What is the Church & Why Does She Exist?

What is the Church & Why Does She Exist?

Dear Parishioners,

Many of you have heard about the recent decisions by Archbishop Thompson of Indianapolis regarding the employment of two teachers in two separate Catholic schools. If not, basically the archbishop directed the two schools to let go of the two teachers in question due to their entering into a civil-same-sex marriage with each other two years prior. If they chose not to, the archbishop would withdraw the recognition of each school’s Catholic status. These actions have created much controversy of recent. Archbishop Thompson, in his subsequent press conference with his superintendent of schools, explained how the decision was made as the chief shepherd. The decision did not happen quickly, but after two years of dialogue and accompaniment with the teachers and their respective schools, the archbishop felt there was no other option to reconcile the situation. I was impressed by both the archbishop and his superintendent and the care respect they demonstrated for all the parties involved.

Some have asked, what right does a bishop have over the employment of a teacher in a Catholic school managed by a religious order? That will become more clear as time goes on, as one school is appealing the decision of the archbishop. Of note is the Church’s Canon Law, #803 which states, “a Catholic school be grounded upon the principles of Catholic doctrine; teachers are to be outstanding for their correct doctrine and integrity of life” and that “no school is to bear the name Catholic school without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.” That competent authority is, in this case, is Archbishop Thompson. The question may be about his authority to call for the removal of a teacher not teaching religion. In that regard, again, we will see what comes about in the appeal process for one of the schools.

While many are reacting with indignation, I recommend caution and faithful discernment. My question for us is simply this: Why does the Catholic Church exist? Why does a Catholic School exist? Why do any ministries of the Church exist? If it is not to minister (service) to people and to evangelization (spread the Good News) of Catholic Faith, then that particular ministry should reassess and realign itself with the mission of the Church or give serious consideration about stopping their activities altogether.

In regards to s a civil-same-sex marriage, it is clear from Scripture, Tradition, Natural Law, and the Magisterium of the Church that it is manifestly invalid and a sinful union. Some have questioned whether the archbishop has turned a blind eye to those who are married, divorced, and remarried without an annulment, or those who are using birth control, or those who are cohabiting, etc., attempting to reveal a “witch hunt.” The archbishop clearly makes the case that such is not true. He shared that such situations happen and will sometimes come to his attention. He cannot ignore those situations, so he has engaged with persons with these and other issues in oder to accompany them to a place of reconciliation with the Church. In some situations, the employee has reconciled their lifestyle and in others they haven’t. Regrettably, that has meant the termination of employment.

As for St. Anne Catholic school, our staff and teachers are ethically and ministerially connected as agents of the Catholic Church. To be clear, someone having same-sex attraction is not a sin. I know many parishioners who are gay or lesbian, and they live very holy lives. The press has been claiming that the Church is targeting gay people. This is not the case. Weekly, we as St. Anne, are discerning many things: Who can or cannot be a godparent at a baptism? Is an engaged couple free to marry? Should we call forth a certain person to lead a ministry or take a job? Who qualifies to be a Reader or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at Mass? Who can receive or should refrain from receiving communion? The list goes on. In some cases, their choices of life have not allowed us to include them in a ministry or we have discussed with them why they couldn’t continue if they were already in a ministry. In other situations, the person lacks the competency to do the work. In other situations, the person has not shown the ethical standards of proper agency. So, I or one of my staff will step in to help guide them. If there appears no way to reconcile the issue at hand, depending on the issue, we may have them step aside temporarily or permanently. Thankfully, in the process of discussing their issue, it frequently happens that a parishioner in a ministry will come to the correct decision and begin the process to correct their situation. The Church can also make mistakes along the way, and so these conversations have also offered us an opportunity to apologize and ask for forgiveness. It’s hard for all of us to ask for forgiveness, yet we as the Church are called by Christ himself to do so when appropriate.

When I was studying to be a teacher in college, I was taught time and time again that we that teachers are influencers. What we say and do influences our students. Ethically, teachers are “in loco parentis” or in the place of the parents. In turn, the parents place their precious ones in our school knowing full well that we are a Catholic parochial (“parish”) school. Families bring their children to us knowing that we excel in “faith formation, scholarship, leadership and service, according to our Catholic values” (St. Anne Catholic School Mission Statement). The same is true for all our staff at St. Anne. We are called to proclaim the Gospel with our lives. The bar is hight, but we desire to reach for it with God’s grace.

Let us remember that the Church is not a social service agency. Yes, many of her ministries such as the St. Vincent de Paul are focused on social outreach. But, they do so out of a deep respect of the human person enlightened by the Gospel of Christ. We also have social groups in our church such as our Bunko group. In these cases, their very coming together in a Christian environment builds community and fellowship, both biblical principles. The Church’s activities are varied and broad. Yet, all continue to exist in as much as they are in harmony with our mission.

So, what is the Church? There are many ways to look at her. I would like to set before us all that she is the Bride of Christ striving to be faithful to her Bridegroom, Jesus, and his teachings, and as such, we commit ourselves to our Lord. This means that sometimes people will disagree with our mission and we might get “blow-back.” Other times, we will sin or make mistakes. We are not perfect. Yet, we stand as bearers of the light, though we also struggle with our own failures and sins.


I am very proud of our school which does a great job in loving everyone who comes through our doors! We have great staff, teachers and an excellent principal in Colleen. The climate of our current culture creates many challenges. As such, please know that our administration meets weekly to discuss how to keep our Gospel standards high, ethics clear, and our compassion real. In our weekly meetings, we discuss frequently the new challenges that come forward in our culture. By being clear and compassionate, I believe St. Anne will continue to be a beacon of love and compassion all the while call us all to the highest standards of the Gospel. We exist to minister (serve) and evangelize. These are not just side-topics of our activities. Rather, the Church exists to evangelize. It’s not just what we do. It is who we are. So, all staff are called to proclaim Christ loving mission, a responsibility, I believe, we do well and with enthusiastic joy!

Please know that our administration is always open to discussing these and any other issues on your hearts. We are called to accompany each other on our walk with Christ.


Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger

Pastor

Independence

Independence

Dear Parishioners,

Just this past week we celebrated our country’s independence. It is part of the ancient fabric of our country to be independent. In many ways, this is good. But, it is not the case in everything. We have so many wonderful freedoms in our country that other countries do not enjoy. We have a history of many wonderful and heroic people who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. Yet, with that freedom, sometimes, we have claimed a freedom that a actually enslaves us. What am I writing about? Simply, sin. We have freedom to choose, but what we choose can shackle us to an addiction, a bad habit, an arrogance, a rejection of God’s providence, and can even kill. 

Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have all spoken about a “radical individualism” which is a disordered expression of our freedom without any consideration of others. “I can do what ever I want” might summarize this extreme. Another is the freedom to define reality and truth. This is found in what is called “relativism.” Yes, we can do many things and invent new ideas. But, we are not the ultimate creators of reality. In fact, more than not, we are discoverers of reality. In that sense, existence is revealing itself to us. Similarly, God is revealing himself to us. The very existence of the Holy Scriptures is essentially evidence of God’s revelation to us. So, we recognize that we are not the creators, for God is the author of it all. 

Christians know that morality and truth is found in God. We do not cause ourselves into being, so we are not qualified to decide whatever we want and call it truth. We look to God for the law of truth “written” in nature and that revealed in the Scriptures. The truth is not just an abstract idea. It has been revealed in Jesus who is the Truth incarnate (cf. John 14:6).

So, let us celebrate our country’s independence with thanksgiving. Let us also celebrate that we are in holy dependence on God who is the Author and Lord of all existence, including our very lives. From this appropriate orientation of life, we will find truth and real freedom which does not shackle us in sin. With holy obedience, we strive to do, not our own will, but the will of God. When we have that clear, we are well on our way to being saints. 

I pray that this Independence Day weekend has been full of celebration for all the freedoms we enjoy. I also pray that we will be mindful of our dependence on God for our very being and the creation around us.


Blessings,


Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Marriage and the Eucharist: Covenants of Love

Marriage and the Eucharist: Covenants of Love

Dear Parishioners,

Last week we celebrated the Most Holy Trinity, a mystery revealed to us by Christ himself. I reflected on an aspect of this mystery as a communion of love. Another way of putting it is a “covenant of love.” A covenant is different than a contract, though there are similarities. One similarity is that both are an agreement to enter into a relationship. But, it is the difference between a contract and a covenant that makes a covenant rise above. 

A contract enters into a relationship with parties whereby the minimal requirements are agreed upon. For example, the price for a car or a house. We all will seek out an agreement with the seller for a price we are willing to pay, a price that is the lowest we can get. This illustrates how a contract is about the minimal or least the parties will do for each other.

A covenant is an agreement between parties that does not spell out the minimal requirements, the LEAST that we can do. No! A covenant spells out the MOST the parties will do! An example is marriage. This weekend and next, we will celebrate our first two full weddings! Yea! At each wedding, the couple will vow their unconditional love to each other. They will not set boundaries as to what is the least they will do for the other. Nope! They will vow to all of themselves to each other, “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health... all the days of [their lives]” There are no conditions! They will vow to share and give of their whole selves in love for the other. This includes their mind, soul, and bodies. The two will become “one flesh.” Their vows are sacrificial in essence, not secondarily or coincidentally. They will become a sign of Christ’s love for all of us to see and remember, Jesus being the bridegroom, us being the bride.

This sacred covenant is connected deeply to today’s solemnity, Corpus Christi, where we celebrate the great covenant given to us by the bridegroom, Jesus. He also pledged to be with us through our good times and bad... to love us all the days of our lives. Christ, in the image of a bridegroom, has sacrificed himself for us, his bride. He suffered greatly due to our infidelity, yet never left us. He was rendered naked, yet unashamed, for he freely took on all our shame. Despite our infidelities, he continued to be always faithful. He was innocent and still chose us despite our guilt. 

When we receive the Eucharist, we consummate our covenant with our Lord. He becomes “one flesh” with us, rather, us with Him! He pulls us and woos us to himself. By his dying, he proved his perfect love for us. Yet, he never left us. His sacramental presence assures us of his continual presence. In this way, he accompanies us on our journey of life. The Eucharist becomes for us our spousal renewal of love. He has prepared a place for us and awaits so that he can lift us up through the threshold of heaven. Every time we come to Mass, we renew our vows of faith in our Savior. And we know he never disappoints. He is always perfectly patient with us. He speaks loving words of guidance through the Scriptures. And since Jesus isn’t just a man, but also God, we worship him, adore him, and dedicate our lives to him. May this Corpus Christi bring us a profound understanding of this Sacrament as well as the Sacrament of Marriage.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

The Joy of Easter

The Joy of Easter

Dear Parishioners,

Blessed Resurrection Day! Today, we come together today at Holy Mass to celebrate the most important moment in history. On this day, we celebrate the reality that Jesus rose from the dead after being mercilessly crucified and rising three days later. His Resurrection give us hope for eternal life in heaven where there will be no more pain, no more suffering. All our brokenness will be healed and our deepest yearnings will be fulfilled. We were made by God and for God.  Heaven is our ultimate home is with the Blessed Trinity. In heaven we will be able to commune with the Angels who have guarded our souls and defended us from evil as well as the Saints who have helped us with their petitions to God for our good.

I pray that you will be able to sense that at your gathering with family and friends this day, heaven is being foreshadowed. In every moment of joy and love, God is trying to show you a glimpse of eternity. With every bite of delicious food, the Eternal Banquet is peeking through. So, give praise for all the blessings this day and season brings.

If, however, Easter this year brings sad memories rather than joy, I want to encourage you to know, through your suffering, joy can be found. You see, suffering itself is not the end and that only by moving through our suffering with Christ by our side, we can find a new joy. God wants us to be with us in our suffering. His love is the answer to all our suffering. His love can transform you from sadness to joy. I know this in my own life.

So, on this day, I will pray for you all at Holy Mass. May this day and season bring you new hope and joy amidst the challenges of your life. Christ is risen from the dead! Alleluia!

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Holy Week & Triduum

Holy Week & Triduum

Dear Parishioners,

We have now entered Holy Week with the celebration of Palm Sunday. On Monday, the priests serving in the Archdiocese of Portland will gather for the annual Chrism Mass at 7 PM at St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. There we will renew our promises that we made on the day of ordination. Also, the Archbishop will bless the Holy Oils (Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens, and the Sacred Chrism) which will be brought back to the parishes. 

Triduum

We then get ready for the Triduum (pronounced, “trid-oo-oom” which encompasses Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. Both Holy Thursday and Good Friday services begin at 7 PM. The Easter Vigil will begin at 8:30 PM.

Holy Thursday

On Holy Thursday, we commemorate the Lord’s Supper. At this Mass, the Gloria is sung for the first time in since just before Ash Wednesday. During that Gloria, an Altar Server will wring the hand bells all throughout. In past years, the bells actually came loose and fell off, leaving the server a bit confused. We’ve since then glue them in place with Loctite! After the homily,  the symbolic “washing of the feet” takes place. Pre-selected representative members of the church will come forward to have their feet washed by the priest. Then Mass continues. A collection is taken up and then brought forward, along with the Holy Oils that were blessed at the Chrism Mass.  The Mass ends with a procession of the Eucharist to an altar of repose where the faithful are encouraged to remain in a vigil of adoration.  

Good Friday

On Good Friday, we will host an Ecumenical Stations of the Cross including members of several churches in the Grants Pass area.  This will take place at Noon.  

Later in the evening (7 PM) of Good Friday, the liturgy of the Triduum continues with the priest, deacon, and servers entering the church silently. The priest then prostrates himself upon reaching the front of the sanctuary. All are encouraged to kneel. After the prostration is concluded, the Liturgy of the Word commences, climaxing with a dramatic reading of the Gospel’s Passion Narrative. Following is the Solemn Intercessions which are explicit prescribed so that all Catholic Churches are praying the same thing that day. A collection for the Holy Land is taken up. Then the Rite of the Adoration of the Holy Cross takes place. A single cross is brought into the church so that the faithful may come forward to venerate the cross. Families and groups are encouraged to come forward together to offer their veneration. This is not a Mass, but Holy Communion that was consecrated on Holy Thursday is given to the faithful. Afterwards, the Altar is cleared and the priest, deacon, and servers depart in silence.

Holy Saturday

On Holy Saturday, the community will gather around a fire in the courtyard of the church.  From this fire, the Paschal Candle will be blessed and lit. A procession will form into the church, lead by the deacon carrying the Paschal Candle. The Exultet will be chanted followed by an extensive series of Scriptures proclaimed. After the last Old Testament reading, hand bells are run all during the singing of the Gloria. Let’s pray that the bells can hold on through it all! After the Liturgy of the Word, those who are to be baptized will process to the baptismal font. There, the baptismal font will be blessed and our Elect will be baptized. After the newly baptized have changed into dry clothes, they will join the Candidates to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.  The Liturgy of the Eucharist will take place where our new Catholics will receive their First Holy Communion.  

I hope that you will make an effort to participate in these amazing celebrations of Christ Paschal Mystery. They carry the power to deepen our faith and fill us with joy as we walk along the path with Jesus from his passion to his resurrection. 

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Holy Week Approaches 

Holy Week Approaches 

Dear Parishioners,

We are near the end of Lent and about to enter Holy Week. Beginning with Palm Sunday, the Church gears up, liturgically speaking, to help guide us, spiritually, to celebrate the most important mysteries of Christianity—Christ’s Paschal Mystery: His suffering, death, and resurrection. While we are still just a week out, might I suggest you consider marking your calendar for the following events:

April 14 - Palm Sunday (ST. Anne, St. Patrick, Our Lady of the River)

April 15 - Chrism Mass w/ Priests’ Renewal of Promises & Blessing of Holy Oils @ 7 PM
(St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland)

April 18 - Holy Thursday Mass @ 7 PM (st. Anne & St. Patrick)

April 19 - Good Friday Ecumenical Stations of the Cross @ Noon (St. Anne)

    Good Friday Service w/ Veneration of the Cross @ 7 PM (st. Anne & St. Patrick)

April 20 - Easter Vigil Mass w/ Blessing of Fire and Paschal Candle, Exultet,
Extended Scripture Readings, Baptisms, Confirmations, and
Eucharist for RCIA @ 8:30 PM (St. Anne)

April 21 - Easter Sunday Masses

St. Anne: 8 AM, 9:30 AM, & 11 AM (bilingual)
St. Patrick of the Forest: 11 AM
Our Lady of the River: 9 AM

Please consider inviting family, friends, and neighbors to join you in these most important mysteries of Christianity. Again, mark your calendars!

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Lenten Reconciliation Services

Lenten Reconciliation Services

Dear Parishioners,

Lent is the season to refocus our attention on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Last time I wrote, I described how we might consider the idea of fasting and feasting… fasting from those problematic issues we have in our lives while feasting on areas where we can to do more. Today, I would like to offer a more explicit fast from sin and a feast of forgiveness. We all have sinned. We all have areas where we are tempted and have given in to evil. Jesus came to heal us from this reality. One way to battle our sin is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Let us feast on God’s forgiveness through this Sacrament. In my homily of last weekend, I reflected on the uncertainty we all have about our last day on earth and how we all encounter tragedies. None of us know when it will be or what tragedy will befall us. Yet, we should all be ready for these events with hope. Hope comes from an encounter and knowledge of God’s amazing grace and mercy. Again, the Sacrament of Reconciliation offers us those gifts so that we can boldly live our lives bearing the Good News of Jesus’ mercy.

This coming Thursday at St. Anne, we will offer our lenten Communal Reconciliation Service with the help of nine priests from around our Vicariate. It will be held at 7 PM and lead by our very own, Fr. Arjie. Please mark your calendar and don’t let anything get in the way of this important Sacrament. For those of you in the area of Cave Junction we will be hosting our lenten Reconciliation Service on Monday at 7 PM. If evenings are an issue for you and you cannot drive to church in the dark or your schedule simply won’t allow that evening, we have a daytime opportunity where Fr. Arjie and myself will be available in the confessionals of the church at St. Anne on Tuesday from 3 PM to 5 PM. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a most powerful way to feast on God’s mercy and be given hope amidst the tragedies in our lives.

May God bless you all!

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Lenten Season Coming

Lenten Season Coming

Dear Parishioners,

Lent begins next week, Wednesday, March 6th. As usual, we have our three Masses we offer on that day. We have Mass at 8:30 AM with our school, a 12:05 PM Mass timed for our folks on a lunch breaks, and we have our 7 PM bilingual Mass for the whole church whether they speak English or Spanish.  And that is the start. There is much happening in which you can participate. Here are the basics:

  • Friday Simple Suppers - these will begin at 5 PM and conclude at 6:30 PM

  • Friday Stations of the Cross - These will begin at 6:30 PM in the church. See schedule in the bulletin

  • Rite of Election- The Archbishop will be with us on the following Satuday, March 9th. This is not a Mass, but a Liturgy of the Word with a rite of special recognition for those who are journeying through the RCIA and desire to become fully initiation Catholics.

  • Small Lenten Groups - see bulletin or office for detail

  • FORMED Lenten Resources - Check out the Lenten online

  • Kiosk - Special books and CD’s have been rotated in with enrichment for Lent

Fast and Feast - This idea for Lent speaks of a creative mix of fasting or abstaining from things that are not good for you or others. Another approach is to add something which will deepen and strengthen your faith.  Here’s some ideas from the author and minister, William Arthur.

Fast from judging others; Fast from hostility;
Feast on the Christ indwelling them. Feast on non-resistance.

Fast from emphasis on differences; Fast from bitterness;
Feast on the unity of all life. Feast on forgiveness.

Fast from apparent darkness; Fast from self-concern;
Feast on the reality of light. Feast on compassion for others.

Fast from thoughts of illness; Fast from discouragement;
Feast on the healing power of God. Feast on hope.

Fast from words that pollute; Fast from suspicion;
Feast on phrases that purify. Feast on truth

Fast from discontent; Fast from idle gossip;
Feast on gratitude. Feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from anger; Fast from unrelenting pressures;
Feast on patience. Feast on unceasing prayer

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Liturgical Changes, Part 6, the Confiteor

Liturgical Changes, Part 6, the Confiteor

Dear Parishioners,

If you are a liturgical nerd, this week’s letter is for you. For the rest of you, feel free to quickly skim this letter or go right to the very last sentence… and receive my apology for such a long letter about such a small part of the Mass. My intentions are to help clarify this small point that has baffled many, including myself, and to get some sense of direction prior to our upcoming workshop on the Archdiocesan Liturgical Handbook(ALH)

When the Roman Missal (think the big red book the priest reads from at Mass) was updated and released for use amounts a decade ago, there were many changes to the wording of the prayers as well as to the rubrics (think instructions) of how to offer Mass. One that seemed clear to me was at the beginning of the Mass, the Introductory Rite, when we confess our sins. The first option for that rite is called the Confiteor (“I confess…”). In the previous (1970 ed.) Missal, it clearly instructed the faithful to recite, “through my fault,” once, and to strike the breast once at that moment. The current (2011 ed.) Missal returned to the three-time repetition of this phrase, yet the rubric did not clearly change to include three strikes of the breast. So, during those first months with the new Missal, I guided the faithful to maintain a single striking of the breast. Now, fast forward almost a decade: our new ALH instructs the faithful to strike the breast three times (1.13.1). So I inquired with Msgr. Gerard O’Connor, our archdiocesan Director of the Office of Divine Worship and principle author of the ALH. He reaffirmed the guidance from the ALH and sent me a link where this was addressed by a professor in Rome who was asked about this small issue. The moderator, Fr. Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum University offered this response about the ambiguity of the new rubric in this regard:

The perceived lack of specificity is in the original Latin rubric which says, "[P]ercutientes sibi pectus," whereas the extraordinary form specifies that the breast should be struck three times.

There is, however, a slight but noticeable change in translating this rubric. The former translation, with only one admission of fault, said that the faithful should "strike their breast," thus specifying a single strike. The current translation says, "[A]nd striking their breast, they say:" before the triple admission of fault.

This use of the gerund indicates a continuous action, and so I would say that even if a number is not specified in the rubric, the use of a dynamic expression implies that the number corresponds to the times one admits to personal faults. I think that this is also what would come naturally to most people in any case.

This would be confirmed by the practice in Spanish- and Italian-language countries, which have always maintained the triple form in the "I Confess." The Spanish missal translates the rubric as "golpeándose el pecho, dicen:" which could mean either once or several times. In these countries it is also common practice for priest and faithful to strike the breast three times.

Although the Second Vatican Council requested the removal of "useless repetitions," it must be said that not all repetition is useless. Some forms of communication necessarily use what is technically called redundancy, that is, reinforcing the signal carrying a message more than would be strictly necessary in order to overcome outside interference and stress its importance.

The triple repetition of words and gestures in the Confiteor could be considered such a case. With the former translation it was fairly easy to omit the gesture of striking the breast or pay scant attention to its meaning. The triple repetition underlines its importance and helps us to concentrate on the inner meaning of what we say and do.

It must be admitted, though, that the above argumentation is not watertight, and a single strike could also be a valid interpretation of the rubric. (for an even more expansive response, go to ewtn.com/library/liturgy/zlitur388.htm).

So, the rubric is not absolutely clear from what Fr. McNamara shares, though there are common traditions that lean us towards one option. This is where the ALH, General Instructions to the Roman Missal(GIRM), and our Director of the Office Divine Worship are helpful. Msgr. O’Connor shared with me an important section of the GIRM which offers guidance regarding liturgical postures in liturgy:

A common bodily posture, to be observed by all those taking part, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered together for the Sacred Liturgy, for it expresses the intentions and spiritual attitude of the participants and also fosters them (42).

 

And then Msgr. O’Connor concludes with the reason the ALH offers the guidance it does in this regard:

I think that given the centuries tradition (paying attention to the traditional practice of the Roman Rite) on the triple striking of the breast and the fact that it has been more or less universally adopted again in the English speaking world, we explicitly mentioned three times. Thinking back we should have left it as just ‘striking’. But I think in practical terms, desiring a common approach for the faithful “A common bodily posture, to be observed by all those taking part, is a sign of the unity”, we should encourage the three strikes.

So, while one striking of the breast once fulfills the rubric at the Confiteor, three times may be in more harmony with the intent of the rubric and tradition of the Church. 

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Liturgical Changes, Part 5, Postures at Mass

Liturgical Changes, Part 5, Postures at Mass

Dear Parishioners,

In the course of time, traditions grow up in parishes, sometimes encouraged by priests, nuns, or other lay leaders. Other times, they come from experiences on retreats and other events. All these are part of the life of a parish. Sometimes, these are laudable for they reinforce or remind the people about the norms of the Church Universal. Sometimes, however, these traditions are not what the Church intended or are problematic expressions of faith that confuse the proper roles of those at Mass. Over time, I have been asked by various parishioners about the proper posture/gestures that are part of the Mass, specifically, the “Our Father” and the “Rite of Peace.” In this regard, the new Archdiocesan Liturgical Handbook (ALH) offers some clarification. Below, I have included salient paragraphs to help clarify:

Our Father
1.57.2  During the Our Father, the Roman Missal instructs the priest to “extend his hands” assuming the Orans posture (GIRM 152). This posture is prescribed only for the priest and although it has been adopted by the faithful in some countries after the approval of the Holy See, in the United States it is still a posture assumed only by the priest.

1.57.3  The faithful holding hands during the Our Father is another posture not envisioned or prescribed by the Roman Missal. While this has been adopted within families with small children it should not be considered a normal posture of the Sacred Liturgy. Indeed some may feel uncomfortable if this posture is imposed upon them.

Rite of Peace 
1.58.2  The sign of peace is not an act of reconciliation, which has already occurred in the Penitential Act at the beginning of the Mass, nor is it a neighborly greeting. This misunderstanding of the meaning of the sign has led to abuses, such as extended or protracted exchanges of handshakes, hugs, and kisses, which delay the Lamb of God and disrupt the flow of the celebration of the Eucharist.

Understanding these guidelines, it is important to be charitable in all we do. Please, if someone does not follow these guidelines, do not chastise them. Be very careful in your pastoral advice so as not to offend. That being said, the above guidelines are from our Archbishop and the ALH.

Related to other gestures, I have noticed that some faithful lower their heads and strike their breast when the Body and Blood are shown/elevated and the priest says, “do this in memory of me.” According to Fr. Paul Turner, STD::

There has never been a rubric for people striking their breast during the elevation, nor for them to lower their heads. The rubrics are quite scant when it comes to what the people are supposed to do. Devotions have evolved apart from the rubrics.  If the people stand for the eucharistic prayer they are supposed to make a low bow while the priest genuflects at the elevations (GIRM 43). (paulturner.org/striking-the-breast-and-bowing)

The General Instructions to the Roman Missal (aka GIRM) in Latin uses the word, “to show,” which then implies that the faithful are to be looking or gazing at the mystery before them. Bowing one’s head, therefore, would seem to be in contradiction to that which is intended by the action in Mass at that moment. So, please, look! Gaze! Let your hearts be filled with the great mystery before you when the priest shows you the precious species of the Eucharist. Do nothing other, for this is primarily a moment of wonder and awe, not of repentance.

Again, charity is first in all we do. Please refrain from being the. “liturgical police” and hunt everyone down that does not follow every gesture perfectly. It is my hope that all will read this letter and come to understand that uniformity in our gestures at Mass offer a more noble and simple liturgy which the Church prescribes. May the Holy Mass be ever more efficacious in our lives, as we all strive to be “led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people, ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people’ (1 Pet. 2:9, 4-5) have a right and obligation by reason of their baptism.” (Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium 14).

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor