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Salve! The digital sacristy has many cabinets. Rummage around the premises as time or inclination permits.

On The Transcendentals of Being

We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, he draws us to himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”—Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Lush Life

On Human Dignity

CCC1700. The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God; it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude. It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment. By his deliberate actions, the human person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and attested by moral conscience. Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth; they make their whole sentient and spiritual lives into means of this growth. With the help of grace they grow in virtue, avoid sin, and if they sin they entrust themselves as did the prodigal son to the mercy of our Father in heaven. In this way they attain to the perfection of charity.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Trouble in the Sacristy?

Sacristy of Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome

Is your parish sacristy an oasis of peace or is it just another forum for gossip and distraction?
He who goes about gossiping reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with one who speaks foolishly.—Proverbs 20:19
Is there a reverent silence observed as the preparations begin for Mass?
A practical reason for silence in the sacristy is that it gives the celebrant the opportunity to collect himself, to review his thoughts for the homily and to prepare himself to enter into the profound Mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The silence of the sacristy helps protect the celebrant from unnecessary distractions.
The silence of the sacristy gives priest and servers the opportunity to discuss the Mass about to be celebrated. Together, they can refine their preparations by focussing their thoughts on the exact procedures required by the rubrics and review the timing of ritual gestures to help ensure a beautiful, reverent and seamless liturgical action that points to Christ acting in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
A great performance of a symphony begins in the practice room and in rehearsal. Musicians study the score as individuals who then bring the fruit of their practice to rehearsal with their colleagues under the baton of the conductor who has also made a habit of preparing thoroughly for rehearsal. The combined efforts of the conductor and musicians to faithfully realize the score results in the performance. The Holy Sacrifice Mass, like great works of art, requires thorough preparation that begins with full respect for the text and ritual gestures and culminates in the prayerful rendering of the Divine Liturgy.
The silence of the sacristy helps to evoke a sense of the frequently under appreciated transcendent dimension of the Mass.
Silence all cell phones and other electronic devices. Emergencies excepted, there is no reason a cell phone should be active. If you cannot go an hour-and-a-half or two hours without texting or being connected to the internet, you may want to admit to a smartphone addiction and take steps to overcome a bad habit. Institute a daily 'cell phone siesta' to give yourself some healthy down time.
Are vesting prayers posted for priests and servers in your sacristy?

Is your pastor and are your servers aware that there are prayers that may accompany the donning of vestments?
The preparatory prayers are rich in meaning and allude to or quote Scripture. Consider, for example, the prayer when donning the chasuble (St. Matthew 11:30):
O Lord, Who said: 'My yoke is easy and My burden light': grant that I may bear it well and follow after You with thanksgiving. Amen.
Do priest and servers pray together before leaving the sacristy?
Almighty God and Father, help us to celebrate Your sacred mysteries with dignity, in truth and in spirit, so that by our example we may lead others to Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Almighty Father, we give You thanks for the gift of the Holy Eucharist. Help us to serve well and always do everything to Your greater glory for the good of Your people. We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
How about the prayers after the Mass?

There are some beautiful prayers that may be prayed (and are prayed, for example, in the Extraordinary Form) after the servers and priest have returned to the sacristy.

Urge decorum in the sacristy! Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy! Enjoy the Sabbath rest. Let a sense of the sacred saturate your sacristy, a sense of the sacred that spreads from the sacristy to the sanctuary to the nave and beyond!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Why Catholics are... wrong? Michael Coren becomes Anglican.

The blogosphere is waking up to the news that Michael Coren, British-Canadian columnist, writer (Why Catholics Are Right), public speaker, radio host and television personality and provocateur, has jumped the fence to Anglicanism. News was published (April 23rd) on the Anglican Diocese of Toronto facebook page: click HERE.

Some in the Canadian blogosphere have prodded Coren for some perceived departures on his part from Catholic doctrine. Perhaps those departures were part of a testing of the waters, a leaking of his shifting personal convictions into the public sphere.

Wikipedia has it about right. Coren
converted to Roman Catholicism in his early twenties while still living in England, but that didn't last long. He said that he "converted to an institution." He eventually converted to evangelical Christianity in the 1990s, after a conversion experience as an adult, greatly influenced by Canadian televangelist Terry Winter.

In 1991 Michael Coren said in a column for a humour magazine: "The evangelical Christians may be intolerant, small-minded, and repellent, but at least they hold a consistent set of beliefs".

In a 1993 book review he said "Can anyone imagine a detective priest? Regrettably, it is easier to conjure up the image of a priest being questioned by secular detectives over abuse charges." Also in 1993, Michael Coren had a falling out with the Catholic Church over an unflattering profile he wrote of Archbishop Aloysius Ambrozic for Toronto Life magazine. ... .

After this incident, Coren said that he didn't consider himself a Roman Catholic anymore. He said, "My wife is Catholic and the children will be raised Catholic, but that's it. It's just not there for me." Daniel Richler observed that Coren loves scandal, but hates having it come his way. In one of his columns for the satirical humour magazine Frank, Michael Coren depicted Mother Teresa getting drunk in a bar.

In early 2004, he embraced Catholicism again. He cites St. Thomas More, C. S. Lewis, Ronald Knox and his godfather Lord Longford as spiritual influences, and remains connected to the ecumenical scene in Canada and beyond.
Let's hope Mr. Coren is not so stubborn as to preclude a(nother) reconsideration, perhaps after a few years in the relativistic ACoC.

In a few years, perhaps we'll be reading a new book entitled Yikes, what was I thinking?! Why Catholicism is still right. The Prodigal Returns by Michael Coren.

Pray for Michael and his family. May God surround him with witnesses to the Faith who will help him reconsider his decision.

Archbishop Raymond Roussin (1939 - 2015): Requiescat in pace.

Vancouver Sun

Archbishop-emeritus Raymond Roussin, SM
June 17, 1939 - April 24, 2015

Bishop-emeritus of the Diocese of Victoria and Archbishop-emeritus of Vancouver, His Grace Raymond Roussin, has died at the age of 75.
(Arch)bishop Roussin led the Diocese of Victoria (BC) back from the financial precipice left by his immediate predecessor. His Grace was a gentle but resolute man whose soft spoken homilies carried the thunder of truth.

Archbishop Roussin could speak with academics and tradesmen with equal ease, and even in the midst of a crowd during some diocesan event filled with people vying for his ear you knew he was giving you his complete and undivided attention without rushing you out of the conversation.

In the midst of financial and pastoral confusion, +Roussin restored a sense of sanity to the Diocese of Victoria. During his tenure, a large crucifix was suspended in the sanctuary where none had been for more than several decades. He established the Diocesan Messenger newspaper as the authoritative forum on the Island. The Messenger helped to connect Catholics on Vancouver Island and helped to marginalize the "Spirit of Vatican II" cafeteria Catholicism published in the Island Catholic News (ICN), an independent paper that went completely off the rails once it became clear the Diocese was on the road to recovery after years of being a haven for dissent and liturgical abuse. It wasn't long after the Messenger was introduced that the ICN disappeared from parishes.

Archbishop Roussin struggled with depression. In his weakness, he managed to inspire many people with hope. That the good Archbishop, when Bishop of Victoria, managed to carry out his duties while facing very trying circumstances in the midst of serious depression is a testament to his faith and heroic suffering. Though he retired from the Archdiocese of Vancouver earlier than expected, he certainly merited the consideration of a well earned early rest.

Archbishop Roussin was not overtly charismatic nor was his preaching style affected. Though, he was hardly boring. The humour he occasionally injected into his homilies was never gratuitous but always instructive. Only the haughty dissenting cafeteria-types might be offended by his humour. He possessed a good intellect that was never showy. He spoke with the facility of a trained teacher. In any given sentence he could speak both to the head and the heart. His homilies were well prepared and regularly contained invitations to place one's complete trust in God always. When Bishop Roussin spoke you knew he believed every word, and every word he spoke was true. Simply put, he was Catholic, a faithful son of the Church. May God grant him a swift and merciful judgement.

Archbishop Miller of Vancouver, quoted in The Province,
called Roussin a “mentor who taught me profound lessons of gentleness and simplicity, while exhibiting patience in suffering.”
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Archbishop Roussin, a gentle and kind man filled with love for the Lord and His Church, is scheduled for May 2 at St. Boniface Cathedral in Winnipeg.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Altar Server: a meditation.

[UPDATE April 27/15: #2. The Cassock: duplicated text for English translation of Latin. Error corrected.]

The Altar Server: Model Disciple

1. Washing—Character
  • virtue, strength, confidence, purity of mind and body.
Before donning his vestments, the server washes his hands and recites the following prayer [cf. Psalm 27:7-8 Vulgate; 28:7-8 RSVCE]:
Da, Domine, virtutem manibus meis ad abstergendam omnem maculam ut sine pollutione mentis et corporis valeam tibi servire.
Give virtue to my hands, O Lord, that being cleansed from all stain I might serve you with purity of mind and body.
The prayer accompanying the washing of hands helps us acknowledge our dependence on God for help to overcome temptations and (the stain of) sin. The prayer is a weapon in our battle to overcome temptation and sin. Even if we routinely commit the same sin and find ourselves repeatedly confessing the same sin, we must trust in God's grace and continue to persevere in the struggle to overcome habitual sin. The devil wants us to despair. The devil wants us to believe that people cannot change. Don't give the devil the satisfaction of winning by giving up. God's love is stronger than any temptation or sin. With God's help, people can and do change! Ask for the strength to persevere. Recommit to changing your life and train yourself daily, moment to moment if necessary, by turning to God in prayer. The struggle against a habitual sin can be particularly exhausting. When our spiritual muscles are weary and we are weak, that is exactly the time we need to ask God for the grace to persevere.

The altar server, therefore, is a warrior, not some limp attendant. The server is attentive, eager to serve, focussed on his duties and watchful so that every detail points to Christ. The discipline of the server is to anticipate the needs of the priest as he reverently celebrates the Liturgy. Thus, the server's actions are deliberate, efficient and precise. The art of serving requires that servers look and act dignified to remind everyone that the Mass is the one and same Sacrifice of Calvary worthy of our complete attention. The skilled altar server has mastered the art of disappearing into the background by drawing attention to ritual. The fervent altar server serves with love and devotion and prays for the priest as he carries out his sacred duties.

2. The Cassock—Humility & Dignity
  • inheritance: redemption and eternal life.
    When donning the cassock [cf. Psalm 15:5 Vulgate; 16:5 RSVCE]:
    Dominus, pars hereditatis meæ et calicis mei, tu es qui restitues hereditatem meam.
    O Lord, the portion of my inheritance and my chalice, You are He who will restore my inheritance. [corrected April 27/15]
The prayer when donning the cassock hints at the prayer for the surplice that follows. The black cassock reminds us that we are sinners and that we are made of the clay of the earth.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.—Genesis 3:19
Recall, too, the words that accompany the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday:
Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.
As sons and daughters of Adam and Eve we are dust, subject to disease and death. God has mercifully sent His Son to redeem us from spiritual death. It is God Who restores our dignity. Salvation is nothing we can invent. We cooperate with God and respond to His invitation to eternal life. Our inheritance is life among the saints. In baptism we have been saved by God's supernatural grace. We are being saved by cooperating with God's grace. We live in the hope we shall be saved by God when our earthly lives are spent. 

Chalice. The mention of the word chalice can remind us of the Roman Canon (EP I)
Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty, from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.
—and the Second Eucharistic Prayer—
Therefore, as we celebrate the memorial of his Death and Resurrection, we offer you, Lord, the Bread of life and the Chalice of salvationgiving thanks that you have held us worthy to be in your presence and minister to you.—Roman Missal, EP II (Third Edition).
The Lord's life is poured out for us. He pours out His life sustaining Presence so that we might drink in His very Presence and have life.
I will take the chalice of salvation; and I will call upon the name of the Lord.—Psalm 115 (116):13
3a. Sign of the Cross
  • hands of prayer; heart of faith
We are reminded that all prayer and all service begins and ends with the Cross. We recall God's self emptying to become human to walk among us. By dying (colour black) to self we receive back our lives.

Service at the altar must be selfless. The degree to which we are truly attentive to Jesus in the Liturgy and to our duties is the degree to which others can measure and embrace our humility. Lest our humility become a cause for sinful pride, we would do well to forget any thought of competing for anyone's attention.

We recall that the priest, as icon of Christ, acts in persona Christi in the Mass. We serve Christ in the Liturgy. Christ is the principal actor in the Mass. Jesus acts in and through his priest to make Himself present in the Holy Eucharist: bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.

Hands of Blessing

Typically, when not handling sacred vessels, candlesticks, the Missal or other items, the altar server's hands are held palms together, thumbs crossed (right over left), at a slight angle upward (pointing to heaven), at the breast (heart). The palms held together suggests communion. The shape of the hands suggest a flame—the flame of a lively faith. The crossed thumbs held close to the heart indicates a heart centred on Jesus, His crucifixion and resurrection. Like our hands, our example should point others to heaven.

3b. The Surplice—Symbolism and Identity
  • white baptismal garment, justice, holiness, truth.
  • the outer garment, the white surplice of the “new” man, "covers" the black inner garment of the “old” man.
When donning the surplice [cf. Ephesians 4:24]:
Indue me, Domine, novum hominem, qui secundum Deum creatus est in iustitia et sanctitate veritatis. Amen.
Clothe me, O Lord, as a new man, who was created by God in justice and the holiness of truth. Amen.
The surplice reminds us of our redemption in Christ. To wear the surplice is to be clothed in Christ. Through the sacrament of baptism we are immersed in the death and resurrection of Jesus. By dying to self we rise with Him. The white surplice covers the black cassock. Though we are dust (colour black) as sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, we are redeemed dust (colour white). We are dust that is redeemed by Christ. The surplice and cassock taken together remind us that Christ has saved us from Original Sin. The two colours taken together remind us that while we are redeemed in Christ, we are, in this life, still engaged in the battle against the world, the flesh and the devil.

Modelling the Mantle of Truth: life is black & white.

Truth with a capital "T" is a foreign concept to many people, even though they probably know in their heart—perhaps when they get cut off in traffic or have a wallet stolen—that there is a wrong and a right, evil and good. Without a lengthy digression into the obvious contradictions in play, there will always be those who deny an objective morality while at the same time demanding others be conformed to their twisted code. The modern mind has bought into the arch-contradiction that there are no absolutes, except of course that the statement 'there are no absolutes' is absolute. Such is the inversion of reason that is relativism.

Ruled by Truth

To be clothed in God's grace is to be ruled by truth. One cannot be holy unless one is ruled by the truth of God. Being ruled by truth is to be ruled by the truth about ourselves. Nothing is hidden from God. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

The server and his vestments remind others that:
  • life triumphs over death. Just as all Catholics are called to be witnesses to the Resurrection, servers can be particularly effective witnesses to the Resurrection by drawing on the joy of serving at the altar of the Lord, i.e., the joy of serving in close proximity to the Consecration, and sharing that joy with others.
  • hope overcomes despair. Servers, in their daily lives, are called to be symbols of hope for others.
  • the poor in spirit are blessed (St. Matthew 5:3). The black that covers our "street clothes" reminds us that love serves. We cover our street clothes to leave behind, albeit temporarily, our life outside the temple. In a sense, we veil our bodies in preparation to enter the sacred precincts of the Lord and to reduce distractions. The 'uniform' helps all servers to blend together visually as both a sign of uniformity and unity of service. Thus, the server is able to blend into the background in the same way orchestral musicians wearing their equal attire (black & white) draw attention away from themselves to the music. Orchestral musicians serve the music; altar servers serve the Lord of the Liturgy and thus serve the Liturgy of the Lord.
    Dress for orchestral musicians is historically explained as the standard evening wear for servants, as the modern public orchestra evolved from the private orchestras of the 18th and 19th century aristocracy in Europe. From about the early 18th century onward, the dress for any orchestra was the same livery as other servants of the noble or ecclesiastical household. By the 1860s, roughly, this meant the black-tie tuxedo. As women began to be incorporated into performing ensembles, the standard dress for them became a black dress or suit as well, to match.—Quora.
  • Vestments are a sign of collaboration (co/with; laborare/work or labour: to work, one with another). Working together as a team requires a willingness to forgo selfish concerns for the good of others. True love is self sacrificing love. We are called to put the good of others ahead of concern for self.
The vesting prayers help form each altar server in the knowledge that his service must become a prayer to God. Each gesture, including his silence and stillness, are signposts pointing to the action of Christ in the Mass. In the Presence of Christ, we are attentive and receptive, docile and silently adoring the Eucharistic Lord.

Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff
Liturgical Vestments and the Vesting Prayers