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 29, 2015

First Sunday of Advent • Calendar Crunch

We live in an era when calendars seem to rule our lives—the office calendar, the school calendar, the holiday calendar, the social calendar. Not surprisingly, many of us rely more and more on technology to help us keep track of all our various obligations and responsibilities. The new Church year begins today and the scriptures invite us to pause, slow down, and consider some of our core priorities as disciples of the Lord.
Statistics show that, more than any previous generation in human history, we have disposable time to use how we choose. We are not tied to the unrelenting agricultural calendar of traditional farm work or to sixteen-hour days in factories, yet we often feel rushed and over-committed. This all comes down to how we use our God-given time.
The readings today declare that God will fulfill the promises that God has made. Until that time of perfect justice, righteousness, and salvation comes upon us we are asked to do four things: to be alert at all times, not to give in to worry and distractions, to pray for strength, and to care lovingly for one another. So, as we prepare to celebrate again the coming of the Savior, think about the stewardship of time.

Think back to third grade when we learned the difference between needs and wants, and realize how much the line has blurred between the two since then. Is your calendar too full? Streamline it by looking at it with an informed eye: What must you do and what would you like to do, and how can you put God first this Advent? 

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Liturgical Year and Colors

We occasionally see the term “Liturgical Year” in our bulletin.  This week we are celebrating the Feast of Christ the King which is the last Sunday in our Liturgical Year.  What exactly does Liturgical Year mean?
Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent and ending with the Feast of Christ the King the Church celebrates the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The year itself is broken down into three distinct periods.
The first of these periods is Advent and Christmas.  We anticipate then celebrate God coming into human history.  The second period is Lent and Easter where we enter into the events that lead up to Jesus’ death and then celebrate his resurrection and ascension into heaven.  The final period we call “Ordinary” Time, but there’s nothing ordinary about it.  The word “Ordinary” comes from the word “Ordinal,” which is how the weeks are numbered: first, second, third, etc.
Each of these seasons have a different feel to them and we can recognize the change of season by the different color vestments the clergy wear as well as the colors of our banners and altar decorations. 
The use of colors to differentiate the liturgical seasons became a common practice about the fourth century.  At first, usages varied considerably but by the 12th century Pope Innocent III approved the use of five colors: Violet, White, Black, Red and Green.  Today, four colors are used to express the emotions and ideas that are associated with each of the seasons of the liturgical year.
Violet is the ancient royal color and therefore a symbol of the sovereignty of Christ.  Violet is also associated with repentance from sin.  We see that connection in its use during Advent and Lent as we acknowledge our sinfulness and prepare for the Lord and his resurrection.
White reminds us of the brightness of day and that Jesus is the Light of the World.  We wear it during the Christmas and Easter seasons as well as for the great feasts of the year.
Red evokes the color of blood, and is the color of martyrs and Christ’s death on the cross.  But it is also the color of fire and remembering the tongues of fire that hovered over the Apostles it is also the color of the Holy Spirit and feasts of the apostles.
And the rest of the year, when we’re counting out our Ordinal time?  We wear green which represents living things and the promise of new life. 

Every year we cycle through the life, death and resurrection of Christ and every year we are changed by that journey.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Water and Wine

Before elevating the cup a little and blessing God for the gift of wine, the Deacon, or in his absence the Priest, pours a few drops of water into the chalice or flagon of wine.   As he does this, he says quietly:

          “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

Because of the distance from the altar and the quiet, almost silent recitation of those words, most of us may hardly notice and certainly not understand either what was said or the significance of the action.
An ancient rule during Christ’s time required that some water must be mingled with the wine.   In those times all wine was heavy and thick and no polite person ever served it uncut.   Today’s wines already come watered down, so the reason we do this at Mass has been lost.   But over the centuries the action took on new symbolic meanings. 
The meanings include the wine and water being like Jesus and us, together and indivisible – the close bond between Christ and His Church.  And the one that most of us probably heard in grade school:  it can be seen as representative of the water and blood which flowed from Jesus’ side as he hung from the cross.   One can see that while the mixing of the water and wine is a minor action, the symbolism can be very great.
When there are several cups, as happens here at all of our Masses, the water is normally poured into the flagon that comes up with the gifts and then the wine is poured into the separate cups.   Some suggest that the water be placed only into the principle chalice that the priest uses – because that was the practice prior to the Second Vatican Council – but that was because at that time, only the clergy received the Precious Blood and there would have been only one chalice.

However the water gets into the wine, the action today is one of symbolic gesture – a gesture that reminds us that just like the water and wine, we are all commingled, combined into the mystical Body of Christ.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Offertory

For the past several weeks, with some detours, we have discussed only the first part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word.  Today we begin discussing the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Our Eucharistic celebration begins with the Offertory.  In the Middle Ages the faithful would bring their gifts of offering forward and place them on the altar.  These gifts would have included bread and wine, along with produce and small animals such as chickens and pigs.  The larger animals would have been placed in a side chamber before Mass began.
The deacon of the Mass would have taken aside an amount of bread and wine that would be suitable for the Mass and the remainder of the gifts would have been put aside for the care of the clergy and the church.  Now you know the reason that Father washes his hands following the prayer of offering our gifts to God – he would have just finished handling the animals that had been offered.
The priest then takes the gifts and offers them to God.  We hear this happening as Father lifts the bread toward God and says in a formulary that is faithful to our Jewish roots, “Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.”  After blessing God, which in this context means “praising,” and offering the bread, the wine is offered in a similar formula. 
Today, we don’t individually bring our gifts to the altar.  A couple of people or a family is chosen from those attending Mass to represent all of us.  And instead of us bringing bread and wine, or grain or livestock, we offer a monetary gift to support those in need and the Church’s needs:  be that bread and wine for the Liturgy or electricity so that our worship space may be kept a comfortable temperature.
 Of course, it is not just the bread and wine and the gift of our monetary resources that is offered to God.  We are also bringing ourselves to the altar, offering ourselves, consecrating ourselves to God. 

At Risen Savior, we invite all of our families to be “gift bearers.”  If you would like to bring up the gifts at any of our Masses, please contact our Liturgist, Kevin Newman at 821-1571 ext. 122 or knewman@risensaviorcc.org.