Liturgy Corner

The purpose of the Liturgy Corner is to provide education to parishioners about liturgy in brief and easy-to-understand articles, while encouraging people to be critical and think more carefully about the issues surrounding the celebration of the liturgy. Liturgy Corner articles are primarily written by Father Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, Missouri. Fr. Paul holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome. Other articles will be written by numerous liturgists and priests from around the United States, and even some within the Diocese of Orlando.

El propósito de la Esquina Litúrgica es proporcionar educación a los feligreses sobre la liturgia en artículos breves y fáciles de entender, a la misma vez anima a la gente a ser críticos y pensar con más cuidado sobre los temas relacionados con la celebración de la liturgia. Los artículos de la Esquina Litúrgica están escritos por el Padre Paul Turner, pastor de la parroquia St. Munchin en Cameron, Missouri. El P. Paul tiene un doctorado en teología sacramental de la Universidad Sant 'Anselmo en Roma. Otros artículos serán escritos por numerosos liturgistas y sacerdotes de todo los Estados Unidos, e incluso algunos dentro de la Diócesis de Orlando.

Elevation

01-28-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc.

While reciting the words of Jesus from the Last Supper, the presider of the Mass shows the consecrated bread and wine to the assembly. His gesture is called the elevation. With each elevation he actually performs two actions. He shows the body and blood of Christ to everyone else, and then he genuflects in adoration. There is no explicit instruction for what the assembly is to do during the elevation. However, because the presider is instructed to show them the sacred elements, the obvious conclusion is that they should watch. Many worshipers lower their eyes and bow their head in adoration as the presider performs the elevation. This bow, well-meaning in its devotion, probably belongs more with the genuflection that follows the elevation.

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Forgiveness at Mass

01-21-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc.

The sacrament of reconciliation is the church's special celebration of pardon, but forgiveness of sins is also one of the fruits of the Mass. There are many moments throughout the Eucharistic celebration when the texts and gestures of the Mass express the community's sorrow for sins.

We begin with a penitential rite, which may include striking the breast in a simple gesture of sorrow. The presider then asks that God have mercy on us and forgive our sins. On Sundays this penitential rite may be replaced with a sprinkling rite, signifying our purification. While singing the Glory to God and the Lamb of God, we ask the One who takes away the sins of the world to have mercy on us. When the deacon or priest kisses the Gospel, he prays that its words may wipe away our sins. While washing his hands, the priest asks God to wash away his iniquity and cleanse him of sin. During the Lord's prayer we all ask God to forgive our sins.

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Epiphany Chalk

01-14-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc.

edited by Jonathan Branton

Some Christians bless their homes on Epiphany each year. With chalk, they write an inscription on the inside lintel above the door. The series of numbers, letters and crosses changes only slightly from year to year. For example, at the start of the year 2017, the line will read as follows: 20 + C + M + B + 17.

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Epiphany on Sunday

01-07-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2005 Resource Publications, Inc.

On many calendars, Epiphany falls on Jan. 6. But the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates it on whatever date Sunday falls during the week of Jan. 2. "Epiphany" means "manifestation," and it celebrates the day that the infant Jesus revealed his divinity to the magi. Traditionally, this event is connected with two others from the Gospels: the baptism of Jesus and the wedding at Cana. In all these events, the mystery of Christ became more manifest. The magi, coming from the East, signify that gentile nations – not just Jewish nations – were coming to recognize Jesus as the savior of the world.

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January 1

12-31-2017Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc.

January 1 is New Year's Day to most of the world, but in the Catholic Church it is also the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. This is a relatively new title for the day. Older Catholics will remember that we used to call January 1 the Feast of the Circumcision.

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Proclamation of the Birth of Christ

12-24-2017Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2004 Resource Publications, Inc.

The "Proclamation of the Birth of Christ" is a formal announcement that may be sung at Christmas Midnight Mass. The proclamation states that "today," the 25th of December, "is the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh." It recalls the main events of history: the creation of the heavens and the earth and of man and woman in God's own image; the appearance of the rainbow, the sign of God's covenant, after the flood; Abraham and Sarah, the ancestors of Israel; the Exodus from Egypt under Moses; the presence of Ruth and the judges; the anointing of David as king; the prophecy of Daniel; the founding of Greece and Rome; and the peace of Augustus. The birth of Christ culminates both secular and religious history. It is an event that flows seamlessly from the past and begins a new era of hope and peace.

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Las Posadas

12-17-2017Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2000 Resource Publications, Inc.

Las posadas means "the inns" in Spanish and refers to a Mexican Christmas custom. Beginning on December 16, family and friends or communities recreate the experience of Mary and Joseph searching for a place to stay in Bethlehem. The celebration takes place in streets and homes with a powerful message. In the incarnation, God offered salvation to everyone, even the poor and homeless.

A couple dressed as Joseph and Mary is accompanied by members of the community bearing candles. They walk in procession and approach a house in the neighborhood, praying and singing Christmas carols. They knock on the door and sing a special song for the celebration of Las Posadas. In this song Joseph, outside the house, requests lodging for the night because his wife is weary from the journey. Those inside sing back that they do not know the visitors and there is no room; the couple must go to another place. The candlelight procession continues to house after house. Finally, the residents of one home offer them shelter. All enter joyfully and celebrate a fiesta, complete with piñata.

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Mark

12-10-2017Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2000 Resource Publications, Inc.

Mark is the Gospel featured at Mass in Year B of the three-year cycle of Sunday readings. Notable exceptions occur during Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and across five weeks in summer, when we hear the Bread of Life discourse from John. Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels. Mark was probably the first Gospel written. Parts of it appear in both Matthew and Luke, who also used other materials that do not appear in Mark. Because Mark included Jesus’ saying about the destruction of the Temple, a prediction fulfilled in the year 70, the date of composition is thought to be around then.

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Advent Wreath

12-03-2017Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2002 Resource Publications, Inc.

An Advent wreath symbolizes our longing for the coming of Christ. The wreath is a circle of evergreen branches into which are set four candles. Traditionally, three candles are violet and one is rose, but four violet or four white candles may also be used. The wreath symbolizes many things. Evergreens signify God's enduring promise of redemption, evident like green branches in the midst of snow. The circle signifies our hope for the return of Christ, whose kingdom will have no end. The colors of the candles match the traditional colors of the vesture for the four Sundays of Advent. Violet garments signify our penitent hope for salvation. The rose color, which may be worn on Advent's Third Sunday, signals that the season is nearly over—joy is at hand!

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Mass Intentions

11-26-2017Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc.

According to an old tradition, Catholics may offer a contribution to a priest and request an intention for a particular Mass (canon 945-946). This custom invites the faithful into a deeper celebration of the Eucharist by uniting their sacrifice with that of Christ. It also helps compensate the church's minister for his work. Because of the latter reason, the contribution is called a "stipend." In affluent countries the stipend is inadequate and the priest receives a salary. In poor countries priests cannot support themselves without the Mass stipend.

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Cremation

11-19-2017Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2000 Resource Publications, Inc.

Catholic Church law used to forbid cremation, but it now makes allowance for the practice. The church recommends that the bodies of the faithful be buried, but it permits cremation if the reasons for choosing that method are not contrary to Christian teaching. Viewing the body of the deceased naturally recalls the person's deeds of kindness and testimony of faith. It brings to mind our belief that the human body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and the heir to glory at that the resurrection of the dead. Because of the reverence owed the body, the Catholic Church still prefers its burial at the time of death. When cremation is chosen, the remains merit the same respect accorded to the body. They deserve a worthy vessel and a respectful means of transport.

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The Book of the Dead

11-05-2017Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2005 Resource Publications, Inc.

Some parishes display a book of the names of the dead. The book keeps an informal record of members who have died and can be put on public view to help the living remember the dead. The Catholic Church requires every parish to maintain a register of deaths. After each funeral, the name of the deceased is to be inscribed in this parish register. This register is usually kept in the parish office, where it serves as a reference book. Every parish is obliged to keep one.

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