Tag Archives: Mass

Plenty of reasons to love Mass

December 3, 2011

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The spirit is alive in today’s Catholic Church. Here’s another great blog of reasons to love  going to Mass. This is just one a a double handful of good bullet points:

  • Beliefs – no mincing words on Sunday. In a 60-second declaration we stand up and tell you what we believe, not what we feel. It’s the Catholic elevator pitch!
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9 Reasons Catholics Go to Mass

November 29, 2011

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According to Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley

Catholics come to Mass because we desire:

1. To respond to God’s love.

2. To encounter Christ in the most profound way possible.

3. To gather and pray with our parish family.

4. To strengthen our particular family.

5. To witness to our faith and provide a living legacy to our children and grandchildren.

6. To be transformed by Christ’s grace.

7. To participate in Jesus’ victory over death and the salvation of the world.

8. A foretaste of heaven.

9. To follow God’s loving guidance and to commit to deepening our relationship with 
God.

Any of these at the top of your personal list? If your reason isn’t listed above, what is it?

 

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New words at Mass: How did it go at your parish?

November 27, 2011

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A woman reads the new words for Mass prayers from a pew card Nov. 26. (Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit)

With the implementation of the new Roman Missal this weekend at parishes across the United States, I was curious how worshippers at my parish’s Saturday evening Mass would adapt to the changes to the words of many prayers.

While no one seemed too flustered, autopilot did kick in for many people, including a gentleman sitting behind me who was having trouble remembering that the response “And also with you” — previously spoken five times during the Mass — had now changed to “And with your spirit.” He ended up being one for five.

My parish, like most others, provided worshippers with pew cards highlighting the changes, and the priest who presided at Mass briefly held up a card each time a new response was coming up.

For the longer prayers, people took the cues and read accurately from the cards, although they noticeably stumbled over still-unfamiliar words like “consubstantial” and “incarnate.” When it came to the quick, brief response, “And with your spirit,” however, people forgot to glance at their cards and there was a noticeable mix of old and new responses. To his credit, our priest didn’t seem to stumble over any of the newly worded prayers he was responsible for speaking.

My parish offered a great deal of catechesis about the changes in bulletin inserts over the last several months. So did The Catholic Spirit, through a six-month series on the changes and a special edition focused on the new Roman Missal (see TheCatholicSpirit.com/newromanmissal).

Still, change is never easy, and no one should expect a perfectly smooth transition to new prayers the first week after 40 years of having different words ingrained in our minds and hearts. People will inevitably acclimate themselves to the new language in the coming weeks and months.

How did the changes go in your parish on this first weekend?

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Mass? On Thanksgiving?

November 21, 2011

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There’s ‘having’ to go to church, and there’s ‘wanting’ to

“Mass? On Thanksgiving?” the man-child’s voice asked with not a little incredulity. “We don’t have to go to Mass on Thanksgiving.”

No, the voice of reason and rationality answered.

You don’t have to go to Mass on Thanksgiving, I said. I just thought you might want to go to thank God for all the gifts you’ve received during the past year.

I might as well have been talking to the deceased turkey on the counter that was having its cavity stuffed at the moment.

That conversation happened 20 years ago.

I remember writing a column about it at the time — yes, in the old Catholic Bulletin — because a debate was going on at the time about holy days of obligation. Very few Catholics were attending those “obligatory” feast day Masses, and although it took several years, the “obligation” was removed. Now, as we know, in the United States we observe several former obligatory attendance feasts on the nearest weekend. (Immaculate Conception — Dec. 8; Assumption — Aug. 15; Ascension Thursday).

But back to Thanksgiving 1991.

The assigned lector was unable to make it, and as I walked into church, the pastor grabbed me to fill in in the emergency.

That’s where an insight came into the difference between “having to” and “wanting to” go to Mass.

When you lector at weekend Masses, you can see all the folks who duck out at Communion, all the folks who rush out to their cars at the first note of the recessional hymn, all the folks who are in the parking lot before the priest even makes it halfway down the aisle to the back of church.

On that Thanksgiving Day, when the only people who were at Mass were the folks who didn’t feel “obliged” to be there but “wanted” to be there, guess how many people left Mass early?

Not a single one.

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A Vatican II Catholic tells why he loves Mass

November 18, 2011

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I’m going to love Mass come Nov.26-27.

I love Mass now, of course.

I loved Mass back in 1963 when I was an altar boy and “Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam” was rolling off my tongue although I had not a clue what it meant.

I loved Mass in the late ‘60s when we had guitar Masses in the high school gym – and 1,100 high school guys – yep, all guys – belted out “Sons of God, hear his holy word, gather ‘round the table of the Lord.”

And I loved it when we had “low Masses” for just our homeroom in the high school chapel and the presider invited all of us to come close around the altar to better see and know and understand what was happening at the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

 A prayer for all times and places

I loved Mass in the Bradley Hall auditorium when the Newman Center took it over for us Catholic college kids Sundays, and I loved it in the dark and sparsely populated old church at what used to be St. Pat’s on the south side of Peoria, Ill., before it was closed.

I loved Mass in the crowded church basement at St. Bernadette in Drexel Hill, Pa., in the quiet of the weekday Mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, in the boisterous cacophony of joy-filled Catholics at St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis and in the comforting community prayer of Presentation of Mary in Maplewood, Minn., where at the end of Mass a spontaneously erupting round of applause for some terrific liturgical music is not uncommon.

So when we Catholics begin praying new words at Mass the weekend of Nov. 26-27 instead of the words we’ve prayed for more than 40 years, I’ll still love Mass.

 We can deal with change

When as we are praying the new words of the Creed and get to the word “consubstantial” I’m probably going to still shake my head and wonder how in the world anyone thought that was a good idea. But I’ll probably get used to it.

Thinking about that change in particular led me to consider other words we use infrequently in every-day life but all the time in prayer. We seem to be okay with asking the God to “forgive us our trespasses” – and how many of us regularly use the word trespass as a synonym for sin?

But this wasn’t meant to be an exercise in apologetics on behalf of the new Roman Missal. I’ve read at least a dozen explanations explaining the need for the changes and just as many commentaries questioning those explanations.

Frankly, neither matter.

I’ll still love Mass.

 Why Mass matters to me

At Mass my whole person is lifted up by thoughts I don’t usually have the rest of the week, thoughts on a higher plane, a level beyond my work, my loved ones, my hobbies.

At Mass I’m challenged to be a better person than I have been. I feel as though I absorb ideas of how to follow Jesus and the ways he said we need to live.

I’m challenged to reform and I’m inspired to keep on the journey – not just do what I’ve been doing but do it better, maybe do more.

At Mass – no matter where or who or how many people are in the pews or folding chairs – I feel affirmed in my choice to be part of this 2,000-year-old tradition. Note that word “choice.” Nobody is forcing me to be at church. I go because I want to. Because I get something out of it. And what’s affirming is that I feel part of something good and valued by others.

I love Mass because when I kneel down after receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at Communion I feel something deep inside me pushing me to imitate that Jesus in every part of my life, reminding me of what kind of person I’m supposed to be, comforting me that because I’ve taken Jesus into my heart he is with me, fortifying me and giving me the nourishment I need to be that person God made me to be, that God expects me to be.

 I’m not the only one who loves Mass

I understood a lot more about loving Mass when a fact-finding tour took me to Lithuania just after the fall of the Soviet Empire.

Our group of Catholic journalists went to Eastern Europe to see how we Americans might help our brothers and sisters as they brought their publications from their underground existence into the light of freedom.

The priests in our group presided at Mass in a hotel room in Vilnius, and we’d invited an American to join us. She’d been working in Lithuania doing development work for two religious agencies.

Rebecca Martin cried her eyes out through the entire liturgy.

“I’m sorry,” the 25-year-old from Indiana said, drying her eyes. “I’ve been here for two and a half years. You don’t know how much it means to hear Mass in your own language after so long.”

Bob Zyskowski is associate publisher of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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7 Ways the New Mass Translation is Closer to Scripture

November 17, 2011

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consecration-westminster

Photo/Catholic Westminster. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Because the Mass prayers are so familiar, I’m sad to say that once in a while I go on autopilot during the Liturgy. That will end in just over a week when English-speaking Catholics first bring the new translation of the Roman Missal to life at Mass. Many of the responses will be new and we’ll have to pay closer attention.

With the help of theologian Dr. Edward Sri’s book “A Biblical Walk Through the Mass,” and Father John Paul Erickson, director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Worship, I’ve tried to show how the new translation brings the Mass text closer to the scripture it’s founded upon. Whether or not you’re ready for the transition, this post provides something to reflect on during Mass and after. The new responses are in italic, followed by the old text in parentheses.

1. The Lord be with you
...And with your spirit. (And also with you). Instead of the polite response we’re used to, this one sounds almost New Age until we discover that St. Paul said it in Gal. 6:18, Phil. 4:23 and 2 Tim. 4:22. The new response acknowledges that through ordination and the Holy Spirit the priest represents Christ in sacred duties. We address the priest’s spirit, the deepest part of his being, where he has been ordained to lead us in the liturgy.

 2. The Confiteor
…through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. This prayer, which starts with “I confess,” doesn’t change much in the new translation except for this line and one other word. The new words, taken from 1 Chron. 21:8, sounds repetitious but in praying them we more accurately convey our true sorrow for our sins.

3. The Gloria
The previous prayer won’t work because more than half the words are different in the new translation. One difference is that Jesus is identified as the “Only Begotten Son,” which reflects his unique relationship with the Father as described in St. John’s gospel. (Jn. 1:12, 1 Jn. 3:1)

4. The Nicene Creed
There aren’t a lot of changes to the Creed but here are a few of the most significant ones.
…all things visible and invisible (seen and unseen). This phrase is a more precise translation of St. Paul’s reference to all created things. (Col. 1:16)
… consubstantial with the Father (one in being with the Father). Here’s a big new word that will take a while to get used to. It’s the right word because It’s closer to the theological language of the Council of Nicea held in 325 AD where the Creed was developed in response to a heresy denying Jesus’ divinity. The new word means that the Father and Son are of the same substance.
…was incarnate of the Virgin Mary (born of the Virgin Mary). Another big word, consistent with the Latin text of the Mass, emphasizing that Jesus took on human flesh (Jn. 1:14), not just that he was born of Mary.

5. The Sanctus
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts. The last three words of this line are the only changes to this prayer that comes right before the priest prays the Eucharistic Prayer. The new words are taken from Is. 6:3 where the prophet Isaiah received a vision of the angels praising God. “Hosts” refers to the angels in heaven.

6. Consecration Prayers
…Chalice of my Blood (Cup of my Blood) What’s the difference between a cup and a chalice? A chalice is associated with the liturgy–it’s a special Eucharistic cup that the Lord uses at the Last Supper. (Lk. 22:20, I Cor. 11:25)
…for you and for many (for you and for all) The word “many”  is closer to Jesus’ actual words at the Last Supper (Mt. 26:28) and more accurately reflects the Latin text. The addition of this word shows that Jesus died for all but not everyone chooses to accept the gift of salvation. The prophet Isaiah also speaks of how Christ’s suffering justifies many in Is. 53.

7. Prayer before Communion
Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof (Lord I am not worthy to receive you). The new words better represent the centurion’s request of Jesus in Mt. 8:8 and Lk. 7:6-7.

 

 

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20 takeaways from a pastoral letter aimed to help Catholics get more out of Mass

November 15, 2011

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Snippets of meaning from Archbishop John Nienstedt’s pastoral letter “Do This In Memory of Me”

With my highlighter in hand as usual, I read the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ first pastoral letter on the Sacred Liturgy. Here’s what caught my eye or touched me as worth remembering — or at least giving more thought to:

  1. “The words of the priest gave voice to the unspoken prayers of those gathered in faith.”
  2. “The words obviously are important, but their true importance lies in the mystery by which those words are animated, inspired and inflamed.”
  3. “…with the implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal . . . we have the marvelous opportunity to stop and reconsider the important role that the Mass plays in our lives as individuals, as parish communities and as an Archdiocese.”
  4. “…the purpose of the Church is to call her members to holiness.”
  5. “…sanctity for the Christian is not a solitary activity.”
  6. “In the community of believers, our own hearts’ hopes and sorrows, joys and disappointments find reception, affirmation, and transformation as they are offered as one with Christ to the Father in prayer.”
  7. “The Liturgy . . . finds its origin in Christ’s call to be ‘gathered’ . . . . He calls us to holiness, but always in and through the church and her Liturgy . . . . this is the reason for the Church’s existence: to bring the baptized into a closer relationship with Christ as members of His one Body who pray the Liturgy together with Christ for the glory of God and the good of all.”
  8. “Our corporate prayer is thus a prayer that what has been accomplished in Christ might be accomplished in us, and that like Christ we might be sent to bear fruit for the life of the world.”
  9. “Unity does not mean ‘going along to get along.’ That would be a false unity, and one that cannot endure.”
  10. “As we are gathered around the one bread and the one cup, we are strengthened and summoned to form an ever greater unity of mind and heart with Christ Himself, so that we might be joined more closely to one another. Our unity with each other comes from this unity in Christ.”
  11. “Fundamentally, the Church’s Liturgy is not the expression of local customs or the particular interests of a parish or a priest. True enough, an assembly or a presider often do bring with them gifts and talents that should be shared with all, including at the offering of praise that is the celebrations of the Mass. But at its heart, the unity of the Roman Rite, reflective as it is of the Church’s universality, is meant to shine through our liturgical celebrations as an expression of our unity through one common expression of faith.”
  12. “How we pray together manifests what we believe.”
  13. “The new texts of the Church’s prayer provide a grace-filled moment to re-examine our liturgical practices, and to ensure that the liturgical life of our parishes, religious communities, and various apostolates are in conforming to the liturgical norms of the Church.”
  14. “Of course, it is not enough that we simply follow the liturgical law of the Church . . . we must strive to understand more fully just what it is that we are doing when we assemble. “
  15. “. . . take the time simply to listen to the Liturgy itself. We all must strive, clergy and laity alike, to hear with true docility the words the Church has given us, and the memories she cultivates within us as her prayers are proclaimed in our midst.”
  16. “When we stop to listen to the words of the Mass . . . we discover anew the mysteries of faith and enkindle the sense of wonder which marked the disciples on the road to Emmaus when they discovered the Living Christ, present to them.”
  17. “(Author Matthew) Kelly suggests that every Catholic ought to bring a journal to Mass which has inscribed on the cover, ‘What’s the one thing I need to do today to be a better person?’ He guarantees that if we have that single focus in mind as Mass begins, we will discover the joy and meaning that lies at the heart of the Eucharist. I think he’s right. I suggest we try it out.”
  18. “For many, even good Catholics, Sunday Mass can become just one more activity to fit into the schedule, rather than the culmination of the past week and the beginning of a new period of time.”
  19. “For human beings caught up in a whirlwind of activity, Sunday is meant to be a call to a contemplative re-examination of where our lives have been and where they are going. Sunday is meant to give meaning to the other six days of the week.”
  20. “We listen to the words of the Liturgy so that we may truly speak them in our daily lives.”
Care to read the pastoral letter in its entirety: Click here and you’ll have the option of reading it as it appeared as a special section in The Catholic Spirit or downloading a PDF.
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When it comes to bringing up the gifts at Mass, there’s no place like — well, anywhere BUT home

July 22, 2011

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It happened to me again, this time in England, of all places.

On vacation this summer (my treat to myself for my 60th birthday), the closest church to the apartment we rented in the Camden neighborhood of London was Our Lady of Hal (named for a miracle in the Belgian town of Halle). My wife and brother- and sister-in-law and I joined maybe 3-4 dozen worshipers for the 8:30 Mass on Sunday morning.

Of course I was asked to help bring up the gifts.

My wife, Barb, just shook her head.

She shook her head first, because when we were out of town one weekend last year and caught the Sunday evening Mass as St. Peter in North St. Paul, we were asked to bring up the gifts there.

She shook her head, secondly, because we NEVER get asked to bring up the gifts in our own parish. Well, that’s not exactly true; we were asked — once in 28 years — the one weekend where we scurried to get to the 5:30 Saturday evening Mass — which we never go to — and Barb rushed out of the house in sweat pants. She tastefully declined to walk down the aisle with the Eucharistic bread and wine dressed as she was.

Of course it’s not like there’s a badge of honor one gets for  bring up the gifts or any special graces, and it is not a sign of one’s holiness or anything else, but you would think that the odds are pretty good that at more than 1,000 Masses at your parish you might be asked a handful of times to participate in the liturgy in this way.

I keep reminding Barb about how biblical it is that we two “prophets” are not regarded in our own country, so to speak.

(Don’t tell her that when I went to Mass at the St. Paul Seminary recently guess who brought up the hosts!) — BZ

 

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Most popular stories of June 2011

July 5, 2011

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Image licensed under Creative Commons license.

What happened last month in the Catholic world? Varied and numerous topics all right here:
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Dress up, not down for Sunday Mass, even in summertime 7 comment(s) | 234 view(s)

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Cooking priest makes NFP sizzle 1 comment(s) | 219 view(s)

Priest says Catholic bloggers ‘an extraordinary reality’ in church life 0 comment(s) | 175 view(s)

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Summer Sunday Mass: Obligation or Option?

June 3, 2011

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Sunny day over Sava river

Sunny day over Sava river. Creative Commons license by Marko Cvejic

Sunday is the Lord’s Day. Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday morning, so Sunday is reserved as the “Lord’s Day,” the day to remember the Resurrection and to offer our praise and worship. God gave us the Third Commandment as a solemn obligation, not a suggestion or an option:  “Keep holy the Sabbath day” (Ex 20:8-11; Dt 5:12-15) (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Numbers 2174 – 2178).

Regular Sunday worship dates back to the first generation of the Church.  Early Christians instinctively gathered to study the teachings of the apostles and to break the bread (Acts 2:42).  The Letter to the Hebrews gets straight to the point:  “We should not stay away from our assembly [i.e., the liturgical assembly, the Eucharist], as is the custom of some” (Heb 10:25).

It is shocking the number of people who say that they believe they are excused from Sunday Mass when they are on vacation or traveling.  This is not the case!  Church teaching is clear:  “On Sundays the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass” (Canon 1247).

There are a few legitimate reasons to miss Sunday Mass: illness or disability, serving as the sole caregiver for someone in need of constant attention, a natural disaster like a flood or a blizzard, or the absence of a priest.  There is no exception for vacation or traveling (Catechism, Nos. 2180-2188).

All we have is a gift from God, so God is entitled to our weekly thanks. Time is a precious commodity, and how we spend it is a clear indication of our priorities.  There are one hundred and sixty-eight (168) hours in a week, and one hour spent in worship barely puts a dent in the praise that we owe our God.

We need to put first things first, and for Christians, God comes first!  If there ever was a time that God deserves extra thanks, it would be vacation time.  It is a huge blessing to be able to take time off, to have the resources to travel, to have the wherewithal to enjoy a cabin or a RV or a lake home, to be blessed with the beauty of the lakes and the forests, to be able to go fishing or boating, and to have the leisure time to spend with family and friends.

The common error is to make recreational activities the starting point in building one’s weekend vacation schedule, and to relegate God and Mass to an afterthought, something to fit in if there is time left over or to be skipped entirely.  The proper way is to decide on a Mass time and place first, and then figure out the rest of the weekend’s activities.  God never goes on vacation when it comes to providing for us; we should never go on vacation from offering God our thanks and praise.

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