So Much Duality

Dear Parishioners,

Triumph and Tragedy. I can't help but think of that phrase, the title of the sixth volume of Winston Churchill's narrative of the Second World War, in association with Palm Sunday. There are so many contradictions and paradoxes in the event of Christ's passion. So much beauty; so much ugliness. So much good; so much evil. So much love; so much hate. Yes, a triumphant and a tragic moment in the lexicon of human experiences.

Veronica, Simon of Cyrene, and Joseph of Arimathea—such beautiful, caring figures who supported our Lord. Caiphas, Herod, and Pilate—such ugly, cowardly, and jealous figures who trashed our Lord.

God the Father—such a good figure, the benevolent creator of the universe, consubstantial with his Son, who loved his son and all those given to his son, and loved them to the end. The Devil, Satan himself—such an evil figure who hated the Father so much he would do anything to attack him, even killing his innocent son.


Those Mysterious Priests

When I was a seminarian I was on a Lenten retreat in a monastery in a small town in Italy. The local stray dogs barked constantly. It was a disruption to me at first, but then I thought of a fable that can help us appreciate what it was like for Christ to become man and to die for us. (Fulton Sheen gives us a similar image in his book, Those Mysterious Priests.)


An Other Forty Days

Dear Parishioners,

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton underwent her own forty day trial. In the early 1800s, she and her husband planned a trip to Italy. It was hoped the Italian climate would improve William Seton's health, for he had tuberculosis. But, as the saying goes, God had other plans. Husband and wife were quarantined in the New York port for forty days, and William died on account of the quarantine. They were basically stuck on a cold, wet, and small ship with little food.

Elizabeth survived and continued on with the journey to Italy. Now, Elizabeth was an Episcopalian from a very wealthy New York family. A "high society" young woman, she was a skilled musician, equestrian, and conversationalist, not to mention both beautiful and highly intelligent, speaking French fluently.


Queen Counselor

Wives do not mind asking for directions. They tell their husbands to stop, pull over, and seek help. Mothers are also good counselors. They encourage their children to obtain tutors, instructors, coaches. They look to problem-solve and not remain condemned to the futility of the present predicament. What could be a negative situation a woman, through her humility and sensibleness, turns into something positive. It is like that time when Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, a 16th century saint, dropped a small statue of Jesus in the chapel while dusting it. Picking it up unbroken, she kissed it, saying, “If you had not fallen, you would not have gotten that.”


He Who Can End the Fight

Dear Parishioners,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

There we have it. John 3:16. Perhaps the famous line in all of Sacred Scripture. The citation we see on signs at football games and on billboards. Why is this line so remarkable?

We could write a whole book on why. Here is one reason for your consideration: God does not start the fight, but he can end it.

God is blamed unfairly for many things. What is good is that he is God—he can handle the blame. But still, it's not always just, the anger directed at our God. Cancer—why did God do this? War—where is God to stop it? A tragic car accident–how could God allow this? The stray bullet, the divorce, the drug addiction, the teen suicide, and so on. Fingers usually point to God.


Parts of the Mass (5)

4. Concluding Rites

Announcements: The announcements are to be brief and cover only significant events since all other information is contained in the weekly bulletin.

Greeting: "The Lord be with you" is the greeting of the priest before the blessing. If there is a solemn blessing, the deacon or the priest will ask the assembly to bow their heads and pray for God’s blessing.


Parts of the Mass (4)

The third part of the Mass is the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In my previous article, I talked about an aspect of this, particularly the Eucharistic Prayer. Today, I’m going to focus on the Communion Rite, which begins with the Our Father.

3. Liturgy of the Eucharist (continued)

The Lord’s Prayer: The priest gives the invitation to prayer and all the faithful say the “Our Father” with him. Then the priest alone says the embolism, which is a prayer asking for deliverance from the power of evil for the whole community. Afterwards, the congregation concludes this prayer with the doxology, "For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever."


Parts of the Mass (3)

Today, I’m going to talk about the third part of the Mass.

3. Liturgy of the Eucharist

Presentation of the Gifts: Representatives of the congregation bring forth the bread and wine that will become the Body and Blood of Christ. The ushers bring forth the collection.

The Eucharistic CelebrationPreparation of the Altar: The altar servers bring the Roman Missal (book with prayers), chalices (cups for wine), ciboriums (vessels with hosts), bread, wine, and water to the altar. The deacon or the priest pours wine into the chalices and adds a drop of water into the celebrant’s chalice. This mingling of water and wine signifies the union of Christ’s divinity and humanity.

Eucharistic Prayer: This is the center and high point of the entire celebration. In this prayer, the celebrant acts in the person of Christ as head of his body, the Church. It includes the following eight elements:


Parts of the Mass (2)

Today, I’m going to talk about the second part of the Mass.

2. Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: On Sundays, this reading is usually taken from one of the books of the Old Testament, except in the season of Easter. The place used by the lectors to read the Scriptures at Mass is called the ambo.

Responsorial Psalm: After the First Reading, a cantor sings the Psalm chosen according to the liturgical celebration. The congregation participates in the meditation of the Word of God by singing the response to the Psalm.

Second Reading: This reading is always taken from one of the Letters in the New Testament. The book that lectors use to proclaim the Word of God at Mass is called the Lectionary. At the end of the First and Second Readings, the assembly honors the Word of God just received by responding, “Thanks be to God.”

Gospel Acclamation: The assembly, standing, sings the Alleluia, followed by a verse from the Scriptures. The Alleluia is sung every Sunday of the liturgical year, except in Lent.


Parts of the Mass (1)

Today and for the next four Sundays, we’ll be highlighting the various parts of the Mass in this column. These short explanations will hopefully enlighten your understanding of each unique moment in our liturgical celebration and help encourage you to participate in a more conscious way, uniting your voice to that of the whole community of St. Juliana, to praise, adore and give thanks to God.

The Mass is divided into four basic parts: Introductory Rites, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of the Eucharist, and Concluding Rites.

1. Introductory Rites

The Entrance: When people are gathered, the commentator reads the opening comment that introduces the faithful to the Mass of the day. Then, as the priest, deacon and ministers enter into the church, the Entrance Chant or hymn begins. The Altar Servers carry the processional cross and the candles. The deacon (or the lector when there is no deacon) carry the Book of the Gospels.