Category Archives: Columnists

Christ Rose “Again”?

 

HE DESCENDED INTO HELL
ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD

“In the English translation of the Creed we say that Christ rose again. There is no such Latin equivalent.  Why, then, do we use the word ‘again’ in the Creed?  It seems to imply that Christ rose from the dead at some point before Easter.”

Two issues.  What the early church fathers Tertullian and Irenaeus said is of passing interest, but it does not answer the question at hand, which is “Why do we say He rose again?”

To answer this we must 

 1) Consider not so much what the early Church fathers said but what the Council of Nicea said. Note that both Irenaeus and Justin pre-date the Ecumenical Council of Nicea (325 A.D.) and neither carries the authority of that council.  

2) We are dealing with a translation that comes from the Mass, which for Western Catholics means Latin, not Greek.  In saying so, I do not mean to say that the Latin pre-dates the Greek Creed (it most certainly does not) or that the Greek Creed is in error or otherwise deficient in any way.  

Indeed, why we say “rose again” has everything in the world to do with what the Latin version of the Creed says.  It says “resurrexit” and thus we say “He rose again” which is an accurate translation of the Latin.  Why the Latin has “resurrexit” instead of “surrexit” is a different question altogether.

Well, lets keep in the mind that the Creed was probably first formulated in Greek, before the Latin text.  Two of Denzinger’s Sources for the Creed, before Tertullian, are Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, both of whom wrote in Greek.

  That being said, the two (Greek and Latin) could have been formulate around the same time, especially as this seems to be a rule of faith used in the early Church. 

 As mentioned above, the Greek term used is anastanta, which means to make to stand up, raise up.  

The verb just means to rise up (at least in the Greek), i.e. to awaken from the dead.

By “again,” the translators intend the original meaning of “again” as “back to the former state” (of living), rather than as “for yet another time.”  Below are the four senses of “again” from Merriam-Webster.  You will see that the first sense is the one being used, rather than the second one, which today predominates among American speakers. Interesting question!

  1: in return : back (swore he would pay him again when he was able — Shakespeare) 
  2: another time : once more : anew (I shall not look upon his like again — Shakespeare) 
  3: on the other hand (he might go, and again he might not)   
4: in addition :  besides (again, there is another matter to consider)

The specific phrase is “On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures….”  The word “again” does not change the meaning of much in my mind as it implies he “got up again” after death.  Although we can see how it may imply he rose from the dead again rather than got up again.  By “got up” it simply means the raising one does when one wakes in the morning.  I was once on my back without senses, and now I am on my feet, and alert.  In English, the death is not mentioned in that sentence, although it might be in the Latin version.

SACRED SCRIPTURE

“The Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day” (Matt 17:22-23).

At the moment of Our Lord’s death His soul descended into that part of hell called otherwise known as the Limbo of the Patriarchs or Abraham’s Bosom – the place where the souls of the Just who died before Christ were detained:  “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:40).  Christ announced the glad tidings of Redemption to them, and their approaching admission into heaven with Him on Ascension Day:  “he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison” (1Pet 3:19).  Our Lord’s very presence transformed Limbo into a delightful paradise, as we gather from His words to the Good Thief: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43).

It is also an expressed opinion that Christ visited purgatory, to console and comfort the souls suffering there:  “I will penetrate to all the lower parts of the earth, and will behold all that sleep, and will enlighten all that hope in the Lord” (Sir 24:45).

For three days Christ’s soul was separated from His body, yet His divinity was never for a moment separated from either.  On the third day, Christ, by His own divine power, reunited His soul to His body and rose again immortal and impassable:  “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn 2:19); “I lay down my life in order to take it up again” (Jn 10:17).

After His Resurrection, Christ retained in His body the marks of His sufferings:  “Put your finger here and see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe” (Jn 20:27).  These marks will ever remain to show that He rose again in the same body, and as tokens of His victory over sin and death.

Moreover, having risen with the same but glorified body Christ is no longer subject to death, as were those He miraculously raised to life.  Further, He is the principle and cause of the future General Resurrection of all the dead:  “for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ” (1Cor 15:22).

On the fact of the Resurrection rests our belief in Christianity:  “and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain…” (1Cor 15:14).  There are ten accounts given in Sacred Scripture of Christ’s appearances after His Resurrection:

(i) To St. Mary Magdalene near the Sepulcher, while she was looking for Christ’s body (Jn 20:16);

(ii) To the holy women returning from the Sepulcher after being shown the empty tomb by the angel (Matt 28:9);

(iii) To Simon Peter alone as Head of the Apostles (Lk 24:34);

(iv) To the two disciples on the road to Emmaus to whom Christ expounded all the Scriptures concerning himself from Moses and the Prophets (Lk 24:25);

(v) To the Apostles assembled behind locked doors, excepting St. Thomas, on the first Easter Sunday (Jn 20:21);

(vi) A week later to all of the Apostles behind the same locked doors, including St. Thomas (Jn 20:28);

(vii) To St. Peter and six other Apostles while fishing fruitlessly upon the Sea of Galilee (Jn 21:7);

(viii) To the eleven Apostles in Galilee upon a mountain where Jesus had bidden them meet him (Matt 28:16);

(ix) To St. James the Less as recounted by St. Paul (1Cor 15:7);

(x) On the day of His Ascension from Mount Olivet in front of as many as five hundred people (Acts 1:9).

The Apostles were to go on and preach Christ’s Resurrection before the very Jewish leaders who put Him to death.  They preached this truth to an incredulous world, filled with the unction of the Holy Spirit, braving persecution, imprisonment and death:  “And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus” (Acts 13:32-33).

TRADITION — The Early Church Fathers

St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5, 31, 2 (180 AD):  “For since the Lord went away into the midst of the shadow of death where the souls of the dead were, and afterwards arose in the body, and after the resurrection was taken up, it is clear that the souls also of His disciples, on account of which the Lord underwent these things, will go away into the place allotted them by God.”

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 4, 11 (350 AD): “(Christ) descended into the subterranean regions so that He might ransom from there the just… David was there, and Samuel, and all the Prophets; and John, the same who, through his messengers, said:  ‘Are You the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’  Would you not want Him to go down to free such men as these?”

St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism 1 (Post 383 AD):  “God (the Son) did not impede death from separating His soul from His body according to the necessary order of nature, but has reunited them to one another in the resurrection, so that He Himself might be, in His person, the meeting point for death and life, by arresting in Himself the decomposition of nature produced by death and so becoming the source of reunion for the separated parts.”

St. Augustine of Hippo (+430 AD), Commentary on Psalm 120:4:  “It is no great thing to believe that Christ died. This the pagans, Jews, and all the wicked believe; in a word, all believe that Christ died.  But that He rose from the dead is the belief of Christians.  To believe that He rose again, this we deem of great moment.”

Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566):  Finally, the Resurrection of our Lord, as the pastor should inculcate, was necessary to complete the mystery of our salvation and redemption.  By His death Christ liberated us from sin; by His Resurrection, He restored to us the most important of those privileges, which we had forfeited by sin.  Hence these words of the Apostle:  He was delivered up for our sins, and rose again for our justification.  That nothing, therefore, may be wanting to the work of our salvation, it was necessary that as He died, He should also rise again.

Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992):

No. 632:  The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.  This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead.  But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.

No. 639:  The mystery of Christ’s resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness.  In about AD 56, St. Paul could already write to the Corinthians:  “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve…”  The Apostle speaks here of the living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his conversion at the gates of Damascus.

No. 655:  Finally, Christ’s Resurrection – and the risen Christ himself – is the principle and source of our future resurrection:  “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep… For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive…”

HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN
AND IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD
THE FATHER ALMIGHTY

 

 

Canonization of Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II

Seb Koh

 

Written by Dr. Eusebio Koh

Past Grand Knight: Santo Nino Council #12415

May 4, 2014

On April 27, 2014, the Divine Mercy Sunday, two recent but most deserving popes, John XXIII and John Paul II, were canonized by Pope Francis in front of almost a million enthusiastic spectators which included retired Pope Benedict XVI and numerous dignitaries from around the world.  In his homily during mass at St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis praised the new saints as “men of courage and mercy who worked with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the church in keeping the features brought to her over the centuries.”

This was a most astonishing occasion not merely because two popes were canonized in the presence of two other popes but because of the haste and urgency to get the canonization done. Sainthood has often taken decades if not centuries to achieve partly because of the difficulty to confirm the basic requirement of two attributed miracles.

In St. John XXIII’s case, the second miracle was waived in light of his tremendous accomplishment of the Vatican II.  In St John Paul II’s case, the waiting period after a candidate’s demise was waived and the process of canonization was expedited.

Pope Francis praised St. John XXIII for “his openness to the Holy Spirit” and allowing himself to be led as a “pastor, servant-leader” in this task.

Vatican II opened the Church to modern times and also reached back to biblical times by stressing the central role of the Sacred Scripture in our devotion.  Bible study continues to be part of the activities of priest and parishioners.

St. John XXIII, through the Second Vatican Council, has modernized our Church and brought it closer to us.  We feel part and parcel of the Church.  With the priest facing us and speaking our vernacular, we feel we belong to the same family.  Our Church is a church of love and respect and is quite inclusive.  So much so that we do not hesitate to serve in the Eucharist and the liturgy in any way we can.

It is believed that Pope John XXIII saved the world from nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.  With the United States under President John F. Kennedy ready to blockade the Soviet Union from bringing nuclear missiles to Cuba, the pope made an impassioned plea over the Vatican Radio:  “We beg all rulers not to be deaf to the cry of humanity.”  This allowed Nikita Krushchev to back down and call back the Soviet fleet without disgrace. For his efforts and call for world peace, Time magazine named Pope John XXIII as “Man of the Year.”

Pope Francis praised and characterized St. John Paul II as “the pope of the family” and invoked the guidance of the new saints in the upcoming synods of the bishops on the family in October this year and in 2015.

Pope John Paul II had one of the longer and more successful papacy (1978-2005).  He had involved himself in international affairs and had probably travelled the most to other countries.  He went further than Pope John XXIII in bridging the gaps between the church and the other faiths, namely Judaism, the Church of England, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Protestant Churches and even the Dalai Lama.  It is believed that he played a behind-the-scene part in bringing down communism. In 2004, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush for his “principled stand for peace and freedom”.

The choice of holding the canonization on Divine Mercy Sunday was meaningful especially for St John Paul II who instituted the observance in the Catholic universal calendar.  In the year 2000 at the Mass for the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, he proclaimed the second Sunday after Easter as the Divine Mercy Sunday.  St. Faustina, coming from a poor Polish family, was a sister of the Congregation of Sisters of our Lady of Mercy.  She claimed to have been visited by Jesus.  By some coincidence, Pope John Paul II passed away in 2005 on the vigil of the Feast of Divine Mercy.  As well, he was beatified in 2011 on Divine Mercy Sunday.

We have two great Church leaders in Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II and they richly deserved to be canonized.

 

 

The Acolyte & Altar Server

THE ACOLYTE AND ALTAR SERVER

(The Pastoral Companion — A Canon Law Handbook of Catholic Ministry, pp86-87) Franciscan Press, 1995: John M. Huels, O.S.M., J.C.D.

The acolyte is instituted by the local ordinary (i.e. bishop) to serve at the altar and to assist the bishop, priest and deacon.  In particular it is for him to prepare the altar and the vessels and, as a special minister of the Eucharist, to give Communion to the faithful (General Instruction Roman Missal, 65).  This norm pertains to the stable ministry of acolyte, not to be confused with the temporary ministry of altar server.  Like the stable ministry of reader,

the ministry of acolyte is conferred only for seminarians preparing for the priesthood and candidates for the permanent diaconate.

NORMS FOR THE CELEBRATION AND RECEPTION OF COMMUNION

Vatican II, THE HOLY AND LIVING SACRIFICE

(The Liturgy Documents—A Parish Resource, p261) Liturgy Training Publications, Third Edition, 1991

29. In every celebration of the Eucharist there should always be a sufficient number of ministers for the distribution of Communion. Priority is always given to ordinary ministers (bishops, priests, deacons) and auxiliary ministers (instituted acolytes). When there are large numbers of the faithful present and there are insufficient ordinary and auxiliary ministers at hand, special or extraordinary ministers properly appointed beforehand should assist in the distribution of Communion.

GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL

Duties and Ministries in The Mass

(Renewed by Decree of Vatican II, Promulgated by Authority of Pope Paul VI and Revised at the direction of Pope John Paul II) Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011

100. In the absence of an instituted acolyte [by the local ordinary], there may be deputed lay ministers to serve at the altar and assist the Priest and the Deacon;

these carry the cross, the candles, the thurible, the bread, the wine, and the water, or who are even deputed to distribute Holy Communion as extraordinary ministers.

110. If at Mass with the people only one minister is present, that minister may exercise several different functions.

111. There should be harmony and diligence among all those involved in the effective preparation of each liturgical celebration in accordance with the Missal and other liturgical books, both as regards the rites and as regards the pastoral and musical aspects. This should take place under the direction of the rector [pastor] of the church and after consultation with the faithful in things that directly pertain to them. However, the Priest who presides at the celebration always retains the right of arranging those things that pertain to him.

 

Non-Integration of Mass Ministries

NON-INTEGRATION OF MASS MINISTRIES

(Sacred Mysteries-Sacramental Principles & Liturgical Practice, p169) Paulist Press, 1995: Dennis C. Smolarski, S.J.

The proper celebration of liturgical rites assumes the presence of several ministers in addition to the one presiding. At the minimum, a typical celebration includes a reader, a cantor and a server. This is in stark contrast to the Tridentine missal and the 1614 A.D. Ritual, which presumed the presence only of a server and which also required the priest to repeat quietly texts sung by the choir or proclaimed by the deacon and sub-deacon.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy encourages the distribution of tasks during liturgical services and cautions that ministers “should carry out all and only those parts” that pertain to their ministry.

Such advice is repeated in the liturgical books themselves, for example, when the General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that the presiding priest should not proclaim the gospel if a deacon or another priest is present.

Integration and coordination of ministries presupposes several things. It presupposes the existence of qualified ministers. It presumes that all ministers know what is proper to their own ministry and what is proper to other ministers. It also assumes that the presiding minister actually permits and encourages other ministers to do all that their ministry requires.

It may be difficult to recruit and train enough ministers to fill all the liturgical needs of a community. But such difficulty is no excuse for certain ministers regularly to usurp the roles of others. God has given the members of the assembly various gifts and talents, and they should not be overlooked. Gifted individuals need to be identified and their talents cultivated for the benefit of the community.

We should no more consider certain ministries optional than we should consider vesture or vessels optional. A reader at mass, for example, whether on Sunday or during the week, is not a nice addition when one is present. In most cases, the participation of a reader should be considered a necessity if the celebration is to be considered authentic. Without bread and wine, we cannot celebrate the mystery of the Eucharist. We should also think twice about the advisability of celebrating any liturgical mystery without the assistance of appropriate ministers.

NORMS DRAWN FROM THE NATURE OF THE LITURGY

Vatican II, CONSTITUTION ON THE SACRED LITURGY

(The Liturgy Documents—A Parish Resource, pp15-16) Liturgy Training Publications, Third Edition, 1991

22. §1. Regulation of the liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, accordingly as the law determines, on the bishop.

§2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops lawfully established.

§3. Therefore, no other person, not even if he is a priest, may on his own add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy.

28. In liturgical celebrations each one, minister or layperson, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to that office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy.

32. The liturgy makes distinctions between persons according to their liturgical function and sacred orders and there are liturgical laws providing for due honors to be given to civil authorities. Apart from these instances,

NO SPECIAL HONORS ARE TO BE PAID IN THE LITURGY TO ANY PRIVATE PERSONS OR CLASSES OF PERSONS, WHETHER IN THE CEREMONIES OR BY EXTERNAL DISPLAY.

 

The Role of Laity

THE ROLE OF LAITY

The Second Vatican Council [1962–1965] devoted its decree on the apostolate of the laity Apostolicam actuositatem and chapter IV of its dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium to the laity in a sense narrower than that which is normal in the Catholic Church.

The definition of laity is that given in the Code of Canon Law:

By divine institution, there are among the Christian faithful in the Church sacred ministers who in law are also called clerics; the other members of the Christian faithful are called lay persons.  There are members of the Christian faithful from both these groups who, through the profession of the evangelical counsels by means of vows or other sacred bonds recognized and sanctioned by the Church, are consecrated to God in their own special way and contribute to the salvific mission of the Church; although their state does not belong to the hierarchical structure of the Church, it nevertheless belongs to its life and holiness (Canon 207).

The narrower sense in which the Second Vatican Council gave instruction concerning the laity is as follows:  The term laity is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in holy orders and those in the state of religious life specially approved by the Church.  These faithful are by baptism made one body with Christ and are constituted among the People of God; they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world (Lumen gentium, 31).

In this narrower sense, the Council taught that the laity’s specific character is secularity: they are Christians who live the life of Christ in the world.  Their role is to sanctify the created world by directing it to become more Christian in its structures and systems:

“the laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God (Lumen gentium, 31).”  The laity are full members of the Church, fully share in Church’s purpose of sanctification, of “inner union of men with God (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 775),”

acting with freedom and personal responsibility and not as mere agents of the hierarchy.  Due to their baptism, they are members of God’s family, the Church, and they grow in intimate union with God, “in” and “by means” of the world. It is not a matter of departing from the world as the monks and the nuns do that they sanctify themselves; it is precisely through the material world sanctified by the coming of the God made flesh, i.e. made material, that they reach God.   Doctors, mothers of a family, farmers, bank tellers, drivers, by doing their jobs in the world with a Christian spirit are already extending the Kingdom of God.   According to the repeated statements of Popes and lay Catholic leaders, the laity should say “we are the Church,” in the same way that the saints said that “Christ lives in me.”  Lay involvement takes diverse forms, including participation in the life and Mass ministries  of the parish.

 

Vatican II after 50 Years

Written by Dr. Eusebio Koh

Originally Published in the Filipino Journal:   December 5, 2012, Volume 26, Number 22

 

The year 1962, fifty years ago, was a very memorable year. In April of 1961, the United States with Cuban rebels launched the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba with the intention to rid the North American continent of the presence of communism. The USSR under Nikita Kruschev decided to arm Cuba with nuclear missiles to prevent future invasions. Those missiles could hit Washington D. C. in fifteen minutes if launched. The missiles were discovered by American U2 aircrafts in October, 1962 which led to the thirteen-day Cuban Missile Crisis. The United States under President John F. Kennedy was prepared to confront and block Russian ships from reaching Cuba. Fortunately, diplomacy won out and the tension was defused. That was probably the closest we came to nuclear war.

But the year 1962 was memorable for a most pleasant event – an event that enriches the world, specifically the world of the Catholics which today number over a billion. The Second Vatican Council (informally called Vatican II) is one important happening in the Catholic Church. It opened up the Church to the modern world. The council, a bright idea of Blessed Pope John XXIII, convened on 11 October 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI on 8 December 1965. Pope John passed away in June, 1963 and Pope Paul reopened the council upon his election to the papacy. The popes who succeeded Pope John, namely Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, Pope John Paul II and the present Pope Benedict XVI were participants in the Vatican II.

In talks before the Council actually met, Pope John had said that we needed to open the windows and the doors of the Church to take in some fresh air. He was talking about ecumenism, renewal, reform and getting lay involvement in the liturgy and other aspects of the Church. He invited the Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Churches to send observers to the Council and they accepted. There were also lay and women observers during the council meetings. Personally, I think it was Pope John who was the fresh air for through the Vatican II he brought the people closer to the Church and to the Lord Jesus Christ.

There were numerous documents approved by Council. A Synod of Bishops was established to preserve a close cooperation of the bishops with the Pope. There were decrees on religious freedom, decrees on missionary activity, on the life of persons in religious orders, education for the priests, and the role of the laity. One important document stated that the Jews of today are no more responsible for the death of Christ than Christians. A most accommodating document was on the dogmatic constitution on the Church. While claiming to be the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” Church of Christ, the document acknowledged that “many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines.”

Perhaps the most notable with immediate effects on individual Catholics was the decree to allow the celebration of the Mass in vernacular languages with greater participation of lay persons in the liturgy and the celebrant facing the congregation. Latin of course was not abolished as the liturgical language of the Roman Rite and is still the basis of translations as in the case of the new Roman Missal. Here and elsewhere, traditionalists can still attend Latin Masses.

Vatican II opened the Church to modern times and also reached back to biblical times by stressing the central role of the Sacred Scripture in our devotion. Bible study continues to be part of the activities of priest and parishioners.

For senior citizens like me, Vatican II has made changes in what and how the Church has become to us:

1. The Church is no longer some unapproachable Kingdom of God. We are part and parcel of the Church; we are the Church.

2. The Church has become less absolute in its relationship to non-Catholics and even non-Christians allowing that there are religious truths and aspirations outside the Church.

3. The Church is now understandable in its mission with the priest facing us and speaking our vernacular language.

4. The Church has invited us to be involved in the liturgy and the Eucharist. It has given value to us as thinking participants and listened to our opinions considering the increase of educated Catholics with advanced degrees in the arts (including theology) and sciences.

5. The Church has become a church of love, not of fear and coercion. It has given us freedom to act according to our clear conscience.

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II, Pope Benedict XVI had declared the period from October 2012 to the end of November 2013 a “Year of Faith” and told parishes and religious institutions to find ways to celebrate and reaffirm the Creed. Either the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed is a statement of the Christian belief.

 

Astronomy for “The Light of The Cosmos”

Date & time of Easter Vigil – Christ Our Light

Much debate and conflict has been spawned by efforts to determine the date this feast should be celebrated annually.  The difficulty comes in translating an “immovable feast” from a lunar to the Christian solar calendar (Julian, and now Gregorian), on which it becomes a movable feast (one that moves to a certain day of the week, the way Thanksgiving moves to a Thursday, instead of one that is always celebrated on a particular date, immovably, like a birthday).  The Council of Nicaea in 325 placed Easter on the first Sunday following the first full moon after March 20 (which is the vernal equinox, when the sun is directly above the earth’s equator).  This date allowed pilgrims to have moonlight for traveling to the great Easter festivals of that day.  According to this method of reckoning, Easter could be as early as March 22 and as late as April 25. (331, Klein: The Catholic Source Book; #1170, Catechism of the Catholic Church)

The Easter Vigil takes place at night. It should not begin before nightfall and should end before daybreak. It is never permitted to anticipate the Mass of Easter before the Easter Vigil or celebrate more than one Easter Vigil service in the same church (111, Huels: The Pastoral Companion; 197-note 2, Ordo: Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops).

The precise time of the nightfall can be obtained from any basic astronomy program which is capable of calculating “the time of sunset” and then one adds 30 minutes to allow for the residual evening sunlight to dissipate.  The image below shows the precise time of sunset for April 19, 2014.

Nightfall = Time of Sunset + Dissipation of Residual Evening Light

Nightfall = 7:59 p.m. + 30 minutes

Therefore Easter Vigil 2014 A.D. begins at 8:30 p.m.

 

 

Why cover crosses & images during lent?

Catholic Tradition:  There is long tradition in the Catholic Church to cover all crucifixes, statues, and pictures in purple cloth from two Sundays before Easter until Holy Saturday. Under the old liturgical calendar prior to the Vatican II reforms in 1964, The Fifth Sunday of Lent, one week before Palms Sunday, was called Passion Sunday or Judica Sunday after the first work of the introit “Judge me, O Lord …” (Psalm 43). The veiling referred to the closing words of the Sunday gospel, “They picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple” (John 8:59). The Lenten veil also expressed the sorrow of the Church at this time. As a matter of fact, the Roman Missal still says, in a note about the Saturday of the fifth Sunday of Lent, that this tradition may be observed, continuing the veiling until the beginning of the Easter Vigil. Also, the unveiling of the cross prior to the veneration on Good Friday is still and optional part of the liturgy (337, Klein: The Catholic Source Book).

 Renewed 2011 Roman Missal: In the Dioceses of Canada, the practice of covering crosses and images throughout the church from this Fifth Sunday of Lent may be observed. Crosses remain covered until the end of the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, but images remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil (239, Renewed 2011 Roman Missal: Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops).

 Historical Perspective by: Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University. First of all, I would first like to recommend Monsignor Peter Elliott’s excellent guide “Celebrations of the Liturgical Year” published by Ignatius Press in 2002. It is a very useful resource for all those involved in the practical aspects of liturgical planning.

The duration of such veiling varies from place to place. The custom in many places is to veil from before first vespers or the vigil Mass of the Fifth Sunday of Lent while others limit this veiling from after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.

In some places images and statues are actually removed from the church and not simply veiled, especially after Holy Thursday. Crosses are unveiled after the Good Friday ceremonies. All other images are unveiled shortly before the Mass of the Easter Vigil. Neither the Stations of the Cross nor stained glass windows are ever veiled.

The bishops’ conference may decide if the veiling during this period should be obligatory within its territory.

The veils are usually made of lightweight purple cloth without any decoration. The custom of veiling the images during the last two weeks of Lent hails from the former liturgical calendar in which the Passion was read on the Fifth Sunday of Lent (hence called “Passion Sunday”) as well as on Palm Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, and Good Friday.

For this reason the period following the Fifth Sunday of Lent was called Passiontide. A remnant of this custom is the obligatory use of the first Preface of the Lord’s Passion during the Fifth Week of Lent.

As Monsignor Elliott remarks, “The custom of veiling crosses and images … has much to commend it in terms of religious psychology, because it helps us to concentrate on the great essentials of Christ’s work of Redemption.”

Although this is true, the historical origin of this practice lies elsewhere. It probably derives from a custom, noted in Germany from the ninth century, of extending a large cloth before the altar from the beginning of Lent.

This cloth, called the “Hungertuch” (hunger cloth), hid the altar entirely from the faithful during Lent and was not removed until during the reading of the Passion on Holy Wednesday at the words “the veil of the temple was rent in two.”

Some authors say there was a practical reason for this practice insofar as the often-illiterate faithful needed a way to know it was Lent. Others, however, maintain that it was a remnant of the ancient practice of public penance in which the penitents were ritually expelled from the church at the beginning of Lent.

After the ritual of public penance fell into disuse — but the entire congregation symbolically entered the order of penitents by receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday — it was no longer possible to expel them from the church. Rather, the altar or “Holy of Holies” was shielded from view until they were reconciled to God at Easter.

For analogous motives, later on in the Middle Ages, the images of crosses and saints were also covered from the start of Lent. The rule of limiting this veiling to Passiontide came later and does not appear until the publication of the Bishops’ Ceremonial of the 17th century.

Is Pope Francis a Breath of Fresh Air?

When the white smoke came out of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican on March 13, 2013 and a cardinal came out to announce “Habemus papam”, there was a wild cry of elation and relief at the St. Peter’s Cathedral Square and around the Catholic world watching the event on TV.  We have a Pope he said. Shortly after that, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was introduced as the new pope who would be named Pope Francis.  People wondered “Who is he?”

He turned out to be a first in various categories: first from the Americas, first Jesuit to be pope, first to be named Francis which he chose in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, a man who dedicated his life to simplicity and poverty.

Almost a year after his election, Pope Francis is proving to be a most popular Pope. He has maintained his dedication to the poor.  When he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he gave up his palace and limousine for a small apartment and public transportation so he could visit the slums.  In the same way, he did not stay at the official residence of the Pope, the Apostolic Palace.  He lives at the Vatican guest house and eats with the other priests at their residence, Domus Sanctae Marthae, the easier perhaps for him to visit the poor.

By seeking out the poor and the marginalized, Pope Francis is following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ who came not for the saved but for the sinners.  An early step Pope Francis did was to remove the bonuses for Vatican employees and put the funds towards helping the poor.

Another significant early move he made was to appoint an advisory board of eight cardinals from all the continents except Antarctica.  Recently, Pope Francis brought in new personnel changes that seem to continue his desire to broaden and open up a traditionally reclusive Vatican.  On January 15, he replaced four of the five cardinals appointed to govern the Vatican Bank, an entity that has been suspected of money-laundering.  Gone was the former secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, replaced by the new secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.  The other three new ones are Cardinals Santos Abril y Castillo, Christoph Schonborn and Thomas Collins, the last two having been critical of bank operations.  The one who remains is Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Commission of Inter-religious Dialogue.

We are hopeful and prayerful that Pope Francis solves the many problems confronting the Church such as the issues of pedophile priests, Vatican leaks, women priesthood and the apparent control of women religious leadership.  An important move he can make is to reinstitute seventy-five-year old Fr. Roy Bourgeois to the priesthood and to the Maryknoll Order of Fathers and Brothers. Father Roy, you will recall, was excommunicated for celebrating mass and giving the homily at the ordination of a Janice Sevre-Duszynska as a woman priest in Lexington, Kentucky in August, 2008.

But don’t hold your breath. Based on his pronouncements as a Cardinal-Archbishop, Pope Francis seems to hold traditionalist views on women priesthood and the role of women in the church.  But things can change as he gets more input from the wider constituency.  For example, when asked for his thoughts on homosexuals, he gave the now popular non-papal reply, “Who am I to judge?”  Ten years ago, he probably would have launched into a homily on the sanctity of the holy marriage between a man and a woman.

Sooner or later, the Catholic Church will have to face the problem of a drastically dwindling number of celibate male priests.  One possible solution is to ordain married men.  (Earlier, married men may be ordained to priesthood.  Until the twelfth century, priests, bishops and 39 popes including the first Pope, St. Peter were married.  Movements for celibacy started because of inheritance problems and celibacy was imposed following the Second Lateran Council in 1139.  Not quite in accord with the Lord!) But more than this practical aspect is the implicit arrogance of the unjust claim that only a man can fathom and convey the divinity of God.

Is Pope Francis a breath of fresh air? Indeed, he is.  His willingness to listen and to hobnob with the lowly and aggrieved tends to open up a close and strictly orthodox church.  He said that the church had concerned itself with small-minded rules and was so prone to condemn those who break them.  He doesn’t believe that the church’s pastoral ministry should be obsessed with the transmission of disjointed doctrines to be imposed insistently.  He wants a new balance to bring forth “the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel”.  And he is showing his love by his actions.

Written by Dr. Eusebio Koh

Past Grand Knight: Santo Nino Council #12415

Filipino Journal: Columnist

Jan. 20 – Feb. 05, 2014 | Volume 28, Number 02

 

Calculating 40 Days of Lent

How Are the 40 Days of Lent Calculated?

Lent, the period of prayer and fasting in preparation for Easter, is 40 days long, but there are 46 days between Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, and Easter. How can that be?

The answer takes us back to the earliest days of the Church. Christ’s original disciples, who were Jewish, grew up with the idea that the Sabbath—the day of worship and of rest—was Saturday, the seventh day of the week, since the account of creation in Genesis says that God rested on the seventh day.

Christ rose from the dead, however, on Sunday, the first day of the week, and the early Christians, starting with the apostles (those original disciples), saw Christ’s Resurrection as a new creation, and so they transferred the sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.

Since all Sundays—and not simply Easter Sunday—were days to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, Christians were forbidden to fast and do other forms of penance on those days.  Therefore, when the Church expanded the period of fasting and prayer in preparation for Easter from a few days to 40 days (to mirror Christ’s fasting in the desert, before He began His public ministry), Sundays could not be included in the count.

Thus, in order for Lent to include 40 days on which fasting could occur, it had to be expanded to six full weeks (with six days of fasting in each week) plus four extra days—Ash Wednesday and the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday that follow it.  Six times six is thirty-six, plus four equals forty.  And that’s how we arrive at the 40 days of Lent!

 

Eucharistic Adoration

Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter entitled Eucharist For The People, item 25 states; “The worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church.  This worship is strictly linked to the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.  The presence of Christ under the sacred species reserved after Mass – a presence which lasts as long as the species of bread and of wine remain – derives from the celebration of the sacrifice and is directed towards communion, both sacramental and spiritual.  It is the responsibility of Pastors to encourage, also by their personal witness, the practice of Eucharistic adoration, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in particular, as well as prayer of adoration before Christ present under the Eucharistic species.”

“This practice, repeatedly praised and recommended by the Magisterium, is supported by the example of many saints.  Particularly outstanding in this regard was Saint Alphonsus Liguori, who wrote:  “Of all devotions, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest after the sacraments, the one dearest to God and the one most helpful to us”.  A Christian community desirous of contemplating the face of Christ in the spirit cannot fail also to develop this aspect of Eucharistic worship, which prolongs and increases the fruits of our communion in the body and blood of the Lord.”

Blessed Sacrament Parish provides Eucharistic Adoration approximately one hour before every Mass.  The form of adoration is simple silence for personal prayer and/or contemplation with the inclusion of traditional litanies and the Holy Rosary.

 

Lenten Practices

Season of Lent

The annual observance of Lent is the special season of grace for the ascent to the holy mountain of Easter.  Through its twofold theme of repentance and baptism, the season of Lent disposes the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery.  The faithful, listening more intently to the Word of God and devoting themselves to prayer, are prepared for the Solemnity of Easter through a spirit of repentance to renew their baptismal promises.

 Ash Wednesday

On the Wednesday before the First Sunday of Lent the faithful, by receiving ashes, enter upon the season appointed for spiritual purification.  This sign of penance, biblical in origin and preserved among the customs of the Church until our own day, express the human condition as affected by sin.  In this sign we outwardly profess our desire for forgiveness before God and thereby, prompted by the hope that the Lord is kind and compassionate, patient and bounding in mercy, express our desire for inward conversion.  This sign is also the beginning of the journey of conversion that will reach its goal in the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation during the days leading to Easter.

 Eucharistic Fast

Before receiving Holy Communion one should abstain for at least one hour from all food and drink except water and medicine.  Those who are advanced in age or suffer from some illness, as well as those who care for them, may receive the Holy Eucharist even if they have taken some food during the preceding hour. (Huels, The Pastoral Companion, p97; The Church’s Code of Canon Law, 919)

 Days of Fast & Abstinence

The penitential days and times in the universal Church are Ash Wednesday, Fridays and Good Friday during the season of Lent.  Abstinence from eating meat or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  Abstinence from eating meat on other Fridays of the year is recommended, but not required.  Also recommended on all Fridays of the year is prayer and penance (especially eating less food), and almsgiving for the sake of world peace. (Huels, The Pastoral Companion, p333ff; The Church’s Code of Canon Law, 1251)

The requirement to fast prescribes that only one full meal a day be taken.  Two lighter meals are permitted to maintain strength according to each one’s needs.  Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including milk and fruit juices are allowed. The requirement of abstinence forbids the eating of meat, but eggs, milk products and condiments made from meat can be eaten.  Fish and all cold blooded animals may be eaten (Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini, Feb 17, 1996, AAS 58 (1996), n.III; CLD 6:676-78).

 Ages for Fast & Abstinence

Those bound to abstain are those who have completed their fourteenth (14th) year and older.  The requirement of fasting binds all from the age of majority up to the beginning of their sixtieth (60th) year, that is between the ages of 18 and 59 inclusive.  Pastors and parents should see to it that even those who, due to their young age, are not bound to the law of fast or abstinence are nevertheless educated in a genuine sense of penance. (Huels, The Pastoral Companion, p334ff; The Church’s Code of Canon Law, 1252)

 

Choice of The Creed

Why is there a choice of The Creed?

In the Creed the people of God respond to the word by giving their assent to the faith proclaimed in the readings and in the homily. The Creed is said on Sundays, solemnities (except the weekdays of the the Easter octave) and in solemn local celebrations. It is normally used only when mentioned in the Church calendar.

The Roman Missal emphasizes the use of the Nicene Creed, suggesting that the Apostles’ Creed is especially appropriate during Lent and Easter.

The Apostles’ Creed is acclamatory in style and is easily committed to memory for more spontaneous use. The Nicene Creed is common to many Christian Churches and traditions; it has a particular ecumenical value. Every congregation should be familiar with both forms of the profession of faith (Note 9f; Ordo, CCCB Liturgical Calendar 2013-2014).