Tag Archives: liturgy

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)

basil3.jpg

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
Water.

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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.

Give your “Amen” to God’s glory

In our continuing reflection on prayer in the letters of Saint Paul, we now consider the Apostle’s striking affirmation that Jesus Christ is God’s “Yes” to mankind and the fulfillment of all his promises, and that through Jesus we say our “Amen”, to the glory of God (cf. 2 Cor 1:19-20). For Paul, prayer is above all God’s gift, grounded in his faithful love which was fully revealed in the sending of his Son and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, poured forth into our hearts, leads us to the Father, constantly making present God’s “Yes” to us in Christ and in turn enabling us to say our “”Yes” – Amen! – to God. Our use of the word “Amen”, rooted in the ancient liturgical prayer of Israel and then taken up by the early Church, expresses our firm faith in God’s word and our hope in his promises. Through this daily “Yes” which concludes our personal and communal prayer, we echo Jesus’ obedience to the Father’s will and, through the gift of the Spirit, are enabled to live a new and transformed life in union with the Lord.


Pope Benedict XVI

30 May 2012

Don’t forget the dog at the Liturgy

a dog in procession.jpg

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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