Tag Archives: liturgical studies

As with the married couple, so with the Church: love and forgiveness given and received

Being really Catholic
opens one’s point of view to a great richness of the entire Church, East and West; being Catholic as John Paul II reminded us, is to breath with both lungs to invigorate the whole body. Most often Latin Catholics are too skeptical, too closed-minded to look beyond their parochial understanding of God and Church.

Each Sunday Jesuit Father Steve Bonian, a
Maronite Catholic American priest reflects on the liturgical theology of his
church. If you done a little reading in the liturgical history of the Church you will recall with joy that the Maronites have an incredibly rich liturgical tradition that ought to be appreciated more. For one thing the Maronite Liturgy is wonderfully Semitic in its pattern of prayer.

The Maronite Church, the majority of Catholics from Lebanon, celebrated
yesterday the Sunday of the Consecration of the Church. The Roman Church does
not have an equivalent liturgical observance, unless you make a connection with
the Christ the King Sunday, the final Sunday of the Roman Church’s year.  
The Maronite liturgical theology for the Sunday of the Consecration of the Church you note that “the Bride-Church re-consecrates herself and her children, the faithful, to Christ.”

Father Bonian writes,


letter to the Hebrews reminds us that the Temple in Jerusalem and it’s rituals
was only a temporal preparation for the “new order” that would be established
between Christ and his Church and her children.

From now on the Children of God
would worship him in Spirit and Truth on earth as in the Heavenly Jerusalem.
For it is not God’s will to dwell among stones, but in the caring hearts of his
faithful people, and among them to establish his Kingdom. Our Church Community
is this New Temple!

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What is a Holy Day?

Mass at The Our Father.jpgFor Catholics it is Sunday, not the Sabbath (Saturday) in the technical sense as it applies to Jewish theology, but it is the day of worship of the One Triune God in the Triumph of death by death itself; it is Sunday which commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus, that is the fulfillment of the Paschal Mystery (life, death, Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord). Sunday is the perpetual Day of the Lord in practice.

From the earliest days Christians understood each Sunday as a “Little Easter” and it is celebrated with great seriousness. But Christians never forgot to celebrate, Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord, with great solemnity preceded by a period of preparation we call Lent and the Sacred Triduum. The Lord’s Day is observed, the Mystical Body of Christ hopes, as a day of rest and worship of God that is demanded of us by the Third Commandment. It is THE day of the week on which the making of money and being a slave to work is turned on its head (CCC 2172).
What do holy days teach us? Why does the Church bother insisting on them today? In the spiritual sense holy days are a gift in the same way Sunday is a gift. Recall that the key gift God gave us in the Decalogue is rest, just as He rested. The gift of the Sabbath, and observing the Sabbath, is looking for meaning, knowing with certitude that we are children of God who live in freedom. The Sabbath is THE time to reflect upon Someone and Something greater than we are. We are made for the Infinite, not the finite. If we apply the gift of Sunday, of the Sabbath to the point of observing holy days we will notice that that one’s holy day observance is another way to make real the graces of Easter in ordinary life. As the great French scholar Father Louis Bouyer once wrote, we are “grafted upon Him [Christ] so that the same life which was in Him and which He has come to give us may develop in us as in Him and produce in us the same fruits of sanctity and love that it produced in Him.”

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Fr Z under attack?

I was reading Fr Tim Finigan’s blog today, The hermeneutic of continuity, and was startled to read his post “Fr Z under attack.” Apparently Dr. Phyllis Zagano, professor of Religion at Hofstra University, doesn’t care for Fr Z’s ecclesiology and liturgical theology. Actually, it’s not Fr Z she has the problem with, it is the Church. But since she’s can’t get at that in manageable ways, she’s going after a prominent priest-writer. Why does she really care about Fr Z???

The controversy is based on ruffled feathers: Dr Zagano and much of the NC Reporter crowd doesn’t like to be scrutinized by those “who think with the Church.” It seems to me that this is another example of the mentality where “authority (and obedience) is for other people”; remember, this way of judging things isn’t really Catholic. The same doesn’t accept fraternal correction or live in a spirit of obedience to the Holy Mother the Church (who might just know more than a mere individual expositor of religion). Clearly, this is a case of scratch a liberal find a fascist. In world where adults are expected to be mature, trying to dig up dirt so as incite scandal among the faithful has no place in the Church. Perhaps, it seems to me, that Dr Zagano has not really learned much from all the work she’s done with the central spiritualities of the Church.

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The Liturgical Commentaries of St Symeon of Thessalonika

Liturgical Commentaries of St Symeon Steven Hawkes Teeples.jpg

I am happy to recommend my friend’s recently published book, The Liturgical Commentaries of St Symeon of Thessalonika.

From the book:

This volume contains an edition and facing
English translation of Explanation of the Divine Temple and “On the Sacred
Liturgy,” the two commentaries on the pontifical (hierarchal) Byzantine Divine
Liturgy by St. Symeon of Thessalonika (†1429). This edition is based on MS
Zagora 23, which contains extensive corrections and additions apparently added
to the text by the author himself. The book opens with a historical and
theological foreword on liturgical commentaries and mystagogy by Archimandrite
Robert Taft. The introduction surveys the life and career of St. Symeon,
analyzes the structure and theology of the commentaries, and concludes with an
account of technical and editorial questions. The index includes references to
names, places, and topics in Symeon’s text and in the introduction and traces
key terms in the commentaries in both Greek and English.

A review:

Fr Steven Hawkes Teeples, SJ.jpg

With this book Fr.
Steven Hawkes-Teeples, SJ, Professor of Byzantine Liturgy at the Pontifical
Oriental Institute in Rome, fills a gaping hole in the scholarly literature
associated with the overlapping academic fields of Byzantine Studies, Medieval
Studies, Orthodox Theology, and Oriental Liturgiology. The present volume
represents the first translation into any modern western academic language of
both commentaries of St. Symeon of Thessalonika (d. 1429) on the Byzantine
Divine Liturgy or Eucharist. Such neglect is surprising, for St. Symeon is an
author of the first importance. As the last and most prolific Orthodox
liturgical theologian of the Byzantine era, who lived at the point when the
Byzantine Empire was moving toward its demise before the Ottoman onslaught, he
crowns and closes his era. — Robert F. Taft 

Covering statues, images & crucifixes in Passiontide

My friend George asked me the other day about the
tradition of covering the statues, images and crucifixes (sacred images) -but
not the Stations of the Cross–before Holy Week. He told me that the nuns told
him that the Church covered sacred items because Christ went into hiding before
his arrest. Well, that’s true but incomplete. The tradition of veiling finds
its source in John 8:46-59 where the Jews attempt to stone Jesus because of his
claims of being the Son of God, but he hides from view. As point of comparison,
you will notice in Mark’s gospel our focus is on the Lord’s crucifixion because
it is there that we learn the true identity of Jesus as being man and divine.
The covering of sacred images, therefore, is to illustrate the increasing
tension we find ourselves in the Liturgy as we move toward of the Lord’s own
Paschal Mystery. The veiling actually reinforces the verifiable fact of the

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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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