Discussing the rituals of life and the rituals of the Catholic Church – a little something for everyone!

Posts tagged ‘Catholic Ritual’

The Rite Stuff Podcast has finally arrived!!! Come take a listen…

The Rite Stuff Podcast 001

Ok, please be kind…this is my very first attempt and I’ve already critiqued myself to death. Let me know (kindly) what you think and maybe what you’d like to hear in future installments. Enjoy?! ūüėČ

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“Living La Vida Lenten” (thanks to IC Church, Malden, MA)

Yes, friends, I’m back and what a way to start Lent! If you didn’t catch my tweet yesterday (and why AREN’T you following me on Twitter – @Ritualdiva), my Lenten discipline for 2012 is to decrease my social media consumption and increase my social media output. You see, I’ve spent lots of time teaching and encouraging others to embrace new media in an effort to contribute to the New Evangelization but I haven’t exactly been a shining example of producing content. My usual excuses have been a chorus of “too much going on at work” “taking care of elderly Mother” or “haven’t seen my husband yet this week.” After feeling a little nudge from the Holy Spirit – well, it was more like a cold shower of realization – I decided that Lent would be a good time to take on production and ease off of simply reading everything I can get my hands on.

Here’s what I’m planning:
1) Being the card-carrying Liturgist that I am, I will re-start this blog which will focus solely on Catholic Rites and Liturgy (and all the goes with that). Since where in the Lent/Easter part of our Liturgical Year topics will be plentiful but I’ll also try and connect them to our everyday life was Catholic Christians. Liturgy don’t mean a thing if it doesn’t connect back to real life!

2) I will launch a separate website that will connect to my new column on Ministry and New Media that I’ve started writing for Ministry and Liturgy magazine. Entitled “Fear Not!” I hope to share my foibles and successes in incorporating technology into my work as a Director of Faith Formation, Musician and Liturgist. And, no, I will NOT be suggesting we project music on the walls of our churches. That’s what iPads are for… ūüėČ

3) Even with these two blogs, I want to vary up the game a bit by trying out different types of media – audio, video, whatever. This gives me a chance to really see what I like, what I can become good at and not get bored by only sticking to one medium. That might mean you’ll have to follow me around a bit but I’ll include links to wherever I plan on being on any given day.

I will need your help with all this, gentle readers. First of all, pray for me. I feel the Lord trying to lead me in a new direction and all of this is part of the discernment process. Second, I’ll need feedback to know how I’m doing so please be gentle and generous with it. And last, if you like something I’ve created, share it with your circle of friends because I would like to increase my readership and we all know that’s the way it’s done!

Happy Lenting and remember – no MEAT for YOU tomorrow! (if you’re over 14, that is…)

We interrupt this missal preparation for an important message… Prepare ye the way for ADVENT!

Yes, friends, it’s true! I have returned from the sidelines of blogging, thanks to some God-incidences of the past week (and a challenge I couldn’t refuse), and I’m raring to go with a very timely topic. ¬†Now, it will remain to be seen if I can keep up the weekly correspondence this blog and its great readers deserve but know that I will give it the best I can as I juggle my crazy life. ‘Nuf said – let’s get to it!

As all of us in liturgy have been dealing with the past year, the Revised Roman Missal is just about ready to become part of our liturgical DNA on Sunday, November 27th, which is the 1st Sunday of Advent. Choirs have practiced new or revised mass parts,¬†missals and pew¬†cards¬†have¬†been¬†bought¬†and are ready¬†to¬†be¬†used; workshops, coffee¬†‘n¬†chats and small¬†groups¬†sessions¬†have met, learned, pondered and practiced the new words with various degrees of comfort. ¬†While it is true we humans don’t like change, I believe that most of the folks I’ve encountered through the workshops I’ve conducted are willing to give this new translation a chance. ¬†Hopefully that will be the case throughout the English-speaking world once all is said and done.

However, amid the hubbub and preparations for the introduction of the new missal, I feel that something is getting lost in the shuffle Рmainly, the beginning of the new liturgical year and the upcoming Season of Advent itself.  Now, I realize that the translation change has been in the works for many years and that we as a church are trying not to repeat history (and histrionics) from a time gone by but Рthink about it Рwith all the rehearsing and preparation going into the missal, most of those who prepare for these seasonal changes might probably be jumping right from this to Christmas with nary a thought about the season which starts it all off.  We could be giving Advent the short-shift this year without really knowing or thinking about it!

It’s bad enough that the secular world starts the day after Halloween (and sometimes even before that) to prepare for Christmas and gives no thought whatsoever to Advent or Christmas as separate and distinct seasons. While carols and songs permeate the airwaves from now until 6pm on Christmas Day (at least in my neck of the woods) stores are decked out in all their red and green finery, just calling to us to get an early start on finding that “perfect” gift for the one we love – as if retail therapy is the real reason for the season. ¬†Where’s the emphasis on the CHRIST part of Christmas? Won’t find that out in a world that continually erases God from it’s collective speech and thought. That type of awareness needs to come from us as Church and we need to be consistent in our thoughts and actions.

Now, if we have been too busy in preparations for both the revised missal and Christmas, are we going to be able to give the upcoming Season of Advent its proper due? ¬†Those four weeks – which are a full four this year! – are crucial to bringing folks to a full understanding of the Incarnation (one of the new words in our Creed, by the way). From the first moments of the First Sunday of Advent, we need to be fully engaged in presenting and unfolding the mysteries of the first and second coming of Christ through Isaiah’s rich imagery and Mark’s “just the facts” gospel in this Cycle B year. ¬†According to local custom, Advent wreaths get blessed and lit for the first time but doing this ritual after the homily (as prescribed in our¬†Book of Blessings)¬†shows both its proper place and importance in the liturgy (remember, the wreath is a worthy¬†home¬†activity for the season).

I feel very strongly that placing other rituals – from Rites of Acceptance to blessing the new parish missal – does not constitute smart liturgical practice and truly have no place in the opening liturgy of the Advent season. There will be those who will disagree with me on the premise of “new year, new things” but those extras truly dull the focus and impact the season deserves. Include in that misstep those who feel that decorating their Churches for the next season around the 3rd Sunday of Advent is a good thing! It is bad enough that rest of the world jumps Advent out of sheer ignorance – if we as a church join in and treat Advent in much the same manner, we are no better than our secular friends whose trees are put up on Veteran’s Day and are tossed to the curb on December 26th. ¬†The temptation to jump ahead to the “more important” season is there for sure and the distraction of the implementation is dividing our attentions further. ¬†I pray that most liturgists, musician, pastors and other planners of Liturgy have seen to it that missal preparations end on the Feast of Christ the King – that’s a great time to bless the new missals and say farewell to the old (even though we’ll still be using our beloved Sacramentary through Thanksgiving) and are planning their “deck the church” activities for full week for December 25th (a Sunday this year).

On paper, our Church does extremely well in keeping the spirit and focus of our various seasons – in pastoral practice, lines get so blurred at times that the pew folks really notice that all is not well, yet can’t always articulate their observations properly. ¬†Let all of us responsible for planning and executing our sacred rituals take the advent of the coming new liturgical year to brush up on our understanding of the different seasons and what we should be about in celebrating them to the full. ¬†In other words, before using that shiny new missal, take time to read the¬†General Instruction¬†at the beginning of the book. ¬†Brush up on¬†Sing to the Lord¬†if you are a musician. ¬†Even dust off the old¬†Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy¬†to¬†help renew your weary spirit. ¬†If you’re responsible for helping others prepare, then prepare yourself as well. ¬†Be a wise and not foolish virgin (hope you listened to today’s gospel!) as you prepare for the coming of the first season of the new year. ¬†May we all in humility continue to work to help all our parishes and assemblies transition from season to season, year to year the best we possibly can. Good liturgy IS the work of all the Church! Our God deserves no less from His people.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” – The Liturgies of Holy Week and Triduum: The Chrism Mass

For the first ten years of my ministry in the Church, I functioned as a Cantor at Cathedral liturgies and learned early on to appreciate and love those rituals that are particular to the diocesan Mother Church. The yearly Chrism Mass is one of those forgotten or unseen by most regular Catholics because it it is only celebrated at a Cathedral and usually at a time deemed most inconvenient for working folks.  Originally meant for the morning of Holy Thursday, at least in the United States it is usually moved to an early time during Holy Week to allow all clergy in a diocese to attend without having to hurry back to their parishes for the evening start of Triduum.  Of the six Dioceses that are within an hour of my home, two of them (Providence & Springfield) celebrated this ancient rite on Monday evening while the other four (Boston, Fall River, Norwich and Worcester) chose various times on Tuesday for their rituals.  This year, due to my work schedule, I was unable to attend in person but thanks to those wonderful folks at CatholicTV (you really should sign their petition to bring that great channel to your cable system or, better yet, watch them on the web) I was able to record and playback the Mass yesterday while I was home practicing for the three days ahead.

The Chrism Mass serves a dual purpose in the life of the Catholic Church – to renew the promises made by priests at their ordination and to bless and consecrate the Holy Oils (Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens and Sacred Chrism – the latter from which is ritual takes its name) used by parishes during the year. Unfortunately, because it is probably the largest clergy gathering of the year (in my estimations it usually surpasses most ordinations – your mileage may vary) it has and continues to become a lightening rod for supporters of women’s ordination.¬†¬†Ok, here’s my rant of the day (please feel free to scroll down if you’re not interested – thanks) –> Ladies, as one of you who can understand your pain, let’s be rational here – the Church is not going to change its mind on this issue any time soon so picketing, shouting and processing down the middle aisle at any point during this celebration just serves to make things worse.¬†¬†I learned early on that no one – male or female – has a RIGHT to ordination.¬†¬†It is a CALL to service and while it is not open to us at this time we as women ARE called to service in this Church and in more areas now than ever before in its history.¬†¬†Let us focus on that, do our very best at what God is calling each of us to do and wait upon the Spirit to move in its time, not ours.¬†¬†This is a time in our Church where we need to be united with our clergy, not heaping more coal upon their heads as they try to do what they are called to do. (“Have I said too much? There’s nothing more I can think of to say to you…”) Rant complete for today.
Back to the ritual РAfter the Homily, the Bishop asks the priests to stand and renew their priestly commitment before the assembly, who he then asks to support himself and these priests in their ministry.  This exchange takes the place of both the Creed and the General Intercession.  After this, the Procession of the Oils and the Gifts of Bread and Wine takes place so that the oils may be blessed and consecrated at this time.  There is a little known (and hardly ever used in these parts) tradition that has the Oil of the Sick blessed at the end of the Eucharist Prayer while the others are blessed and consecrated after Communion but I believe most dioceses in this country prefer the ritual after the Liturgy of the Word and before the Eucharistic Prayer.  So, once the procession reaches the sanctuary, those who are carrying the vessels with oil Рand there are usually two bearers for each container because they are usually large, ornate and decently heavy once filled Рwait to be called forward to place their vessel on the table setup somewhere appropriate in the space.  Both the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of the Catechumens are blessed, while the Sacred Chrism is first mixed with balsam which gives it its distinctly sweet smell and then breathed upon by the Bishop in a calling down of the Holy Spirit. Then all the priests extend their right hands toward the Chrism in solidarity to finish the prayer yet it is the Bishop who actually consecrates this most sacred of oils.  Once this is done, the Mass continues as usual.
Of all the Masses I’ve ministered or attended in my adult years, this one is up there as one of my favorites and I try my best to attend when I can. ¬†Since this blog appears on Thursday afternoon, I hope my humble musings will make you think about possibly attending your own diocese’s ritual next year. Put a reminder in your iDevice now with an alarm set for the beginning of Lent so that you can give yourself a chance to visit your Cathedral and experience this sacred tradition.