Category Archives: Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments

Pro-Life is to be pro-Liturgical Life

A recent article by Peter Kwasniewski, “Why pro-life Catholics should strive for a higher and deeper life” caught my attention and I think you ought to read it.

Kwasniewski states,

“…to be pro-life in its most profound sense is to be pro-liturgical life. As the Second Vatican Council says about the baptized: “Participating in the Eucharistic sacrifice, the source and culmination of the whole Christian life, they offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with It” (Lumen Gentium §11). “The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time, it is the font from which all her power flows” (Sacrosanctum Concilium §10). The font from which all her power flows … The power to welcome children, to love them into the Church, to care for them over all the years; the power to value every human person, well or ill, hale or handicapped, conscious or comatose, embryonic or elderly; the power to build a culture of life, a culture of beauty, a culture of intellect consecrated to the truth—all this flows from the Holy Mysteries. Without the Church’s liturgy, we fail to grasp the infinite dignity God has bestowed on us in Christ. We miss out on the flesh-and-blood encounter with the Source of Life, Life incarnate, Life outpoured for eternal life.

“Correctly understood, then, the pro-life movement is pro-human life, pro-intellectual life, pro-cultural life, and pro-liturgical life. When we see this movement in its full breadth and depth, we see the prerequisites of our vision, the scope of our struggle, the source of our strength, and the glorious destiny of our toil.

Read the entire article here.

Blessing of Basil on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

I am giving emphasis these days on knowing what we believe as Catholics by looking at the liturgical sources. We first go to the sacred Liturgy to study and pray the prayers prayed by the priest for Mass, Lauds, Vespers, or those smaller rites such as the Blessing of Basil that you would find on today’s feast of the Holy Cross, also called the Roodmas. Ours is a richly endowed sacramental faith.

“The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which, the day after the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection raised over the tomb of Christ, is exalted and honored, in the manner of a memorial of His paschal victory and the sign which is to appear in the sky, already announcing in advance His second coming” (from the Roman Martyrology).

basil3.jpg
The Blessing of Basil

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

Let us pray.

Almighty and merciful God, deign, we beseech You, to bless + Your creature, this aromatic basil leaf. Even as it delights our senses, may it recall for us the triumph of Christ, our Crucified King and the power of His Precious Blood to purify and preserve us from evil so that, planted beneath His Cross, we may flourish to Your glory and spread abroad the fragrance of His sacrifice. Who is Lord forever and ever.

R. Amen.

The bouquets of basil leaf are sprinkled with Holy Water.

Some account for the connection between the herb basil and the Cross as follows:

The herb, basil has long been associated with today’s feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The word “basil” is related to basileios, from the Greek word for king.

According to the liturgical legend, the Empress Saint Helena found the location of the True Cross by digging for it under a colony of basil. Basil plants were reputed to have sprung up at the foot of the Cross where fell the Precious Blood of Christ and the tears of the Mother of Sorrows.

A sprig of basil was said to have been found growing from the wood of the True Cross. On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross it is customary in the East to rest the Holy Cross on a bed of basil before presenting it to the veneration of the faithful.

Also, from the practice in some areas of strewing branches of basil before church communion rails, it came to be known as Holy Communion Plant. The blessed basil leaf can be arranged in a bouquet at the foot of the crucifix; the dried leaves can also be used by the faithful as a sacramental.

Blessing Grapes and the Transfiguration of the Lord

On the mountain You were transfigured, O Christ God, and Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it; so that when they would behold You crucified, they would understand that Your suffering was voluntary, and would proclaim to the world that You are truly the Radiance of the Father (Kontakion for the Transfiguration).

The Transfiguration of Our Lord, as testified to in Divine Revelation shows us our ultimate destiny as Christians: the ultimate destiny of all men and all creation to be transformed and glorified by the splendor of God Himself.

On the feast of the Transfiguration on August 6th, is a summer celebration and expectation of Great Lent, of the Eucharist, the Cross, and the Resurrection. The Church blesses grapes, as well as other fruits, on the Transfiguration is a beautiful sign of our final ­transfiguration of all things in Jesus Christ. We bless grapes because we bless God! The gesture of bringing and blessing of grapes points to the ultimate flowering and fruitfulness (generativity) of all creation in the Paradise; here we all will be transformed in the garden by the glory of the Lord.

Bunches of grapes are symbols of completion —especially experienced in the completion of the growing season— which has finally brought things to fruition.  Christians see in the grapes the biblical image of Jesus as the Vine.

In the Bible we read of the custom of bringing fruit to the temple for consecration (Genesis 4:2-4; Ex 13:12-13; Numbers 15:19-21; Deuteronomy 8:10-14). In the New Testament the 12 Apostles brought this tradition to the Church (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Later in the early centuries of Christianity, the faithful brought to the Church fruits and vegetables of the new harvest: bread, wine, oil, incense, wax, honey, etc. Some of the offerings were taken to the altar, and the balance made available to needs of the clergy and the poor.

Hence, grapes ought to remind us that by our life  we are known for our service to others. Thus, the grapes remind us that we should not be sour grapes for others.

TLM at 10

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the publishing of the motu proprio of Benedict XVI, Summorum pontificum, freeing the Tradition Latin Mass (TLM) for celebration without the interference of clergy who want to kill off this noble expression of divine worship. It is clear that the breaking of its chains has allowed the Mass to change lives.

Instead of getting caught up in the usual concerns of some people, I think it is helpful if we appreciate the theological synthesis of the TLM not only in terms of the liturgical and ascetical discipline in the West, but also of pastoral practice: the salvation of one’s soul and that of the entire cosmos; one’s conversion to Someone Infinite and who can answer the thirst of the heart. Permit yourself to engage in a reflection that sees how the TLM conveys the worship of the Blessed Trinity, gives a theological and a moral tradition –not moralism and how it is allowed the laity with the help of the clergy to build culture.

I will say this, however, that the clergy who are adamant in seeing the diminishment of the TLM are ignorant of the graces poured out by God upon the Church. Why frustrate Beauty, Truth and Goodness? Let us pray for a deepening of the knowledge and grace that is given to us today at 10 years, and for the years to come.

The image is that of The Mass of Saint Gregory the great and miracle of the host, by Carle Van Loo (1705 + 1765), in the Chapel Saint-Grégoire of the royal church of sick, 1764. Museum of the Beautiful, Lyon Arts.

Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ

The Church, in July, traditionally honors the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. By His blood we are washed of sin and given eternal life.
 
Pope Saint John XXIII, with his apostolic letter “Inde a Primis” (June 30, 1960), explained its meaning and approved the litanies of the Precious Blood of Christ.
 
Benedict XVI said of this devotion:
 
The theme of blood linked to that of the Paschal Lamb is of primary importance in sacred Scripture. In the Old Testament the sprinkling of the blood of sacrificed animals represented and established the covenant between God and the people, as one reads in the Book of Exodus: “Then Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people saying: ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you on the basis of all these words of his'” (Exodus 24:8).
 
Jesus explicitly repeats this formula at the Last Supper, when, offering the chalice to his disciples, he says: “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). And, from the scourging, to the piercing of his side after his death on the cross, Christ has really shed all of his blood as the true Lamb immolated for universal redemption. The salvific value of his blood is expressively affirmed in many passages of the New Testament.
 
 
The blood of Christ is the pledge of the faithful love of God for humanity. Looking upon the wounds of the Crucified, every man, even in conditions of extreme moral misery, can say: God has not abandoned me, he loves me, he gave his life for me — and in this way rediscover hope. May the Virgin Mary, who beneath the Cross, together with the apostle John, witnessed the testament of Jesus’ Blood, help us to rediscover the inestimable riches of this grace, and to feel profound and perennial gratitude for it.
 
Several saints who had a devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus, come to mind: St. Paul, St. Augustine, St John Chrysostom, St Gertrude, St. Catherine of Siena, Bl. Gaspar del Bufalo, Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich,St. Veronica Giuliani,
 
The feast day of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus is July 1st.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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