Sacred Liturgy & Sacraments: September 2010 Archives

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

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The Son of Man must be lifted up...

"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" (Roman Martyrology)

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Today is a most glorious feast, one in which no Christian can ignore and claim to be a faithful follower of the Word made Flesh, the Savior of the world. It is only by and through the cross is life given and death killed. Nevertheless, this way of following was difficult for the Twelve, the Apostles, the disciples, indeed, all peoples who were attracted to Jesus and his call Life: the cross is a non-negotiable in following the path Christ has set for us. In time Christians would accept the cross as the Tree of Life, a triumph over death.

Sometime between AD 148-155 Saint Justin Martyr speaks of the cross as the standard symbol of Christians (First Apology 55-60) and by AD 211 we know that Tertullian told his students that Christians rarely do anything of substance without making the sign of the cross (De Corona 3:2) thus making the sign of the cross is a ancient symbol of blessing and one which grasps our hearts and minds and clearly identifies to Whom we belong.

We adore you O Christ, and praise you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Let us lift up our voices high;
With radiant faces let us cry:
Christ, through your cross you made death die!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Joy to you, Cross of Christ the Lord,
Throne of our God be all adored:
Endless the songs your saints afford.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

O holy Cross, life-giving Tree
Through which the Church has victory:
By you, our Lord has set us free.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Praise to the Father, Christ the Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three-in-One
From ransomed souls Christ's blood has won.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2009, WLP
888 with Alleluias; GELOBT SEI GOTT
QA Chapel.jpgZacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully into his house. This day is salvation come to this house from the Lord, alleluia.

These words echo throughout the Church in Connecticut, indeed throughout the nation, as the state's major seminary chapel is acknowledged as a place where God abides and salvation manifested.

The Bishop of Norwich, CT, Michael R. Cote, dedicated the Queen of the Apostles Chapel at the Holy Apostles Seminary (Cromwell, CT) Wednesday, the feast of the Nativity of Mary by solemn rites and prayers, the placing of relics, and praying the Mass. The 10,000 square foot Dominicum was fittingly dedicated on beautiful day giving glory to God.

And God abides with us. Based on the belief that God appointed places to be set aside for His worship, the Church through two millennia constructed places of worship taking inspiration from the Old Testament Temple so that the Sacrifice --that is, the Eucharist-- could be offered, new members washed of sin and given the grace of salvation, sinners forgiven, the sick anointed, and the gospel heard and preached. Through the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ the New Covenant is made real and known to all. The church is where Christians are born and reborn in the Holy Trinity.

The abiding presence of God. As the Church Fathers have taught, and we have believed, God is everywhere with His glory particularly in heaven, the Trinity does not leave us orphan but "honors the church with His special presence, being there in a particular manner ready to receive our public homages, listen to our petitions, and bestow on us his choicest graces." Catholics know that the church building is a sacramental, a special sign of Christ's pilgrim church on earth journeying together to see God face to face.

What a happy day for Holy Apostles Seminary! They got a beautiful chapel establishing themselves as a serious place of prayer, study and ministry in order that God may be glorified. The Queen of Apostles chapel is designated solely for sacred purposes; it is permanent, dignified and is an image of the heavenly Liturgy. Their old chapel, a former tool shed, was meant to be temporary but lasted a long space of time that ultimately showed signs of tiredness for a growing seminary population.

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The diocesan ordinaries of the Connecticut dioceses were present (Archbishop had a special place of honor given that he's the metropolitan archbishop) as was Hartford's auxiliary bishop, Christie A. Macaluso and the emeritus archbishop, Daniel A. Cronin. Nearly a hundred priests attended, including a delegation of Friars of the Renewal (Fathers Benedict, Andrew, Mariusz, Bernard, Isaac Mary).

Pictures of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Rite of Dedication of a Church and an Altar can be seen at the above link.

The Middletown Press story can be read here.

The house of God is well established on a firm rock!

Today, the Director of the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein Seminary, Father Douglas Martis, gave the following address today. Father Martis is a priest of the Diocese of Joliet and on the faculty of Mundelein Seminary. Some very useful lessons to keep in mind.

I.  Sons.


My Dear Sons,


This was the term used by Fr. Fuller on Monday morning, "sons." It is a beautiful expression. You are sons to us. Our relationship, despite the distance or proximity of age, is one of father and son,  or in certain cases, as with our Director of Music, one of motherly concern. No disrespect to your age or your experience is intended.


We have a common project here,  to prepare you for ministry to the Church as priests.


And for those of us concerned directly with your liturgical formation, our project is to prepare you in such a way  as to manifest an authentic and profound  intelligence of and respect for the Church's public prayer, so as to demonstrate a true love for God's people.


This responsibility belongs jointly to you and to us. While it is true that in some ways you are brothers,  on another day you will be brothers in a deeper sense. For now, you sons, we love you, and care for you, and want genuinely go give to you what parents give to beloved sons.


What we do, that to which we have committed these years of our lives, is for your good for the good of the Church.


My colleagues and I have strong personalities.  We do not have an innate need to challenge you or correct you in order to caress on own self-importance.  The program we have of liturgical preparation and celebration, of respecting ritual and integrating prayer, of insisting on music and chant is not the imposition of our own puny personal preferences.


Our teaching is derived from the desire of the Church herself: rooted inSacrosanctum concilium, the ritual books that are the fruit of the Council, and the Church's liturgical theology. 


It is neither our interest nor our agenda to promote our opinions as if they carried the authority of the Church.   Our desire is to present you with the Church's teaching, for love of you and love of her. 


We want you to follow our example.


 II. Change.


Things change. That's okay.


Get used to it.  New classmates, new teachers, new schedules. New prayers, new responsibilities, new living situations. New circumstances, new trends, new conflicts. New joys, new insights, new challenges.


This is the life of a priest in the 21st century.

Learning to navigate change is an essential skill you will need for the rest of your lives.


Let us be clear. God remains the same. Our upset, generally has more to do with what we want,than with the objective reality of the change. This is not about you.


The church of the 1960s saw excitement and enthusiasm, and resistance, too.


In your situation today, learn to appreciate your elders' excitement, enthusiasm, and resistance. In 2011 you will know the same. Excitement, enthusiasm, and resistance.


Change leads some to heresy or schism.


Avoid the temptation of being captured by the caricatures of the media, whether your news source is FOX or CNN, whether you are a fan of NCReporter or NCRegister whether you get your information from the blogs or from television. Do not allow yourself to get sucked in by the politics of resistance. When change leads to dissemblance, only the devil is served.


As priests, ministers, official representatives of the Church, you have a greater responsibility than settling for, or promoting polemics. Not only that, as a man of prayer, you have--even now!--the responsibility of learning to embrace the beauty, the rich theology, the deep spirituality of the Church's liturgical prayer.


You can stand aloof as a member of an elite that knows the rich treasure of prayer or having integrated it yourself you can teach, inform, model, and so help others to do the same.


What is needed here is not a so called "pastoral decision" of diluting prayer but a conviction of genuine care, catechesis and formation that raises up the faithful.


This may be the greatest ecclesial moment in your lifetime. Yours is not the only generation to have ever known liturgical change.


"We are not in the same situation as ... 1963. One cannot therefore continue to speak of a change as it was spoken of at the time of the Constitution'spublication; rather one has to speak of an ever deeper grasp of the Liturgy of the Church, celebrated according to the current books and lived above all as a reality in the spiritual order."[i] the time has come ... to publish liturgical books in a form that both testifies to the stability achieved and is worthy of the mysteries celebrated.[ii]"


If the intuition of Pope John Paul II is correct, if the Third Edition of the Roman Missal signals the maturity of liturgical reform, its dignity and stability, then the post-Counciliar church has survived adolescence and provides the opportunity now for a more adult expression of faith. You and I stand on the threshold of this moment!


 III. Texts.


The challenge with public prayer has always been to make the words our own. Let us understand then, that the great opportunity afforded us in this moment is not one of changing words.  This is about opening a more direct path to the meaning of Catholic worship--a meaning that has always been there and is there even now in the texts we use today.


What, then, are we to do?

Here is the simple prescription:

Take the words,

learn to understand them,

make the connections.


Follow the example of ancient readers:


take the text, do not read it through as if you already understand [this  "mystery ever ancient, ever new!"] take the text, dwell there. Abide between the lines.[iii]


"This quality of reading, which enables a reader to acquire a text not simply by perusing the words but by actually making them part of the reader's self..."[iv] Here is found true blessing.


Know what you are doing. Listen for the biblical narrative. The texts of the Mass were not put there by some malicious committee looking to trip you up.  These texts resound with the voice of God's own Word. Find the origin, search the reference.


I know this is not easy. We live in a culture that does not foster this kind of connection. Contemporary culture thrives on sound bites; idolizes short cuts and Cliffnotes, Sparknotes and books for dummies.


For your part, claim your place in Catholic culture, with its own language and grammar,  its own symbols and meaning.


Plunge yourself in a baptism of the Church's signs.  Let the insight of your patristic reading anoint your understanding and illumine your prayer.  Open your eyes to what is around, even here on this campus, with its natural beauty, its architectural wonders,  its volumes of wisdom, and its varied residents.


A steady diet of this, an habitual practice of attention to everything is an essential preparation for prayer. Collect these insights, engage these people, absorb this environment.


Your responsibility as seminarian, is to learn this, to integrate it; then you must model it for others and teach it to those in your care.


You become a mystagogue.


 IV.  Now.


This begins now.  You do not have to wait. You walk out of this auditorium and cross a threshold.


Let that crossing be the crossing of every threshold.


Let every word of the Mass bring you to a biblical narrative, a theological insight, a pastoral encounter.


Let every sign of the Cross bring you to the mount of the Ascension.[v] Let it be, every time, a wrapping yourself in the Trinity, a conforming yourself to the cross of Christ. May it bring you back to your baptism and forward to your funeral. May it inspire the crosses you may trace some day on the breast of future neophytes, on the foreheads of the anointed, on the palms of priests.


Let every greeting of the Mass resound with the words of the great missionary Paul,[vi] or the salutation of Boaz to harvesters,[vii] or the words of the Risen Christ.[viii]


Let every response, whether it be "And also with you"  now or "And with your spirit" at another time, let this reply make us marvel at God's wisdom in Ordering the Church and in the Spirit's work of assembling members with different gifts into one holy body.


Let every procession remind us of life's pilgrimage to heaven; every standing be in implicit imitation of the Great High Priest: "Here I am, Lord. I come to do your will."[ix]  Let every genuflection, every bow be the humble acknowledgement of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus.


Let our stance at the Alleluia be so completely devoted to the praise of Christ present in the Word, that rather than tracking the deacon and registering ritual glitches, our minds, bodies and voices melt into the Eternal.


Let prayers in the preparation of bread and wine, bring us to Daniel's fiery furnace, so that the words of Azariah become our own: we have nothing else to offer, but with contrite hearts and humble spirits let us be received.[x]  And may the dew-laden breeze[xi] that soothed the heat of that inferno, come like dew in the desert,[xii] to provide us with our daily bread."Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord." [xiii]


Let every dismissal, GO! bring us back again to Ascension,[xiv] and to every sending of Christ: "You, too, go to the vineyard!"[xv]


Do you see? At every moment, at every turn, around every corner, the bible is there. A prayer, a doctrine, an insight. And it has been there all along.


All we have, are, do, everything we love... is here.

Learning this. Integrating this. Modeling this. Teaching it is our project. 


Will you make it your project too?



[i] Vicesimus quintus annus, 1988, 14.

[ii] VQA, 20.

[iii] Alberto Manguel: A History of Reading. "You did not read books through; you dwelt, abided between their lines and, reopening them after an interval, surprised yourself at the spot where you had halted.", 12.

[iv] Manguel,  58.

[v] Mt 28:19.

[vi] 2 Cor 13:13 et al.

[vii] Ruth 2:4.

[viii] Jn 20:19.

[ix] Heb 10:9.

[x] Dan 3:39-40.

[xi] Dan 3:50.

[xii] Ex 16:13-17.

[xiii] Dan 3:84.

[xiv] Mt 28:19.

[xv] Mt 20.D

Happy New Liturgical Year for the Byzantine Church! Have a blessed 7519!!! The Byzantine Church understands this date to be the years since the creation of the world. A new liturgical year, a new beginning to give God glory, honor and praise!!!!

We bless God's holy name with the singing of the Great Doxology

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Glory to God in the highest, and to people on earth peace and good will.
We praise you, we bless you, we worship you, we glorify you, we thank you for your great glory.
Lord God, heavenly King, Father almighty; Lord, only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit!

Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father: you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us. You take away the sin of the world, hear our prayer. You are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.

For you alone are holy; you alone are the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

I will bless you day after day, and praise your name forever. Make us worthy, O Lord, to be kept sinless this morning. Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our Fathers, and praiseworthy and glorious is your name forever. Amen.

May your mercy, O Lord, be upon us who have placed our hope in you.
Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your commandments.
Blessed are you, O Master; make me understand your commandments.
Blessed are you, O Holy One; enlighten me with your commandments.
O Lord, you have been our refuge for one generation to the next.
I said: Lord have mercy on me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against you.
O Lord, I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will, for you, O Lord, are my God.
In you is the source of life and in your light we see light.
Extend your mercy to those who know you!

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 September 2010.

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