Tag Archives: liturgy

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:

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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

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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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Blessing of Basil on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

I am giving emphasis these days on knowing what we believe as Catholics by looking at the liturgical sources. We first go to the sacred Liturgy to study and pray the prayers prayed by the priest for Mass, Lauds, Vespers, or those smaller rites such as the Blessing of Basil that you would find on today’s feast of the Holy Cross, also called the Roodmas. Ours is a richly endowed sacramental faith.

“The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which,
the day after the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection raised over
the tomb of Christ, is exalted and honored, in the manner of a memorial of His
paschal victory and the sign which is to appear in the sky, already announcing
in advance His second coming” (from the Roman Martyrology)


The Blessing of Basil

V. Our help is in the
name of the Lord.

R. Who made heaven and earth.

Let us pray.

Almighty and
merciful God, deign, we beseech You, to bless Your creature, this aromatic
basil leaf. + Even as it delights our senses, may it recall for us the triumph
of Christ, our Crucified King and the power of His Precious Blood to purify and
preserve us from evil so that, planted beneath His Cross, we may flourish to
Your glory and spread abroad the fragrance of His sacrifice. Who is Lord
forever and ever.

R. Amen.

The bouquets of basil leaf are sprinkled with Holy

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Lauda Sion Salvatorem: Corpus Christi a Mysterical renunion

Corpus Christi procession.jpg

The feast of Corpus Christi has a rich fare to savor: prayers, Bible readings, music, and poetic texts. The point of the Church offering us this opportunity to honor the Eucharistic Presence is to extend in our lives a deeper grace given in Communion theology, to have a closer with the Lord in His promised hundredfold. It is, of course, a deepening in our lives what the Lord Himself did and gave to us on Holy Thursday with Eucharist and the priesthood.

The Sequence (the poetry which follows the second lesson at Mass and directly precedes the Alleluia verse), Lauda Sion Salvatorem, is ideally fitting for the sacred Liturgy. Google this masterpiece of poetry expressing theology in a way that stimulates prayer and deepens one’s faith.

The English priest Father Ronald Knox offers a perspective on what we’re doing in observing the great feast of the Lord’s Body and Blood. The following is taken from his meditation on Corpus Christi:

Like the Jewish Temple, the Christian altar is the rallying point of God’s people. The whole notion of Christian solidarity grows out of, and is centered in, the common participation of a common Table. The primitive Church in Jerusalem broke bread day be day from house to house; its stronghold of peace was not any local centre, but a common meal. Christian people, however separated by long distances of land or sea, still meet together in full force, by a mystical reunion, whenever and wherever the Bread is broken and the Cup blessed.

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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