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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

Liturgical Change, Part 3  The Role of the Reader in Procession in the Absence of a Deacon

Liturgical Change, Part 3 The Role of the Reader in Procession in the Absence of a Deacon

Dear Parishioners,

As we continue to review our liturgy in light of the New Archdiocesan Liturgical Handbook, I would like to draw your attention to a small detail that we have implemented when we don’t have a deacon.  In the entrance procession, again when there is no deacon, the Readers processes in with the Altar Servers and Priest. When the group reaches the front of the Sanctuary, they will all make a gesture of reverence (a bow to the Altar or Genuflection when there is a Tabernacle behind the Altar).  Then all ministers will take their place. The Reader who is carrying the Book of he Gospels will enter the Sanctuary to “enthrone” or put the Book of the Gospels in the holder which is on top of the Altar. The change here is that prior, the Reader would not stop when approaching the Altar and then immediately enthrone the Book of the Gospels. The simple change is that they will wait in the front of the Sanctuary with all the other ministers when they make their sign of reverence. A note to make here is that if a genuflection is the called for gesture, then the ministers do this unless they are carrying something, such as the Book of the Gospels or Candles, or other items. I hope this helps when you notice something is a little different when the procession approaches the Altar. The reason for this change is first, the General Instructions to the Roman Missal (GIRM) call for it, and secondly it does not confuse the roll of the deacon who is the only one who approaches the Altar with the Book of the Gospels straight away upon reaching the Sanctuary, an action I had our Readers doing for quite a long time.  My bad, as they say! This is all in the efforts to keep our liturgy in conformity with liturgical norms.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Archdiocesan Liturgical Handbook

Archdiocesan Liturgical Handbook

Dear Parishioners,

Recently, the Office for Divine Worship, under the leadership of Monsignor Gerard O’Connor, published a 350+ page document to guide parishes and their staff with the Liturgy. It is called the Archdiocesan Liturgical Handbook or ALH for short. It’s intent is “to serve as a guide to many of the aspects of the life of our diocese and our parishes that concern the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy and the understanding of the faith it expresses” (Archbishop Sample, ELH). It is intended to be a “living” document that will be updated over time as new situations arise. It includes “positions, policies, best practices, and particular norms for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon” (ibid.).

I have been reading this document and highlighting things which may apply to us. Some need more reflection while others don’t even apply to us. For those that do apply to us, I will be sharing those items in the weeks and months ahead. Our Liturgy Committee will also be reflecting on these things to evaluate our own liturgies and determine if any changes are needed.

The chapters of the ALH covers many things about the Mass and beyond. Here are some of the topics: The Archbishop, the priest, deacons, movement and posture, lay ministers, bread and wine, sacred objects and furnishings, music and singing, the parts of the Mass, Masses with the Archbishop, Sunday parish celebrations, reception of Holy Communion, reservation of the Blessed Sacrament including perpetual adoration, aspects related to the RCIA, Baptism of infants, the seven Sacraments, Funerals, Extraordinary Form of Mass, Liturgical year, popular pieties, eastern Christians, and special circumstances.

I have not heard or seen such a document prepared for a diocese. So, this is rather innovative.  I look forward to learning more and seeing where we find ourselves within the norms and guidelines of the ALH. In future bulletin letters, I will publish some of the texts that refer to things that most interest our community. And as always, I am open to your thoughts and constructive comments.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

If It’s All About Sunday, Then What About Christmas? Part II

If It’s All About Sunday, Then What About Christmas? Part II

Dear Parishioners,

Last week, I wrote about how, as Church and evangelization, it is all about Sunday Mass.  Sunday Mass brings in the most people at any discrete time which leverages the potency and ability to evangelize, not just ourselves, but those who are new, visiting, or passing through.  No ministry of our parish does this, nor can it. The Liturgy, the Mass, is the “Source and Summit” of our faith according to the Second Vatican Council. So if it is true that it is all about Sunday, what does this mean about Christmas? Well, let me ask a few simple questions. Isn’t Christmas the single most attended set of Masses in the year? Doesn’t it bring in more people than any other time, many of whom we don’t know? Doesn’t Christmas also bring people to us from other Christian traditions, others who are not Christian, others who are seekers, others who are broken-hearted, others who are mourning, others who are in need? Doesn’t this time draw our family members to Mass with us, and even some when they would not otherwise attend Mass? The answer to these questions is, “YES!”  And because this is so true, all the more we should be mindful of our calling, as Church, when they come on Christmas, to put forward our best efforts to be hospitable, kind, generous, open, and loving. Of course, we should be this way all the time, but at Christmas, this is the most potent time to share the Gospel. Remember, we are called to be an alter cristus, “another christ” to our neighbors.

So, if it is all about Sunday, then in terms of evangelization, it is all about Christmas! Christmastime needs to be our focus and we should be thinking, “All Hands Aboard!” This is why we have so many Masses. Sure, we could cut down on a Mass or two and everyone might still fit. It would be very efficient, reduce our workload, and get us home faster.  But, this is what is called, “church-think.” We employees or leaders of ministries are most prone to this way of thinking. Church-think puts the focus on ourselves, the minister, volunteer, or dedicated parishioner in the pews, and not on others who are new or in need. It pays no attention to what is best for others nor considered the situations in which they live. It is essentially selfish and antagonistic to what it is to be Church, that is evangelizers who desire to share and spread the Good News. We could have one single Christmas Eve or Day Mass by renting the largest space possible which would hold all who will come to that Mass, but that would be evangelical suicide. By having only one time, one door, so-to-speak, for people to come to our Christmas Eve Mass, we are very likely going to lose many people who couldn’t make that one small window of time. In our mission of St. Patrick of the Forest, the same applies. We could have one Mass and the community could likely all fit, but then they would miss out on this potent chance to share the Good News with those who couldn’t make that singular time. In fact, by having two Masses, they double the chances to proclaim the Good News to the newcomer. Another way of looking at this can be seen in the words St. John Paul II spoke when, at his first Mass as pope in 1978, he challenged the Church to, “open wide the doors to Christ.” He challenged us all to get out of our shells, our narcissism, our fears, our tribalisms, and any other things which keep us, and the Faith, to ourselves. He challenged us not to fear. He asked us to help him to serve so as to help humanity know what its true calling is. And what is it?  What is all our calling? To be saints! We are being called to put our Lord first and proclaim the Gospel.

So what are some ways we can put this into practice? Here are some thoughts and recommendations. Consider parking further away than normal so that newcomers will be able to park closer. Sit in the center of a row instead of at the edges so that new people will more easily find a place at Mass. Thank someone for letting you sit next to them. Be willing to move aside to help someone else sit down. Give up your seat if you see others standing, especially those with physical issues and sacrifice yourself by standing at Mass. If you are a liturgical minister, make sure you sign up for a slot, show up early, and even consider helping out at an additional Mass since we will all be stretched thin in this regard. Do not complain or gossip about others. Guests hear this and make judgements very quickly as to what kind of community we are or are not. Smile even if it kills you. Be the first to apologize if there is a misunderstanding. Introduce yourself by name to anyone you don’t know sitting near you. Be gracious while in the parking lot or walking to and from your car.  Wish others a blessed Christmas. Bring some, pre-signed, Christmas cards with you and give them to others, especially those whom you don’t know. Thank others for their presence at Mass, especially if don’t know them. Compliment someone for their good singing. Pray for the person who appears distressed, or otherwise struggling. Be nice to the priests, for they have fourteen Masses to cover from that Saturday night to Christmas Day. Share how happy you are to be part of this faith community. Don’t share your personal pet peeves… honestly, nobody wants to hear them. Wish those around you a blessed Christmas. And I’m sure there are many more ideas each one of us could come up with, right? Please let me know if you have some creative ideas in this regard.

So, remember, in terms of parish evangelization, it is all about Christmas.  Do not give into thinking about yourself, rather be other-centered. Love, laugh, smile, and encourage. Nobody can challenge honest joy. And may this Christmas be one that gives God the glory for his faithful will have lived out out their calling. I look very much forward to celebrating this time with you all!

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Q & A: "Black Vestments?"

Q & A: "Black Vestments?"

Q: Fr. Bill, you wore black vestments at the All Souls Day Mass.  I thought black vestments were pretty much abandoned after Vatican II.  What is their status?  Do you wear them when you preside at funerals?

A: Good question!  The short answer is, no, black was not abandoned. However, the preferred option for funerals is first, white, then purple and black as options. It is true that black has fallen out of popular favor so much so that it may appear that it was forbidden. But, that is just perception.

Before I discuss this further, I must share the meanings by these three liturgical colors: White expresses hope in resurrection, holiness, hope, and baptism. Violet expresses reconciliation, repentance, and mercy.  Black signifies mourning, death, sin, and judgement. This latter color may seem to focus on the negative, but, these are realities in our lives which sometimes we need to be reminded about.

The official three color choices for All Souls Day are the same as they are for any funeral. According to the instructions to the Order of Christian Funerals (a.k.a. OCF): 

“The liturgical color chosen for funerals should express Christian hope but should not be offensive to human grief and sorrow.  In the United States, white, violet, or black vestments may be worn at the funeral rites and at other offices and Masses or the dead” (§39). 

I have worn white vestments at funerals in all the parishes where I have been assigned. It has been my pastoral judgement that white has helped the congregation remember that through the waters of baptism, their loved one has died with Christ and that we hold the hope close that their loved one will rise again with him (cf. OCF §160). In the initial rites of the funeral, we place a pall over the casket which I have only seen in white, though violet and black are still options. Therefore, I have made efforts to make sure that the vestments match and carry on a congruent sign conferred by the pall. The white pall symbolizes the white garment placed on a newborn baby who has just been baptized.

That being said, I concelebrated a funeral with Archbishop Sample on the sad occasion of the tragic death of a young adult from the Umpqua Community College shootings back in 2015. There, the priests concelebrants were told to wear violet vestments. In the archbishop’s pastoral judgement, he was giving attention to the guidance by the OCF, where it states:

“The celebration of the Christian funeral brings hope and consolation to the living. While proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and witnessing to Christian hope in the resurrection, the funeral rites also recall to all who take part in them God’s mercy and judgment and meet the human need to turn always to God in times of crisis” (§7).

So, not only is hope something that is needed at a funeral, but so too is our need to seek out God’s mercy. The tragic nature of some events draw us close to this opportunity of God’s consolation which brings us to repentance and a desire for mercy in our own lives.

Back to All Souls Day. I made a pastoral decision to wear black for many reasons, some theological, some psychological, some liturgical, and some even pragmatic.  I wanted us to be mindful of the reality of Purgatory and the journey that many of the deceased whom we are praying for may be very well experiencing it and need our prayers. Additionally, I wanted us to recognize our own emotional sensibilities to the reality of their deaths and the loss their deaths have played in our lives. Mourning, while not something we like to do, is deeply important to our healing.  When we don’t mourn our losses, we continually carry them with us, and occasionally they come out in some of the most inappropriate ways and situations. Black emotes these feelings of sadness, recognizing and legitimizing them in our lives. When I bought my black chasuble, I purposely chose one that also had violet in it which, I hope, helped us remember our need to repent of our own sins in view of our own coming death and look to God for our only hope. Liturgically speaking, black carries well all these reasons and we hardly ever, if at all, see this color option used in the Mass. It has occurred to me many times that we should not completely forget or abandon our liturgical heritage, and that finding appropriate places to harken back to our sacred tradition keeps us grounded and mindful of who we are as Catholics. I’ve purposely done this in other areas too. You might have noticed that over all, the priests chant more of the Mass than in decades previous. The new Roman Missal has been the driving force for that change.  I’ve heard many times soon after receiving the Missal that we were chanting more.  Simply, it is was one of the various things the reform of the missal called for.  You might also notice that during Lent, as a community we chant the Mass parts during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and at some solemnities we use incense and bells.  Finally, on the pragmatic side of things, until last year, I have never worn a back vestment. But, after seeing this particular chasuble at a bargain price, I thought I would buy it for the few times I might want to use it, All Souls Day being the case use I had in mind. 

Finally, thank you for the question and I hope this helps more of us expand our understanding of the wealth of our Catholic theology and tradition.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

The Bad Liturgy of Sports

The Bad Liturgy of Sports

Dear Parishioners,

Have you ever considered that football is similar to liturgy? They both have pomp and circumstance.  They both have beloved traditions. They both have particular uniforms. They both bring people of varied backgrounds, politically, socioeconomically, intellectually, etc. They strive to unify the people towards something that is true and noble. They strive to help bring out or encourage the best in humanity. Of course there are many differences.  For example, liturgy is not a competition. It is not entertainment. It is not violent in any way. The action on a football field is not essentially an act of the Divine, but of humanity, yet liturgy is the work of God and the people.

This past many weeks, and particularly, this last week, many people have been upset by gestures made by football players on the field when the U.S. flag and National Anthem were presented. The events have cause people to take sides and become more divided.  So, I was pondering on how it has become such a flashpoint. As a liturgist, I started pondering and has some insights that may be of help.

In liturgy, the actions, symbols, rituals, words, and music are all supposed to be done well such that all understand what they communicate.  When these things confused the congregation, this is the litmus test that we have experienced “bad liturgy.” In the context of the intersection of liturgy and sports, particularly football, it seems that the actions taken during the opening ceremonies (presentation of the the US. flag and National Anthem), have caused confusion. I believe it is safe to say that we all love our country.  It is also safe to say that we all reject racism and brutality by anyone in authority. If these are values that we share, then liturgically speaking, we should be able to find ways to communicate our values in a clear and coherent ways. This clearly did not happen, demonstrated by the divisive responses that resulted.

As Catholics, we are called to be ecumenical, that is to be open to the faith of another, to be desirous to understand another’s faith and belief system. The Catholic Church does this very well in its official channels with delegates and representatives to other faith traditions. Our goal is unity.  But, short of perfect unity, we seek understanding to find some unity amidst diversity, and charity must be the means by which this is done.  Unfortunately, the events of recent weeks have failed in this endeavor. They have demonstrated that we have a variety of interpretations of the presentation of the U.S. Flag and National Anthem. It has demonstrated that there is a conflagration of politics, sports, social justice, and patriotism. 

As Catholic Christians, we are called to be people of charity seeking understanding and reaching out to those who are poor and oppressed.  We Catholics even have a soundbite which helps us in our focus. We call it the “preferential option for the poor.” So, in light of this Gospel call, we should have concern for those who are victims of injustice and critique how those who have power, wealth, and influence are responsible for their duty to promote the common good and help the poor. In this light, my prayer is that in our national discussion about the events of the past several weeks, we will be people of faith first which will drive us to enter into dialogue which finds common ground. I hope that the signs and gestures that players and teams decide to use to express themselves will be made clear so as to rally us all around the common cause for peace and justice. In a way, I’m going to give the NFL a “mulligan” if you will.  I hope that in the coming weeks, they can come up with a clear and coherent way to express themselves that will unify their fans and our country.  Here’s some of my own personal thoughts on how that could be done which the NFL has done in the past:

The NFL could make all their players wear extra arm bands or ribbons on their uniforms, symbolic of the injustice they desire to remedy while also promoting all our service men and women. They could kneel at some other time outside of the presentation of the U.S. flag and National Anthem so as not to create confusion. They could change socks and wristband to a common color in order to raise awareness of the cause. Teams could give away or sell t-shirts or wrist bands with the team logo alongside statements promoting racial harmony and social justice, and give the proceeds to non-profits that further that cause. They could have a moment of silence expressly for the victims of racism and violence. The NFL could make a concerted effort to show how players go out into our communities and give talks to school children and others. They could publicize meetings where NFL players and officials go talk to our senators and representatives. Teams could publish a group photo in their local newspaper stating that they are unified in racial harmony, are against brutality by people in power, and lift up all those who serve our country.

I’m sure there are many other ways that could been used that could have expressed our unifying desires for our country and challenged our ills. The NFL’s recent bad liturgy has made things more difficult for fans and non-fans alike. Even the players have expressed confusion and struggle as to how they can help express their views and unify at the same time. How do you think they can more clearly help unify us using clear methods which we could all understand and rally behind?  I hope these thoughts will add to the ongoing discussion of our national debate and faith-filled community.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Growing In Our Faith


Dear Parishioners,

Catholicism 101
As part of the Year of Faith, we have been showing Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” DVD series at our monthly Catholicism 101 classes. It has been wonderful to watch. The quality of production and clarity of teaching as well as the inspirational style in which the faith is presented is fantastic. If you haven’t been to one, I want to encourage you to do so. This past Sunday we showed the seventh episode in the series entitled, “The Mystery of the Liturgy and the Eucharist.” Ah! The Eucharist. It is the source and summit of our faith! It is the center of our Catholic lives! Do I sound excited? I am! I was very impressed how well he explained the Mass, how the program illustrated the various cultural situations in which the Mass is offered, and the fundamental theologies of our mysterious liturgy. It reminded me of how much I love our liturgy and why I am a priest. If you have been wondering or feeling that your experience of your faith has been lacking or luke-warm, then make an effort to come to these presentations. There are only ten in the series, and we are almost done. But, we may very well show them again, but in a more intense weekly format for those who so desire. Keep your eyes peeled to the bulletin for that development.


Turn out for the presentations has been good, so come early if you want a front row seat. There’s plenty of room in the Parish Center Sky Room, so no worries. Mark your calendars for the next presentation on March 3rd on the Communion of Saints.


Theology of the Body for Teens
On another note, this Sunday evening I will begin a five week series at our High School Youth Nights on Blessed Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.” With all the things that our teens have to grapple with, the meaning of their bodies and sexuality, in particular, are often bewildering to them. Yet, the late Holy Father spent 129 Wednesday Audiences from 1979 to 1984 speaking about the meaning, the theology, of the body. In essence, his reflections, when written down, make up two-thirds of the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage! Please pray for me and the teens. Pray that I, along with the Core Team of adults, may be able to empower and lift up our teens to know the true meaning of their bodies, to recapture the meaning of marriage, and to empower them to live chaste lives of faith as sexual persons. Pray for the teens that they will be open to our presentations and the Holy Spirit in their lives prompting them to follow the way of Christ’s love and not the counterfeit of the world.


Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Some Liturgical Changes


Dear Parishioners,

In the past several weeks, Fr. Manuel, Jessica, and I have been pondering upon and experimenting with some ideas and ways to adjust our liturgy.  Beginning this weekend, we will be implementing two changes, one for Sunday celebrations and Holy Days of Obligation and one for daily Mass.

On Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, we decided to change the way the vessels will be purified after Communion.  Going forward, the cup ministers will return their chalices to the Credence Table while the host ministers will continue to return their bowls to the Altar.  The vessels will still be purified by the priest or deacon, but in two different locations, expediting the clearing of the Altar.  To do this, the servers are being retrained to make sure that the Credence Table is mostly free of other items used earlier in the Mass such as the lavabo (the bowl for the priest to wash his hands) and other items used in preparation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  Also, the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are being trained to follow this new process.  This will also allow the sacristans to clean or prepare the vessels for the next Mass if they wish.  The clearing of the Altar is not a separate Rite in the Mass but a procedure in a transitional phase from the Communion Rite to the Concluding Rite.  However, due to the number of vessels, this procedure has been taking so much time so as to appear as a formal rite in and of itself.  This change will clarify and simplify this part of the Mass.  The General Instructions to the Roman Missal directs that the purification of the vessels can be done at their location. (GIRM 163).

On weekdays, we have decided to emphasize a greater unity with the Universal Church and increase awareness of the principle of Progressive Solemnity.  This term, Progressive Solemnity, is the principle where by the Mass ebbs and flows according to the state or “level” of celebration in the Mass.  When Mass is being offered on a day in Ordinary Time and there is no saint of whom we memorialize nor is there any feast or solemnity, the Mass should take on a very basic form.  This kind of day is called a “ferial celebration” or “ferial day”  The term comes from the Latin, feria, meaning “free day.”  On these weekday Masses, we will forego singing at the beginning and end of Mass and, instead, replace the entrance song with the universal antiphon which the Church is expressing all through the globe.  This is called the Entrance Antiphon.  The procession of the priest leaving the Sanctuary will be done in silence.  This small change will let us experience the change of a seasons via memorials, feasts, or solemnities in contrast to those days where none of these are prescribed.  So on ferial days, the Mass will be much simpler.  When a saint is to be memorialized, singing at the entrance and recessional of the Mass will return.  On feast days, as the Church prescribes, the Gloria will be said or sung.  On Solemnities, the Creed will be added.  So, depending on the kind of day the Mass lands, there will be more or less things happening.  We hope that this very small shift will allow our daily Mass goers to experience more the variations or the progressiveness of the sacrifice of the Mass while also bringing more harmony with the Masses offered throughout the world.

Are these important or critical changes, no.  But, I do believe that these small changes will aid us in more clarity and intelligibility of the actions, meanings, and sense of progression within the celebration of the Mass.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger

New Roman Missal


Dear Parishioners,

I hope that your summer plans and events have been life-giving a re-creating of your body and soul. While our local temperatures have been lower than normal, I cannot complain that we haven’t hit any triple digit temperatures.

In the past several weeks, we have been making plans to prepare for the new Roman Missal. The Roman Missal is the big red book that the priest uses to celebrate Mass. This is different than the Lectionary, another big red book which contains the Scripture readings for Mass. With the new Roman Missal coming, it is important to prepare for its implementation. So, I’ve met with our priests and discussed plans with our Liturgy Committee about how to go about teaching everyone what, why, and how we will bring these changes to our community.

In October, I will offer a workshop that will describe, in depth, the rationale for the new Missal as well as offer many examples of the changes so people can get a good sense of how it will differ from what we hear today at Mass. The changes are not just for our area nor just for the United States. The changes are for all English-speaking countries. Please keep your eye peeled to the bulletin as well as announcements at Mass for locations, dates, and times.

In addition to this workshop, all our churches during November will pause from the normal preaching of the homily in order to allow for catechesis to take place on the changes as well as overall education about the Mass. In order to maintain continuity, each of the priests will be scheduled at the same location during the first three weeks of November. Here’s the schedule:

1st weekend of November: Reasons and philosophy for a new translation of the English Roman Missal and teaching of a musical setting for the Mass Parts.
2nd weekend in November: Catechesis on the Opening Rites and the Liturgy of the Word
3rd weekend in November: Catechesis on the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the Concluding Rites.
4th weekend in November: Total implementation of the new Roman Missal as directed by the Church.

I realize that any change is difficult for so many. That is why I am writing today, over two months in advance of this process. In my own preparation for this change, I have found that the Mass is more alive and the texts are more articulate of the mysteries we celebrate. I believe it will be a renewal for me, personally, and I hope that the same will be true for you.

If you have any questions or comments for me, please don’t hesitate to approach me and ask.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor