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Posts Tagged ‘liturgy’

I saw this hilariously sad (or sadly hilarious) video linked over at Bad Vestments.  BV writes that this video explains why he started his blog (which is dedicated to bad vestments, naturally).

Anyway, by the time I got to “Skull Mass”, I spewed out my nose.  Ouch!

There is a Part 2, as well.

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We have been at our parish since we moved to the state.  From the start, we knew we were blessed to have such a loving community be our parish home.  But one Sunday, perhaps a couple months after moving here, I was surprised and upset that the Prayer of the Faithful was hijacked by someone whose intent was to lecture us on how we should vote.  I do not now recall the exact prayer but it went beyond the usual prayer for our leaders, and prayer for social justice and veered off into something about “taxes being used to ensure the equitable distribution of wealth” sort of thing.  My husband and I exchanged shocked glances at the blatant attempt to editorialize the prayer.  So after Mass, I approached Fr. Tom, who didn’t know me from Adam, and told him that I really hoped that this was the last time that the Prayer of the Faithful was politicized.  He looked very surprised, I remember.  I still don’t know if I did the right thing, or the right thing in the right way, but that was the last time we ever heard ideology mixed into our Prayer of the Faithful.

I thought of that time when I came across this article on the purpose for a Prayer of the Faithful, and how it should be done.  Deacon Frank Agnoli, the Director of Liturgy for the Diocese of Davenport writes up a guiding reflection on this underappreciated part of the Mass.  No mini-homilies or political rants, please!

Prayer of the Faithful
And, together, we raise our voices in prayer. Baptized into Jesus Christ, we share in his priestly office of offering praise and thanksgiving to the Father, and of interceding on behalf of the world.

It is important to keep in mind how the Prayer of the Faithful is structured. The presider first addresses the people, inviting them to prayer.

Next, the deacon (or, in his absence, another minister) announces the intentions.  We call these “general” intercessions because they ought to be petitions that the assembly can, by and large, agree on, and because they do not focus on the needs of any one individual.

This is not the time for a “mini-homily,” the place to make a particular point; or to tell God how to answer our prayers. It is neither the time to pray for an unknown “special intention” (to which the assembly cannot assent) nor to offer prayers of thanksgiving (the Eucharistic Prayer makes that part of its structure and focus).

Rather, we are called to imagine the reign of God as proclaimed in the Scriptures and give voice to what we see: a world of justice, a world where the hungry are fed and the sick made whole, a world where death and tears are no more.  Finally, the presider closes the intercessions by addressing God the Father, through Christ — the one through whom all prayer is made.

Entering the Mystery
Do I really believe what I say I believe? What have I done to learn more about this faith that I profess, about being a Christian?

Do I hear in the Prayer of the Faithful not a list of demands that we make on God, but instead a call to action?  If I dare pray for justice, for healing, for the drying of tears — what am I doing, filled with God’s grace, to make those things come to pass?

The Ars Celebrandi
As one who leads prayer, do I let my body reflect what I am doing? Here, as well as throughout the liturgy, do I look at the people when I am addressing them? Where is my gaze when I am addressing God?

As a deacon, does my liturgical role of being the one who announces the intercessions truly reflect my ministry of charity outside the liturgy — that I am the one who knows the cares of the community so well that I can give voice to those needs before God? Or is there a disconnect between what I do within the walls of the church and outside them?

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Now there remained in the camp two of the men, of whom one was called Eldad, and the other Medad, upon whom the spirit rested; for they also had been enrolled, but were not gone forth to the tabernacle.  And when they prophesied in the camp, there ran a young man, and told Moses, saying: Eldad and Medad prophesy in the camp.  Forthwith Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses, and chosen out of many, said: My lord Moses forbid them.  But he said: Why have you jealousy for me? O that all the people might prophesy, and that the Lord would give them his spirit!”    Num 11:26-30

 

John answered him, saying: Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name, who follows not us: and we forbade him.  But Jesus said: Do not forbid him. For there is no man that does a miracle in my name and can soon speak ill of me.  For he that is not against you is for you.”      Mark 9:37-39

Fr. Robert Barron of Word on Fire Ministries gave a terrific homily a couple years ago at Church of St. Mary’s in Chicago.  The homily is entitled, “Would that Everyone Could be a Prophet.”  The Sunday readings he focused on were Numbers 11:25-29 and Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48. 

From the readings, we see Joshua being jealous of the prophesying by the two elders who were not at the meeting with Moses.  In the gospel, we see John complaining that some people are casting out demons in Jesus’ name, even though they were not part of his apostles.  In both cases, Moses and Jesus chastise the complainers for trying to stop these works of God.  Also, Fr. Barron tells us, this is the root of the problem between Saul and David, and Saul’s jealously of the divine gifts to David, threw Israel into civil war.

Fr. Barron reminds us that when we sow dissention, jealousy and turf wars, we waste the grace that God has extended to us.  Instead, he challenges us to look for the grace in us, and in those around us, and cooperate with it: 

The spiritual life is really about one thing: it’s about our cooperation with grace….Grace–God’s love–is surging into the world at all times, according to God’s purposes, God’s will. Our job is pretty simple: it’s to notice it and once we notice it to cooperate with it, get on board with it.  Cooperate.  Whether that grace is coming directly to me, or to someone else.  Whether it is according to my expectations or outside my expectations…Whereever it appears, get on board, cooperate with it!

When the ego takes over, the flow of grace is blocked.  That’s the central tragedy of sin.  God’s love wants to surge into the world, but He gives us the privilege of cooperating with it.  We can block it if we make our own ego central.

 

Watch the homily below. 

Part 1

Part 2


Remember to pre-order your Catholicism dvd set today!

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The sacred three days (“Triduum”) has begun.  Tonight was the Feast of Holy Thursday, a wonderful celebration of Jesus’ gifts of the Eucharist and the priesthood.  We prayed specifically for priests, bishops and our Holy Father, and given the attacks on our wonderful pope, I thought this was very moving.

Fr. Tom gave a very good homily using some wisdom he got from a book called Thoughts Matter, which I might have to look into getting for myself.  I wish I had taken in a pen and paper, he said so much to scribble down.

After Mass, we processed with the Eucharist to its place of keeping, singing the English version of the Pange, Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium.  Once the Eucharist was enthroned, we sang “Jesus Remember Me” then ended with prayer and adoration.

I really enjoy the Latin Pange, Lingua, written by Thomas Aquinas.

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“Annunciazione” by Pietro Perugino, ca 1489

We break from our Lenten fast to keep the Solemnity of the Annunciation, when Gabriel delivered God’s message to Mary and she said yes

 Visit Deacon Jim‘s weblog, Servant of the Word, for today’s liturgy and homily

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The Gospel for today is another unique story, the story of the adulterous woman found only in John.  Scholars speculate that this story was a later edition to the text as it does not seem very Johannine, and may have been written by same author of Luke – Acts.  The Church believes it to be inspired scripture and it remains one of the most popular stories in all the Bible.

while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle.  They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.  Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.  So what do you say?”  They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.   But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.  And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him.  Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more.”   John 8:1-11

Our friend Fr. Jon at Redemptorist Preacher takes an in-depth look at the underlying drama to the story; after all, this was a trap being laid for Jesus, one of several instances in the Gospel in which he is challenged by Jewish leaders with a seemingly no-win situation (e.g. the question of paying Roman taxes).  Here the trap is that while Mosaic law (religious) required adulterers to be stoned to death, Roman law (civil) forbade any private capital punishment.  Should Jesus heed the Hebrew law of his ancestors or obey the might of the Roman authorities?   Either way he answers could lead to his own death.  The scribes and Pharisees chose a very visible, crowded venue to challenge him.  How fraught the situation, and how humiliating for this woman, who likely may have been dragged there immediately after being found in flagrante delicto. 

My Sunday to Sunday nonsensical weekly just wanted to discuss the inherent sexual bias of the story and bemoan that women are still being kept down by The Man.  You know, the Church and the Pope and mean guys everywhere.  Blessedly, our Bible study leader decided to scrap the Gospel reflections from the Sunday to Sunday and instead spend the entire time leading our own discussion, which was enlightening and uplifting.  I confess that I disliked this story for a long time.  In my opinion, it was used in an anti-Christian way for far too long, and is the go-to verse for moral relativists everywhere.  But I am so glad that I had this week to study and reflect on it.  I have a whole new appreciation for the complexity of this Gospel.  

Our Bible study was wonderful, too.  We dwelt on Jesus’ silence, his remarkable silence.  In reflecting on our discussion, it occurs to me that this possibly throwaway story shows us the way to be Christians, as Jesus role models the virtues we should aspire to: 

  • Justice
  • Temperance
  • Prudence
  • Courage
  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Love

Everyone discussing this Gospel account sooner or later uses it to point to Jesus’ non-judgment and that oftentimes becomes the sole takeaway from it.  “Jesus said he didn’t judge the woman and neither should we.”  This (I think) is an incorrect lesson for us, or at least not the sole lesson.  Jesus does not condemn the adulteress, but I think he does judge the woman.  In so doing, he actually shows us how to judge.  Never does Jesus tell her she is not a sinner and not guilty of her crime.  In fact, he forgives her and instructs her to turn from her path of sin – “go and sin no more.”   See that?  He did not simply say, “Go on, beat it!”  He did not say, “well then, clearly you are not guilty.” 

Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more.”  

The condemnation of the crowd would have been her stoning, her loss of earthly life.  Jesus does not condemn her and in so doing, he presages our Reconciliation sacrament.  Jesus’ pardon refers to her eternal condemnation.  Jesus frees her; he is her savior just as we know he is ours.  He came to free us from our sins.  But inherent in this act of compassion, and mercy is his act of divine justice.  The woman must not sin anymore. 

And what does that mean, “sin no more”?  We know by the Catechism that we are all sinners and fall short of the grace of God.  Is the woman, and are we, required to “sin no more”?  How can we take on such a burden?  What is Jesus telling us?

In order to be absolved of our sins, in order for God’s merciful forgiveness to be ours, we must convert our hearts.  We must renounce the sin in which we find ourselves and we must earnestly intend to not persist in it.  How many of us understand that?  We ask for God’s forgiveness but have we truly renounced our sin within our heart of hearts?  Do we walk into our confession hardened to Jesus’ words?  We know from Revelation and from Pauline letters that we may not persist in our sins, and that Jesus WILL come again to judge the living and the dead.  Our acts on earth will be weighed in the balance.  So we must repent now, and that means to renounce our sins and promise to do better.

So how are we to judge if we should not condemn?  We know that only God knows the secrets of our hearts, and only He has perfect justice and mercy.  We must trust to His justice.  But as Christians, we are called upon to lead our fallen brothers and sisters back to the path, and correct one another in a spirit of love and gentleness.  In good faith, can we allow those entrusted to our care to persist in their sin?  I think we cannot.  Adultery, premarital sex, gossiping, sloth, illegal business practices, addictions, whatever the moral failing, this Gospel is not telling us it is none of our business.  It is showing us the way to intervene as a Christ follower should:  take time to reflect in silence and humility, maybe get down in the dirt a bit to fully understand the situation, see all sides, when finally necessary to speak, do so calmly, temperately and fairly, do not offer condemnation but rather love, forgiveness and a hope for reconciliation, make it clear to the sinner that Christ expects their metanoia.

Our sins are so hard to renounce, our hearts slow to convert.  Speaking the truth in charity and gentleness must be matched by our own humility, our understanding of our own failures.  We have a faith that goes beyond following an established set of rules.  Our faith requires us to devote our time, energy, intellect and spirit in a constant conversion away from ourselves and over to God.

Our God is so awesome!

Pray with me: 

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend thee, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.

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Long-time readers will remember that I love the litany form.  So to honor one of my favorite saints (I named my first-born after him!), here is a beautiful litany prayer.

LITANY OF ST. JOSEPH
(For public or private use.)
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Illustrious son of David, etc.
Light of patriarchs,
Spouse of the Mother of God,
Chaste guardian of the Virgin,
Foster father of the Son of God,
Watchful defender of Christ,
Head of the Holy Family,
Joseph most just,
Joseph most chaste,
Joseph most prudent,
Joseph most valiant,
Joseph most obedient,
Joseph most faithful,
Mirror of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model of workmen,
Glory of home life,
Guardian of virgins,
Pillar of families,
Solace of the afflicted,
Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Terror of demons,
Protector of Holy Church,
Lamb of God,Who takes away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord!
Lamb of God,Who takes away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord!
Lamb of God,Who takes away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us!
V. He made him the lord of His household,
R. And prince over all His possessions.

Let Us Pray
O God, Who in Thine ineffable Providence didst
vouchsafe to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse
of Thy most holy Mother, grant, we beseech Thee,
that he whom we venerate as our protector on earth
may be our intercessor in Heaven. Who lives and
reigns forever and ever. Amen.

For more prayers to St. Joseph:   http://www.tanbooks.com/doct/prayers_joseph.htm

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