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Wednesday, May 04, 2022
Sunday, May 01, 2022
The Celebration of St. Joseph, the Worker
A Catholic holiday? Communist holiday? Labor Day? A pagan holiday? A distress call?
A Distress Call?
Starting with the latter - as a distress call - in English it appears to have started about 1923 and mostly with aircraft, as they use radios as their primary means of communication. Why not use "S.O.S." that was already in use? Well, that worked fine for ships which primarily used Morse Code to communicate, but an "S" sounds a lot like an "F" when spoken, especially over radio. The first known use was between the French and the English and they used the word "Mayday" which is phonetically close to the French "M'aidez" - which is French for "Help me!" It was officially adopted by the United States and worldwide in 1927.
A Pagan Holiday?
This is true! Celebrating the return of Spring, Greeks and Romans celebrated (Roman goddess, Floralia) this time of year too in agricultural rituals. Which led to the European celebrations of Medieval times.
A Christian Holiday?
The earliest use of Maypoles dates back to the mid 1300s in Britain as described in a poem by Gryffydd ap Adda ap Dafydd. The celebration and use of Maypoles was widespread in Britain by the end of the 14th century. The practice is still celebrated in many British and European cities - and usually on the grounds of Christian churches.
The practice dropped off in Europe significantly after the start of Protestantism - many Protestants thought the Maypole was a form of idolatry - but while not as popular as it was in the 14 through 16th centuries, the practice remains and is not a worship of idols - just a celebration of Springtime.
In many countries around the world, May 1st is Labor Day - celebrating the rights of laborers - and while the United States does not celebrate Labor Day in May, it started in the USA! In 1886, on May 1st a multi-day strike was proposed to demand workers not be forced to work more than 8 hours per day, and was primarily organized (in Chicago) by anarchists and labor activists. By day 3 the protest became violent and a day later in the Haymaker Square in Chicago, during a meeting a bomb went off, killing both officers and civilians (no one is sure for whom the bomb was intended).
A Communist Holiday?
In 1889, at the International Socialist Conference, they named May 1st as "International Workers Day" to honor the workers of Chicago. Anti-Communist feelings in the United States led to President Eisenhower to declare the US would celebrate Labor Day in September, to not be associated with the day the Communists (Socialists) declared the holiday.
A Catholic Holiday?
In 1955, Pope Pius XII promulgated the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker to be celebrated on May 1st to counter the Communist May Day celebrations. His goal was, and remains in the Catholic Church, to offer a Christian view of labor and how St. Joseph was the prime example of the common laborer who supported his wife and family - the Holy Family.
Saturday, April 23, 2022
Second Sunday of Easter
Low Sunday or Divine Mercy Sunday
The 50 days of Eastertide began with Easter Sunday and continues through the Saturday before Pentecost.
Scripture of the Week
From my professor:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11
From the sermon at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Henderson, NV - The whole sermon was on St. Thomas, and Father's theme was he was playing St. Thomas' attorney to right his name and proposes doing away with "Doubting Thomas." He argued, after all, St. Peter denied Jesus 3 times - and 2000 years later we're not calling him "Denying Peter!" Or how about James and John. while they are still referred to as the "Sons of Thunder," recalling Luke 9:54 where they wanted to call down fire from heaven to punish the Samaritan cities that did not accept Jesus; we do not call them the "over-zealous brothers!" But look at what St. Thomas accomplished!
St. Thomas travelled all the way to the south-east corner of India - however - we did not know this until the 16th century when St. Xavier landed in India to preach the Gospel - only to be told by the native Indians, "Oh, you mean the Christian Church? It's over here! When Xavier visited the church he discovered it was founded over a millennia earlier by none other than St. Thomas the Apostle! They were celebrating all the Sacraments of the Catholic Church already! Later research also shows a path from Israel to India with Christian churches all along the way - all founded by St. Thomas! So... Father, our defense attorney for St. Thomas, proposes that from now on we refer to him as "St. Thomas the Traveler!"
Sunday, April 17, 2022
Say it in Ukrainian!
Keep in mind, as well, that "Eastertide" just STARTED on Easter Sunday - it lasts FIFTY DAYS - all the way to Pentecost Sunday! So, those of you who have not done your "Easter Duty," you still have time!
to all who are reading this!
Saturday, April 16, 2022
Holy Saturday is the day we commemorate Jesus in the tomb. He was crucified and buried on Good Friday, and Christians all over the world commemorate in slience the awaiting of Easter Sunday and the Resurrection of our Lord, victorious over death!
Traditionally, there is no Mass on this day. The morning starts with Tenebrae. Tenebrae is part of the Triduum, celebrated on the three days prior to Easter Sunday (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) and confessions can be scheduled throughout the day, and while there is no Mass, there can be a celebration of Holy Communion with pre-consecrated hosts from Holy Thursday. The word tenebrae comes from the Latin meaning of "darkness" or "shadows" - as each day of the Triduum, the lights (candles) in the church are gradually extinguished up to the Tenebrae of Holy Saturday, when ALL lights/candles are put out - the church is left in darkness and silence as we wait.
So what does happen on Holy Saturday? One of the most meaning-packed liturgies of the entire year! Easter Vigil! The vigil traditionally starts at 10 PM local time, and it takes about 2 hours to complete - then - precisely at midnight begins the First Mass of Easter!
The first vigil I ever attended was in the traditional Latin, or extraordinary rite. To be honest, that first time I was not prepared for what was in store for me. First, being a relatively new convert to the Catholic Faith, I did not know all the history and meanings behind all the readings of the vigil. Second, not being really prepared, I got extremely tired before the First Mass of Easter began - but when it did, I was still amazed! The next time I went, I rested up, was a bit more aware of what was going on and was able to follow the readings much more and I was utterly awed by the experience! Then, when the bells began ringing and the statues were unveiled - the experience of the Resurrection explodes throughout the church. The long awaited Easter is HERE and Lent is over!
In the years after Vatican II the Easter Vigil in the ordinary rite is traditionally celebrated approximately one hour after sunset. This is, in part, aligned with the Jewish celebration of Shabbat (Sabbath) as the traditional Jewish day begins at sunset and ends sunset the following day - hence the need to have Jesus buried quickly on Friday because once Shabbat begins, no work is to be performed. Personally, though similarly done (it is much shorter in the Novus Ordo), from our European perspective of the day starting at midnight, for this writer, at least, having it "early" minimizes some of the mystique of bringing in Easter Sunday ON Sunday in the first moments of Easter. If you have not experienced the Easter Vigil in the Traditional Latin (extraordinary) Rite - I highly recommend it!
What to do to prepare for Easter Vigil
1) Be rested! The celebration is long, even in the Novus Ordo, as there is a LOT packed into the readings.
2) Be ready for what is being read! The Vigil begins in the Old Testament, setting the foundation for and reminding us of the very REASON for Easter!
3) Be prepared to be AWED by the experience - in the fullest sense of the word! In fact, our family tries to only use the word "awe" or "awesome" in matters that relate to God - for God truly is the only One worthy of our awe.
How the Vigil Begins
It starts outside. During the three days of Tenebrae the lights/candles of the church are gradually extinguished so that by Holy Saturday, the inside of the church is completely darkened. Outside the church The Paschal Candle is blessed and prepared - in one significant stage, five "nails" (pins amde from incense) are inserted into the cross on the candle, symbolizing the five wounds crucifixion, the burial incense - and a reminder - WE put those nails in. Next, a "new fire" is lit - traditionally from striking flint into kindling, and building a fire from there. In modern days, some will use a lighter - which technically is still valid if it uses flint to strike the flame (electronic striking lighters, technically, do not suffice here). Prayers are read, hymns are sung and the Paschal Candle is lit from the new fire. The tradition of the "new fire" used to be a daily practice in the ancient church, eventually was done on each Saturday, throughout the year, and in the 11th century the ceremony was restricted to the Easter Vigil. Then, the congregation, each holding a candle of their own, lights their candle starting from the Paschal Candle. That One Light brings light to all. Next comes the procession into the church.
The Procession Into the Church
The priest leads the way in, pausing first at the door and chanting "Lumen Christi!" (the Light of Christ), then the doors open and he takes a few steps in, pauses and chants again, in slightly higher tone, "Lumen Christi!" This repeats several times as the congregation proceeds in behind him. Keeping in mind, the church is wholly darkened and is only being lit by the candles processing in - it is truly symbolic of the Light of Christ entering into the sanctuary - and back into the world.
The readings begin with the creation of the world, through the story of the fall of mankind into sin, to the promise of Abraham, to Moses, to Isaiah. If you are paying attention and meditating on these words, you may experience the Vigil in the deeper sense for which it was designed - to remind us of who we are, from where we came. and WHY we went through the penance of Lent, Passion Week, and are brought to this point - the Vigil of Easter - where we are encouraged to think upon the women approaching the Empty Tomb.
The Joy of Easter!
The preparation and readings of the Vigil. which again, take approximately 2 hours to go through and is why we start at 10 PM, perfect timing for the First Mass of Easter - which begins promptly at midnight. Bells ring loudly (they have been silenced since Holy Thursday, first day of the Triduum) and the purple veils over the statues (and other artwork) are removed - HE IS RISEN! And we celebrate with the sung High Mass!
The timing in most celebrations of the ordinary (Novus Ordo) rite are a bit different - but the meanings are still there. Again, I have been to both - but I prefer the whole build-up and timing of the First Mass of Easter beginning at midnight - in the first moments of Easter Sunday as celebrated according to the extraordinary rite (and some ordinary rite parishes may still adhere to the more traditional ritual).
Thursday, April 14, 2022
THE TRIDUUM BEGINS!
Holy Thursday - or Maundy Thursday we celebrate the FIRST MASS! This is the day Jesus gathers with His Apostles for Passover and therein consecrates the FIRST EUCHARIST enabling ALL Christians to fulfill His repeated command from John 6 to "Eat My Flesh... or you have no life in you!" Jesus takes the bread and wine from the Passover festival and declares, "This IS My Body" and "This IS My Blood," and further commands that we "DO THIS" each time we partake in this - which, as Catholics, we partake in "this" at every celebration of the Mass - again, which all commemorate this FIRST MASS!
Before we get to that FIRST MASS, however, there is the FOOT WASHING. Jesus commands us all to be servants of one another, and by His example - He washes the feet of the Apostles as the gathered for the Passover. This ceremony is also commemorated at most Catholic churches throughout the world on Holy Thursday before Mass. It is also the FINAL Mass celebrated until the First Mass of Easter (during the Easter Vigil). On Good Friday and Holy Saturday during Tenebrae, there may be distribution of pre-consecrated Holy Communion (consecrated on Holy Thursday).
This is also the first day of Tenebrae - the darkening of the church which goes fully dark on Holy Saturday - more on that on Holy Saturday's posting.
We we remember The First Mass, The Agony in the Garden, Jesus' arrest and His Passion begins.
The second day of the Triduum - and the second Tenebrae - more candles are extinguished, fewer lights are left on in the church. There is no "Mass" today, but there may be distribution of pre-consecrated Eucharist - often this is referred to as a "Mass of the Pre-Consecrated."
Today we remember Jesus being presented before Caiphas and Pontius Pilate - His conviction under Pilate, The Way (or Stations) of the Cross - including and His Crucifixion, death and burial.
Sunday, April 10, 2022
Meditations for the Week
Today we think of Jesus' glory and recognition as the Messiah, gather your palms and after Mass take them home and display them for the year. They will be returned to the church a week or two before Ash Wednesday and burned - their ashes then used on Ash Wednesday.
Thursday, Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday - Jesus is celebrating Passover with the Apostles. Later this night He goes to Gethsemene to pray. Jesus knows what is coming and He pleads with the Father that this cup may pass if it be the Father's will - but not His own will. He prays so hard that He sweats blood. It is here that Judas betrays Him with a kiss and Jesus is arrested and taken off to Caiphas.
Friday, before Pontius Pilate, Jesus is sentenced to death on the Cross. He is taken out and forced to carry His Cross to Golgatha - the hill of the skull. He is crucified, died, and is buried.
Lent is coming to an end.
Saturday, April 02, 2022
Fifth Sunday of Lent
The Fifth Sunday of Lent is also called Passion Sunday or Judica Sunday, from the first word in the Introit – which in English is "Judge me…" (again, from the Extraordinary Rite of the Mass).
The Epistle: Hebrews 9:11-15
This passage speaks of the Old Testament Law and sacrifice and how those sacrifices did bring on the cleansing of the flesh. However imperfectly, the Sacrifice of Christ brings this cleansing perfectly. It is through our participation in the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass that we cooperate with His Grace and receive His Body and Blood under the appearance of bread and wine.
The Gospel: John 8:46-59
Jesus reveals Himself to the Jews (especially in the verses which immediately proceed this Gospel), and He tells them that they do not hear Him because they do not belong to God (v. 47). They do not hear Him and look to kill Him – because they are not of God. Jesus reaffirms that their father, Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing Him – and he (Abraham) saw that day and was glad (v. 56). Jesus closes with, "Verily I say to you before Abraham was born, I Am!" (v. 58). The Jews then began to pick up stones to kill Him, but He hid Himself and slipped away (v. 59).
Passion Sunday is also the start of Passiontide, the last 2 weeks before Easter - many churches and homes cover all crucifixes and other religious art with purple veils.
Scripture of the Week
From my professor:
From my professor:
"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." -Deuteronomy 31:6
These are the words of Moses to Israel as he was passing his authority on to Joshua to lead them across the Jordan and into the Promised Land. Those whom they should not fear are the current occupants of the land. A similar story to what we have in the Gospel on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, as the Jews – the current occupants of the Holy Land were not following God, if they had been, they would have seen that the Messiah had indeed come – and instead of accepting and following Him, they looked to kill Him.
Friday, March 25, 2022
Many non-Catholics, even some Catholics, have posited that the reason December 25th is the date of Christmas is due to the Catholic Church wishing to celebrate a Christian feast during the time the pagans celebrate the Winter solstice. They are wrong!
The REAL reason is in ancient times it was believed that one's death date is the same date as one's conception date. March 25, 29 AD was one early date they believe was the date of Jesus' crucifixion. Do the math, 9 months later is December 25th.
The date of Christmas is based upon the DEATH of Christ - not due to Catholics wanting to "compete" with pagans for a Winter solstice holiday! Besides, the Winter solstice is December 21st, not the 25th! If they were truly trying to replace the pagan holiday, Christmas would be on December 21st!
Friday, March 25th we celebrate(d) the Solemnity of the Annunciation - when the angel of the Lord announced to Mary that she would be the Mother of God. Again, THIS is why Christmas is on December 25th.
References to some sites who get this wrong:
https://www.historytoday.com/archive/did-romans-invent-christmas (In fairness, while this one makes arguments for pagan origins, it closes with reference to the Annunciation on March 25th, based on concepts from Judaism which links the death of prophets to their conception).
Of course there are many more, but one thing I will say - in doing this search I found many sites which do acknowledge the Annunciation on March 25th as the reason for celebrating the Christ Mass on December 25th. It is encouraging to see some of the ignorance of years past being overcome by objective reporters.
Thursday, March 24, 2022
As a reminder - we are to abstain from meat (or some other food as determined by the local episcopal conference - except during Lent when it HAS to be meat which one abstains from, Canon 1251) on ALL Fridays - but Friday March 25, 2022 is the Solemnity of the Annunciation and on a solemnity there is no penance or abstinence.
Scripture of the Week – Week 4 of Lent
This Sunday is Laetare Sunday and is the second (and final) day of the liturgical year in which the color of the vestments is rose (not “pink”). One of the ways a priest told me how to remember this is “Jesus didn’t pink from the dead on Easter Sunday, He rose from the dead.”
Scripture this week from my professor:
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." - Romans 15:13
When I first read this it made me think of the Introibo (in - tro - eebo) in the Latin Mass:
Introibo ad altare Dei – which translated is “I will go in to the altar of God.”
And more precisely the next line:
Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meum – which translated is “To God, which maketh my youth joyful.”
And how appropriate! Lautare Sunday is “Joyful Sunday” – as you can see by the similarities in “laetare” and “laetificat” – both with the root meaning of “joyful.”
Joyful or Laetare Sunday is a time during the season of Lent to meditate upon the joyfulness of the coming Easter. Rejoice (be joyful) in the Lord! This is similar to the other day in the liturgical year which utilizes rose vestments – which is Gaudate Sunday and also, in Latin, has the meaning of “Joyful Sunday” during the season of Advent.
As an aside, we often see Advent as the end of the year because it comes toward the end of the calendar year – but in the liturgical year, Advent is the first season, the First Sunday of Advent being the first day of the liturgical year.
Anyway, this Sunday wear something rose-colored!
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
This Friday, March 25th, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, Pope Francis has asked the world to unite with him at 6:30pm, Rome time, in praying for the consecration of Russia along with Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The time to pray:
Now is not the time to debate whether or not this is the fulfillment of what Sr. Lucia said the Blessed Mother at Fatima had requested. Some believe it has already happened while other say it never did. We can discuss all this later. For now - pray for peace in Ukraine and pray that Russia is consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.The text of the prayers:
Saturday, March 19, 2022
For the Third Week of Lent:
The Epistle this Sunday (Extraordinary Rite) is taken from Ephesians 5:1-9 wherein we are reminded to be followers of God and to not stray into sins of fornication. covetousness. obscenity, foolish talking and all uncleaness for those who do will not inherit Heaven. You were in darkness but are now in the Light of the Lord.
The Gospel this Sunday (Extraordinary Rite) is from Luke 11:14-28 - In this passage, Jesus casts out a devil from a person who was dumb - and immediately the person began to speak. Some who witnessed this claimed he cast out demons by Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Jesus responds that a kingdom divided against itself shall be desolated. He also warned that when a demon is cast out and wanders around looking for a new home, if finding none it returns to the host in which it once resided. Seeing the former host is now clean and inviting, it goes out and brings back seven other spirits to inhabit - making the later state is worse than the first. This is a warning to be on one's guard against evil spirits who will want to come into those who have been delivered to the Lord. It is also evidence against those who preach OSAS (once saved, always saved) for clearly one who was delivered from evil has been "saved" but there is danger of not only falling away, but to be in an even worse situation than their previous state.
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." - Hebrews 10:23
I respond: Not only does this fit well with this Sunday's Epistle (Extraordinary Rite) to remain faithful and also with the Gospel to be diligent after being delivered to Christ, but also reminds me of our motto as apologists from 1 Peter 3:15 - to always (unswervingly) be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us!