Archive | November, 2011

for clergy: “new” Missal Examination of Conscience

20 Nov

Hey, Father ….

As you prepare for next Sunday and the first use of the “new” Mass translation, how about hearing with me these questions Father John Baldovi, S.J., suggests for us?

1. How have I prepared liturgically?
2. How have I prepared spiritually?
3. Are the “horizontal” and “vertical” in balance?
4. Do I make myself (ouch!) the center of the liturgy?
5. How well do I know the missal?

One line that Father Baldovin speaks in his presentation (below) that caught my fancy – maybe something I need to hear? – is this: “Rubrics are there, after all, to protect the Christian people from some of our idiosyncrasies.”

Andrew, the Bride and the Centurion: Holy Communion

20 Nov

It is an invitation to communion.

We are Andrew. “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.”

We are the bride. “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

We are the centurion. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

As we approach the altar for communion, we are Andrew. We are the bride. We are the centurion. It is an invitation to communion – holy communion!

Click here for today’s homily, Andrew, the Bride and the Centurion.”

Most Inviting Invitation

18 Nov

You might find that the “Invitation to Communion” in the new Mass translation is the most attractive change, the most inviting moment: inviting us into communion, and inviting us to reflect on the meaning of the words that are chanted. Three references to the Bible are imbedded in “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb. Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Behold the Lamb of God The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) – As Jesus approached, John the Baptist pointed him out to two of his disciples as “the Lamb of God,” the one whom the people were waiting for, the one who would be sacrificed for their sake. Andrew, “our” Andrew, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. The other one is not named. Jesus invites them to come and see where he is staying. They went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. At communion we are that unnamed disciple, with our Andrew. Jesus is pointed out, held up as the “Lamb of God.” We choose to follow. Jesus gives us the same invitation he gave to Andrew, “Stay with me.” In the company of Andrew in the company of Jesus  – that is holy communion.

The supper of the Lamb – Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9) – In the last book of the Bible there is a description of the feast in heaven. It is a wedding feast. The Lamb of God is the groom. His bride, his beloved, is the Church, the believers, the baptized, all those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. The Mass is a taste of heaven. There is a taste of Cincinnati, a taste of Milford, a taste of Clermont County. The Mass is a taste of heaven. The Mass is a wedding feast. As we approach the altar for communion, we are the bride walking up the aisle. Jesus is the groom, at the altar, on the altar, waiting for his bride to come up the aisle, longing to be joined in intimate communion.

Under my roof The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Matthew 8:8) – The centurion, as a military man with a hundred soldiers under his command, knew authority. As a Roman soldier, as an enforcer of the occupying foreign power, he was despised by the people. But his servant is sick at his house. Knowing he was not worthy to have Jesus come to his house, he asked Jesus just to say the word, knowing that Jesus had authority that he could never have, no matter how much he would ever be promoted. Jesus says the word, and his first long distance healing happens. In our unworthiness and sinfulness, we approach Jesus for communion and healing. We are flawed. We fret that we are not worthy to have Jesus enter our home. But Jesus says the word, and comes into our house, into our home, into us, into our lives.

We are Andrew. We are the bride. We are the centurion. Jesus invites us into his company, into a holy communion with him. Jesus makes an offer we can’t refuse.

“Ever So Slightly” Blessing

17 Nov

Thankfully, the Sign of the Cross and the Lord’s Prayer are the same. But almost all the other prayers we pray and the words we speak at Mass are changing ever so slightly, beginning next Sunday, November 27. In the “ever so slightly” changes there is a blessing for us. Priest and people will be jostled out of the familiar, and will focus anew on what we say and what we pray, paying closer attention to hearing things we have never heard before, even when they are the same words we have spoken for years.    

Monsignor Ken and I have been spending time together, looking over what will be sung and what will be spoken. Every prayer that we speak while standing at the altar and while standing at the chair will be slightly different from what we have used for years. We are making our lists and checking them twice. We want to do the best for you that we can do. Dovile, the choirs and the cantors are preparing their notes (of a different kind) as well, getting ready to do the best that they can for you. Deacon Tim is learning his parts, and watching over the priest’s parts, too, in order to help us all.

Near you in the pew is a red booklet that will have everything you need for your parts. During Advent, the Gloria is not sung, but we will sing the other parts of the “Mass of Redemption.” As you know already, it is in the red booklet. As we begin Mass next Sunday, we will use the Confiteor, with its new words, “Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” No need to worry. It is in the red booklet. Yes, in the Profession of Faith (Nicene Creed), we will now be saying, “… consubstantial with the Father,” and “… incarnate of the Virgin Mary.” Not to worry. It’s in the red booklet.

You might hear someone sigh, “I miss that book that used to be in the pews. It had the readings in it.” There is a stack of the “Liturgy of the Word 2012” books at each of the doors. Surprise them by getting out of your pew, going to the nearest door and bringing back a book and a smile for them. And after Mass, you can quietly and without fanfare return their book to the same door.

In the new translation of the Mass prayers you will find or hear a “new word from God” that speaks to something deep within you. As the year progresses, you will add another and another and another to your list of favorites. Perhaps the Invitation to Communion will be one. It comes almost right from the Bible: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). “Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9). “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed.” (Luke 7:6-7).

We will be falling in love with the Mass all over again.

A great Scrabble word!

16 Nov

Julianne Wallace, Campus Minister at St Joseph University Parish in Buffalo serving the University at Buffalo, writes on the Busted Halo website about the “Top Five Mass Changes” she thinks young adults need to know. 

#1: “And with your spirit!” 

“This response is more than just a greeting. This response is also a spiritual exchange between the priest and the assembly. The priest extends a greeting of the Lord’s presence and the assembly grants a similar greeting inviting God to be with the presider as we worship together.”  

#2: The Gloria 

“There are many minor textual changes to this prayer.  A change occurs in the Gloria when we sing together, ‘We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory!’ This five-fold invocation of praise poetically expresses the majesty and glory of God.” 

#3: “We to I” 

“This small change harkens back to when the person entering the Church says, ‘I do’ in the Credo formula. So the change from ‘we’ to ‘I’ is more consistent with how we have professed our faith throughout history.” 

#4: “Consubstantial” 

“That sounds like a great Scrabble word!” 

#5: The centurion’s faith and our response 

“As we come to the Eucharistic table, may we approach with the humble faith of the centurion and carry this humility with us through our everyday life.” 

Julianne finishes with, “And remember, we are not just saying this new translation; we are praying this new translation!”


We Remember Who We Are

15 Nov

On November 13, two weeks before we are to begin using the new words given to us in the Roman Missal, Deacon Tim Schutte spoke at all the Masses about reminders and being reminded, focussing on the four times in the Mass when we chant, “The Lord be with you … And with your spirit.” He said, “We are reminded four times that Jesus is fully present to us right now.” In that simple,  spiritual exchange, “we remember who we are, in relation to each other and to Christ.”

Listen to his words, as spoken at the 9:30 a.m. Mass, by clicking here: “The Lord be with you … And with your spirit.

In the Olive Garden with Ibrahim

10 Nov

Below is an article about Father Ibrahim Shomali and the Christians of Beit Jala. It appears on the website of the Latin Patriarchate Jerusalem (the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Jerusalem).

Father Ibrahim is the parish priest of Annunciation Church in Beit Jala. St. Andrew parish is in a twinning relationship with his parish, and our SASEAS school is in a twinning relationship with his parish school. Father Ibrahim will be visiting us in Milford in December, and will be with us for Sunday Mass, ensha’allah. Next June I will visit him in Beit Jala, and will celebrate Mass with him in the olive field of Beit Jala, God willing.

Beit Jala Christians pray to stop wall

Christians of Beit Jala attended an open-air Mass on Friday, November 4th to pray together against the Israeli decision to confiscate a part of their land. The Israeli government intends to extend the separation wall at the entrance of the Cremisan valley.

To protest against this decision, faithful gathered with the Pastor of Beit Jala, Father Ibrahim Shomali and Father Mario Corniole for an open-air Mass. An Israeli committee approved a plan to build 1,100 new houses on the south slopes of Gilo last September. To do this, the route of the wall “will confiscate land belonging to Christian people and Christian church,” reports a statement of the Latin parish. The idea is simple: protesting not by violence but by prayer. In the same statement, the parish priest and Christians of Beit Jala denounce “the  confiscation [by Israel] of the last green area in Beit Jala (Bethlehem district)”, considering “the annexation of the most beautiful lands in the Bethlehem area as a direct attack against the Palestinian people and especially  against Palestinian Christians.”

Soliciting members of the Quartet for the Middle East – including the United Nations, the Russian Federation, the United States and the European Union – and also calling upon the rest of the international community, the parish of Beit Jala called President Mahmoud Abbas’ government, the Latin Patriarchate and the civil society to do “everything possible to keep the land in the hands of its rightful owners.”

In the light of the message from Synod for the Middle East last year regarding the Christian presence in the Holy Land: “It is Church’s duty to support our presence. Therefore, we call the Holy See and Pope Benedict XVI to act  immediately, using all possible means to help protect our people.”

The Mass was celebrated in a field of olive trees which will probably be cut and uprooted. As recalled by Father Mario Corniole, olives were silent witnesses of Jesus’ suffering and agony in Gethsemane. Thus, Beit Jala parishioners attached to their land and their olive trees will meet every Friday on this “Gethésménai” where they still live in fear, but also with the hope that their land will always be respected.

Incarnate and Consubstantial: First Try

8 Nov

Many of the changes in the words that you will pray in two weeks will be chanted, that is, sung in simple tones of a couple notes that will keep repeating themselves. This will make the transition to the new words easier than if the words were just spoken. There is one place in the Mass that we – you and the priest together – will speak the Creed, the Profession of Faith. There are two words in particular that might sound real new to the ears, unless your ears are as old as mine, in which case the new words will sound familiar, as if they were stored in our memory and have come back to mind and have reached the lips: incarnate and consubstantial. Let’s take a first try at those two words. I say “first” try, because I am going to write something without going to any books, articles or dictionaries. After I write what I write and have it published here, I may need to clarify something or may want to try to say it differently.


I was born. God was incarnate. God was not born like I was born. My parents were Roy and Isabelle. I was born on June 29, 1949. Before I was conceived in my mother’s womb, I did not exist. I came into existence when I was conceived in my mother’s womb. God always existed. God became man. God became flesh. Incarnate means “became flesh.” God did not just appear to be human. He was human. He did not just get inside a human body. He became a human being. Note, too, that God was “born” inBethlehem. God became “incarnate” inNazareth. The Incarnation took place inNazareth, when the angel appeared to Mary to tell her that she would conceive of the Holy Spirit, and, of course, when Mary agreed to accept God’s will.


This word is harder. My only comfort is that it took the Catholic Church a couple hundred years after the incarnation (see above) and the resurrection to come up with this word and to agree that this word was the best word that they could come up with to declare who Jesus Christ was and to explain the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. We can be humble enough to think that it might take us a couple tries to come up with the right words. For forty years we have said, “… one in being with the Father.” Now we will say, “… consubstantial with the Father.” It means that Jesus Christ is God, equal to God, the same as God.

consubstantial and incarnate

Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man. He is truly human and truly divine. He is God and man. He is human and divine. He is not either/or. He is both/and. These two words – consubstantial and incarnate – are the words that the Church has used over the centuries, and which we will use again anew on the First Sunday of Advent, November 27. Those words put us in touch with a long line of believers, and give us the assurance that we stand in line with what the Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God.

As I go now to the stack of books and articles in which the experts give commentary on the new English translation of the Roman Missal, I simply say to you, “As your parish priest I love praying with you, as we pray the prayer and the prayers that the Roman Catholic Church gives us to pray at Mass.”