Our community decided in 2008 that the mission of our parish was life-long learning. Everything we do centers around teaching the depth and richness of the Roman Catholic Faith. Our weekly 3-Minute Catechesis is read from the Ambo prior to Mass beginning. A written copy is made available in our weekly bulletin along with additional information for those who want to learn more. Visit us online at www.risensaviorcc.org for more information.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Welcoming Advent

Editor's Note: Our 3-Minute Catechesis is on vacation until the first of the year. In the meantime we invite you to enjoy this 3-Minute from our archives.

The word 'advent' is Latin for 'coming or arrival'. Advent is a season of preparation in which we thank God for choosing to come into the world as one of us. But Advent is not just a time of looking forward to the birth of Jesus – it’s a time of preparing for His second coming. In the ancient hymn we sing, “Oh come, oh come Emmanuel.” We’re praying that Christ comes to us again.

The Season of Advent, as we know it, first came out of France. During the fourth century the monks began to look on the six weeks leading up to Christmas as a time of penance. At the same time in Rome there developed a tradition of a three week period of fasting and joyful prayers preceding the Feast of Christmas.

Pope Gregory the Great set the current length in the sixth century, but it took another four hundred years before the French penitential prayers and the Roman joyful prayers melded into the season we now know.

But Advent has fallen on hard times. For most people, it’s become a time to get ready for whatever they’re doing with family and friends during what has become known as the “Christmas Season.” It seems to no longer be a time to get ready for the coming of Christ. The bigger Christmas has become, the more it has swallowed up Advent.

The main problem with this is not that Christmas has intruded on Advent, but that the commercial season of Christmas has shifted our focus away from Christ. It has diverted our senses from the fact that we wait for Christ to come again.

For many of us the commercial Christmas season has become a mad-rush of shopping and parties, wrapping and decorating, baking and shipping. These have replaced the nature of Advent with frustration and anxiety. Many people have expressed a concern that because of the sour economy Christmas won’t be very joyful this year. But that misses the point of both Advent and Christmas. As those who await the coming of Christ, we understand that the next four weeks are a time to think about others and prepare for Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"I Confress"

At the beginning of the Mass, after the Greeting, we have the Penitential Rite, which gives us time for reflection. As we gather for worship, we think about our sin, and use this opportunity to set aside anything in our lives that would separate us from God. The Penitential Rite is not a replacement for sacramental Confession; rather, it is a way we prepare for the Sacrifice of the Mass more completely.

With the New Roman Missal, the rite will sound a little different. While the part where we say “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy” – the Kyrie – is not changing, the Confiteor is. The Confiteor is the prayer that begins, “I confess.” The biggest change in the Confiteor occurs in the middle of the prayer, where we will now say, “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” This translation of the Latin text preserves the original poetic repetition. We see this literary tool in other texts of the Mass: for example, the repetition of “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world” before Communion.

When we say the Confiteor together as a community, there is a gesture which accompanies this prayer: the striking of the breast. This is not a new gesture; it has long been a rubric in the English translation of the Roman Missal, and if you look at the prayer in the missal, you will see the instruction. When saying “through my fault,” a person strikes the breast once. This is an ancient gesture expressing sorrow and is a sign of contrition. In the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, for example, Ephraim pleads to the Lord, saying, “I turn in repentance; I have come to myself, I strike my breast.”

After the Confiteor, the priest says a prayer that begins “May almighty God have mercy on us…”, at which point many people make the Sign of the Cross, which is what we do in the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation after being absolved of our sins. Is it appropriate to do this? The short answer is no. In the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation, we make the Sign of the Cross as the priest speaks the words of absolution. The words of absolution are not spoken in the Penitential Rite and the intention is not the same as that found in the Sacrament. Because blessing ourselves after reciting the Confiteor sends a mixed message, we should not be making the Sign of the Cross at that point.

As we prepare for our Eucharistic celebration, we understand that the Penitential Act is a communal recognition of our sinfulness and an act of praise for God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Music in the Liturgy

How important is music and singing to our celebration of Mass? Over the centuries, many documents have addressed the role of music in liturgy. In late 2007, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a document called Sing to the Lord, a guide primarily for liturgical music leaders.

The first section of the document is entitled “Why We Sing.” It begins by commenting that song is a gift from God. In fact, in the first paragraph, it says “God dwells within each human person, in the place where music takes its source.” This reflects the divine nature present in song. Music is not simply something created by humans for their own amusement; rather, it is something received from God.

Sing to the Lord then traces the history of singing in the Bible. It begins with the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, where Moses teaches the Israelites specific songs, and goes all the way to the New Testament, with Jesus singing a hymn with his Apostles before their journey to the Mount of Olives.

Since the first Christians were Jews, it's difficult to imagine them not singing psalms. Historically, we know that from the third century to the present, the singing of psalms has been a part of Christian worship. St Augustine, a theologian and a doctor of the Church, says: "As to the singing of psalms and hymns, we have the proofs, the examples, and the instructions of the Lord Himself, and of the Apostles.”

What does singing do for our faith? “Inspired by song, the body of the Word Incarnate goes forth to spread the Gospel with full force and compassion.” Inspiration – literally a “divine influence on one’s soul” – that’s the power of music in the liturgy. We sing because our ancestors in faith sang, because Jesus sang, and because the early Church sang. And we sing because it connects us to us that spark of the divine inside of us.

As the prayers of the Mass change, some of the music that we are comfortable with will be changing as well. Fear not, however, because the choir members of Risen Savior have come together as a combined choir to learn and to teach us the new music. The St. Cecilia Concert next Sunday, November 20th, at 3:00 PM right here in the church, will be an opportunity to listen to some heavenly music and begin learning the new Mass settings that will be used starting in Advent.

As the People of God, we worship together and we learn together. As the prayers we say change, we carry on, singing joyfully to God.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Consubstantial with the Father

It is now just three weeks before we start using the new translation of the Roman Missal. It is important that we understand that the implementation of the changes is not something optional that parishes and dioceses can say “yes” or “no” to – the changes have been made and will begin on the first Sunday of Advent. In our 3-Minute Catecheses, we have already talked about why the changes were made and specifically talked about the response to “The Lord be with you” changing to “And with your spirit.”

Today, our topic is one of the changes to the Nicene Creed. In the second paragraph of the Creed, the phrase “one in being with the Father” is being replaced by “consubstantial with the Father.” Why must we use such an uncommon word as consubstantial? Both phrases attempt to put into words one of the great mysteries of our faith: that Jesus Christ is equal to the Father.

Why do we even recite the Nicene Creed and where did it come from? The experience of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension caused early Christians to ask and explore, “Who was Jesus?”

By the beginning of the fourth century, a heresy, which is an incorrect teaching, taught that Jesus was not God, but was a creature that God had made. The priest Arius claimed that Jesus was a supernatural being not quite human and not quite divine. Even though Arius was condemned by the Church, he wandered through the Holy Land spreading his heresy. At a council of the world’s bishops in 325 in Nicaea, located in what is now Turkey, the bishops condemned Arius and the heresy and reaffirmed what had been taught by the Apostles: that Jesus is of the same substance as God. They used a Greek word which means “of the same essence” to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son. That word is best translated “consubstantial.” It is important to remember that when we recite the Creed, we aren’t just saying words; we are professing and affirming profound truths of our faith.

There are still opportunities to better prepare for the coming changes in the Roman Missal. In today’s bulletin, you will find a Catholic Update with good information. Next Sunday, one-hour workshops will be offered at 9:30 and 11:00. And on November 20th at 3:00 PM, our combined choirs will be singing the new Mass settings at the St. Cecilia Celebration, and all are invited to come and sing along. As we adjust to these changes, we pray that we will remain open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our Church.