ANSWERS TO SOME COMMON QUESTIONS:
Q. What does OCCH stand for ?
A. OCCH is an abbreviation for Old Catholic Church of Hawaii.
Q. Who is Saint Willibrord ?
A. Saint Willibrord is a saint that the OCCH is named after. Saint Willibrord’s feastday is celebrated on November 7th. He is the Patron Saint of convulsions; epilepsy; epileptics; Luxembourg; Netherlands; and the Archdiocese of Utrecht, Netherlands.
Saint Willibrord’s Old Catholic Church of Hawaii is a mission/affiliate Church within the jurisdiction of The Old Catholic Communion of North America.
Q. Is St. Willibrord’s Old Catholic Church of Hawaii affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church ?
A. No. We are not affiliated with,… and should not be confused with,… the “Roman” Catholic Church of today,… although we remain united to her by means of the closest bonds (Apostolic Succession and a Valid Eucharist). We are “Old Catholics” who,… while fully and traditionally Catholic,… do not follow some of the late Dogmas/Doctrines instituted by Rome as required belief under the pain of sin and anathema (see our “differences” page). We follow the teachings and traditions of the early, undivided Christian Church (prior to the Great Schism of 1054).
Because we are Catholic, we validly celebrate the same 7 Sacraments,… have the same traditional Liturgy,… and often pray in the same beautiful way as the Roman Catholic Church,… but we are not “Roman” Catholic.
Q. Is Saint Willibrord’s Old Catholic Church of Hawaii a real Catholic Church ?
A. Yes,… although we are a mission church and currently very small in size, the Old Catholic Church of Hawaii is a valid Catholic Church with a valid Eucharist. This is based on the document “DOMINUS IESUS,” issued by Pope John Paul II, June 16, 2000, and signed by Joseph Cardinal, Ratzinger, Prefect, August 6, 2000, from the Ofﬁce of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; “the Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the (Roman) Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the (Roman) Catholic Church….”
For more detailed information on the Old Catholic Church, please go to the menu and click on “Historical Background” link.
Q. What kind of people attend a Mass celebrated by Saint Willibrord’s Old Catholic Church of Hawaii?
A. People attending a Mass celebrated by Saint Willibrord’s come from many different backgrounds for sure,… but the one thing we all have in common is that we are Christians dedicated to worshipping our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.
Some people come from a Roman Catholic or Anglican/Episcopal background who,… for various reasons,… have left their Church.
- Some indicated they were being denied Communion and participation in the Sacraments.
- Others struggled with Church authority/teachings (Dogmas/Doctrines/Disciplines) in what they considered to be an intrusion into their personal life.
- Others felt that their church had become so liberal and modernized that they could no longer,… in good conscience,… participate.
Those who come from a Roman Catholic, Anglican/Episcopal, or Lutheran background will experience a Liturgy that is familiar to them.
Those who come from a Reformed, Evangelical, or Fundamental Protestant background will experience a very structured, traditional Christian service which continues to emphasize that there is no way to the Father except through Christ Jesus,… our one and only mediator.
Regardless of religious backgrounds or denominational affiliations, people come to formally worship God and participate in the sacraments in a loving, structured, and traditional Christian Liturgy,… and Saint Willibrord’s Old Catholic Church of Hawaii provides that environment for them,… wherever they are.
Q. I thought every Catholic Church was “Roman” Catholic,… is there really more than one Catholic Church ?
A. Yes,… there is more than one Catholic Church. There are several catholic jurisdictions including Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Ukrainian Catholic, Polish National Catholic, Assyrian Church of the East, and Byzantine/Eastern Catholic just to name a few,… in addition to the independent Old Catholic jurisdictions.
Q. Can Old Catholic priests be married ?
A. Yes,… celibacy was not mandated in the Roman Catholic Church until the 11th century. Prior to that, clergy could be either married or celibate. Therefore, according to Tradition and Orthodox Canon Law, all of our clergy are married. 1 Tim. 3:1-13, clearly states that the clergy must be the husband of one wife and be able to manage his own household before he can manage the church.
Q. I am a Roman Catholic. Can I attend your Mass and if so, will it satisfy my Sunday obligation ?
A. Yes and (likely) No.
- Yes in that you are always welcome to attend Mass with us wherever we celebrate the liturgy.
- No in that it will likely not satisfy any obligations you have to your Roman Catholic Diocese or local Roman Catholic parish.
Don’t be surprised if your Diocese and/or your parish actually labels our Church/Sacraments as “schismatic/illicit,”… even though, according to Rome, we are a “True Church” with a “Valid Eucharist” (see the extract from the document “DOMINUS IESUS,” issued by Pope John Paul II, June 16, 2000, and signed by Joseph Cardinal, Ratzinger, Prefect, August 6, 2000, below).
CONFESSION and COMMUNION
Q. Do I have to go to Confession before I go to Communion ?
A. Yes,… if you know that you have unconfessed sin. We should never receive the Bread of Life, Jesus, in an unworthy manner (1 Cor 11:27). Being forgiven/free of sin is very important prior to receiving our Lord at Communion.
In the Old Catholic Church, there are three (3) simple and effective ways to confess your sins and receive the Lord’s forgiveness,… either one will work just fine:
- Personally,… with a repentant heart and a firm purpose of amendment, confess your sins directly to God wherever you are (sooner is always better than later).
- In Community,… (together with others),… quietly confess your sins to God at Mass during the General Confession Prayer (the Penitential Rite), prior to Communion.
- Privately,… confess your sins to a priest (in the privacy of a confessional) prior to the start of Mass. Some people find this method helpful as it allows them to “hear“… from the priest,… that God has forgiven their sins. This traditional method of confession is always offered and available,… but never demanded or required.
Whichever method of confession you prefer, it is important to remember that in the Old Catholic Church, we believe it is God,… and only God,… who forgives you of any sin. The priest is merely a sign of God’s merciful love and one of the instruments He uses to compassionately lead all people to healing and a greater love for each other. At no time does the priest act “In Persona Christi” (in the person of Christ or as another Christ) as is done in the Roman Catholic tradition.
DIVORCE, ANNULMENTS, and RE-MARRIAGE
Q. Can I re-marry in your Church ?
A. Yes,… we permit the remarriage of divorced persons after counseling.
Q. Do I have to have an annulment before I can re-marry ?
A. No,… we do not require annulments. Occasionally we get asked by Roman Catholics who are divorced from a previous marriage if they can get married again,… Sacramentally,… in the Old Catholic Church without their previous marriage having been annulled.
The answer is, Yes,… of course you can.
- For starters, we are not comfortable in saying that a marriage did or did not exist for a given sum of money (costs associated with the review, interview, and investigative phases of the annulment process).
- Secondly, the annulment process often creates more problems than it solves by opening up old wounds & painful memories during the interview/investigative phase.
- Lastly, we believe in the words of Jesus that all sin is forgivable to the person with a repentant heart.
In light of this, we do not require annulments as a pre-condition to marriage. We want you to move forward with your life,… not get bogged down or stagnate in complicated/difficult Church rules, regulations, and requirements.
Q. My previous marriage ended in divorce and I have since remarried. Can I still go to Mass and receive Communion ?
A. Yes,… you are always welcome and encouraged to attend Mass,… wherever we celebrate it,… and participate in the Sacrament of Communion. The Holy Eucharist (Jesus) is given to ALL baptized Christians who approach the altar in true faith.
A few words about divorce: Divorce is always a very unfortunate and often painful end to a marriage that usually results in a tremendous amount of emotional suffering and personal challenge. We believe that Jesus would want us to keep you close to Him during times of struggle,… not separate you from Him by denying you His loving presence at Communion.
The presence and comfort of our Lord is especially important following the difficulties of a divorce,… as well as during the many adjustments associated with remarriage. Stay close to the Lord,… call on Him frequently,… and come receive Him at Communion, at every opportunity. Frequent reception of the Eucharist is joyfully encouraged.
Whether you are divorced or remarried, Jesus loves you and wants to reside in your heart,… to commune with you,… and you with Him. As such, Jesus is available in the Eucharist to any baptized Christian who is repentant of their sins and wants to draw closer to God in His loving Sacrament of Communion. Come receive the Bread of Life.
Q. Can I take birth control pills and still participate in the sacraments ?
A. Yes,… we believe that family planning is left to the conscience of the married couple. We do not believe it is a moral, infallible teaching that if you use birth control you are committing sin and must give up your Catholic faith (as required by the Roman Catholic Church). That said, we reject any teaching that abortion is acceptable.
Q. What Bible should I bring to the Mass ?
A. If you want to bring a Bible to Mass,… we “recommend” you bring a New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). We make this recommendation only because we use the “Breaking Bread Missal” for our Liturgy and all of the Scripture readings within it are from the NABRE. We fully recognize there are many other beautiful Bible translations that may be considered more accurate, more inspiring, or more helpful for personal study/reading.
Note: Our “recommendation” does not mean “mandatory” and you can bring any Bible you want,… or none at all. We simply “recommend” the NABRE as it might make it easier for you to follow along at Mass.
Q. How long does Mass last ?
A. Each Mass lasts approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Depending on individual circumstances and limitations, times can be adjusted to accommodate a shorter service.
Q. What should I wear to Mass ?
A. At a Mass celebrated by Saint Willibrord’s Old Catholic Church, you will find a casual, friendly environment where everyone is welcomed in whatever they decide to wear. That said, individual clothing should not be so distracting that it offends others or takes the focus off of Christ and the purpose of worship.
Q. Compared to the Roman Catholic Church, what does the Old Catholic Church believe regarding Mary ?
A. Roman Catholics have great love and reverence for Mary,… and for sure, so do Old Catholics. There are 4 Marian Dogmas (required belief under the pain of sin and anathema) in the Roman Catholic Church:
1. Mary is the Mother of God: We agree with Rome and this is also a required belief in the Old Catholic Church. Mary is indeed the Mother of God (Jesus). This is her first and primary privilege. In the Old Catholic Church, Mary is lovingly referred to as the “Theotokos, the God Bearer.”
2. The Perpetual Virginity of Mary: The “perpetual” virginity of Mary is not a required belief in the Old Catholic Church. However, as a logical conclusion to the life of Mary, people are free to believe,… and many do,… in her perpetual virginity (that she remained ever-virgin). We do not object to this as a personal belief, we just don’t make it a mandatory belief or a Holy Day of Obligation under the penalty/pain of sin and anathema. NOTE: Whether Mary remained a virgin during and after the birth of Jesus has absolutely no impact on our love and reverence for her,… she will always be very dear to us as the God Bearer. Similarly, any claim of her perpetual virginity (or lack thereof) has absolutely no impact on our love of Christ, her Son and our Savior.
3. The Immaculate Conception: This Roman Catholic Dogma/Doctrine,… which claims that Mary was sinless from the moment of her conception in her mother’s womb,… came rather late in Church history (1854). It is not a required belief in the Old Catholic Church. While there is some typological/conceptual reference for this doctrine in Sacred Scripture, we find it difficult to substantiate implicitly or explicitly. Some noted theologians have concluded that this Dogma/Doctrine actually contradicts Sacred Scripture. Seven (7) popes actually opposed this teaching. That said, people are free to believe (or not believe) in the Immaculate Conception of Mary as a personal belief,… that’s okay,… we just don’t make it a required Church belief or Holy Day of Obligation under the penalty/pain of sin (mortal/deadly sin if you intentionally miss a Holy Day of Obligation associated with this required belief) and anathema (excommunication). NOTE: Whether Mary was Immaculately Conceived or not has no bearing on our love and reverence for her,… she is always in our hearts,… and we love and revere her deeply. Similarly, any claimed Immaculate Conception of Mary (or lack thereof) has absolutely no bearing on our love relationship with her Son, Christ Jesus, whom alone we adore, worship, and ultimately depend on for our salvation.
4. The Bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven. The event of the Assumption of Mary into heaven is another very late Dogma/Doctrine in Roman Church history (1950). This teaching is nowhere recorded in Sacred Scripture. That said, we’re not too far from Rome on this belief. Instead of the “Bodily Assumption of Mary,” the Old Catholic Church has as a required belief “The Dormition of Mary“ which was decreed at the Council of Ephesus AD 431. The Dormition of Mary is celebrated on August 15,… the same calendar day as the Roman Catholic Feast of the Assumption of Mary. The Dormition and the Assumption are different names for essentially the same event,… Mary’s departure from the earth,… although the beliefs are not exactly identical. Recommend reading: On the Dormition of Mary by Brian E. Daley
Clarification regarding the Old Catholic Church position on our blessed mother:
The Old Catholic Church gives the absolute highest honor to Mary, the Mother of God,… we love her dearly. We honor her and worship God through special prayers such as the rosary. That said, “honoring” Mary is something entirely different from “worshipping” God. We do not,… in any way,… worship Mary. “Worship” is reserved for God alone.
This is why in an Old Catholic Church you will almost never see an icon or statue of Mary alone,… such as a dispenser of grace with rays of coming out of her hands. Instead, Mary will always be seen with Jesus,… holding Him in her arms. For example:
Instead of this
Mary may also be depicted in art or statues as a member of the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph).
The emphasis is that Mary must always point us to Jesus and not become a object of worship herself. The focus of our worship must always be on Christ our Savior.
Old Catholics love Mary too much to let her become a distraction that takes the focus off of her Son, Jesus. Our blessed mother simply would not want that. So, in that same sense, we honor her desire to stay focused on Jesus, her Son our Lord.
- We call Mary “blessed” because Sacred Scripture is very clear on that point.
- We acknowledge Mary as the Mother of God because that’s who she is (the Theotokos).
- We love Mary because we feel that is very pleasing to Jesus and it’s in our hearts.
Mary is a great inspiration and tool for us to continually draw closer to God. We think you will benefit from knowing and honoring her as well. Yet for our salvation, we keep our worship and focus on Christ Jesus, alone.
Note: This section is continually being added to and/or updated. Check back often. You can also check our “Statement of Faith” and “Statement of Beliefs” pages for additional information that may not be covered here in the FAQ.