Originally posted 4/4/2012, but as with Holy Week's Missing Days, this has been a top search. Posting here for easier access!
During class last night, one of my students asked for a deeper explanation of why we use the term "Blood of the Lamb" when referring to the Eucharist.
Over the last few weeks, we've taken the story of Moses' Passover and applied it to the Passover / Last Supper of Christ. This is a very involved topic for adults let alone my sixth graders, but since they're a determined and bright bunch, I gave it a whirl.
I reminded them of the original Passover (that's still celebrated by Jews today). The Israelites had spent many years as slaves in Egypt, longing for God to rescue them from their suffering. God, in His Mercy, sent a final message to the Pharaoh in the form of the Angel of Death. In order to shelter His people from the Angel of Death, God commanded Moses to tell the Israelites to "take some of [the lamb's] blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb." (Exodus 12:7)
Moses had them use hyssop branches which they'd dip into the lamb blood and mark their doors. It looked something like this:
God promised the Israelites: "The blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you." (Exodus 12:13)
Thus, the blood of the lamb was a sign of God's Mercy towards the Israelites. Instead of striking out at them in judgement, God only struck out at the Egyptians who were not protected by this symbol of His Mercy.
Fast forward to the Last Supper, the feast of Passover in which the sacrificial lamb is offered up and its blood placed around the door frames of the Jews. Jesus not only fulfilled the request of God the Father by remembering the Passover through this act of sacrificing a lamb... Jesus established the "new and everlasting covenant" which was - for the very first time - all encompassing. No longer was this a mere covenant between God and the Israelites. This was a covenant between God and the whole of humanity, and Jesus offered HIMSELF as the Lamb.
When Jesus said "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt 26:28), He was accepting the role of the lamb. He, the Unblemished Innocent, was freely giving His Life so that those who partook of It would be cleansed of their sin, thus GAINING life. As such, His Blood - the seal of the New Covenant - became proof of God's Mercy.
God the Father's foreshadowing through Moses is completed through the Sacrifice of Christ at the Last Supper. Jesus truly shed His Blood in order to cover us, shielding us from the just punishments of God, just as the blood of the lamb over the doorposts shielded the Jews from the Angel of Death.
I then called to mind the words during the Mass, "Happy are those who are called to His Supper." We're specifically talking about the Eucharist... Christ's final, everlasting Passover meal in which He is the Paschal Lamb!
We are happy because we understand we accept Christ's Blood, fully present along with His Body, Soul and Divinity at Eucharist. We renew our covenant with God, re-pledging ourselves to follow His Will as He blesses us with the mark of Mercy - His Son. Our spiritual wounds healed, and our soul cleansed through His Presence, we are once more reunited to God through this most sacred, merciful mystery.
I sincerely hope they partake of the Eucharist with this in mind going forward!
Oh, and as an added bonus, the hyssop branches that were used by the Israelites during that first (and subsequent) Passovers were the same "reeds" used to offer Christ vinegar as He hung upon the Cross. God is certainly a stickler for the details. :)
This is incredible. I bowed my head in appreciation and reverence for the outpouring of solidarity, faithfulness and piety that was shown to the Blessed Sacrament in reparation for the horrid mockery allowed to happen in Oklahoma City under the guise of religious freedom.
We must consistently show this sort of solidarity. We must consistently and unapologetically pour out our faithfulness and reverence for the God who created us.
Bless these folks and all who took part in supporting the reparation. <3
At Mass on Sunday, our church looked SPLENDID with all the red and gold finery. When we Exalt the Holy Cross, you'd better believe we know how to do it!
Anyway, I picked up Vincent so he could see the procession and various trimmings adoring the altar and sanctuary. I explained why our pastor was in red and gold, and I whispered how special this Sunday was because of the Feast it celebrated.
He clung to me in rapt attention, clearly enjoying the brilliant splashes of color. However, as I was explaining this, Mr. Knight of Columbus whispered (not so quietly) to his wife: "You'd think he'd know that by now."
I'm not the type of person to let comments like that roll, but it was the very beginning of Mass (the Processional) and I didn't want to make a scene before Father got to the sanctuary. Plus, people ALWAYS assume Vince is older than he is because he's taller than most 7 year olds.
So I bit my tongue and stifled the urge to give the man whiplash.
I continued explaining things - as I do - to Vince throughout Mass. He's at the point, however, that he's really starting to "get" certain things - chief among these is the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. When our pastor raised the Host during Consecration, Vincent always says "I love you, Jesus!" as I've taught him to do.
This time, he said it a little too zealously and the man audibly huffed as if my son's adoration was somehow disturbing or shameful.
Again... bit my tongue.
Finally, Vince had to use the potty right after Consecration. I asked him if he could hold it until after Communion, but he couldn't, so we started leaving the pew. Knight Perfection huffed again.
I gave him a death stare as we left the pew.
When we got back, folks were already lining up for Communion. Vince, as he always does, genuflected with me before I received. When we got back into the pew, he kissed me on the lips (as he always does) so he could "kiss Jesus." I was proud of him, and I wanted that guy to see why. Sure he doesn't know what the liturgical colors are all about, and maybe he doesn't know the responses yet, and yeah, okay... the kid's got a bladder smaller than a dixie cup, but ya know what? His heart is as big and beautiful as the Milky Way Galaxy, and all he wants to do is have Jesus come live in it.
SO BACK OFF MR. KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS DUDE.
As I was venting about this today, my buddy said I should've said something to him. Again, normally I would, but I didn't think it'd do much good. He was a crotchety older guy who obviously didn't have a soft spot in his body for children. Such misery doesn't tend to find sunshine in July let alone a lesson in a mother's scold.
But now that I've vented, I feel somewhat better. I just hope I never have the displeasure of sitting in front of him again. Yick.
Prayers for him and all those who would treat children with such disdain. The Kingdom of God belongs to them, too.
I just about lost my mind via cellphone the other day. I did precisely what I just promised I'd try not to do in this entry.
If there's one thing that can set me off, it's the whole "Novus Ordo vs. Tridentine Mass" thing that has people on both sides of the aisle crying out with indignation.
I had originally titled this entry Novus Ordo vs. Tridentine Masses, but then I realized I was fueling the fire even more. Why must there be a "versus" in there all the time?
I've never attended a Tridentine Mass. Ever since coming back to the Church, I've wanted to. I follow blogs that support the TLM (Traditional Latin Mass) in the hopes that should I ever build up enough courage, I won't make a complete fool of myself the first time I attend.
From all I understand about a Tridentine Mass, I know I'll love it. I see its value and know it's a necessary balm for our aching Church.
That being said, I don't see why I have to trounce the Novus Ordo in order to appreciate the beauty of the TLM.
Why can't we accept that both forms of the Mass accomplish this:
Which encapsulates both this
Now I fully understand that liturgical abuses have abounded within the NO (Novus Ordo), but that does not mean that the NO is completely without merit.
It doesn't mean that a NO Mass is invalid and those who worship at NO Masses aren't really Catholic.
Those sorts of statements are vicious, uncharitable, an incredibly arrogant.
And I shot back stating as much.
I mean, I didn't even know that a TLM existed in the present day until I had my reversion. I didn't know that there were still priests (and laity) who prayed in Latin and celebrated Mass ad orientem (priest facing the tabernacle) vs. ad populum (priest facing the people with his back to the tabernacle, and thus, Christ). That was all super new to me!
Should I be labelled non-Catholic because I was ignorant that "the old Mass" still existed?
Also, what of the folks who simply don't have TLMs available in their vicinity (through absolutely no fault of their own)? Should they, too, be labelled as something less than Catholic because their only mode of celebrating the Paschal Mystery is through the Novus Ordo Mass?
I'm all for having the TLM alive and well in every parish in the world. I really am. However, I'm not okay with constantly being made to feel inferior because I accept the NO Mass as a valid form of worship. And this inferiority complex is being forced on me by my fellow Catholics!
I just don't understand this vitriol. I really don't. I love that there are folks out there who are passionate about bringing back the TLM. I'm happy that there is a drive to educate Catholics of their roots and the beauty of our original liturgy. I am grateful that blogs like Fr. Z's What Does the Prayer Really Say go out of their way to highlight the original prayers and expound on the prayerful insights and spiritual education that can be found within them.
I really do.
However, within this same group of passionate, driven people are those who take their zeal to the point of arrogance. They wish to trample charity in the name of propping up the TLM. They are precisely the reason I feel ill-equipped to attend a TLM. I'm afraid of riling anger from kneeling at the wrong spot, misspeaking Latin, or even wearing the wrong color veil.
I am absolutely certain that most folks who attend the TLM wouldn't treat me poorly for learning to crawl my way through a TLM. I'm sure many of them would jump at the chance to help me learn to walk until eventually I was confident in my celebration of a TLM in union with them. However, I've come across enough "bad apples" that I simply don't want to deal with the arrogant chastisement for the litany of mistakes I'm sure I'd make.
Maybe that's my own insecurity talking. Maybe I'm even trying to make excuses for not attending the TLM. The truth is, though, that there really are enough folks out there who have trounced me and my defense of NO Masses that I have been scared off TLMs for the time being. I'm not part of their "holier than thou" club. I'm not spiritually enlightened. I'm not theologically justified in my abhorrence of all things Vatican II.
That makes me sad, because like I said before, I KNOW there are plenty of loving proponents of the TLM who would happily endure my mistakes and patiently teach me the ways of our beautiful liturgy. Until I find one close enough to me who I feel comfortable enough to rely on, though, I'm steering clear.
In the meantime, however, I'll continue to defend the NO Mass as a valid way of celebrating the Paschal Mystery. No amount of human error is going to detract from the efficacy of Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection.
While John and I were in the Bahamas, I got my first chance to attend a Bahemian Mass. I had contacted the Diocese of Nassau before leaving and found out the closest church to my hotel was the Cathedral. How lucky was that?
I decided to attend the early Mass on Sunday (8 AM).
I woke up at about 6:45 to get ready. I was told to hop on the jitney (their local bus system) by 7:15 so I get to the Cathedral on time. I dutifully walked to the bus stop by myself. Normally I'd be a bit nervous to do this in a foreign country all by myself (John was still sleeping), but given the laid back, super friendly nature of Bahemians, I wasn't concerned for my personal safety.
In fact, I was pretty confident that locals would go out of their way to help me out given the high importance of tourism. They don't want bad publicity via rumors of tourist muggings, so they are generally super, super nice to foreigners.
When the jitney came around, I found myself alone on the bus with the driver. I sat directly behind him so I could hear him call out my stop. Silly me, though, he took it upon himself to become my personal taxi-driver!
When I climbed onto the bus by myself, he exclaimed, "By yourself? Where is your partner?"
I laughed and said, "He's still in bed sleeping. I'm going to Mass at St. Francis Cathedral. Are you going there?"
He said, "Yes, baby (all women, to men, are "baby" in the Bahamas). I go by there just fine. Your partner didn't want to come with you?"
I laughed again and said, "Nope. He's not Catholic."
He said, "What is he?"
I said, "He's agnostic, I think. He doesn't really believe in or care about God."
The driver seemed slightly perplexed, but let the comment roll over him. He said, "Well, did you get breakfast yet?"
I said, "No. I'll eat when I get back."
He said, "Are you sure? I can drive to McDonald's or something."
I shook my head and said, "No, it's really okay. Just to the church."
He then chuckled, "Oh yeah. You Catholics don't eat before you pray, right?"
I laughed again and confirmed he was right.
To my surprise, he told me he'd just drop me off at the entrance of the Cathedral. That was about two blocks from his route. Not super far, but it was still out of his way and could have cost him passengers.
He told me not to worry about it because it was early yet on a Sunday. He thought he was lucky to get me let alone other passengers along the route.
What a nice guy!
So he did drop me off directly in front of the Cathedral wall with directions on how to get back to the real bus stop when Mass was over.
Upon exiting the bus, I walked through the archway and immediately saw a statue of Elizabeth Ann Seton.
I wondered why they chose her. The little placard explained that her order, the Sisters of Charity, founded the very first school in the Bahamas and are still active on the island to this day. How wonderful is that?
Anyway, since I was still very early, I snapped a few more shots of the outside grounds. Forgive the blur - coming off the air conditioned bus and into the humidity of Nassau fogged my lens up something fierce!
Once I snapped these, I decided it would be best to get my bearings inside. I couldn't wait to see their artwork!
I entered the Cathedral and, to me, it looked very different from the pictures posted on their website. I was expecting a Protestant looking church, but it was, in fact, very Catholic. Upon entering the Cathedral, I was greeted with the Baptismal font, ambry and the entrance bell (one of the prettiest I've seen!).
I was immediately greeted by an enthusiastic usher who handed me a voting slip for parish council. Ha ha! I thanked him and asked if it would be okay to snap a few more photos before the rest of the congregation began showing up. He gave me the go-ahead, and off I went. I figured it'd be less intrusive to get my photos over with sooner rather than later when more people were trying to focus on prayer.
The first thing that struck me was the tabernacle. It was missing from the sanctuary. In its normal place behind the altar were three chairs (I assume for the bishop, priest and deacon). Every now and again I see a church up here do that, but never with the tabernacle completely gone from the sanctuary.
When I found the tabernacle, I almost couldn't believe I'd missed it!
Without a doubt, their tabernacle is the largest one I've ever seen in person. It was off to the right of the sanctuary, and I wonder if its size was the reason for its placement. This massive, golden tabernacle... it was beautiful, but wow. It was HUGE. The picture below doesn't do it justice. I took the photo from the middle aisle without the zoom. It's just... WHEW. The sheer size blew me away.
From there, a statue of the Blessed Mother caught my eye. She and the Child Jesus were carved from wood and hand painted. St. Joseph was hanging out on the other side of the church also carrying Baby Jesus.
Then, of course, I snapped a few photos of the Stations as well as the stained glass.
Next, as I was getting into the pew, I noticed the beautiful carvings that seemed to alternate between these two patterns:
Finally, here's a shot of the main altar. As you can see, there was a massive floral spray in front of it. Behind were the Nassau crest and symbols of the 4 Gospels. You can see the back of the Bishop's chair poking up.
Stay tuned for Part II where I tackle the surprising differences in liturgy that legitimately knocked me of my feet - TWICE!
Brace yourselves for one of the nerdiest "fan-girl" type entries ever.
And yes, it's about a homily.
I'm not even sure where to begin as I'm so giddy over the brilliance and no-nonsense approach this retired priest (who is filling in for Fr. Atlas while he's away). It was his mission to defend the Eucharist and educate parishioners on the importance we should place on the Real Presence of Christ - what a gem! If I didn't have Vince on my lap, I would've taken a pen and paper out for notes!
To begin, this weekend's readings were very much Eucharistic in nature. The first reading dealt with the manna from Heaven that nourished the Israelites as they wandered through the desert. The psalm was a reflection of this reading and also foreshadowed the joyful thanksgiving we ought to sing in praise of His gracious institution of the Holy Eucharist.
The second reading reminds us that the bread that nourishes us it not only physical but spiritual. Christ, the Word, is our sustenance. His teachings and example are the gateway to Heaven.
Finally, in the gospel, we hear Jesus, Himself, affirm that He is the Bread of Life. This is not some spiritual manner of speaking. He is affirming His Presence in the Holy Eucharist - the greatest of all Sacraments. He is preparing His followers to understand and accept this unfathomable mercy.
Upon walking out amongst the congregation, Fr. Eucharist (as I'll call him henceforth) spoke of several mystics who lived solely on the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.
He didn't specify a particular mystic, but considering the scientific evidence he spoke of regarding the validity of these miraculous signs, my mind jumped to Blessed Alexandrina who subsisted on nothing but the Holy Eucharist for 13 years (to the astonishment of the many doctors and scientists who examined her).
Fr. Eucharist wanted to highlight that the Blessed Sacrament is not just symbol of Christ. This Sacrament of Love is the fullness of Christ's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. When we say "Amen" in response to the priest's offering, we are saying "Yes, I believe!" that the consecrated Host we receive is, in fact, God. He has chosen to use some of His saints to hit home this point through allowing them the grace of existing solely on His Body. As He said, "My Flesh is true food, and My Blood is true drink." Amen, indeed.
As such, the Eucharist is to be the most important thing in our lives. It is the banquet that supercedes all other banquets.
Upon this reflection, Father Eucharist then went on to describe some key elements that build up our Mass towards this miraculous banquet.
The procession and readings - our Liturgy of the Word - is like a cocktail hour. I loved that comparison! At a wedding cocktail, for example, we gather together with joy to catch up with family and friends we haven't seen in a while. We see how the kids are doing, we find out what so-and-so's been up to, and we bask in the filial love present amongst us all.
During the cocktail hour, we also get tiny samples of the greater meal awaiting us at the main banquet. For us, those morsels are the various readings and responses. As Catholics, we believe that Christ is the Word, so we are blessed to receive Him with our ears before we partake of the "main course" of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
And oh... the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Pardon me as I 'squee' ridiculously for a few moments. He really took off running as he reflected on the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Once again he discussed the spiritual reality of our physical presence at Mass.
As St. John Chrysostom once said, "When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim
immolated on the altar."
Amen, St. John!
Fr. Eucharist reminded of this in such a reverent, direct way that I could have stood up to applaud him. He said, "Yes! There is truth beyond what we can see with our physical eyes. At the words of consecration, Jesus is standing behind the priest! God the Father and Holy Spirit are with Him. Mary, His mother, is there with St. Joseph. And filling the sanctuary are the angels and saints who, together with us, adore and praise Him."
How I managed to stay in my seat and not jump up to hug him is truly beyond me. I felt as if my heart had doubled in size just so it could sprout arms and embrace him.
Yes, Fr. Eucharist, yes! TELL US! TEACH US! REMIND US THAT THE EUCHARIST IS GOD TRULY PRESENT! Shine as an example to all other priests that THIS is the type of truth so desperately needed in the world today. THIS is what Catholics must be reminded of so that we can properly appreciate the gift that is the Eucharist.
Did he stop there? No no, folks. My giddiness erupted as he went on.
Catholics, when they present themselves for the Eucharist, must make a throne with their hands with which to accept the Body of Christ. Not with one hand. Not with two haphazardly placed together. Reverently accept Him as the King He is!
*He then proceeded to show us what that would look like.*
And, bless him, he also gave a nod to acceptance on the tongue (which is how I receive anyway).
And to boot, he called out folks who leave after receiving the Eucharist. He said, "And to those of you who leave after Communion, you're missing a lot of stuff! From Consecration until the Recessional, the Blood of Christ covers the congregation, filling us with untold graces!"
He again didn't mention a specific mystic, but I'm about 99.9% sure he was referring to the revelations made by the Blessed Mother to Catalina Revas of Bolivia. I'd only recently learned of her (I would guess in the last 8 months or so), but the insights and revelations made to her by Christ and Our Lady have forever changed my participation in the Mass. I would encourage all of you to read more about her! But again, use the typical caution regarding private revelations. Though not forbidden / approved by the Church, it us up to the individual to request guidance and discernment from the Holy Spirit.
Back to the wonderful priest, however, he closed his homily with a reminder that after reception of the Eucharist, we would do well to remember that God, Himself, dwells within us. So as we walk back to our seats, it's not the time for saying "Hi" to friends, nor is it the time to get one's self ready to leave. The time after Communion is meant for prayful reflection... a true and intimate conversation between us and God.
And don't you know after Communion, he graciously allowed us time to sit in silent contempation.
Hmmmm... I've got a big old stupid smile on my face, and it's all because of this wonderful representative of Christ. My prayers are with him and with all priests. May they all have such ardent love for Him, and may they all seek to spread that love and understanding to others. Bless him, and bless them!
Okay, so I'm a huge fan of this young woman now. Had to repost this particular video because I think it's something we've all been guilty of. If not guilty, then definitely victim of.
Friendly reminder to refrain from mindless chatter after Mass. At least remove yourself from the Church Proper.
About two weeks ago I was snagged by a friend of a friend before I'd even left my pew. I HATE pointless "catch up" talks after Mass, so I tried to be as quick as possible without being rude. I couldn't exactly "walk with" them to guide them out of the Church (as I wanted to take photos of some art), but I also didn't want to continue a conversation in the middle of the church, either.
Anyone have any tips for extracting yourself from the situation? Or any gentle words of reproach to ensure people remember not to act in such a way after Mass?
I attended St. William's in NE Philadelphia yesterday. They have a unique 8pm evening mass on Sunday which is thoroughly helpful when someone like me has a wedding the night before and can't drag herself out of bed in time for her usual 10am service.
Anyway, I attend St. William's once every other month or so. I'm regular enough that folks sorta-kinda recognize me (especially as I'm the only veiled one present), but irregular enough to where no one really knows my name.
Color me ridiculously surprised, then, when I bumped into several people that I knew from Incarnation (my old home parish) last night.
One scooched in next to me during the Penitential Rite. Neither of us were aware of who the other was until the 1st Reading. She nudged me and said, "Gina?" I turned, surprised to see my old friend. It was a pleasant surprise. She made a motion with her hand regarding my veil. It was a question... a confused, "What's with the veil?" I just smiled and returned my attention back to the Mass.
I could feel her eying me curiously for the rest of Mass. At the end of Mass, after moving to the narthex, I opened the door for the questions I knew she had.
Inevitably, the first one was, "So, what's with the veil?"
I explained, briefly, that I'd had a rekindling of faith and spent over a year returning to my Catholic roots. One of the things I discovered on my journey back to Christ was the custom of veiling. I explained that since the Blessed Mother is my example for all things Catholic, far be it from me to place myself above her example when in the Presence of Christ. If she wears a veil when with her Beloved Son, I feel I, too, should present myself in a similar fashion when accepting Him in the Eucharist.
Then she said, "I saw you cross yourself and mumble something during the Gospel. What was that all about?"
I couldn't figure out what she was talking about at first. It took several moments of her miming an interpretation of what I looked like at the beginning of the Gospel for me to understand what she was referring to.
When the priest said, "A reading from the Gospel of Mark" I made a tiny cross with my thumb over my forehead, my lips and my heart. The mumbling she heard was a prayer I learned in 5th grade to go along with the motion I learned that same day:
"Lord, be ever on my mind, on my lips, and in my heart."
During the Gospel, we are hearing the Word of God. We, as Catholics, should strive always to keep His Word in mind so that we may act charitably towards one another. We also wish to bear forth the Word of Christ to others, either through praise and thanksgiving, or through evangelization. Finally, above all, we wish to love Him with our whole heart by keeping His Word enclosed within.
Thus, the small crosses signifying His Gospel upon mind, lips and heart.
I've done it since learning it in 5th grade, and I've always assumed it's part of the proper movements of Mass. Kind of like "sit, stand, kneel, 'Amen,'" I thought this particular motion and prayer were part of the expected and "everybody knows you're supposed to do that" knowledge that goes along with being Catholic.
However, if you did not know this before, you do now! :)
I found this through Spirit Daily this morning. It's taking all the charity I have within me not to start spewing horrible, nasty things about this pea-brain of an "artist."
He claims he made popsicles using the Blood of Christ after a priest "inadvertently" blessed it during a Mass.
For the record, a priest cannot "inadvertently" bless anything. He either does or he doesn't. The corporal isn't just there to act as a napkin to catch fallen particles. It's also a boundary for items that need to be included for consecration.
So in order for this fool to obtain the Precious Blood, he'd've had to do one of two things:
1) Sneak a cruet of wine onto the corporal (which is direct center of the altar) in the middle of Mass (since the priest opens and places it after the Liturgy of the Word), then somehow steal it away before Communion without ever being detected.
2) Steal the consecrated wine through taking a chalice that's being used during Communion (which would create some sort of commotion, I'd assume), or accepting the Precious Blood via Communion and instead of ingesting, commit an even greater sacrilege by spitting the now consecrated wine into a vial or some other container for later use.
It's not like he could hold his little bottle of wine under his pew during a Mass and have it consecrated (which is what he stupidly thinks he did). It's not like he could drive by a chapel and suddenly the wine in his cooler becomes Christ's Blood.
Seriously - how foolish does he expect people to be???
Apparently exactly as foolish as they are. This article ran on CNN and he's planning to sell them during NY's Design Week. Disgusting.
May God have mercy on us. We have no idea how tragic we are unto ourselves.
I took Vincent with me to the Mass of the Lord's Supper. I'm so glad I did. My mom had originally wanted to watch him for me, but I declined because I really wanted him to witness such a special Mass.
I know some people think it's silly to take young kids to Mass. The argument is that they don't really understand what's going on and are more of a distraction than anything else to others who are attending. I get that. I used to leave Vincent at home for those same reasons. However, after coming to understand what a benefit it is bringing him with me (religious education and formation, exercising patience, and being in the Presence of Jesus), I couldn't imagine leaving him home for the celebration of the Mass from which all other Masses would follow, emulate and unite with.
When he realized where we were going, he pitched a fit, of course. However, as soon as we got into the family room, he nestled against me and relaxed quietly for the rest of the Mass. He was content to stay on my lap, which amazed the elderly couple in the room with us (sparse crowd - *sigh*).
Anyway, as Father knelt to clean the feet of the 12, I wondered how each one of them felt as he approached them. I wondered what the Apostles had thought and felt as Christ approached them, considering that the act of washing feet was considered beneath even a Jewish slave's dignity. Obviously St. Peter recoiled in horror at the thought, and no doubt the other apostles probably tried to get Christ off His Knees, but that act of Ordination must have been completed to prepare them for the serving role they'd take on as priests.
Yet they wouldn't understand that until Pentecost. Not until the grace of the Holy Spirit removed the veil from their eyes would they realize what this act meant for them.
So as Father Piotr put his chausable back on, I choked back tears, realizing that Christ must've put on his outer garments in much the same manner - what were the Apostles thinking at that moment?
Anyway, after the Eucharistic celebration, as the lights were dimmed and the Procession towards the place of repose completed, people started shuffling out of the Church. As the lights went out, one by one, and the sanctuary was emptied of its candles, furniture and linens, Vincent's little voice asked, "What happened?"
Actually, it sounds more like "Bah bappened?" but the point is, he understood that something very special was taking place and wanted to know why it was happening.
All I could think to answer in a hushed whisper was, "Jesus sacrificed Himself. He died so we could live."
May the rest of your Triduum be blessed.
For Good Friday, I was lucky enough to find a parish that offered Confession for two hours before noon.
The church was barren, save for an empty wooden cross crowned with a ring of thorns. I wanted to kiss the cross as I waited for confession, but it was in the sanctuary so I could not.
This church had also removed all the kneelers which I thought was interesting. I didn't mind kneeling on the floor and thought it was a good idea that we could now offer up this slight mortification in union with Christ.
All the fonts were either empty of draped in purple. It almost felt wrong that the sunlight poured in through the gorgeous stained glass windows. Did nature somehow forget that Jesus was suffering death? Did the sun forget that we were to remember His Passion today?
No - nature didn't forget. That same sun shone down upon Christ as He followed the Via Dolorosa. That burning sun tried so hard to light His way... to warm His Body that must've been shivering dreadfully for lack of Blood. It poured its rays of warmth over Our Lady to offer her even the simplest of condolences. It offered itself to the people - the same people who angrily kicked, spit upon and mocked the Savior. If the sun could think, would it have let loose torrential solar flares in an effort to enlighten these ignorant people that they were cruelly murdering the innocent and mighty Hand of Creation? Would it have spun faster to strengthen its gravitational pull in order to pull its God closer to itself in a protective embrace?
That sun - our sun - was the same sun that shone down on Christ's hanging Body upon the Cross. It didn't forget... maybe it just knows better than we do the power of Christ's resurrection and wants to remind us that though our hearts are black with grief, His Light will prevail and will work Itself into even the darkest of tombs.
Then I began thinking about Our Lady and the grief she must've carried along that same trail of tears. To stand at the foot of His Cross and to fully understand that this was the Sacrifice she was born to offer in union with Her Son... incredible. The same Baby she cradled in her arms and nursed at her breast... the same Child who picked her wild flowers and proudly crafted His first wood project into a gift for her... the same Man who she watched heal, love and unite - now she watched His final, passionate act of Love during His earthly Life.
I cannot even imagine that pain. When I think of the Blessed Mother and the other women who were forced to watch their children be sacrificed (for early martyrs, this was common- to endure witnessing the torture and death of your children before being killed yourself) my heart nearly stops. My breath always catches because as a mother, I cannot help but put Vincent's face on each of those children. I cannot help but imagine my own indescribable terror, pain and fury as I was shackled to a wall to endure Vincent's agonizing torture, unable to help, comfort or avenge him. Would I be able to offer our suffering up to God as Mary did?
And I do think of this often. I can't help myself, especially with the increasing amounts of political pressure being built up against the Catholics not only in this country, but all around the world.
It's no secret that Christianity is the most persecuted faith in the world (actually, it might be in the US where many assume it's Islam). Also, since I subscribe to VOM's monthly newsletter, the reality of this problem is often in my thoughts.
My husband has often questioned why I continue reading these things as they tend to make me upset. I respond that my ignorance doesn't help, and at the very least, these folks deserve to have people aware of their plight... even if the only thing we can do is offer prayers for them. I'm not willing to ignore the suffering of others in order to spare myself a few sleepless nights. It doesn't seem right.
I won't lie - there have been times where I've wanted to put down books or newsletters. I've wanted to ignore particular headlines because of the emotional stress I'd end up with, but I typically end up reading on. I have to. How would I feel if someone ignored me? How would I feel if someone had the ability to help me and shut the door because it was just "too painful" to even acknowledge my pain's existence?
It's why I forced myself to endure learning about the different methods of abortion. For weeks I'd burst into tears, dropping to my knees to beg God to force us to stop these heinous murders. I didn't care if that meant the world would end, I just wanted the suffering of these innocent children to stop. This was actually during a period that John tried "forbidding" me from accessing the internet. Heh - he knew he couldn't really forbid me, and I doubt he wanted to, but he was so upset for me that he didn't know what else to do. He didn't understand why I kept trying to learn more about abortions. He said, "You know they happen, and you learning about how they happen isn't going to make abortions happen less."
I said, "You're right. My understanding won't stop abortions because I already made the decision to never participate, but I bet if others who haven't made that decision learned about abortion it would happen less!"
And it's true - so many people who are "pro-choice" really don't understand all that goes into an actual abortion. For all the philosophical waxing pro-choicers do, they never once get into the hard-science of what an abortion physically does to both a child and the mother who carries it.
But I digress. Sorry!
Back to Good Friday. After confession, I went to my own Church for the silent prayer before the Crucifix before 3pm when the statue was veiled. I tried to imagine how God the Father felt - He willingly handed Jesus over. He understood that His Sacrifice was necessary, but the cost! How much He loves us to do this!
Would I be willing to hand over Vincent for such a slaughter?
I mean, let's say that 1 million people were in jail. I'm not talking about the US jail system that allows inmates to watch TV, hang out in a cell, and be provided with 3 meals a day.
No... I'm talking about a hellish, hard labor camp akin to Auschwitz or worse.
Now let's say these million people aren't just random strangers... they're family. Yes, they are family that's guilty of every offense possible ranging from cursing all the way through murder, but they're family. Would I be willing to sacrifice Vincent for the lot of them?
Let's take it one step further... let's say these million family members aren't just distance relationships. They're a million Maria's and Shannon's... a million Raymond's and yes, even a million Evelyn's... my true brothers and sisters. What then? Would I be willing to hand Vincent over to save them?
And finally - even more than being my brothers and sisters - what if they were my children? What if these jailed souls were my children? Would I be able to hand over Vincent, my first, only and beloved son over for a torturous death so that they might be freed from jail?
What if I knew that even if I offered Vincent's life for theirs that they'd ridicule our sacrifice? That they'd scorn him?
How could God the Father ever consent to this sacrifice??? How could Christ, knowing full well what the future would hold for His wayward children???
Yes, we indeed crucified the entire Trinity that first Good Friday. We continue to crucify Them each time we are negligent in our duties as Christians... as dignified human beings made in His Image.
May God have mercy on us, and may we remember the Love shown to us through the truest Sacrifice ever made.
This image is incredible!
I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I know I promised to answer Laura's question yesterday, but as soon as I buckled down to write, I got a call from Vincent's daycare. Poor little guy has a tummy bug, so I needed to pick him up and take him home.
Today, however, Daddy's with him. That means Mommy can answer Laura in peace!
Anyway, in order to understand the answer, I must first explain what the Triduum is. For Catholics, the Triduum is the holiest time in our Liturgical Calendar. It is the most important part of Salvation History as Christ, in those three days, fulfilled the promise of God when He said He would send a Savior who would reconcile humanity to Himself.
The Triduum, thus, becomes Holy Thursday Mass (when we remember the Last Supper), Holy Saturday (when we remember Christ's descent into Hell), through the Easter Vigil and Easter celebrations (when we remember His Glorious Resurrection and triumph over Death).
Anyway, since this is the most sacred part of the year for the Church - the finite point in linear history that somehow encapsulates the timeless Sacrifice of Christ - our Liturgy reflects our solemn, adoring and anguished spirit. We see ourselves, the Church, as dying WITH Christ.
This is also why throughout Lent, things are slowly removed from our Masses. Statues are draped (or even removed), fewer candles are lit, our beautiful "Alleluia" is laid to rest, and floral arrangements are typically absent.
As I explained to my children, something very special happens after Holy Thursday Mass. The priest removes Christ from the tabernacle and processes with Him to a place of repose. This signifies that Christ has begun His Sacrifice (which truly did begin with the moment of Consecration at the Last Supper - more on that in a bit).
The Mass on Holy Thursday does not "end." There is no "Go forth" or "Thanks be to God." There is only the procession of Christ to His place of repose and the silent, prayerful adoration of the faithful that stay watch with Him as He endures His Passion (akin to the Apostles as Christ led them to the Garden of Gethsemane to keep watch as He began His Agony in the Garden).
In fact, to further this point, after the Procession, the Church is stripped bare. Linens are removed from the pulpit, altar, tabernacle, etc. Furniture (like chairs, microphones, lecterns, etc) are taken into the sacristy. Candles aren't just snuffed out - they are removed entirely. Carpets are rolled away. Remaining statues may be taken down. Every movable object is taken away from our sanctuary and all lights (be they candles, spot-lights or chandeliers) are deadened. Our Church, symbolic of the spirit of all the faithful who create Her, dies with Her Master. He who is the Light of the World is consenting to become obscured and entombed.
As His faithful Spouse, we acknowledge our desolation... our mourning... our grief.
On Good Friday, there is "no Mass." Again, this is because technically, the Mass from Holy Thursday has not ended - nor will it until the close of the Vigil on Holy Saturday. Instead, we continue the Mass through Stations of the Cross, Adoration, communal and private meditation, recitation of the Rosary (specifically the Sorrowful Mysteries), Tenebrae etc.
This is to signify that we, the Church, the faithful Bride of Christ, follow Him on His Path towards Salvation. We consent to die with Him in order to take part in His Resurrection.
This moves us to Holy Saturday. On Holy Saturday, we remember in a special way Christ's descent into Hell, Limbo and Purgatory. We remember His Triumphant opening of the Gates of Heaven that were closed against us as a result of Original Sin. There is actually no "liturgy" for Holy Saturday until the vigil. This is a continuation of Christ's Sacrifice which began during Holy Thursday.
Finally, we arrive at our Easter Vigil. This special vigil is held after sundown. This is significant because this darkness is indicative of the spiritual darkness we are experiencing as we await the Light of the World. Again, this vigil does not start with the typical "opening Mass prayers" we're used to. Instead, the priest blesses a special fire which is typically made of Holy Oils from the previous year, salt, and twigs. This special fire is the first light we see and is symbolic of the Resurrection. This light is what's used to light our brand new Paschal Candle (the Christ Candle), and after the Candle is lit, the light begins to spread throughout the Church, from member to member, as a flame is passed between individual candles all are given at the opening of Mass.
As a sacristan who has been at the front of the Church awaiting the Exsultet (when we flip on all the lights, light all the candles, and bust out all the finery we've got to offer), seeing this light slowly spread throughout the entire Church... it's incredible.
Anyway, this is the point in the Liturgical Calendar in which we celebrate and acknowledge Christ's Triumph over Death. The Sacrifice has been complete and Salvation has been granted to us. Through His Offering, we have become reconciled and all the promises of God the Father to His Creation regarding the Messiah have been fulfilled. We rejoice in being reborn through His Death and Resurrection.
As THIS VIGIL MASS commences, we finally are able to hear again the priest's command to "Go Forth" and respond with a jubilant "Thanks be to God!" We acknowledge that the sacred Triduum that marks Christ's Sacrifice has reached its fulfillment, and we take our charge to "Go Forth" with zeal. We are charged to take the message of Salvation to all people who still "live in darkness."
So that, dear Laura, is why the answer to number 11 on the test was "One." There is but one Mass celebrated over 3 days during the Triduum.
As these three days recall the three long days of Christ's consummation by the Fire of His Love, we, too, offer these three days in solidarity with Him.
Test your Lit. Calendar Strength!
A friend of mine asked what I'd be teaching for CCD tonight (because she's been enjoying the crafts we did over the last two periods). I told her I was sorry to burst her bubble, but there wouldn't be a craft tonight so much as a test. Ha ha.
She then asked me what the test was on. I told her the Liturgical Calendar. She responded that it'd be fun if she could take the test, too, just to see where she compared to my 6th graders. She took the test, and subsequently failed miserably. Chagrined, she warned me that the test was too hard for my class, and suggested that I rework it into one of my crossword puzzles to give them a fighting chance.
I explained the test was only difficult because she hadn't taken part in my class. If she had, she'd've known all the answers! She expressed some doubt, but wanted me to compare her grade to the average grade of my kids.
Welp, my class scored an average of 93%.
When I called my buddy to let her know, she almost didn't believe me! Ha ha. But I've got the tests to prove it. I am so proud of them!
Plus, now that I've explained the answers to her, no doubt she'd score at least a 93% next time around, too. Ha ha.
But for anyone else interested in testing their skills, I've included the test for your entertainment (or if you'd like to use it for your own classes, be my guest!).
This looked a lot like my son on Sunday. Since I've begun taking him regularly, he's been perfectly fine. He usually is quite good, and is even starting to pick up on when he is allowed to stand and sit in my lap and such.Well, this past Sunday, he was an absolute terror. He screamed (and I mean, SCREAMED) for most of the Mass. I have NO idea what got into him, and even being in the "cry room" wasn't helping. I'm sure we could've been encased in a sound-proof box within three others, and they still could've heard him!
It was absolutely cringe-worthy for me, but I took it as a penance (considering how mortifying it is to have such a loud child and seem like a complete failure as a mother). Seriously - his screaming and behavior were unlike anything I'd ever seen from him, so I couldn't help but think God had gone, "Alright - here's a chance to test your patience!"
Luckily, the words of that wonderful confessor came back to me: This is your prayer life. Raising this little boy should be your constant prayer life.
So I tried to swallow the irritation, frustration and embarrassment and offer it up for whatever intentions Jesus needed attending to.
However, all week I've been getting snide comments about his behavior. Before and after CCD class on Tuesday, a few of the staff approached and commented "What on EARTH got into your son at Mass?"
At a meeting, I got the same questions.
Heck, even after the Mass on Sunday, a few of the parishoners who know me eyed him with disgust and mentioned I should maybe bring crackers to "keep his mouth occupied" next time, or, better yet, just "leave him home" next time.
SERIOUSLY?! Maybe it wasn't Vince's behavior that God chose to give me a test of patience. It was simply the catalyst for these folks taking it upon themselves to comment in so ludicrous a manner.
Argh, argh, argh.
Considering how often they've all seen Vincent acting the angel at Mass, you'd think they'd've said to themselves "Obviously he's having a bad day or something."
No, we automatically get things like "teach him that snacks during Mass are A-OK!" or "if you cry hard enough, Mommy will take you home and you'll get your way!"
Cmon now, people!
Sorry for what seems to be a random venting, but I just got a follow-up e-mail from a parishioner regarding an upcoming function, and her "PS" was dedicated to such tips as "coloring books" "puppets" and "goldfish" as viable alternatives to the random outburst.
He hasn't needed it these last few months, why the heck would I need to start instilling bad habits now?
... sorry... apparently I'm not very good at learning this whole charitable patience stuff. But seriously... *grumble, grumble, grumble*
Pieta - by Jason Jenicke
Brace yourselves for yet another of Bl. Anne Catherine's visionary stupifiers!
While delving into the days before Our Lady's death, St. Anne saw her giving directives on what should happen to her few worldly possessions. One cloth, in particular, drew Bl. Anne's attention. This cloth had a supreme light about it, was woven of the finest materials and stark white where there wasn't large amounts of dried blood.
She was given to understand that this cloth was used by Our Lady as she cradled her Son in her arms after He was taken from the Cross. She tenderly wiped at His Blood stained Body, using her tears as cleansing salve. She lovingly removed the spittle, the sweat, and the dirt away from His Face with this cloth, which she then safeguarded as a precious relic.
Our Lady made known to Bl. Anne Catherine that this cloth was the original purificator. All cloths used since to wipe chalices are used in a similar manner. I wonder how many priests realize this! As they wipe the Chalice of Christ's Blood, they take on the role of Our Lady as she accepted the Body of her Beloved Son from the Cross. Just as they wipe away the traces of Blood and spittle, Our Lady did first as she caressed His Face and Body, allowing her tears to fall as rain over Him.
At Mass today, I could have wept as I saw our pastor using the purificator. I never realized just what that action meant until seeing it through Bl. Anne's eyes... through Our Lady's eyes.
The thought is so humbling, so moving, so heart-breaking that I could think of nothing else as I knelt after receiving. I'm so glad I found the above artwork (by Jason Jenicke, an incredible artist I found by absolute accident!). It is simply the perfect summation of my feelings - I think I'll see this image every time I see purificators now.
Definitely filing this away under "That was Awkward, and Slightly Irritating." A friend of mine called me out on routinely going to my pastor's line for Communion. Apparently this "pattern of selfishness" made her feel disrespected and hurt.
I knew sooner or later this issue would come up, and I was even prepared to explain my position in a succinct manner. I didn't really get the chance, though, because I was chided the entire time. She had automatically assumed she knew my motives and lectured me on why those motives were incorrect.
I was surprised to learn that I:
- am being selfish
- think that reception of the Host from a priest makes me holier than those who don't
- think that I get an extra blessing because I receive from the priest
- belittle the role of EMs and their important role in the Church
- am setting a bad example for others who might get confused by my actions
- (apparently I'm also a lot more popular than I've given myself credit for)
- disrupt the flow of traffic by crossing the aisle
I explained that I believed EMs to be Extraordinary Ministers - only to be used in (*gasp*) Extraordinary circumstances. Sunday masses, especially with our congregation size, could not be considered "extraordinary circumstances" that require the aid of EMs.
Secondly, I believe that only an Ordinary Minister (Priest / Deacon) should be allowed to touch the Host. If EMs must be used, they should be relegated to Chalices as their unconsecrated hands never come into contact with Christ.
Next, I don't believe in getting an "extra blessing" or being "holier" than others. I simply choose to accept Christ in the way He intended us to receive Him - from the hands of His Ordinary ministers.
I believe that this over-use of EMs lessens people's understanding of the awesome Presence of Christ. If anyone is willy-nilly able to pick up the Host, are we really paying Him the proper reverence? I simply don't believe so, and that can be seen clearly in the obvious eroding of people's faith in Transubstantiation. Most folks believe the bread and wine merely represent Jesus.
I do NOT disrupt the flow of traffic - that's just non-sense. I also doubt anyone else is paying enough attention to me to gain a "bad example" though I could only HOPE to be so lucky that someone chooses to follow me in this regard. Again, though, absolutely DOUBTFUL anyone pays any attention to me.
I don't belittle the role EMs play, I simply view it as understanding the role as it was MEANT to be. It wasn't meant to be a troop of lay-persons rushing up to the altar at Communion time every Sunday. That, in and of itself, diminishes the role they are meant to play.
She pushed me further, attempting to defend herself (I guess my differing opinions came off as a vicious attack on her integrity) by saying, "This is my way of fully participating in the Mass. It is my calling to do this, and I believe those who look down on that choice are disrespectful."
... *sigh* ...
Maybe I shouldn't have needled, but I couldn't help myself on this point. The sentence "This is my way of fully participating in the Mass" REALLY got under my skin. I asked, "Oh, so because I'm not a Eucharistic Minister, I guess I'm not fully participating in the Mass?"
She said, "Well no, that's not what I meant. Some people just aren't called to do that."
I said, "Oh, okay, so if you aren't on the schedule for a particular weekend, do you feel as though your Mass experience was somehow sullied because you didn't participate to your fullest?"
She stuttered back that "I didn't mean that either. It's just I have a calling and you seem to resent that by always going to a priest."
At this point, I'm darting my eyes around for the closest wall to smash my head into - repeatedly.
"No, I do not resent EMs. I honestly don't pay them any attention. I'm too busy praying that Jesus puts me in the right frame of mind to accept Him lovingly into my heart. Apparently, however, while you should be busying yourself with begging God to make you worthy of distributing Him to the congregation, you're eyeballing the congregation to see who is choosing you over the other ministers. I didn't realize there was some sort of competition going on for who could get the most communicants."
ARGH - I was REALLY fuming at this point, and I realized I was starting to get snippy. As a result, I said, "Look, it is not my intention to hurt your feelings by not joining in with your line. I never thought it made any difference to the Eucharistic Ministers who showed up in what line. However, I will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS seek out a priest or a deacon as that is something I personally promised Jesus when I entered back into the faith. So if you've got a problem with that, I really don't know what to tell you."
She responded we would just have to be content to disagree with one another. I stopped myself from saying, "I WAS content with that well before you opened your mouth to me!" Ugh - I seriously cannot believe that conversation took place. I really can't!
Saturday into Sunday, my son couldn't sleep. I had attempted soothing him in my bed, but he wasn't having any of it. As a result, both of us were up for the better part of the night.
John finally woke up around 6:30 and took Vince downstairs so I could sleep a bit. Thankful, I immediately fell back to sleep and didn't wake up again until 9:50 - ten minutes before the last Mass at my parish.
John must've noticed that, too, 'cause he shouted up almost instantly, "Gina? Don't you gotta go to Mass or something?"
*Smile* I actually grinned when he said that.
I shouted back down that it was OK, I'd just go to a later Mass in Philly since there was no way I'd get ready in time for the 10.
See, I'd originally wanted to go to Incarnation's Mass, but it simply wasn't in the cards. Instead, I decided to go to St. William's - another parish affected by the closings. They're the only Church I know of in my area that does a Sunday night Mass.
John asked me how far away St. William's was. I said, "About 45 minutes." He replied with, "Seriously? You're gonna travel 45 minutes for Mass? I think God'll forgive you for missing."
I shook my head. It's not about God forgiving me for missing. It's about me wanting to go and being fully able to. I said that. I said, "John, I WANT to go." He just snorted again, obviously confused as to why I'd ever wanna do something boring like go to Mass.
A few hours later, while the football games were well under-way, our cousin went through the same spiel. I think John brought it up again just to needle me with backup, but I didn't mind. I understand their views and accept that they simply don't understand mine. So when our cousin said, "God goes to bed early on Sundays" in an attempt to poke fun at my desire to attend a later Mass, I responded with the same level of ridiculousness.
On my way home from Mass, though, I realized that I honestly, truly do love attending Mass. It's not like that's news to me. However, that SHOULD'VE been my response to my cousin. While sarcasm and funny quips are what come naturally to me in those circumstances, I'd probably get further expressing myself on terms they'd be familiar with.
How often do both he and John travel well over 45 minutes just to get a "Fat Sandwich" from a truck outside Rutgers? How many times have they crossed state lines simply to attend a wrestling match or a sports game? They've traveled much more (and for much less) than I have. Yet because they place more value on things like food and entertainment, I am the one who must be out of my mind.
Ha ha. The mindset of the atheist. Gotta appreciate the irony.
I harbor no resentment for being teased in this manner. Neither one of them is attempting to hurt my feelings. Sure they wanna poke fun at the religious chick who is obviously out of her mind sometimes for believing in God, the tooth fairy and unicorns, but I take it in stride. They don't know any better, and I can't fault them for that. I've been blessed to know God. I've been blessed to feel His Love and to know His Mother. That doesn't make me better or worse than these two. That's something I've come to learn these last few months. This love I have - this peace I have regarding religion and God - it is a gift.
I never really understood that. I always thought, "It's because I've logically thought everything out. It makes sense to me, so I believe it. It doesn't make sense to others because they're either not smart enough, or not willing enough to attempt learning."
How foolish of me. My spiritual progression has nothing much to do with me at all. This love for Christ and this love for the Blessed Mother has ALWAYS been within me. It's never something I've had to work for. It's never something I've questioned. For me to think I somehow arrived at that intrinsic love logically is ridiculous. I realize now it was gifted to me.
My spiritual director - for YEARS - told me that inner certainty of love and peace was a gift. I always kinda nodded, hearing what she said but not understanding it fully. Now I understand. And I am truly grateful for such a gift. Each night, when I put Vince to bed, I ask Our Lady to pray for that same love for Vincent. I ask God to grant Vince the same sense of love and knowledge of Him that I have - even stronger.
Oh if only all people could open their hearts to Him. How happy we all could be in knowing His Love! :)
So yes, I am more than happy to go to Mass. I'd be more than happy to travel 45 minutes or more for the chance to be present at our most prized Sacrifice of Love.
The shirt you see at right is one that I'd like to give to a female lector I know. She's always impeccably dressed, ensures every hair on her head is in place, and quite probably gives her face the twice (or thrice) over before stepping out of the house.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to appear presentable in church, especially if you've been tasked with delivering the readings to the congregation. However, your external appearance means absolutely nothing when you exude arrogance.
Each time I've been at a Mass she's read at, I've been horrified at how she approaches the altar. She sits towards the back, so when it's time for the readings, everyone must wait for her to sashay down the aisle. When she enters the sanctuary, she stops in the center and simply looks at the wall behind the altar (at the tabernacle? at the light? at the bricks?). She gives an almost imperceptible nod, then moves towards the pulpit to deliver her reading. She then returns to her seat upon completion following the same ritual in reverse.
As she's walking back to her seat, she's nodding her head to folks with a big old smile, as if she's thanking them for their admiration.
Are you kidding me?
I am absolutely horrified, and I'm not altogether sure what to do. She's able to nod her head at others but is incapable of even bowing her head in the presence of GOD? When I was trained as an altar server, I was taught to genuflect before the Presence of Christ in the tabernacle (regardless of how many times I crossed in front of the altar / tabernacle). When I "graduated" to lector, I continued the practice, though sometimes I'd simply bow at the waist as the priests did. The point is, I was properly taught to pay reverence to the Blessed Sacrament, and I would assume EVERYONE is taught this. However, I honestly don't know if she's been taught that or not, and I don't really know how to approach the topic or whom I should approach it with.
From my standpoint, I was watching someone ignore Jesus. It's like going to a birthday party and never once paying any attention to the birthday boy except to thank him for giving her an excuse to get dressed up and have a good time.
It's just upsetting to me. I've always taught my children to genuflect before the Presence of Christ because it reinforces that Jesus, in His Divinity and His Humanity, is fully present. He is really there - not just symbolically. Jesus is waiting inside the tabernacle, excited to the point of bursting... waiting and waiting for the moment the priest unlocks the door and brings Him out to share during the Eucharistic Procession.
It's why I was so upset that my class was instructed "not" to genuflect when they approached the altar during the Christmas pageant.
Ugh - this is a big issue for me. If we're willing to neglect Jesus in the small things, how can we be assured of not neglecting Him in the bigger ones?
I don't lector anymore. In fact, I've been asked and I've declined simply because as I've returned to my more traditional roots, I no longer believe women should take part in the Mass as lectors (most especially not as Extraordinary Ministers). However, I'd like to find out who is training these lectors to stress the importance of what is apparently a very passe act.
I don't know about you, but genuflecting before my Lord and God won't ever be passe for me. I fully plan on getting on my arthritic knees until my body refuses to bend anymore in the presence of His Divinity.
Welp, apparently an entry on Father Z's blog and an entry on mine connected at some point yesterday, because I got few e-mails "reminding me" that taking my son to the priest's line for a special blessing is pointless since he gets blessed at the end of Mass anyway. Plus, some of these well-meaning folks feel as though I'm simply setting Vincent up to expect that Communion is about him and not about Jesus.
Firstly, thank you for your concern about my son's spiritual well-being. Another pair of eyes (or several) is always helpful, especially in this chaotic world we find ourselves in.
That being said, I'd like to explain myself a little more clearly.
I am fully aware that we all receive the same blessing from the priest at the end of Mass. In fact, at each final blessing, I am consciously aware of the guardian angels who bow their heads down with us as they, themselves, acknowledge the surpassing dignity of priests. Thus, I don't intend Vincent's communion line "blessing" to be an "bonus blessing" or anything different from the final blessing. Instead, I view it as a learning experience for a toddler.
He is much too young to understand that the Host Mommy receives is Jesus, but he IS aware that something different is happening in this line as opposed to the supermarket line. The blessing helps reinforce that. I want Vincent to understand there is a ritual to the Communion line. For him, that ritual consists of walking up with Mommy, stooping as Mommy genuflects before the Sacrament, and standing still as the priest makes the sign of the cross on his forehead. As he gets older, I will explain that since Jesus cannot come to him in the Eucharist, He comes to him in the form of the priest's blessing (after all, the priest is simply standing in for Jesus, Himself).
In effect, the blessing is not about Vincent but about Jesus wanting to communicate His Love to Vincent.
I imagine that's exactly what Jesus wants to do during Communion. He longs to tell us of His Love, and wishes us to reciprocate that Love. Thus, I doubt Jesus takes issue with a priest stooping to acknowledge a child through a blessing when that blessing reinforces Christ's desire to bless us abundantly in countless ways.
So again, while I appreciate the messages and "reminders" I assure you that I am aware of how things work. I will still take Vincent to Father's line when I'm able until Vincent is old enough to understand just what a blessing attending a Mass is, even without reception of the Eucharist.
***Been getting a large uptick in traffic to this particular page recently (as of May 2012). If you'd be so kind as to let me know where you're being linked from, I'd appreciate it. Would like to thank whoever is forwarding traffic my way. Blessings!***
So yesterday was the feast of the Immaculate Conception. My regular church didn't have a mass that I was able to attend, so I checked out a neighboring church that I had found on the way to my son's daycare. I'd been eyeing it for some time now, curious to know what the inside looked like (because the outside was unique to me). Also, since it's dedicated to the Blessed Mother, I felt her feast day was the best time to find myself there.
I am so glad I did! It is a beautiful church! Truth be told, it is very small and has more of a "modern" feel (something I don't typically like, but can appreciate when it's done tastefully). The artwork was beautiful, and their statues were different from those I'm used to seeing. For instance, as opposed to Our Lady of Grace (typically the version of the Blessed Mother seen on her side of the church), there was a large state of Our Lady cradling Baby Jesus. Actually, if you take the following two pictures and combine their poses, then add infinitely more beauty, you've got the statue I'm referring to.
Anyway, aside from absolutely loving that statue of Our Lady (so maternal towards and adoring of that angelic little God-Child she held in her arms), I really liked the statue of her Assumption that was used during the Mass. Again, it was as if a painting were somehow sculpted into life so realistic she was!
The Stations of the Cross were full (though muted) colored, large and adorning the walls. A few smaller statues of St. Rita, St. Joseph, and St. Anthony were present. A beautifuly little Infant of Prague held Vincent's attention for much of the Mass. Finally, and MOST exciting for me, was the Adoration Chapel in the back of the Church. An ADORATION CHAPEL!!!
I didn't think I had one anywhere near me!!! BUT I DO! I almost cried!
Again, truth be told, I was emotional anyway. It's a feast of thanksgiving for Our Lady - a gift I am endlessly grateful for. I realized it was fitting this feast is during Advent. The coming of Our Lady marked a true Advent of sorts. With the Mother of God on her way into the world, Jesus was not far behind. God is certainly a Master of time, right? :) I smiled at that realization.
This Mass also made my heart sing due to the love the priest had for Our Lady. He used much Latin in the Mass (something new for me, but I loved it!), and he spared nothing in his homily lauding this gift of the Blessed Mother. He praised her with such fondness, such gratitude, such conviction that folks were in the pews nodding their heads in agreement. When he solicited a Hail Mary at the close of the homily, folks really put their heart into the salutation. It is a true blessing to partake of a Mass with so loving and charismatic a priest.
Because of the feast, the priest also chose to distribute Communion under both species! BOTH! I haven't been so privileged in years. I hadn't realized that until last night. Also, I noted that Father relegated the two EMs to the chalice, only allowing himself and the deacon to distribute the Hosts. I LOVE THIS GUY!
I took Vince up during the Eucharist and Father was kind enough to impart a blessing. I then moved to take my place in the chalice line. I was the last person there, and luckily there was just enough left for me to partake of. Vincent was gold the entire time, and I almost cried again from feeling so honored to have been graced with such a gift. I said to Our Lady "This is YOUR feast day, and here I am getting all the gifts!"
An adoration chapel close to home, a traditional, Marian priest who truly teaches when he preaches, the Eucharist under BOTH species, and a son who was beyond exemplary for the first time during a Mass... I was beyond grateful!
I can't wait to take advantage of that chapel now. Goodness... I could even go for a half hour during lunch it's so close!
Anyway, what a wonderful celebration of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception. I truly hope all of you who practice enjoyed a similarly beautiful experience!
Congratulations. It appears that you are reading this. That can only mean one thing... the world did not come to a fiery end in a blaze of God's anger on account of this new translation being an affront of all things holy and good.
With all the back and forth regarding these new translations, you'd think they sky was falling and God was preparing to smite any of us who thought this was a good idea.
A friend of mine, seeing all the "hullabaloo" on Facebook and whatever RSS feeds she's attached to, asked what it was all about. She hasn't confirmed this yet, but I am fairly confident she picked up the confusion through a mutual friend of ours. He's of the mindset that these translations are horrible, the Church is horrible for attempting to institute them, and anyone who accepts them as valid simply doesn't understand how the Church works.
Anything that's aimed at refocusing, preserving and highlighting the sacred mysteries of our Mass is A-OK in my book. So far, that's my understanding and experience with these translations.
Take, for instance, "And with your spirit." Some folks are so irritated by that, and I still don't grasp why. I remember when we were first introduced to these changes, the gentleman explaining them was bombarded with questions like "How is that a response?" "Whose spirit?" "Isn't that the same as saying 'And also with you'?"
Unable to ferry the questions to their proper destination (not due to his own intelligence, mind you. The room had gotten a bit rowdy over these four words and side-chatter was implosive), he tabled the discussion until after we got through the Gloria. Poor guy never had a chance to cycle back...
Anyway, I wanted to prepare my CCD kids for the upcoming changes, and since this'd be the first line they'd encounter, I went with it.
"And with your spirit" is the response all other non-English speaking countries have been using... we're only now catching up. The spirit we refer to is the priest's spirit... but more concretely, the part of the priest's soul that Christ, Himself, dwells within upon marking that priest through Ordination. Christ is the spirit that animates the priest's soul and thus makes consecration possible.
(Some of you may remember my "Do Animals Have Souls?" entry... that deals very much with the above idea, so it might help to gloss that over for the biblical explanations of soul / spirit and how they are, in fact, separate from one another.)
That being explained, someone asked "Well, why would we wish peace to Jesus, then? Isn't He already Peace?"
Aside from being ridiculously proud that this young man understood that Jesus is the Fountain of all Peace, I explained it this way...
A mother is waiting up for her son until midnight. He's usually home by now, but she knows he stays out studying late sometimes. He called and said, "Hey Mom, I'm coming home in a few minutes, I promise." She's a little less worried, but still wants to be sure to see him walk through the door before resting. As soon as he comes into the house, she kisses him and, relieved, heads to bed.
The mother in the story understood that her son expected to reach home shortly and would likely make it home unhurt. However, the mother also understood that there are dangers in the world that sometimes cannot be accounted for... so until she saw him safe and home with her own eyes, she would not be able to rest properly.
This is true of Jesus, too. He knows that we all have our good intentions... that we all want to reach Heaven. We've all sent up our prayers which act as short phone calls to our Lord letting Him know we're thinking of Him and attempting to do right by Him. However, until we walk through those Church doors into His Home, He worries for us. He understands the evil and temptations of the world and He longs to have us near Him. Thus, upon responding in this fashion, we do bring Jesus peace. We bring Him the peace of knowing that our souls are yearning for Him... that our souls are trying to get back to Him as best we know how.
Another hand shot up. "Yeah, but if Jesus knows everything, wouldn't He already know that we wanna get to Heaven?"
I smiled. That whole "God knows everything, so what's the point?" sentiment is a very typical one... even among sixth graders.
So again, I explained it with a story.
Two girls grew up next door to one another. They were best of friends from kindergarten straight through until 8th grade. In 8th grade, however, one girl moved away and attended a different high school. Sure, they wrote to each other now and again, and they'd call each other once in a while, but pretty soon, one girl stopped calling or writing. The other friend was really sad, but she knew her friend still cared about her. She knew they would eventually have time to talk and hang out like they used to when summer rolled around. Even though she knew that, it still hurt her feelings not hearing from her best friend. It still made her feel kinda rotten when she'd be missing her old friend and her old friend was doing other things.
So I asked the class, "What, then, should the friend who moved away do?"
All of them agreed that she should try to see her best friend more often. I questioned, "Why? They'll be able to hang out over the summer, right? Why is it important to see each other a few times during the school year?"
I could see some lightbulbs going off. They were understanding.
"Because it'd make the other girl happy to see her best friend. She wouldn't miss her as much and she'd still feel like she was loved."
For the holdouts, I explained:
We are like that best friend who moved away. We left Heaven to come to Earth for a while. Jesus misses us terribly, though, and wants to see us. Coming to Mass is our way of showing Him we care. Coming to Mass is our way to see Him! We're all friends of Jesus, right? So imagine how happy He must be when we come into His House to visit Him! Imagine how much peace and joy fills His Heart!
I really hope they took something from that and kept their ears perked up for it. I know by the 3rd recitation of this particular response, folks were grinning as they let the words become familiar to their lips. I hope my children did more than grin. I hope they truly wished Jesus peace as they felt happiness at sharing their souls with their Best Friend. :)
I can't believe I had forgotten it was the last Sunday I'd get to pray the "old" Mass. I didn't realize it until after I'd come home to the online banter of folks lamenting their as-yet-untested "new" missals. Sheesh. I realize that change does funny things to folks, but really? I'm surprised by the backlash some are whipping out against these translations.
It seems there are two groups of us. On the one hand, there are those who are super angry about every change and are loathe to pick up a new missal because it may burn off their hands. On the other, there are those who are only too happy to "toss the old aside because it was never really all that good to begin with."
I'm serious. I get that super-traditionalists have always felt a bit... cheated... post Vatican II. However, I don't believe that the Mass after Vatican II was somehow turned into fool's gold, forcing us to endure lackluster worship for the last few decades.
I also don't believe that our celebration of Mass is all that it should / could be, and it does have a lot to do with the effects of Vatican II.
It is my hope that these new translations focus our attention on the awesomeness of all God's mysteries. It's also my hope that these new prayers force us to re-examine our faith system and ask questions about doctrines that have heretofore been ignored, misunderstood, or unknown. Finally, it is my hope that this reinvigorated thrust to pay proper respect and honor to God through our most prized prayer, the Mass, serves as the catalyst to rekindle our fire of evangelization.
After all, in relearning these prayers, we must examine the meanings behind them. In teaching these new words to our children, we must understand them ourselves. In understanding these words and prayers, we come to find a deeper connection to their mysteries, and in finding that connection, shouldn't we wish to share such love and knowledge with others?
Oh, I certainly pray that is the end result of this set of changes. So while I'm not exactly looking forward to bumbling my way through the prayers over the coming weeks, I am VERY excited about the potential for revitalization. I really, really am.
I write this entry with both laughter and disbelief. A few months ago, some parishioners were grumbling about seating arrangements in the Church now that we've merged with three other congregations. I remember asking if something so petty was legitimate enough to actually be discussing during a ministry meeting. Folks were adamant that such a "problem" really existed and it needed to be addressed so folks felt validated.
I shook my head and simply removed myself from the conversation after I pointed out that such a bewildering "problem" wasn't a "problem" so much as a self-centered and childish act that had no place in a Church.
Anyway, I attended Mass today and slipped in slightly late (just as they were about to rise for Mass to start). So, trying to be as discreet as possible, I asked a gentleman to move into a row so I could slip into the pew. He very obviously didn't want to move for me, and actually eye-balled me for a quick minute. Then, after seeing I wasn't leaving, he begrudgingly slid over the few inches so I could take my seat.
I sat next to him for most of the Mass, feeling all of his anger bouncing off me. I was absolutely incredulous that I was sitting next to an adult who actually harbored resentment because of a seating arrangement. I'm still a little shocked. Anyway, just before the Creed, the Parish Council was asked to stand and make their way to the front of the Church for a blessing. I stood and walked up with my council members from the two pews ahead of me (which were filled) and accepted the blessing from Father. As I walked back and took my seat, the gentleman had averted his eyes in embarrassment.
See, he realized that I kinda "had" to take the seat he had inadvertently taken from me anyway (not paying attention to the "reserved" sign that was across the pew). I was supposed to be where he was, but because that was his "normal" spot, I guess he didn't care and felt folks should situate themselves around him. *Shakes head*
I absolutely cannot believe that.
Anyway, after the blessing, I simply moved towards the middle of the congregation (where I typically sit) and enjoyed focusing my attention away from such a childish person.
I still can't believe that folks can be so ridiculous when it comes to sitting in a pew at Church. He had the ENTIRE THING open. To move in a few inches caused THAT much of a problem for him? You simply have to be kidding me...
This is why I tend to sit in the middle of a pew when I enter a Church. I don't want to force folks to step over me, to wiggle around me, or to feel funny asking me to slide over for a family of four. I simply think ahead to the needs of others, and if the opportunity presents itself where I am able to slide over to share seating, I'm only too happy to thank the Lord for such a blessing.
Note to self: Go over pew ettiquette with the kids on Tuesday night... lol.
I adore this picture. That's Vince on His Lap!
Remember that post "Toddlers at Mass?" from a few weeks back? It was brought back to mind for me twice this weekend. Once at Mass, and again while reading some of comments on WDTPRS. I cannot shake the feeling that I'm doing the wrong thing by leaving Vince at home.
Every time I do bring him, though, I repeatedly chide myself for doing it. He's not horrible, but he is active enough that I cannot properly focus on the Mass and I end up feeling as though being there is worse than not going at all.
John calls it "Grandmom Time." You go because you are obligated, not because you are going to enjoy it. That's what I feel like at Mass with Vince. I'm there just to fulfill my obligation, not to spend any quality time with God, and that makes me feel horrific. What am I teaching Vince by that?
Then I wonder what I'm teaching him (or not teaching him!) by leaving him home with Daddy. Do I really think at the age of 5 he'll magically sit still and become a saintly little boy? Am I insane? I look at other parents manage their young children well enough, and I look at my own mother who somehow managed five of us hellions every Sunday, then I look at myself - unable to wrangle a 2 year old without feeling like a miserable waste of motherhood.
I don't know if I'm being overly hard on myself, overly hard on Vince, or maybe some combination. All I know is I dread Sunday Masses with him, but, at the same time, end up feeling like a failure for leaving him home. I dunno.
After a friend (who has a 3 month old, himself) asked me where Vince was this weekend after Mass, I cringed inside. Just another reminder that I'm being a bad Catholic mother in refusing to allow Vincent to Mass if I can help it. Then it hit me.
I thought back to what that wonderful monastic priest told me during Confession. He had said, "Raising this little boy should be your constant prayer life." All of the challenges, frustrations, and sacrifices can be offered up. So, in all honesty, I really should be bringing Vincent to Mass with me. Plus, he needs to begin learning how to sit still for longer stretches of time so when he DOES turn 5, maybe he CAN be the saintly little boy who understands when to sit, stand and kneel. Ha ha.
Coming upon this realization makes me both happy and nervous. I'm happy because I finally feel as though I know the "right" answer. I feel as though Jesus does, of course, want Vincent there, and attending Mass from so early an age will (hopefully) give him an appreciation of and reverence for the importance of such a gift. By the same token, I'm beyond nervous because I'm kind of dreading the "adjustment period" in which Vince learns the proper boundaries of behavior in a Church.
Oh Dear God... help me. LoL.
I attempted to enlarge this mural so you can see some of the details a bit better.
Beautiful! I think I am in love with this picture! I almost want to bow my head in gratitude and adoration of the most holy and blessed Sacrifice that renders our salvation! What hope and comfort the offering of the Eucharist must give to the souls in Purgatory!
At the base of this holy card we see an Angel of God descending into Purgatory to provide comfort to those souls who long for the Face of their God. The offering of the Mass is a huge benefit to them. Indeed, Our Lord revealed to St. Gertrude that each time a person receives the Eucharist (while in the state of grace, of course), something good happens to EVERY soul on Earth, in Heaven and in Purgatory.
Wow!!! Yet again, this brings a whole new appreciation for the term "Communion of Saints." The Eucharist truly does unify all in blessing.
Representing the souls of Earth are, of course, the clergy (via priest and nuns in adoration). They are central to the Eucharist, and are, as a result, closest to Christ. Just outside this nucleus are a nurse and hospice patient, a student, and a worker (scientist, maybe?). I find this wonderful. These particular persons were chosen wisely to represent the gifts the Eucharist brings each of us.
Nurse: Patience and charity
Patient: Strength and healing
Student: Knowledge and fortitude
Worker: Industry and prudence
In the background, behind these people, are images of a city (industry) and what appears to be farmlands of grain (agriculture), hinting that even these things are blessed and given to us through the bounty of God. These things, too, as part of creation, also acknowledge the Divinity of God (smoke rises and turns sharply towards the Host as the grain waves upwards towards the Sacrament).
And most importantly, taking up half the image itself is the Triune God, crucified together upon the Cross. God the Father upholds the Arms of His Son while the Holy Spirit supports both from above. The Blessed Mother offers Her unfathomable sacrifice in union with Theirs as does the Angel (representing, I'm sure, all angels), who collects the blood from Christ's heart.
The "rays of glory" take on the faces of saints and cherubs who adore and unite with Christ in Heaven. It even looks like some of the cherubs (at His Feet) are trumpeting this Mystery!
I think we sometimes forget that this Sacrifice is one and the same as that which was first offered upon Calvary. This depiction, however, brings that full circle for us, most especially by the "clock" encircling the Sacrifice. Each ray of grace and light touches upon one "hour" of the clock, signifying the timelessness of each Mass. Each offering, no matter when or where it is given, enters into the timeless miracle of the Sacrifice on Calvary.
I'm still not entirely sure what the words are in between the hours, but I'm currently attempting to ascertain those. If I ever do, I'll let you know. If YOU already know, please share the knowledge!!! :)
For those of you wondering where I came across this picture, it was originally found here. I contacted Father Byres regarding it, but being a hermit, he may or may not get back to me on this. Ha ha. So I did some more research and found it here as well. According to Father's blog, he originally came across this mural at a monastery in Northern Italy (I did a search of all monasteries in Italy and was unsuccessful in figuring out which one this came from - boo). Once I find out, I'll solicit proper usage confirmations, but in the spirit of sharing so awesome an image with all of you, methinks it'll be OK. At least I hope so!
UPDATE: A friend of mine was kind enough to solve the puzzle for me! Special thanks to you, Pete. The words that I thought were Latin weren't Latin at all! They're cities and countries. It's almost like a circular time-zone indicator, with each city representing an hour on the "world clock."
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