- It is most appropriate to dress modestly, neatly, and respectfully.
- Silence shows we understand that God is really present in the tabernacle.
- Holy water fonts are located at the doors. By dipping our fingers in the blessed water and making the sign of the cross, we are reminded of our baptism.
- We genuflect briefly before entering the pew and when leaving church as a sign of respect and acknowledgment of God’s presence.
- We kneel in the pew to pray each time we enter church. This helps us to focus on being in God’s presence and prepares us for liturgy.
- Liturgical ministers, and all of us, pause and bow before the Altar as we approach.
- Listening, responding to prayers, and singing help us to totally enter the celebration of Mass, communicate with God, and listen to what God has to say to us about our lives.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
“Church” includes all the people of God. At Mass, we come together as church to praise and worship God, remember what God has done for us, ask for what we need, support each other, and share in the Eucharistic meal. In the Eucharist we become what we eat—the Body of Christ. God wants an intimate relationship with us, and relationships need to be nourished.
Liturgy means “work of the people.” Mass is not something done to us, but something we must enter into to experience its fullness. Our relationship with God takes work, as do all relationships.
The word Mass is from Latin meaning “mission” — sending forth. At the conclusion of the liturgy, the priest or deacon tells us to “Go and announce the Good News of the Lord.” We answer, “Thanks be to God.” We are challenged to go forth and be Christ for others.
The manner in which we conduct ourselves in church and at Mass is a very important part of our prayer. We are embodied spirits, and the physical manifestation of our prayer helps us connect with God and each other. Our gestures, postures, and traditions are expressions of what we believe.
As Catholics we believe in the Real Presence: Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. We profess this belief with reverent and respectful actions every time we enter the church. Our body language tells those around us what we truly believe about the Eucharist and may serve as a reminder for ourselves.
During this Year of Faith we are reminded of the importance of the Second Vatican Council. The Council teaches us that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives. We are called to make this a reality.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Wednesday of this past week was the feast of St. Isidore the farmer. This is the time we bless the land. Fields, orchards, and gardens are all blessed so there may be a bounty from which to feed many. This is a major church season. Our Christian roots are agricultural. Jesus talked of farmers sowing, shepherds gathering, lands yielding, trees bearing fruit—it was the visible world of his day. For most of us the world of produce is the supermarket. But we still need the yield of mother earth to meet the hungers of our body and soul.
The growing season for which we seek blessing is ninety days; from May 15th to August 15th. The conclusion of the growing season is the harvest of late summer. The solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven concludes the growing season. Mary is Queen of the harvest. Resurrection to the Christian is the conclusion of life — the harvest — the blessings of those who bear much fruit. From the planting of earth with Isidore on this past Wednesday to the harvest of souls, and the harvest of the land, on August 15th, the liturgical year constantly echoes the parables of the seasons of our soul.
Mother earth is changing. We do not need to watch the weather reports to know this to be true. New Mexico is at present the most severe of the drought states. Others are too wet to plant because of spring flooding. No one can pray like a farmer prays. No one hopes and waits like those who work the land.
The prophet Isaiah talks about the Spirit being like rain that comes watering the fields bringing forth life and returning from where it came. If you prefer to hear it in rap, it would go something like this: No rain, no grain . . .
No grain, no bread . . . No bread, you’re dead!
Today we are reminded that we are both planters and harvesters. We are the seeds and yield. We are the fruit, the gifts, and the Spirit. We are more than a ninety day investment of the earth. We are the bounty of God for all seasons. As the hymn says, Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth”.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Some question why the Catholic Church baptizes those who are not old enough to understand what’s happening. And recently, some have asked why our parish has begun to celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism during Sunday Mass.
Just as one enters a family by birth and is really a part of that family even though for a long period of time there is no real capacity for giving love but only for receiving it, so infants are brought into the family of the Church before they are capable of understanding its significance or of expressing the love that marks this community as the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
We baptize our children because all human beings are offered grace and redemption through Christ. We recognize that all mankind is flawed because of the Original Sin of our first parents, and because God wills that all should have grace which frees us from the bondage of sin. We baptize our children because Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God" (Luke 18:15–16).
Just as one who is to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation has a sponsor who assumes the duty of witnessing the faith – so an infant’s parents assume the duty of living the faith so that the child may learn what it means as part of their daily life, and not something that is spoken of only at Church.
But why do we baptize during Mass? We do so because Holy Mother Church teaches us that the proper time for Baptism is on Sunday when the entire community is present, so that we can all spend some time reflecting upon our own baptismal promises, whether we made them ourselves as an adult, or they were made by our parents. Also, Baptism during Mass allows us to see the relationship between Baptism and the Eucharist more clearly.
The ritual for Baptism reminds us that we are buried with Christ in the death of Baptism and rise also with him to new life. Just as in the Eucharist we witness the same Paschal Mystery – Christ died and rose again to new life.
The parents and godparents commit themselves to seeing that the divine life God gives their children is kept safe from the poison of sin. This is a role we can all help with when we live our faith as a verb.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Queen of Peace, Mother of Mercy, Immaculate Conception, Star of the Sea, Queen of Heaven, there are so many titles we use when we speak of Mary. These five titles, and hundreds of others, each describe one aspect of the Mother of God, but none of them capture the wonder of this woman.
As May is traditionally devoted to Mary, it is fitting that our first 3-minute catechesis of the month be devoted to her.
Catholic beliefs about the Blessed Virgin Mary include her immaculate conception, her freedom from personal sin, her perpetual virginity, the fact that she is the mother of God, her assumption into heaven, and her role as intercessor.
Most Protestants, and some Catholics, have a problem when it comes to understanding the relationship of Mary to Jesus. They ask, “How can this woman be the Mother of God?” It is hard to comprehend that Jesus is the only child in the history of mankind that existed before his mother.
Innumerable Fathers and Doctors of the Church, saints and scholars have undertaken serious studies of Mary over the centuries. The Bishops of the Second Vatican Council thought Mary so important to the very nature of the Church they devoted an entire chapter to her in the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church. Even the Augustinian monk and founder of the Reformation, Martin Luther, maintained a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
The richness of Marian devotion may be glimpsed in Mary’s unparalleled relationship with the Holy Trinity. She is the daughter of the Father, the mother of the Son, and the spouse of the Holy Spirit. As the Catechism says, “By [Mary’s] complete adherence to the Father’s will, to his Son’s redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity.” In and of herself, she is the true model of the Church – the model of how we should live our faith. The lesson we learn from Mary is in her willingness to accept the will of God, no matter the consequence.
Mary isn’t the mother of just another man, nor is Mary only Jesus’ mother; she is our mother too. In a special way, every day is Mother’s Day when we turn to Mary and deepen our love for Christ. Mary, who held baby Jesus in the manger and who prayed for him at the foot of the cross, shows us the way to her Son.