Category Archives: Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments

Trinity Sunday

trinity3.jpgAlmighty everlasting God, who granted to Your servants, in the profession of the true Faith, to recognize the glory of the eternal Trinity and to adore Its Unity in the might of majesty: we beseech You; that, in the steadfastness of that same Faith, we may always be defended from all adversities.


What do we, as Catholics, the Church, believe about the Holy Trinity? Much, in fact. Here are three paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the ‘hierarchy of the truths of faith’. [GCD 43.] The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men ‘and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin’. [GCD 47.]” (CCC 234)

 “The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the ‘mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God’. [Dei Filius 4: DS 3015.] To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.” (CCC 237)

“The whole divine economy is the common work of the three divine persons. For as the Trinity has only one and the same natures so too does it have only one and the same operation: ‘The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not three principles of creation but one principle.’ [Council of Florence (1442): DS 1331; cf. Council of Constantinople II (553): DS 421.] However, each divine person performs the common work according to his unique personal property. Thus the Church confesses, following the New Testament, ‘one God and Father from whom all things are, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and one Holy Spirit in whom all things are’. [Council of Constantinople II: DS 421.] It is above all the divine missions of the Son’s Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit that show forth the properties of the divine persons.” (CCC 258)

Scripture is the audible sacrament

Just returning from Rome where I spent 8 days making a personal retreat of sorts that included time in prayer with the monks at Sant’Anselmo, I could not divorce the experience of hearing the Word of God proclaimed frequently throughout the day. Truly, it was a renewing experience of keeping God in front of me. And how else does one live as a follower of Christ but to keep His word and sacrament in front of the self?

The reality of Scripture and the Liturgy is a Benedictine experience, that is, a Catholic view of reality that does not separate faith from reason, Scripture from experience, worship from study and leisure. Scripture is so very much a part of our lives as Catholics that we often overlook its importance in our worship and formation as adopted sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ. The Church from the very beginning proclaims and lives the sacred Scriptures because they document the covenantal relationship with God the Father. We know this fact through our sacred Liturgy: Lauds, Vespers, the Sacrifice of the Mass and our personal prayer offered each and every day. While some may not be able to pray Lauds, Vespers and Mass daily, prayers such as the Rosary, the Angelus and lectio divina provide ample grist for the heart’s mill helping us to seek God’s face. In Hebrews 4 we are reminded of the Word that created the cosmos and daily recreates us and this latter point is what we believe the sacraments to do: recreate us in God’s own image and likeness.
Augustine of Hippo spoke of the sacraments being a “visible word” we also know the sacred Scripture to be the audible sacrament. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

Consecration of a Paten and a Chalice at St Joseph’s Seminary

GT Walsh consecrating chalices2 May 14 2010.jpg

Today, following the last conference of our annual spiritual exercises, the Most Reverend Gerald T. Walsh, Rector of Saint Joseph’s Seminary, consecrated seven patens and chalices of those to be ordained priests tomorrow. That today is also the feast of Saint Matthias, an apostle, what a great day to consecrate chalices and patens.

It is important to note that while a priest can be delegated to consecrate these sacred items used for divine worship, the bishop, standing in the place of Christ with the fullness of priesthood, is the visible sign of unity with the Roman Pontiff. Moreover, the bishop is the chief liturgist and administrator of the sacraments in the diocese with all ministry, whether presbyteral or diaconal, oriented toward him for the salvation of God’s people. Hence, it is not merely a “nice” thing for the bishop to consecrate a priest’s paten and chalice, it is essential that he do it (if not impeded by some serious event) because of the nature of what is being done: living the sacramentality given to us by Christ himself. Catholics do not presume to do things on their own but they live in communion with the bishop, in harmony and order.

According to preparatory note, this consecration is typically done by a bishop but may be delegated to a priest. The consecration may take place on any day. The following are prepared: holy chrism and whatever materials necessary for cleansing and wiping the chalice and paten as well as the bishop’s hands. The chalice and paten should be placed on a table covered with a white-linen cloth or on the altar. It several chalices and patens are to be consecrated the bishop performs the anointings successively on each of them, but he says the orations only once and in the plural form. The bishop, standing and wearing the rochet, white stole, and gold-embroidered mitre, says:

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

All: Who made heaven and earth.

C: Let us pray, my dear brethren, that by the help of God’s grace this paten may be consecrated and hallowed for the purpose of breaking over the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered death on the cross for the salvation of us all.

Removing his mitre, says:

C: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

C: Let us pray.

Almighty everlasting God, who instituted the laws of sacrifice, and ordered among other things that the sprinkled wheaten flour should be carried to the altar on plates of gold and silver; be pleased to bless, hallow, + and consecrate this paten, destined for the administration of the Eucharist of Jesus Christ, your Son, who for our salvation and that of all mankind chose to immolate Himself on the gibbet of the cross to you, God the Father, with whom He lives and reigns, forever and ever.

All: Amen.

Having put the mitre on, the bishop dips the thumb of his right hand into the holy chrism, anoints the paten from rim to rim in the form of a cross, then rubs the holy chrism all over the upper side of the paten saying:

GT Walsh consecrating chalices May 14 2010.jpg

Lord God, may you deign to consecrate and to hallow this paten by this anointing and our blessing, + in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you forever and ever.

All: Amen.

Then he proceeds to the blessing of the chalice saying:

Let us pray, my dear brethren, that our Lord and God, by His heavenly grace and inspiration, may hallow this chalice, about to be consecrated for use in His ministry, and that He may add the fullness of His divine favor to the consecration performed by us; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Removing his mitre, says:

C: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

GT Walsh consecrating chalices3 May 14 2010.jpgC: Let us pray.

O Lord our God, be pleased to bless + this chalice, made by your devout people for your holy service. Bestow that same blessing which you bestowed on the hallowed chalice of your servant, Melchisedech. And what we cannot make worthy of your altars by our craft and metals, do you nonetheless make worthy by your blessing; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

With the mitre on, the bishop dips the thumb of his right hand into the holy chrism and anoints each chalice on the inside from rim to rim in the form of a cross saying:

Lord God, may it please you to consecrate and to hallow this chalice by this anointing and our blessing, + in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you forever and ever.

All: Amen.

Removing his mitre, says:

C: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

C: Let us pray.

Almighty everlasting God, we beg you to impart to our hands the virtue of your blessing, so that by our blessing + this vessel and paten may be hallowed and become, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, a new sepulchre for the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

The hands are now cleansed.

This rite is taken from the Roman Pontifical of 1962. It was published in Philip T. Weller’s 1964 The Roman Ritual: Complete Edition (the one volume). Thanks continuously goes to God for the fine work that Father Weller did for the Church is pulling together Roman Ritual in English.

Blessing of Crosses

On the old liturgical calendar today we find the feast of the Discovery of the True Cross by Saint Helena. A few years ago I had the privilege of spending a month at the Abbey of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem in Rome where the relics of the True Cross and Passion are preserved. How beautiful and holy it was to be a part of a worshipping community that had the presence of such items connected with the oblation of Our Lord and Savior! Every day I spent time in prayer in the chapel holding the these relics. So, that the revised liturgical calendar deleted this feast is a sad state of affairs. It is, after all, the cross of Christ that gives new life! As part of the rites for the day we find the Blessed of Crosses. 

Discovery & Proof of the True Cross PdellaFrancesca.jpg

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

All: Who made heaven and earth.

P: The Lord be with

All: And with your spirit. 

Let us pray.

Almighty everlasting God, merciful
Father and our unalloyed comfort, in virtue of the bitter suffering that your
only- begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, endured for us sinners on the wood
of the cross, bless + these crosses which your faithful will set up in their
vineyards, gardens, fields, and other places. Shield the land where they are
placed from hail, tornado, storm, and every onslaught of the enemy, so that the
produce, ripened for the harvest, may be gathered to your honor by those who
put their trust in the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives
and reigns with you forever and ever.

All: Amen.

New liturgical texts approved by Pope today, Mass to change

The Holy Father addressed Vox Clara during a lunch meeting, and approved the new translation of the 2002 Roman Missal. This is tremendous news. I look forward to praying the new texts! Not a perfect text but one that’s more theologically correct than the current missal. Some work still needs to be done but that ought to be finished shortly so that publishers, musicians, priests, and laity can make the new texts available for the anticipated inauguration for the First Sunday of Advent 2011. Each of the 11 English speaking conferences of bishops will get to work on rolling out the new missal in their countries with the proper catechetical formation for clergy and laity alike. The Pope’s words today:

archbishop incensing.jpg

I thank you for
the work that Vox Clara has done over the last eight years, assisting and
advising the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the
Sacraments in fulfilling its responsibilities with regard to the English
translations of liturgical texts. This has been a truly collegial enterprise.
Not only are all five continents represented in the membership of the
Committee, but you have been assiduous in drawing together contributions from
Bishops’ Conferences in English-speaking territories all over the world. I
thank you for the great labour you have expended in your study of the
translations and in processing the results of the many consultations that have
been conducted. I thank the expert assistants for offering the fruits of their
scholarship in order to render a service to the universal Church. And I thank
the Superiors and Officials of the Congregation for their daily, painstaking
work of overseeing the preparation and translation of texts that proclaim the
truth of our redemption in Christ, the Incarnate Word of God.

Saint Augustine
spoke beautifully of the relation between John the Baptist, the vox clara that
resounded on the banks of the Jordan, and the Word that he spoke. A voice, he
said, serves to share with the listener the message that is already in the
speaker’s heart. Once the word has been spoken, it is present in the hearts of
both, and so the voice, its task having been completed, can fade away (cf.
Sermon 293). I welcome the news that the English translation of the Roman
Missal will soon be ready for publication, so that the texts you have worked so
hard to prepare may be proclaimed in the liturgy that is celebrated across the
anglophone world
. Through these sacred texts and the actions that accompany
them, Christ will be made present and active in the midst of his people. The
voice that helped bring these words to birth will have completed its task.

new task will then present itself, one which falls outside the direct
competence of Vox Clara, but which in one way or another will involve all of
you – the task of preparing for the reception of the new translation by clergy
and lay faithful. Many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after
nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation. The change
will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for
catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped
. I pray that in this
way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted, and the change will
serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic
devotion all over the English-speaking world.

Dear Brother Bishops, Reverend
Fathers, Friends, I want you to know how much I appreciate the great
collaborative endeavour to which you have contributed. Soon the fruits of your
labours will be made available to English-speaking congregations everywhere. As
the prayers of God’s people rise before him like incense (cf. Psalm 140:2), may
the Lord’s blessing come down upon all who have contributed their time and
expertise to crafting the texts in which those prayers are expressed. Thank
you, and may you be abundantly rewarded for your generous service to God’s

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]
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