Sunday, December 1, 2013
You probably noticed that the lights in our church were dimmed today when you came in. Yes, we paid the electric bill and everything was working as planned. The lights will be dimmed before Masses to help provide a more prayerful space. Many wish to enter into private prayer before our communal prayer of Mass begins and the dimmed lighting is a visual reminder for all of us to take our conversations either into the lobby, the Prayer Garden, or Meeting Room South.
There are a few other changes that we are implementing at Mass. We will continue to bring Holy Communion to those who are mobility impaired. We ask that you sit on the aisle and let an usher know that you cannot approach the Altar for Communion. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is that those who are mobility impaired that would like to receive the Precious Blood of our Lord will be asked to be seated in the first pew of each section. This is to prevent spillage and desecration of the Eucharist.
Silence has an important role during our Mass. We live in a noisy world and for most of us silence is foreign. For us before, during, and after Mass, silence is a reminder that we have entered a space that is in the world but not of the world. And in this unworldly space, silence helps us to direct our thoughts to our loving God. We enter quietly, leaving the noise of the street and the world behind.
During the Mass we will be putting extra emphasis on our silence. Prior to the Opening Prayer the priest says, “Let us pray.” In the silence that follows these words, we pray. We silently pray for those we know are in need. We pray for ourselves and our families. Father then gathers our prayers and offers them to the Lord; this is why this prayer is called the “Collect” (say CALL – ECT) because Father collects our prayers into one.
After the First Reading there’s a minute of silence as we reflect upon the Word of God and let it reverberate within us. After the Second Reading we again reflect upon what God is saying to us through His Holy Word. Then, after the Homily we again enter into silence to ask ourselves how we may apply the words of Jesus and the homily to our own lives. After Communion we all sit silently and praise and pray to God in our hearts, giving thanks for the Gift we have received.
In total, there are some 3½ minutes of silence in the Mass. The silence won’t add more time to our celebration, but it will make our celebration more meaningful to all.
Finally, we are hoping to incorporate more reverence into our Mass. We show reverence through our posture, our gesture and our movement. In the celebration of Mass we raise our hearts, minds and voices to God, but we are creatures composed of body as well as spirit and so our prayer is not confined to our minds, hearts and voices, but is expressed by our bodies as well.
When our bodies participate in our prayer we pray with our whole person. During Mass we assume different postures: genuflecting, standing, kneeling, sitting, and we are also invited to make a variety of gestures. These postures and gestures are not merely ceremonial. They have profound meaning and, when done with understanding, can enhance our personal participation in Mass.
In addition to serving as a vehicle for the prayer of beings composed of body and spirit, the postures and gestures in which we engage at Mass have another very important function. The Church sees in these common postures and gestures both a symbol of the unity of those who have come together to worship and a means of fostering that unity.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Most of us don’t give much thought to either the church calendar or the physical environment of our worship space. Our Catholic calendar ends with a Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King which we celebrate today, just as it begins on a Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, which we celebrate next week. Unlike the civil calendar which focuses on months and weeks, the church calendar focuses on Sundays, and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If you have ever seen a church calendar you’ve noticed that it is a wheel with the Sundays along the outer rim with the weeks laid out like the spokes of a wheel. Those spokes are divided into the main groups which represent the seasons of our liturgical year. The first grouping is Advent, Christmas, and the Epiphany. Next is Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. The remainder, and largest group, is Ordinary Time, which is what concludes this weekend.
Our worship space should speak with an artistic statement of what we are praying about. It should call us to reflect. We don’t decorate churches, we create an environment of prayer.
Easter and Christmas are huge festive seasons. The environment has a celebratory feel. In the secular world Easter is a Sunday. In the church this is seven full weeks of maintaining a festive tone. In the secular world Christmas is a day. In the church Christmas lasts until the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus giving us three weeks of Christmas! Many probably think the church has forgotten to take down the decorations because we were so busy. Not so! The calendar is precise in its timing!
There are two pensive and contemplative seasons. This first is Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas. The other is Lent, the 40 days before the Sacred Triduum. During these times the environment in the church is more austere. Even our music takes on a more contemplative mood as instruments are muted and arrangements are simplified. During Lent our music even becomes a-cappella and the church looks the most barren of the year.
All the transitions of our worship space are done through the vision of an art and environment committee, and it takes many muscles to transition a space this size from season to season as we move around the liturgical calendar.
Church environment trumps everything else. Weddings, funerals, and other celebrations all must adjust themselves to the environment which is present. A wedding during Lent needs to maintain the season of austerity. A Christmas wedding cannot change the church environment because the colors clash.
The world we live in is not static, there are seasons. The same is true of the church environment. To every season there is a time and purpose.
We are both concluding and beginning our calendar year of faith. Our church space takes on a reminder that we are on a journey through all the seasons of our lives.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
St. Vincent de Paul Needs Your Help
By John McOwen
For those of you who may not be familiar with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, it was originally named the “Conference of Charity” and was founded in Paris in 1833 by twenty-four year old Frederic Ozanam of Lyons, France and several Catholic college students. The members chose St. Vincent de Paul as its patron because of his work with the poor.
Today the society is active in over 130 countries, with well over 875,000 members. Our Risen Savior/Prince of Peace Conference helps assist families in need in our community with mortgage, rent, gas and electric bills, as well as food, clothing, furniture and housewares. We also financially assist twenty other parish conferences in Albuquerque, which are part of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
As an example of the work we do, my wife and I recently visited grandparents raising three of their grandchildren, two of whom have special needs. The grandparents are unable to work due to health problems, but they refuse to allow the children to be split up in foster care. They are receiving food stamps and another family member is helping as much as they can.
The five family members live in a tiny apartment with only one chair, a cardboard table, one dim lamp, a twin bed shared by two of the younger children and another twin bed for the grandmother. The grandfather and twelve year old boy sleep on the floor. They were low on food and in need of assistance with their electric bill.
We paid their utility bill, gave them a food voucher, a family donated two twin bedframes and a table, and we purchased two new mattresses from our St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store on Menaul. A fellow member and I delivered them, as the family has no car. This is just one example of the many families we help with the very generous donations we receive from our parishioners.
We receive frequent calls for assistance and desperately need more members to help carry on this vital work. Teenagers can help out, too. It is an opportunity to follow Jesus’ Gospel message by performing acts of charity. We ask that you give some thought to this matter and pray to the Holy Spirit to guide you.
Membership training is provided and, for safety, we always go on visits in pairs. All of our members must be in compliance with the Archdiocese’s Adult Safe Environment Training for Children.
Volunteering for St. Vincent de Paul would only take approximately four hours of your time per month – about the same amount of time you might spend going to dinner and a movie; but the return is great – you get the fulfillment of doing what Jesus has called you to do by helping someone in need.
Our meetings are held the 2nd Tuesday of each month at Risen Savior, Room 4, from 7:00 – 8:00 PM and on the 4th Tuesday, same time, at Prince of Peace. For further information, contact our Main Office. Thank you, and God bless you!
Sunday, November 10, 2013
The Mass is always changing. Even the never-changing Tridentine Mass that we celebrated before the Second Vatican Council changed dozens of times over its 400-year history. There are some changes coming here at Risen Savior for the ministries at Mass. This is a call to all ministers: This is an invitation to those who are veterans, those who want to change ministries, and those who feel called to get involved in a ministry. As the song says, “All are welcome.” The big day is Saturday, November 23rd from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM.
When we talk of things changing at Mass, we are not talking about traditions or how we celebrate the Mass. Our Traditions go back to the Last Supper and our celebration is spelled out in the Roman Missal. But each parish ends up with Customs that vary and these customs change. Our workshop on the 23rd will be an in-service in theology, catechesis, and customs that fit our parish’s needs.
Vatican II called forth the laity to the role of minister. Ministry is not about “helping Father.” As baptized Catholics we are all called to serve. Before the Second Vatican Council only a priest and an altar boy were necessary when Mass was said. Today, there are between five and 50 ministers involved in each Mass. It takes communication and clarity for this to work seamlessly and for so many people to be appreciated and respected.
Ministry Days like this are needed to welcome newcomers to the call and they allow the freedom to transfer from one ministry to another with dignity. The Ministry Day also helps those who desire to learn new skills to do so.
The newly Confirmed may want to join us and become Eucharistic Ministers of Holy Communion. Those who’ve received their First Holy Communion are welcome to become Altar Servers. You may want to explore becoming an Usher, a choir member, or a lector. Whatever ministry, all are called to serve. If you would like information about a ministry, or to become part of a ministry, fill out one of the cards you’ll find in your pew and drop it in the collection basket.
We’ve advertised the Ministry Day in the bulletin, in our announcement, and through our newsletter, and many have already registered. Call the office this week if you desire to continue in a ministry or you are being called by the Lord into His service in a different ministry.
Mark your calendars! The date is Saturday, November 23rd. We’ll begin at 9:00 AM and lunch will be provided. You must RSVP with the office to attend. Do so this week.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
This time of year, we celebrate All Saints Day, followed by All Souls Day, and then there’s Halloween thrown into the mix! How do all of these fit together?
If you look at your Church calendar, you will notice the names of saints on almost every day. The feast of All Saints was established by the Church because numerous martyrs and other saints could not be honored with individual feast days: there simply weren’t enough days in the year! So, as the prayer of the Mass states, "we venerate the merits of all the saints by this one celebration” on November 1st.
From the very beginning, the commemoration of All Saints included, in a special way, the Blessed Virgin. When Pope Boniface IV dedicated the former pagan temple of the Pantheon as a church almost 1400 years ago, he called it the church of the "Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs." Thus, All Saints Day is really a great feast day of Mary, too. It is a Holy Day of Obligation.
The commemoration of All Souls was introduced in the year 1000. All the monks of a Benedictine congregation in France began offering a Mass for the suffering souls in Purgatory every year on November 2nd. The popes in Rome extended this celebration to the whole Church, and since then, we continue to pray for the holy souls throughout the year, but also have a special day devoted to their prayerful memory.
What does this have to do with Halloween on October 31st? The word “Halloween” is short for All Hallow’s Eve, which is the eve or evening before we honor those who are “hallowed” or have been made holy - that is, the saints. You’ve heard the word before, in the Lord’s Prayer, when we pray, in reference to God, “hallowed be Thy name.” Although the name of this tradition is taken from the great Christian feast, the ways we observe Halloween, like dressing in costume and going trick-or-treating, are not connected with any Christian meaning. These practices have come down to us from the pagan practices of the ancient Celtic societies. And while there is little harm in dressing up and eating candy, in a Catholic home, participation in Halloween should not be explained as being connected to the Christian feast. We may certainly enjoy the fun and games, but we should not neglect to talk about the great feasts of All Saints and All Souls.
After the Halloween frolics are over, perhaps while the Snickers and Candy Corn are being consumed, turn your mind to the Lord and prepare to greet all the heroes of God during this time of remembrance and celebration.