Category Archives: Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments

Liturgical New Year for the Byzantine Church

Happy New Liturgical Year for the Byzantine Church! Have a blessed 7519!!! The Byzantine Church understands this date to be the years since the creation of the world. A new liturgical year, a new beginning to give God glory, honor and praise!!!!

We bless God’s holy name with the singing of the Great Doxology

Vision of the Thorne of the Lord.jpg

Glory to God in the highest, and to people on earth peace and good will.
We praise you, we bless you, we worship you, we glorify you, we thank you for your great glory.
Lord God, heavenly King, Father almighty; Lord, only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit!
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father: you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us. You take away the sin of the world, hear our prayer. You are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For you alone are holy; you alone are the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
I will bless you day after day, and praise your name forever. Make us worthy, O Lord, to be kept sinless this morning. Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our Fathers, and praiseworthy and glorious is your name forever. Amen.
May your mercy, O Lord, be upon us who have placed our hope in you.
Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your commandments.
Blessed are you, O Master; make me understand your commandments.
Blessed are you, O Holy One; enlighten me with your commandments.
O Lord, you have been our refuge for one generation to the next.
I said: Lord have mercy on me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against you.
O Lord, I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will, for you, O Lord, are my God.
In you is the source of life and in your light we see light.
Extend your mercy to those who know you!

Britain’s Bishops have no taste

Papal staging at Cotton Park.jpgThe UK Bishops’ Conference will be providing the Holy Father –and the Church universal– this sanctuary for the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Rite of Beatification for Cardinal Newman. The the only possible thing to say is: OMG!!!! What rubbish.

If this is in fact what Britain’s Bishops are approving for the papal ceremonies it is, in my mind, a complete disregard (a slap in the face) for the liturgical leadership of Pope Benedict and the renewal he’s asked for in recent years. Why spend so much money, time and energy on such stuff.
Architecture is only one piece of the liturgical ac of prayer … I pray the music, flowers, and ritual actions, vestments are not so churlish. Two things we can be certain of: the papal homily will be exceptional and the papal presence will be superior.

Blessing of Grapes


Blessing grapes.jpgA pious liturgical custom is for the priest to bless grapes on the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Why do we bless grapes on the Transfiguration? Symbolically and on a concrete level grapes represent real transformation, an old vine produces new fruit, a new harvest for God. As the Lord was transfigured on Mount Tabor, so we too are given the grace by God to transform our lives more and more according to His will, the Gospel. The hard of personal conversion is done by authentically following the Church. 

Theologically, one might say that the grape is symbolic of new life; think of the fruit derived from grapes, wine, used at Mass. That after the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit and the prayer of consecration the wine becomes the Precious Blood of Christ. It is by His Blood we are saved, given new life, a pledge of future glory with the Blessed Trinity in heaven. Many liturgical families, including the Latin, Byzantine and Armenian Churches have a liturgical theology and rite for the blessing of grapes and situate the blessing of grapes as a needed reminder of our real and on-going conversion to Christ in hearts and minds of Catholics. (Read this blog post on the blessing of grapes where the author brings together several elements: work, harvest, offering, human transformation by God, liturgy, new life, etc.). 

The prayer

Priest: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

Response: Who made heaven and earth.

Priest: Let us pray to the Lord.

Response: Lord, have mercy.

Bless, O Father, this new fruit of the vine, which you permitted to ripen through good weather, and drops of dew and may it bring joy for us who will partake of this fruit of the vine, and forgiveness of sins to those who offer it, through the pure Body and Blood of Your Christ, with whom You are blessed, together with Your all holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and always and forever and ever.

R. Amen.

(this blessing is taken from the August Menaion, Byzantine Melkite Euchologion published by the Melkite Eparchy of Newton.)

Transfiguration of the Lord

Transfiguration of the Lord with doveThe Master came with his three friends
To climb Mount Tabor’s height
There he was changed,
transfigured with God’s uncreated light.

As Daniel, seer of old, had seen
One like a Son of Man,
On whom were kingship, sov’reignty,
And place at God’s right hand,

So too, said Peter, we have seen
His glory, come from God,
Revealed to us, who with him lived
And walked in ways he trod.

“This is my Son,” the Father said,
“In him is my delight.
To him give ear, that all your ways
May be within my light.”

Bring us, O Lord, to hear your Son
That, walking in his ways,
We as your daughters and your sons
May praise you all our days.

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2009, World Library Publications
CM; ST. MAGNUS, ST. STEPHEN, MORNING SONG

Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major

St Mary Major Basilica.jpgA few times a year the Church’s sacred Liturgy observes a liturgical memorial of a church’s dedication and today is one of those observances. When you get down to brass tax we don’t glorify a building but the action of the Blessed Trinity in the lives of believers.

The point of Catholic dogma affirmed with the building of this Marian basilica is that Mary is the Mother of God (Theotokos) defined by the Council of Ephesus in 431. This dogma keeps the orthodox Christian’s faith Christ-centered, especially in matters of worship. The Church holds: “From the earliest times the Blessed Virgin is honored under the title of Mother of God, in whose protection the faithful take refuge together in prayer in all their perils and needs. Accordingly, following the Council of Ephesus, there was a remarkable growth in the cult of the People of God towards Mary, in veneration and love, in invocation and imitation, according to her own prophetic words: ‘All generations shall call me blessed, because He that is mighty hath done great things to me'” (Lumen gentium, 66)
Our prayer at Mass today is:
Lord, pardon the sins of Your people. May the prayers of Mary, the mother of Your Son, help to save us for by ourselves we cannot please You.

Saint Mary Major is the oldest church in Rome dedicated to the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the worship of the Trinity situated on the Esquiline Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. The construction of the basilica began following a promise of the benefactors (a Roman patrician), a dream of Pope Liberius and the presence of snow on the spot where the church was to be built on this date on an extraordinarily hot day in August in the 4th century. Pope Sixtus III consecrated the the church in 435. Hence, the Saint Mary Major is often called the Liberian Basilica or Saint Mary at the Snows or Saint Mary of the Crib. The holy crib that held the baby Jesus is retained there.

Today we call the Basilica of Saint Mary Major together with Saint Peter’s (on Vatican Hill), Saint John Lateran and Saint Paul outside the Walls Papal (patriarchal or pontifical) basilicas. That is, these churches are directly connected with the ministry of the Pope and the altar in each of theses 4 churches is reserved for the exclusive use of the Pope to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass; there are times in which the Pope gives permission to a visiting cardinal or a patriarch of an Eastern Church to celebrate at his altar.
Some have designated the four papal basilicas in this way as way of keeping in mind the proclamation of the Gospel and the work of salvation wrought by Grace and the work of the Apostles:
Saint John Lateran recalls the See of Rome
Saint Peter’s recalls the See of Constantinople
Saint Paul outside the Walls recalls the See of Alexandria
Saint Mary Major recalls the See of Antioch.

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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