Sunday, March 01, 2015

Even More Intercession

Once again, I seek stable, suitable employment.

Back to this prayer again (this will be the fourth time I've used it in a post).


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Prayer to Saint Anthony of Padua: 
Good Saint Anthony, in God's providence you have secured for His people many marvelous favors. You have been especially celebrated, good Saint Anthony, for your goodness to the poor and the hungry, for finding employment for those seeking it, for your special care of those who travel, and for keeping safe from harm all who must be away from home. You are widely known also, good Saint Anthony, for securing peace in the family, for your delicate mercy in finding lost things, for safe delivery of messages, and for your concern for women in childbirth. In honoring you, Saint Anthony, for the many graces our Lord grants through your favor, we trustfully and confidently ask your aid in our present need. Pray for us, good Saint Anthony, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. 
May it be a source of joy, O God, to your Church that we honor the memory of your Confessor and Doctor, Saint Anthony. May his spiritual help always make us strong, and by his assistance may we enjoy an eternal reward. This we ask through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen. 
(This post will remain at the top until further notice.)

March 2015 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal Intention - Scientists. That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person. 
Evangelization Intention - Contribution of Women. That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.
Reflections for these intentions are found here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Spiritual Sackcloth, Actual Ashes


Once again the Church and the People of God arrive at that time of the liturgical calendar called the Lenten Season, which begins today with Ash Wednesday.

For the next forty days we will prepare ourselves for the celebration of  "the week that changed the world"--Palm/Passion Sunday and the Sacred Triduum--all leading to the greatest feast day of them all:  the Resurrection of the Lord.

This is traditionally a time of penance and self-denial. In a sense, it is a built-in retreat. It is an opportunity to grow in holiness, to root out more of the vestiges of sin in our lives, to "be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect".

The next 6+ weeks, as they have been, are, and will continue to be, is a time to see God as He Is and we as we are.
Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions. 
Thoroughly wash away my guilt;
and from my sin cleanse me. 
For I know my transgressions;
my sin is always before me. 
Against you, you alone have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your eyes
So that you are just in your word,
and without reproach in your judgment. 
Behold, I was born in guilt,
in sin my mother conceived me. 
Behold, you desire true sincerity;
and secretly you teach me wisdom. 
Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 
You will let me hear gladness and joy;
the bones you have crushed will rejoice. 
Turn away your face from my sins;
blot out all my iniquities. 
A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit. 
Do not drive me from before your face,
nor take from me your holy spirit. 
Restore to me the gladness of your salvation;
uphold me with a willing spirit. 
Psalm 51:3-14


Sunday, February 01, 2015

February 2015 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal Intention:  Prisoners. That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.

Evangelization Intention:  Separated Spouses. That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.
Reflections for these intentions are found here.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Let's Talk Liturgy: Part 8

This continues the series of reflections about the liturgy as requested by the Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City, for the education of the people of the diocese. This was read at the Masses celebrating the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time and printed in the Intermountain Catholic the following Friday.

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The Liturgy of the Eucharist, Part II 
At the close of the previous talk, we spoke briefly about the presentation of the bread and wine and our monetary gifts for the poor and the Church. The priest has received them, and as the bread and wine are arranged on the altar, we can mentally place ourselves there as well, as an expression of our willingness to give ourselves to God. 
The rich symbolism of the Mass continues. The prayers are beautiful and the realities they convey, the Sacred Mysteries, are profound.  As part of our full, active participation in the Mass, we continue to pay close attention to the prayers and actions unfolding, and we respond wholeheartedly, entering into the sacred dialog and action. 
The gifts are now on the altar. At his option, the priest may incense the gifts, the cross and then the altar itself. When this occurs, the deacon or another minister would, in turn incense the priest, any concelebrating clergy, and the congregation. The incensing signifies the prayerful raising up of our offering of the gifts, our prayers, and ourselves to God.   
Just before the prayer over the gifts begins, we may notice that the priest or deacon pours a small amount of water into the wine, saying inaudibly, “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” The mixing of water and wine is an ancient liturgical practice. It can represent the mingling of the divine and human natures in Christ.  It can also represent the union of Christ with the faithful. 
The Prayer over the Gifts begins. Notice the use of the personal pronoun we, which signifies the gifts represent all of us. The priest raises the Host and says: “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you; fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.” Then, as the priest raises the chalice, the prayer is repeated for the wine which will “become our spiritual drink.”   
This part of the prayer over the gifts affirms our dependence on God. We offer back to God some of what he has given us and give praise to God for all His gifts. The priest then says, “Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.”  We then respond, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.”   
We continue actively in the sacred dialog as the Mass continues to unfold. When the Prayer over the Gifts has been completed, the priest washes his hands in further preparation, saying, inaudibly “Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity and cleanse me of my sin.” The washing of the priest’s hands is a symbolic action expressing the celebrant’s need for inward purification. Then, the Mass moves to the richness of the Eucharistic Prayer. 
When we pay attention to the flow and progression of the Mass, listen to, participate in, and respond to the Mass prayers, the beauty and power of the liturgy becomes increasingly clear. We are not disconnected spectators on the sidelines. Rather, we are each an important, integral part of the proceedings.
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I hate to nitpick, but I must. The incensation of the gifts comes after their preparation and before the priest says, "Pray, brothers and sisters...." I wonder if that was just an editorial gaff; that paragraph could easily be inserted in the proper place and would make much more sense. And did you notice the lack of "conscious" in the second paragraph? Another editorial oversight, I hope.

On a personal note, I have found the optional incensing of the congregation to be very meaningful to me. That I, a sinner, can still have "my prayers be incense before you; my uplifted hands the evening offering" (c.f. Ps. 141:2) is such a sign of hope that God will find me acceptable.

Again, basic information; but, perhaps what is needed. It certainly doesn't hurt to have a solid review.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Let's Talk Liturgy: Part 7

This continues the series of reflections about the liturgy as requested by the Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City, for the education of the people of the diocese. This was read at the Masses celebrating the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time and printed in the Intermountain Catholic the following Friday.

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The Liturgy of the Eucharist, Part I 
The first major part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word, with the Prayers of the Faithful is completed. After the Introductory Rites, we have been fed by the rich fare of the Scriptures, carefully selected by the Church for each Mass, first from the Lectionary, then from the Book of Gospels. The meaning of the readings and the application of their message in our lives have been expanded for us in the homily. 
Now we enter the second major part of the Mass – the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Here we experience two ancient traditions – the Hebrew tradition of sacrifice offered to God, and the meal, or breaking of bread, which Jesus left as his memorial. We find that these two elements are woven together in the beautiful actions and prayers of the Eucharist. Today we will focus on preparations for the Eucharistic celebration and presentation of the gifts to be offered in that celebration. 
Up to this point, all of the actions at the Mass have taken place away from the altar, either at the priest’s chair or at the ambo. Everything now centers on the altar where the Eucharistic Sacrifice takes place. The altar is carefully prepared by the priest or deacon. We may recall the veneration of the altar, by a kiss, at the beginning of Mass. The care with which the altar is now prepared conveys appropriate reverence, indicating the importance of the actions about to occur. We see special linens: the corporal, upon which the Sacred Host and chalice are placed during the celebration of Mass, and a purificator used by the priest to purify his fingers, the chalice and paten after Holy Communion. We also see the Missal, which is the priest’s book of Mass prayers, and a cruet of water all carefully arranged in preparation for the presentation of the gifts. In parallel, it is now that we bring into clear focus our personal preparation – to link ourselves to Christ’s sacrifice, which is about to unfold, and to the Eucharistic meal. 
A key action is the procession, when members of the assembly bring the gifts of bread and wine to the altar, led by an altar server carrying a processional crucifix. These individuals represent all in the assembly, and their action in the procession calls all of us to prepare ourselves for the sacred celebration. This is very much a communal action. Its communal aspect is also reflected in the accompanying music. As the procession moves toward the altar, we all advance our hearts toward the Lord. We express our willingness to give of ourselves to God, and our monetary gifts presented along with the bread and wine acknowledge that everything we have is a gift from God. From our hearts, we offer our very selves to God at this time. 
Once the gifts have been placed on the altar, the priest begins the prayers by blessing and praising God, acknowledging that we have received from God’s goodness the gifts we offer to him. As he lifts the bread and then the chalice, the priest prays according to a formula modeled on a Jewish table prayer offered by the father of the family, praising God as the creator of the world. He reminds us that the gifts of bread and wine will become for us the bread of life and our spiritual drink. We all respond by saying, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.” We are not passive observers or mere spectators at this celebration.  Rather, each of us is an integral part of the action. We are invited to full, conscious and active participation in the celebration – at this point and throughout the Mass.

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The last line of this reflection is awkwardly phrased, in my opinion. It almost intimates the congregation is now, at the Liturgy of the Eucharist, to begin its "full, conscious, and active participation" in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is as if during the Liturgy of the Word the congregation was not. And didn't St. John Paul II say something about listening being a mode of participating?

Still, an accurate description of what is happening to this point.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

As Time (Pro-Life) Marches On

A list of the "Marches For Life" that have, are, or will be taking place around the country this year (including, of course, the one which started it all).

A recap of the number of abortion clinics closed in 2013 (and wondering how many more will have the same fate).

Fading in memory (as evil should) but still a catalyst for continuing the work.

State legislatures proposing and enacting more pro-life legislation.

It seems the pro-life movement has gained considerable ground the past two years.

All well and good.

But (and I hope somewhere, someone else may have this thought)...

Is the pro-life movement just "treating the symptoms" or are they looking "for the cure"?

I ask not in a cynical manner. I ask not as a weary observer of the biggest cultural fight in this country since slavery. I ask because I want to know if this is the way this issue is going to be settled for the time being.

Forty-two years ago this day, both by a 7-2 vote, the United States Supreme Court decided in the cases of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton that abortion will be legal throughout this country and framed their rulings in a way that do not allow for any restrictions to this so-called Constitutional right.

56,000,000+ abortions later, this great moral tug-of-war is still being contested.

It's being contested because the pro-(poor-)choice contingent makes this an issue based on emotions, a subjective stance which cannot be argued. They don't care about reasoned and rational conclusions like this. They don't even care about being rational.

They want, and for the moment have gotten, their way.

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

I have faith this issue will be settled in my lifetime. I have hope the right to life will be victorious. And while the only thing I can do right now is pray (and, spiritually, I know I can do more), I do stand with the pro-life movement.

I just can't be in 89 places at the same time.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Let's Talk Liturgy: Part 6

This continues the series of reflections about the liturgy as requested by the Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City, for the education of the people of the diocese. This was read at the Masses celebrating the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and printed in the Intermountain Catholic the following Friday.

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The Liturgy of The Word, Part II 
Having proclaimed the Gospel, the priest or, in some cases, the deacon, takes up the important task of breaking open i.e., applying the Scriptures we have just heard. The homily is an integral part of the liturgy and “may not be omitted without a grave reason.” It is through the homily that the mysteries of faith and the guiding principles of Christian life are shared. A good homily is faithful both to the mystery being celebrated and the needs of the listeners. It should lead those present to celebrate the Eucharist actively. The best homilies are the result of prayerful meditation on the texts, careful selection of ideas and images, and a joyful presentation that is neither too long nor too short. It is concluded with a moment of shared silence during which all present may reflect on what they have heard. 
This brief sharing of silent reflection prepares us for the sincere response that follows, the Profession of Faith, or Creed. By this profession we agree to what we have heard in the homily and will experience in the Eucharist. This response of faith by the community of believers begins with the words, “I believe:” in Latin, Credo, whose root words mean to give your heart to something. The Creed is more than an intellectual assent to the mysteries of the faith expressed by Church councils many centuries ago; it is also our deepest expression of faith in the mystery of which we are a part. The Creed may be sung or recited by the priest standing together with the people. At the words, “and by the Holy Spirit … and became man…” we make a profound bow; at the Solemnities of the Annunciation and Nativity of the Lord we genuflect. Either the Nicene or the Apostles’ Creed may be used. 
Our response to the Word of God is further expressed in the Prayers of the Faithful.  These prayers have their roots in the ancient Jewish synagogue service when a series of blessings for individuals and universal needs were expressed. It is likely that Jesus joined in these prayers. They became a fixed part of the Mass during the mid-second century. They are spoken of as “Universal Prayers” or “General Intercessions” because they go beyond the needs of the local community. 
The Prayers of the Faithful begin with the celebrant addressing the people and relating the prayers to the particular mystery being celebrated or some particular aspect of the Scriptures. The deacon (or in his absence another minister) announces a series of intentions to which the people respond. After a brief moment of silence, the celebrant summarizes the intentions and asks God to look favorably upon the prayers that have been expressed. The people stand during the presentation of the intentions and respond at the end, “Amen.” Because the Church is both local and universal, the intentions usually include prayers for the needs of the Church, for public authorities, for the salvation of the world, for those oppressed by any need, and for the needs of the local community. The presentation of the intercessions is traditionally given to the deacon, who by his particular ministry is focused upon the sick, the poor and those in need. The dead may also be included in the Prayers of the Faithful.

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If the Prayers of the Faithful/Universal Prayers/General Intercessions were "a fixed part of the Mass back in the mid-second century", then why are they not a part of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, which is the predecessor of the Ordinary Form? Was this a true restoration or another anachronism foisted upon us back in 1969?  And how is the general public to know this is accurate information? I admit this is based on what very little knowledge I have gained about this; but while become a skeptic by nurture, I raise a red flag. I would also bet whoever reads this has their own tales on how this part of the liturgy suffers abuses based on the "needs of the local community" and how those are proclaimed.

Basic information, but I wonder....