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Charity

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

Sport: A Classroom of the Christian Virtues

Sport: A Classroom of the Christian Virtues

Dear Parishioners,

Last week at the end of the announcements at the 11 AM Mass, I made known my hope regarding this year’s Super Bowl. I exclaimed, “Go Falcons!”  Instantaneously, I received back some cheers and laughter.  After exiting the Church and then encountering the community as they were leaving, I was greeted with a multiplicity of cheers and laughter as well as some who exclaimed, “Go Pats!”  It was all in fun and while differing in views with regard to the team for which would be rooting, it was a win all around. In those moments last Sunday, we exemplified what Pope Francis had encouraged us to be and do. That’s right. The Pope recorded a short video message for people who were going to experience the Super Bowl.  Here’s what he said:

Great sporting events like today’s Super Bowl are highly symbolic, showing that it is possible to build a culture of encounter and a world of peace. By participating in sport, we are able to go beyond our own self-interest - and in a healthy way - we learn to sacrifice, to grow in fidelity and respect the rules. May this year’s Super Bowl be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity for the world. - Pope Francis, February 5, 2017

Overall, the game turned out to demonstrate all of these signs. Moreover, it was filled with displays of the classical Seven Christian Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance (see Catechism of the Catholic Church #1805), Faith, Hope, and Charity (ibid. #1813). Mastering them makes one an excellent athlete, and more so, an excellent example of a Christian. In fact, it would be a very productive conversation to discuss each of these virtues in light of the game and to hone one’s vision about these virtues, not only in watching or participating in sport, but striving to live them out in our own lives.

Sport has been a very effective vehicle to battle injustice. A powerful example of this was dramatized in the Clint Eastwood directed movie, “Invictus,” starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman. It depicts how the newly elected Nelson Mandela forgave his oppressors who jailed him due to his opposition to Apartheid and used rugby as a vehicle to unify South Africa. I highly recommend this movie.  It is rated PG-13, so parents should use their discretion with their children in viewing the movie. Other sport-related movies I have found which exemplify these virtues are“Rudy,” “The Blindside,” “Radio,” “We Are Marshall,” and “Remember the Titans.”  Okay… yes, these are all about football. Did I mention that I liked football?

In sport as in life, the desire is for excellence. And while there were also counter examples of each of these virtues (traditionally call the Cardinal Sins and which we should rightfully reject) in the Super Bowl, St. Paul to the Philippians gives us good advice: 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you. - Phil. 4:8-9

St. Paul was not ignorant of the lessons and examples that sport can offer Christians. He even wrote about life as “running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:1-2). He wrote of enduring our trials as “discipline” (Heb. 12:7). Again, the connection of sport with the Christian life is clear.

Personally, I detest poor sportsmanship probably because of my own experience with injustice, greed, and the other Cardinal Sins.  So, when I watch sporting events, I look purposefully for all the Christian Virtues, for I recognize my need to have examples of real people, more than superhero-fiction, who can encourage me and challenge me to greatness, not just for my own sake, but for the sake of being who God call me to be. When we live out who we are called to be, when we live as the saints God desires us to be, we ultimately give glory to God, a purpose greater than sport, indeed, a purpose greater than all other purposes.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

p.s. Congratulations to the New England Patriots!

Truth In Charity

Truth In Charity

Dear Parishioners,

This week’s readings (July 30.31), we heard from Ecclesiastes: “Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” From Colossians: “seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” And finally from the Gospel Luke, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

The message is one for all the ages, one that we all need to ponder upon deeply. For something to be vain, it is essentially empty, worthless, of no lasting value. This is very much related to greed which focuses our attention on things that are empty, things that will never satisfy. Due to our sinfulness, we have all entertained and acted on our desires for things that cannot satisfy. We have all entertained thoughts and words that are misdirected and will bear no spiritual or corporeal fruit. In fact, such words and actions may very well cause scandal to others to the point of leaving the faith.

We must be all the more careful in our world today as Christians not to cause others to stumble while also sharing the truth in charity. So, today, listen and hear the voice of the Lord! Choose to be people whose love is full and not vain. Allow the parts of your life, your desires that will do you no ultimate good, those things that are arrogant, prideful, harsh, unloving, addictive, illusionary, selfish, divisive, lying, impure, immoral, and callous—allow these parts to die in Christ. Yes! It will involve suffering, for we want to hold on to them so much. Now is the time to do this. Now is the time when the political, economic, and violent parts of our world are so prevalent.

The Church exists for the salvation of souls. We are all given the mission to further this goal. To know salvation is to know the Truth, Jesus. Indeed, the world needs to know the Truth, but it is not sufficient to say, “I’m just tellin’ it like it is,” all the while steamrolling the person in arrogance and pride. We must pray to rid ourselves of any vestiges of vanity that can become a roadblock to the Truth. This is not about just being nice, but being charitable, being sensitive to the situation of the other, listening and building a relationship with the other, journeying with them, and sharing our hearts and what God has done for us.

Our world needs to know Jesus. We need to know Jesus more deeply as well. Let us not be embarrassed nor fearful for admitting our sinfulness, for by repenting we allow Christ to shine through us. It is through our woundedness that we can help heal. It is by our true love of God and our neighbor that we become the people we have always been meant to be. It is by being beacons of light that we will attract others to the knowledge of the Truth.

My friends in Christ, much is at stake... our souls and the souls of others. Let us strive for the narrow way through our own suffering and dying to our vanities. May Christ in the Eucharist be our strength, so that we be conformed into the likeness of Him who loves us so much.

Sincerely,
Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor