Tag Archives: liturgical prayer

The Spirit of the Liturgy from Benedict to Francis

Abbot Michael C. Zielinski OSB, undersecretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, discusses what is being taught by the most recent pontiffs. Abbot Michael notes the continuity and distinctions in celebrating of the sacred Liturgy by Popes Benedict and Pope Francis. But there are some things that Abbot Michael notes that are not liturgical per se, “the spirit” can be a bit vague some ways. Moreover, there are things that are already expected as the result of the theology and upheld by the rubrics. More reflection on what the synthesis and art of celebrating means, teaches and how it sanctifies. Here is a beginning… The Catholic News Service provides the video feed.

Praying for the abbot in the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass?


Frequently do I go to places where certain liturgical practices catch my attention because of the novelty of what is said and heard. We always need a deeper understanding, a profound appreciation for the prayer of the Church as expressed in the sacred Liturgy. Some will say that canon law, particularly liturgical law, is the bad side of the Good News. As Catholics we are part of a Church; as Catholics we are not independent of sacred Scripture, sacred Tradition and the sacred Magisterium; as Catholics we follow a guided companionship on a journey to a deeper communio with the Triune God. We are not Marlboro people; we are, in fact, sheep in flock called to the Holy Synaxis, to the holy in-gathering of a people in Christ, or simply, Church. We have a good shepherd in Jesus and in His successors, that is, the bishops, and we follow the teaching authority of the Christ and His vicars.

This is a long introduction to a question as whether or not priests of monastic communities ought to name the abbot in the Eucharistic Prayer. There seems to be some confusion over this seemingly small, trite matter. It is not small, and it is not trite. We have an ecclesiology, and we have a liturgical practice that ought to be followed because we live our Catholic lives in communion with others. Abbots are minor prelates; they exercise their pastoral authority and power in their monastic community and not in a diocese, and by extension to the dependent priories. An abbot ought not employ the attitude of having a mitre and a crosier so that  you can do whatever you’d like, whenever you’d like, etc.

Can a priest commemorate Abbot X (or even the abbess if in the context of a woman’s monastery) along with the pope and the bishop in the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass?


The General Instruction of the Roman Missal gives four titles that may be named in the Eucharistic Prayer: “The Diocesan Bishop, or one who is equivalent to the Diocesan Bishop in law, must be mentioned  by means of this formula: together with your servant N., our Pope, and N., our Bishop (or Vicar, Prelate, Prefect, Abbot)” (no. 149). Each of these offices are  “equivalent to the Diocesan Bishop in law” by virtue of their appointment to act on behalf of the Supreme Pontiff within a particular area.

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That heaven and earth touch, St Peter’s Omaha guides

I was reading one of my favorite blogs this afternoon, Fr. Z’s Blog (olim: What Does The Prayer Really Say?) and read his post St Peter’s Church in Omaha, NE. As I am curious about many things, especially in the ways the Incarnation is made manifest in parishes, I was stunned with the clarity of the pastor’s clarity, charity, and competence in leading souls. In fact, I watched the video on St Peter’s Church more than once because I had to get it clear in my mind and heart what Father Damian Cook and his collaborators are doing, and in the ways the Holy Spirit has allowed His gifts to be extroverted. There is a distinctive focus on the cultures of prayer, community, study and service which is a wonderful gift. St Peter’s is a place that the proposal of the gospel and the Church come alive.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Father Cook is orchestrating so many good things for Christ and His Church, both universal and in the local Church of Omaha. But let’s be clear: it is not Cook but Christ; it is not the community that’s center, but the Communio of the Trinity. I don’t want to canonize Father Cook but I do want to draw attention to the good being done.

As the Prophet Ezekiel showed us, and more importantly what the Lord did for us in His Resurrection: that it is possible for old bones to be constituted again (and in the Lord’s case, in a glorified body). Father Cook is illustrating how a decaying church community in urban Omaha can become a thriving religious and cultural treasure.

This is a clear and contemporary example of Saint Benedict rebuilding culture, or Saint Francis rebuilding the Church, or Blessed Teresa of Calcutta caring for all people. And the examples are plentiful…

Prophet Habakkuk

Prophet Habakkuk.jpgThe Byzantine liturgical calendar includes the prophets in its commemorations because they foretell the coming of the Messiah, as the Kontakion states for today. (The Latin Church has the prophets in the Martyrology but does often feasts.) As a liturgical note, kontakion is a poetic text tied to the celebration at hand, or of a particular saint recalled during the Liturgy, most often sung by the deacon or some designated person following the proclamation of the gospel.

The holy prophet Habakkuk was the 8th of the 12 minor prophets from the Tribe of Simeon and he prophesied c. 650 BC. You’ll remember that Habakkuk prophesied the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, the Babylonian Captivity and the return of the Israelites. Habakkuk’s encounter with an angel transported him to the prison where the Prophet Daniel was exhausted from hunger (Daniel 14:33-37).

Divinely eloquent Habakkuk, you announced to
the world the coming forth of God from the south, from the Virgin. Standing on
the divine watch, you received a report from the radiant angel: “You proclaimed
the Resurrection of Christ to the world!” Therefore in gladness we cry out to
you: “Rejoice, splendid adornment of the prophets!”
Byzantine Liturgy, Kontakion   

Saint Mechtilde of Hackeborn

St Mechtilde Hackeborn.jpg

The Church celebrates two Benedictine friends in several days: Saints Mechtilde and Gertrude. By today’s standards of canonizations, neither were formally canonized by the Church; until recently Hildegard enjoyed a canonization status only observed in Benedictine communities. Her liturgical observance is recognized more universally today. Pope Benedict XVI spoke eloquently of Saint Mechtilde of Hackeborn at a 2010 Wednesday Office. The Pope gives a superb insight into the person of Saint Mechtilde that is extraordinarily helpful.

Saint Mechtilde (1240-1298), the sister of Gertrude of Hackeborn (not Gertrude the Great [celebrated on Nov. 16], thought there is great confusion about this relation) attended the monastery school where her sister was a nun and after graduation she entered monastic life. Like Gertrude the Great Saint Mechtilde was known as a serious and gifted student and teacher. Someone described her having a “voice of a songbird.” Her wonderful personality was an asset for her Benedictine community and it likely led to her being a 40 year abbess. As it turns out, Gertrude the Great was a student of Mechtilde’s. Both of whom had a profound love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Privacy issues today weren’t known in the 13th century. Mechtilde’s spiritual experiences were recorded by Gertrude. Though unnerved by the perceived violation of boundaries, the Lord assured her that it was OK. In time Gertrude’s work was the basis of Mechtilde’s “Book of Special Grace” or later known as “Revelations of Saint Mechtilde,” a book that is oriented to the liturgical year and focussed on Christology and Trinitarian theology. The Pope tells us that Mechtilde’s starting point is the sacred Liturgy and her mystical experiences relate us back to the liturgical experience through the lens of the biblical narrative. Saint Mechtilde ought to be one of the heavenly patrons of liturgical studies.
In several places you’ll read that Dante used Saint Mechtilde for his Donna Matelda of his volume of the Purgatorio, Canto XXVII. Whether is true is not yet known. That Dante’s Donna Matelda and Saint Mechtilde are mystics, one wonders if the saint is fictionalized.

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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