Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments: February 2010 Archives

Massimo Camisasca.jpgOn February 26th Zenit published an article by Father Massimo Camisasca looking at what he considers to be the pillars (prayer & Liturgy) of priestly reform in the Catholic Church. Reading a bit of Church history recently there's been a lot to consider when thinking about the state of the Catholic Church viz. the rise of Portestantism and then the decline of the Christian religion in some parts of the US and the world. Father Massimo Camisasca is the founder and superior general of the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo. The Fraternity was founded in 1985 and recognized as a Society of Apostolic Life in 1999.


Statistical data of the past 30 years reveals an increase of 5% more diocesan priests worldwide, compared with an increase of 48% more baptized persons.
This alone could explain the question in the title of my latest book, "Padre ci saranno ancora sacerdoti nel futuro della Chiesa?" (Father, Will There Still Be Priests in the Future of the Church?) -- a theme that underlies the entire text.
However, even more than the number of priests, the Church is interested in the truth of their experience. For reasons connected with my work as superior of a fraternity of missionaries, I travel throughout the world and am in contact with the most diverse realities. And, meeting with priests of different regions, I note that many of them experience difficulties not so much of an ideological type as of an emotional order.
Why is it that today the priestly life -- which has made thousands of men happy and contributed enormously to the spiritual growth of humanity -- is going through such a profound qualitative crisis?
My [Italian-language] book stems from this question. It is an attempt to rethink the life of a priest from its roots.

The regeneration of priestly life is one of the conditions for the new flowering of Christianity in Europe, and more generally, in our jaded West (Asia and Africa merit separate treatment).
I have attempted to trace the path for a rebirth returning to the fundamentals of the priesthood. I find one of those fundamentals in prayer.
Today many priests lose themselves in action, in the infinite number of activities and preoccupations that entrap them. For the action of each one of us to always be a source of nourishment, it must be constantly redirected to our relationship with Christ. And the place of our relationship with Christ is prayer, inseparable from silence.
Silence, prayer, reflection and study are the answer to one of the evils that afflict the figure of the priest: activism, which remains on the surface of things and absorbs the time of our energies and our feelings. Instead, action that stems from charity introduces us in the work of God, who precedes and exceeds us.

Another pillar of the renewal of priestly life is the liturgy. I say this following the teaching of the Pope. I am not ruled by the desire to accommodate myself to a current, but by a profound conviction that is born from experience.
If the priest does not rediscover the true meaning of the liturgy in his life, he cannot find himself.
Surmounting the process of trivialization, which we have witnesses in the last 30 years, it is necessary to return to that "fons et origo" that the Second Vatican Council identifies in the liturgy.
When it is faithful to the one who instituted it, when it is lived in all its rigorous totality and is attentive to the tradition of the Church, the liturgy is the place of education to communion.
The protagonist of the liturgy is Christ. By living the liturgy, we can enter into the life of God, and only thus can we priests be an effective company of men.
In the third place, the emotional question is central in the life of a priest. Loneliness is the other great evil that today afflicts thousands of priests.
Only by discovering himself a son can the priest be a father.

Friendship is a positive experience in a person's emotional life. In the Church there is still much fear of friendship. Pathologies are not channeled if one is not helped to develop a healthy life.
Unhealthy and negative friendships, which because of this are not proper friendships, must not close us off from the essential value of these bonds of preference that open us to the love of others and help us to understand who God is.

Transfiguration GBellini.jpgIn the reformed Catholic Liturgy we hear little of the traditional days throughout the year given by the Church to pray in a more intense way and to fast in the light of the sacred Liturgy. Namely, Ember Days. Not only is it Lent but this week, Wednesday (today), Friday and Saturday, we have something extra added (at least we did, let me explain below): we offer to God the work and fruit of the season of spring and we ask God for blessings. In the old way of doing things deacons were ordained priests on Saturday. An intense sensibility of prayer and fasting make these days notable.

Catholics should always situation themselves in the context of the Liturgy (that is, Lauds, Vespers & Mass) with the minor though NOT incidental liturgical observances like Ember days that happen about quarterly in the calendar year. Before the promulgation of the Missal of Paul VI (the style of Mass we now have) there was a tradition of specifically gathering on three days, three times a year which correspond to the seasons of the year. In addition to what said above about the character of the Ember Days, one can also emphasize the purpose of these days as to place before the Lord our own struggle to live a life of holiness asking for the grace to continue without back-sliding (which is easy to do for many of us). The work to overcome our disordered concupiscence (conversion of morals) is difficult and excruciatingly painful at times. And to be honest, it's only possible to advance in the spiritual life with the abandonment of self to God unreservedly. What the Church proposes is that we consider the Scripture narrative of the Transfiguration of the Lord (seen on the right by Giovanni Bellini) as an apt motif for our own desire to change for the better.

Even though the reflections offered at the New Liturgical Movement blog are within the perspective of the Missal of John XXIII (the 1962 Missal), it is worth noting what the two writers say about the Lenten Ember Days because the liturgical practice is correct and helpful for all of us.

I, for one, would love to see a reclaiming of the Embertide traditions if not in the actual restoration to the liturgical observance then in teaching the faithful through the normal channels of CCD, bulletin teaching and preaching. What is striking about the Embertide liturgy is the use of sacred Scripture: the number of readings increase thus giving a fuller plate of the word of God for our meditation.

Here is the post on the Ember Days in the Fall.

Let us ask Mary, Mother of God, refuge of sinners, to aid us with her prayers.

Chair of Saint Peter

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Whatever you will bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven, the Lord said to Simon Peter.

O God, Who having given Peter, Thy Apostle, the keys of the kingdom of heaven, did bestow on him the pontifical power of binding and loosing; grant that by the help of intercession we may be delivered from the bonds of our sins.

On this feast in 2009, Pope Benedict taught the following in an audience:

chair st peter.jpg

"This Sunday is also the feast of the Chair of Peter, an important liturgical feast that highlights the office of the successor of the Prince of the Apostles. The chair of Peter symbolizes the authority of the Bishop of Rome, who is called to perform a special service for the whole People of God. Immediately after the martyrdom of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the primacy of the Church of Rome in the Catholic community was recognized. This role was already attested to in the 2nd century by Saint Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to the Romans, Pref.: Funk, I, 252) and by Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (Contra Haereses, III, 3, 2-3). This singular and specific ministry of the Bishop of Rome was stressed again by the Second Vatican Council. "Moreover, within the Church," we read in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, "particular Churches hold a rightful place; these Churches retain their own traditions, without in any way opposing the primacy of the Chair of Peter, which presides over the whole assembly of charity (cf. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans, Pref.) and protects legitimate differences, while at the same time assuring that such differences do not hinder unity but rather contribute toward it" (Lumen Gentium, 13).

Pope Benedict XVI,

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, 22 February 2009

The Church celebrates today, since the 4th century, the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle. The Church does not worship church furnishings but the office that was given to the Apostle Peter by the Lord Himself. This chair, then, is the key to unity among Christians. Hence, it is not just a chair, but a throne or cathedra, i.e., a seat of pastoral authority. It is not an authority for temporal affairs or political engagement. It is about preaching, teaching and sanctifying God's people. These three functions are to lead others to heaven --communio with the Blessed Trinity.

For what purpose does the Church have a feast called the "Chair of Saint Peter" and how is it connected with unity among Christians? Saint Cyprian, Carthage's bishop (d. 258), tells us,

"The Lord says to Peter: 'I say to you,' He says, 'that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven.' And again He says to him after His resurrection: 'Feed my sheep.' On him He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep; and although He assigns a like power to all the Apostles, yet He founded a single chair, and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was; but a primacy is given to Peter whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the Apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?"

"There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one Chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering."

Saint Cyprian is very clear that Christ founded upon Saint Peter the visible basis of the unity of the Church.  Peter does not replace Christ as the head of the Church. In theological terms this feast notes, observes and otherwise holds up a primacy given by the Lord to Saint Peter to ensure and preserve her unity. Saint Cyprian argues:

"With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal Church, in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did they take thought that these are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it is not possible for perfidy to have entrance."

For Saint Cyprian, the unity of the bishops and priests has its source (not only as a past event but as a living, thriving principle) in the Chair of Saint Peter.

Last year's blog post may also have some relevant info...

The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei which oversees various matters pertaining to the praying of the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, sometimes called the Missal of 1962, or simply, THE Mass, issued a few clarifications on what the Pope intends to happen as a result of the publication of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum which liberated from ideologues the praying of the Missal of Blessed John.

The points made by the Commission have much to do with scheduling Mass in the parish church, interchangeability of calendars and the proclamation of the Scripture readings in one's own language.

The summary points and a copy of the letter from Ecclesia Dei is posted here.

The matter of allowing the Missal of John XXIII to breathe is something the Holy Father has for in the dioceses around the world but since many dioceses are a bit sclerotic little-to-nothing is done. The resistance (obstructionist tendencies?) is not limited to dioceses, religious orders have put the brakes on following the guided companionship we call the Church, AKA as obedience. Faithful following and listening is not a priority for some, even the  clergy.

Getting married at the Vatican

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Yes, it is possible to be wed at the Basilica of Saint Peter's --the Vatican-- but there's a lot of paperwork and advanced planning. I am sure it is a beautiful experience. Watch the video clip.
B16 & Eucharist 2009.jpgPeriodically people ask about the practice of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I typically find the questions interesting because it seems like we have forgotten the reasons why we adore the eucharistic Presence of Jesus Christ and this experience of eucharistic adoration is key for every Catholic and for every parish, school, hospital, convent, abbey, etc. 

When questions arise about the character of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament we should go to the liturgical book called Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass. While it does not provide details about what ought or ought not be done at Adoration, it does provide a liturgical theology by which we follow. There it says that 

Exposition of the Holy Eucharist is intended to acknowledge Christ's marvelous presence in the sacrament. Exposition invites us to the spiritual union with him that culminates in sacramental communion. Thus it fosters very well the worship which is due to Christ in spirit and in truth. This kind of exposition must clearly express the cult of the blessed sacrament in its relationship to the Mass.  The plan of the exposition should carefully avoid anything which might somehow obscure the principal desire of Christ in instituting the Eucharist, namely, to be with us as food, medicine, and comfort" (n.82).

Therefore, we can reason that devotions, songs, prayers, etc., ought to be consistent with what is given in this book. 

The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines does offer examples of what is consistent with the purposes of Eucharistic adoration. It says: 

The faithful should be encouraged to read the Scriptures during these periods of adoration, since they afford an unrivalled source of prayer.  Suitable hymns and canticles based on those of the Liturgy of the Hours and the liturgical seasons could also be encouraged, as well as periods of silent prayer and reflection.  Gradually, the faithful should be encouraged not to do other devotional exercises during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.  Given the close relationship between Christ and Our Lady, the rosary can always be of assistance in giving prayer a Christological orientation, since it contains meditation of the Incarnation and the Redemption (n.165).

This list of practices is not exhaustive, and it is not meant to be but it does give a useful sense of how to evaluate our devotional practices during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Blessing of Bread on the Feast of Saint Agatha, virgin and Martyr

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

Holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, Who did consecrate this day with the martyrdom of the venerable Agatha, granting her the gift of healing body and soul; bless + this bread with Thy supernatural benevolence. May it be to all partakers health for body and soul, and a safe guard against illness and all inimical assaults. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, the living bread which came down from heaven, Who lives and reigns with Thee in unity of the Holy Spirit, God, eternally,

R. Amen.

It is sprinkled with holy water.
Blessing of Bread, Wine, Water and Fruit for the relief of throat ailments on the
Feast of Saint Blase, Bishop and Martyr 

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

O God, Savior of the world, Who did consecrate this day with the martyrdom of the most venerable Blase, granting him among other gifts the power of healing all who are afflicted with throat ailments; we humbly beseech Your boundless mercy, and beg that these fruits, bread, wine, and water, which Your devoted people today, be blessed + and sanctified + by Your goodness. May they who taste thereof be fully healed of all afflictions of the throat, as well as every infirmity of soul or body, through the prayers and merits of the same Blase, Pontiff and Martyr. You who live and reign God, forevermore.

R. Amen.

The items are sprinkled with holy water.
Blessing of Candles on the feast of Saint Blase, Bishop & Martyr

San Biagio.jpg
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

O God of gentleness and might, by You Word alone You did create the manifold things of the world, and did cause this same Word, Maker of all things, to take flesh in order to repurchase us. You are great and wonderful, awesome and praiseworthy, a doer of wonderful deeds. Wherefore, in professing his fealty to You, the glorious martyr and bishop, Blasé did not fear any manner of torment, but gladly accepted the palm of martyrdom. In virtue of which, among other gifts, You did bestow on him this prerogative -of healing all ailments of the throat. Thus we beg Your Majesty that overlooking our guilt, and considering only his merits and intercession You world grant to bless + and sanctify + and bestow Your grace on these candles. Let all Christians of good faith whose necks are touched with them be healed of every malady of the throat, and being restored in health and cheer, let them return thanks in Your holy Church, and give praise to Your wondrous name which is blessed forever. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, eternally.

R. Amen.
St Blase candles Feb 3 2010.jpg
The candles are sprinkled with holy water. Then the pries, holding two crossed candles to the throat of each one to be blessed, as they kneel before the altar, says:

Through the intercession of Saint Blase, Bishop and Martyr, may God deliver you from sickness of the throat and from every other evil. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Presentation of the Lord3.jpg 
Let Zion's bridal-room be clothed:
He comes, her Lord and her Betrothed.
Let bride and Bridegroom, by faith's light,
A vigil keep throughout the night.

Saint Simeon, go forth in joy.
Exult to see the baby Boy:
Make known to all the Light divine

That soon on ev'ry land shall shine.

His parents to the temple bring
The Temple as an offering
The righteousness of law He chose
Though to the law He nothing owes.

So, Mary, bring this little one,
Yours and the Father's only Son
Through whom our offering is made
By whom our ransom price is paid.

And forward, royal Virgin, go
And let rejoicing overflow
With gifts bring forth your newborn Son
Who comes to rescue everyone.

Lord Jesus Christ, the Glory bright

Who guides the nations into light

Be praised, and for eternity

Be glorified, O Trinity. Amen.



Text by Saint  John of Damascus Translation c. 2009 Kathleen Pluth. Permission is granted for parish use Feb. 2, 2009. All other rights reserved.

For more on Candlemas, see this Catholic Encyclopedia article.
The Blessing of Candles

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, bless + these candles at our request. By the power of the holy cross, + bestow a heavenly blessing on them, O Lord, Who did give them to mankind to dispel the gloom. Empowered with the seal of Your holy cross, + let the spirits of darkness depart trembling and fly in fear from all places where their light shines, and never more disturb nor molest [bother] those who serve You, the almighty God, Who lives and reigns forevermore.

R. Amen.

Sprinkle with holy water.

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 February 2010.

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