Thursday, December 31, 2015

January's Introit



Midnight comes. The countdown commences. The changing of the calendar is at hand. The greeting rings round the company you are keeping.  Then starts the song familiar to everyone, care of the Scottish poet Robert Burns:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine;
But we've wandered mony a weary fit
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

May God, the creator of time, fill the next twelve months with many blessings. May the coming year bring you fulfillment of hopes and dreams. May you find joy, peace, and love in abundance.

Happy New Year, Everybody!

Motto Addendum

Over the course of my 'blogging I have created and utilized a few sentences and phrases in some of my posts. I don't think they are a sign of laziness when I reuse them; they just happen to express concisely and completely my status at the time. One of my ideals is to be consistent, and the groups of words that occasionally weave their way throughout my writings do just that.

Take for example what is probably the best sentence I have ever written:  "Welcome to my infinitesimal corner of the universe." I think of it as a statement and act of humility. In the grand scheme of eternity and limitlessness, I am truly nothing. But, because I am a creation and child of God, I am truly someone. With that knowledge comes gratitude. With that appreciation comes the willingness to become. More on this later.

Another example is the statement, "The status quo is status quo." Put another way, "Things haven't changed." And for 2015, that is a truthful assessment. As an overall reflection, any personal growth is not perceived. When it specifically comes to my biggest task at hand--finding suitable, stable, and sustainable employment--you can smell the stagnation.

That is not to say I didn't have a temporary success this past year. From late March to Hallowe'en I was employed at a nationally known regional amusement park, working as one of the attendants at the games of skill located throughout the complex. While earning a paycheck for those few months was always a good thing, it was more the boost to my ego and self-esteem that made it worthwhile. It did show me I was hire-able, as working there is usually the dream summer job for many teenagers. My work ethic was still in tact; my soft skills came out of hibernation. These were encouraging signs.

And yet, I still can't convince an employer I would be good for them, that if I was willing to take such entry-level position and make a go of it, I would do the same for them. Applications are filed and seemingly filed away. Interviews are even rarer. That makes me wonder what is it going to take. or even if I have what it takes anymore.

Which leads me back to that willingness to become. For at least as long as this 'blog has been in existence, I have had as a motto "Go Forward", another one of my go-to statements. It is the mantra not to be stuck where I am or, even worse, to retreat. But it has been missing something, something which has been the biggest detriment in my life, something to which allusions have been made.

The lack of true courage.

A lack of self-confidence has always been my Achilles' heel. It really has been a lifelong battle to believe in me without pretense. I have never wanted to project an air of arrogance, but rather one of quiet certitude. The temerity, fear, and cowardliness has to be conquered or I will be living a Thoreauvian life for the rest of it. I either grow or die inside.

I must "Be Bold".

It's been a while since I've made a New Year's Resolution, but this is mine for 2016. Seize more opportunities than I normally do. Take prudent risks, but take them. Get out of this introvert's comfort zone. Become one who does, not one who says he will. No excuses. Be concerned about the process and let the results take care of themselves. Find a way or make one.

While this may be a Year of Mercy, it also has to be a Year of Fortitude.

"Be not afraid."

"Go Forward. Be Bold"

I'll see you next year.

PM: Offertory Thursdays--Solemnity Of The Epiphany Of The Lord

The kings of Tarshish and the islands shall offer presents; the kings of the Arabians and of Sheba shall bring gifts; all the kings of the earth shall adore him, all nations shall serve him. 
Ps. 71:10, 11
Doesn't this summarize the Presentation of the Gifts at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist perfectly? As they recognized the King of Kings, so should we.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--Solemnity Of The Epiphany Of The Lord

We have seen his star in the East, and we have come with our gifts, to worship the Lord. 
Cf. Matt 2:2
How appropriate indeed:  "The silent Word is pleading." It is the stars which He made which now speak of His grandeur. The question begs, "Do we recognize Him?"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--Solemnity Of The Epiphany Of The Lord

All those from Sheba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense; and showing forth praise to the Lord. 
V. Arise and shine out, O Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord is rising upon you. 
Isaiah 60:6, V. 1
It was the Queen of Sheba who brought gifts to King Solomon to acknowledge his wisdom. But now we have One greater that him that requires no less than all we are and have.

Monday, December 28, 2015

PM: Introit Mondays--Solemnity Of The Epiphany Of The Lord

Behold, the Sovereign Lord is coming; kingship, government and power are in his hands. 
V. Endow the King with your judgment, O God, and the King's son with your righteousness. 
Cf. Mal. 3:1, 1 Chron. 29:12, V. Ps. 71:1, 10, 11

The true ruler of this world will make his appearance. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords will take His rightful place. He will use the riches He has been given to reign properly.


Friday, December 25, 2015

2015 Christmas Card


May the Word made Flesh, Love Incarnate, dwell within your heart today and always.
May the Son of God, the visible image of our invisible Father, grant you every grace and blessing.
May the Christ Child bring you abundant joy, peace, and love.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!


PM: Communion Fridays--Feast Of The Holy Family

There are two communion verses for this feast. The first is for Lectionary Cycle A; the second, B and C.
Take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the child's life are dead. 
Matt. 2:20
St. Joseph's actions speak so loudly he doesn't need to say anything. Throughout his life, he shows how to head a household--with complete trust and obedience to God's commands.
My son, why have you treated us so? Your father and I have been anxiously looking for you. How is it that you were seeking me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business? 
Luke 2:48, 49
As an adult, Jesus is later quoted about leaving all behind to do the will of God and follow Him. Those who do are His true family.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

2015 Christmas Eve Reflection

The Second Reading of the Feast of the Nativity--Mass at Dawn:
When the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. 
Titus 3:4-7
Because many people will fulfill their Christmas obligation by assisting at either the Vigil Mass (sometimes promoted as a "family" Mass, one more appropriate for little children) or the Mass During the Night (no matter at what time it starts--late Christmas Eve or on the stroke of midnight Christmas Day), this reading is rarely heard by the faithful. It actually compliments the Second Reading of the Feast of the Nativity:  Mass During the Night. Not just because it is from the same letter, but because it completes the thought of the other reading. (Which is why I have both readings as part of my post "Proclamation Of The Birth Of Christ" which will re-appear later tonight.)

As I did last year with the other reading from this letter, this year's reflection will also be an exercise in "lectio divina". At times I have found many of St. Paul's writings a challenge to grasp not only because of their theological denseness but also because of the sentence structure of the translation. This method helps me at least scratch the surface. As always, my thoughts are only a point of departure for what you may discern.

"The kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared." Ever since the Fall, God has taken the initiative to win us back to Him. Despite our sinfulness, He has, since Adan and Eve hid in the Garden, sought us because He could never forsake us. He Who is Love, as St. John wrote, made his kindness and generous love appear in a myriad of forms in the Old Testament. Magnificent as they were, they pale in comparison to the sign as foretold in Isaiah:  "A virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel."

"Not because of any righteous deeds we had done." Ever since the Fall, man has not been able to make satisfaction for his ultimate failing. Having lost sanctifying grace, while still made in the image and likeness of God, he was but a faint shadow of his true self. While sacrifices and oblations were made, while obeying the Law was accomplished, he was unable to restore favor with God, because of the infinite gap between Creator and creature. He could do nothing without Grace.

"Because of his mercy." It was because God loves us that he did not want to see His crowing jewel of Creation destroyed forever. While we were condemned in righteous justice, we would also be forgiven in limitless mercy. It would take an infinite act of sacrifice to expedite an infinite act of betrayal. How appropriate then in this Jubilee Year of Mercy we are reminded of the fact, as St. Paul writes elsewhere, that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.

"He saved us." Jesus. A variation of Joshua, meaning "God is salvation". The name give to St. Joseph by the angel (contrast that to how St. John the Baptist was named). Born under the Law to deliver us from the Law. Man could not save himself; only the God-Man could.

"Through the bath of rebirth."  It is by Baptism that Sanctifying Grace is restored. It is the waters of redemption that make us clean, pure and whole, pleasing and acceptable to God. This is what Jesus had in mind when He spoke to Nicodemus.

"And renewal by the Holy Spirit." By the work of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity we are made new again, reclaiming in us the image and likeness of God. None of this is our doing. It is all God's favor. It is all Grace.

"Whom he richly poured out on us." God is never outdone in generosity. All of His blessings come forth in a never ending stream. It is up to us to work with Him, to continually seek and do His will. Even if we sin again, the Sacrament of Penance is there for us to help repair the damage.

"Through Jesus Christ our savior." How many times do we end our prayers, both liturgically and privately, with a variant of the phrase, "Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son"? It it "through Him, and with Him, and in Him" that all is possible. It is in His Holy Name our prayers are answered.

"We might be justified by his grace." The word that actually is prominent to me is "might". Grace is a gift freely given. Because we have free will, the choice to accept or reject it is ours. We were created to choose the good. In order to remain righteous and made just, we have to continually be like the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose "fiat" was cooperation with God's will at all times.

"Become heirs in hope of eternal life." And this is the ultimate reward:  becoming the adopted children of God. Heaven is our true home; the Beatific Vision, our only sight. This is the pearl of great price, purchased for us by the Life, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and ours for the taking if we but only ask, seek, and knock.

But all of this does not happen if not for what we celebrate now:  Jesus' coming into the world in the form of a slave. Emmanuel--God is with us. Taking on our humanity so that we may take on His divinity, we welcome once again the Christ Child with open arms and open heart.

Hodie Christus natus est.

Tomorrow's Due Date

The final day of Advent is here. Like Mary, as for all of the world, the time of waiting and preparing is over. She soon shall deliver the One Who will deliver us.

The lyrics of this Basque carol recalls the Annunciation, when all the waiting started:
The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;
"All hail," said he, "thou lowly maiden Mary,
most highly favored lady," Gloria! 
"For know a blessed Mother thou shalt be,
all generations laud and honor thee,
thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
most highly favored lady," Gloria! 
Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
"To me be as it pleaseth God," she said,
"my soul shall laud and magnify his holy Name."
Most highly favored lady, Gloria! 
Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
in Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,
and Christian folk throughout the world will ever say--
"Most highly favored lady," Gloria!
The journey to Bethlehem has begun.

Ero cras.

PM: Offertory Thursdays--Feast Of The Holy Family

In you have I put my trust, O Lord; I said: "You are my God, my destiny is in your hands." 
Ps. 30:15, 16
How fitting a verse for Offertory. As we give our gifts, we also completely give ourselves over to Him to guide us in His way.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--Feast Of The Holy Family

Rejoice in the Lord, O you just. It is fitting that loyal hearts should praise him. 
Ps. 32:1
Rejoicing is the only response we can make for being made just in the sight of God. Praising Him is the right thing to do if we are faithful servants of our King.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--Feast Of The Holy Family

One thing have I asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord. 
V. To gaze in delight upon the Lord's beauty and to be sheltered in his holy temple. 
Ps. 26:4
The soul's one and only request is to be united with God. In His temple here on Earth and, hopefully, in Heaven is where we will find fulfillment of this yearning. We seek the face of God, the Beatific Vision.


Monday, December 21, 2015

PM: Introit Mondays--Feast Of The Holy Family

God is in his holy dwelling place; the God who causes us to dwell together, one at heart, in his house; he himself will give power and strength to his people.  
V. Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered; and let those who hate him flee before his face. 
Ps. 67:6, 7, 36 and 2
Emannuel--God is with us. While Our Father is in Heaven, He now calls Earth home and us His siblings. From Him is the grace to be called "children of God", according to St. John.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Corpus Christi???

11/25/2015:  A story just broke on a local TV newscast about a potential Eucharistic miracle at a church in the Salt Lake City metro area.

The matter is being investigated by the Diocese of Salt Lake City.

More details to come.

11/26/2015:  The story as originally presented, include the video of the newscast.

ChurchMilitant.com and another local TV station have picked up the story.

11/27/2015: A statement from the Diocese via their official newspaper, the Intermountain Catholic.

12/1/2015:  A similar incident occurred in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis this past summer. The findings there have been released.

The National Catholic Register, among other Catholic newspapers, has also picked up the story.

12/12/2015:  The latest, courtesy of the National Catholic Register.

UPDATE:  The investigation has concluded; the result is made known.

PM: Communion Fridays--4th. Sunday Of Advent

Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. 
Isaiah 7:14
Emmanuel. God is with us. As He was with us on Earth, as He is with us in His Real Presence, as He will be for all eternity if we but only give our lives to Him.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Seven "O"s Of Advent

We draw toward the latter stages of Advent. Preparations on a secular level are rapidly drawing to a conclusion; presents, cards, decorations, and parties have been or are being finalized. The pace to finish becomes more harried. Just as the winter solstice draws nigh, we seem to be running out of time to get all ready.

But preparations on the sacred level move along at a much slower pace. While the Christmas Masses are still more than a week away, our hearts and souls still have work to do. And through all the hustle and bustle of the season, the voice of Jesus invites us to go to a place away from the crowd and be more like Mary rather than Martha.

With that in mind, it is time for my annual presentation of meditations on the "O" Antiphons. Based on the seven antiphons found as part the Canticle of Mary in Evening Prayer, the next half-fortnight is meant to provide you with a reflection on the coming of the Christ Child. The format remains as it has for the last few years; I hope you are inspired to find other worthy notes about these gems in the Liturgy of the Hours.

It is my honor and pleasure to present them once again. 

May you glean something useful from their reading.

See you in a few hours.


PM: Offertory Thursdays--4th. Sunday Of Advent

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 
Luke 1:28
Gabriel's greeting; the opening to Catholicism's second most familiar prayer. At this time of the Mass, it would be worthwhile to honestly see if we are"full of grace" in a sense (free from Mortal Sin) so that when Communion comes, the Lord can truly be with us.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--4th. Sunday Of Advent

Come Lord! do not delay. Pardon the sins of your people.
There are Propers which are not directly from the Scriptures; this is an example. But you can even see a hint of the end of the Book of Revelation (22:20):  Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus. We long to see You; we beg for your forgiveness.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--4th. Sunday Of Advent

The Lord is close to all who call him, who call on him in the sincerity of their hearts. 
V. My mouth shall speak the praises of the Lord; let all flesh bless his holy name. 
Ps. 144:18; V. 21
God is with us (Emmanuel), only a prayer away. We for our part must pray from the depths of our hearts, beginning with the adoration, praise, and worship He deserves. Then do we draw closer to Him.

Monday, December 14, 2015

PM: Introit Mondays--4th. Sunday Of Advent

Skies, let the Just One come forth like the dew, let him descend from the clouds like the rain. The earth will open up and give birth to our Saviour. 
V. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands. 
Isaiah 45:8; Ps. 18
Anticipation about the birth of the Child is at fever pitch. We do not wish to wait any longer, but we must. Just as God determines when the rains fall, so did He determine when the Nativity will be.

Friday, December 11, 2015

PM: Communion Fridays--3rd. Sunday Of Advent

Say: "Take courage, you who are fainthearted, and do not fear; behold, our God will come and he will save us." 
Cf. Isaiah 35:4
Our God has come and saved us. As we eat His Body and drink His Blood, the divine life within us is renewed and strengthened. Each party upholds the New Covenant.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

PM: Offertory Thursdays--3rd. Sunday Of Advent

O Lord, you have blessed your land, you have put an end to Jacob's captivity; you have forgiven the guilt of your people. 
Ps. 84:2
And now we return some of those blessings as an offering back to God as the New Israel, forgiven and free. With grateful hearts and souls we begin to participate in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--3rd. Sunday Of Advent

Stir up your might, O Lord, and come to save us. 
Ps. 79:3
Once again, we call upon God to deliver us from our sins, for He is the only One Who can. We recognize how small and dependent we are and seek the power of God.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

PM: Special Edition--Solemnity Of the The Immaculate Conception

During the liturgical year some Feast Days and Solemnities will fall during the week. When that happens, the Propers for that Mass will be done in one post.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; and with the robe of righteousness he has covered me, as a bridegroom decked with a crown, and as a bride adorned with her jewels. 
V. I will extol you, O Lord, for you have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me. 
Isaiah 61:10; Ps. 29
Don't you just love the image of a wedding in this Introit? In a very real sense, there is a marriage. There is also an echo of the Magnificat as well.
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, by the Lord, the most high God, beyond all women upon the earth. 
V. You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you are the honor of our people. 
Judith 13:18; V. 15:9
These verses actually speak of the deeds of Judith after she delivered the Israelites from their enemy at the time. This Gradual takes this as an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her assistance in delivering Israel. Read the two chapters to get a fuller sense.
You are most fair, O Mary, and the taint of original sin dwells not within you. 
Song 4:7
The Song of Songs is a love song about and between two lovers. This Alleluia echoes it in a condensed fashion, highlighting the total purity of the Mother of God.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, alleluia. 
Luke 1:28
Gabriel's greeting to the Virgin before she received the Body of Christ. So does this archangel say the same to us in this Offertory. Finish the prayer as Elizabeth did, at your leisure (Latin optional).
Glorious things have been proclaimed concerning you, O Mary; for the Almighty has done marvelous things on your behalf. 
Ps. 86:3; Luke 1:49
This Communion holds a promise to us as well as it did to Mary. As frequent, worthy reception of Holy Communion makes us more like Christ, the example of its effects par excellence is Mary. Another example of the Mother pointing us to her Son.


PM: Gradual Tuesdays--3rd. Sunday Of Advent

The Gregorian Missal has two Graduals for this Sunday: the first for Lectionary Cycles A and C; the other, Cycle B. They will be presented in that order.
O Lord, who are enthroned upon the Cherubim, stir up your might and come forth. 
V. O Shepherd of Israel, hear us, you who lead Joseph like a flock. 
Ps. 79: 2, 3; V. 2
The phrase "stir up your might" hit me immediately. It is the same phrase found here.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John; he came. 
V. To bear witness to the light, to prepare an upright people for the Lord. 
John 1:6; V. John 1:7 & Luke 1:17
A reading of these two Gospel passages (John 1:6-9 and Luke 1:13-17) is very much in order. You will see how these interplay with each other.


Monday, December 07, 2015

PM: Introit Mondays--3rd. Sunday Of Advent

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious over anything; but in all manner of prayer, let your requests be made known unto God. 
V. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have put an end to Jacob's captivity. 
Phil. 4:4-5; Ps. 84

This is why rose is the liturgical color of the day, both in vestments and Advent wreath candle. We are again to be joyful in the Lord, for He is always near. For this reason, we can confidently approach the throne of Grace.

Friday, December 04, 2015

PM: Communion Fridays--2nd. Sunday Of Advent

Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high; and behold the joy that shall come to you from your God. 
Baruch 5:5; 4:36

We, the New Jerusalem, have been called to see Him face to face in His Real Presence. We behold Him Who is our true joy and peace.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

PM: Offertory Thursdays--2nd. Sunday Of Advent

You will turn toward us, O God, and restore our life again, and your people will rejoice in you. Show us, Lord, your mercy and grant us your salvation. 
Ps. 84:7-8

What an appropriate thought as we begin the Liturgy of the Eucharist. He not only shows His mercy, but also grants us salvation as the Sacrifice of the Mass unfolds the final act of our redemption.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--2nd. Sunday Of Advent

I rejoiced when it was said unto me: "Let us go to the house of the Lord!" 
Ps. 121:1

Is there not an echo of the Magnificat in this, when the Blessed Virgin Mary's soul also called out in gladness? Hopefully, this should this also be our response when we have been judged worthy to be in His presence upon the end of our lives.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

December 2015 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal Intention - Experiencing God's Mercy. That all may experience the mercy of God, who never tires of for giving.
Evangelization Intention - Families. That families, especially those who suffer, may find in the birth of Jesus a sign of certain hope
Reflections for these intentions are found here.

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--2nd. Sunday Of Advent

Out of Zion his perfect beauty shines forth. God is coming in broad daylight. 
V. Summon before him the consecrated nation who made a covenant with him by sacrifice. 
Ps. 49: 2, 3, V. 5
We are that consecrated nation, the new People of God under a new and eternal covenant--the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. How well are we keeping our end of the deal?

Monday, November 30, 2015

PM: Introit Mondays--2nd. Sunday Of Advent

People of Zion behold, the Lord is coming to save all nations; and the Lord shall cause you to hear his majestic voice for the joy of your heart. 
V. O Shepherd of Israel hear us, you who lead Joseph like a flock! 
Cf. Is. 30: 19, 30; Ps. 79
I am reminded of the following:
For he is our God, we are the people he shepherds, the sheep in his hands. Oh, that today you would hear his voice:  Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert. There your ancestors tested me; they tried me though they had seen my works. 
Psalm 95:7-9

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The "Four Week Night Watch"



The sunlight of the last day of the liturgical year fades. Another year of the temporal cycle had rolled through our calendar. Winter settles in the northern hemisphere; the darkness increases as December knock on our door.

We arrive at another Advent. We come to prepare and wait along with the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as the world for the appointed time when Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will enter time and space, taking on our image and likeness so we can be restored to God's. We are prayerfully watchful.

Out comes the Advent wreath to mark the weeks of our confinement. Candles of purple and one of rose are embedded in a garland of green, a unique juxtaposition of symbols of  penance, joy, and hope in anticipation of what is to come.

We cannot wait for the day to arrive, but we must. And there is much to do make ourselves as worthy as possible for the birth of our King. And it seems so little time, just "four weeks", but it can be time well spent.

Again, we prepare the way for the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

May our "night watch" make us ready for the joy that is to come.

Friday, November 27, 2015

PM: Communion Fridays--1st. Sunday Of Advent

The Lord will bestow his loving kindness, and our land will yield its fruit. 
Ps. 84:13
How fitting for Communion. And also how fitting a sign of Who Is To Come in "four weeks".

Thursday, November 26, 2015

2015 Thanksgiving Day Card


May God, the giver of all that is good, shine his face upon you and grace you abundantly. May He bestow upon you blessings upon blessings. May He shower you with His gifts of the Spirit and the fruits they bear.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

PM: Offertory Thursdays--1st. Sunday Of Advent

Unto you, 0 Lord, have I lifted up my soul; 0 my God, I trust in you, let me not be put to shame; do not allow my enemies to laugh at me; for none of those who are awaiting you will be disappointed. 
Ps. 24:1-3


The verse which accompanied the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word now does the same for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. As the priest lifts the bread and wine during Consecration, may our souls be united with these gifts so we may become holy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--1st. Sunday Of Advent

Show us your mercy, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. 
Ps. 84:4
As we prepare for the upcoming Year of Mercy, this short exhortation from the Psalmist should be part of our daily prayer. (And if you think you might have heard this at Mass, it is part of Penitential Rite B.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--1st. Sunday Of Advent

They will not be disappointed, 0 Lord, all those who are awaiting you. 
V. Make your ways known unto me, 0 Lord, and teach me your paths. 
Ps. 24:3-4
Only in God do we find security and peace. Only in His will do we find freedom.

Monday, November 23, 2015

PM: Introit Mondays--1st. Sunday Of Advent

Unto you have I lifted up my soul. O my God, I trust in you, let me not be put to shame; do not allow my enemies to laugh at me; for none of those who are awaiting you will be disappointed. 
V. Make your ways known unto me, O Lord, and teach me your paths. 
Ps. 24:1-4 
It is about our dependence on God for everything.

It is about trust and hope in Him alone.

It is about being child-like in front of our Father, despite the fact we are His creatures.

It is about becoming more and more worthy heirs of our heavenly inheritance by heeding His voice.


Propers Meditation: Introduction

Welcome to the latest endeavor from this infinitesimal corner of the universe. It will be my most challenging due to the fact it will take the entire liturgical year to unfold. Coming from someone who has been very inconsistent in consistently posting most of the lifespan of this 'blog and frequently re-posting earlier entries, this will be nothing less than inspired by the Holy Spirit. (And may I use the grace given to me for this wisely and well.)

My inspiration for this series is based on my Christmas Eve Reflections where I used the Propers for the four Masses of Christmas (the Vigil and the Masses at Night, at Dawn, and during the Day) as the basis for my post. While I have written other posts utilizing a Lectio Divina approach, those four have stood out to me as being my best work, as humble as those offerings have been.

The format is simple. Each weekday I will post a Proper from the upcoming Sunday Mass as found in the 1990 Gregorian Missal published by Solesmes (their English translation of the Latin) and briefly describe what I think the underlying lesson is. The tile for each post will have PM--as in Propers Meditation--in it. Here is the outline for each day:
Monday--Introit
Tuesday--Gradual (or First Alleluia during Easter)
Wednesday--Alleluia (or Tract during Lent)
Thursday--Offertory
Friday--Communion
If there are Solemnities and Feast Days during the week which need this kind of attention, I will include them in a separate post.

Remember I am basically just another person in the pew, having no training in Theology or Biblical Studies. My insights are just what made an impression on me. Your mileage may vary; indeed, I hope you use this as your own catalyst for delving into the Word of God as well as preparing for the upcoming Sunday Mass. And that is my intent.

I invite you to join me in taking the advice of St. Jerome and become less ignorant of the Scriptures and, therefore, Christ.

It promises to be heavenly.



Sunday, November 22, 2015

"Music, When Soft Voices Die"



With November 22 falling on a Sunday this year (and the last Sunday of the liturgical year no less), the feast of St. Cecilia was superseded.

Nevertheless, I did want to make mention of the patron saint of musicians.

I will let the entry at New Advent tell you all about her.

St. Cecilia, pray for us.

All you choirs of angels, who sing before the King of the Universe, pray for us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"And All That Remains..."

In this month when we are asked to pray for the Church Suffering, there are times when the tragedy known as Death just takes too vicious a turn.

Such an event happened tonight 35 years ago.


"Does anyone know where the love of God goes/when the waves turn the minutes to hours?"

We believe He is there.

All 29 crewmen were in His arms.

A Fedora Doff to a former CatholicSingles.com member who lives in the Detroit area for the reminder.

UPDATE:  It is now the 40th. year anniversary. The church bell chimes of the Maritime Sailors Cathedral will ring out their requiem again.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

November 2015 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal Intention - Dialogue. That we may be open to personal encounter and dialogue to all, even those whose convictions differ from our own. 
Evangelization Intention - Pastors. That pastors of the Church, with profound love for their flocks, may accompany them and enliven their hope.
Reflections for these intentions are found here.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Angels Amoungst Us


Yes, it is a children's prayer. But didn't He mention something about being child-like? On this Feast of the Guardian Angels, take time to say "thank you" to yours.

Angele Dei, qui custos es mei,
Me tibi commissum pietate superna;
Hodie, Hac nocte illumina,
custodi, rege, et guberna. Amen.

++++++++++

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom His love commits me here,
ever this night be at my side,
to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

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What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him? You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor.

Psalm 8:5-6

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Originally posted 10/2/2006.
Re-posted 10/2/2010.
Re-posted 10/2/2012.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

October 2015 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:

Universal Intention Human Trafficking. That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated. 
Evangelization Intention - Mission in Asia. That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.

Reflections for these intentions are found here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Holiday PSA

There are only 99 shopping days until Christmas.

(Just a friendly reminder, for all you looking to beat the rush.)

UPDATE 9/15/2015:  That was back when there wasn't the glut of stores being open on Thanksgiving Day. Now it seems that day must be counted as well.

Anyway, there are only 100 shopping days until Christmas.

Avoid that last-minute rush.


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Originally posted 9/15/2008.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

X Marks The Date

It all started with this.

And to think it all started ten years ago.

Has it really been that long?

Yes.

And, like the lyric from the Grateful Dead, "What a long, strange trip it has been."

It has not been easy. There have been times I have wanted to throw in the towel and have my infinitesimal corner of the universe be swallowed into the black hole of defunct 'blogs. Really, what did I have to offer in terms of a voice in this cacophony of chatter? Many of my posts have been laboriously crafted--clear thoughts took too long to develop, I rarely could add anything of substance to a topic, and my writing style is very elementary.  Add to this not having the desire to address the issues of the day and I can see how I was never cut out to be a decent, prolific amateur writer. (Again, a fedora doff to the pros.)

I look back and see at times (and more times than maybe prudent) this has become an on-line diary. It was never my intention to have it be that. But I do have to thank God for using this to intervene in my life when I had seemingly run out of options. And I thank what readership I do have for bearing with what amounts to venting on occasion.

But then I look back and see some thing of which I am proud to have penned. My meditations on the "O" Antiphons and the "Seven Last Words", my Christmas Eve Reflections, and my Independence Day tribute I consider my best work, meager offerings as they are. My touching upon some things regarding the liturgical calendar and highlighting some of the feast days celebrated have held some promise. And then there are the "obligatory" dates like January 22 and September 11; while efforts on those days have been hit and miss, there have been efforts to mark the occasion.

What I wrote in my first post is still true. This still is "a small, quiet voice for now. So many subjects, so little time!" Although I have narrowed my focus somewhat, now I have to have the courage of my convictions and do the hard work of research and writing. While I still won't let 'blogging interfere with my life, I hope it can continue to be part of it, despite the dearth of posts the past few years (at least I have been consistent in my inconsistency). I go back to a reference a 'blogger by the pseudonym of the Holy Fool said about me when I first started. May I fulfill that promise.

As it was "In The Beginning", is now, and ever shall be, until this 'blog comes to an end:  "Welcome to my infinitesimal corner of the universe."

Let's keep improving for the next ten years.

Friday, September 11, 2015

From A Fortnight Of Years Ago

Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

A day in late summer. The Labor Day weekend was a memory. Students were settled into their academic routines. Another work week was up and running. The rhythm of life and living were pulsating along at at steady beat.

All of a sudden, the United States suffered a heart attack.

Within the span of seventeen minutes, two commercial aircraft were deliberately crashed into the "Twin Towers" of the World Trade Center in New York, NY. Thirty-four minutes after the second, a third plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Twenty-six minutes after that, a fourth crashed into a farm field near Shanksville, PA.

As if this event couldn't get any more surreal, it did.

Almost an hour after the South Tower was hit, it collapsed. Thirty minutes later, the North Tower met the same fate, having been burning since the crash. A third building at the WTC collapsed later in the day.

When the smoke dissipated and the dust plume settled and the rescue and recover efforts were well under way, only then could we begin to total the devastation.

The final number:  2,996 fatalities.

We are now fourteen years removed from it and we still wonder, "Why?"

Not event the death of the leader of this attack has really brought us any closure.

Ceremonies will be held across the country on this Patriots Day, especially at the three sites where the planes did the damage.

And we as a country will remember. And we as a country will grieve some more.

While evil has happened before and after this tragedy, this was the kind that makes one sit up and take notice. It is a reminder that evil plays under its own rules and sometimes under no rules. It fills the void when good is not there, for Nature abhors a vacuum. Its end game is destruction and death.

This is not Heaven; it isn't even close to being Eden. We still live in a world reeling from Original Sin. While our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through His Life, Death, and Resurrection, "because by His Holy Cross...has redeemed the world," we still are working out our salvation "with fear and trembling". The world still groans under the yoke of evil. Only on the Last Day will we be free of it.

So the weeds still grow with the wheat. Our attempts to overcome it may seem futile and feeble, but fighting the good fight is still the only option. Only in Christ will the harvest be fruitful. Only "with the help of Thy Grace" shall we be able to complete the works of redemption and salvation.

That is why we need to remember events like this. (And, by all means, visit your favorite 'blogs; this is one of those days in the 'blogosphere where a tribute is lovingly required.)

This is how we help God draw good from evil.

Never forget.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

September 2015 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal Intention - Opportunities for the Young. That opportunities for education and employment may increase for all young people.
Evangelization Intention - Catechists. That catechists may give witness by living in a way consistent with the faith they proclaim.
Reflections for these intentions are found here.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

August 2015 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal Intention - Volunteers. That volunteers may give themselves generously to the service of the needy.
Evangelization Intention - Outreach to the Marginalized. That setting aside our very selves we may learn to be neighbors to those who find themselves on the margins of human life and society.
Reflections for these intentions are found here.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Another "Prime" Birthday Time

It is, once again and thankfully, that time of the year and of my life.

I get to celebrate the first gift from God--being.

And for the sixteenth time in my life, my age is a number which is only divisible by itself and one.

These mathematical occurances don't come around as frequently as they did in the beginning. The last one was six years ago; the next, six years hence.

That is not the point. The point is I am around to acknowledge them.

In spite of what is happening in my life right now, I am grateful to exist. Don't get me wrong--the frustration, sometime bordering on despair, is just below the surface, like a piece of wood forcibly submerged in water. Sometimes that frustration slips to the surface, but never close to being injurious. I think my realization of that emotion helps me keep it in its proper place.

Of course, the frustration stems from a lack of a permanent, full-time job. St. Paul wrote the love of money is the root of all evil. Famed radio personality and motivational speaker Earl Nightingale once commented the proper place of money is where it can be used where nothing else can't. While there are times when money can't solve problems, in my case it would solve more problems than you would ever know. (Which is why the prayer to St. Anthony will continue to top the 'blog for the foreseeable future.)

Nevertheless, I am and I am here. Always worth a prayer of thanksgiving every day, but especially on one's natal day. May God grant me more of these days, even when they aren't a prime number.

Here's to the next 73 x 5 + 1 days. (After all, 2016 is a leap year.)

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

July 2015 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal Intention - Politics. That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization Intention - The Poor in Latin America. That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.
Reflections for these intentions are found here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Chant In The Steel City

I wish I was going to be here.  Especially since it's the Silver Anniversary of the event.

I fondly remember the two I have formally attended and the one where I was just a visitor.

For those who hunger for more Truth, Beauty, and Goodness in their liturgical experiences, this time is truly fulfilling.

I am not jealous of those who are there, since I have experience this. I hope I will join the ranks of the gainfully employed soon and have the opportunity to be amongst you once again.

Think of me kindly. Pray for me, as I will for you.

Enjoy these "six days of musical heaven".

Monday, June 01, 2015

June 2015 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal Intention - Immigrants and refugees. That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization Intention - Vocations. That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.
Reflections for these intentions are found here.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Let's Talk Liturgy: Part 15

This concludes 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 Fourth Sunday of Easter and printed in the Intermountain Catholic the following Friday.

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The Concluding Rites

How do we know when the Communion Rite is over? Some people leave the church after they receive Communion; is this acceptable practice? To close our series of reflections on the Mass, let’s investigate the ending of the Communion Rite and the Concluding Rites. 
As we move forward to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and return to our seats, a period of calm prayer follows. We may offer a song of thanksgiving and praise. Sometimes we rest in the Lord’s Presence and simply enjoy the silence. The Communion Rite ends when the celebrant offers the “Prayer after Communion” in which the celebrant invites us to recall that the Lord is with us and we respond. This grace-filled ending expresses our gratitude for the great gift we have just received. It offers our hope that we will go out into our daily lives and continue to build the Kingdom of God. 
The time between the Prayer after Communion and the Rite of Dismissal is the proper time for making very brief announcements to the community. In the past, announcements often occurred immediately before or after the homily and this practice interrupted the flow of the Eucharist. Following the liturgical reform in the late 1960s, announcements were placed in the Concluding Rites. Many parishes have since discovered that their weekly bulletins, emails, websites or message boards communicate best. Indeed, it is preferable not to have announcements except in special circumstances or special need.  
During this time, the presider may choose to comment on the sacred rites we have just experienced. We may hear brief thoughts about the value of a Confirmation retreat or suggestions about choosing suitable godparents. Or we might listen to a brief appeal for refugee resettlement or special aid to a diocese that has been hit by a massive flood. As the parish family, we receive this information and we allow our hearts to be moved by appeals to assist our brothers and sisters in Christ. 
In the Final Blessing, the priest speaks of the Lord’s presence to the community. He uses a prayerful gesture with his arms extended. We respond back, “And with your spirit.”  The priest makes the sign of the cross and says, “May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  We respond, “Amen.”  
On some occasions the Mass may end with a solemn blessing, which is a bit more formal. The deacon, if there is one, asks us to bow our heads and pray for God’s blessing. The priest then offers a prayer that consists of three parts. As he prays, his arms are extended and he encompasses all the People of God. The deacon again speaks and instructs us to go in peace to love and serve the Lord. The original Latin, Ite, missa est actually instructed us: “Go; your mission begins.” The deacon will say; “Go forth; the Mass is ended.” This is the absolute conclusion of the Mass. As God gives us precious gifts, there is new work for us to do. We prepare to leave with gratitude for all that has been given to us. We leave now to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others.  We respond with our grateful hearts: “Thanks be to God.” We watch the priest go through the same beautiful ritual that began the Mass. He kisses the altar, a symbol of Christ, and we sing a final hymn or listen to an instrumental selection.  
In our original question, we wondered whether it would be acceptable to leave after the Communion Rite. We have learned that the Concluding Rites assist us to offer our humble thanksgiving and gratitude to the Lord who has invited us to this banquet and given us gifts to take with us. Who among us could leave without accepting these precious gifts?
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Mindful that Judas was the first person who left Mass early, this is a thoughtful reflection on why Mass is not over until it's over. There are still graces to impart and blessings to receive. (Which begs the question why people come up to receive a blessing during Communion when it is given at the end of Mass.) It is my understanding that in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass the Homily is a tolerated interruption of the Mass; it makes sense to have announcements there. I have come to the conclusion there really is no good place in the Mass to inform the parish of local activities; but modern media is still not available to all. And just to nit-pick--at least on paper, both forms of the Final Blessing could have been in one paragraph and the Dismissal have its own.

If there are some concluding thoughts from the Diocesan Liturgical Committee, I will post them when they become available. Irregardless, I may have some closing thoughts of my own; I will post them later.

Friday, May 01, 2015

May 2015 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal Intention - Care for the suffering. That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbors who suffer, especially the sick and the poor. 
Evangelization Intention - Openness to mission. That Mary’s intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be open to proclaiming Jesus.
Reflections for these intentions are found here.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Let's Talk Liturgy: Part 14

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 of Easter and printed in the Intermountain Catholic the following Friday.

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The Communion Rite, Part III
When we share a meal with family and friends, we are likely to hear at some point a welcome invitation to dine – Come to the table … a comer [co-mair] … mangia! [man-jeeh] The same happens at Mass. Over the past several weeks we have seen how the Eucharistic meal is prepared, and how we prepare to receive it. Now, the invitation comes as the priest elevates the chalice and host and proclaims, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). He then proclaims words from the book of Revelation, “Blessed are those who have been called to the Supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). We respond in words that express both humility and confidence: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed” (Matthew 8:8). We are invited to look at the Eucharistic Bread and to express reverence, confidence and faith. 
The celebrating priest receives the consecrated bread and wine first before distributing the Lord’s body and blood to each communicant. When distributing communion, the priest, deacon or extraordinary minister of holy communion shows the host to each person and says, “The Body of Christ,” to which the communicant responds, “Amen.” A similar formula – “The Blood of Christ” – precedes reception from the chalice. It is important to remember that we always receive communion; it is never permitted for a communicant to simply take the Body and Blood of Christ from the altar. It is received from a priest, deacon or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. 
Up to the eleventh century, the norm was to receive communion under both kinds: both the Precious Body and the Precious Blood. Over the centuries, a practice developed of not receiving from the chalice, except in special circumstances. The Second Vatican Council initiated a gradual extension of the ancient practice of receiving the Eucharist under both kinds. Thus, receiving both the consecrated bread and the chalice is now permitted at all Masses. 
Another ancient practice - receiving the Eucharistic bread in the hand – has been revived in recent years.  Communicants now have the option of receiving either in the hand or on the tongue. Receiving from the chalice brings out the fuller meaning of the Eucharist. 
In the United States, the norm is for communicants to receive Communion while standing, although kneeling, while not encouraged, is permitted by those who choose it. As a sign of reverence, we make a slight bow before receiving the Eucharistic Bread and the chalice. No genuflection should be made. 
Since the earliest centuries, it has been the custom to sing a psalm during the Communion procession. The communion song, expressing unity, encounter with the Lord, and joy, should begin when the priest receives the Sacrament and should continue as long as is convenient. When there is no song, the antiphon found in the Missal is recited by the faithful, a lector or by the priest himself. To foster participation of the faithful, there should only be one hymn during the Communion Rite, although if the Communion procession is lengthy, an additional piece of music may be permissible. There may be a choral piece during the period of reflection.

After every meal, someone must do the dishes. After Communion, there must be a reverent cleaning of the vessels used during the Mass. Any consecrated hosts that remain may either be consumed or placed in the tabernacle. Any consecrated wine that remains must be consumed by the priest, the deacon or the extraordinary ministers. It may never be disposed of in any other way. In the Diocese of Salt Lake City, the priest or deacon purifies the vessels with water, at the credence table. Care must be taken that no fragments of consecrated hosts are left on the altar. 
The Eucharistic meal concludes with the Prayer after Communion. It should be preceded by a period of silence and is introduced with the words, “Let us pray.” This prayer is not a prayer of thanksgiving but, rather, asks for the spiritual effects or fruits of the Eucharist.  It always concludes the Communion Rite, and only after this prayer may other activities follow, such as brief announcements.
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Of all the reflections, this is the one which just doesn't sit well with me at all. Not that it isn't an adequate description of what is happening. My objection is the same as some of the faithful who show a more pious attitude and have a better understanding of what the Mass is than I. It is the seemingly deliberate obstructing of the Mass as sacrifice in favor of a meal. The obscuring of Calvary in favor of the Upper Room. The emphasis of the horizontal expression of this liturgy over the the vertical. The focus on the temporal instead of the spiritual. It is the complaint of Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani echoing since 1969.

It also highlights two other contentious issues. The first is reception under both kinds and how it has made some kind of a comeback. (It also ties into the abuse of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, but that is another issue.) The second is the physical postures of receiving the Body of Christ. Are the both anachronisms? I leave a thought about that for later, for there are some other tie-ins.

Yes, this reflection is told as an analogy. But it is as accurately told as possible?

Let's Talk Liturgy: Part 13

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 of Easter and printed in the Intermountain Catholic the following Friday.

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The Communion Rite, Part II

The Liturgy of the Mass is rich with signs of communion with Christ and each other. One ancient sign of unity that comes right after the Sign of Peace is “the breaking of the bread.” In fact, the entire Eucharistic rite was once simply known as “the breaking of the bread.” By participating in the one bread that is broken and shared, we express symbolically the reality of being one in Christ. 
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul says: “The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for all partake of the one loaf.” (1 Cor. 10:16b-17) 
The unity Paul speaks of is highlighted by the priest breaking the large consecrated host and sharing at least some of the fragments with those present. The deacon also may assist in the breaking of the bread. While it is desirable that as many as possible share in the bread that is broken, the use of the smaller hosts consecrated at the same time is a practical necessity at most Masses. 
The sign of our unity with Christ expressed by the breaking and sharing of bread continues as the priest adds a small piece of the consecrated host with the consecrated wine. This gesture, introduced in the eighth century, signifies the unity of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the work of salvation. A prayer, dating from the middle of the eighth century, is spoken inaudibly by the priest and requests the fruits of Communion for everyone present. 
Because the breaking of the bread was especially lengthy in the earlier celebrations of the Mass, it was accompanied by a chant. This later became what we call the “Agnus Dei” – the Lamb of God. The words “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world” are taken from the acknowledgment given Jesus by John the Baptist (John 1:29). It acknowledges that Christ is the Paschal Lamb who has conquered death. The chant was originally sung by the people and was repeated for as long as necessary. As the time required for the breaking of the bread became briefer, it gradually was reduced to the text as we know it and is usually sung only three times, although it may be repeated, if necessary. From the tenth century on, it has always ended with the words “grant us peace,” linking it to the Sign of Peace. Today the “Agnus Dei” is a litany-song of the choir, cantor and congregation, and may be repeated as often as necessary, but does not include the priest who is engaged in breaking of the bread. 
After the Lamb of God concludes, the people kneel and prepare to receive Communion. The priest prepares himself by a prayer said quietly while those celebrating with him do so by praying silently. With these prayers, all are ready to receive Communion.
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My apologizes for not posting this on time. I had a little difficultly finding the article on-line (the search engine at the newspaper's website doesn't seem to work that well) and then life got in the way of 'blogging. Again, props to those who make their living by writing.

Interesting information regarding the liturgical history of this section. The "breaking of the bread" actually first refers to the Gospel passage of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). The development of the Agnus Dei would also explain why I have encountered "extended" versions of it in some Mass settings in the past twenty years. Anachronism rearing its ugly head again?

Still, it's good information.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

2015 Easter Card


May our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, having freed us from the power of sin and death, bring us everlasting joy. May we, His adopted sons and daughters, find in Him the peace that surpasses all understanding. May we continue to know, love, and serve Him all the days of our lives.

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Happy Easter, everybody!

April 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.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

"...A Pillar Of Fire..."

Tonight is the most glorious liturgy Holy Mother Church has to offer. With its unique opening, the multitude of readings, and the conferring of the Sacraments of Initiation, this is what is meant by the Eucharist being "the source and summit" of our Christian living. Everything flows from and to the happenings of this night.

St. John in the opening chapter of his Gospel, mentioning Christ as both Word and Light, especially comes into play during this continuation of the Triddum Liturgy. Picking up where we ended at the Good Friday Liturgy, in darkness and silence, both are broken. Prayers of blessing over the fire and the Pascal Candle and the lighting of both are experienced. A procession, different in substance from any in which we have participated during Holy Week, yet similar to the Procession of the Cross from Good Friday, is undertaken, interrupted with interjections of thanksgiving.

Finally, when the Pascal Candle is situated in its proper place, a hymn of adoration and thanksgiving is intoned on behalf of the People of God, the New Israel.

This is the Christian's completed joy.

This is the Exultet.

The Latin and English texts are provided for your contemplation.

Let's Talk Liturgy: Part 12

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 Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord and printed in the Intermountain Catholic the following Friday.

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Reflection 12 – The Communion Rite, Part I 
The Liturgy of the Eucharist might be compared to a great symphony, with one movement leading harmoniously to the next, rising and falling, only to rise again to a new level. In the Eucharistic Prayer we reach a spiritual crescendo as the words of consecration are spoken, followed by the Great Amen as we prepare to receive Communion – the Body and Blood of Christ. The transition to the next high point of the Mass is the Lord’s Prayer, and it is fitting that it should be a part of our liturgical worship since it is the prayer Jesus gave us. 
The petitions of this model Christian prayer are closely linked to the Eucharistic Prayer – asking for bread and forgiveness. We ask for the bread of the Eucharist as well as for bread to satisfy our daily needs, both physical and spiritual. And we ask to be reconciled with one another so that we might share our bread worthily at the Table of the Lord. The Lord’s Prayer helps us look forward to Communion where we will receive the Bread of Life. 
After the final petition of the Lord’s Prayer, the priest offers a petition for perfect peace. This additional request is referred to as the “embolism” from the Greek meaning an “insertion” and acts as a transition to the doxology – “for the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours …” proclaimed and sung, if possible, by all the faithful. These words were probably added at an early date so that the Lord’s Prayer would end on a positive note, rather than “deliver us from evil.” 
In recent years, different postures for praying the Lord’s Prayer have appeared – some prefer to pray with hands raised in what has traditionally been called the orans or praying position, harking back to early depictions in the catacombs at Rome. Some prefer to hold hands, symbolizing unity, while others prefer to keep a respectful distance, perhaps praying with hands folded and eyes closed. None of these ways of praying is either recommended or forbidden by the instructions for the Mass. 
The reconciliation and unity that we ask for in the Lord’s Prayer find further expression in the Rite of Peace, or what has been traditionally called “the kiss of peace.” This rite, which the priest initiates with the words “Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your apostles …” has over the centuries been placed at different points in the liturgy. It is closely linked to the reception of the Eucharist and has always been viewed as a sign of mutual love required by Christ. 
After the priest extends the sign of peace to those assembled and the words “And with your spirit” are heard, the deacon or, in his absence, the priest, invites everyone to share the sign of peace with one another. But it must be kept in mind that the Rite of Peace is a sign, a sign that need not be exhausted by trying to give this greeting to everyone or even a great number of those present. The celebrant must be especially mindful of this limitation, since a more elaborate or extended exchange of peace can become a distraction. It is best to limit the sign only to those who are nearest. Except on special occasions, such as a wedding or a funeral, the priest should remain within the sanctuary so he does not disrupt the celebration. 
The exchange of Christ’s peace is not of value if we see it as simply a “Hello” to people we know and care about. It is more than that; it continues our preparation for Communion by reminding us that we desire for others the perfect peace that Christ promised us. This simple gesture is truly a complex sign – a greeting, a prayer, and a reminder that we are always seeking for the unity that we are about to experience when we receive Christ’s Body and Blood. Indeed, the sign of peace symbolizes that just as Christ gave himself for us, so too I desire to give my life for you.
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Of all the parts of the Mass in the Ordinary Form, it is this section which seems to cause the most distraction within this rite, and because of it, controversy. The Diocesan Liturgical Committee sees fit to include these observations in their discussion. That just makes it easier for me to comment, since I was going to mention these topics as well.

As Fr. John Zuhlsdorf has noted, there is nothing in the way of rubrics for the congregation during the Our Father other than to stand. I remember growing up when the Ordinary Form was in its infancy people would adopt the "orans" position here because they had no idea how to behave and looked to the priest during the Mass for guidance. (Another strike against "versus populum", perhaps?) The holding of hands probably grew out of that, as well as some raising their hands either as an individual or a group at the Embolism. My question about all these practices would be if the "orans" position is really proper for the laity to use in the context of a liturgy or could it symbolize an ever so slight blurring of the line between the ministerial priesthood and common priesthood of the baptized.

I might have to cut the Committee a little slack about the Rite of Peace. This series of reflections were probably written about the same time as the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments came out with their circular letter regarding this rite. This section may or may not have been edited to reflect the current wishes of the CDW-DS. My point is not that but the statement this rite has moved around in the liturgy. Is this true or another anachronism?

I can understand why people believe these are distractions. We are in our final preparations for the ultimate act of "full, conscious, active participation"--the receiving of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How does what some consider to be extraneous movement help our focus on what is to come?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Decade Of "Words"

In 2006, as a parallel to the meditations on the "O" Antiphons, I wrote a series of meditations on the "Seven Last Words", the sentences Jesus spoke as He hung on the cross during His passion. Unlike my Advent offerings, save for the addition of art work (and a change in title for the last one), my Holy Week offerings have not been edited from their original form. Like those thoughts before Christmas, however, I once again re-post them as we prepare for Easter.

I am sure others have written on them with much more theological insight and depth. I am also sure others have written on them with much more elegance and eloquence. I know they have been the inspiration for musical works; in fact Franz Joseph Haydn composed a piece on this subject near the beginning of his career and re-worked it near the end. I can only hope what you read can be the inspiration for your contemplation of His "hour".

Be at Calvary later today and throughout the week.

Listen with your ears and heart.

Love speaks volumes in only seven "words".

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Let's Talk Liturgy: Part 11

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 Fifth Sunday of Lent and printed in the Intermountain Catholic the following Friday.

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The Eucharistic Prayer, Part III

We have explored some of the key elements of the Eucharistic Prayer, closing our last reflection with affirmation of our belief that the whole Risen Christ is present and active in the celebration. Today’s presentation will complete our discussion of the Eucharistic Prayer, looking at some additional aspects of it. 
Earlier in the liturgy, we proclaimed the “Mystery of Faith” in the Memorial Acclamation. We are now reminded in the Anamnesis, which is a prayer of remembrance whereby the Church calls to mind the Lord’s passion, resurrection and ascension into heaven that the Church is acting in memory of the Lord and obeying his specific command to “Do this in memory of me.” In this prayer, the assembly affirms its devotion to that command in its gathering to celebrate, remember and proclaim Christ’s Paschal Mystery. 
Earlier, when the gifts were presented, the priest asked the Lord to accept these gifts of bread and wine. Now that the consecration of the gifts has taken place, the Body and Blood of Christ are what we offer to God. The Church and the assembly offer the Spotless Victim to the Father. However, the Church also intends that the faithful actively offer not only Christ, but also offer ourselves, our lives, our efforts to become more like Christ, and our efforts as a community of believers to serve each other as Christ once served. In doing so, we surrender ourselves, through Christ, to more complete union with the Father and with each other. 
We recall presenting intercessions to God earlier in the Mass during the Prayer of the Faithful.
Similarly, petitions are also embedded within the Eucharistic Prayer. These petitions make it clear that we celebrate the Mass in communion with the entire Church in heaven and on earth, and that the offering is for the Church and all its members, living and deceased.   
The Intercessions are usually divided into three parts: for living Christians, for the dead, and in relation to the saints in heaven.   
For the living, our prayers include those whom the Holy Spirit has set as shepherds over the Church – the pope and our bishop. We pray for the entire Church spread across the globe and for ourselves as a local community of believers. We also pray for those who have died in the peace of Christ, so that on the basis of the communion among all of us as believers, our petitions for spiritual help may bring comforting hope for the faithful departed. Finally, we invoke the assistance of all those who are now in heaven. We also ask God for some share in their fellowship and express our desire to share with them the heavenly inheritance.  
All the Eucharistic Prayers end with a doxology, which is a song of praise to God. It is concise, familiar and Trinitarian: “Through him (that is, Christ), and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever.” 
The final response is simple, yet deep – the Great Amen – which is both an assent and a conclusion. Our offering, which is Christ’s offering on the cross, calls for a resounding, unanimous and enthusiastic, “Amen.” St. Augustine said, “Amen is the people’s signature.” Indeed, the “Amen” is the people’s ascent as they respond affirmatively to the Eucharistic Prayer prayed by the priest on their behalf. The Great Amen is typically sung, and possibly repeated a number of times, in a joyous manner to emphasize our agreement to all that the Eucharistic Prayer says and does. Recognizing the beauty and power of this celebration, let us put our spiritual signature on these holy proceedings with our hearty, “Amen.” 
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 I liked how the Liturgical Commission brought into focus the parallelisms in the Anamnesis to the other parts of the Mass. This is something I have never noticed before. Perhaps my "full, conscious, active participation" needs to be more conscious in order to be more full.

I had earlier written these reflections were originally planned to end in March. With the break during the entire month of February, those plans have changed. Obviously there is more to come.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Let's Talk Liturgy: Part 10

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 Fourth Sunday of Lent and printed in the Intermountain Catholic the following Friday.


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The Eucharistic Prayer, Part II

Our earlier talk (the first of three discussing the overall Eucharistic Prayer) brought us to the invocation of the Holy Spirit to sanctify or make holy the gifts on the altar, so that they may become the Body and Blood of the Lord.   
This second part dovetails with the first. Just as the Eucharistic Prayer is part of a continuous action extending from the preparation of the gifts to Holy Communion, so are the words of institution part of the Eucharistic Prayer. They are an account of key events at the Last Supper, including the words used by Jesus to institute this rite, commanding that it be done perpetually by the Church in his memory, not just merely recalling it but re-presenting it.   
The whole Eucharistic Prayer relates to the consecration, but the words of institution in particular are seen as actually bringing about the change in the gifts of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. We should listen intently with our ears, our minds and our hearts as these sacred actions unfold, noting the gestures of the priest at this time and the deliberation with which he speaks and acts. At this point, the priest is addressing himself primarily to God the Father. He is not doing something solely for the people to see and hear, but even more so that the Father may see and hear this sacred action. Thus, the holy Sacrifice of Himself, which Christ instituted during the Last Supper, is affected and re-presented to the Father. The priest is acting in the person of Christ. Jesus is the victim and the priest. 
The priest retells what Jesus said and did at the Last Supper, not just in words, but also in gestures – lifting the bread, raising his eyes to heaven, bowing over the gifts. The priest says the words of Christ over the bread, which the people have presented for this celebration, the very words he said to the apostles at the Last Supper “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body, which will be given up for you.”  Without speaking, he presents or shows the host to the people for all to see and adore, then genuflects in adoration. This action may occur in silence or bells may be briefly rung.   
The prayer and gestures are then repeated with the wine. The words are familiar, “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.”   
By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Body and Blood of Christ are now on the altar, but still under the appearance of bread and wine. This change in substance is referred to by the Church as “transubstantiation.” The elements still taste like bread and wine, but Faith tells us that Christ is truly present. We are invited to worthily receive the body and blood of Christ for our spiritual nourishment and to deepen our union with God. 
The priest then draws us directly into the action as he sings the “Mystery of Faith” referring to the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s death, resurrection and presence among his people, inviting our acclamation. With a sense of the profound nature of what has unfolded on our behalf, the priest’s invitation hopefully summons a heartfelt response sung by the entire assembly. We sing one of three responses addressed to Christ, for example: “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again,” thereby affirming our belief that the whole mystery of the Risen Christ is present and active in the celebration.

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I have a question, part of the "ad orientem" vs. "versus populum" argument about the priest's position at the altar. The main point of "versus populum" is so the congregation can see what the priest is doing at the altar. But, since the words of institution are what cause transubstantiation to happen (an aural event), why does the congregation need to "see" that (cf. John 20:29)? Additionally, is not the "presenting or showing" of the Sacred Species supposed to be an elevation above the priest's head? Nit picking, I know; but that part of "versus populum" seems to take the mystery out of the Mystery.

But as for what was said about the summit of "the source and summit" of our worship, what more needs to be said?