Tag Archives: liturgy

Sign of Peace at Mass

Recently, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments published a Circular Letter entitled “The Ritual Expression of the Gift of Peace at Mass” (July 8, 2014).  Pope Francis approved and ordered its publication. The letter deals with the question of the Sign of Peace resolving the question whether the Holy See would move the Sign of Peace to an earlier part in the Mass; a question bantered around by liturgists for years. As a note, the Eastern Churches place the Sign of Peace before the Eucharistic prayer; I am speaking about the Western Church here.

At the 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, the synod fathers raised the question of the moving of the Sign of Peace because of the perceived disruption of what the Sign of Peace  has become. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI noted in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum caritas (2007), stated:

“[D]uring the Synod of Bishops there was discussion about the appropriateness of greater restraint in this gesture, which can be exaggerated and cause a certain distraction in the assembly just before the reception of Communion. It should be kept in mind that nothing is lost when the sign of peace is marked by a sobriety which preserves the proper spirit of the celebration, as, for example, when it is restricted to one’s immediate neighbors.”

The Church made the decision to leave the Sign of Peace where it is. The Letter explains:

In the Roman liturgical tradition, the exchange of peace is placed before Holy Communion with its own specific theological significance. Its point of reference is found in the Eucharistic contemplation of the Paschal mystery as the “Paschal kiss” of the Risen Christ present on the altar as in contradistinction to that done by other liturgical traditions which are inspired by the Gospel passage from St. Matthew (cf. Mt 5: 23: “So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift”).

The ritual gesture needs to cohere with the theology. The Church makes a crucial distinction that we need to be aware of: the sign of peace at Mass refers to the Risen Christ’s gift of His peace, it is paschal in nature. The fitting-ness of this rite is placed just before the moment when Jesus will feed His people with His own Body and Blood in Holy Communion. Jesus Christ is our peace, and only from Him is our peace known, lived and an invitation to our conversion. The sign of peace, as a minor rite in the Mass, must reflect this divine gift and not distract us as we prepare to receive that gift of Christ’s peace in the Holy Eucharist. The exchange of peace in many places is done with a superficial and sentimental bearing no mind to who is before us.

 Too often the sign of peace is a breaking of contemplation, a turning away from the Eucharistic Lord present before us on the altar; too often the focus is on the person and community.

Now with the Circular Letter the application of the rite calls for the need to be reverent and sober in the exchange of a sign of the Lord’s peace. It gives “practical guidelines. . .to better explain the content of the exchange of peace and to moderate excessive expressions that give rise to disarray in the liturgical assembly before Communion.”

Moreover: “If it is foreseen that it will not take place properly due to specific circumstances or if it is not considered pedagogically wise to carry it out on certain occasions, it can be omitted, and sometimes ought to be omitted. It is worth recalling that the rubric from the Missal states: ‘Then, if appropriate, the Deacon of the Priest, adds: Let us offer each other the sign of peace.’”

The Sign of Peace, therefore, is not required at Mass. The Holy See is clearly concerned that this optional rite has become the occasion for all sorts of problems and distractions. The Letter lists “abuses” that we must “definitively avoid”: singing a song of peace during the exchange of the sign of peace, people moving around the church to exchange the sign of peace with others, the priest leaving the altar to give the sign of peace to the faithful in the pews, and the not uncommon practice of using the sign of peace at special Masses such as weddings or funerals as an “occasion for expressing congratulations, best wishes or condolences among those present.”

The faithful accustomed to a more free manner of the sign of peace will say that “this is a key moment of connection with others at Mass, it helps to focus on what we are doing, I like saying hello to my friends, and meeting new people,” or some such thing. At a local parish the people are now waving at each other, which is yet another problem. While all of these things are good, they are not fitting in the praying of the Mass. Let me say decisively, we are not under attack from Rome; we are asked to consider what we are doing, why we are doing it, and to be coherent in liturgical practice and tradition.

Liturgical order in Mass is important in the worship of God. I have come to worship the Trinity; not to be distracted.

Saint John Chrysostom

John ChrysostomOn the Byzantine liturgical calendar, today is the feast of John, patriarch of Constantinople, called “Chrysostom” (which is Greek for  “the golden-tongued,” in reference to his amazing gift for preaching the Word of God).

The Latin Church observes the liturgical memorial of Saint John Chrysostom on 14 September. He is revered as our holy father and for that reason he bears mention again. One of the Divine Liturgies of the Byzantine Church, the one used most days, is ascribed to him.

It is hard to overstate the importance of Saint John Chrysostom for Christians due to the intensity of his person, the force of his preaching and the reasonableness of his teaching.

The “Cherubic Hymn,” a chant, is taken his Divine Liturgy, is sung at the time of the Great Entrance. (For Latin Catholics, the Cherubic Hymn is a hymn sung at the presentation of the gifts, a text which is fixed for all but a few days of the liturgical year).

The Cherubic hymn ought to form part of our daily prayer.

We who mystically represent the Cherubim,
and who sing to the Life-Giving Trinity the thrice-holy hymn,
let us now lay aside all earthly cares
that we may receive the King of all,
escorted invisibly by the angelic orders. Alleluia

Lights From the East, Pray For Us!

James Michael Thompson has a new book, Lights From the East, Pray For Us!  This is his second.

Published by Liguori Publications, so pre-order now.

The book provides a brief biography, a scripture reading, a reflection, a prayer, and a hymn for fifteen saints from the Eastern Churches. Lights From the East presents the Church’s incredible riches of some of the saints to English speakers, by giving the reader icons, biographies, Scripture, reflections, translated quotations from the service that honors the saint, prayers, and original hymns set to Rusyn or Galician melodies.

Thompson covers saints of the Old and New Testaments, Prophet Daniel and the Three Holy Youths, the First-Martyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles Thecla, Martyr Barbara, Macrina the Younger, Sabbas, Xenophon & Mary, and their sons, Arcadius & John, Cyril & Methodius, Theodosius of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev, David of Thessalonica, Maximus the Confessor John Chrysostom, John of Damascus, Martyrs of the Twentieth Century.

The forward is by the Rev. Dr. Peter Galadza of the Sheptytsky Institue for Eastern Christian Studies.

J. Michael Thompson of Pittsburgh is a well-known choral director, liturgical scholar and practioner. One of his major works has been the Schola Cantorum of St. Peter the Apostle of which he is the founder and artistic director. Thompson has served as professor of ecclesiastical chant at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh and was the cantor/ director of music at the Byzantine Catholic Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Munhall, Pennsylvania.

The papal masters of ceremony

Maestro delle Celebrazioni Liturgiche PontificieMonsignors Francesco Camaldo, Pier Enrico Stefanetti, Diego Giovanni Ravelli, Guillermo Javier Karcher, Marco Agostini, Masi Jean-Pierre Kwambamba, John Richard Cihak, Kevin Gillespie, Massimiliano Matteo Boiardi, F.S.C.B., and Vincenzo Peroni.

These priests serve the Church as papal masters of ceremony. Some of them have been part of this office under Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis. The MCs also assist many of the cardinals when needed in Rome. Guided by Monsignor Guido Marini, the Master of Pontifical Ceremonies.

Monsignor Marini has a group of consultors in Fathers Bux Nicola, Mauro Gagliardi, Juan José Silvestre Valór, P. Uwe Michael Lang, C.O., Paul Gunter, O.S.B.

Blessing of Grapes reminds us of the Transfiguration, the Lord’s and ours

The faithful way of reading the sacred Scriptures and living the sacred Liturgy, you could also say, live the Scriptures, is understand that the Lord works in our lives as he did in the lives of the Apostles. He is contemporaneous with our human experience today.

A great line in today’s second reading at Mass stands out: “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eye-witnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16)

The author of Second Peter is not communicating to us a doctrine, a formula, or a moralism. He’s communicating to us that he met a person that changed his life and oriented the rest of his existence. The meeting he’s speaking of was that a meeting of God in the person of Jesus Christ. An experience is not fiction; it is not a cleverly devised myth, an experience is not a casual entertaining fantasy. The meeting Peter speaks of is the keen meeting with the Divinity, and thus all is changed. We believe, based on Scripture, that the divine encounter allowed the Gospel of Mark to write, “And he was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white” (9:2).

The economy of our salvation, that is, God’s plan of salvation given to us through the divine person of Jesus Christ, shows us that in and through creation we are brought into God’s life, into God’s existence. The natural grape is transformed into wine and by  the action of the priest and the power of the Holy Spirit the wine becomes the Blood of Christ. And by the Precious Blood of Christ we are healed and saved.

What does the feast of the Transfiguration have to do with the blessing of grapes? Here, and read.

The Blessing of Grapes may be found here. I recommend that the blessing be prayed!!! How else are we to remember that we are graced by the Transfiguration?

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.
coat of arms

Categories

Archives

Humanities Blog Directory