Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments: August 2008 Archives


Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,

always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.


Christ is the Word
whom Saint Bernard held in the silence of his heart;
Christ is the Bridegroom
whom he desired with all the ardor of his soul;
Christ is the Son of the Virgin Mary
whose sweetness was his comfort and delight.


In the holy abbot Bernard you have given your Church
a teacher in the school of charity,
a prophet burning with the fire of the Holy Spirit,
a poet to sing the praises of the Virgin Mother,
a servant of unity and peace.

Even today, his words fill us with wonder,
inflame us with longing for the wedding of the Lamb,
and inspire us to sing your praise with joy.


Therefore, with the angels and the great company of saints,
we exalt your glory forever.


(Preface of the Mass of Saint Bernard)

In a Georgian Hymnal we see a verse of a hymn which reads:


You went forth from the world,
O virgin Theotokos,
to the eternal light.


The sacred Liturgy bases its Marian Theology on the biblical images of Mary as the "New Eve," the Assumption Murrillo.jpg"Beloved of the Bridegroom," the "Ark of the Covenant," and the "Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven." From what we read in sacred Scripture to what we know by sacred Tradition, Mary remains the mother of mystery. Our Catholic belief is that Mary was raised up body and soul and sits in heaven with the Blessed Trinity. But was she raised up like Enoch (Genesis 5:24) or Elijah (2 King 3:11)? When Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption of Mary as a dogma of the Faith in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, he deliberately left the question open, saying that Mary was assumed after "having completed the course of her earthly life." Later, Pope John Paul II said that he believes Mary, like her Son, experienced the "human drama of death." Perhaps Saint John of Damascus says it best:  "As the Mother of the living God, she goes through death to Him. For if God said: 'Unless the first man put out his hand to take and taste of the tree of life, he shall live forever,' how shall she, who received the Life Himself, without beginning or end, or finite vicissitudes, not live forever."


Looking at the consistent teaching and liturgical observance of the fact of the Assumption it is clear that the Church, East and West, has believed from the earliest days that Mary shared in her Son's dramatic victory over death by conquering death. The Apostle Paul and the prophet Isaiah called this fact "the swallowing up of death." AND this is a reason for our Hope. 


Many of our Protestant brothers and sisters reject this feast as idolatry, missing what Pope dormition.jpgPius said about the divine truth revealed in the Assumption: In Mary, Mothers of God, we know, "to what lofty goal our bodies and souls are destined." The Church, therefore, prays at Mass this collect:


Almighty and Eternal God, You Who assumed the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of Your Son, body and soul into heavenly glory, grant, we beseech You, that, always intent on higher things, we may merit to be sharers in her glory.

And the Preface


Since today the Virgin Mother of God was assumed into heaven
as the beginning and pattern of your Church's perfection
and a sign of sure hope and comfort to your pilgrim people,
For justly you would not allow her
to see the corruption of the tomb,
because from her own flesh she brought forth ineffably
your incarnate Son, the author of all life.

(Draft 2006 I.C.E.L. Translation)

The Blessing of Herbs and Flowers in Honor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


After the Asperges if it is a Sunday, otherwise immediately before Mass, the priest, standing before the altar and facing the people who hold the sheaves of new grain, garden vegetables, flowers and new herbs and the finest fruits of their orchards in their hands, says in a clear voice:


P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.


Pray Psalm 64


P; Glory be to the Father.

All: As it was in the beginning.

P: The Lord will be gracious.

All: And our land will bring forth its fruit.


P: You water the mountains from the clouds.

All: The earth is replenished from your rains.


P: Giving grass for cattle.

All: And plants for the benefit of man.


P: You bring wheat from the earth.

All: And wine to cheer man's heart.


P: Oil to make his face lustrous.

All: And bread to strengthen his heart.


P: He utters a command and heals their suffering.

All: And snatches them from distressing want.


P: O Lord, hear my prayer.

All: And let my cry come unto you.


P: The Lord be with you.

All: And with your spirit.


Let us pray. Almighty everlasting God, who by your word alone brought into being the

Herbs.jpgheavens, earth, sea, things seen and things unseen, and garnished the earth with plants and trees for the use of man and beast; who appointed each species to bring forth fruit in its kind, not only for the food of living creatures, but for the healing of sick bodies as well; with mind and word we urgently call on you in your great kindness to bless + these various herbs and fruits, thus increasing their natural powers with the newly given grace of your blessing. May they keep away disease and adversity from men and beasts who use them in your name; through Christ our Lord.


All: Amen.


Let us pray. God, who through Moses, your servant, directed the children of Israel to carry their sheaves of new grain to the priests for a blessing, to pluck the finest fruits of the orchard, and to make merry before you, the Lord their God; hear our supplications, and shower blessings + in abundance upon us and upon these bundles of new grain, new herbs, and this assortment of produce which we gratefully present to you on this festival, blessing + them in your name. Grant that men, cattle, flocks, and beasts of burden find in them a remedy against sickness, pestilence, sores, injuries, spells, against the fangs of serpents or poisonous creatures. May these blessed objects be a protection against

assumption El greco.jpgdiabolical mockery, cunning, and deception wherever they are kept, carried, or otherwise used. Lastly, through the merits of the blessed Virgin Mary, whose Assumption we are celebrating, may we all, laden with the sheaves of good works, deserve to be taken up to heaven; through Christ our Lord.


 All: Amen.


Let us pray. God, who on this day raised up to highest heaven the rod of Jesse, the Mother of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, that by her prayers and patronage you might communicate to our mortal nature the fruit of her womb, your very Son; we humbly implore you to help us use these fruits of the soil for our temporal and everlasting welfare, aided by the power of your Son and the prayers of His glorious Mother; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.


And may the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, + and Holy Spirit, come upon these creatures and remain always.


All: Amen.


They are sprinkled with holy water and incensed.

Thumbnail image for Benedict XVI.gifOn Friday, 8 August 2008, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments communicated to the relevant ecclesial authorities (i.e., Bishops' Conferences and therefore Diocesan Bishops) that the Holy Father in accord with the same congregation and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the norms for the liturgical use of "...the Divine Name signified in the sacred tetragrammaton...." The document is called "Letter to the Bishops' Conferences on the 'Name of God'" (Prot. N. 213/08/L). The directives are clear and concise. The Letter is issued under the signatures of Francis Cardinal Arinze and Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith and dated 29 June 2008. The directives:


1.      In liturgical celebrations, in songs and prayers the name of God in the form of the tetragrammaton.jpgtetragrammaton YHWH is neither to be used or pronounced.

2.      For the translation of the Biblical text in modern languages, destined for liturgical usage of the Church, what is already prescribed by n. 41 of the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam is to be followed; that is, the divine tetragrammaton is to be rendered by the equivalent of Adonai/Kyrios: "Lord", "Signore", "Seigneur", "Herr", "Señor", etc.

3.      In translating, in the liturgical context, texts in which are present, one after the other, either the Hebrew term Adonai or the tetragrammaton YHWH, Adonai is to be translated "Lord" and the form "God" is to be used for the tetragrammaton YHWH, similar to what happens in the Greek translation of the Septuagint and in the Latin translation of the Vulgate.


The cardinal and the archbishop explain in the first part of the letter the value of remaining faithful to the consistent teaching and tradition of the Church. Here one can say that in following this teaching Catholics have continuity of faith: legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi (often abbreviated by the bromide of lex orandi, lex crendendi). The implication of this teaching, therefore, has much to do with Christology, liturgical theology, catechetics and interfaith dialogue with our Jewish brothers and sisters. I think the final paragraph bears prayerful consideration because of the Church's objectivity:

Avoiding pronouncing the tetragrammaton of the name of God on the part of the Church has therefore its own grounds. Apart from a motive of a purely philological order, there is also that of remaining faithful to the Church's tradition, from the beginning, that the sacred tetragrammaton was never pronounced in the Christian context nor translated into any of the languages into which the Bible was translated.


As commentary, the teaching presented by the Church was taught to me and my classmates at Notre Dame High School (W. Haven, CT) in Mr. William Parkinson's Old Testament class in 1983. So, I think we were fortunate to have had the correct catechesis and praxis at that time in our Church's history. Having said this, I wonder about the arrogance (perhaps mere ignorance?) of Christians using of the Divine Name incorrectly and I wonder how long it will take publishers to change their editorial policy. I am thinking of the dreadful liturgical songs still used in parishes.

This Wondrous Glory

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They glorified God in me

I SAW thee once and nought discern'd

     For stranger to admire;

A serious aspect, but it burn'd

     With no unearthly fire.

Again I saw, and I confess'd

     Thy speech was rare and high;

And yet it vex'd my burden'd breast,

     And scared, I knew not why.

I saw once more, and awe-struck gazed

     On face, and form, and air;

God's living glory round thee blazed--

     A Saint--a Saint was there!


John Henry Newman
Off Zante
January 8, 1833



Ducio Transfiguarion.jpgThe Transfiguration

Quicunque Christum quæritis

O YE who seek the Lord,

    Lift up your eyes on high,

For there He doth the Sign accord

    Of His bright majesty.

We see a dazzling sight

    That shall outlive all time,

Older than depth or starry height,

    Limitless and sublime.

'Tis He for Israel's fold

    And heathen tribes decreed,

The King to Abraham pledged of old

    And his unfailing seed.

Prophets foretold His birth,

    And witness'd when He came,

The Father speaks to all the earth

    To hear, and own His name.

To Jesus, who displays

    To babes His beaming face,

Be, with the Father, endless praise,

    And with the Spirit of grace. Amen.


A Matins Hymn

John Henry Newman

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]



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This page is a archive of entries in the Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments category from August 2008.

Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments: September 2008 is the next archive.

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