About John Lilburne


18 August 2003 on Catholicism for Dummies

Links to GIRM


Ceremony Errors in Catholicism for Dummies

Here are few errors I have noticed in the ceremonies of Catholicism For Dummies.


These  are described on page 85:

"... Another telltale sign of a Catholic is genuflection, which is touching the right knee to the floor while bending the left knee. The sign of the cross is made simultaneously with this gesture. Catholics only genuflect in front of the Holy Eucharist. ..."

It is incorrect to say that the sign of the cross is made when this gesture is made. A priest genuflects after the elevations but there are no instructions for the sign of the cross to be made.

Catholics no not only genuflect in front of the Holy Eucharist. According to the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM):

"274. A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross from the solemn adoration during the liturgical celebration on Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil."

On page 138 Catholicism for Dummies gives incorrect instructions about genuflecting during Mass:

"If the tabernacle (see Chapter 16) is in the center of the sanctuary, the priest and anyone passing in front of it genuflects as a sign of respect and recognition that Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist."

But from the Roman Missal:

"If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is present in the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it, but not during the celebration of Mass itself.

Otherwise all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession." (GIRM 274)

If someone does not genuflect during the Mass, following the Roman Missal, readers of Catholicism for Dummies will think they are being disrespectful.


Catholicism for Dummies gives two formulas for baptism, both incorrect with regard to the person's name. On page 94 there is no name:

"I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

On page 103 the name is put in the wrong place:

"I baptize you (the first and middle names are said aloud) in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

According to the liturgical book on Baptism for Children the name is first:

"N. I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."


Catholicism for Dummies has the name in the correct place for Confirmation, but have incorrect words of reply:

"... the bishop puts Chrism Oil on the person's forehead, says his name aloud, and then says, "Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit." The person responds, "Amen." The bishop then says, "Peace be with you." And the person responds, "And with your spirit" or "And also with you."

In the approved translation we have "And also with you." The Latin is "Et cum spiritu tuo." The authors may think "And with your spirit" is a better translation. It may become the approved translation. But at present it is not. So it should not be presented as though it were an option.

Sign of the Cross

According to Catholicism for Dummies, page 138:

"Catholics begin and end every prayer and sacrament with the sign of the cross."

An exception is prayers in the ceremonies in Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass. These do not begin with sign of the cross, although they do end with it.


On page 140 it explains that Epistles can be read after the psalm.

"... the Epistles are the letters of Saints Paul, James, Jude and John."

Peter is omitted, although his epistle is read during the first Sunday of Lent.

Kneeling for Communion

Perhaps its unfair to describe this as an error, rather it reflects the confusion that currently exists on this issue. From page 148:

"... The local bishop and the national conference of bishops for each nation give guidelines on which posture they prefer or suggest. In the United States, for example, standing is the norm, but with a bow of the head; however, it is forbidden to refuse Communion to someone who is kneeling. If the church or chapel has a Communion or altar rail, a short gate-like structure surrounding the sanctuary where people can kneel during Holy Communion, and people kneel at this, then no other sign of reverence is required, because kneeling is a sign of reverence. ..."

I object to the way the local bishop and national conference of bishops are lumped together as though they have equal limited authority to "suggest". The local bishop does not make the decision. According to the 2002 GIRM

"390. It is up to the Conferences of Bishops to decide on the adaptations indicated in this General Instruction and in the Order of Mass and, once their decisions have been accorded the recognitio of the Apostolic See, to introduce them into the Missal itself. These adaptations include ...

The manner of receiving Holy Communion (cf. nos. 160, 283 above); ..."

I also see it as unhelpful to promote kneeling as a legitimate option. From the USA's 2002 GIRM 160:

"...The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm.

When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister. ..."


According to Catholicism for Dummie, page 149:

"Catholics aren't allowed to self-communicate, which means going up to the altar and picking up the chalice for themselves".

It would be more accurate to say "only priests and bishops are allowed to self-communicate."

Roman Missal

Very little is written about the Roman Missal. On page 142:

"The Roman Missal is the official book the priest uses at Mass, containing all the prayers that he must say as well as telling him what to do and how to do it."

True, but by limiting it to the priest I do not think it goes far enough. It also says what the deacon, instituted lector, instituted acolyte, extraordinary ministers of the eucharist, cantor and congregation do.

By J.R. Lilburne, 19 August 2003. Updated 30 June 2004. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain. 

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