Category Archives: Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments

Most Holy Trinity

Henrik van Balen, detail, The Holy Trinity (1620)Today, following the great feast of the Pentecost, we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. The proposes this feast day to remind us that God-Head has revealed Himself to us through Jesus Christ. On Pentecost day the Apostles spoke in many tongues when the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus as He ascended to heaven, descended upon them in the cenacle.

We know from the biblical narrative that Jesus revealed to His disciples the face of the Father and the power of the Spirit. The Pentecost experience reveals the complete revelation of the persons of the Trinity with the outpouring of  the Holy Spirit –manifestation of the love between God the Father and God the Son. This loves pours into the world.

With this feast we are keenly reminded that the Trinity is petitioned in our spiritual life each time we pray. Most of the time we begin and conclude our prayer with the Sign of the Cross and a Glory be. Also, I think it is right to recall that God deeply loves us first before we love Him. It is His initiative of love that makes great sense to the Church Fathers and I am pretty sure we can verify this experience.

What is it that we receive from God? What does the Church believe? The gift we receive from Jesus is “grace”; from the Father “love”; and from the Holy Spirit “communio.” The Pentecost teaches us that we are now members of God’s household, part of His family not by nature but by grace, this is what it means to be a part of  the Church; we are the divinely adopted children of God through Christ; his Spirit dwells in us; now we are “temples of his holy Name!”

Receiving Holy Communion these days

I am aware we’ve moved into the season of catechetical year of First Holy Communion. A rich and beautiful time. But it is also a distressing time for several reasons. As a sacrament, I look forward to being with Christ in this manner. I am aware that so many are not on the same page as I am or even Mother Church. For too many Holy Communion –and the first time a person receives– is more of a coming of age ceremony, a “right”, something that is owed to the child. All this  has nothing to do with a relationship with the Lord of Life, the Messiah who promised to be with His Church in a beautiful, unique and present way. Perhaps we have to look at what we are doing today and look at what was normative in our tradition. One of the Church Fathers taught the following to his flock:

“Thus, St Basil the Great refers to [receiving] communion four times a week as normative: ‘And to receive communion every day and to partake of the holy Body and Blood of Christ is good and beneficial, for [Christ] himself clearly says: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, has eternal life.” … We receive communion four times every week: on Sunday, on Wednesday, on Friday, and on Saturday, and on other days, if there happens to be a memorial of a Saint.”

(Letter 93 [89])

Saint Agnes and the lambs

pope-francis-blessing-of-lambsOn the feast of Saint Agnes –one of our early female martyrs– lambs are blessed by the pope and the wool harvested by Benedictine nuns to weave a pallium is given to metropolitan archbishops as a sign of communion with the Bishop of Rome on the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul (June 29); a solemn Mass is celebrated each year by the Holy Father with the presence of the Orthodox bishops because it is a key feast day for the Roman Church. Joan Lewis writes today about the event. Here is the opening paragraph:

Just before 9 am Wednesday morning, in keeping with the tradition for the January 21 liturgical memory of St. Agnes, two lambs, blessed earlier in the morning in the Roman basilica named for this saint, were presented to Pope Francis in the atrium of the Santa Marta residence where he lives. The lambs are raised by the Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains. When their wool is shorn, the [Benedictine] Sisters of St. Cecelia weave it into the palliums that, on the June 29th feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, are bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops as signs of their office.

The rest of the blog post is here.

Holy Name of Jesus

JesusMay the Most Holy Name of Jesus be praised and worshiped now and forever! By no other name are we saved!

Saint Bernadine of Siena preached:

“O glorious name, graceful name, lovely and excellent name! Through you crime slackens, enemies are conquered, the oppressed are liberated, those who suffer difficulties are strengthened and delighted! You, honor of believers, you, teacher of preachers, you, giver of strength to those who labor, you, supporter of the tired. Desires revive with the light and warmth of your fire, suffrages are asked for, contemplative souls are inebriated, and all those who triumph in the heavenly glory are glorified. And you, most sweet Jesus, make us reign with them through your most Holy Name.”

The Catechism teaches (430-435):

Jesus means in Hebrew: “God saves.” At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission. Since God alone can forgive sins, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son made man, “will save his people from their sins”. In Jesus, God recapitulates all of his history of salvation on behalf of men.

In the history of salvation God was not content to deliver Israel “out of the house of bondage” by bringing them out of Egypt. He also saves them from their sin. Because sin is always an offence against God, only he can forgive it.  For this reason Israel, becoming more and more aware of the universality of sin, will no longer be able to seek salvation except by invoking the name of the Redeemer God.

The name “Jesus” signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation, so that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

The name of the Saviour God was invoked only once in the year by the high priest in atonement for the sins of Israel, after he had sprinkled the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies with the sacrificial blood. the mercy seat was the place of God’s presence. When St. Paul speaks of Jesus whom “God put forward as an expiation by his blood”, he means that in Christ’s humanity “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”

Jesus’ Resurrection glorifies the name of the Saviour God, for from that time on it is the name of Jesus that fully manifests the supreme power of the “name which is above every name”. The evil spirits fear his name; in his name his disciples perform miracles, for the Father grants all they ask in this name.

The name of Jesus is at the heart of Christian prayer. All liturgical prayers conclude with the words “through our Lord Jesus Christ”. The Hail Mary reaches its high point in the words “blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” the Eastern prayer of the heart, the Jesus Prayer, says: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Many Christians, such as St. Joan of Arc, have died with the one word “Jesus” on their lips.

Christ the King

Christ the King (the Least of these)Today in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is the Solemn Feast of “Christ the King” (the Extraordinary Form observed feast a month ago). I cam across this rather interesting and provocative image for the Christ the King with the question: “Christ the Least of These”? Of course, Matthew 25 is the judgement we all face.

Some reduce the person of Jesus and His kingship with being “impressed” in favor of being “transformed.” Actually, I prefer the theological datum of being transfigured. Christ the King is reason enough to be impressed but His work as king is a service to all with a preference for the humble because He Himself was made low in the Incarnation.

What comes to mind is the pious story of St Martin of Tours with his encounter with a beggar who was none other than Jesus. What comes to mind all the ways in which we Catholics live the Faith with a similar gaze Christ had for hungry, the thirsty, the lonely, the imprisoned, the sorrowful and ignorant.

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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