Tag Archives: liturgy

Receiving Holy Communion: correct gestures?

Three things came at me recently that I think needs to be looked at with intellectual and affective honesty. That is, from a perspective of faith and reason, the mind and the heart. The issue of how we receive Holy Communion.

When I was prepared to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion in the third grade by Sister M. Rosetta, CSFN, I was taught to receive our Eucharistic Lord kneeling and on the tongue. In fact, there were no other options available. At some point, for some unknown reason, I began to receive the Eucharist in my hand. And then the parishes I would attend all distributed Holy Communion standing. “That’s the way it’s done.” Surely there is a disconnect between what I was taught and what I eventually adopted. Mind you, I didn’t adopt a new way to receive Communion out of protest or because I thought better than the Magisterium. Sheer habit was born because, well, “just because.”
Back to the recent three things.
I heard, saw, experienced:

Pope gives HC.jpg

1. At the beginning of January, I heard Bishop Athanasius Schneider make a reasoned argument for receiving Holy Communion on the tongue and kneeling;
2. I’ve recently been re-adopting, in a conscientious manner, the way I receive Holy Communion: experience tells my heart and my mind that Communion received in a more traditional way, taking my example the papal Masses, is what the Lord requires in a relationship;
3. Deacon Greg Kendra (a permanent deacon of the Brooklyn Diocese) wrote on his blog that he thought it’s time to restore a greater sense of reverence in our liturgical practice by kneeling at the rail for Communion.
So, who cares what Deacon Kendra thinks? I am sure a few do; I think his blog piece opened a new window of opportunity to rethink pastoral practice for sensible and honest reasons. But if truth be told, Pope Benedict and Bishop Schneider carry the burden of argument.

Saint John the Evangelist


St John on a 12th c MS.jpgToday we honor the Apostle who likely knew the Lord’s
mind and heart the best. Typically, Holy Church uses Scripture to bring us into
the sacred Liturgy but today the entrance antiphon is taken from the other leg
of the Magisterium, that of tradition to orient our prayer and belief. We are
told,


This is John, who reclined on the Lord’s breast at supper, the blessed
Apostle, to whom celestial secrets were revealed and who spread  the words of life through all the
world.

With the Church we pray,

O God, who through the blessed Apostle John
have unlocked for us the secrets of your Word, grant, we pray, that we may
grasp with proper understanding what he has so marvelously brought to our
ears.

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The Season of Advent proposes reclaiming the Garden of Eden

I love the Syriac tradition of liturgical theology. Often I find it a far more satisfying liturgical tradition than the Latin church craziness I face. It is Semitic, very biblical and rich in humanity. I recommend that you immerse yourself in the poetry of Saint Ephrem, deacon and Doctor of the Church.

The Maronite Church is one of whose heritage is West Syrian theologically; historically it’s rooted in the mountains of Lebanon. Their Advent Season has already begun with what is called the Season of Announcements (follow this link for more info on the season). This past Sunday was the Announcement to Mary. This coming weekend the Maronites will celebrate the Visitation of Elizabeth.
Father Steven Bonian, SJ, writes frequently on the sacred Liturgy of the West Syrian Church, the Maronites. See how he connects the Creator, creation and the Liturgy; the image of the Garden is key here for us Christians who are seeking salvation, that is, to dwell again in the Garden of Eden. 
Father Bonian said about the Sunday of Mary’s Announcement:

Annunciation Boccaccino.jpg

Today, the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians (3:15-22), reminds us of how the promise made to Abraham is now being fulfilled through those who believe; those who live by the Law and the Torah of the heart through righteousness. To such as these –like Mary– is the gift of God and his promise handed down through his angels. The Gospel of Luke makes it clear that Mary is the righteous one who has gained the favor of God, and thus, inherited this Gift (Christ) and the Promise (Salvation).
In the Gospel-Icon of Mary and the Angel drawn for us by Saint Luke, and framed for us in this Sunday’s prayers –in the context of the relationship of the creator with his creation –the mountains, the earth, the sea, and the waves are rejoicing in God’s Word! Mary herself has become the New Earth (as Saint Ephrem would teach us) and true representative for all of God’s creation. The Son of God comes to dwell in her, and through her God has returned to live –as in Paradise— in the midst of his creation. Now in Mary, the new covenant, and God’s plan of salvation is being fulfilled. She has become the Cloud, the Pure Womb, the Fountain of Life and Blessings!

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All Souls

viale della memoria.jpg

For more than a 1000 years Holy Church has remembered all the dead on one day and reminding the faithful what we believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus and thus for those who die in grace. Spend some time with the Mass Collect below. It is not merely remembering the dead, as good as it is, but also to hold fast to the faith we are Baptized into: Christ’s death and resurrection.


As a way of entering into what the Lord desires, the Church formed the All Souls Indulgence. Read about it here. You have until November 8 to observe the conditions of the Indulgence.


God, who has raised Jesus from the dead, will give life also to your mortal bodies, through his Spirit that dwells in you.


With the Church we pray,


O God, who willed that your Only Begotten Son, having conquered death, should pass over into the realm of heaven, grant, we pray, to your departed servants that, with the mortality of this life overcome, they may gaze eternally on you, their Creator and Redeemer.

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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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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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