Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sunday Gospel Reflection, July 3, 2016: Let us rejoice in him...

 Does the cross of Christ cause you to rejoice? 

   The prophet Isaiah depicts a maternal Jerusalem offering comfort to the people of Israel through the powerful image of a mother nursing her child:  As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap.  More powerful still is the following shift of this maternal comfort to God:  as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.  God’s action in the lives of the people is meant to be a source of joy made manifest in the people’s prosperity, their well-being and sense of security:  When you see this, your heart shall rejoice… A similar theme is echoed in Psalm 66, where the psalmist exhorts the people to rejoice in the God who has rescued them time and time again, in the past and in the present: Let all the earth cry out to God with joy! is a call to rejoice because God loves God’s people.

   At first glance, the maternal image of Isaiah may seem to clash with Paul’s evocation of the cross as a means to joy.  In his letter to the Galatians, Paul boasts only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, noting that he bears the marks of Jesus on his own body.  Yet the connection is clear: peace and mercy are ensured to all who embrace the cross, the word peace referring to that sense of security and well-being evoked in Isaiah and in Psalm 66.  Paul, whose mission has caused him to be flogged and stoned and left for dead, knows that salvation, in the form of peace and mercy, well-being in Christ alone, is possible only because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. 

   The disciples sent on mission by Jesus in Luke’s gospel are also warned that they are to expect hardship and suffering – a foretaste of the cross and a sign of things to come – yet the fruits of their labors will be the coming of the kingdom: their peace will rest, he tells the disciples, on those who accept the Word the disciples bring to them through their mission.  And this is a reason to rejoice, as the seventy-two do upon their return, because their names are written in heaven, thanks to a similar peace, the well-being that comes only from service, and from the love of Christ that they have brought to all those whose lives they have touched; it is that love, in the form of the cross, that they will continue to share after his death.  They will learn, as must we, to rejoice in the cross as our most direct access to salvation.

Image source:  Wordle

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Church Chat: The Items Used in Mass

It seems that many Catholics are unfamiliar with the names of the various items used or worn in the liturgy. It’s quite understandable: you may see these things on a weekly basis, but you don’t necessarily hear them referenced or addressed. Let’s walk through the liturgy and see what we can see.

(Unlike other versions of “Church Chat,” I won’t be giving the roots of these words.)

For Mass, the priest is vested with several pieces of liturgical accoutrement: sometimes a priest will wear a garment called an amice, which covers the shoulders and ties around the torso, so that his regular clothes are not visible; the long-sleeved white garment which reaches from neck to ankles is the alb; if the alb is loose-fitting, it is bound by a cord around the waist called the cincture; the long neckband which reaches the shins or ankles (depending on the height of the priest) is the stole; the over-garment is the chasuble

When leading another sort of liturgy other than Mass, the priest might wear a long black robe called a cassock, with a white over-garment reaching the waist or knees called a surplice, as well as the aforementioned stole. For some events he may wear a cape, which is known as a cope. (Yes, just one vowel difference.)

A deacon, in addition to the aforementioned alb, has a stole of a different style, which sits on one shoulder and is draped across the torso, being fastened at the waist. He may also wear a dalmatic, which looks somewhat like a chasuble, except that it has sleeves.

A bishop, in addition to the usual priestly vestments, has a few other noticeable items: the staff he carries, meant to resemble a shepherd’s crook, is called a crozier. The tall hat with the tassels in the back is called a mitre. The smaller, yarmulke-looking item that covers the top of the head is called a zucchetto. An archbishop will wear a band which encircles his neck and has a short protrusion at opposite ends; this is the pallium.

Several items are used in offering the sacrifice of the Mass. At Masses of special solemnity, incense may be used, either in an open container (censer) or a closed container (thurible). The prayers for the Mass are contained in a book called the sacramentary or missal. The readings for the Mass are contained in the lectionary, and are proclaimed from the lectern or ambo. The book of the Gospels is also sometimes called the Evangelion. The sacrifice of the Mass is offered on the altar, which is in the part of the church called the sanctuary. The cup which holds the Precious Blood is a chalice. The small, shallow plate which holds the hosts is the paten. Other hosts are held in a bowl-like or chalice-like container called a ciboriumOn the altar one will find a corporal, a small white cloth on which the chalice and paten are set. The water and wine used for the consecration are held in small (usually glass) containers called cruets. The Eucharistic species remaining after Communion are reserved in the tabernacle.

Hope this helps! If there are questions about any others, please let us know!

Monday, June 27, 2016

I Will Follow Him (André Rieu)

 Jesus asks us to follow him.  How ready are we to do that? 

I will follow Him, follow Him wherever He may go 
And near Him I always will be 
For nothing can keep me away 
He is my destiny 

I will follow Him 
Ever since He touched my heart I knew 
There isn’t an ocean too deep 
A mountain so high it can keep me away 
Away from His love 

I love Him!

To hear this classic performed by André Rieu, 
the Johann Strauss Orchestra, the Harlem Gospel Choir,
and the Soweto Gospel Choir
click on the video below:

Image source
Video source

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A daily journey (Michael Spencer)

   Jesus-shaped spirituality hears Jesus say believe and repent, but the call that resonates most closely in the heart of a disciple is follow me.  The command to follow requires that we take a daily journey in the company of other students.  It demands that we be lifelong learners and that we commit to constant growth in spiritual maturity.  Discipleship is a call to me, but it is a journey of we.

--Michael Spencer, Mere Churchianity