Pentecost is the liturgical season after Easter which celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, ushering in a new era for the people of God. In Acts 2:1-41, the Holy Spirit descended upon apostles and allowed them to speak their native Galilean dialect but be understood by people of many different languages and nations. Pentecost begins the eighth Sunday, or 50 days, after Easter Sunday.
Pentecost is from Greek meaning “fiftieth.” The name Pentecost was originally given to the Jewish Feast of Weeks which fell on the fiftieth day after Passover, when the first fruits of the grain harvest were offered to the Lord (Leviticus 23:15-21 and Deuteronomy 16:9-11). The second chapter of Acts begins by noting that the Feast of Weeks had just passed.
Some people regard Pentecost as the birthday of the Church because from that point on the apostles carried the message of Christ to the whole world. It is indeed a new age of the Church through which Christ works in different means for our salvation.
In this age of the Church, Christ now lives and acts in and with his Church in a new way appropriate to the new age. He acts through the sacraments […[; this is the communication of the fruits of Christ’s Pascal mystery in the celebration of the Church’s ‘sacramental’ liturgy. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1076)
In other words, in the absence of Christ’s physical presence to us due to his fulfillment of Scripture by his death and resurrection, Jesus has left us the sacraments through which the Holy Spirit conveys the grace of God in a physical and tangible way. Pentecost marks the beginning of this new, sacramental era in which we live today.
The liturgical color for Pentecost is red.
In the spirit of Pentecost, June 8th, we are seeking individuals to read the Prayer of the Faithful in their native language. If you speak Polish, Spanish, Tagalog, Lebanese, German, Swedish, Gaelic or another language and would like to participate, please contact the office (556-4611). Leave your name, phone number, the Mass you will attend and the language you speak. We will get back to you. Please call in by Thursday, May 29th so we can arrange for the specific Prayer of the Faithful for your chosen language.
Music In Catholic Liturgies:
Check the following link to read what the Catholic Church has to say about the importance of singing through rubrics detailed in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) in Chapter II: The Structure of the Mass, Its Elements, and Its Parts, Section II: The Different Elements of the Mass – The Importance of Singing (paragraphs 39-41).
A truly good place to read about why music is such a vitally important aspect of our Catholic liturgies is at the following link: http://www.makingmusicprayingtwice.com/about-us/mission
Read about the San Francisco project to promote beauty in music, liturgy By Carl Bunderson in the Catholic News Agency (CNA) at http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/san-francisco-project-to-promote-beauty-in-music-liturgy/ .
CANTOR: Concise Encyclopedia defines a cantor as follows. “In Judaism and Christianity, an official in charge of music or chants. In Judaism the hazzan (cantor) leads liturgical prayer and chanting. In medieval Christianity the cantor had charge of a cathedral’s music—specifically, of supervising the choir’s singing. The term also designated the head of a college of church music.” Quoted from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cantor
If you are a good singer, have the confidence to lead the congregation, and are willing to make a commitment to enhance the liturgies at St. Joseph Church, then please contact Gene Werner, Director of Music and Liturgy, through the church office, 556-4611. Practices will be scheduled with Mr. Werner based on his calendar.
CHOIR: We welcome you to join us if you are willing to make a serious commitment of time to make liturgies at St. Joseph as meaningful as they can be. Contact Gene Werner, Director of Music and Liturgy, through the church office, 556-4611. Practices begin promptly at 7 PM on Tuesday evenings AND at 9:30 AM on Sunday mornings in Room B of the Family Life Center. The choir sings during the 10:30 AM Sunday liturgy. All are welcome – sing, and pray twice!
HANDBELL CHOIR: We welcome anyone over the age of 10 years old, if you are willing to commit to regular practices. Please contact Gene Werner, Director of Music and Liturgy, through the church office, 556-4611. Practices begin immediately after the 10:30 AM Sunday Mass.
Catholic Purgatory: What Does It Mean?
For the Catholic, Purgatory is a period of purification after death. When we die, our souls are judged immediately by Christ in what’s called the “Particular Judgment”:
“Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven — through a purification or immediately, — or immediate and everlasting damnation.” (Catechism, 1022)
Purgatory is this period of purification before heaven. It’s not always well understood by today’s Catholics but Purgatory is still very much a part of Catholic doctrine.
It is not a “second chance.”
Don’t think that Purgatory is anything like a “second chance” for those who have not won the reward of heaven!
During our human life, we either accept or reject God’s offer of divine grace. Once we die, our choice is definitive. We cannot change our mind after death. (Catechism, 1021)
Heaven and hell are real. They’re part of a viewpoint that’s fully Catholic and Purgatory is simply a transitional state for those who have merited heaven but still have aspects of their souls that are not yet fully purified. Purgatory is where that purification happens after death.
The souls in Purgatory are assured of salvation. They’ve died in God’s grace and friendship, and will end up in heaven. But they’re not yet in a full state of holiness — the holiness that’s necessary to behold God “face to face” in heaven. (Catechism, 1030)
Basis in Scripture and Tradition
The Catholic Church is often accused of inventing the concept of Purgatory out of thin air. Not so! You don’t hear about it from many who aren’t Catholic but Purgatory does have deep roots in Sacred Scripture as well as Catholic Tradition — the full, living faith of the Apostles as received from Christ.
First, it’s based on the ancient Jewish practice of prayer for the dead, as mentioned in Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” (2 Macc 12:46)
The early Christians continued this practice: “From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.” (Catechism, 1032)
Inscriptions on the walls and tombs of the Catacombs testify to the belief of many early Catholics in Purgatory.
The words of the Apostles in the New Testament also clearly tell us about being “tested by fire” (1 Pet 1:7). St. Paul warns us that if someone builds on the true foundation of Christ but doesn’t take care to build well, “the person will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:15).
Finally, the Catechism quotes St. Gregory the Great:
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. (Catechism, 1031)
(It’s worth reading the Catechism’s brief section on Catholic Purgatory to see the straightforward teaching of Catholics about Purgatory.)
Purgatory: part of the Good News
Part of the faith of Catholics is that Purgatory is a good thing! Purgatory reveals the depth of God’s mercy: even those who are not yet perfect can attain the fullness of heaven. For Catholics Purgatory helps us hope in perfection even when we can’t completely achieve it in this life.
FOUR EVANGELISTS AND THEIR SYMBOLS
You may have noticed the beautifully crafted cover for the church’s Roman Missal. The cover depicts the four evangelists by their symbols. The following article explains how each of the four apostles came to have a special symbol.
Recognized as the traditional authors of the four canonical Gospels, there were four Evangelists named, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They penned the words of the Gospels which offered accounts of life, sayings and the teachings of Jesus. In this article, you will learn more about the Evangelists, as well as the symbols that represented the men.
The Gospels were a proclamation that the Messiah had come and the kingdom of God was at hand. The text was penned in Koine Greek, the method of communication in the eastern Mediterranean at the time of Christ. Artistic depictions of the men writing their Gospels often showed them with a symbol. Sometimes, the symbols of an angel, winged lion, winged ox, and eagle were solely used to refer to the men.
Matthew was often depicted with an angel that he looked at over his shoulder as he wrote. Matthew was one of the twelve Apostles, who is known for writing the first Gospel in 85 A.D. The text was penned after the fall of Jerusalem. It is believed that Matthew wrote the first Gospel in Antioch, Syria where he spoke to Jewish Christians. He often used quotes from the Old Testament as evidence that Christ is the Messiah and that his life is responsible for fulfilling a great prophecies found in Hebrew scripture.
Matthew’s Gospel starts by recounting the family tree of Jesus, who is a descendant of David and Abraham with mention of his foster father, St. Joseph.
While writing Mark is shown with a reclining winged lion by his side. He is known for writing the shortest of all the Gospels. His Gospel is typically seen as the earliest written around 65 to 70 A.D. However, some scholars believe that it was the second written. The text is thought to have been written in Rome and believed to be speaking to the Christians who were being persecuted at that time. The author of the text is believed to have been an associate of St. Peter or John Mark, who traveled with St. Paul and St. Barnabas.
It is thought that the lion is often the symbol of Mark because of a reference found at the start of his Gospel. Very similar to Christ’s Resurrection after three days in a tomb, the Gospel mentioned a lion that was supposed to sleep with its eyes open. The cubs belonging to the lion were thought born dead until the lion roared three days later.
As Luke writes the third Gospel in depictions, an ox is calmly chewing on the “cud of rumination.” It is believed to date back between 80 and 90 A.D. The author of the Gospel as well as its sequel (the Acts of the Apostles, which is the fifth book of the New Testament) is thought to have been written by a non-Jewish Christian. Luke is sometimes portrayed as a painting composing the image of the Virgin Mary because legend has that he once painted her portrait.
The start of the Gospel presents the Jewish priest Zechariah, who is soon to become the father of John the Baptist. He is offering a sacrifice in the Temple of Jerusalem, and because the ox is a symbol often associated with this practice, it is used to reference Luke. The Gospel of Luke is the only one that utilizes parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.
John the Divine is depicted as a man in his youth that has a soaring eagle in his presences. It is important to note that St. John (one of the 12 Apostles) did not write the Gospel of John. It is thought that a disciple of John at Ephesus, John the Elder, may have penned the Gospel. In the prologue of the Gospel, Christ was linked to God, as well as the Logos of Greek philosophy. The text is thought to date back to between 95 and 100 A.D. written in Asia Minor. The text mentions the ministry of Christ taking place in Judea for the majority of its existence. Other features of the text include Passover and Christ’s teaching in Galilee.
Of the various Christian holy days that take place throughout the year, Candlemass (or Candelaria), on February 2nd , may be one of the least well-known ceremonies in the Christian world. Evangelical Protestants do not count it as a major observance, while Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox churches hold it in high esteem.
History of Candlemass
The celebration of Candlemass originated in the late fifth century as a tribute to the light of God’s glory that was manifested in Christ Jesus. The earliest known observance within the Church was in the year AD 496, during the time of Pope Gelasius. In AD 542 the Emperor Justinian ordained that the Eastern Church celebrate the festival, which he called Hypapante, or “Meeting”. The name was derived from the Gospel of Luke 2:22-40, wherein Simeon the priest and Anna the prophetess met the infant Jesus in the temple at the time of his consecration. Simeon’s prophecy declared Jesus to be the Lord’s salvation and “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” This passage continues to be the focus of the celebration.
During Candelaria, candles are blessed, lit, and borne in a procession in celebration to Jesus being the light of the world. In AD 638, Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, proclaimed the importance of the celebration in his sermon to the church, stating: “Our bright shining candles are a sign of divine splendor of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ.” The candles are generally considered to represent the inner light of Christ, which he brought to share with the world.
The timing for Candlemass is also in accordance with the Mosaic Law, which required that a woman should purify herself for forty days after giving birth, and, at the end of her purification, should present herself to the priest at the temple and offer a sacrifice (Leviticus 12:6-7). The Roman Catholic Churches seem to devote greater focus to this aspect of Candlemass, as evidenced by their ritual of the Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, while the Anglican Churches celebrate the Wives’ Feast, which is a time when women gather with feasting and socializing.
Candelaria on February 2nd
The date of February 2nd places the Candelaria celebration forty days after Christmas and continues the religious cycle that leads up to Easter Sunday. Additionally, it is also the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, which is the basis for various ancient European celebrations that commemorate the annual beginnings of the agricultural season.
Also of note concerning Candlemass is its connection to Groundhog Day, which occurs on the same date. This tradition also finds its origin in European folklore, as a prediction for the coming spring.
For the Church, however, Candelaria remains a day of hope and light. It is a time to honor the Lord as the Light of the World and to remind us that we too have that light within us.
Hierarchy of Angels
Until the New Testament there were only two orders of angel: the Seraphim and Cherubim. St. Paul extended the number by adding seven new orders bringing the number to nine orders. They are arranged according to their importance: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.
According to Celestial Hierarchy of Dionysis Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas there are nine angelic orders.
In the First Triad
(Choir 1) are Seraphim said to be:
• highest order of God’s Angelic Servants
• appear with six wings and four heads
• known as ‘fiery serpents’
• beings of pure light
• angels of love, light and fire
• keep negative energy from getting through to divinity
• shine so brilliantly with light that humans unlikely to see them
• chant the Trisagion, “Holy, holy, holy…”
humanitarian and planetary causes
(Choir 2) are Cherubim said to be:
• angels of Harmony & Wisdom
• guard the light and the stars
• channel positive energy from the divine
• angels of boundless love, knowledge
• can function as personal guards
• guarding religious temples
divine protection, knowledge, wisdom
(Choir 3) are Thrones said to be:
• angels of justice and will
• known as the “many-eyed” ones
• create, send and collect positive energy
relationships and planetary issues
In the Second Triad
(Choir 1) are the Dominions said to be:
• angels of intuition and wisdom
• divine leaders
• combining spiritual and material
• order of the law of cause and effect
• making adjustments when highest human interests are not followed by churches, politicians, leaders
mediating, arbitrating, divine wisdom
(Choir 2) the Virtues said to be:
• angels of movement and choice
• known as “The Miracle Angels”
• sending spiritual energy to the collective human consciousness
• helping those that strive to go beyond and accomplish what others call impossible
• loving positive people who try to help, enlighten, and lead others toward harmony
healing through elemental energies, Earth, Air, Fire, Water Spirit
(Choir 3) the Powers said to be:
• angels of space and form
• keep track of human history
• organizers for world religions
• dispensing justice and chaos
• sending messages if someone is out to harm you
• defending your home, family, friends
In the Third Triad
(Choir 1) the Principalities said to be:
• angels of time and personality
• guard continents, countries, cities, large groups
• working toward global reform
• channel positive energy
• protectors of politics and religion
extinction of animals, leadership problems, human rights, discrimination
(Choir 2) the Archangels said to be:
• angels of fire, ruling angels
• able to belong to several levels in the hierarchy of angels
• enjoy human contact
different attributes per archangel
(Choir 3) the Angels said to be:
• messenger angels, nature angels
• assigned to humans, such as guardian angels
• involved in human and physical manifestation
• channel from divinity to human
• needing to be asked, will not always interfere
• guardian angel can come from any level – communicating with all other angels
transformation, death, birth
defense and protection
Frequently asked Questions about the Catholic Church by non-Catholics
What are some of the differences between the Catholic and Protestant versions of the Bible?
The chief difference is in the omission of seven complete books and part of two others from the Old Testament in the Protestant versions. The books omitted are:
Tobias I Macabees
Judith II Macabees
Wisdom Esther (part)
Ecclesiasticus Daniel (part)
These omissions should certainly be a matter of concern and investigation. The entire Christian world accepted them as the inspired Word of God until the Reformation. If they did not belong there, then God had permitted the entire Christian world to be led astray for more than a thousand years. On the other hand, if they DO belong there, then Protestants are being deprived of a good portion of revelation and the inspired Word. No one would presume to say that anything inspired by God is unimportant.
Why not confess to God instead of to a mere man?
Yes, it is easier to go to God, and probably this is why Christ did not chose this method.
We confess to a man, not because he himself has the power to forgive sins, but because he acts as His agent, or a judge, in the name of God, and forgives sins in His name.
The words of institution prove that Christ intended specific confession of sins:
“He, therefore, said to them again, ‘Peace be to you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you.’ When He had said this, He breathed upon them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.’” St. John 20:21, 22
By these words Christ gave to His Apostles the power EITHER to forgive OR to retain. In order to exercise this judicial power it is necessary for the sinner to accuse himself specifically of his sins. Most sins are committed in secret and the priest-judge would have no other way of knowing their sins, except by specific confession.
Furthermore, the priest as a judge must give a penance or work of satisfaction which is proportional to the sins and helpful to the sinner. This he can do only if he knows what sins have been committed.
The fact that the priest is a sinner, as are all men, does not affect the power which he exercises. The power comes to him from his office. The same is true with a President or with a judge in our civil courts. The private lives of these individuals do not affect the authority which they have under the Constitution.(Http://www.stjohn17v20-21.com)
Is it not sufficient to “Accept Jesus” in order to be saved through the merits of Jesus Christ?
Christ could not have made mere “acceptance” of Himself sufficient for salvation since the observance of some of the commandments is required by natural law. His plan included not only hope or “acceptance: but also the observance of the commandments, faith, baptism, etc.
“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 7:21
Is it not true that all Churches are good, and that it makes no difference what we believe as long as we live right?
No, this is not true for:
• This would mean that truth and falsehood were equally pleasing to God.
• That the unity for which Christ prayed would be an impossibility.
• It DOES make a difference what we believe as well as what we do.
“He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned.” Matthew 16:16
“He who hears you, hears me: and he who rejects you, rejects me; and he who rejects me, rejects Him who sent me.” Luke 10:16
“But if he refuse to hear even the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican.” Matthew 18:17.
The Differences Between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism
On October 20, 2009, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced that Pope Benedict XVI had set up a procedure to allow “groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world” to return en masse to the Catholic Church. While the announcement was greeted with joy by most Catholics and many doctrinally orthodox Anglicans, others remained confused. What are the differences between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion? And what might this reunification of parts of the Anglican Communion with Rome mean for the broader question of Christian unity?
The Creation of the Anglican Church
In the mid-16th century, King Henry VIII declared the Church in England independent of Rome. At first, the differences were more personal than doctrinal, with one significant exception: The Anglican Church rejected papal supremacy, and Henry VIII established himself as the head of that Church. Over time, however, the Anglican Church adopted a revised liturgy and became influenced briefly by Lutheran and then more lastingly by Calvinist doctrine. Monastic communities in England were suppressed, and their lands confiscated. Doctrinal and pastoral differences developed that made reunification more difficult.
The Rise of the Anglican Communion
As the British Empire spread around the world, the Anglican Church followed it. One hallmark of Anglicanism was a greater element of local control, and so the Anglican Church in each ountry enjoyed a measure of autonomy. Collectively, these national churches are known as the Anglican Communion. The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, commonly known simply as the Episcopal Church, is the American church in the Anglican Communion.
Attempts at Reunification
Through the centuries, various attempts have been made to return the Anglican Communion to unity with the Catholic Church. The most prominent was the mid-19th century Oxford Movement, which stressed the Catholic elements of Anglicanism and downplayed Reformation influences on doctrine and practice. Some of the members of the Oxford Movement became Catholic, most famously John Henry Newman, who later became a cardinal, while others remained in the Anglican Church and became the basis of the High Church, or Anglo-Catholic, radition.
A century later, in the wake of Vatican II, hopes for the prospect of reunification rose again. Ecumenical discussions were held to attempt to resolve doctrinal issues and to pave the way for the acceptance, once again, of papal supremacy.
Bumps on the Road to Rome
But changes in doctrine and moral teaching among some in the Anglican Communion erected obstacles to unity. The ordination of women as priests and bishops was followed by the rejection of traditional teaching on human sexuality, which led eventually to the ordination of openly homosexual clergy and the blessing of homosexual unions. National churches, bishops, and priests who resisted such changes (mostly Anglo-Catholic descendants of the Oxford Movement) began to question whether they should remain in the Anglican Communion, and some began to look to individual reunification with Rome.
The “Pastoral Provision” of Pope John Paul II
At the requests of such Anglican clergy, in 1982 Pope John Paul II approved a “pastoral provision” that allowed some groups of Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church en masse while preserving their structure as churches and maintaining elements of an Anglican identity. In the United States, a number of individual parishes took this route, and in most cases, the Church dispensed the married Anglican priests who served those parishes from the requirement of celibacy so that, after their reception into the Catholic Church, they could receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders and become Catholic priests.
Coming Home to Rome
Other Anglicans tried to create an alternative structure, the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), but as tensions grew in the Anglican Communion, TAC petitioned the Catholic Church in October 2007 for “full, corporate, and sacramental union.” That petition became the basis for Pope Benedict’s action on October 20, 2009.
Under the new procedure, “personal ordinariates” (essentially, dioceses without geographical boundaries) will be formed. The bishops will normally be former Anglicans, though the tradition of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches will be respected, and thus candidates for bishop must be unmarried. Married Anglican priests, however, will be allowed to request ordination as Catholic priests once they have entered the Catholic Church. Former Anglican parishes will be llowed to preserve “elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony.”
The Future of Christian Unity
While both Catholic and Anglican leaders have stressed that ecumenical dialogue will continue, in practical terms, the Anglican Communion is likely to move further away from Catholic orthodoxy as traditionalist Anglicans are accepted into the Catholic Church. For other Christian denominations, however, the “personal ordinariate” model may be a path for traditionalists to pursue reunification with Rome outside of the structures of their particular churches. (For instance, conservative Lutherans in Europe may approach the Holy See directly.)
This move is also likely to increase dialogue between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. The question of married priests and the maintenance of liturgical traditions have long een stumbling blocks in Catholic-Orthodox discussions. While the Catholic Church has been willing to accept Orthodox traditions regarding the priesthood and the liturgy, many Orthodox have been skeptical of Rome’s sincerity. If the portions of the Anglican Church that reunite with the Catholic Church are able to maintain a married priesthood and a distinct identity, many fears of the Orthodox will be put to rest.
Pentecost is a Christian holy day commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament of the Bible. It is also known as Whitsunday, or Whit Sunday.
In the United States, Christians share their perspective about the meaning of Pentecost as well as how the diversity of languages and cultures can enhance their worship and fellowship with each other. Christians see Pentecost as an expansion of God’s favor and care from Judaism to all peoples.
As recorded in the New Testament of the Bible, it was on the 50th day after Easter that the apostles were praying together and the Holy Spirit descended on them. They received the “gift of tongues” – the ability to speak in other languages – and immediately began to preach about Jesus Christ to Jewish people from all over the world who had flocked to Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot.
Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians (16:8). It is the 50th day after Easter (if we count both Easter and Pentecost) and it supplants the Jewish Feast of Shavuot which took place 50 days after the Passover and which celebrated the sealing of the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai.On the surface, Shavuot and Pentecost have very different themes, in spite of their ancient links, one representing the law of God and one representing the theme of evangelism. On a deeper level they might be argued to have much in common, for both call to mind a God who wishes to reveal his plan, his power and his way to troubled humanities on earth.
Pentecost is often called “the birthday of the Church.” On this day, with the descent of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s mission is completed, and the New Covenant is inaugurated. It is interesting to note that St. Peter, the first pope, was already the leader and spokesman for the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday (see Acts 2:14ff).
The Acts of the Apostles recounts the story of the original Pentecost as well (Acts 2). Jews from all over were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast. On that Sunday, ten days after the Ascension of Our Lord, the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary were gathered in the Upper Room, where they had seen Christ after his Resurrection:
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with diverse tongue, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. [Acts 2:2-4]
Christ had promised His Apostles that He would send His Holy Spirit, and, on Pentecost, they were granted the gifts of the Spirit. The Apostles began to preach the Gospel in all of the languages that the Jews who were gathered there spoke, and about 3,000 people were converted and baptized that day.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit Lead to the Fruits of the Holy Spirit
When the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, they were granted the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Those gifts helped them to fulfill their mission to preach the Gospel to all nations. For us, too, those gifts – granted when we are infused with sanctifying grace, the life of God in our souls – help us to live a Christian life. These gifts are: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord.
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are enumerated in Isaiah 11:2-3. They are present in their fullness in Jesus Christ but are found in all Christians who are in a state of grace. We receive them when we are infused with sanctifying grace, the life of God within us—as, for example, when we receive a sacrament worthily. As the current Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, “They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them.” Infused with His gifts, we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as if by instinct, the way Christ Himself would.
Wisdom is the first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit, because it is the perfection of faith. Through wisdom, we come to value properly those things which we believe through faith. The truths of Christian belief are more important than the things of this world, and wisdom helps us to order our relationship to the created world properly, loving Creation for the sake of God, rather than for its own sake.
Understanding is the second gift of the Holy Spirit, and people sometimes have a hard time understanding (no pun intended) how it differs from wisdom. While wisdom is the desire to contemplate the things of God, understanding allows us grasp, at least in a limited way, the very essence of the truths of the Catholic Faith. Through understanding, we gain a certitude about our beliefs that moves beyond faith.
Counsel, the third gift of the Holy Spirit, is the perfection of the cardinal virtue of prudence. Prudence can be practiced by anyone, but counsel is supernatural. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we are able to judge how best to act almost by intuition. Because of the gift of counsel, Christians need not fear to stand up for the truths of the Faith, because the Holy Spirit will guide us in defending those truths.
While counsel is the perfection of a cardinal virtue, fortitude is both a gift of the Holy Spirit and a cardinal virtue. Fortitude is ranked as the fourth gift of the Holy Spirit because it gives us the strength to follow through on the actions suggested by the gift of counsel. While fortitude is sometimes called courage, it goes beyond what we normally think of as courage. Fortitude is the virtue of the martyrs that allows them to suffer death rather than to renounce the Christian Faith.
The fifth gift of the Holy Spirit, knowledge, is often confused with both wisdom and understanding. Like wisdom, knowledge is the perfection of faith, but whereas wisdom gives us the desire to judge all things according to the truths of the Catholic Faith, knowledge is the actual ability to do so. Like counsel, it is aimed at our actions in this life. In a limited way, knowledge allows us to see the circumstances of our life the way that God sees them. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we can determine God’s purpose for our lives and live them accordingly.
Piety, the sixth gift of the Holy Spirit, is the perfection of the virtue of religion. While we tend to think of religion today as the external elements of our faith, it really means the willingness to worship and to serve God. Piety takes that willingness beyond a sense of duty, so that we desire to worship God and to serve Him out of love, the way that we desire to honor our parents and do what they wish.
The seventh and final gift of the Holy Spirit is the fear of the Lord, and perhaps no other gift of the Holy Spirit is so misunderstood. We think of fear and hope as opposites, but the fear of the Lord confirms the theological virtue of hope. This gift of the Holy Spirit gives us the desire not to offend God, as well as the certainty that God will supply us the grace that we need in order to keep from offending Him. Our desire not to offend God is more than simply a sense of duty; like piety, the fear of the Lord arises out of love.
The example of the Apostles shows that the gifts of the Holy Spirit lead to the fruits of the Holy Spirit – works that we can only perform through the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the performance of such works in an indication that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian believer. The twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit are: Charity (or love), Joy, Peace, Patience, Benignity (or kindness), Goodness, Longanimity (or long suffering), Mildness, Faith, Modesty, Continency, and Chastity.
In the February issue of “The Catholic Communicator”, Rev. Dwight Longenecker, Administrator, Our Lady of the Rosary, Greenville, wrote the following article.
Is the Next Pope the Last Pope?
In the year 1140 an Irish bishop named Malachy visited Rome with a group of monks. They climbed the Janiculum Hill to thank God for the safe completion of their journey. While there (as the story goes) Malachy had a vision in which he “saw” 111 popes to the end of time. Each pope was chronicled with a short, cryptic epigram in Latin. What makes this ancient tale interesting is that with the retirement of Benedict XVI, the last pope on Malachy’s list is about to be elected. This is where it gets interesting. Because the Irish seer was supposedly given a prophecy that the last pope on his list is also the last pope before the return of Christ, the prophecy for the last pope is longer and contains an alarming vision. It reads:
“During the last persecution of the Holy Roman church there shall sit Peter of Rome, who shall feed the ship amidst the many great tribulations, and when these have passed, the City of the Seven Hills shall be utterly destroyed and the awful Judge will judge the people.”
Conspiracy theorists love poring over the prophecies of St. Malachy straining to make sense of their cryptic messages. John Paul II’s epigram was “the labor of the sun” so theorists dug around until they discovered he was born on the day of an eclipse and they found a medieval poem (but never published the reference that referred to an eclipse as “the labor of the sun.”
The epigram for Benedict XVI was a rather obscure phrase, “the glory of the olive.” After Benedict’s selection the prophecy hounds pointed out that there is a famous Benedictine monastery called Monte Oliveto, and the Benedictine crest has an olive branch in it (but they didn’t actually show a picture of that crest). Anyway, the connection is in the name he chose. St. Benedict is the glory of Monte Oliveto and the Benedictines who love olive branches.
Then, wide eyes and gasps of wonder are emitted when the name of Ghanaian Cardinal Turkson’s name is mentioned as a front runner to be the next pope. His name is Peter! And he studied in Rome!! In Ghana, they call him, “Peter of Rome”!!!
So, for them, Peter the Roman, is about to be elected. It’s all very exciting to think that the second coming and the end of the world is nigh! Just when were all so disappointed when the Mayan calendar end of the world thing fizzled out…
Unfortunately, these theorists fail to recognize a few facts. For example, although St. Malachy was a historic figure from the twelfth century, there is no mention of his prophecies before 1590. And surprise! surprise! – the prophetic mottos for the popes are quite accurate for the period between 1150 up to the late 1500s. Then they become obscure and inaccurate. Kind of fishy. Maybe like the whole thing was written about 1590 or so when the prophecies were purportedly discovered?
Scholars have judged the prophecies of the 12th century St. Malachy to be a rather poor 16th century forgery – probably produced to influence a papal election at the time. So you can probably sleep peacefully tonight. The end of the world is probably not nigh. On the other hand … why not prepare your soul just to be on the safe side.
(Father Longenecker is the host of “More Christianity,” which airs on Thursday at 2 p.m. with an encore on Saturdays at 3 p.m. on Catholic Radio.)
* All this speculation is now moot since the College of Cardinals have elected a pope who was not on Malachy’s list.
Francis I’s To-Do List
Seven Challenges Facing the Pope
NBC News Vatican analyst and papal biographer, George Weigel, says Cardinal Bergoglio was the right choice, a man whose simplicity, austerity and gentleness can put the church on the road to a new future. Not a “maintenance guy” that merely oversees the status quo, Pope Francis is expected to teach the Church how to be missionary again.
Pope Francis has a to-do list as long as his cassock. He will lead 1.2 billion Catholics and a church at a crossroads – wrestling with scandal after scandal, changing demographics and calls for liberalization.
Here are seven pressing challenges for the new pope:
- Cleaning house at the Vatican – Pope Benedict XVI ordered that a report on church bureaucracy be shown to only two men – himself and his successor. After he gives it a read, Francis will have to address backbiting, corruption and cronyism inside the Vatican and increasing pressure to makes its finances more open. Church analysts were watching closely to see whether cardinals would elect a Vatican insider protective of church secrecy. Instead they picked a man from halfway around the world.
- Leading the church out of the sex abuse scandal – The crisis consumed Benedict’s papacy and threatened to overshadow the conclave, with abuse victims even calling for some cardinals to recuse themselves from the selection process. Victims’ groups still want the Vatican to disclose more about its role in failing to protect children. One such organization, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said it was grateful that Francis was not on its list of the worst choices for pope – but warned that very little about the crisis has been exposed in South America.
- Getting along with other faiths – Benedict caused a furor when, in 2006, he quoted an emperor who had characterized some teaching of the Prophet Muhammad as “evil and Inhuman.” Benedict is credited with repairing rifts with Jews, however, and the new pope has also been praised for cultivating a strong relationship with Judaism. After Francis’ election, the head of the World Jewish Congress praised him as someone “known for his open-mindedness.”
- Winning the West – Benedict couldn’t stop the decline of the church in its traditional stronghold of Europe. Meanwhile in the US, a Pew Study released last month found that only 27% of the church’s members defined themselves as “strong” Catholics – a four-decade low. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who was considered a papal contender, expressed hope that Francis would fight rising secularism: “We pledge our faithful support for the Holy Father as he leads the Church in proclaiming the New Evangelization, inviting all people to develop a closer relationship with Christ and to share that gift with others.”
- Should women be priests? And should priests marry? – Francis will have to address growing debate within the church about the celibacy requirement for priests. A priest in Australia admitted last year that he had been married for a year and said “there are more like me.” Benedict also delivered a veiled rebuke to an Austrian priests’ group that wants the church to allow women to be ordained and to get rid of the celibacy requirement.
- Modernization – Majorities of Catholics in the US have said in surveys that they want the pope to lead the church in a more liberal direction. A New York Times/CBS News poll of Catholics last month found that six in ten support gay marriage, and seven in ten want the church to allow birth control. Three-quarters supported abortion in at least some circumstances. In Argentina, then-Cardinal Bergoglio clashed with the president over a 2010 law allowing gay marriage. “It is a move by the father of lies to confuse and deceive the children of God,” he said.
- Persecution – Open Doors, a group that documents Christian persecution, reported earlier this year that 100 million Christians are oppressed around the worldwide, with countries in Asia and the Middle East by far the worst offenders. Benedict claimed that Christians are the most oppressed religious group in the world, facing discrimination and often violence. As pope, Francis must also be church’s most prominent diplomat. “This situation is intolerable,” Benedict said in 2010, “since it represents an insult to God and to human dignity.”
The rites called the Scrutinies are celebrated with the catechumens (those to be baptized on Holy Saturday, are now referred to as the Elect) on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent.
To scrutinize means to examine something very closely. When we celebrate the Scrutinies at Mass, we are not scrutinizing the Elect. Rather, they are scrutinizing their own lives before God and we are called to do the same along with them. The goal is to be strengthened to overcome the power of sin.
The Scrutinies are most effective when the faith community, together with the Elect, identify concrete issues that they and we need to confront: we name the evils that prevent us from living the Gospel fully. These evils or obstacles then become the focus of the intercessions that are prayed during the Scrutinies
The scrutinies are intended to complete the conversion of the elect, to mirror the catechumens’ progress toward Baptism. Each of John’s three “baptismal” Gospels – the Samaritan woman, the man blind from birth, and the raising of Lazarus – features a principal character who progressively grows in his/her understanding of who Jesus really is.
In the first scrutiny on the Third Sunday of Lent (March 3rd at 10:30 a.m. Mass), the Samaritan woman begins by addressing Jesus politely, though not perceptively, as “Sir.” She progresses to, “I can see that you are a prophet,” and then provides an opening for Jesus to reveal his true identity: “I know the Messiah is coming.” Jesus replies, “I AM he” (Jesus ascribes to himself the Divine Name). Eventually, the townspeople make a “profession of faith” similar to the catechumens’ profession at Baptism: “This is truly the Savior of the world.”
In the second scrutiny on the Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 10th at 8 a.m. Mass), the parallels for reflection abound. The blind man washes in Siloam for the gift of sight; the catechumens “wash” in the baptismal font for the gift of faith. Samuel anoints David; Jesus anoints the man’s eyes; the Church anoints in Baptism and Confirmation. The Lord cautions Samuel not to judge from appearances; Jesus bestows not merely sight but faith’s insight. The man not only sees Jesus but “sees” who Jesus really is. Ephesians “sees” this as our miracle, too: “You were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”
As did the Samaritan woman, the blind man reveals his progress in understanding who Jesus is by the titles he uses to address Jesus, at first simply, “the man called Jesus.” Questioned by the authorities, the man formerly blind advances to “he is a prophet.” Ultimately, he professes his faith, “I do believe, Lord,” and worships.
The blind man’s progression toward faith is paralleled by the regression of the sighted characters. Jesus’ disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”“ The religious leaders embrace this explanation (which Jesus rejects), and it prompts their final insult: “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Ultimately, the man’s physical blindness is eclipsed by the sighted (religious) characters’ blindness of heart. “Surely we are not also blind?” Jesus seals the reversal: “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but you say, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”
In the third, and final, scrutiny on the Fifth Sunday of Lent (March 17th 5:30 p.m.), the raising of Lazarus crowns Jesus’ wonderous deeds. Ironically, it also heightens official hostility, thus making Jesus’ restoring another’s life the immediate cause of losing his own. Jewish tradition held that the soul hovered near the dead body for three days. By specifying that Lazarus had been in the tomb four days (Martha even warns of a stench), John emphasizes that Jesus has complete and sovereign power even over humankind’s moral enemy, death. Of special importance to communities with catechumens is the story’s concluding detail. When Lazarus comes forth from the tomb alive, by Jesus’ power, the community still has work to do. “Untie him and let him go,” Jesus commands. Raised to life by God’s power, summoned to a new beginning by Jesus, the newly baptized like Lazarus, are entrusted to the community, whose role is crucial to their being set free to walk in the new life to which God has called them in Baptism.
Copyright © Pastoral Patterns, Micheal E. Novak and Peter J. Scagnelli, World Library Publications, J.S. Paluch Company, Inc. Spring 2013
A Christmas manger is a three- dimensional display of characters who populate the story of the birth of Christ. It is also known as a crib or a crèche. St. Francis of Assisi originated the custom in the 13th century, and it has been adopted by homes, churches and even some public squares around the world.
A manger scene usually shows Mary and Joseph together with shepherds and magi, all in reverent pose before the newborn Jesus, who lies in an animal feeding trough. Around them gather livestock – lambs, a cow, a donkey, and the camels that transported the magi. An angel may hover above the scene proclaiming “Glory to God in the highest!” Most of these figures can be traced to the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus (Mt 1:18-2:12 and Lk 2:1-20), but the cow and donkey (or ox and ass) come from a prophecy in Isaiah 1:3. Some scenes are filled with more delightfully fanciful figures. In all, the manger proclaims that Christ was born for all – the wise and the poor, angels as well as animals.
The manger foreshadows the Eucharist because Jesus would give his Body and Blood for food. It also foreshadows the cross; in art, the crib and swaddling clothes sometimes resemble a coffin and burial clothes.
When the manger is first erected, it may be blessed with prayers from the Book of Blessings, which are also found in Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers.
In a church, the manger is not supposed to occupy a place in the sanctuary, lest it block one’s view of the altar. Still, it is filling to arrange the scene in a place where the faithful can come, look, and be inspired to praise God for the miracle of Christmas.
Copyright © 2008 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia Street #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.
WHAT IS THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS?
The Liturgy of the Hours is a small but bulky and intimidating-looking red-bound prayer book with lots of confusing multi-colored ribbons. It is that, but, of course, it is much more.
Also known as The Divine Office, the “hours” are comprised of a four-week cycle of psalms, biblical readings and songs, prayers of intercession, blessings, and other readings from spiritual writings, separated into morning, evening, daytime and night prayer, and an office (collection) of readings. It is the required daily prayer of clergy and many in consecrated religious life, but it is also a rich source of prayer for all the members of the church.
The Acts of the Apostles talks about how the early Christian community was faithful to the Jewish tradition of gathering for prayer at appointed times.
There is also the exhortation in St. Paul’s letters to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:17) as well as Jesus’ telling his disciples an entire parable about the “necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary” (Luke 18:1). Christians took these commands seriously. By the 200s they were gathering for morning and evening prayer. Daily prayer at regular intervals was something available to all Christians.
As the early church moved into the Middle Ages, however, the practice fragmented into two forms: The ‘monastic office,” the preserve of monasteries, and a simpler version, the “cathedral office,” celebrated in parish churches. Even the more accessible cathedral office, though, came to be viewed as something belonging to the clergy and, therefore, remote from lay people.
Centuries went by before the Second Vatican Council, in its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1963), sought to put the Hours back into the hands of the whole church. Vatican II recognized that the Liturgy of the Hours “is devised so that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praises of God… The purpose of the office is to sanctify the day.”
The Hours are a way to grow in several aspects of prayer. They are a ritual that opens those praying to a deeper recognition of the sacredness not only of the entire day bur also of all creation. They punctuate the day with prayer and thus make the time in between more prayerful.
They are a way to pray is not “without ceasing” then at least with “unceasing” consistency. They help to develop the habit of persistence in prayer. And the “public prayer of the church,” praying the Hours, whether alone of with a group, puts you in communion with the entire praying church.
Simplified versions of Liturgy of the Hours exist, but if you are going to make the effort to pray them, it is worth going to the real things, which with all its ribbons, is not that difficult to learn to use. The print version, Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours, is available from Catholic Book Publishing Co., and you can also find the Liturgy of the Hours itself online.
An indulgence is the remission of punishment for a forgiven sin. If you child breaks a window at home and tells you, “I’m sorry,” you may forgive the young offender, but you may still issue a punishment. In the Catholic Church the sacrament of reconciliation brings forgiveness of sins, which may still carry punishments. Indulgences relax the punishments.
Indulgences first appeared in the 11th century as a way of reducing the penance one was required to perform after confessing a sin. Several hundred years later they were understood to relax punishments after death – partially or totally. During the Reformation, the abuse of indulgences received sound criticism. People were selling them outright, claiming that you could buy your way into heaven.
In the past, some indulgences came with a certain number of days or years attached. The church explained that if you gained the indulgence, it would speed your progress from purgatory to heaven by that amount of time. Today we no longer apply this metaphor of time.
Although the sale of indulgences has ceased, the practice of performing certain actions to obtain indulgences continues. The church believes that the good accomplished by Christ and the saints may be shared by the faithful who perform actions of prayer, charity, and self-sacrifice. Believers may even ask God to extend mercy to the faithful departed by remembering these benefits. An appreciation of indulgences is based on the belief that sinful behaviors carry consequences ever after death and that God will respond favorably to prayers for mercy.
An indulgence is obtained by performing a devotional action, celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation, sharing the Eucharist, and praying for the intentions of the pope. It celebrates the mercy of God.
Copyright © 2000, Resource Publications, Inc. 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, hold a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.
Swieconka (sh-vee-en-soon-kah) is one of the most enduring and beloved Polish traditions. Baskets containing a sampling of Easter foods are brought to church to be blessed on Holy Saturday. The basket is traditionally lined with a white linen or lace napkin and decorated with sprigs of boxwood (bukszpan), the typical Easter evergreen. Poles take special pride in preparing a decorative and tasteful basket with crisp linens, occasionally embroidered for the occasion and just enough boxwood and ribbon woven through the handle. Observing the beautiful foods and creations of other parishioners is one of the special joys of the event.
While in some older or rural communities, the priest visits the homes to bless the foods, the vast majority of Poles and Polish Americans visit the church on Holy Saturday once again praying at the Tomb of the Lord, normally a decorative mock-up of the Tomb.
The priest then sprinkles the individual baskets with Holy Water. More traditional Polish churches use a straw brush for dispersing the Water; others use the more modern metal Holy Water sprinkling wand. In some parishes, the baskets are lined up on long tables; in others, parishioners process to the front of the Altar carrying their baskets, as if in a Communion line. Older generations of Polish Americans, descended from early 19th century immigrants, tend to bless whole meal quantities, often brought to church halls or cafeterias in large hampers and picnic baskets. Newer Polish immigrants at Polish-language parishes along with Poles in urban Poland present the smaller arrangement of select goods described here.
A Traditional Polish Swieconka Basket
Basket Contents and Symbolism:
Maslo / Butter : This dairy product is often shaped into a lamb (Baranek Wielkanocny), reminding us of the goodness of Christ that we should have toward all things.
Chleb / Easter Bread : A round of rye loaf topped with a cross, symbolic of Jesus, the Bread of Life.
Chrzan / Horseradish : Symbolic of the Passion of Christ still in our minds, but sweetened with some sugar because of the Resurrection (May be white or pink [with grated red beets]).
Jajka / Eggs and Pisanki : Indicate new life and Christ’s Resurrection from the Tomb.
Kielbasa / Sausage : A spicy sausage of pork products, indicative of God’s favor and generosity.
Szynka / Ham : Symbolic of great joy and abundance. (In addition to the large ham cooked for the Easter Meal, often a special small ham, called the Szynka Wielkanocny, is purchased specially for Swieconka basket.)
Slonina / Smoked Bacon : A symbol of the overabundance of God’s mercy and generosity.
Sol / Salt : So necessary an element in our physical life, that Jesus used its symbolism: “You are the salt of the earth.”
Ser / Cheese : Shaped into a ball, it is the symbol of the moderation Christians should have.
Holy Water : Holy water is used to bless the home, animals, fields and used in religious rituals throughout the year.
Candle : A candle, often marked like the Paschal Candle lit during the Easter Vigil is inserted into the basket to represent Christ, Light of the World.
A colorful ribbon and sometimes sprigs of greenery are attached.
As we become acquainted with the new translations in the Mass, many of you are wondering what all these new words are and what they mean. Some of the new words we are using may be unfamiliar to many of you. The following list of definitions may help to increase your understanding of the rich theology that underlies these texts. This glossary of common liturgical terms come from the “United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in Washington, D.C.” IT MIGHT BE GOOD TO HANG ONTO THIS LIST FOR FUTURE REFERENCE.
ABASEMENT: The lowering of one of higher rank. Jesus abased himself in that, though he was God, he lowered himself and became a human person being so that he might save us from our sins (see Phil 2:6-11).
ADOPTION: In baptism, the Holy Spirit transforms us into children of the Father, thereby making us his adopted sons and daughters in the likeness of his eternal Son (see Eph 1:3-6). In this way, the faithful are made “partakers in the divine nature (cf. 2 Pt 1:4) by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior” (“Catechism of the Catholic Church,” 1129). In the sacraments, we become the sons and daughters of God by adoption through Christ Jesus.
ANGELS AND ARCHANGELS, CHERUBIM AND SERAPHIM, THRONES AND DOMINIONS: Spiritual, personal and immortal creatures, with intelligence and free will, who glorify God and serve him as messengers of his saving plan. Traditionally, the choir of angels has been divided into various ranks, including archangels, cherubim, seraphim, thrones, dominions, principalities and powers (see Col 1:16).
CHALICE: From the Latin word “calix” meaning “cup” (see Ps 116:13; Mt 20:22; 1Cor 10:16). The use of this term in the liturgy points to the chalice’s function as a particular kind of cup and indicated the uniqueness of what it contains, the very blood of Christ.
CLEMENCY: The loving kindness, compassion or mercy that God shows to sinners. Our fellowship and union with Jesus and other baptized Christians in the church, which has its source and summit in the celebration of the Eucharist. By receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, we are united to him and one another as members of his body.
CONSECRATION: The dedication of a thing or person to divine service by a prayer or blessing. In the Mass, “consecration” also refers to the words spoken by the priest whereby the bread and wine are transformed into the risen body and blood of Jesus.
CONSUBSTANTIAL: The belief, articulated in the Nicene Creed, about the relationship of the Father and the Son: that “in the Father and with the Father, the Son is one and the same God” (CCC, 262).
CONTRITE: To be repentant within one’s heart and mind for sins committed and to resolve not to sin again.
COVENANT: A solemn agreement between human beings, between God and a human being, or between God and a people involving mutual commitments or promises. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with the Jewish people. Jesus, through his death and resurrection, made a new covenant with all humanity. One enters into this new covenant through faith and baptism.
DAMNATION: Eternal separation from God’s love caused by dying in mortal sin without repentance.
GODHEAD: The mystery of one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
HOMAGE: The honor, respect and reverence due to another. Homage is especially due to God, for he is eternal, all good, all holy and all loving.
IMPLORE: To plead, beseech or ask with humility. This is an example of the self-deprecatory language in the Roman Missal that helps to express our dependence on God. We humbly beg the Father to hear and answer our prayers, for we ask them in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus.
INCARNATION: The Son of God assumed human nature and became man by being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Jesus is true God and true man. As man, the Son of God obtained our salvation. The use of this term in the Nicene Creed indicates that Jesus’ birth has a significance beyond that of any other human birth.
INEFFABLE: That which cannot be conceived or expressed fully (see 1Cor 2:6-9). One cannot, for example, adequately describe in concepts and words the mystery of the Trinity or the mystery of the Incarnation.
INFUSION: The Holy Spirit is poured into the hearts and souls of believers, and so they are filled, or infused, with grace.
INTERCESSOR: One who makes a petition on behalf of others. Our unique intercessor is Jesus Christ, who intercedes on our behalf with the Father (see Rom 8:34). The priest at Mass, acting in the person of Christ, intercedes on behalf of the whole church.
JUSTIFICATION: The gracious action by which God frees us from sin and makes us holy and righteous before him.
LORD, GOD OF HOSTS: From the word “sabaoth,” hosts are the invisible powers that work at God’s command over heaven and earth.
MEDIATOR: One who unites or reconciles separate or opposing parties. Thus, Jesus Christ is the “one mediator between God and the human race” (1 Tim 2:5). Through his sacrificial offering he has become high priest and unique mediator who has gained for us access to the Father through the Holy Spirit.
MERIT: The reward that God promises and gives to those who love him and who by his grace perform good works. One cannot earn justification or eternal life; they are the free gifts of God. Rather, our merit is from God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. The Father freely justifies us in Christ through the in-dwelling of the Spirit; and Christians, by the same Holy Spirit, are empowered to do good works of love and justice. In cooperating with the Holy Spirit, the faithful receive further grace and thus, in Christ, cooperate in the works of their salvation.
OBLATION: A gift or sacrifice offered to God.
ONLY BEGOTTEN SON: This title “signifies the unique and eternal relationship of Jesus Christ to God his Father: he is the only Son of the Father (cf. Jn 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18); he is God himself (cf. Jn 1:1)” (CCC, 454). Jesus is the Son of God not by adoption but by nature.
PASCHAL: Referring to Christ’s work of redemption accomplished through his passion, death, resurrection and ascension. Through the paschal mystery, Jesus destroyed our death and restored us to life. The paschal mystery is celebrated and made present in the liturgy so that we can obtain the fruit of Jesus’ death and resurrection, that is the forgiveness of our sins and the new life of the Holy Spirit.
PATRIARCHS: Title given to the venerable ancestors or “fathers” of the Semitic peoples, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who received God’s promise of election.
PRECURSOR: One who comes before as a herald. John the Baptizer is the precursor of Jesus.
PROVIDENT GRACE: The free and undeserved gift that God gives us as he protects and governs all creation.
REDEMPTION: Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer because he frees us from our sin through his sacrificial death on the cross.
TEMPORAL: What pertains to this world of time and history, as opposed to what pertains to God, such as our new life in Christ through the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit.
VENERATE: To show devotion and respect to holy things and people. Catholics venerate relics and saints. Veneration must be clearly distinguished from adoration and worship, both of which pertain solely to the Trinity and Jesus as the Son of God.
Who is St. Nicholas?
The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests and deacons there was no room for the real criminals – murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th.
Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas’ life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.
One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value – a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift giver.
One of the oldest stories showing St. Nicholas as a protector of children takes place long after his death. The townspeople of Myra were celebrating the good saint on the eve of his feast day when a band of Arab pirates from Crete came into the district. They stole treasures from the Church of Saint Nicholas to take away as booty. As they were leaving town, they snatched a young boy, Basilios, to make into a slave. The emir, or ruler, selected Basilios to be his personal cupbearer, as not knowing the language, Basilios would not understand what the king said to those around him. So, for the next year Basilios waited on the king, bringing his wine in a beautiful golden cup. For Basilios’ parents, devastated at the loss of their only child, the year passed slowly. As the next St. Nicholas’ feast day approached, Basilios’ mother would not join in the festivity, as it was now a day of tragedy. However, she was persuaded to have a simple observance at home – with quiet prayers for Basilios’ safekeeping. Meanwhile, as Basilios was fulfilling his tasks serving the emir, he was suddenly whisked up and away. St. Nicholas appeared to the terrified boy, blessed him, and set him down at his home in Myra. Imagine the joy and wonderment when Basilios amazingly appeared before his parents, still holding the emir’s golden cup. This is the first story told of St. Nicholas protecting children – which became his primary role in the West.
Another story tells of three theological students, traveling on their way to study in Athens. A wicked innkeeper robbed and murdered them, hiding their remains in a large pickling tub. It so happened that Bishop Nicholas, traveling along the same route, stopped at this very inn. In the night he dreamed of the crime, got up, and summoned the innkeeper. As Nicholas prayed earnestly to God the three boys were restored to life and wholeness. In France the story is told of three small children, wandering in their play until lost, lured, and captured by an evil butcher. St. Nicholas appears and appeals to God to return them to life and to their families. And so St. Nicholas is the patron and protector of children.
Several stories tell of Nicholas and the sea. When he was young, Nicholas sought to be holy by making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There as he walked where Jesus walked, he sought to more deeply experience Jesus’ life, passion and resurrection. Returning by sea, a mighty storm threatened to wreck the ship. Nicholas calmly prayed. The terrified sailors were amazed when the wind and waves suddenly calmed, sparing them all. And so St. Nicholas is the patron of sailors and voyagers.
Other stories tell of Nicholas saving his people from famine, sparing the lives of those innocently accused, and much more. He did many kind and generous deeds in secret, expecting nothing in return. Within a century of his death he was celebrated as a saint. Today he is venerated in the East as wonder, or a miracle worker and in the West as patron of a great variety of persons – children, mariners, bankers, pawn brokers, scholars, orphans, laborers, travelers, merchants, judges, paupers, marriage maidens, students, victims of judicial mistakes, captives, perfumers, even thieves and murderers! He is known as the friend and protector of all in trouble or need.
Sailors, claiming St. Nicholas as patron, carried stories of his favor and protection far and wide. St. Nicholas chapels were built in many seaports. As his popularity spread during the Middle Ages, he became the patron saint of Apulia (Italy), Sicily, Greece, and Lorraine (France), and many cities in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Russian, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Following his baptism in Constantinople, Vladimir I of Russia brought St. Nicholas’ stories and devotion to St. Nicholas back to his homeland where Nicholas became the most beloved saint. Nicholas was so widely revered that more than 2,000 churches were named for him, including 300 in Belgium, 34 in Rome, 23 in the Netherlands and more than 400 in England.
Nicholas’ tomb in Myra became a popular place of pilgrimage. Because of the many wars and attacks in the region, some Christians were concerned that access to the tomb might become difficult. For both the religious and commercial advantages of a major pilgrimage site, the Italian cities of Venice and Bari vied to get the Nicholas relics. In the spring of 1087, sailors from Bari succeeded in spirting away the bones, bringing them to Bari, a seaport on the southeast coast of Italy. An impressive church was built over St. Nicholas’ crypt and many faithful journeyed to honor the saint who rescued children, prisoners, sailors, famine victims, and many others through his compassion, generosity, and the countless miracles attributed to his intercession. The Nicholas shrine in Bari was one of medieval Europe’s great pilgrimage centers and Nicholas became known as “Saint in Bari.” To this day pilgrims and tourists visit Bari’s great Basilica di San Nicola.
Through the centuries St. Nicholas has continued to be venerated by Catholics and Orthodox and honored by Protestants. By his example of generosity to those in need, especially children, St. Nicholas continues to be model for the compassionate life.
Widely celebrated in Europe, St. Nicholas’ feast day, December 6th, kept alive the stories of his goodness and generosity. In Germany and Poland, boys dressed as bishops begged alms for the poor -sometimes for themselves! In the Netherlands and Belgium, St. Nicholas arrived on a steamship from Spain to ride a white horse on his gift-giving rounds. December 6th is still the main day for gift giving and merrymaking in much of Europe. For example, in the Netherlands St. Nicholas is celebrated on the 5th, the eve of the day, by sharing candies (thrown in the door), chocolate initial letters, small gifts and riddles. Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes for the saint’s horse, hoping St. Nicholas will exchange them for small gifts. Simple gift giving in early Advent helps preserve a Christmas Day focus on the Christ Child.
Dispensation from Form
Sometimes a Catholic engaged to a person of a different faith wishes to have the marriage in the fiancé’s church. Many Catholics believe that this can be done as long as a priest is present for the ceremony. That is not entirely true.
When a baptized Catholic marries, the wedding is expected to take place according to the canonical form of marriage. That is, it should be witnessed by a priest or a deacon in a Catholic church building according to the rite of marriage approved for use there. However, for good reasons, a Catholic may receive a dispensation from this canonical form. Most commonly, those reasons include the close connection between the non-Catholic party and the faith community of which he or she is a member. The dispensation shouldn’t be granted because the other building is prettier or has a more appropriate size.
A dispensation from canonical form is granted by the bishop, often through the chancellor, after the parish priest of the Catholic party requests it. The Catholic party requests this of the priest, who fills out the appropriate papers and sends them to the chancery for approval.
This is what many do not understand. A dispensation from canonical form applies to more than the church building. It applies to the rite of marriage and to the minister. No Catholic priest or deacon has to be present for the wedding once the dispensation from form has been obtained. Many priests and deacons are happy to be there, and their presence is normally welcomed by the couple and relieves the Catholic family. But what makes the ceremony “Catholic” is not the presence of a Catholic priest or deacon, but the paperwork that few people see.
Copyright 2009 © Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome
Simple Catholic Wedding
A Catholic wedding can be a simple affair. When people think of a Catholic wedding, they often imagine an extravagant event with expensive clothes, multiple attendants, many ministers, and an elegant ceremony. Many beautiful weddings have happened that way. Others are done more simply.
Sadly, some couples who are otherwise ready for marriage put off the wedding because they cannot afford the ceremony, the reception, and other societal expectations. They may even be tempted to choose a civil ceremony at a courthouse just to avoid the complications of a Catholic wedding.
But a Catholic wedding does not have to be big or expensive. The ceremony can be conducted as simply as a typical daily Mass or prayer service in a parish church. Special clothes and a procession are not necessary. There should be Scripture readings, the exchange of consent, the blessings and some prayers. A little music would be nice, but even that is not essential. The ceremony should take place at church.
A Catholic wedding does not demand the participation of a large number of people. Just a bare minimum must be there: a priest or a deacon must witness the exchange of the couple’s consent, and two other witnesses must be present, but that’s all. Even in the smallest of ceremonies, some family members and close friends will want to attend, but the event can be kept very small.
A wedding is an important occasion for the couple, their families, the church and the society that will know them as husband and wife. For that reason, most weddings require the coordination of many complicated demands. But for good reasons, the ceremony can be done more simply, and is still a Catholic wedding.
Copyright 2009 © Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.
A genuflection is the action begun from a standing position in which a worshiper moves his or her right foot back a step, drops the right knee briefly to the floor and then stands upright again. Most people naturally bow their head while performing this action some make the sign of the cross. Some hold onto a nearby pew for physical support. The purpose of genuflection is for the worshiper to honor Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist.
The priest genuflects three times at Mass. During the Eucharistic Prayer, he genuflects showing the Eucharistic Bread and after showing the Cup to the people. He genuflects again before announcing, “This is the Lamb of God.” Taken together, his genuflections affirm the central belief about the Mass: during the Eucharistic Prayer, the Holy Spirit changes the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ; that food then becomes communion for the faithful. Additional genuflections should be made in churches where a tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament is in the sanctuary. In those cases, the priest genuflects before and after Mass, and anyone passing in front of the tabernacle also genuflects to it. Since a tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament is commonly found in sanctuaries of Catholic churches, the faithful typically make a genuflection toward the tabernacle before entering and after leaving their place. In church where the tabernacle is not in the sanctuary, the faithful should bow to the altar before and after the service instead. Genuflection is directed not toward the altar, not toward the cross, not toward one’s proximity to a pew, but to the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
Formerly it was customary to make a genuflection before a bishop and a double genuflection (both knees to the ground) when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration. These practices have been eliminated. A single genuflection is always appropriate before the Blessed Sacrament whether it is in the tabernacle or exposed in a monstrance. You may bow to a bishop if you wish.
Copyright 1998 © Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.
“Hell” in the Creed
In the Apostles’ Creed we say that Jesus descended into hell. After He died and was buried, and before He rose again from the dead, He entered hell. How is this possible? We generally understand “hell” to mean the place of the damned, the lake of fire described in Revelation 20:14-15. How could Jesus go there?
The word has another meaning. It also refers to the Old Testament realm of the dead where both the condemned and the saved awaited judgment. In Jesus’ parable of the beggar Lazarus and the rich man, both characters die and end up in a placed “Hades” or “the netherworld” – a place the creed calls “hell.” One rests in the bosom of Abraham, but the other suffers torment (Luke 16:22-23). Christians believe that they souls of both good and evil people who died before Jesus rose from the dead dwelled in this place. The reason Jesus descended there was to rescue the good. The Apostles’ Creed calls this place “hell.”
Ephesians 4:9-10 says that Jesus descended to the lower parts of the earth. It is this passage that the creed quotes. When the creed says that Jesus “rose again from the dead,” it means literally “from among those who were dead.” We believe not just that Jesus died and rose but that He visited the dead at the time.
Some icons depict Jesus trampling down the gate of this hell, grasping the arm of the first person in line of those formerly held captive and bringing them out to freedom. Traditionally, that first person is Adam, and he is followed by all the righteous people of the Old Testament who could not enjoy the resurrection until Jesus Himself rose from the dead.
Copyright © 2010 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. # 290 San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.
Consubstantial and Incarnate
The Nicene Creed proclaims our belief in the Trinity. Among its points is that Jesus is consubstantial and incarnate. Neither of these words is common in our vocabulary, but their appearance in the creed shows how difficult it is for us humans to explain the mystery of God.
“Consubstantial” basically means “one in being,” but the word is more technical. It proclaims our belief that there is only one God, though the Godhead is manifest in more than one way. God has one nature, but three persons. Jesus existed with the Father before all ages – before He entered the world in time and place on the first Christmas Day in Bethlehem. He already existed, and He was always truly God – consubstantial with the Father.
This belief entered the creed after the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century because of a heresy spread by a man named Arius. He believed that Jesus had a beginning in time, and hence He could not share the same Godhead as the Father. This opinion did not fit with the evidence in the New Testament, so the early Church condemned the thought of Arius and clarified mainstream Christian belief by proclaiming that Jesus had always shared the same nature with the Father – that He was consubstantial with the Father – before and after He was born.
We also believe that Jesus became “incarnate,” a word that means that Jesus as God took on the flesh of a human. He was actually born, thought He lost nothing of the Godhead by doing so. If you had seen Jesus in the first century, you would have seen God in flesh and bone.
These two difficult words proclaim two sides of our belief. Jesus is God, and Jesus is human – He is consubstantial and incarnate.
Copyright © 2009 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290 San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, hold a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.
Saints in the Eucharistic Prayers
When Catholics pray we often ask the saints to join us just as we ask friends and family. Privately, Catholics may pray to a particular saint, but at Mass we address prayer to the Father. Just as the assembly of the faithful on earth prays, the assembly of the saints in heaven join in. This is especially obvious in the eucharistic prayers that mention saints by name.
The clearest example is Eucharistic Prayer I, which has origins in the fourth century. The first versions of this prayer did not mention any saints, but as devotion increased in subsequent centuries, the names of several saints were added. The name of Mary appeared in the sixth century with her title “Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ” to proclaim a recently defined belief – not that God had a mother, but that Jesus, the Son of Mary is God. Joseph was included in 1962. The names of the 12 apostles follow – with Paul replacing Judas in the list. For balance, 12 martyrs come next – almost all of them from the early church in Rome.
Later in the prayer more saints are named. John the Baptist and Stephen head the second list as key biblical figures. Matthias, who replaced Judas, is finally mentioned, and then 12 more saints to balance the group of 12 earlier in the prayer. This second list includes seven women martyrs. Many priests do not read the whole list of saints in Eucharistic Prayer I; the abridgement is permitted for simplicity.
Other eucharistic prayers name a single saint – for example, the patron of the local church or the one whose feast is being celebrated. Whenever saints are included in the eucharistic prayer, they appear as intercessors who assist and as models to imitate.
Copyright © 2009 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290 San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, hold a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.
In the year 2001, the Vatican issued new rules for translating the liturgy form from Latin into modern languages. Although the implications were not immediately apparent to most churchgoers, a new translation of worship texts has been undertaken, and the results will affect all who pray in Catholic churches around the world.
The Vatican still publishes its major documents in Latin, which serves as the source for translation into modern languages. For many years the English translation of the Mass followed a theory of translation that focused more on English idioms than on the Latin words and structures. Now the Vatican has asked that all modern languages adhere more closely to the Latin words. The results will change how Catholic worship sounds.
Many of the words at Mass are inspired by passages from the Bible. By translating the Latin more literally, allusions to the Scriptures should be clearer. For example, just before receiving communion, Catholics have been saying, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” But, the revised translation, which presents more of the Latin words, says, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” This will more readily call to mind the words of the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his son (Mt 8:8).
The translation will display a wider vocabulary than the present one. The Latin Missal employs a muscular vocabulary of words for prayer, love, service and other aspects of the Christian life. The revised translation captures more color from the original. The shape of the Mass will remain the same, but the new English translation should enhance the sound of what we say and hear.
Copyright © 2009 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290 San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, hold a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.
Dispensation from Form
Sometimes a Catholic engaged to a person of a different faith wishes to have the marriage in the fiance’s church. Many Catholics believe that this can be done as long as a priest is present for the ceremony. That is not entirely true.
When a baptized Catholic marries, the wedding is expected to take place according to the canonical form of marriage. That is, it should be witnessed by a priest or a deacon in a Catholic church building according to the rite of marriage approved for use there. However, for good reasons, a Catholic may receive a dispensation from canonical form. Most commonly, those reasons include the close connection between the non-Catholic party and the faith community of which he or she is a member. The dispensation shouldn’t be granted because the other building is prettier or has a more appropriate size.
A dispensation from canonical form is granted by the bishop, often through the chancellor, after the parish priest of the Catholic party requests it. The Catholic party requests this of the priest, who fills out the appropriate papers and sends them to the chancery for approval.
This is what many do not understand. A dispensation from canonical form applies to more than the church building. It applies to the rite of marriage and to the minister. No Catholic priest or deacon has to be present for the wedding once the dispensation from form has been obtained. Many priests and deacons are happy to be there, and their presence is normally welcomed by the couple and relieves the Catholic family. But what makes the ceremony “Catholic” is not the presence of a Catholic priest of a deacon, but the paperwork that few people see.
“N. our Bishop”
During the eucharistic prayer at every Mass, we pray for the local bishop. In the text of the prayer, he is called “N. our Bishop.” The priest replaces the “N” with the bishop’s first name – the name with which he was baptized.
This ancient custom shows the bishop’s unifying role. The entire diocese prays for him by name in the heart of every Mass. The people learn their special relationship with this man, his responsibilities for them, and their responsibilities to him.
The bishop mentioned is the ordinary of the diocese in which the Mass is celebrated. If members of your parish visit another diocese to celebrate Mass, you do not pray for your own bishop. You pray for the bishop of the place where the Mass occurs. Whenever priests travel outside their diocese, they learn the name of the local bishop so that they can pray for him at Mass.
Other bishops may also be mentioned, including a coadjutor appointed to succeed the bishop currently in office. An auxiliary bishop, who assists the ordinary in office but will not succeed him, should also be mentioned by name. If there is more than one auxiliary bishop they may be mentioned as a group. When the bishop presides, instead of saying his own name, he prays for “me, your unworthy servant.” When the bishop of a diocese dies, these words are omitted from the eucharitisc prayer because there is no bishop in office.
During the Mass, we each pray for our own concerns – our families, our coworkers, our neighbors and all the people we love. But the church reminds us that we also need to pray for those we might otherwise forget, and one of them is N. our bishop.
Of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ, Confirmation is probably the one that is least known or appreciated. That’s understandable because it focuses on the working of the Holy Spirit who is often the forgotten person of the Trinity. The Sacrament of Confirmation can be described as the sacrament of spiritual maturity. It enriches the soul of the person with deep graces (helps and assistance) of the Spirit. Confirmation is the sacrament that calls recipients to witness courageously the gift of faith by word and, especially, by the example of their lives. The Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution of the Church states that Catholics “are more perfectly bound to the Church by the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Holy Spirit endows them with special strength so that they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith, both by word and deed, as true witnesses of Christ” (Par. 11).
This sacrament harkens back to the great Pentecost event (Acts: 2) when the disciples were huddled in the upper room and the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus had promised them, came upon them in the form of a mighty wind and tongues of fire. The disciples gathered there had been commanded by Jesus to take the good news of his death and resurrection to the ends of the earth. Yet those gathered there, up to that point, lacked a real understanding of what Jesus’ life and death fully meant. But at the Last Supper Jesus assured them that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and teach them all they needed to know. They would be strengthened to go everywhere proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Savior. Pentecost was the moment of their confirmation.
Why do we have Confirmation? What does this sacrament do for us?
The basic effects of Confirmation are:
- It roots us more deeply in our relationship with God.
- It unites us more firmly with Christ and reminds us that every sacrament we receive is an encounter with Jesus himself.
- It increases in us the gifts of the Holy Spirit:
- fear of the Lord
- It strengthens our bond to the Church.
- Finally, it gives us strength to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.
If you consider what strengths we need simply to live out Christian, Catholic lives in our present society and to make moral decisions in the face of serious temptation, it is easy to see how we need wisdom and strength. For example, a married couple raising children need to be able to counsel and encourage them to live their lives not by following the way of least resistance, but by taking the basic gospel message (“Love God and your neighbor”) and making it a part of their lives. No matter what our vocation, married, religious, priesthood or single, we need the strength of the Spirit in our lives.
What happens at the conferral of the sacrament?
The Sacrament of Confirmation is conferred by the bishop and is usually given in the early teen years when youngsters are mature enough to realize that they face serious religious and moral issues in their lives. Those received into the Church at the Easter Vigil (through Baptism or the Profession of Faith) are confirmed as part of their entrance rite into the Church. Adults who have never received the sacrament for one reason or another should contact their pastor to see when the sacrament can be received in a ceremony with other unconfirmed adults in their diocese. However, the Sacrament of Confirmation is not a prerequisite to being married in the Church.
The oil used in the sacrament symbolizes strength given to profess one’s faith in difficulty. The laying on of hands by the bishop is the symbol of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the person. Few, if any, of us may live in circumstances that demand we lay down our lives for our beliefs. Yet there is seldom a day when we are not faced with difficult choices that test the authenticity of our faith.
The Fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them:
Order of Mass
The Order of Mass is the script we follow for every celebration of the Eucharist. It contains the words and movements that are repeated at every mass, from the sign of the cross to the dismissal. It does not include the readings nor any of the hymns. It is the parts of the Mass that stay the same.
The Order of Mass is located in the middle of the Sacramentary, a book that is also called the Roman Missal – the big red book that rests on the altar or in the hands of a server. The Order of Mass also appears in many books and pamphlets that people use to participate at Mass. Most Catholics know their lines very well, though sometimes they consult the Order of mass for long texts, such as the Glory to God and the Creed. Visitors find the Order of Mass helpful to figure out what is happening when, what words to say and what postures to adopt.
In the year 2002, the Vatican issued a revised edition of the Roman Missal. Although the Order of Mass did not change very much, the publication of this volume in Latin prompted a new English translation of its contents. During the summer of 2008, a comparison between the current and new translation of the people’s parts was published on this website: www.usccb.org/liturgy/missalformation/peoplesparts.pdf. The use of the new words was not authorized until the completion of the translation of the entire missal – a project expected to take a few years.
The new words are expected to cause some initial confusion and frustration. But they have been published so that worshipers may prepare themselves in advance. It is hoped that the new translation will help Catholics pray with more attention and understanding.
Copyright©2009 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.
A Christmas manger is a three-dimensional display of characters who populate the story of the birth of Christ. It is also known as a crib or a creche. St. Francis of Assisi originated the custom in the 13th century, and it has been adopted by homes, churches, and even some public squares around the world.
A manger scene usually shows Mary and Joseph together with shepherds and magi, all in reverent pose before the newborn Jesus, who lies in an animal feeding trough. Around them gather livestock – lambs, a cow, a donkey, and the camels that transported the magi. An angel may hover above the scene, proclaiming “Glory to God in the highest.” Most of these figures can be traced to the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus (Mt 1:18-2:12 and Lk 2:1-20), but the cow and donkey (or ox and ass) come from a prophecy in Isaiah 1:3. Some scenes are filled with more fanciful figures. In all, the manger proclaims that Christ was born for all – the wise and the poor, angels as well as animals.
The manger foreshadows the Eucharist because Jesus would give his Body and Blood for food. It also foreshadows the cross; in art, the crib and the swaddling clothes sometimes resemble a coffin and burial cloths.
When the manger is first erected, it may be blessed with prayers from the Book of Blessings, which are also found in Catholic Household Blessing and Prayers.
In a church, the manger is not supposed to occupy a place in the sanctuary, lest it block one’s view of the altar. Still, it is fitting to arrange the scene in a place where the faithful can come, look, and be inspired to praise God for the miracle of Christmas.
Copyright © 2008 Resource Publications, 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112. Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Comment online at www.rpinet.com/wwwboard/forum8
Baptism / Sponsor
Our office is often called about the qualifications needed for being a godparent for Baptisms in the Catholic Church.
Canon 874 of the Code of Canon Law is very specific about this requirement. First and foremost the general law of the Church requires only one godparent. That person must be a practicing Catholic and at least 16 years of age. In addition, church law provides that a baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community may be asked to serve not as a godparent but as a Christian Witness, providing that a suitable Catholic godparent is chosen and present.
It is expected that this person be practicing his or her faith. This person acts as an example of Christian faith for the parents of the child. As the Rite of Baptism makes clear, the parents are the primary educators of their children in the ways of faith. But the good example of others is always helpful.
If a prospective godparent/witness leaves the Catholic Church and joins another denomination they are not to serve as Christian witnesses. It is presumed that a person baptized and formed in the Catholic faith remains so for life. If a person chooses to leave the Catholic faith and joins another faith community, they must be made aware that there are consequences to their action. In this context, a former Catholic is not permitted to act as Christian witness for a Catholic baptism because that person would be required to “witness” to and see significance in something that they at some point in their life no longer value.
While this matter may seem complex, it does point out the significance of one’s decisions about one’s faith community. It also highlights the importance of parents’ carefully selecting godparents (or Christian witnesses) for their child’s baptism.
Some parents who wish to have their children baptized say that it is difficult for them to find a practicing Catholic to act as a godparent. While that is understandable, in that some people move to this area with all their family and friends living elsewhere, please remember that only one godparent is needed. If you have difficulty, your parish priest may be of assistance to you.
Why does the Church use a dove for the Holy Spirit?
The use of a dove for the Holy Spirit is actually not an official symbol of the Church. It is one of several images that the Church has used (along with fire, light, the wind and so forth) across the centuries to convey the presence of the Holy Spirit, but it does not have any “official” status. Artists seem to have chosen the dove as a “favorite” image of the Spirit, however, and the source of these inspiration is undoubtedly the passage in the Gospels describing the baptism of Jesus by John at the Jordan River. Those texts (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32) say that the Spirit descended on Jesus “like a dove,” but they do not specifically say that there was an appearance of the Spirit “in the form” of a dove. Nonetheless, the image of the dove has “stuck” in the artistic imagination and has become a regular part of Christian art. One of the limitations of this image is that the Holy Spirit is portrayed as a “dumb animal,” and not as a person capable of being in intimate, loving relationship with us. When using this image with children to help them understand the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, it is important that we also use images and descriptions of the Spirit that allow them to grasp the fact the Spirit is personal in nature and relates to us in the same way as the other Persons of the Trinity (who are more frequently imaged as Father and Son). www.faithfirst.com
A will is an important document for everyone to have, regardless of age or financial resources. It ensures that your wishes will be respected and carried out so your property will pass along quickly and smoothly to your named beneficiaries.
For the Christian steward, a will is even more of a necessity as it also allows him to remember his family of faith. Making a disciple’s will involves the four fundamental principles of stewardship:
? Praying to God with a grateful heart for guidance on the ultimate disposition of your estate.
? Nurturing your family with time and love, and being always mindful of their need to be cared for after your death.
? Sharing your giftedness with your faith community and providing means through your estate plan for Church ministries to be continued.
? Giving back to God the first fruits of your labors.
By remembering the Church in your will you thank God for the blessings received in this life and for the faith that sustains you. A bequest to our parish will support the works of education and Christian service and/or help to maintain a beautiful house of worship. This is the “gift that keeps on giving” and ensures that your Catholic faith and the good works of St. Joseph will be supported for years to come. Your will reflects what is most important in your life. Doesn’t it make sense to remember your family of faith in your final statement to the world as a Christian steward?
Contact Father Gabe with questions or more information.
What is an Annulment?
Jesus intended marriage to be a permanent commitment between a man and a woman, a relationship that would last throughout their entire lives. But some marriages break down, oftentimes because there is something missing from the very beginning – some element that keeps the relationship from being the kind of permanent commitment Jesus intended. An annulment is an official decree of the Church that says: Upon careful examination, after a thorough investigation, a particular failed marriage appears not to have been the kind of (sacramental) relationship that Jesus intended. A church annulment doesn’t mean the marriage didn’t exist; it simply says that from all appearances the failed marriage in question was not a sacrament in the full sense intended by Jesus. Children born in such marriages are not thereby declared illegitimate, since an annulment does not “dissolve” a marriage or declare that it never existed.
If you have questions about annulments or perhaps wish to begin the process of an annulment, please speak to Father Gabe.