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How can this be?

8 Apr

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Our sister parish of the Annunciation, located in Beit Jala (Bethlehem), West Bank, Palestine, celebrates her feast day today: the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

Here in Milford at St. Andrew we will pray in our evening Mass that, through the intercession and care of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and woman of Palestine, God will make good on His every promise to His people in Beit Jala and full their every hope in Him.

On Easter Sunday morning one of our teenagers asked me, “Father, which is the more important day for Christians: Christmas or Easter?” How would you have answered her? She picked Christmas.

On this day, I ask myself, “Which is the more important feast: Christmas or the Annunciation?” I pick the Annunciation. Here is my reasoning. When did God become one of us and one with us? Not when He was born. When He was conceived! The English translation of the Nicene Creed used to be: he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. Now we say: he was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. The word incarnate replaces born. To be born describes the moment of birth. To be incarnate describes the moment of conception. The Word became incarnate – became flesh – in Mary’s womb. All of us – you and I and Jesus – were born. But God took on human flesh; God became human; God was incarnate. And the “incarnation” took place at the moment of conception in the womb of Mary, at the moment when Mary accepted God’s will and desire to become human. On Christmas we celebrate His birth among us. On Annunciation we celebrate His incarnation.

For me, the Annunciation feels like Christmas. It takes me back to Beit jala, and seeing that painting over the altar in their Catholic parish church, dedicated to the Annunciation. It takes me back to meeting Deacon Sleiman (Solomon) Hassan in that very church. It will be his ordination to the priesthood in June that will take me back to my next visit to Beit Jala.

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“So what each has offered may benefit all.”

20 Jul

As we prepare for Sunday Mass, we study these prayers that the priest prays from the Roman Missal as he stands at his chair and at the altar. It is quite easy to find the readings for Sunday Mass. It is not so easy to find these prayers.

July 22, 2012

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B



 Show favor, O Lord, to your servants

and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace,

that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,

they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.


Prayer over the Offerings 

O God, who in the one perfect sacrifice

brought to completion varied offerings of the law,

accept, we pray, this sacrifice from your faithful servants

and make it holy, as you blessed the gifts of Abel,

so that what each has offered to the honor of your majesty

may benefit the salvation of all.


Prayer after Communion 

Graciously be present to your people, we pray, O Lord,

and lead those you have imbued with heavenly mysteries

to pass from former ways to newness of life.

a 5th that might be a part of your 4th

4 Jul

The 1st might be a part of your 4th of July. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th will probably be a part of your Independence Day. May I suggest that you also treat yourself to a 5th – no, not that kind of a fifth, but the 5th as described below?

1st – Prayer: try the “Litany for Liberty” or the “Mass prayers for July 4: Independence Day

2nd – Flag: wear it , fly it, carry it, salute it, see it, hold your heart in front of it, pledge allegiance to it, sing under it

3rd – Hot Dog: grill it, burn it (that’s the way it’s good), bun it, mustard (up the courage to eat) it, and enjoy it like a kid, whether you grill out or grill out inside

4th – Fireworks: set them off, watch them, ooh and aah over them, be annoyed by them or be  irritated by them, just don’t burn yourself or anyone else with them

5th – Look up the meaning of “unalienable” in at least two places: You know, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Don’t assume you “know” what “unalienable” means. Look up two definitions or read two reflections about the word – and then ponder whatever stirs up within in you as ponderable.

Mass Prayers – July 4: Independence Day – in the Dioceses of the United States

4 Jul


Father of all nations and ages,

we recall the day when our country

claimed its place among the family of nations;

for what has been achieved we give you thanks,

for the work that still remains we ask your help,

and as you have called us from many peoples to be one nation,

grant that, under your providence,

our country may share your blessings

with all the peoples of the earth.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.


Prayer over the Offerings

Father, who have molded into one our nation,

drawn from the peoples of many lands;

grant, that as the grains of wheat become one bread

and the many grapes one cup of wine,

so before all others be instruments of your peace.



It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,

always and everywhere to give you thanks,

Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,

through Christ our Lord.

He spoke to us a message of peace

and taught us to live as brothers and sisters.

His message took form in the vision of our founding fathers

as they fashioned a nation

where we might live as one.

His message lives on in our midst

as our task for today

and a promise for tomorrow.


Prayer after Communion

May the love we share in this Eucharist, heavenly Father,

flow in rich blessing throughout our land

and by your grace may we as a nation

place our trust in you

and seek to do your will.

Through Christ our Lord.

Would you like a “spirit of compunction” on Ash Wednesday?

22 Feb

In the new translation of the “Prayer over the People” at the end of the Ash Wednesday Mass, the priest asks God to pour out a “spirit of compunction” on the people. With a speed that made the ashes on my forehead fly in the wind, I ran to dictionaries after Mass to see what I was asking God to do to them, wondering whether or not I wanted that done unto me.

Prayer over the People

For the dismissal, the Priest stands facing the people and, extending his hands over them, says this prayer:

Pour out a spirit of compunction, O God, on those who bow before your majesty, and by your mercy may they merit the rewards you promise to those who do penance. Through Christ our Lord.

Emphasis on “Humble and Hopeful Pleading”

2 Dec

In the Mass prayers proper to the Second Sunday of Advent, we found these new words in the updated English translation, and noticed an emphasis on “humbly pleading hopefully.”

Collect: “those who set out in haste to meet your Son … gain … admittance to his company”

Prayer over the Offerings:  “come, we pray, to our rescue with the protection of your mercy”

Preface:  “when … all is at last made manifest … may inherit the great promise in which now we dare to hope”

Prayer after Communion: “we humbly beseech you, O Lord”

Orations: December 4, 2011 – Second Sunday of Advent

2 Dec

As we prepare for Sunday Mass, we study these prayers that the priest prays from the Roman Missal as he stands at his chair and at the altar. It is quite easy to find the readings for Sunday Mass. It is not so easy to find these prayers.


Let us pray

Almighty and merciful God, may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son, but may our learning of heavenly wisdom gain us admittance to his company. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Prayer over the Offerings Be pleased, O Lord, with our humble prayers and offerings, and, since we have no merits to plead our cause, come, we pray, to our rescue with the protection of your mercy. Through Christ our Lord.


Replenished by the food of spiritual nourishment, we humbly beseech you, O Lord, that, through our partaking in this mystery, you may teach us to judge wisely the things of earth and hold firm to the things of heaven. Through Christ our Lord.

the “Great Introducer” – and the “First Called”

30 Nov

Today is the feast of Saint Andrew. For us at St. Andrew this is big! On this day we remember Andrew – and Andrew remembers us.

Entrance Antiphon (Matthew 4: 18-19)

Beside the Sea of Galilee, the Lord saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, and he said to them: Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.


We humbly implore your majesty, O Lord, that, just as the blessed Apostle Andrew was for your  church a preacher and pastor, so he may be for us a constant intercessor before you.  

Prayer over the Offerings

Grant us, almighty God, that through these offerings, which we bring on the feast day of Saint Andrew, we may please you by what we have brought and be given life by what you have accepted.

Communion Antiphon (John 1: 41-42)

Andrew told his brother Simon: We have found the Messiah, the Christ, and he brought him to Jesus.

Prayer after Communion  

May communion in your Sacrament strengthen us, O Lord, so that by the example of the blessed  Apostle Andrew we, who carry in our body the Death of Christ, may merit to live with him in glory.

Emphasis on “Now”

28 Nov

In the Mass prayers proper to the First Sunday of Advent, we found these new words in the updated English translation, and noticed an emphasis on “now.”

Collect: “the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming … so that, gathered at his right hand”

Prayer over the Offerings: “gathered from among your gifts to us”

Preface: “the great promise in which now we dare to hope”

Prayer after Communion: “for even now you teach us … to hold fast to what endures”

Did Not Keep Us from Praying

28 Nov

All day on Friday and Saturday, I had that icky, nervous, churning, unsettled, bothersome feeling in my belly, that feeling that I get whenever I feel uncertain or incompetent or inexperienced (or when I am worrying, as I regrettably do too often, about how I will perform or how I will look in the eyes of others).  

After Masses on Sunday I was exhausted and relieved – and grateful. It was an exhaustion and relief full of gratitude. 

Even during Mass on the weekend I was feeling grateful for the Deacon and the Music Director with whom I serve here at St. Andrew.

Dovile has been remarkably capable and positive (and patient with me). Her choir members were of immense assistance, some of them coming to more than one Mass in order to help the congregation (and me) to navigate our way through the changes.

I find it hard to imagine how priests could have survived the First Sunday of Advent this year without the presence and assurance of a liturgically savvy deacon like I have at my side when I am in the sanctuary.

Add to that the good sport and ever willing, flexible and humble (and brilliant) Sunday priest-associate that we have in Father Ken Morman.

All things considered, our transition to the new words and chant were as uneventful as they were eventful. How did it go at Masses this weekend at St. Andrew? It was as much a non-event as it was a huge event, thanks to Karen Kane and her Archdiocesan Worship Office and the outstanding learning opportunities and materials and worship aids provided for us, to Dovile Krempasky and her choir members, to Deacon Tim Schutte, to Father Ken Morman – and to the good people of St. Andrew who have been accepting, teachable, responsive and engaged during the time of preparation – and of especial good humor during the “first” Masses that we celebrated together.

Of course, we all flubbed up and stumbled a few times, but it did not keep us from praying. Contrary to the headline in this morning’s local newspaper, there was “no Mass confusion” here at St. Andrew. Today I feel proud to be a Catholic priest, and humbled to be able to be the parish priest among the Catholics of Milford.