Aparecida 271: Mary and the Word

Two recent popes underscore the connection of Mary with the Word of God.

271. She who “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19; cf. 2:51), teaches us the primacy of listening to the Word in the life of the disciple and missionary. The Magnificat is entirely woven from threads of Holy Scripture, threads drawn from the Word of God. Here we see how completely at home Mary is with the Word of God, with ease she moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the Word of God; the Word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the Word of God. Here we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with the Word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate.(Deus Caritas Est 41)

This familiarity with the mystery of Jesus is facilitated by praying the rosary, where:

The Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.(Rosarium Virginis Mariae 1)

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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VNO 17: For The Unity of Christians

Much ink has been spilled–and many computer keystrokes tapped–in criticisms of the third edition of the Roman Missal and its English translation. Amidst the problems of unintelligibility, one valid complaint is with the layout of the Missal itself. The seventeenth Mass for a Various Need and Occasion is near the back of the book. That’s not any different from the other forty-eight occasions. But if you’re looking for the Christian Unity preface, don’t seek it earlier in the book.

The preface contains two significant intercessions:

For through him you brought us
to the knowledge of your truth,
so that by the bond of one faith and one Baptism
we might become his Body.

… he might prompt and engender unity
in the diversity of your gifts,
dwelling within your adopted children
and filling and ruling the whole Church.

The first rubric given states:

This Mass may be used whenever there are special celebrations for the unity of Christians, provided it does not occur on a Sunday of Advent, Lent or Easter, or on any Solemnity.

If a special celebration were to occur on an ordinary Sunday, say, in the week of Christian Unity, it would be well within the bounds to set aside the readings, orations, and music for the Sunday of the missalette, hymnal, website, or Roman Calendar, and make for a deeper and more sincere observance.

The Lectionary for Mass (867-871) gives no fewer than twenty possible readings and five psalms. Including this rare appearance by the prophet Jeremiah (31:10-12b, 14b) for music after the first reading:

Lord, gather your scattered people.

Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together;
he guards them as a shepherd his flock.

The LORD shall ransom Jacob,
he shall redeem him from a hand of his conqueror.
Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings.

Then the virgins shall make merry and dance,
and young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.
I will lavish choice portions on the priests,
and my people shall be filled with my blessings,
says the LORD.

This is edited a bit from the NAB prose text here. Readers of the Gospel have eight choices, including three from Jesus’ farewell discourse of John 17. Maybe we could do with a reminder of all twenty-six verses. another notable option is the Last Supper Mandatum of John 13–it’s only appearance outside the Easter Triduum, if I recall correctly.

To go with that preface and twenty-five readings and psalms there are three sets of prayers. Each set includes two options for the collect–so a wealth of twelve presider prayers in this Mass.

Let’s look at the propers:


Entrance Antiphon John 10:14-15

I am the Good Shepherd, and I know my sheep and mine know me, says the Lord, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Psalms 23 and 100 are Liturgy of the Word options, and may work well with this text, especially if another Scripture is chosen to follow the first reading.

Communion Antiphon Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:17

Though many, we are one bread, one body, for we all partake of the one Bread and one Chalice.

Numerous songs include this text, either as inspiration for a verse or antiphon. If you pressed me for a Psalm, I’d say the 122nd or even the 145th.


Entrance Antiphon Psalm 106:47

Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, to give thanks to your holy name and make it our glory to praise you.

One of the longest in the Psalter, the 106th includes a narrative of Israel’s history, including confessions of specific sins of Israel and appeals to God’s mercy. I wouldn’t think to include a list of Christian sins against unity, but the choice of this Psalm, even for its confident final expression of praise (verses 47-48) is an interesting one.

Communion Antiphon Colossians 3:14-15

And over all things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.

The notion of love is developed well in many of the lyrical passages of the first letter of John. If verses 12-13 and 16ff aren’t enough for the Communion procession, I’d go to the other author.


Entrance Antiphon Ephesians 4:4-6

One body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in us all.

The Ephesians canticle in praise of God (1:3-10) seems to make sense to join to this.

Communion Antiphon John 17:21, 23

May all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be one in us, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one.

Good matches for this text might include the Christological canticles of Philippians (2:5-11) and Colossians (1:12-20).

An other comments?

Some years ago, we blogged on Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions. In the GIRM, sections 368-378 cover the universal regulations on their use. You can check our brief comments here and here and here. The USCCB’s unannotated text on the matter is here.


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Aparecida 270: Mary, School of Faith

Mary as a “school of faith.” Before looking down to the citation, to whom might you attribute the use of that title?

270. Today when the emphasis is being given to discipleship and mission in our Latin American and Caribbean continent, it is she who shines before our eyes as the complete and absolutely faithful image of the following of Christ. This is the hour of the most radical follower of Christ, of her teaching for discipleship and mission, to which Pope Benedict XVI directs us:

Mary Most Holy, the pure and immaculate Virgin, is for us a school of faith destined to guide us and give us strength on the path that leads us to the Creator of Heaven and Earth. The Pope has come to Aparecida with great joy so as to say to you first of all: “Remain in the school of Mary.” Take inspiration from her teachings, seek to welcome and to preserve in your hearts the enlightenment that she, by divine mandate, sends you from on high. (Address at the end of the praying of the Holy Rosary at the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, May 12, 2007)

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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Aparecida 269: Mary The Missionary

It’s not a title to be found in the great litanies of popular piety. But if we consider her post-Resurrection experiences, as well as our experiences of her all across a wide planet, Mary is certainly a missionary. She also inspires us to undertake our own missionary journeys–if not to physical shrines, then to deeper encounters with Christ as our mobility in the universe may take us.

269. Mary is the great missionary, continuer of her Son’s mission, who forms missionaries. As she gave birth to the Savior of the world, she brought the Gospel to our Americas. In the Guadalupe event, together with the humble Juan Diego, she presided over Pentecost, which opened us to the gifts of the Spirit. Since then, countless communities have found in her the closest inspiration for learning how to be disciples and missionaries of Jesus. We joyfully note that she has become part of the journey of each of our peoples, deeply entering into the fabric of their history and taking on the noblest and most significant features of the people in them. The various devotions and shrines spread all over the continent attest to Mary’s closeness to the people, and they likewise manifest the faith and trust that her devotees feel toward her. She belongs to them and they experience her as mother and sister.

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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The Problem Of Chit Chat

I see many keystrokes online are devoted to the latest from Pope Francis on liturgy:

Mass isn’t the time for chit chat. It’s a time for silence, to prepare for dialogue, a moment of gathering yourself and prepare for meeting with Jesus. Silence is so important. Remember what I told you last time: we are not going to a show.

Image result for people talking in churchAs the Holy Father describes it, I would affirm the importance of preparing oneself for dialogue. However …

At one of my parish’s Masses various parishioners lead the rosary, sometimes right up to the minute the ministers gather in the doorway to begin Mass. Is audible devotional prayer less of a problem than chatting about sports, gossip, or media?

At another of my parish’s Masses, the choir is too large to fit into the rehearsal room, so music must be prepared in the Church. We are careful to finish up about ten minutes before liturgy. But the worship space is already peopled by then with a few folks. Is music a problem as much as chit chat?

A human aspiration is the social connection with others. Our first impulse is to associate with other human beings who hear and respond to us. Are some conversations important, the ones that begin, “How are you doing with the death of your loved one?” or “I’ve been sick the past few weeks; it’s good to see you.” or “I’m praying you find a job.” Maybe every church needs a sizable narthex or gathering space for this to take place appropriately.

Maybe the stand-and-greet employed in some parishes before Mass (like mine) is a better time for a brief pulse of socializing. A minority of voices complained on that, but I was instructed by my superiors and the liturgy commission to continue to provide the script for the songleader.

I get Pope Francis’ view on this, though I’m loathe to tell people to hush up. I lack the luxury of quiet before Mass. I have music people to warm up and get ready, clergy with whom to consult, my own music and outlines to check. My quiet time isn’t a few minutes before Mass, but a few hours prior.

And lest any readers, especially new ones, think I’m in favor of a conversational free-for-all, let me state for the record: my preference in liturgical style is monastic. Not suburban Catholic. Not praise and worship. Not a Latin choral concert either.

What do you think? Is there a balanced (I hesitate to say “happy”) medium? Is Pope Francis being a scrooge about it? Or is this some Jesuit thing?

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Aparecida 268: Mary, Human Mother

Some may recoil a bit at the suggestion of sexism, but there’s no doubt that function and bureaucracy could often use a softening and tenderness:

268. As in the human family, the Church-family is generated around a Mother, who confers “soul” and tenderness on shared family life.(Puebla 295) Mary, Mother of the Church, and model and paradigm of humanity, is shaper of communion. One of the fundamental events of the Church is when the “yes” sprang forth from Mary. She draws multitudes to communion with Jesus and his Church, as we often experience at Marian shrines. Hence, the Church, like the Virgin Mary, is mother. This Marian vision of the church is the best antidote to a merely functional or bureaucratic Church.

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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Aparecida 267: Mary’s Unique Mission

Mary journeys with us on pilgrimage. She is also a disciple, a believer, and a missionary. She also has a unique role in God’s saving plan. We do well to reflect on that and look to her special and extraordinary assistance as we involve ourselves in God’s mission:

267. With her, providentially united to the fullness of time (Cf. Gal 4:4), the hope of the poor and desire of salvation comes to fulfillment. The Virgin of Nazareth had a unique mission in the history of salvation, conceiving, educating, and accompanying her Son to his ultimate sacrifice. From the cross, Jesus Christ entrusts to his disciples, represented by John, the gift of Mary’s motherhood, which springs directly from the paschal hour of Jesus: “And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:27).

This experience at the foot of the cross is more important than it might seem as a small episode in a much larger event. In a way, Jesus restores a “motherhood” to Mary as he is about to breathe his last. Where he refers to her in John’s Gospel as “Woman,” he now establishes a new familial relationship. This is not for himself, but for the benefit of his disciples–whom he loves.

Does Mary have a continuing role to play? The bishops suggest she does:

Persevering along with the apostles awaiting the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:13-14), she aided in the birth of the missionary Church, imprinting on it a Marian seal that deeply marks its identity. As mother of multitudes, she strengthens the fraternal bonds among all, promotes reconciliation and forgiveness, and helps the disciples of Jesus Christ experience themselves as family, the family of God. In Mary, we are with Christ, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and likewise with our brothers and sisters.

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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