Category Archives: Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments

A return to our Catholic inheritance through the Liturgy

We can’t escape the fact that the paradigms of modern society are suffocating the intellect, the heart and the souls of  men and women. What has efficacy for salvation? What conveys grace most authentically? It would be, I have come to believe, is the traditional form of the sacred Liturgy, either the older form of the Roman Rite or the Liturgies of the Eastern Churches (that of the liturgical families of Greece, Armenia, Syria and Egypt). There is Someone and Something that is transmitted the traditional forms of the Liturgy absent, minimized and moralized in the reformed rites of the 1960’s. While there are some good things that came about in some of the liturgical reforms, but there is a mystagogical diminishment therein. In fact, you could argue there has been a significant loss of shared transcendence available to the most humble of people. The Christian mystery, therefore, is highly reduced sense of the sign and symbol of Catholic worship of the Triune God.

In a First Things article, German philosopher Martin Mosebach publishes his thinking on this subject in “Return to Form: A Call for the Restoration of the Roman Rite” (April 2017). Pay close attention to Mosebach’s argument; it is a needed call to renew the Covenant and mark a path of redemption.

Prayer at the end of the year, at the beginning

the-holy-faceCatholics at the end of the calendar year and at the beginning of the new one do so in an atmosphere of prayer. Our faith is one of Thanksgiving. Hence, those who enter into prayer with the intention of giving thanks to the Most Blessed Trinity for the blessings received and supplicating God the Holy Spirit for the grace to be His faithful disciple in the New Year, may gain a plenary indulgence for the public recitation or chanting in Church of the Te Deum on Dec. 31 and the Veni Creator on January 1. It must be in Church, as a liturgical function, like at the end of Mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament or one the Divine Offices. The usual conditions for gaining the indulgence apply. The General Conditions are:

The traditional norm for going to confession, receiving Holy Communion, and praying for the intentions of the pope, in order to gain a plenary indulgence, was 8 days before or after doing the prescribed work (counting the day of the work). In the Great Jubilee Year 2000, the Apostolic Penitentiary relaxed this norm to “several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act” (Gift of the Indulgence, General remarks, 5).

Some may ask if the norm of 20 days remains today. The Apostolic Penitentiary responded that the norm of “about 20 days” remains in effect, since it was contained under the “General remarks on indulgences,” and not under those specific to the Jubilee Indulgence.

In sum, from Gift of the Indulgence, therefore, the usual conditions given in the Church’s tradition:

1. This is how an indulgence is defined in the Code of Canon Law (can. 992) and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1471): “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints”.

2. In general, the gaining of indulgences requires certain prescribed conditions(below, nn. 3, 4), and the performance of certain prescribed works …..

[N.B. The grants of indulgence are contained in the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum (4th ed., 1999), in special grants of the Holy See, such as for the Year of the Holy Eucharist, and in special grants which bishops may establish for their dioceses.]

3. To gain indulgences, whether plenary or partial, it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.

[N.B. Thus, one must be a Catholic in communion with the Pope, i.e. not excommunicated or in schism.]

4. A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:

have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;

have sacramentally confessed their sins;

receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required);

pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.

5. It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope’s intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayer for the Pope’s intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an “Our Father” and a “Hail Mary” are suggested. One sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions are required for each plenary indulgence.

6. For the sake of those legitimately impeded, confessors can commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except, obviously, detachment from even venial sin).

7. Indulgences can always be applied either to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other persons living on earth.

Dedication of St John Lateran Basilica

The Basilica of Saint John Lateran is the cathedral church of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, and not Saint Peter’s Basilica as many would think. The Liturgy given to us is the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica because it is the oldest and highest ranking of the four major basilicas in Rome. The Lateran is the oldest church in the West, constructed in the era of the Emperor Constantine and consecrated by Pope Sylvester in AD 324.

What do we celebrate with this feast? We don’t celebrate a building as magnificent as it is; we don’t honor the craftsmanship of the building as important and relevant as this idea is because of beauty and harmony in themselves. But, we do recognize as Pope Benedict XVI said on this feast in 2008: “The beauty and harmony of the churches, destined to give praise to God, also draws us human beings, limited and sinful, to convert to form a “cosmos,” a well-ordered structure, in intimate communion with Jesus, who is the true Saint of saints. This happens in a culminating way in the Eucharistic liturgy, in which the “ecclesia,” that is, the community of the baptized, come together in a unified way to listen to the Word of God and nourish themselves with the Body and Blood of Christ. From these two tables the Church of living stones is built up in truth and charity and is internally formed by the Holy Spirit transforming herself into what she receives, conforming herself more and more to the Lord Jesus Christ. She herself, if she lives in sincere and fraternal unity, in this way becomes the spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God.” Hence, we honor the fact that Jesus Christ through his Apostles and disciples founded a church for our salvation and the proper teaching of the Christian Gospel.

Again Benedict said: “God’s desire to build a spiritual temple in the world, a community that worships him in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:23-24). But this observance also reminds us of the importance of the material buildings in which the community gathers to celebrate the praises of God. Every community therefore has the duty to take special care of its own sacred buildings, which are a precious religious and historical patrimony. For this we call upon the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that she help us to become, like her, the “house of God,” living temple of his love” (November 9, 2008).

A feast with a universal observance, the Church tells us that the archbasilica, the ecclesiastical mother church, called “the mother and mistress of all churches of Rome and the world” (omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput).

Saint Bernard, Sermon for the Dedication of a Church gives a particular insight into what we do liturgically:

Today’s feast, brothers, ought to be all the more devout as it is more personal. For other celebrations we have in common with other ecclesiastical communities, but this one is proper to us, so that if we do not celebrate it nobody will. It is ours because it concerns our church; ours because we ourselves are its theme. You are surprised and even embarrassed, perhaps, at celebrating a feast for yourselves. But do not be like horses and mules that have no understanding. Your souls are holy because of the Spirit of God dwelling in you; your bodies are holy because of your souls and this building is holy because of your bodies. 

Purgatorial Society

all-soulsWe are quickly coming to November when we pray for the Souls in Purgatory. We enter into this venerable practice of remembering our loved ones, and those who have no one to pray for them, with certainty that our prayers are lovingly heard by the Most Blessed Trinity. Let us remember the souls before God at the altar.
The form for enrollment St Gregory Purgatorial Society is noted at this link.
The annual Mass for the enrolled members in the Purgatorial Society is November 2nd; thereafter the members are remembered at the Altar on each First Friday.
St. Gregory Purgatorial Society, P. O. Box 891, New Haven, CT 06504

Feast of the The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily, Italy. 12th-13th cenFrom a Homily by John Paul II, 14 September 2003:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Cross is the “privileged place” where the love of God is revealed and shown to us. On the Cross human misery and divine mercy meet. The adoration of this unlimited mercy is for man the only way to open himself to the mystery which the Cross reveals.

The Cross is planted in the earth and would seem to extend its roots in human malice, but it reaches up, pointing as it were to the heavens, pointing to the goodness of God. By means of the Cross of Christ, the Evil One has been defeated, death is overcome, life is given to us, hope is restored, light is imparted.

In the Garden of Eden, at the foot of the tree, there was a woman, Eve (cf. Gen 3). Seduced by the Evil One, she takes possession of what she thinks is divine life. Instead it is a seed of death which enters into her (cf. Jas 1:15; Rom 6:23).

On Calvary, at the foot of the tree of the cross, there was another woman, Mary (cf. Jn 19:25-27). Accepting God’s plan, she shares intimately in the Son’s gift of self to the Father for the life of the world and, receiving from Jesus the entrustment of John the Apostle, she becomes the Mother of all mankind.

Image: Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily, Italy. 12th-13th century.

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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