Tag Archives: liturgy

Mass Ad Orientem: 10 good reasons

ad orientem.jpgA friend started a few years ago, after doing the required study and catechesis, to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass facing East, or if you will, facing God. Father Kirby argues well his case for a priest to offer Mass suing the ad orientem gesture. And for goodness sake, don’t call it “Mass with the priest’s back to the congregation.” It only shows ignorance of a proper liturgical tradition to say such. This aspect praying the Mass is met with fear and anger from bishops and seminary professors, not to mention pastors and laity that has more to do with a lack of understanding of liturgical prayer and too often agenda-ladened.

Father Mark Daniel Kirby lists 10 good reasons why a priest ought to celebrate Mass in the more venerable and correct way of celebrating the Mass:
1. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is experienced as having a theocentric direction and focus.
2. The faithful are spared the tiresome clerocentrism that has so overtaken the celebration of Holy Mass in the past forty years.
3. It has once again become evident that the Canon of the Mass (Prex Eucharistica) is addressed to the Father, by the priest, in the name of all.

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The Liturgical Institute launches

Liturgical Institute banner.jpg

2010 is the 10th anniversary of the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein Seminary. Congrats to Father Douglas Martis, Denis McNamara and Kevin Thornton for the hard work of making the LI a place of prayer, study and research/publication.

The Institute’s publishing venture, Hillenbrand Books, has 33 titles to date, many outstanding in research and writing.
The enrollment has never been higher, the work of the Liturgical Institute has not been more vigorous than it is now and our engagement in the Church’s sacred Liturgy as never been as needed as it is now in the 21st century.

Preparing for Advent: the wreath as a sign that Salvation is at hand


Prophet Isaiah GPiamonte.jpgThe new liturgical year begins tonight at First Vespers for Advent (as a point of comparison, the Church in Milan which follows its own liturgical calendar and set of customs began Advent on November 14th this year [2010]). A new liturgical year refreshes our understanding of good Catholic customs and practices, a renews the emphasis of ongoing conversion and encourages a lively following of God Incarnate — all these things are essential hallmarks of Advent.

The newness the Advent gives to us is seen as a feast for the senses (Catholics are sensual people) known through investment of our best resources and energies: the Church’s vesture changes to purple, silence is observed a little more in the Liturgy, the sacred Scriptures draws out attention to waiting and preparing the way of the Lord (think of the Prophet Isaiah pictured right), the season’s music focuses our hopes and loves on the Kingdom already present but not fully realized and our homes, the “domestic church,” reinforces our seeking God together. As Father U. Michael Lang, CO, said in a recent essay on vestments, “Divine beauty manifests itself in an altogether particular way in the sacred liturgy, also through material things of which man, made of soul and body, has need to come to spiritual realities: the buildings of worship, the furnishings, the vestments, the images, the music, the dignity of ceremonies themselves.”

As one small sign for the daily and weekly journey, our movement in this season of preparation is the Advent wreath — a tangible sign of movement to recognizing more deeply that our Salvation is at hand. The Advent wreath is, however, not a parish church custom as much as it is custom for one’s home (but you can’t persuade too many priests to move the Advent wreath out of the sanctuary these days).

A favorite historian of liturgical customs is Jesuit Father Francis X. Weiser’s 1958 Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs: The Year of the Lord in Liturgy and Folklore, but I also look to Pius Parsch, Dom Gueranger and the Directory of Popular Piety and the Liturgy (2001) to recall the Advent sensibility given to us by the Church. These authors are particularly helpful in preparing the faithful and especially the children in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and other CCD programs about the sacred Liturgy. About the Advent wreath Weiser writes:

The Advent wreath originated a few hundred years ago among the Lutherans of eastern Germany. It probably was suggested by one of the many light symbols which were used in folklore at the end of November and beginning of December… The Christians in medieval times kept many of these lights and fire symbols alive as popular traditions and ancient folklore. In the sixteenth century the custom started of using such lights as a religious symbol of Advent in the houses of the faithful. This practice quickly spread among the Protestants of eastern Germany and was soon accepted by Protestants and Catholics in other parts of the country. Recently it has not only found its way to America, but has been spreading so rapidly that it is already a cherished custom in many homes.

Advent wreath ex.jpg

The Advent wreath is exactly what the word implies, a wreath of evergreens (yew or fir or laurel), made in various sizes. It is either suspended from the ceiling or placed on a table, usually in front of the family shrine. Fastened to the wreath are four candles standing upright, at equal distances. These candles represent the four weeks of Advent.

 

Daily at a certain time (usually in the evening), the family gathers for a short religious exercise. Every Sunday of Advent one more candle is lit, until all four candles shed their cheerful light to announce the approaching birthday of the Lord. All other lights are extinguished in the room, and only the gentle glow of the live candles illuminates the darkness. After some prayers, which are recited for the grace of a good and holy preparation for Christmas, the family sings one of the traditional Advent hymns or a song in honor of Mary.

 

The traditional symbolism of the Advent wreath reminds the faithful of the Old Testament, when humanity was “sitting in the darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 2:79); when the prophets, illumined by God, announced the Redeemer; and when the hearts of men glowed with the desire for the Messiah. The wreath — an ancient symbol of victory and glory — symbolizes the “fulfillment of time” in the coming of Christ and the glory of His birth.

 

In some sections of Europe it is customary for persons with the name of John or Joan to have the first right to light the candles on the Advent wreath and Christmas tree, because John the Evangelist starts his Gospel by calling Christ the “Light of the World” and John the Baptist was the first one to see the light of divinity shining about the Lord at His baptism in the Jordan. (pp. 54-55)

The Pope & his cardinals met today

the new cardinals.jpgBilled my some as extra-ordinary, but likely seen by insiders as ordinary, Pope Benedict met with his cardinals and the new cardinals –24 of them– he intends to make tomorrow, in a forum where information is exchanged and consultation given. The meeting of Pope and cardinals was conducted in the context of prayer. Prayer and exchange, not the making of decisions was the format. It is estimated that about 150 of the worlds 203 cardinals met today. Topics ranged from the sacred Liturgy and religious freedom, but also the exercise of religion, secularism, conversion and entering into full communion with the Catholic Church to healthcare. Since this is also the 10th anniversary of Dominus Iesus, the document which recalls that salvation comes uniquely and universally through the person of Jesus Christ, the Pope and cardinals will reflect on the impact this document has made since its publication.

cardinal shelters from rain.jpg

Some cardinals expressed their frustration and exhaustion over the sexual abuse crisis, but their feelings aside, this is a central issue that needs to be corrected right now. Certainly people are worn down by the continuous attention the sex abuse crisis has garnered, but the credibility of the Church to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation is at stake if the immoral actions of priests, bishops and laity is not dealt with in forthright manner. Pope Benedict is doing the hard work now, as he has done in the past, to clean up the moral rot found in the Church.
The Vatican Radio has a report.

Serratelli updates US Bishops on the translation of the new Roman Missal

aserratelli.jpgThe out-going chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, gave the following update to the USCCB today. Bishop Serratelli is now succeeded by the Archbishop of New Orleans, the Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond. The USCCB press release is here.


There has been some discussion recently about a report
surfaced through some segments of the Catholic Press regarding the present
state of the text of the Roman Missal, Third Edition. A number of facts will
hopefully clarify the situation and, in so doing, give us the calm needed to
welcome and implement the new text.

First, it is helpful to keep in mind the
genesis of the final text that is now being prepared for publication. The International
Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) prepared for the English-speaking
Conferences of Bishops preliminary drafts (“green books”) of the 12 sections of
the Roman Missal. After incorporating the feedback and responses of the
individual Conferences of Bishops and the Vatican Congregation for Divine
Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, ICEL then prepared the final
drafts (“gray books”). These were approved by canonical vote by each of the
member Conferences. In approving the gray books, each conference also had the
opportunity to make further suggestions to the Congregation, as was done in
particular by our Conference. We submitted many amendments to the texts. The
Congregation, working with the Vox Clara Committee, carefully listened to what
the bishops said. The Congregation incorporated many of the suggestions of the
various Conferences (including our own), combined with their own review and
changes, and put forth the final text. The Congregation followed the principles
of Liturgiam Authenticam faithfully but not slavishly.

This is the final text
now being readied for publication. This process includes a final review and
copy edit which, given the size of the text, uncovers some minor questions of
consistency, typographical errors, and layout. Those questions are being
addressed by the Congregation for Divine Worship. This review has not dealt
with the translation itself. The critique that has circulated has necessarily
failed to take into account the final version of the text, which incorporates
some corrections issued by the Congregation since the transmittal of the full
text to the English-speaking Conferences of Bishops in August 2010.

To sum up,
there is a final text. It has received a recognitio. As the work of editing and
assembling nears completion, there is assurance that the published text will be
available in more than ample time for implementation in Advent 2011. It is good
to note also that the catechetical preparation for implementation is already
underway and has proceeded with much enthusiasm and wide acceptance by both
clergy and laity. It is clear at this point in time that there is an attitude
of openness and readiness to receive the new text. Let us pray in this time of
transition and change that the Roman Missal, Third Edition, will enable all to
understand more deeply the mysteries we celebrate.

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Divine Worship
November 18, 2010

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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