Q: Why can’t everyone have Communion at church?

A: Very good question, for we live in a culture that overly promotes the question, “What do we have the ‘right’ to do?” Our faith teaches us that we first must be “right” with God. What does this mean? From the earliest times of our Church, the question has been asked who is “right” to receive the Eucharist. We even have records of writings which come from a time less than 100 years after which the first disciples of Jesus Christ walked the earth.

ne of the great saints of the early Church is St. Justin Martyr (see Catechism of the Catholic Church). The term martyr means that this particular person gave his life for the Church so that you and I may live it in 2013. According to St. Justin, we must have first received Baptism and to live a life in keeping with all of what Jesus Christ has taught. While in my previous “Ask the Bishop” I indicated that there were requirements our Church has set forth, which are consistent with what St. Justin instructed, we also must remember that, as I mentioned in the previous article, the person must believe in the real presence of Jesus in the mystery of the Eucharist.  Jesus’ Body and Blood is present in what we seem to see as just bread and wine. As fellow Catholics, this is part of our Creed and so we have assented to the belief that Jesus is in the Eucharist by sharing our word, “Amen.” 

I indicated at the beginning that we live in a world where people question whether we have the “right” to do something, but I wish to utilize a different and more relevant definition of “right” in this answer.  As your chief shepherd, I encourage us all to exercise our lives not simply by do we possess a right to do something, but more importantly, what is the “right” thing to do.

Q: When Jesus is on the cross he says, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Why does he say this? What does this mean?

A: The shortest and easiest answer is: Jesus died for us. To say a little more about this means that Jesus united with us in a very specific way. By not sinning himself, he took on all our own weaknesses and bore on his shoulders all of our sins. By saying these words which begin Psalm 22, he has united himself with us so that you and I can be reconciled to God. If you read on in Psalm 22, you realize that the psalm ends in very good news, for God will never leave us. It has been said also in ancient times that in order to make reference to an entire psalm, someone would mention the first few words of that psalm and then people would understand the entire meaning of what he said. Here, Jesus is reminding you and me that his dying on the cross is the greatest news of all for our salvation.

You may want to review Psalm 22 more thoroughly at Holy Week in 2014, April 13-18. As I have mentioned before, we must remember the Bible is the story of our salvation. In other words, the stories and the passages in the Bible are about us.

sus is the Son of God, but that does not mean he was immune from suffering or death. Jesus has offered us eternal life with him. He has saved us. No one is in his league. No one.

Q: Since the pope is also the Bishop of Rome, would that mean that it is his job to confirm everyone in Rome or is there another bishop who would take his place?

A: You are right in saying that Pope Francis, by his very title as Holy Father, is also the Bishop of Rome. Thank goodness Pope Francis has help with Confirmations!

Unlike my situation as the Bishop of Steubenville and having 58 parishes under my shepherd’s care, our Holy Father, with his office as pope, has been entrusted with over one billion Catholics. At the same time, he is Bishop of Rome. In the Diocese of Rome, there is the vicar of Rome, who is a cardinal, and there are also vicars general. Not unlike in large archdioceses and dioceses in the United States, the chief shepherd of the Diocese of Rome requires additional assistance at various celebrations, notwithstanding the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation. The auxiliary bishops in these dioceses provide that varied assistance and the same is true in the Diocese of Rome.

Still, Pope Francis has the right to confirm in the Diocese of Rome (actually in any diocese in the world for that matter), whenever he is available. I cannot read the pope’s mind or anyone else’s, but as a bishop I trust he would like to get out to the parishes in the Diocese of Rome more often than already he does.  And, he already is surprising a lot of people with how many times he has had the opportunity to visit the good people in Rome.

Together let us pray for Pope Francis as he follows in the footsteps of the first pope, St. Peter, a very, very, very good friend of Our Lord Jesus Christ. How blessed we are as a faith community to celebrate the tradition of all of the popes beginning with St. Peter and all along having the Holy Spirit speak through Jesus Christ’s Church the truth for all to hear.

May Our Lord bless you and your families as we live in this privileged time to share the good news to a world so desirous to hear that there is hope.

Editor’s Note: To “Ask the Bishop,” school-aged youth should email Joseph M. Taylor, jtaylor@diosteub.org; or write him at the Diocese of Steubenville, P.O. Box 969, Steubenville, OH 43952. He is a catechetical consultant and coordinator of youth ministry in the Diocese of Steubenville Office of Christian Formation and Schools.