Sainted Popes At Liturgy This Easter

The April issue of the FDLC newsletter contained guidance for the domestic observance of the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II.
As part of the world, you readers certainly know the canonization will take place on 27 April, the Second Sunday of Easter. Liturgy geeks among you most definitely know that the observance of an Easter Sunday (2nd, 3rd, etc.) takes precedence over anything else. In other words, one can recognize the canonizations at Mass in terms of preaching mention, thanksgiving in the prayers of the faithful, announcements for a special party, and such. We don’t change prayers, readings, or such things.

What can be done, along the lines of a “special liturgy”?

For celebrations that might take place on the weekdays of Easter time, one could appropriately use the Mass “For Giving Thanks to God” (Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions, No. 49). Alternately, at the direction of or with the permission of the Diocesan Bishop, a votive Mass of a particular saint could be celebrated on a weekday of Easter (cf. GIRM nos. 374-375). In this case, one could use the Common of Pastors: For a Pope, using both Saints as appropriate.

Remember that weekdays of Easter Time do not include the days within the octave of Easter. These are all solemnities and cannot be replaced. No fair jumping the liturgical gun to be the first parish in the world to celebrate two canonized popes.

A note on those kinds of Masses listed above in the FDLC quote: it is inappropriate to celebrate the memorial of a saint on a day other than their assigned day in the Roman Martyrology. In other words, to celebrate John Paul II, it must be on 22 October. John XXIII’s day is 11 October. Hence the preference for the Mass of “Thanksgiving,” and the possibility of a votive Mass with a bishop’s guidance.

I know it’s a busy time of year with Easter, First Communion, Confirmation, Graduation, Mother’s Day, and such. Anybody’s parish planning an extra celebration? Any word from your diocese?

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EG 142: Words Which Set Hearts On Fire

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis refers to Luke 24:13-35, the experience of the disiples walking to Emmaus, and how the Lord spoke so movingly and gracefully so as to set their hearts on fire. Let’s explore in Evangelium Gaudium this notion over the next three sections.

Some Catholics are focused on the truth. And this is proper. There’s a lot of avoidance of truth-telling, and it’s epidemic both in the Church and outside of it. Pope Francis suggests something deeper is needed.

Right off the bat, we’re talking about the homily as a dialogue, by definition:

142. Dialogue is much more than the communication of a truth. It arises from the enjoyment of speaking and it enriches those who express their love for one another through the medium of words. This is an enrichment which does not consist in objects but in persons who share themselves in dialogue. A preaching which would be purely moralistic or doctrinaire, or one which turns into a lecture on biblical exegesis, detracts from this heart-to-heart communication which takes place in the homily and possesses a quasi-sacramental character: “Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom 10:17).

Small-s sacrament. But an encounter with Christ all the same. This would be a personal encounter, not mediated through reason, morals, or theology. Those things–important things–are the tools used, but not the core of the communication.

In the homily, truth goes hand in hand with beauty and goodness. Far from dealing with abstract truths or cold syllogisms, it communicates the beauty of the images used by the Lord to encourage the practise of good.

Of course. The homily is located in the liturgy. The encounter with Christ on the road to Emmaus was essentially a liturgical event. Beauty and goodness are inherent in good liturgy, but not necessarily part of a lecture on theology, faith, or morals.

The memory of the faithful, like that of Mary, should overflow with the wondrous things done by God. Their hearts, growing in hope from the joyful and practical exercise of the love which they have received, will sense that each word of Scripture is a gift before it is a demand.

Remembering: this was part of the experience of the Emmaus disciples, part of the recollection of the apostles, and at the very core of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Why shouldn’t the homily be more akin to these elements of tradition from the New Testament and from the Mass? And less like a lecture.

Does a dialogue with a beloved motivate more than a talking-to from a parent? Even kids would say yes to that.

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Dies Domini 22: Maintaining A Lord’s Day in Early Christianity

How did early Christians forge a Sunday, a Lord’s Day in a pagan culture? Somehow they maintained the rhythm of the week–and that may be no small feat, considering the week was a Jewish invention and not something followed in the greater Roman Empire. I would assume every day was a work day, and the aristocracy grabbed what leisure they could on the foundation of slaves, children, women, and others that could be exploited.

22. In those early Christian times, the weekly rhythm of days was generally not part of life in the regions where the Gospel spread, and the festive days of the Greek and Roman calendars did not coincide with the Christian Sunday. For Christians, therefore, it was very difficult to observe the Lord’s Day on a set day each week. This explains why the faithful had to gather before sunrise.(Cf. ibid. In reference to Pliny’s letter, Tertullian also recalls the coetus antelucani inApologeticum 2, 6: CCL 1, 88; De Corona 3, 3: CCL 2, 1043) Yet fidelity to the weekly rhythm became the norm, since it was based upon the New Testament and was tied to Old Testament revelation. This is eagerly underscored by the Apologists and the Fathers of the Church in their writings and preaching where, in speaking of the Paschal Mystery, they use the same Scriptural texts which, according to the witness of Saint Luke (cf. 24:27, 44-47), the Risen Christ himself would have explained to the disciples. In the light of these texts, the celebration of the day of the Resurrection acquired a doctrinal and symbolic value capable of expressing the entire Christian mystery in all its newness.

And that celebration would have included an element of liberation as well. The Vatican site has Dies Domini in its entirety.

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Church Hospitality: A Two-Way Street?

Blogger Jerry Galipeau has been a man without a parish for some months. Two weeks ago, he wrote about his experience worshiping at different parishes in the Chicago area. And not being welcomed anywhere.

Last week he wrote a bit more about it. This bit intrigued me:

One person has suggested that hospitality and welcome needs to be a kind of two-way street in Catholic parishes. He likened the experience to someone who goes shopping for a particular computer in an electronics store. If not waited on by a salesperson, the shopper needs to reach out, find a salesperson, and begin to seek help to find the particular computer. This got me thinking. Perhaps when I arrive at a parish, I should go to any person and simply say, “Hello, I am visiting here, can you tell me about your parish?” I think I will try it over the next few months and see what happens.

I don’t think this lets anybody inside the church doors off the hook. But it does shine a little illumination on the importance of a person taking responsibility for engaging a community and making one’s home with them. Even if such a person is an introvert. Usually, that just means energy expended rather than gained.

Maybe our task in the parish isn’t to “service” people by welcoming them. But to create an environment in which they feel/sense/experience welcome on a level appropriate to their personal situation.

I don’t get on the road much. I’m thinking about my four weeks in Omaha this summer, though. I could worship with the community at Creighton. Maybe the first Sunday there I will introduce myself and ask someone to tell me about the community.

It would be fascinating to go to some of the parishes around Omaha and do the same. On the other hand, I already get two, sometimes three Masses on a weekend as it is. I’m supposed to be away to study. Not to perform liturgy experiments.

Anybody have any experiences of visiting a parish, or coming in new to the community, and asking, “Can you tell me about your church?”

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Jesus Homeless in North Carolina

I’ve heard of Timothy Schmalz’s Jesus The Homeless in various forums. I did not know that the reproduction of his statue had not yet made it to the States. NPR has a feature today on Weekend Edition Sunday of the Lord on the bench at an Episcopal church in North Carolina. Someone called the police because they thought the huddled figure was a real vagrant.

I wouldn’t read too much into the cathedrals in Toronto and New York turning down first castings of this depiction. My parish carefully plans its art. Cathedrals certainly do. If we were offered a statue like this, we would lean strongly against a reproduction. Our parish is used to paying for original work. But the depiction of the Lord or of one of the saints in a non-traditional, thoughtful, or even challenging way would be a strong consideration.

Is art supposed to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted? Have people come not to expect this from their encounters with “beauty” in religious settings? Does “nice” art comfort us too much?

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The Armchair Liturgist Starts That Procession … Or Stops It

Another first for me. Even after more than thirty years of liturgy and music, I continue to experience novel things. I tapped a young man to lead least night’s Palm Sunday procession (we walk around the church building). But he was nervous and asked a young woman with him to do it in his stead. So I gave a second set of instructions.

After inviting the assembly to empty the pews and leave the building, I attended to finding a fall-back position in case Passion reader #1 (still not in the building) didn’t show. By the time the substitute had been found and briefed, I went out to the parking lot. To my amazement, the procession was already on the move. Had that time really sped by so quickly? Blessing of branches, reading, and that longish introduction with the awkward elevated language?

None of it happened. Apparently, the woman with the cross just kept moving once she got out the door. So all the rituals took place once we were back in the building.

So armchair liturgists, a question for you. Suppose your liturgy runs off the rails like this. To what extent will you try to wrangle wayward sheep to “do it right”? How far afield does it have to go before you just shrug your shoulders and let it go?

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An Invitation Mirrored: Come and See

I noticed the line in last weekend’s Gospel, a repeat of an earlier invitation offered by the Lord. Earlier:

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” (John 1:35-39a)

And on the outskirts of Bethany, at the tomb:

When Jesus saw (Mary) weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” (John 11:33-34)

I don’t have the Greek text, nor do I have enough knowledge of the language to discern if “come and see” is just a common expression or if it has any linguistic or idiomatic meaning.

But the invitations struck me as I was reflecting a bit more on the John 11 passage. As we seek God, seek faith, and possibly look to Jesus, we might hear the invitation to “Come and see.” It’s a good invitation to accept, and many do. If we keep our eyes open to see, we will see a lot. And that will move us deeper.

In John 11, Jesus encounters the depth of human mourning. He asks a question similar to the one the two disciples first asked him those many months before. “Where?” The mourners invite him to the center of their tragedy.

If “Come and See” has become something of a slogan for people exploring the faith, or an encouragement to go deeper, it seems appropriate that in turn we invite the Lord into the depths of our struggles and our pain. This weekend’s readings suggest he himself is intimately familiar with pain and death. Can we invite him into our pain? Can we imagine God asking, where are you going; what are you doing; how are you feeling? We say,”Come and see.

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