquirer of the nature and solemnity of the most holy Triduum and the primary responsibility of all in the parish to participate fully in all the Triduum liturgies. Nothing else should replace or mitigate the importance and centrality of these liturgical celebrations. Only when this is assured, might small groups choose to request to celebrate novenas and other devotions. Pastors are free to decide whether or not these will take place, when and where (in the parish church or in some other place).


For detailed information, please contact Divine Mercy International, 413 298 1184 or John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy: 413 298 1189 or email: the following web site is also helpful:




Canon 766 - Lay Preaching


On November 14, 2001, the Latin Church members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved complementary legislation for canon 766 of the Code of Canon Law for the dioceses of the Latin Church of the United States.


The action was granted recognitio by the Congregation for Bishops in accord with article 82 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus and issued by decree of the Congregation for Bishops signed by His Eminence Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect, and His Excellency Most Reverend Franciscus Monterisi, Secretary, and dated November 27, 2001.


Complementary Norm: Preaching the Word of God is among the principal duties of those who have received the sacrament of orders (cc. 762-764). The lay faithful can be called to cooperate in the exercise of the Ministry of the Word (c. 759). In accord with canon 766 the National Conference of Catholic Bishops hereby decrees that the lay faithful may be permitted to exercise this ministry in churches and oratories, with due regard for the following provisions:


If necessity requires it in certain circumstances or it seems useful in particular cases, the diocesan bishop can admit lay faithful to preach, to offer spiritual conferences or give instructions in churches, oratories or other sacred places within his diocese, when he judges it to be to the spiritual advantage of the faithful.


In order to assist the diocesan bishop in making an appropriate pastoral decision (Interdicasterial Instruction, Ecclesiae de Mysterio, Article 2 §3), the following circumstances and cases are illustrative: the absence or shortage of clergy, particular language requirements, or the demonstrated expertise or experience of the lay faithful concerned.


The lay faithful who are to be admitted to preach in a church or oratory must be orthodox in faith, and well-qualified, both by the witness of their lives as Christians and by a preparation for preaching appropriate to the circumstances.


The diocesan bishop will determine the appropriate situations in accord with canon 772§1. In providing for preaching by the lay faithful the diocesan bishop may never dispense from the norm which reserves the homily to the sacred ministers (c. 767§1; cfr. Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, 26 May 1987, in AAS 79 [1987], 1249). Preaching by the lay faithful may not take place within the Celebration of the Eucharist at the moment reserved for the homily.


As President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I hereby decree that the effective date of this decree for all the dioceses of the Latin Church in the United States will be January 15, 2002.


Given at the offices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC, on December 13, 2001. Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory Bishop of Belleville President, USCCB Reverend Monsignor William P. Fay General Secretary November 10, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


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Pastoral Response to persons with Celiac disease

The number of people discovering that they are afflicted with Celiac Disease grows daily.  In order to give an adequate pastoral response to these persons it is recommended that those responsible for the pastoral care of the faithful be attentive to the following matters:

*A suggested procedure might be to have the person put their host in an open pyx and place it on the altar before Mass.  Care should be taken that no one touches it.  At the agreed upon moment in the rite (usually before the rest of the assembly receives communion) the person should come forward to receive the host. The priest or designated minister should pour the host from the pyx into the hands of the person receiving it being very careful not to touch it.​

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