Listed below are some of the traditional items, symbolisms and practices used by Catholics to enhance the celebration of our faith.
Use this simple prayer service to begin your Sunday evening meals.
The first week: Leader: In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. We lift our soul to you, 0 Lord. We look to the splendor of your evening skies to delight in the moon and stars. In the darkness we see the promise of a new dawn, a time when all shall know you and see your glory. (The first purple candle is lit.) Bless us O Lord ... (Continue with Grace before Meals)
The second week: Leader: In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. We light two candles this day to echo the herald's cry, "make ready the way of the Lord." Teach us, 0 God, to fill the valleys of anger with forgiveness. Help us to lower the mountains of apathy with compassion. Open our lips to sing your praise and our hearts to love others. (Two purple candles are lit.) Bless us O Lord ...
The third week: Leader: In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. What can we do to enter into this season of anticipation with a joyous heart? We can do as John the Baptist tells us. We give to those in need and we ask for only the necessities for ourselves. We also listen to St. Paul as he reminds us to rejoice in the Lord always, giving thanks and praise to God for the gift of our savior, Jesus Christ. (Two purple candles and the rose candle are lit.) Bless us O Lord ...
The fourth week: (Christmas Eve Day at Noon) Leader: In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Today Elizabeth asks Mary, "who am I that the mother of our Lord should come to me?" Perhaps today we could ask the question, "who are we that the son of our God comes to us?" What a gift God gives us! What joy and peace our God delivers us! God extends a loving embrace to all humanity through a baby in a manger. Come to us Lord Jesus! We are ready to receive you! (All of the candles are now lit.) Bless us O Lord ...
The Oil of the Sick In Apostolic times St. James directed the priests or ancients of the community to pray for the sick man and to anoint him with oil in the name of Jesus (James, v, 14).
Oil of Catechumens During the time of the catechumentate those who were about to become Christians received one or more anointing with holy oil.
Oil of Chrism This is used in the West immediately after baptism; both in the east and West it was used very early for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
A. The use of holy water is an act of purification, a prayer for protection, and an implicit renewal of one's baptismal promises.
Q. Some time ago, at our parish High Mass, the priest came down the center aisle and sprinkled the people with holy water. Is this an option only before High Mass today?
A. In the "old days," incense and holy water and chanting could only be done at a High Mass. In the revised rites, the distinction between High Mass and Low Mass has been abolished - precisely so that these beautiful options can be used at any time they would be pastorally effective. Thus, the Sprinkling Rite (Asperges or Vidi Aquam) can be used as a replacement for the Penitential Rite at any Sunday Mass. The celebrant may chant as much or as little of the Mass as he desires. Incense can be used at any Mass and need not be restricted to the equivalent of the old "High Mass." It is rather ironic that the liturgies eliminated the distinction in order to facilitate the use of the lovely symbols of water, incense, and chant, but many priests labor under the impression that the options can be employed only under the most solemn circumstances.
Q. Why does the church use holy water and what are the effects of its use for those of us who believe it combats evil?
A. In all uses of sacramentals, including holy water, we must keep straight exactly what a sacramental is in the church's tradition. A blessed medal, picture, or holy water, is simply a material item over which the church has prayed, asking God to accept the prayers of the church for those who reverently use it. In a sacramental such as holy water, therefore, the devotion, faith and charity of the person using it is augmented and supported by the prayers of the church. There is no magic-like power in the water itself. Use of holy water in the proper manner can be of great spiritual benefit. It can be a striking reminder of our baptism and of the commitment to Jesus which we made in receiving that sacrament. It can symbolize and strengthen our faith in the forgiving love of God and therefore assist us in a spirit of conversion that brings with it the forgiveness of sins. Again, all this can be strengthened and enriched immeasurably by the blessing of the church, which carries with it the assurance of the prayers of all our fellow Catholics and Christians. Properly used with these intentions, there is nothing superstitious about holy water or any other sacramental. Unfortunately some over-zealous devotees of certain sacramentais occasionally come close to stepping over the line.
The Rosary - Its' History and Development Legend has it that the Blessed Virgin gave the Rosary to St. Dominic (1170-1221), the founder of the Dominican Order. Charming legend, not so charming history. The story about St. Dominic serves this purpose: It communicates the truths that the Dominicans have been great promoters of the Rosary down through history, and that the Rosary is meant to nourish an authentic spirituality; it's not just a pious doo-dad. The Rosary as we know it today took several centuries to develop. The ultimate source of the Rosary as a prayer form is the Book of Psalms in the Bible. The Psalms have for centuries been at the heart of the Church's daily recitation of the Divine Office. The practice of praying an Our Father instead of a Psalm caught on in the early medieval period, and in his practice the Rosary began. "In order to keep count of the prayers." Toward the end of the 12th century, the first half of the Hail Mary, as we know it, began to take on an importance equal to that of the Our Father and the Creed. These were prayers that all Christians should know. Soon, to each of the 50 Our Fathers people began to add a short phrase about Jesus and Mary. Then, they substituted brief lives of Jesus and Mary that summarized the Gospel from the Annunciation to the Resurrection of Jesus and the Assumption of Mary. According to Father Jelly, in the early 15th century a Carthusian Monk, Dominic of Prussia, helped to popularize this devotion by linking 50 Hail Marys with 50 phrases about Jesus and Mary. "This is the origin of the word Rosary, since the series of 50 points of meditation was called a Rosarium (rose garden)." The rose, a symbol of joy, referred to Mary, and "Rosary" came to refer to the recitation of 50 Hail Marys.
The Fifteen Promises of Mary to those who Recite the Rosary
1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shal receive signal graces.
2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
4. It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its' vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.
6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its' sacred mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
8. Those who are faithful to reciting the Rosary shall have during their life, and at their death the light of God, and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits...of the Saints in Paradise.
9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in heaven.
11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons, and brothers of my only Son, Jesus Christ.
15. Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.
A. The priest and people are making a small sign of the cross on their forehead, their lips and breast. During this action they are saying a silent prayer "May the Good News of the Lord which we are about to hear, be always in our minds, on our lips and in our hearts." Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament The Blessed Sacrament: Jesus veiled in His own great mystery of love, offered by our priests, dwelling on our altars, feeding our souls, this is the living God. The Blessed Sacrament is the triumph of the Church over the World, of the spirit over matter, of grace over nature, faith over sight. Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is the worship of the living presence of Jesus. The Eucharist is love, nothing but love; therefore, we must perfect this love within us continually renewing its fire, that we ourselves may be enkindled by it. Love must be made strong in our hearts before we may expect to make it manifest in good works. Since we receive Incarnate Love so often, our whole life should simply be the development and unfoldment of this Love. Let us be true disciples of Jesus Christ and live by love. (Excerpts from The Blessed Sacrament. The Works & Ways of God-Fredrick William Taher, D.D.)
Mother of the Church Never in the history of Christianity has any general council spoken at such length, and with such depth about Mary as the Second Vatican Council. This is not surprising in view of the extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Virgin in our day. What the council did was to place this devotion into focus, and to spell out its' doctrinal foundation. Authentic devotion to Mary "proceeds from true faith by which we are led to know the excellence of the Mother of God, and are moved to filial love toward our Mother, and to the imitation of her virtues” (Constitution on the Church, 67-8). We are told that true devotion to Our Lady is shown in a deep love of her as our Mother, put into practice by the imitation of her virtues--especially her faith, her chastity, and charity. These are the three virtues that the modern world most desperately needs. Like Mary, we need to believe that everything which God has revealed to us will be fulfilled. Like Mary, we need to use our bodily powers to serve their divine purpose no matter what sacrifice of our own pleasure. Like Mary, we are to be always sensitive to the needs of others. Like her, we are to respond to these needs without being asked and, like her, even ask Jesus to work a miracle to benefit those whom we love. No wonder the new Catechism of the Catholic Church makes this astounding profession of faith: "We believe that the most Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven her maternal role toward the members of Christ." It all depends on our faith in her maternal care, and our trust in her influence over the almighty hand of her Son.
Mary, Mother of Mankind Since the time Jesus offered us His mother, "John, there is your mother" (Jn 19:27) mankind was no longer orphaned. He knew that we needed one who would lead His children to the banquet. If you despair of everything, if you see yourselves weak before the powers of hell, if there is obstinacy everywhere, if even the heavens seem closed to your petitions…nothing is lost. There still remains the last, but certain hope-Mary, our Mother. Why? It is her duty to bring Jesus. Where Mary enters, the Son will follow. When dawn breaks, the sun will soon rise. Jesus is "the flower of the Virgin Mother, the blessed fruit of her womb." Mary is the great Mother: The love of all mothers put together would constitute a great fire, but Mary's love for each of her children exceeds it. Jesus Christ ignited this love from the cross. She is the Cause of our Joy, the Refuge of Sinners, the Comforter of the Afflicted, the Help of Christians, the Seat of Wisdom, the Mother of Good Counsel, the Mother most Amiable. She looks after each and everyone, just as when you enjoy the rays of the sun, you do not take away any from your brethren. "Nothing escapes its' heat" (Ps. 19:7). She can put unhoped - for means into action; her love is boundless, and her power unlimited on the heart of God, and on all creatures.
Our Lady of Guadalupe In December of 1531, Our Lady appeared to an Aztec farmer named Juan Diego near a native Aztec Shrine in Tepeyac, near present-day Mexico City. She told Juan to go to the Bishop and ask that a Church be built in that place. When the Bishop demanded a sign, Mary instructed Juan to take with him the roses that were blooming there even though it was December. Returning to the Bishop's house, Juan removed his coarse clock and found that the image of Our Lady was emblazoned upon it. She is dressed in a gown used by those expecting a child. The cloak with its' image is still viewed today inside the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe by pilgrims from around the world. Our Lady of Guadalupe, who was declared "Patroness of the Americas" by Pope Pius XII in 1954 is widely revered throughout our hemisphere and receives special affection from Native American, Hispanic, and those in the pro-life community.
Mary, Mother of Jesus and of the Church In his book Mary and your Everyday Life, theologian Bernard Haring remarks: "The Second Vatican Council has crowned the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church with a beautiful chapter on Mary, the prototype and model of the Church. The Church cannot come to a full understanding of union with Christ and service to his Gospel without a pro¬found love and knowledge of Mary, the Mother of our Lord and ourselves." With keen insight into the deeply personal nature of salvation, Vatican II focused on Mary's influence in our lives. Because she is the Mother of Jesus, Mary is the Mother of God. As Vatican II puts it: "At the message of the angel, he Virgin Mary received the Word of God in her heart and in her body, and gave Life to the world. Hence, she is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer" As Mother of the Lord, Mary is an entirely unique person. Like her Son, she was conceived as a human being (and lived her whole life) exempt from any trace of original sin. This is called her Immaculate Conception. Before, during, and after the birth of Jesus her Son, Mary remained physically a virgin. At the end of her life, Mary was assumed--that is, taken up--body and soul into heaven. This is called her Assumption. As Mother of the Christ whose life we live, Mary is also the Mother of the whole Church. She is a member of the church, but an altogether unique member. Vatican II expresses her relationship to us as that of a "pre-eminent and altogether singular member of the Church, and as the Church's model...in faith and charity. Taught by the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church honors her with filial affection and piety as a most Beloved Mother" . Like a mother waiting up for her grown children to come home, Mary never stops influencing the course of our lives. Vatican II says: "She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ. She presented Him to the Father in the temple, and "as united with Him in suffering as He died on the cross... For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace" (The Church, 61). "By her maternal charity, Mary cares for the brethren of her Son who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led to their blessed home" . This mother, who saw her own flesh-and-blood Son die for the rest of her children, is waiting and preparing your home for you. She is, in the words of Vatican II, your "sign of sure hope and solace" . The Church also honors the other saints who are already with the Lord in heaven. These are people who have served God and their neighbors in so outstanding a way that they have been canonized. That is, the Church has officially declared that they are in heaven, holds them up as heroic models, and encourages us to pray to them, asking their intercession with God for us all.
Mary's Role in our Redemption Pope John Paul II summarized the importance of Mary's role in our redemption during his first pastoral visit to the United States in October in 1979. He encouraged us to consider that..."Mary says to us today: "I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say" Lk 1:38). "And with those words, she expresses what was the fundamental attitude of her life: her faith! Mary believed! She trusted in God's promises and was faithful to His will." For it was that continual trust in the providence of God which most characterized her faith. "All her earthly life was 'a pilgrimage of faith' (Lumen Gentium, 58). For like us she walked n shadows and hoped for things unseen. She knew the contradictions of our earthly life. She was promised that her Son would be given David's throne, but at His birth, there was no room even at the inn. Mary still believed. The angel said her child would be called the Son of God; but she would see him slandered, betrayed, and condemned, and left to die as a thief on the cross. Even yet, Mary 'trusted hat God's words to her would be fulfilled (Lk 1:45), and that 'nothing was impossible with God' (Lk 1:37)." "This woman of faith, Mary of Nazareth, the Mother of God, has been given to us as a model in our pilgrimage of faith. From Mary we learn to surrender to God's will in all things. From Mary, we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary, we learn to love Christ, her Son and the Son of God. For Mary is not only the Mother of God, she is the Mother of the Church as well. In every stage of the march through history, the Church has benefited from the prayer and protection of the Virgin Mary." "I therefore exhort you in Christ Jesus, to continue to look to Mary as the model of the Church, as the best example of lie discipleship of Christ. Learn from her to be always faithful, to trust that God's word to you will be fulfilled, and that nothing is impossible with God. Turn to Mary frequently in your prayer ‘for never was it known that anyone who fled to her protection, implored her help, or sought her intercession was left unaided.’”
A. Genuflection - bending one or both knees as an act of reverence - happens to be the act of reverence Catholics of our time and country are most accustomed to, but a profound and devout bow can be just as reverent. Bow - Until perhaps 300 years ago, bowing was the common way of showing reverence to the Eucharist, or to the crucifix. It was considered quite proper, in fact, for young girls to curtsey to the Blessed Sacrament. Our practice of genuflection derives mainly from practices of imperial Rome and the later courts of Europe
A. Christian use of candles was taken over from the Romans who used them on a variety of civic and religious occasions. The practice is, however, part of a much larger human tradition. The natural symbolism of light has been recognized by nearly every religion since time immemorial. Even pagans lit lamps over tombs expressing belief in some sort of continued existence for the deceased. Light, particularly a living flame, signified life, hope, joy, divinity, courage - in other words, nearly everything that mankind has considered good and beautiful. Some of this symbolism may be sensed from the fact that the lighted ceremonial candle for evening prayer developed into our paschal candle. These lights were also used in funeral ceremonies, before the tombs of deceased Christians and in front of images of martyrs and other saints. They symbolized then what they still do for us: light (Christ), life, hope, resurrection and faith. Candles have been used at Mass in some way since the seventh century, and are still required, though regulations concerning them are considerably simpler than in the past.
A. Palms distributed on the Sunday before Easter remind us of Our Lord's death and resurrection and of our share in his passage from to life. Any reverent way of keeping these palms in our homes with this kind of prayerful and devout intention is perfectly fine. Some people place them behind a crucifix; others place them with a picture that is particularly meaningful; others merely hang them on the wall or keep them on a desk or table. As anything that is blessed, palms lose their blessing when they lose their identity. The proper way to dispose of a palm, therefore, is either by burning or breaking it up. The remains may then be thrown away.
A. The altar in every religion is viewed as special because it is the site of sacrifice. In the early Church the altar came to symbolize Christ Himself; at the same time, the eucharistic sacrifice was being celebrated over the tombs of the martyrs, those who continued Christ's passion in their own lives. This latter practice eventually evolved into the placing of martyrs' relics in the altar (a tradition still encouraged but no longer mandated). For all these reasons, the altar is kissed. You say that this is done by the priest and other ministers." The only ministers who should reverence the altar in this way are bishops, priests, and deacons because of their relationship to the altar through the reception of holy orders.
The following liturgical functions are assigned to deacons by the church:
1. to function as deacon at celebrations of the Eucharist,
2. to function as celebrant of the Sacrament of Baptism (anyone may administer the Sacrament of Baptism in emergencies; deacons are officially appointed ministers of that sacrament by the church),
3. to take Holy Communion to the sick in their homes, hospitals and other health care facilities,
4. to serve as celebrant of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (this includes wearing the proper vestments, exposing the Blessed Sacrament, and giving the blessing with the sacred vessel containing the Eucharist),
5. to serve as celebrant at wake services for the dead and at graveside burial services,
6. to officiate at marriages,
7. to administer the sacramentals of the church according to the rite indicated by the church (this does not include, however, blessing religious articles, or the blessing of throats on the Feast of St. Blase), and
8. to assist in the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday.
(In January, 1975, the Vatican notified the American bishops that laymen and women who are special ministers of the Eucharist may assist the celebrant in distributing ashes on Ash Wednesday. In fact, if there is no priest and the ashes are already blessed, the lay ministers may impose the ashes by themselves. The Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy then judged that if special eucharistic ministers may do so, certainly deacons may also.) Deacons may also preach at celebrations of the Eucharist and other ceremonies. However, this function as well as the faculty to officiate at marriages must be explicitly granted to them by the bishop of the diocese. Many perhaps most, of the permanent deacons receive no regular pay for the services that they give. Policies concerning remuneration are established by the diocese and the institution in which the deacon serves.
A. It is not only in your archdiocese that Catholics are confused about the proper functions of permanent deacons. Before I answer your question directly, it should be noted that liturgical functions of the deacons, especially at the celebration of the Eucharist, are intended to be a climax and a symbol of the other services they render to the community outside of the liturgy. This important point is made constantly by those who work in the training and supervision of the deacon programs.
Red - Used for Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Pentecost, and for feast days for apostles and martyrs.
White - Used for the seasons of Christmas and Easter, for feasts of our Lord outside of the Passion, and for Marian feasts.
Green - Used throughout Ordinary Time when not otherwise replaced by another color.
A. In general, the following people may be anointed: those who are seriously ill, temporarily ill or convalescing, chronically ill, emotionally troubled, preparing for surgery, sick children (old enough to understand), and the aged.
Q. If I was anointed last year or previously, can I be anointed again?
A. Yes. This sacrament may be repeated if you recover after being anointed and then become ill again, or if; in the course of the same illness or old age, the condition worsens.
Q. Does receiving this sacrament mean that I will soon die?
A. No. The Church encourages her sick and elderly members to receive this sacrament so that their faith will be strengthened and they will not give in to discouragement.
Q. One of my loved ones is very ill and cannot get to the Church for the anointing. Is there something the Church can do?
A. Yes. Please phone the Rectory at (847) 872-8778 to set up an appointment with Fr. David. He will visit your loved one at home. Please take advantage of this comforting sacrament. If you have any additional questions, please call the Rectory.