Some Frequently Asked Questions


  1. Are there any foods which Catholics aren’t supposed to eat?

No.  We used to abstain from meat on Fridays years ago but now we are asked to make some sacrifice of our own choice or do something extra, although recently the Bishops have suggested that we should again consider giving up meat on Fridays.

  1. Are there any days on which Catholics fast?

Yes.  On Ash Wednesday at the beginning of Lent and on Good Friday at the end of Lent.  We restrict ourselves to two light meals and one main meal at which you can eat as much as is practical.  These two days are also days of abstinence when we do not eat meat.

  1. What about the Eucharistic fast?

We are requested to fast from food and drink for one hour up to the time that we will receive Communion – not the time that Mass starts.  Water or medicine does not break the fast.  Also, if you are attending a sick person to whom Communion is brought by a priest or a Eusharistic minister, you may receive Communion with them, without observing the fast.

  1. How much money is a Catholic expected to give to the Church?

This is entirely up to the individual’s conscience, although we are expected to make a contribution towards the upkeep of the clergy and church buildings.

  1. Can we gift aid our contribution?

Yes.  Each parish will have someone who can advise on this which means that if you are paying income tax, the church as a charity can reclaim the tax that has been paid by you on the amout you are gift aiding.  Such donations can be put in a special envelope or you can pay by standing order.  It is perfectly acceptable to just put your non gift aided contribution on the plate during Mass.

  1. What is the meaning of the word Eucharist?

This word come from a Greek word meaning ‘thanksgiving’.

  1. What is meant by the Sunday Mass obligation?

We are asked to go to a celebration of the Eucharist every Sunday.

  1. What happens if I am sick? 

You are excused if you are sick so you must not worry!  Also, if you happen to be too far away from the church to get there, or if you have to look after someone else who needs your attention e.g a child, an invalid or an old person.  If you are travelling it may not be possible to get to Mass and therefore you are excused.

  1. What are Holy Days of Obligation?

These are special Feast Days e.g. Corpus Christi (a moveable feast some time in June), S.S. Peter & Paul (29th June), Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (15th August).  Until fairly recently, we were obliged to go to Mass on those days but now they have been moved to the nearest Sunday.

  1. I see people making the sign of the cross on their foreheads before the Gospel.  Why is this?  

We use our thumb to make the sign of the cross on our foreheads to signify that we understand the Gospel, on lips to show that we wish to speak the Gospel and on our hearts to show that we wish to love the Gospel.

  1. What does “Easter Triduum” mean?

This term applies to the three services stretched over Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.  They are like three acts to the one liturgical drama.

  1. What happens at the Easter Vigil?

This is the first Mass of Easter (rather like Midnight Mass is the first Mass of Christmas).  This involves

    • The Blessing of the Fire outside the Church, Lighting of the Paschal (Easter) Candle and Procession,
    • Readings from Scriptures, Old and New Testament recalling Salvation History.
    • Baptism of new Christians
    • The Liturgy of the Eucharist.
  1. Is this service suitable for children?

As it is very lengthy, young children may become tired and fractious.  Better for them to come to a Mass on the Sunday.

  1. Why does the priest wear different coloured vestments?

The colours vary according to the liturgical season or feast e.g purple during Lent, white at Christmas, Easter, Corpus Christi etc., blue on feasts of Our Lady.

  1. I recently heard of a priest who is married.  Can this be so?

During the last few years, some Anglican priests have left the Church of England and have been received into the Catholic Church.  After following a course of study, they have been ordained as Catholic priests and those who were already married have continued to live with their wives and families, with the Church’s blessing.

  1. What special symbols does a Bishop have?

He carries a crozier, rather like a crook, symbolising that he is shepherd of his flock.  His headdress is called a mitre.