Archive for the ‘New Springtime of the Church’ Category

Interview with Robert Cardinal Sarah

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Cardinal Sarah: ‘How to Put God Back at the Center of the Liturgy’

From: THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER; TRANSLATED OF AN INTERVIEW WITH CARDINAL SARAH, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments; BY CHRISTINE BROESAMLE; Translation of an interview originally published by the French magazine Famille Chretienne.

 

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, calls us to a serious reflection on the Eucharist. He also invites priests and the faithful to turn and “orient” themselves towards the East, “the Orient” — that is, to Christ.

Several weeks ago, you discussed a desire to see “The Sacrament of Sacraments put back in the central place,” that is, the Eucharist. What is your reasoning?

Cardinal Sarah: I wish to engage a serious consideration on this question, with the goal of placing the Eucharist back at the center of our lives. I have witnessed that, very often, our liturgies have become like theater productions. Often, the priest no longer celebrates the love of Christ through his sacrifice, but just a meeting among friends, a friendly meal, a brotherly moment. In looking to invent creative or festive liturgies, we run the risk of worship that is too human, at the level of our desires and the fashions of the moment. Little by little, the faithful are separated from that which gives life. For Christians, the Eucharist is a question of life and death!

How can we put God at the center?

Cardinal Sarah: The liturgy is the door to our union with God. If the Eucharistic celebrations are transformed into human self-celebrations, the peril is immense, because God disappears. One must begin by replacing God at the center of the liturgy. If man is at the center, the Church becomes a purely human society, a simple nonprofit, like Pope Francis has said. If, on the contrary, God is at the heart of the liturgy, then the Church recovers its vigor and sap! Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger prophetically wrote, “In our relationship with the liturgy, the destiny of the faith and of the Church plays out.”

What remedy do you recommend to us?

Cardinal Sarah: The recognition of the liturgy as the work of God implies a true conversion of the heart. The Second Vatican Council insisted on a major point: In this domain, the importance is not what we do, but what God does. No human work can ever accomplish what we find at the heart of the Mass: the sacrifice of the cross.  The liturgy permits us to go out past the walls of this world. To find the sacredness and the beauty of the liturgy requires, therefore, a work of formation for the laity, the priests and the bishops. It is an interior conversion.  To put God at the center of the liturgy, one must have silence: this capacity to silence ourselves [literally: “shut up”] to listen to God and his word. I believe that we don’t meet God except in the silence and the deepening of his word in the depths of our heart.

How do we do this concretely?

Cardinal Sarah: To convert is to turn towards God. I am profoundly convinced that our bodies must participate in this conversion. The best way is certainly to celebrate — priests and faithful — turned together in the same direction: toward the Lord who comes. It isn’t, as one hears sometimes, to celebrate with the back turned toward the faithful or facing them. That isn’t the problem. It’s to turn together toward the apse, which symbolizes the East, where the cross of the risen Lord is enthroned. By this manner of celebrating, we experience, even in our bodies, the primacy of God and of adoration. We understand that the liturgy is first our participation at the perfect sacrifice of the cross. I have personally had this experience: In celebrating thus, with the priest at its head, the assembly is almost physically drawn up by the mystery of the cross at the moment of the elevation.

But is this way of celebrating the Mass authorized?

Cardinal Sarah: It is legitimate and conforms to the letter and the spirit of the Council. In my capacity as the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, I continue to remind all that the celebration toward the East (versus orientem) is authorized by the rubrics of the missal, which specify the moments when the celebrant must turn toward the people. A particular authorization is, therefore, not needed to celebrate Mass facing the Lord. Thus, in an article published by LOsservatore Romano June 12, 2015, I proposed that the priests and the faithful turn toward the East at least during the Penitential Rite, during the singing of the Gloria, during the Propers and during the Eucharistic Prayer.  In the minds of many, the change of the orientation of the altar is tied to Vatican II. Is this accurate?  More than 50 years after the closure of Vatican II, it becomes urgent that we read these texts! The Council never required the celebration facing the people! This question is not even brought up by the Constitution [on Sacred Liturgy], Sacrosanctum Concilium.  What’s more, the Council Fathers wanted to emphasize the necessity for all to enter into participation of the celebrated mystery. In the years that have followed Vatican II, the Church has searched for the means of putting this intuition into practice.

Thus, to celebrate facing the people became a possibility, but not an obligation. The Liturgy of the Word justifies the face-to-face [orientation] of the lector and the listeners, the dialogue and the teaching between the priest and his people. But from the moment that we begin to address God — starting with the Offertory — it is essential that the priest and the faithful turn together toward the East. This corresponds completely with that which was willed by the Council Fathers.

I believe that we need to review the Council text. Certain adaptations to the local culture have probably not been fully developed enough. I have the translation of the Roman Missal in mind. In certain countries, important elements have been suppressed, notably the moment of the Offertory. In French, the translation of the Orate fratres has been truncated. The priest must say, “Pray my brothers that my sacrifice which is also yours would be agreeable to God the almighty Father.” And the faithful should respond: “May the Lord receive from your hands this sacrifice for the praise and the glory of his Name, for our good and that of all his Holy Church.” [Translator’s noteIn French, currently the people respond: “For the glory of God and the salvation of the world.”] At the audience which the Pope granted me on Saturday, April 2, he confirmed that the new translation of the Roman Missal must imperatively respect the Latin text.

What do you think about the participation of the faithful?

Cardinal Sarah: The participation of the faithful is primary. It consists, first of all, of allowing ourselves to be led to follow Christ in the mystery of his death and of his resurrection. “One doesn’t go to Mass to attend a representation. One goes to participate in the mystery of God,” Pope Francis reminded us very recently. The orientation of the assembly toward the Lord is a simple and concrete means to encourage a true participation for all at the liturgy. The participation of the faithful, therefore, would not be understood as a necessity to “do something.” On this point, we have deformed the teaching of the Council. On the contrary, it is to allow Christ to take us and associate us with his sacrifice. Only a view tempered in a contemplative faith keeps us from reducing the liturgy to a theater show where each has a role to play. The Eucharist makes us enter in the prayer of Jesus and in his sacrifice, because he alone knows how to adore in spirit and in truth.

What significance does the Church give to this question of orientation?

Cardinal Sarah: To begin with, we are not the only ones to pray “oriented,” that is, facing the East. The Jewish Temple and the synagogues were always facing East. In regaining this orientation, we can return to our origins. I note also that some non-Christians, the Muslims in particular, pray facing the East.

For us, the light is Jesus Christ. All the Church is oriented, facing East, toward Christ: ad Dominum. A Church closed in on herself in a circle will have lost her reason for being. For to be herself, the Church must live facing God. Our point of reference is the Lord! We know that he has been with us and that he returned to the Father from the Mount of Olives, situated to the East of Jerusalem, and that he will return in the same way. To stay turned toward the Lord, it is to wait for him every day. One must not allow God reason to complain constantly against us: “They turn their backs toward me, instead of turning their faces!” (Jeremiah 2:27).

The Mass is too long…

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

The Mass is TOO LONG

Parish Announcement:

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Parish Knights of Columbus to Sponsor

Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayer Program

at St. Mary’s on September 7th and 8th

           The Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayer Program began August 3, 2011 at the 129th Supreme Convention in Denver. This program features an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Our Lady of Guadalupe, as patroness of the Americas, has special significance to the Knights of  Columbus. When the Order sponsored a tour of a relic of St. Juan Diego’s tilma in 2003, Our Lady of Guadalupe’s role as mother of all in the Americas became very clear.  In city after city, crowds of tens of thousands of people came to venerate Our Lady of Guadalupe. What was most striking was not the number of people, but the number of nationalities and ethnicities represented in each gathering. Likewise, at the Guadalupe Festival sponsored by the Knights of Columbus in 2009 in Phoenix, more than 20,000 people came to venerate and celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is our hope that this prayer program will continue to expand devotion to Our Lady and the evangelization of the Americas.

The pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be venerated in our church sanctuary next Saturday and Sunday, with a prayer service following the Saturday evening Vigil Mass (beginning around 6:15pm).  All are encouraged to attend.

Letter from our Parish Seminarian

Friday, August 16th, 2013

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Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Dear Parish Family:

In writing to you, I wish to inform you that I have successfully completed my first year of studies (out of a total of seven years) at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska.  Thank you for your prayers and support in this endeavor.  It has truly been a great year that I will never forget!

I have enjoyed the many opportunities that have been presented to me during my time at the seminary, especially the extra opportunities for prayer, spiritual reading, and for socializing with fellow seminarians.  The whole seminary took a trip to Colorado to go hiking in the beginning of the academic year.  This was a great chance to begin to become acquainted with my new confrères.  The first year class took many day-trips as well, including a visit to the Omaha Zoo, the Strategic Air Command Museum, the Carmelite nuns, the “Pink Sisters,” the Schoenstatt Shrine of Our Lady, and a few nearby hiking trips.  These outings provide welcome breaks from the many studies that we do at the seminary.

My classes this year were very good, though.  This year, I took Latin I, Introduction to the Spiritual Life, Introduction to Liturgy, Christian Doctrine, Gregorian Chant, Music and Morality, Sacred Scripture, and Constitutions of the FSSP (our fraternity: the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter).  I received my report card and found that, with the help of God, I had performed quite well in all of my classes.  This fall, I will begin to take more difficult classes as I begin the study of Philosophy for two years, followed by four years of Theology.

Also this fall, on October 19, I will receive what is called the “First Clerical Tonsure.”  Tonsure is a ceremony in which a man leaves behind his state as a lay person and becomes a cleric, a person consecrated to the service of God and His Holy Catholic Church.  This internal transformation is shown externally by the change of dress that takes place during the ceremony.  The man begins to wear publically and constantly the roman cassock and white clerical collar, showing his consecration to the service of God and the Church.  The transformation takes place when the Bishop cuts five snips of hair in the shape of a cross from the head of the one being tonsured, symbolizing the renunciation of a worldly life and the offering of oneself to God.  One is allowed to let the hair grow back, though.

But why all this?  Why give one’s life completely to God?  Well, God calls everyone to a particular vocation in life.  Some He calls to the priesthood, some to the religious life, others to the married life, and still others He calls to remain unmarried.  On our efforts to cooperate with God’s will for our lives depends our Eternal Salvation.  If God is calling me to the priesthood, I must cooperate with a generous and joyful heart, recognizing the marvelous privilege it would be to serve God and His people as a priest.

Venerable Pope Pius XII, in his hallmark encyclical letter of 1947, Mediator Dei, stated that “Jesus the Son of God quite clearly had one aim in view when He undertook the mission of mercy which was to endow mankind with the rich blessings of supernatural grace” (MD #1).  Before Our Lord’s passion and death, He instituted the Catholic priesthood as a way of perpetuating His work upon Earth, particularly in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is “the supreme instrument whereby the merits won by the divine Redeemer upon the cross are distributed to the faithful” (MD #79).

Pius XII further explains that “By [priests], [the faithful] will be supplied with the comforts and food of the spiritual life.  From them they will procure the medicine of salvation assuring their cure and happy recovery from the fatal sickness of their sins.  The priest, finally, will bless their homes, consecrate their families and help them, as they breathe their last, across the threshold of eternal happiness” (MD #43).  So, we can see that the priesthood is absolutely essential for the salvation of souls.

In order to ensure that the world has good Catholic priests to lead its people to Christ, it is essential that young men studying for the priesthood in seminaries be formed properly that they may grow in the knowledge and holiness that are necessary to become worthy instruments through which Jesus Christ may communicate to the world “the rich blessings of supernatural grace” (MD #1).

As can easily be seen from the above paragraphs, the priesthood is vitally important, and without seminarians, what guarantee do we have of priests for the future?

So, dear parish family, I ask you to please continue to remember me in your prayers.  I have enjoyed my first year very much, and I look forward to a great second year and beyond.  It has been great to have been home on summer vacation.  I will return to the seminary on August 31.  I thank you all for your support, most especially for the prayers that you already offer for me.  I pray for you all every day.

Please remember that St. John Vianney, the patron  of parish priests, once said, “The priest is not a priest for himself; he is a priest for YOU!”

Thank you all very much!

May God bless you and may Our Lady of Guadalupe protect you!

In Christ,

John E. Streff
On the Feast of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Photos: Easter Night and Easter Octave

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Come, and let us drink of that New River,

Not from barren Rock divinely poured,

But the Fount of Life that is for ever

From the Sepulchre of CHRIST the LORD.

 

All the world hath bright illumination,—

Heav’n and Earth and things beneath the earth:

’Tis the Festival of all Creation:

CHRIST hath ris’n, Who gave Creation birth:

 

Yesterday with Thee in burial lying,

Now today with Thee aris’n I rise;

Yesterday the partner of Thy dying,

With Thyself upraise me to the skies.

 – St. John of Damascus (780)

Photos: Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion & Death 2013

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

O that shame, now ended in His glory!
O that pain, now lost in joy unknown!
Tell it out with praise the whole glad story,
Human nature at the Father’s throne!

-From a hymn by St. Joseph of the Studium  (the Hymnographer), of the Eastern Church

A few photos from the 3:00 pm Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion and Death and from the 7:00 pm Stations of the Cross and Devotions in Honor of Our Lord in the Sepulchre and Our Mother of Sorrows:

 

Photos from Midnight Mass 2012

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

October 11th: The Year of Faith Begins!

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

POPE BENEDICT’S HOMILY AT OPENING MASS

OF THE

YEAR OF FAITH

  “Through Christ, God is the Principal Subject of Evangelization in the World”
 VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s homily given , at the Opening Mass of the Year of Faith and on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. The mass was celebrated in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brother Bishops,

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, fifty years from the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, we begin with great joy the Year of Faith. I am delighted to greet all of you, particularly His Holiness Bartholomew I, Patriarch of Constantinople, and His Grace Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. A special greeting goes to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and to the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences. In order to evoke the Council, which some present had the grace to experience for themselves – and I greet them with particular affection – this celebration has been enriched by several special signs: the opening procession, intended to recall the memorable one of the Council Fathers when they entered this Basilica; the enthronement of a copy of the Book of the Gospels used at the Council; the consignment of the seven final Messages of the Council, and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I will do before the final blessing. These signs help us not only to remember, they also offer us the possibility of going beyond commemorating. They invite us to enter more deeply into the spiritual movement which characterized Vatican II, to make it ours and to develop it according to its true meaning. And its true meaning was and remains faith in Christ, the apostolic faith, animated by the inner desire to communicate Christ to individuals and all people, in the Church’s pilgrimage along the pathways of history.

The Year of Faith which we launch today is linked harmoniously with the Church’s whole path over the last fifty years: from the Council, through the Magisterium of the Servant of God Paul VI, who proclaimed a Year of Faith in 1967, up to the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, with which Blessed John Paul II re-proposed to all humanity Jesus Christ as the one Savior, yesterday, today and forever. Between these two Popes, Paul VI and John Paul II, there was a deep and profound convergence, precisely upon Christ as the center of the cosmos and of history, and upon the apostolic eagerness to announce him to the world. Jesus is the center of the Christian faith. The Christian believes in God whose face was revealed by Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of the Scriptures and their definitive interpreter. Jesus Christ is not only the object of the faith but, as it says in the Letter to the Hebrews, he is “the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith” (12:2).

Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ, consecrated by the Father in the Holy Spirit, is the true and perennial subject of evangelization. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor” (Lk 4:18). This mission of Christ, this movement of his continues in space and time, over centuries and continents. It is a movement which starts with the Father and, in the power of the Spirit, goes forth to bring the good news to the poor, in both a material and a spiritual sense. The Church is the first and necessary instrument of this work of Christ because it is united to him as a body to its head. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21), says the Risen One to his disciples, and breathing upon them, adds, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (v.22). Through Christ, God is the principal subject of evangelization in the world; but Christ himself wished to pass on his own mission to the Church; he did so, and continues to do so, until the end of time pouring out his Spirit upon the disciples, the same Spirit who came upon him and remained in him during all his earthly life, giving him the strength “to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” and “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk 4:18-19).

The Second Vatican Council did not wish to deal with the theme of faith in one specific document. It was, however, animated by a desire, as it were, to immerse itself anew in the Christian mystery so as to re-propose it fruitfully to contemporary man. The Servant of God Paul VI, two years after the end of the Council session, expressed it in this way: “Even if the Council does not deal expressly with the faith, it talks about it on every page, it recognizes its vital and supernatural character, it assumes it to be whole and strong, and it builds upon its teachings. We need only recall some of the Council’s statements in order to realize the essential importance that the Council, consistent with the doctrinal tradition of the Church, attributes to the faith, the true faith, which has Christ for its source and the Church’s Magisterium for its channel” (General Audience, 8 March 1967); thus said Paul VI.

We now turn to the one who convoked the Second Vatican Council and inaugurated it: Blessed John XXIII. In his opening speech, he presented the principal purpose of the Council in this way: “What above all concerns the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be safeguarded and taught more effectively […] Therefore, the principal purpose of this Council is not the discussion of this or that doctrinal theme… a Council is not required for that… [but] this certain and immutable doctrine, which is to be faithfully respected, needs to be explored and presented in a way which responds to the needs of our time” (AAS 54 [1962], 790,791-792).

In the light of these words, we can understand what I myself felt at the time: during the Council there was an emotional tension as we faced the common task of making the truth and beauty of the faith shine out in our time, without sacrificing it to the demands of the present or leaving it tied to the past: the eternal presence of God resounds in the faith, transcending time, yet it can only be welcomed by us in our own unrepeatable today. Therefore I believe that the most important thing, especially on such a significant occasion as this, is to revive in the whole Church that positive tension, that yearning to announce Christ again to contemporary man. But, so that this interior thrust towards the new evangelization neither remain just an idea nor be lost in confusion, it needs to be built on a concrete and precise basis, and this basis is the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the place where it found expression. This is why I have often insisted on the need to return, as it were, to the “letter” of the Council – that is to its texts – also to draw from them its authentic spirit, and why I have repeated that the true legacy of Vatican II is to be found in them. Reference to the documents saves us from extremes of anachronistic nostalgia and running too far ahead, and allows what is new to be welcomed in a context of continuity. The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient. Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a living faith in a world of change. If we place ourselves in harmony with the authentic approach which Blessed John XXIII wished to give to Vatican II, we will be able to realize it during this Year of Faith, following the same path of the Church as she continuously endeavors to deepen the deposit of faith entrusted to her by Christ. The Council Fathers wished to present the faith in a meaningful way; and if they opened themselves trustingly to dialogue with the modern world it is because they were certain of their faith, of the solid rock on which they stood. In the years following, however, many embraced uncritically the dominant mentality, placing in doubt the very foundations of the deposit of faith, which they sadly no longer felt able to accept as truths.

If today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a new evangelization, it is not to honor an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago! And the reply to be given to this need is the one desired by the Popes, by the Council Fathers and contained in its documents. Even the initiative to create a Pontifical Council for the promotion of the new evangelization, which I thank for its special effort for the Year of Faith, is to be understood in this context. Recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual “desertification”. In the Council’s time it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us. This void has spread. But it is in starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us, men and women. In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life. And in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive. Living faith opens the heart to the grace of God which frees us from pessimism. Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path. The first reading spoke to us of the wisdom of the wayfarer (cf. Sir 34:9-13): the journey is a metaphor for life, and the wise wayfarer is one who has learned the art of living, and can share it with his brethren – as happens to pilgrims along the Way of Saint James or similar routes which, not by chance, have again become popular in recent years. How come so many people today feel the need to make these journeys? Is it not because they find there, or at least intuit, the meaning of our existence in the world? This, then, is how we can picture the Year of Faith: a pilgrimage in the deserts of today’s world, taking with us only what is necessary: neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money, nor two tunics – as the Lord said to those he was sending out on mission (cf. Lk 9:3), but the Gospel and the faith of the Church, of which the Council documents are a luminous expression, as is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published twenty years ago.

Venerable and dear Brothers, 11 October 1962 was the Feast of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. Let us entrust to her the Year of Faith, as I did last week when I went on pilgrimage to Loreto. May the Virgin Mary always shine out as a star along the way of the new evangelization. May she help us to put into practice the Apostle Paul’s exhortation, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom […] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:16-17).    Amen.

 

St. Mary’s School Children Participate in Holy Mass in Extraordinary Form for the First Time!

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

On Thursday, September 13th, the morning parishioner John Streff left for Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, NE, we celebrated a Votive Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Extraordinary Form at 8:15am with the school children and the parishioners participating, instead of the regular Holy Mass in the Ordinary Form.  This was at John’s request.  The teachers prepared the children very well, and everything went very smoothly.  Since the school children already receive Holy Communion kneeling at the Communion Rail at every weekday Mass, and are learning parts of the Ordinary Form of the (English) Mass in Latin, they see the continuity between the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Mass.  Thanks be to God and Our Blessed Mother!

 

Going Away Party for Seminarian John E. Streff

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

On Sunday, September 9th, following the 12 noon Traditional Latin Mass (which was a Sung Mass), the Altar Society had a going away party for parishioner John E. Streff, who entered his First Year of Studies for the Priesthood with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter at their Seminary in Denton, Nebraska on September 13th.   Here are some photos: