Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments: January 2010 Archives

Interesting issues regarding the pastoral care of the sick viz. the numbers of priests available to be sacramentally present. USA Today a story that deserves some attention. Catholics are sacramental people: no priesthood, no sacraments...

On the same page as the story noted above is a video clip of Father Denis Robinson, OSB, Rector of Saint Meinrad Seminary talking about the up-tick of vocations.

Blessing of Icons, too

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Blessing with holy water.jpgLast week Father Michael Morris (of the Seminary faculty) blessed an icon for me. This week, another similar service was done by Economos Romanus Russo, an adjunct professor at Saint Joseph's Seminary and pastor of Saint Michael's Russian Byzantine Chapel (266 Mulberry St, NYC).

Some are of the opinion that icons need not be blessed because they hold a holy image of Our Lord, the Virgin or an angel or saint. But because an order of blessing exists in the liturgical books from time immemorial, the mind of the Church indicates that holy images are in fact blessed by the proper minister and according to a rite.

Anointing the Icon.jpg
The blessing of icons takes on a similar theological/liturgical sensibility as Christian Initiation where the person to be baptized is washed, anointed and receives Holy Communion. Hence, the icons today were blessed by holy water, anointed with sacred Myron (Chrism) and the Eucharistic ciborium was touched to each icon. We now have a fully initiated icon that leads us to Christ and the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. Economos Romanus then. in giving the icon back to the owner, blessed the man who in turn kissed the icon.

The ritual prayers were the same as used previously (see the link above).

Blessing with Eucharist.jpg
Icons are visible gospels. The icon is an experience of the beauty of God revealing the divine order of things. In history the first icon not made of human hands was the body of Jesus Christ. Following Divine action, the iconographer cooperates with God in creation and reveals to us the reality of Jesus' humanity. The iconographer is also a theologian because he or she writes for us the dogmas of Christian belief--the reasons and pathways for our salvation.

The stipend for Economos's spiritual solicitude is that each time we pray before the icon we pray for him and his family, forever. Deal.
St Placid2.jpg

Today is the feast of the first companions of Saint Benedict of Norcia, Saints Maurus and Placid. The traditional blessing of the sick calling upon Saint Maurus' intercession follows. You may not have a relic of the True Cross or relic of Saint Benedict to you available to you, so the priest should use a crucifix and the Saint Benedict Medal.

Before the blessing is imparted, the relic of the true Cross of our Lord or the medal of Saint Benedict is exposed, at least two candles having been lit. The Act of Contrition and firm confidence should then be excited in the sick person, so that through the merits and intercession of Saint Benedict and Saint Maurus, if it should please God, health may be obtained. Three Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glory be's are recited in honor of the Blessed Trinity.

Then a priest or deacon, having put on a stole, and with his right hand holding up the relic or the medal of Saint Benedict before the sick person, says the following prayers:

V. Benediction and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, honor and power and strength to our God forever and ever.

R. Amen.

Blessing of Icons

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Over the Christmas holiday I acquired an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, written by Brother Terrence McGrath, OCSO, a monk of Saint Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts. In the tradition of the Catholic Church, all icons (religious objects intended for devotion) ought to be properly blessed. The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy teaches us,  

The Church blesses sacred images because of their cultic significance. This is especially true of the images of the Saints which are destined for public veneration, when she prays that, guided by a particular Saint, "we may progress in following the footsteps of Christ, so that the perfect man may be formed in us to the full measure of Christ." (244)

Today, Father Michael Morris, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York and history professor of Saint Joseph's Seminary (Dunwoodie-Yonkers, NY) properly blessed the icon.

The Blessing of Icons follows:

Priest:   Blessed is our God always, both now and ever, and unto ages of ages:


Server: Amen.


Priest: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy upon us. 




Fr MMorris blessing BVM Icon Jan 14 2010.jpg

O Lord our God, Who created us after Your own image and likeness; Who redeems us from our former corruption of the ancient curse through Your man-befriending Christ, Who took upon Himself the form of a servant and became man; Who having taken upon Himself our likeness remade Your Saints of the first dispensation, and through Whom also we are refashioned in the image of Your pure blessedness; Your Saints we venerate as being in Your image and likeness, and we adore and glorify You as our Creator; Wherefore we pray You, send forth Your blessing upon this Icon, and with the sprinkling of hallowed water.


Bless and make holy this icon untoYour glory, in honor and remembrance of Your Saint (N) [or, Mother of God]; And grant that this sanctification will be to all who venerate this icon of Saint (N) [or, Mother of God], and send up their prayer unto You standing before it;


Through the grace and bounties and love of Your Only-Begotten Son, with Whom You are blessed together with Your All-Holy, Good and Life-creating Spirit; both now and ever, and unto ages of ages.


Server:  Amen.


Sprinkling cross fashion the icon with holy water, he says:


Hallowed and blessed is this icon of St. (N) [or, Mother of God], by the Grace of the Holy Spirit, through the sprinkling of Holy Water: in the Name of the Father (+), and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: (+), Amen.


Priest: Let us pray to the Lord.


Server: Kyrie eleison.




O God our Savior, Who did deign to enter under the roof of Zacchaeus, unto salvation of the same and of all that were in the house; Do you, the same Lord, keep safe also from harm them who now desire to dwell here, And who, together with us unworthy ones, do offer unto You prayer and supplication: Bless this (+) their home and dwelling, and preserve their life free from all adversity; For unto You are due all glory, honor and worship, as also unto Your Eternal Father, and Your All Holy, Good and life-creating Spirit; both now and ever, and unto ages of ages:


Server:  Amen.


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A substantial part of the Pope's Sunday Angelus address is worth thinking about: the reality of Baptism. Why? Because I think many of us have yet to grasp some of the essential points of what the Catholic Church believes and teaches. What I notice, as you may have, that even the clergy have a faulty understanding of what the sacrament of Baptism is meant to do for the person. It is not a social event for the family. It is not an opportunity to quiet the screams of family members (grandma) regarding "the way it is done in this family", etc. Baptism is about a life in Christ. Period.

BUT what is the sacrament of Baptism all about? At the time of baptizing children or baptizing adults we are given a supreme gift by God: love. Let me briefly explain what baptism is and what it gives to us. These points don't exhaust the teaching and the conversation of what happens when one is baptized:

A. there's a forgiveness of sins --the baptized person "dies to sin" (Romans 6); for the adult person there is repentance and deliberate renunciation of personal sin, AKA, conversion;

B. there's a configuration to Christ, that is, a person comes to a close union with Jesus: baptism unties the Christian with Christ--it is a union of mind and will; the person is made new; the the baptized person is a sharer in Christ's own paschal mystery (life, death, resurrection and ascension, Romans 6:1-11); the soul is changed permanently, which we call sacramental character;

C. the baptized person is given the gift of the Holy Spirit--he or she is "re-generated" in the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13); the gift of the Holy Spirit is personally present and dwelling in each person; the Holy Spirit gives eache person the grace of becoming sons and daughters of God the Father, also the Spirit gives each person the power to say, "Abba, Father" (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6): St Paul is clear, by the Holy Spirit we can utter the holy name, Jesus Christ and call Him "Lord";

D. as baptized persons we have a new relationship with God the Father as adopted children of God; this new relationship speaks of our destiny--God wants us to be saved--He offers each person salvation through Jesus Christ AND His Church;

E. baptism gives each person membership in the Church, not like a membership at a gym or a country club or Sam's Club; we are brought into, incorporated in the Church as a communion of faith and a communion of saints; in the Church we receive grace AND we work out our salvation through the worshipping community and together as a community in mission to realize the Gospel.

And now the Pope's address:

The Baptism of the Lord [the feast celebrated this past Sunday, Jan 10] suggests quite well the general sense of the Christmas festivity in which the theme of "becoming sons of God" thanks to the only-begotten Son's taking on of our humanity constitutes a dominant element. He became man so that we could become sons of God. God is born so that we could be re-born.

These concepts continually return in the liturgical texts of Christmas and constitute a powerful motive for reflection and hope. We think of what St. Paul writes to the Galatians: "God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption" (Galatians 4:4-5); or again, of St. John in the prologue to his Gospel: "To those who received him he gave the power to become sons of God" (John 1:12). This stupendous mystery that is our "second birth" -- the re-birth of a human being from "above," from God (cf. John 3:1-8) -- is realized and summarized in the sacramental sign of baptism.

With this sacrament man really becomes son -- son of God. From that point the goal of his life consists in arriving at, in a free and conscious way, that which from the very beginning was his destination as man. "Become what you are" -- represents the basic educational principle of the human person redeemed by grace. Such a principle has many analogies with human growth, where the relationship between parents and children passes, through separation and crisis, from total dependence to the awareness of being children, to recognition through the gift of life received and to the maturity and capacity to give one's life. Born to new life through baptism, the Christian too begins his journey of growth in the faith, which will carry him to consciously invoke God as "Abba -- Father," turning to him with gratitude and living in the joy of being his son.

A model of society is also derived from baptism: that of being brothers. Fraternity cannot be established through an ideology, much less through the decree of just any power that has been set up. We recognize ourselves as brothers through a humble but profound awareness of being sons of the one heavenly Father. As Christians, thanks to the gift of the Holy Spirit received in baptism, we have the gift and task of living as sons of God and brothers, to be like "leaven" in a new humanity, united and rich in peace and hope. We are helped in this by the consciousness of having, besides a Father in heaven, a mother too, the Church, of whom the Virgin Mary is the perennial model. To her we entrust the newly baptized children and their families, and we ask for all the joy to be re-born every day "from above," from the love of God, that makes us his children and brothers among ourselves.

Blessing of Homes on Epiphany

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Read the Gospel narrative of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-9) from the Family Bible.

Using blessed chalk, write above the entry way:

20 + C + M + B + 10

Let us pray.

Peace be to this house and all who live here. During these days of the Christmas season, we keep this feast of Epiphany. Through the guidance of a star, the coming of Jesus was made known to the Gentiles. We celebrate Christ made known to the Magi, to John in the River Jordan, and to the disciples at the wedding at Cana.

Today Christ is made known to us! Today this home is a holy place! The Magi came from the east to Bethlehem to adore the Lord."They went into the house, and when they saw the child with His mother Mary, they knelt down and worshipped him.They brought out their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and presented them to Him." [Matthew 2:11]

Bow our heads and pray for God's blessing . . .

Lord our God, bless our home and all who live here. May we be filled with health, goodness of heart, gentleness, obedience to Your law, and thanksgiving to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Help us love and respect one another and make your presence known by the way we care for others. May this blessing remain upon this house and upon all who live here. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

The blessing of the home is an Epiphany custom. Chalk blessed by the priest on Epiphany is given to the faithful to mark their entrance door with the current year and with the inscription C+M+B, the initials of Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, the traditional names of the Magi (as above). In addition to remembering the Magi, the inscription means for the Latin phrase Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means "Christ, bless this home."

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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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments category from January 2010.

Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments: December 2009 is the previous archive.

Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments: February 2010 is the next archive.

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