Category: Liturgy

Facing East

pope francis ad orientem

(The above picture is of Pope Francis celebrating Mass recently in Saint Peter’s Basilica … story here).

st bernadine of siena“The name of Jesus is the glory of preachers, because the shining splendor of that name causes his word to be proclaimed and heard.”

— Saint Bernardine of Siena

In Australia today, those in the Latin Church may celebrate the optional memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus.

The patron of the parish in which I’m now located – Saint Bernardine of Siena – had a great devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, and spent his life making that Name known to others.

The name of Jesus is itself a powerful prayer.  To say his name is to become aware of his presence with us always.  His name casts out fear, and is powerful against demons.

We should examine ourselves to make sure that we only use his Holy Name with reverence and love.  Where his name is used carelessly we should root out that weed.

To reflect on Jesus’ name is a reminder that our own names are important.  The Lord says through the prophet, “I have called you by name; you are mine” (Is 43:1), and Jesus tells us to “rejoice that our names are written in heaven” (Lk 10:20).

Do something today to show your love for Our Lord, and his Holy Name.

A litany and chaplet of the Holy Name can be found here.

Text from a sermon of Saint Bernardine of Siena on the Holy Name can be found here.

you gave Saint Bernardine a special love
for the holy name of Jesus.
By the help of his prayers,
may we always be alive with the spirit of your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever.

turner glory in the cross coverI haven’t been reading much other than canon law for the past little while, but yesterday I did finally finish reading Paul Turner’s Glory in the Cross: Holy Week in the Third Edition of The Roman Missal (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 2011. 204pp).

I highly recommend it to anyone who is involved in the preparation of the Holy Week liturgies.  Turner goes through every rubric and prayer proper to the principal liturgies of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion through to Easter Sunday Mass inclusive.

It is fascinating, from an historical perspective, to know the history of the prayers in use, and the development of the various rites to what we have today.  One thing I have come to appreciate after reading the book is that the changes we find in the new English translation of the Roman Missal do not concern only the translation of the words of the prayers.  Many of the rubrics have undergone revision in the Latin typical edition, in many instances clarifying things that maybe were unclear.

As a presider of the Holy Week ceremonies, I had – like many I suppose – the files of the liturgies on the computer, which didn’t need much editing from year to year.  Those really need to be discarded now, not just because the prayers have been revised, but the rubrics themselves are new.  Liturgy planners would do well to study carefully the liturgies of Holy Week in the new Missal, and to especially review the rubrics that are contained therein.  It’s good to remember that the Introductions to the rites and the rubrics within the rites are not just “helpful suggestions,” but are law, and are to be observed like all other laws in the Church.

In a letter that Pope Benedict XVI sent to the bishops of the world on the occasion of the publication of his Apostolic Letter Summorum pontificum regarding the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the 1970 reform, the Holy Father expressed a hope that the Extraordinary Form (according to the 1962 books) and the Ordinary Form (according to the post-Vatican II reforms) would be “mutually enriching.”  That is, both forms have something to contribute to the way we celebrate, and further, that one has things to say to the other, thereby making each better.  This will be a slow and gradual process.

In this letter, the Holy Father was only speaking of the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms.  However, it seems to me that “mutual enrichment” is going to come from another source as well: the Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans.  Their manner of celebrating the sacred liturgy has the potential to bring enrichment to the way we celebrate in non-ordinariate parishes.

The following photos, of liturgies from the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in the UK, speak for themselves, and I hope that some of these practices will “enrich” the celebration of the Ordinary Form generally.





Bring on the mutual enrichment!  Coming to a parish near you …

October 22: Blessed John Paul II

October 22nd is the feast day of Blessed John Paul II, the second time his feast has been observed since his beatification.  Since he is not canonized yet, the feast day is not observed everywhere at this stage.  However, we can observe the feast in the Liturgy here in Ottawa.

One of my favourite memories of John Paul II is from when he visited Australia for the beatification of the now Saint Mary of the Cross (MacKillop) in January 1995.  During one of the nights of his stay in Sydney, a small crowd of people gathered outside the cardinal’s residence where the Pope was staying.  We were singing songs and cheering, and eventually he came out onto the balcony.  I recall that he had a walking stick at the time, and he playfully swung it in time with our singing, obviously enjoying the moment.  You can imagine the cheers of “Viva il papa!” as he did that.

As a young and new[er] priest at the time of the end of his life, he made a deep impression on me by his faithful perseverance in his ministry.  Even when he was visibly weakened he didn’t stop, carrying his cross for the sake of Christ’s bride, the Church.  Who could forget that moment towards the end of his life when he came to the window of the papal apartments to bless the crowds in Saint Peter’s Square, but he couldn’t speak.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!

O God, who are rich in mercy
and who willed that the blessed John Paul the Second
should preside as Pope over your universal Church,
grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching,
we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
the sole Redeemer of mankind.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

— Collect for the Mass.


This weekend I covered the Masses at Saint Benedict’s, East Brisbane, and Saint Joseph’s, Kangaroo Point (overseas readers might be amused that we even name our suburbs after kangaroos)!  There are no kangaroos visible, however, in inner-city Brisbane anymore.   These days, Kangaroo Point is more noted for its cliffs alongside the Brisbane River which are popular for rock-climbing.  The top of the cliffs, with their great views over to Southbank and the city, are also a popular vantage point for fireworks displays throughout the year.

The text of my homily follows:

(Readings: Amos 7:12-15;  Ps 85;  Eph 1:2-14;  Mk 6:7-13)

One theme that we find in our readings today is the reality of what we call “divine election.”   Whether we know it or not, God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world.  The beautiful passage from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians reminds us that long before we came into being God had us in mind, to be filled with all his blessings, and so that we might exist for the praise of God’s glory.  The Collect (or Opening Prayer) of Mass today reminded us that to hear God’s voice and follow him is a gift of the Father, who shows the light of his truth to those who go astray, so that they can return to him.  God has eternally predestined us to enjoy happiness with Him.

Even if we “chose” baptism as an adult, that choice of ours is really only a response to God who chose us first – and in fact who had chosen us from all eternity.  For all of us, our Christian vocation – whether we consider the common call to holiness or the specific call that each of us has – that call is God’s initiative, to which we respond.

This is illustrated in our First Reading.  Amos the prophet is facing opposition and rejection.  Amos’ response is straightforward in which he says, effectively, “Look, I’m only doing this because the Lord took me from what I was doing, and told me to go prophesy to the people of Israel.”

It is interesting to consider that the idea that God had us in mind before the world was formed is even written into creation itself.   Some scientists and philosophers of science suggest that from the very time of the ‘big bang’ that it almost appears to be designed so that human life could be possible.  It appears that as little as half a degree difference in the initial temperature at creation would have made our world impossible.

As Christians we believe that God did design for the universe for man, and that everything was created in, through and for Christ.  Everything in creation has passed through the loving hands of the Son of God.  All creation is marked by the grace of God.  For the person of faith, they come to realise that the purpose of everything is to lead us to God and to share the happiness of his life.  This is what we were created for;  this is what God had in mind from all eternity.

Today’s Gospel reminds us that we who have come to this realisation of God’s call to us, and his purpose for all creation, are charged with the responsibility of being missionaries of this vision to and for others.  For not everyone is aware of God’s love.  Not everyone is aware that their happiness corresponds to the extent that they live in tune with God’s will for them.  Not everyone realizes that their ultimate purpose is union with God, to praise his glory for all eternity.

In this world in which we see a lot of pain, strife, and brokenness, how much do we need the message that the Lord loves us with an eternal love.  More even than those who have loved us the most, the love of Christ is greater, and it never fails.  The love of Christ is the only love that can be guaranteed to be with us every step of the way, even through death.  This is the message that we are meant to take “to the world.”

In the sending of the Twelve, Jesus urges a simplicity in the mission of evangelization.  The Twelve didn’t have to take lots of things with them – in fact, they were really just to take themselves.  We could contemporize this and say that to be Christ’s missionaries in the world today, we don’t need to write the best books, or have the best websites, or even be the best preachers.  It’s meant to be the witness of our lives that speaks, the way that we live:  how we trust in God’s love in our lives;  how we share the Lord’s compassion with others;  how we try to give up those un-Christlike aspects of our personalities that we sometimes wrongly cling to;  how we try to allow God’s grace to make us more Christ-like.

Just as Amos faced rejection, Jesus acknowledges that those he sends out will sometimes meet people who aren’t interested in their message.  This is what Jesus himself experienced, so why would it be any different for his followers?  Our Lord himself couldn’t convince everyone of his message, so who are we to think that we’ll be more successful than he himself?

Jesus urges the same simplicity in the face of rejection: to shake the dust off our feet.  We can imagine that in Jesus day, with the footwear they wore then, their feet would have got very dusty.  Just as dust clings to feet, so too can our reactions to rejection cling to us: we can feel hurt, angry, bitter.  But we’re to shake off our reactions to rejection just as we shake dust off our feet.  The simplicity of Jesus’ way is simply to move on.  We leave those who don’t want to listen to us, trusting that others may be able to share Christ’s message with them better than us, and perhaps at another time, when the time is right.

As we reflect on the Word of God today, let’s be grateful that we are part of God’s eternal plan.  God has loved us and called us from all eternity to enjoy the happiness of his life.  Let’s be aware too that Jesus calls us and sends us to share this message with others, so that they too can enjoy the divine life.  May this Eucharist strengthen us to be the Lord’s missionaries of His love in our own time and place.


Acknowledgement to

Holy Week in two and a half minutes …

Dominus Mihi Adjutor

Fr Stephen spotted this little gem, explaining Holy Week in well under three minutes. Even “professional” religious people could do with watching this, as a way to re-focus on essentials. This is when internet evangelization hits the bullseye.

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I’m a little behind most others when it comes to reading, but I’ve just finished reading (the then) Cardinal Ratzinger’s The Spirit of the Liturgy.

I believe it should be mandatory reading for anyone involved in liturgy preparation!

Of particular interest to me was the section on the “direction” of liturgical prayer, and also his thoughts on the true nature of “active participation” in the liturgy.  He treats also such topics as sacred places, sacred images, music, gesture (including dance/movement), and posture.

Recommended reading – get your hands on a copy if you haven’t read it yet!

Have you made your pre-Easter Confession yet?  No time like the present!  Allow the Lord to prepare your heart to celebrate Easter worthily and well.  He’s waiting for you.

The full schedule of times for Penance Services in Ottawa can be found by clicking the link from the main page of the Archdiocese of Ottawa’s website.

In addition to those, priests will be available for individual Reconciliation for eight hours tomorrow, Wednesday 28 March 2012, from 9:00am to 5:00pm, in the De Mazenod Chapel at Saint Paul University, Main Street, Ottawa.  The De Mazenod Chapel is located in Laframboise Hall: or just go to Reception and the receptionist on duty will direct you.

If it’s been a while since you’ve been to Confession, don’t worry!  Priests are used to that, and will help you.  You can find some helpful resources to help you to prepare for, and to celebrate, the Sacrament of Reconciliation here.

[Facebook page for this event].

Clerics who use their position to spread antipathy towards the new English translation of the Roman Missal are abusing their position, in my opinion, and in the process are doing a great disservice to the communion of the Church.

I came across recently an address given by the then Archbishop Rosalio Castillo Lara, SDB, who was the pro-president of the Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law.  The address was given at the annual convention of the Canon Law Society of America in Milwaukee in 1984, not long after the promulgation of the new 1983 Code of Canon Law.  The quote is lengthy, but here it is (Castillo Lara quotes Pope Paul VI, whose words I have put in bold print):

“It is obvious that the code cannot satisfy all personal requirements, nor respond to very different, and not rarely contrasting, points of view. But the legislator, in his prudence, has now* considered it opportune and necessary to promulgate the code and he has made his choices, which among other things have been supported by the universally favourable reception which the code has received.

“At this point it is useless, and would be even counterproductive, to continue to offer criticisms which would have been valid during the ‘de jure condendo’ period, but which now would have no other effect than weakening the law’s force.  By this I do not mean to imply in the slightest that the code cannot be criticized.  To do so is lawful and in many cases even opportune and worthwhile.

“Nevertheless, criticism should rather be made in scientific circles, and not addressed to the ordinary faithful.  In the first case, criticism is a source of progress, stimulus and collaboration and will enlighten the legislator in possible future updatings of the law.  In the second case, it will have the predominantly negative effect of undermining the ‘vis obligatoria’ [obligatory force] of the law which, at this moment when the Code is beginning to be known and put into practice, could prove to be rather dangerous for the ecclesial community.

“Speaking in 1968 at the International Congress of Canonists organized in Rome for the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Pio-Benedictine [1917] Code, with farsighted vision Pope Paul VI rightly stressed the need to observe the law and to avoid useless and destructive criticism if it were desired that the law have all its salutary efficiacy: ‘Nevertheless we must add that the most outstanding results of the revision of canon law will be perceived only when and to that extent that these laws of the Church are truly inserted into the convictions and society of the people of God.  This will not happen if ecclesiastical laws, even though most accurately drafted and correctly organized, are ignored in the uses and customs of people, or are called into controversy, or rejected regrettably remain empty, inert and deprived of a healthy effectiveness;  and so the movement for renewal, unless it is rooted in the practice to which laws are to lead, would be weakened or would perhaps become flaccid and worthless, or at least doubtlessly less sincere and certain.’ “

[* the original said “not” which seems, clearly, to be an error, given that the Legislator has promulgated the Code.  Source:  Rosalio Castillo Lara, “Some Reflections of the Proper Way to Approach the Code of Canon Law,” in Canon Law Society of America Proceedings, 46 (1984), pp. 26-27].

Granted, Archbishop Castillo Lara was talking about the law.  But the law is not unrelated to Liturgy, since the ‘praenotanda’ [introductions etc] that accompany the liturgical rites, and the rubrics of the liturgy themselves, are in fact laws, albeit laws outside the Code of Canon Law.  Aside from this, I think his comments have something to say to the current situation.  Indeed, in “scientific circles” those with expertise in the area will certainly be studying the revised missal with a view to subsequent editions, which may indeed contain changes and corrections.

However, generally speaking, the time for public and general discussions of such matters is over now that the new Missal is promulgated by competent ecclesiastical authority.  Parish newsletters and diocesan magazines and newspapers are entirely inappropriate places for clerics and others who speak in some manner in the name of the Church to be spreading controversy and discontent.  They should, on the other hand, be doing everything to assist all members of the Church to enter more deeply and fruitfully into the sacred mysteries, and to receive our liturgical texts with good will.

I hope that clerics and other liturgists might be persuaded to refrain from public controversy and the spreading of discontent regarding the Church’s liturgy, actions which at the least are unseemly and inappropriate, and more seriously, have the potential to injure the ecclesial community.