Tag Archives: liturgy

27 Holy Apostles Seminarians take steps toward priesthood

Jesus says to his disciples, ask the Lord to send workers into his harvest (MT 9:38).

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Earlier today I attended the Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, Bishop of Norwich and Chancellor of Holy Apostles Seminary (Cromwell, CT),  where he also instituted 27 seminarians in the ministries of Lector and Acolyte. These men of various ages, life experience and affiliation, are preparing for service as priests.
This was the first time these rites were performed in the new seminary chapel.

These rites are minor, but essential in the life Church as she prepares men for service as priests. All of these men have been reading the sacred Scripture at Mass and serving and bringing Holy Communion to the people. But now, they are more official in their service for without these rites they can’t be advanced to the Order of Deacon.
The Church commissions those instituted as lector with these words:
Take this book of Holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the Word of God, so that it may grow strong in the hearts of His people.
And, for those instituted as acolytes:
Take these vessels with bread and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of His Church.

Bishop Cote reminded all the seminarians that as ministers of God and of the Church they are to read the signs of the times, to think with the Church, to share the Good News of the Lord and to signs of mercy for the faithful. He emphasized that priests and deacons and other ministers are to be gentle shepherds of the Gospel: nothing harsh, nothing repelling when it comes to teaching the faith and exercising the pastoral office.
My friend and neighbor, Ken Dagliere, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Hartford was one of the men given ministry of acolyte. His new ministry allows him to officially serve at the altar, expose and repose the Blessed Sacrament and cleanse the liturgical vessels if a deacon or priest is not available.

Queen of the Apostles Chapel at the Sem.jpg

Driving to and from the seminary there was a tangible experience holiness and the feeling of rightness of the event just lived: not only did I sense the presence of the Holy Spirit but also the graces of friendship and the beauty of the horizon revealed the face of God. New England color is particularly revealing of God’s interest in our lives. You know when something is “just right,” “just what it’s supposed to be.” Saint Catherine of Siena tells us that we know that grace is at work in our lives when we are who we are meant to be; in another vein: we are to strive to be what God has made us to be. It is an awareness of the Divine Plan in our lives. And so today, 27 seminarians, visiting priests and laity with the bishop asked the Holy Spirit once again make hallow the lives those called to priesthood. But lest we forget that all people have vocations: some it’s priesthood, for others it’s teaching, and others the lay life in its multiplicity of works; all are called to seek the face of Christ and to live the Gospel and the sacraments.
May Mary, Queen of the Apostles and seminarians, pray for Ken and the other seminarians as they continue their formation for priesthood.

The Cross of Christ prepares us for the final judgment

Heavenly Jerusalem Maronite.jpgAutumn is upon us with its mix of weather: recent days
there’s been warmth and coolness, rain, clouds and sun. The earth is adjusting and so are we, at least liturgically. Judging by the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church we are
near the end of the liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent only a few weeks away. Some churches, like the Maronites in
particular, mark this time of the liturgical year by counting weeks after the
Exaltation of the Cross in a time called the Season of the Cross. This particular season of the Maronite liturgical calendar prepares us to account for our lives by looking to our personal final victory through prayer, fasting, waiting, and conversion of life. The rich liturgical theology of the Maronite Church ought to draw us more closely to the glory of the Lord’s right side in an attitude of gratitude for all things in life.

You’ll hear Maronite liturgical theology speak of
Jesus’ Cross as “the Cross of Light,” the symbol -the reality– par excellence of
the victorious Son of Man and Son of God. The cross of is that primary sign by
which Jesus Christ, Our Lord, becomes for us the victor over death and opens
the gates of heaven for our entrance into blessedness with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

The Maronite Church
prayed today: When you shall appear on the last day the sign of the cross shall
shine brighter than the sun, enable us, your worshipers, to enter your kingdom
of light, and glorify and thank you, O Christ, with your father, and your Holy
Spirit, now and forever.

Guardian Angels

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Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do no rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him. (Exodus 23:20)
We pray:
O leaders of the heavenly armies, although we are always unworthy, we beseech you that with your prayers you may encircle us with the protection of the wings of your angelic glory. Watch over us as we bow low and earnestly cry out to you: Deliver us from trouble, O princes of the heavenly armies.
Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom His love commits me here, ever this day (night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.
See last year’s post on this feast of the Guardian Angels for a prayer and a brief catechesis.

Let’s remember Abbot Hugh Anderson, abbot-president and the Benedictine monks of the American Cassinese Congregation who observe today as a patronal feast of their congregation.

Holy Apostles Seminary Chapel dedicated

QA Chapel.jpgZacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully into his house. This day is salvation come to this house from the Lord, alleluia.

These words echo throughout the Church in Connecticut, indeed throughout the nation, as the state’s major seminary chapel is acknowledged as a place where God abides and salvation manifested.

The Bishop of Norwich, CT, Michael R. Cote, dedicated the Queen of the Apostles Chapel at the Holy Apostles Seminary (Cromwell, CT) Wednesday, the feast of the Nativity of Mary by solemn rites and prayers, the placing of relics, and praying the Mass. The 10,000 square foot Dominicum was fittingly dedicated on beautiful day giving glory to God.

And God abides with us. Based on the belief that God appointed places to be set aside for His worship, the Church through two millennia constructed places of worship taking inspiration from the Old Testament Temple so that the Sacrifice –that is, the Eucharist– could be offered, new members washed of sin and given the grace of salvation, sinners forgiven, the sick anointed, and the gospel heard and preached. Through the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ the New Covenant is made real and known to all. The church is where Christians are born and reborn in the Holy Trinity.
The abiding presence of God. As the Church Fathers have taught, and we have believed, God is everywhere with His glory particularly in heaven, the Trinity does not leave us orphan but “honors the church with His special presence, being there in a particular manner ready to receive our public homages, listen to our petitions, and bestow on us his choicest graces.” Catholics know that the church building is a sacramental, a special sign of Christ’s pilgrim church on earth journeying together to see God face to face.

What a happy day for Holy Apostles Seminary! They got a beautiful chapel establishing themselves as a serious place of prayer, study and ministry in order that God may be glorified. The Queen of Apostles chapel is designated solely for sacred purposes; it is permanent, dignified and is an image of the heavenly Liturgy. Their old chapel, a former tool shed, was meant to be temporary but lasted a long space of time that ultimately showed signs of tiredness for a growing seminary population.

Abps Mansell & Cronin.jpg

The diocesan ordinaries of the Connecticut dioceses were present (Archbishop had a special place of honor given that he’s the metropolitan archbishop) as was Hartford’s auxiliary bishop, Christie A. Macaluso and the emeritus archbishop, Daniel A. Cronin. Nearly a hundred priests attended, including a delegation of Friars of the Renewal (Fathers Benedict, Andrew, Mariusz, Bernard, Isaac Mary).
Pictures of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Rite of Dedication of a Church and an Altar can be seen at the above link.
The Middletown Press story can be read here.
The house of God is well established on a firm rock!

Reclaiming a deeper sensitivity to the sacred Liturgy

Today, the Director of the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein Seminary, Father Douglas Martis, gave the following address today. Father Martis is a priest of the Diocese of Joliet and on the faculty of Mundelein Seminary. Some very useful lessons to keep in mind.

I.  Sons.


My Dear Sons,


This was the term used by Fr. Fuller on Monday morning, “sons.” It is a beautiful expression. You are sons to us. Our relationship, despite the distance or proximity of age, is one of father and son,  or in certain cases, as with our Director of Music, one of motherly concern. No disrespect to your age or your experience is intended.


We have a common project here,  to prepare you for ministry to the Church as priests.


And for those of us concerned directly with your liturgical formation, our project is to prepare you in such a way  as to manifest an authentic and profound  intelligence of and respect for the Church’s public prayer, so as to demonstrate a true love for God’s people.


This responsibility belongs jointly to you and to us. While it is true that in some ways you are brothers,  on another day you will be brothers in a deeper sense. For now, you sons, we love you, and care for you, and want genuinely go give to you what parents give to beloved sons.


What we do, that to which we have committed these years of our lives, is for your good for the good of the Church.


My colleagues and I have strong personalities.  We do not have an innate need to challenge you or correct you in order to caress on own self-importance.  The program we have of liturgical preparation and celebration, of respecting ritual and integrating prayer, of insisting on music and chant is not the imposition of our own puny personal preferences.


Our teaching is derived from the desire of the Church herself: rooted inSacrosanctum concilium, the ritual books that are the fruit of the Council, and the Church’s liturgical theology. 


It is neither our interest nor our agenda to promote our opinions as if they carried the authority of the Church.   Our desire is to present you with the Church’s teaching, for love of you and love of her. 


We want you to follow our example.


 II. Change.


Things change. That’s okay.


Get used to it.  New classmates, new teachers, new schedules. New prayers, new responsibilities, new living situations. New circumstances, new trends, new conflicts. New joys, new insights, new challenges.


This is the life of a priest in the 21st century.

Learning to navigate change is an essential skill you will need for the rest of your lives.


Let us be clear. God remains the same. Our upset, generally has more to do with what we want,than with the objective reality of the change. This is not about you.


The church of the 1960s saw excitement and enthusiasm, and resistance, too.


In your situation today, learn to appreciate your elders’ excitement, enthusiasm, and resistance. In 2011 you will know the same. Excitement, enthusiasm, and resistance.


Change leads some to heresy or schism.


Avoid the temptation of being captured by the caricatures of the media, whether your news source is FOX or CNN, whether you are a fan of NCReporter or NCRegister whether you get your information from the blogs or from television. Do not allow yourself to get sucked in by the politics of resistance. When change leads to dissemblance, only the devil is served.


As priests, ministers, official representatives of the Church, you have a greater responsibility than settling for, or promoting polemics. Not only that, as a man of prayer, you have–even now!–the responsibility of learning to embrace the beauty, the rich theology, the deep spirituality of the Church’s liturgical prayer.


You can stand aloof as a member of an elite that knows the rich treasure of prayer or having integrated it yourself you can teach, inform, model, and so help others to do the same.


What is needed here is not a so called “pastoral decision” of diluting prayer but a conviction of genuine care, catechesis and formation that raises up the faithful.


This may be the greatest ecclesial moment in your lifetime. Yours is not the only generation to have ever known liturgical change.


“We are not in the same situation as … 1963. One cannot therefore continue to speak of a change as it was spoken of at the time of the Constitution’spublication; rather one has to speak of an ever deeper grasp of the Liturgy of the Church, celebrated according to the current books and lived above all as a reality in the spiritual order.”[i]


the time has come … to publish liturgical books in a form that both testifies to the stability achieved and is worthy of the mysteries celebrated.[ii]”


If the intuition of Pope John Paul II is correct, if the Third Edition of the Roman Missal signals the maturity of liturgical reform, its dignity and stability, then the post-Counciliar church has survived adolescence and provides the opportunity now for a more adult expression of faith. You and I stand on the threshold of this moment!


 III. Texts.


The challenge with public prayer has always been to make the words our own. Let us understand then, that the great opportunity afforded us in this moment is not one of changing words.  This is about opening a more direct path to the meaning of Catholic worship–a meaning that has always been there and is there even now in the texts we use today.


What, then, are we to do?

Here is the simple prescription:

Take the words,

learn to understand them,

make the connections.


Follow the example of ancient readers:


take the text, do not read it through as if you already understand [this  “mystery ever ancient, ever new!”] take the text, dwell there. Abide between the lines.[iii]


“This quality of reading, which enables a reader to acquire a text not simply by perusing the words but by actually making them part of the reader’s self…”[iv] Here is found true blessing.


Know what you are doing. Listen for the biblical narrative. The texts of the Mass were not put there by some malicious committee looking to trip you up.  These texts resound with the voice of God’s own Word. Find the origin, search the reference.


I know this is not easy. We live in a culture that does not foster this kind of connection. Contemporary culture thrives on sound bites; idolizes short cuts and Cliffnotes, Sparknotes and books for dummies.


For your part, claim your place in Catholic culture, with its own language and grammar,  its own symbols and meaning.


Plunge yourself in a baptism of the Church’s signs.  Let the insight of your patristic reading anoint your understanding and illumine your prayer.  Open your eyes to what is around, even here on this campus, with its natural beauty, its architectural wonders,  its volumes of wisdom, and its varied residents.


A steady diet of this, an habitual practice of attention to everything is an essential preparation for prayer. Collect these insights, engage these people, absorb this environment.


Your responsibility as seminarian, is to learn this, to integrate it; then you must model it for others and teach it to those in your care.


You become a mystagogue.


 IV.  Now.


This begins now.  You do not have to wait. You walk out of this auditorium and cross a threshold.


Let that crossing be the crossing of every threshold.


Let every word of the Mass bring you to a biblical narrative, a theological insight, a pastoral encounter.


Let every sign of the Cross bring you to the mount of the Ascension.[v] Let it be, every time, a wrapping yourself in the Trinity, a conforming yourself to the cross of Christ. May it bring you back to your baptism and forward to your funeral. May it inspire the crosses you may trace some day on the breast of future neophytes, on the foreheads of the anointed, on the palms of priests.


Let every greeting of the Mass resound with the words of the great missionary Paul,[vi] or the salutation of Boaz to harvesters,[vii] or the words of the Risen Christ.[viii]


Let every response, whether it be “And also with you”  now or “And with your spirit” at another time, let this reply make us marvel at God’s wisdom in Ordering the Church and in the Spirit’s work of assembling members with different gifts into one holy body.


Let every procession remind us of life’s pilgrimage to heaven; every standing be in implicit imitation of the Great High Priest: “Here I am, Lord. I come to do your will.”[ix]  Let every genuflection, every bow be the humble acknowledgement of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus.


Let our stance at the Alleluia be so completely devoted to the praise of Christ present in the Word, that rather than tracking the deacon and registering ritual glitches, our minds, bodies and voices melt into the Eternal.


Let prayers in the preparation of bread and wine, bring us to Daniel’s fiery furnace, so that the words of Azariah become our own: we have nothing else to offer, but with contrite hearts and humble spirits let us be received.[x]  And may the dew-laden breeze[xi] that soothed the heat of that inferno, come like dew in the desert,[xii] to provide us with our daily bread.”Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord.” [xiii]


Let every dismissal, GO! bring us back again to Ascension,[xiv] and to every sending of
Christ: “You, too, go to the vineyard!”[xv]


Do you see? At every moment, at every turn, around every corner, the bible is there. A prayer, a doctrine, an insight. And it has been there all along.


All we have, are, do, everything we love… is here.

Learning this. Integrating this. Modeling this. Teaching it is our project. 


Will you make it your project too?



[i] Vicesimus quintus annus, 1988, 14.

[ii] VQA, 20.

[iii] Alberto Manguel: A History of Reading. “You did not read books through; you dwelt, abided between their lines and, reopening them after an interval, surprised yourself at the spot where you had halted.”, 12.

[iv] Manguel,  58.

[v] Mt 28:19.

[vi] 2 Cor 13:13 et al.

[vii] Ruth 2:4.

[viii] Jn 20:19.

[ix] Heb 10:9.

[x] Dan 3:39-40.

[xi] Dan 3:50.

[xii] Ex 16:13-17.

[xiii] Dan 3:84.

[xiv] Mt 28:19.

[xv] Mt 20.D

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT, follows the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, and is an Oblate of Saint Benedict, works as a monastery farmer and a keeper of honey bees. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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