Office of Worship Guidelines

Guidelines for and information on many ministries are detailed in the liturgy documents.

Guidelines for and information on many ministries are detailed in the liturgy documents, publications from the Bishops’ Committee on Liturgy, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Additional guidelines and seasonal resources may be found in our resources section. You may also find guidelines for obtaining both California and Master Catechist certificates here.



The Office for Worship has prepared the following guidelines for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion serving during Sunday Mass, as well as other Eucharistic celebrations.

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide some general observations and principles on this important ministry of the Church. For a smooth functioning of this ministry, the needs of the particular faith community must be taken into account. These guidelines define the contents of the liturgical law on this matter, the demands of a good Eucharistic liturgy, and the expectations of the universal and local Church.



Cremation and Burial at Sea

Regarding the practice of cremation of a body and burial at sea, the Office for Worship renews catechesis on these questions for the benefit of pastors and pastoral ministers. A helpful summary of the Church’s teaching on cremation may be found in the 1998 statement of the Bishop’s Committee on the Liturgy, “Reflections on the Body, Cremation and Catholic Funeral Rites.

“The Church’s belief in the sacredness of the human body and the resurrection of the dead has traditionally found expression in the care taken to prepare the bodies of the deceased for burial.” (OCF 411)

“This is the body once washed in baptism, anointed with oil of salvation, and fed with the bread of life. This is the body whose hands clothed the poor and embraced the sorrowing. Indeed, the human body is so inextricably associated with the human person apart from his or her the body grows out of a reverence and concern for the person whom the Church now commends to the care of God.” (OCF 412)

Thus, while “cremation is now permitted, it does not enjoy the same value as burial of the body… The Church clearly prefers and urges that the body of the deceased be present for the funeral rites, since the presence of the human body better expresses the values which the Church affirms in its rites.” (413) However, “when extraordinary circumstances make the cremation of a body the only feasible choice, pastoral sensitivity must be exercised by all who minister to the family of the deceased.” (414)

The rites of burial for the cremated remains of a body may be found in the appendix to the Order of Christian Funerals. This appendix recommends that when cremation is chosen, the body be cremated after the funeral, thus allowing for the presence of the body at the Funeral Mass. When pastoral circumstances require it, however, cremation and committal may take place even before the Funeral liturgy.

Any catechesis on the subject of cremation should emphasize that “the cremated remains of a body should be treated with same respect given to the corporeal remains of a human body. This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the ashes, the manner in which they are carried, the care and attention to appropriate placement and transport, and the final disposition.” (416)

While cremated remains may be buried in a grave, entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium or even buried at sea, “the practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains in the home of a relative or friend of the deceased are not the reverent disposition that the Church requires.” (416) The cremated remains of the body may be properly buried at sea in the urn, coffin or other container in which they have been carried to the place of committal.

When a body, or the cremated remains of a body are buried at sea, the Committal prayer found at number 406 § 4 is used:

Lord God,

By the power of your word
you stilled the chaos of the primeval seas,
you made the raging waters of the Flood subside,
and calmed the storm on the sea of Galilee.
As we commit the body (earthly remains)
of our brother (sister) N. to the deep,
grant him/her peace and tranquility
until that day when he/she
and all who believe in you
will be raised to the glory of new life
promised in the waters of baptism.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Copyright © 1999 by the United States Catholic Conference.
All rights reserved. Used with permission.



A tradition that is gaining popularity among many Mexican American communities is that when a young lady reaches the age of 15, she has a celebration called quince años, which means 15 years. The custom probably dates back to a custom of the Mayas and the Toletcas. Although it is not a sacrament, this ritual celebrates the passage from childhood to adolescence, that is the fifteenth birthday of a young woman.


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 Eucharist: Approved Recipes 

Visit our Eucharist Page.

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.

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.​