Q: Why do we mark our foreheads with ashes at the beginning of Lent?

by Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.  |  02/26/2023  |  Why do we do that?

From ancient Hebrew tradition, people marked their sorrow and repentance by putting on sackcloth and smearing their face with ashes. They were seen as a public display of humility – of rejecting all that society found attractive or valuable. The wearing of ashes became a sign to others that you not only felt sorrow in your heart, but wanted to be held publicly accountable for one’s sins.


Q: What is a scapular? Why do people wear them?

by Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.  |  02/19/2023  |  Why do we do that?

The scapular, which derives its name from scapulae, the Latin word for “shoulders,” was originally a long, rectangular apron which hung from the shoulders (rather than being tied at the waste). This garment had the practical function of protecting the monks’ habits from the dirt and grime of their daily work, but over time became a visual symbol of their devotion and piety.


Q. What is a crucifix? How is it different than a cross? Why do Catholics usually prefer crucifixes?

by Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.  |  02/12/2023  |  Why do we do that?

Most simply, a crucifix is a cross that has the body of Jesus depicted on it. Both the cross as symbol and the crucifix have their origins in the 4th century. Prior to the Edict of Milan in AD 313, Christianity was illegal, and Christians had to use a variety of secret symbols or letters to communicate with one another, because to openly wear or carry a cross or image of Jesus was to invite arrest or even execution.


Why does everyone have to come all the way forward for communion? Why don’t we have Eucharistic Ministers halfway back in the church like we used to?

by Fr. George Teodoro, S.J.  |  02/05/2023  |  Why do we do that?

Many Catholics in virtually every liturgical context prefer to sit in the back of the church. People have many reasons for doing so. Some are devotional: it can be a sign of humility, or sometimes people sit near an image or statue to which they are particularly devoted. Sometimes its practical – people who have mobility issues, or who want to avoid the direct air conditioning, or think it’s too loud in front or simply arrive late to Mass.