Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Favorite Passage-

"Why then is thy apparel red, and thy garments like theirs that tread in the winepress? I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the Gentiles there is not a man with me: I have trampled on them in my indignation, and have trodden them down in my wrath, and their blood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my apparel."
Isaiah 63:2- 63:3

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Communion Rails

The railing which guards the sanctuary and separates the latter from the body of the church is also called the communion-rail as the faithful kneel at it when receiving Holy Communion.
It is made of carved wood, metal, marble, or other precious material; it should be about two feet six inches high, and on the upper part from six to nine inches wide.

The church prescribes that a clean white cloth be extended before those who receive Holy Communion. This cloth is to be of fine linen, as it is solely intended as a sort of corporal to receive the particles which may fall from the hands of the priest. It is usually fastened on the sanctuary side and when in use is drawn over the top of the rail. It should extend the full length of the rail, and be about two feet wide, so that the communicant, taking it in both hands, may hold it under his chin. Its very purpose suggests that it is not to be made of lace or netting, although there is nothing to forbid its having a border of fine lace.

Instead of this cloth, a paten, to which a handle may be attached may be used. These latter are usually passed from one communicant to the other, and when the last at the end of the rail at the Gospel side has received Holy Communion the altar boy carries the paten to the first communicants at the Epistle side. A consecrated paten may never be placed for this purpose in the hands of lay persons.

Sanctus Bells

Sanctus bells get their name from being rung first during the Sanctus [Holy, Holy, Holy Lord...]. A little before the consecration, when appropriate, a server rings a bell as a signal to the faithful. According to local custom, the server also rings the bell as the priest shows the host and then the chalice.

The reason for ringing bells is, first, to create a joyful noise to the Lord; second, the Church bells ringing signaled those not able to attend Mass that something supernatural was taking place. The use of bells in the Church dates back to the fifth century when they were introduced as a means to summon monks to worship. In the seventh century Pope Sabinianus approved the use of bells to call the faithful to the Mass.

It wasn't until the thirteenth century that outdoor tower bells began to be rung as "Sanctus bells" during the Mass. It is interesting to note that tower bells are still used today as Sanctus bells at the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican and a great many other historic churches and cathedrals. A close look at many of these older structures will often reveal a series of sighting holes (and sometimes mirrors) that were once used by bell-ringers to monitor the celebration of the Mass from bell-lofts so that the bells could be rung at the proper time. (betcha didn't know that!)

Eventually, handheld bells, sanctuary-based chimes or "Gloria wheels" began to replace the tower bells rung during Mass -- largely for convenience.

Sanctus bells are traditionally kept on the epistle (left) side of the credence table during the Mass.

The bells are rung at three or four points during the celebration of the Mass:
1. Sanctus bells are first rung prior to the consecration at the epiclesis when the priest prays to the Holy Spirit to change the gifts of bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
2. The bells are rung a second time as the priest elevates and presents the Body of Christ.
3. The bells are rung a third time as the celebrant elevates and presents the chalice filled with the Precious Blood.
4. The bells may be rung a fourth time as the priest-celebrant consumes the Precious Blood. This custom, which originated from the rubrics of the Tridentine Mass, may be continued since it is not forbidden nor suppressed in the latest version of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
Sanctus bells may also be rung at specified times outside of the Mass, such as during Holy Benediction and during adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

On the Importance of Beauty in the Liturgy

Conventional wisdom has it that beauty is skin deep. There is nothing substantial to it; beauty is all vanity. This little kernel perhaps sums up best a puritan attitude which disregards beauty in general, whether in the form of a person, in nature, or in the arts, which are often considered mere extravagance.This attitude, however, is not in keeping with the millenia-old Western tradition. The Greek philosophers waxed eloquent about beauty, and so have many Christian theologians. The Medievals said that beauty is comprised of unity, variety, and goodness of form. This is echoed in the traditional definition of art as “a thing well-made.” More than that, however, beauty was defined as that which “brought delight to the senses,” as St. Thomas Aquinas said. Sometimes, without any time to think about how “well-made” a thing is, we are simply dazzled by its beauty. In Medieval times this was considered to be particularly true with respect to colors.In spite of all this, beauty was always tied in with other considerations, namely goodness, truth, and unity. The aesthete’s sole concern with “prettiness” was not well-regarded. Beauty was in many ways based upon virtue: an object was considered beautiful if it was well-made; and a person who was ugly, e.g. a leper, was considered to be somehow un-virtuous (a most unfortunate byproduct of a very beautiful philosophy).St. Augustine of Hippo said that God reaches people through four means: 1) goodness; 2) truth; 3) beauty; and 4) unity. Everyone is drawn to God via one of these things, or by some combination of them. How are men drawn to God through beauty? Pope Benedict XVI discusses the power of beauty, for instance a Bach cantata or an icon, to draw us in and bring us into contact with the truth. One could perhaps say that beauty “woos” us so that we will come closer, and by coming closer, we encounter God. Isn’t this true when a lover meets his beloved for the first time? Though many do not believe in love at first sight, it is nevertheless this first glance which draws each person to the other. Thereafter they get to know each other and get to see not only the other’s “skin deep” beauty, but also the beauty that flows from their goodness, their honesty (“truth”), and their integrity (“unity”).All of these principles apply to the liturgy. The beauty of the liturgy, which is manifested in architecture, artwork, vesture, music, etc., draws us in closer, so that we may more fully experience an encounter with Christ and see His Beauty, even if it is only a ray of it. This beauty is one of the things which helps us to bring the infinite into definite form; it brings God within the realm of our limited human senses, so that we cannot only think about Him but truly experience His presence. (In this way, beauty is “sacramental,” just like the Eucharist.) Then we will experience His goodness, truth, and unity in ways that make theological discourse look like “so much straw.”

Resources-"New Liturgical Movement"

This was originally put together for a parish bulletin; it is hoped it will be of some value to this blog's readers as well.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Monstrance

A Monstrance is the vessel used in the Roman Catholic, and Anglican Churches to display the consecrated Eucharistic Host, during Eucharistic adoration or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The word monstrance comes from the Latin word monstrare, meaning "to show". It is closely related to the English word demonstrate, meaning "to show clearly".

In the Catholic tradition, at the moment of consecration the gifts are transformed into the actual Body and Blood of Christ. Catholic doctrine states that the elements are not only spiritually transformed, but are actually transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. The elements retain the appearance or "accidents" of bread and wine, but are indeed the actual Body and Blood of Christ. This is what is meant by Real Presence, or the actual physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Because of this belief, the concecrated gifts are given the same respect and adoration as we would give Christ (because it IS Christ). During Eucharistic adoration, the sacrament is displayed in the monstrance, most likely on the altar. When not being displayed, the sacrament is locked in the Tabernacle.

In the service of Benediction, the priest blesses the people with the Eucharist displayed in the monstrance. This blessing differs from the priest's blessing, as it is seen to be the blessing of Christ, rather than that of the individual priest. The exposition of the monstrance during Benediction is traditionally accompanied by chanting or singing of the hymn Tantum Ergo.

The monstrance is usually very elaborate in design, with a sunburst design on a stand, usually topped by a cross. It is most often made of gold or other precious metal, and decorated with intricate sculpture work or other highly detailed designs. The monstrance is often made by hand by local or regional artists. In the center of the sunburst, the monstrance normally has a small round glass the size of a Host, through which the Blessed Sacrament can be seen. Behind this glass is a round container made of glass and gilded metal, called a luna, which holds the Host in place. When not in the monstrance, the Host in its luna is placed in a special standing container, called a standing pyx, in the Tabernacle.
Whenever the monstrance contains the Host, the priest will not touch it with his bare hands, but instead out of respect holds it with a humeral veil, a wide band of cloth that covers his shoulders and has pleats on the inside in which he places his hands.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Great Clouds of Incense

The actual incense itself is grown from the ooze that comes out of a Boswellia sacra. This little shrub/tree is only grown in the sultanate of Oman. After waiting a few days this turns into a little nugget, which is the raw pieces of incense that has burned in temples, and at Mass for the past two thousand years.

Incense was used as a suitable sacrifce worthy of God, and in a crude way, as a sort of odor cover-up back when they would sacrifice animals. They would use incense merely to mask the stench.
Both the Old and the New Testaments tell us that incense is pleasing to God. There is no evidence that Christians during the first three hundreds of the Church used incense at Mass. Many believe they refused because it was related to pagan rituals and they were worried about creating attention for unwanted people.

The purpose of incensing and the symbolic value of the smoke is that of purification and sanctification. In the General Instruction of the Roman Missal incense may be used during the entrance procession; at the beginning of Mass, to incense the altar; at the procession and proclamation of the Gospel; at the offertory, to incense the offerings, altar, priest and people; and at the elevation of the Sacred Host and chalice of Precious Blood after the consecration. The priest may also incense the Crucifix and the Paschal Candle. During funeral Masses, the priest at the final commendation may incense the coffin, both as a sign of honor to the body of the deceased which became the temple of the Holy Spirit at Baptism and as a sign of the faithful’s prayers for the deceased rising to God.

Today incense serves the same purpose as it did when Moses burned it in the desert—it pays homage to all that is holy, and symbolizes our prayers ascending to God.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pope Watch 2008

Hanging wiz da Pope-

In April 2008 the Holy Father is traveling on a tour to the United States. A group of High School students, our Pastor, schola members, some parents and I are taking a four day trip to New York City to attend the Pope's Mass at Yankee Stadium. I've never been to New York and I am very excited to go. Not only do I get to witness and Participate in a Mass celebrated by the Pope, but Harry Connick Jr. is also scheduled to sing before the Mass begins. Since World Youth Day is in Australia, this may be as close as we may get to the Holy Father.

It is going to be a wonderful experience... Please keep all that are going in your prayers.

My Dad and Pastor's trip to Rome

(My Dad and my pastor)


(Ask Father sometime about the long long walk)

During the fall of 2007, my Dad and my Pastor traveled to Rome for a liturgical conference on the sacred music for the Mass, and just to plainly go to Rome. They stayed near the North American Pontifical University for 6 days, and were only a few blocks from the steps of Saint Peter's Basilica. While staying in Rome, they ran across two Kalamazoo Diocese Seminarians who have been studing at the University for the past several years. Above I have posted some pictures of their trip, and the places they went and prayed.

Chalice Veil

Some of you may have noticed that Father has been using a "white cloth" that has been covering the Chalice through the mass. Well, it is more than just a white cloth; it is, as prescribed in Exodus and described in Hebrews, a veil or curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple: or a veil (cloth) used to protect and cover the very vessel which carries the Sacred Blood of Jesus Christ (well, technically, the Blood and Body, but that's for another post). It is usually the same color as the priest's vestments and go along with the liturgies for that day.

Sweet, huh?

Know Your Latin Prayers!


Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatae Mariae semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistae, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus Sanctis, et vobis, fratres (et tibi pater), quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et vos, fratres (et te, pater), orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum. Amen.


I confess to almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy apostles Peter and Paul, to all the saints, and to you my brothers (and to thee, father) that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore, I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, to pray for me to the Lord our God. Amen.

Pater Noster-

PATER noster, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum. Adveniat regnum tuum. Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie, et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo. Amen.


OUR Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Ave Maria-

AVE Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.


HAIL Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen.

Gloria Patri-

GLORIA Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.


GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Interview with Msgr. Guido Marini, the Papal MC

"The very first reaction was great surprise and great fear. Then I felt a certain trepidation the night before beginning my service, and I also very much felt the separation from my diocese and my city, my sister and her family, from so many friends, from the places where I have exercised my priesthood in a special way: the [Genoese] curia, the seminary, the cathedral. At the same time, however, I felt much honoured to be called by the Holy Father to perform the service of Master of Liturgical Celebrations. The possibility I have been given to be near the Holy Father I have felt immediately to be a true grace for my priesthood."Monsignor Guido Marini, Genoese, 42 years old, thus describes to the "Riformista" his arrival, last October, at the Vatican to assume the post of Master of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Pope. An appointment which allows him to work in close contact with Benedict XVI. "That which I have perceived at the beginning of my new assignment - he tells - I have found confirmed exactly every time I have had the grace to encounter the Holy Father. These encounters have been and are always for me a cause of great joy and great emotion. I would never have thought, having been an attentive reader and appreciator of Cardinal Ratzinger, that one day I would have the grace to be as close to him as I am now. And then, every time, together with the profound reverence which inspires in me the figure of the Pope, I experience his serene, gentle, fine and delicate manner of dealing with people which fills my heart with joy and which invites me to exert myself with all my energy to collaborate with generosity, humility and fidelity in the exercise of his Magisterium in the liturgical sphere, as far as pertains to my competences."Lex orandi lex credendiThe office of Master of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Pope is important because, if it is true that lex orandi lex credendi (the Church believes in that which She prays [Rodari's translation]), then to direct the papal ceremonies with rigour and faithfulness to the norms is a help to the Faith of the entire Church. "The liturgy of the Church - explains Marini -, with its words, gestures, silences, chants and music causes us to live with singular efficacy the different moments of the history of Salvation in such a way that we become really participant in them and transform ourselves ever more into authentic disciples of the Lord, walking again in our lives along the traces of Him who has died and risen for our salvation. The liturgical celebration, if it is truly participated in, induces to this transformation which is the history of holiness."And a help in this "transformation" can be that "repositioning" of the Cross in the centre of the altar, which has been carried out in the papal liturgies, as a residue [Rodari's word] of the old "orientation towards orient" of churches: towards the rising Sun, Him who is coming. "The position of the Cross at the centre of the altar - says Marini - indicates the centrality of the Crucified in the eucharistic celebration and the precise interior orientation which the entire congregation is called to have during the eucharistic liturgy: one does not look at each other, but one looks to Him who has been born, has died and is risen for us, the Saviour. From the Lord comes the salvation, He is the Orient, the Sun which rises to whom we all must turn our gaze, from Whom we all must receive the gift of grace. The question of liturgical orientation, and also the practical manner in which it takes shape, is of great importance, because through it is conveyed a fundamental fact, at once theological and anthropological, ecclesiological and relevant for the personal spirituality."ContinuityA "repositioning", that of the Cross, which exposes how the liturgical practices of the past must also live today. "The liturgy of the Church - says Marini -, as incidentally all her life, is made of continuity: I would speak of development in continuity. This means that the Church proceeds on her way through history without losing sight of her own roots and her own living tradition: this can require, in some cases, also the recovering of precious and important elements which have been lost, forgotten along the way and which the passing of time has rendered less shining in their authentic significance. When that happens it is not a return to the past, but a true and enlightened progress in the liturgical field."And in this progress it is impossible not to mention the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum: "Considering attentively the Motu proprio, as well as the letter addressed by the Pope to the bishops of all the world to present it, a twofold precise understanding emerges. First of all, that of facilitating the accomplishing of "a reconciliation in the bosom of the Church"; and in this sense, as has been said, the Motu proprio is a most beautiful act of love towards the unity of the Church. In second place, and this is a fact which must not be forgotten, that [sc. understanding] of favouring a reciprocal enrichment between the two forms of the Roman rite: in such a way, for instance, that in the celebration according to the Missal of Paul VI (ordinary form of the Roman rite) 'can become manifest, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the ancient usage'."These are important days for the Church. Days in which she relives the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord. The days of Lent, of Holy Week and then of Easter: "Lent - he says - is a time of sincere conversion in a spiritual climate of austerity. An austerity which is not an end in itself, but directed at facilitating the recovering of what is truly essential in human life. And that which is truly essential, beyond everything, is God. That is why Lent is a privileged time of returning to God with all one's heart, by means of the threefold way of prayer, fast and almsgiving, as the page of the Gospel of Ash Wednesday recalls. It is the time in which we are called to relive interiorly, in the arch of the forty days, the experience of the ancient people of God wandering in the desert and the experience of temptation undergone by Jesus. Fundamentally, both these experiences take us back to a battle lived in order to find God and remain in intimate communion with Him, to preserve the primacy of His will in our life, not to allow that something else than Him have the capacity to annex the human heart. With Easter, on the other hand, new spiritual sceneries open themselves, coloured by exultant joy, by overabundant life, by luminous hope: because with the risen Christ, death is vanquished, sin and evil do not have the last word anymore on the life of man, the blessed eternity is a real prospect, life finds a fulfilled meaning, it is discovered that the Truth of the face of God is merciful Love without end."

Photos of Holy Week in Rome

These are a few images of The Pope's Good Friday mass in the Vatican Rome, Italy. It goes without saying that what is first and foremost through all the Triduum is the Triduum itself; the liturgical commemoration of the passion, death and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, and whose sacrifice we mystically and truly celebrate each and every day upon our altars. I thought I would put together a brief photo montage of interesting liturgical sights we have seen starting a week ago on Palm Sunday.

(The ombrellino for the Eucharistic procession, lending an even greater emphasis upon Our Lord in the Eucharist)

(The traditional seven candlesticks and cross upon St. Peter's high altar)

Hello All!

Well, this is my first blog, so bear with me while I bring things up to date-

As most of you will notice, on the side I have listed websites to visit, along with other information and such. If anybody has any input on what else to add on here, or any information you feel worth sharing please send it to me, or leave it in a comment and I will check it out and post it.
Now, some of you may be wondering about the "Lex Orandi Lex Credendi". It is an old Roman saying (of course in latin) which roughly translates to "the way we pray is the way we believe". I think it's wonderful!