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.

Veiling Statues

02-25-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2005 Resource Publications, Inc.

The veiling of statues is no longer officially sanctioned in the United States, but the practice continues in other parts of the world. In the past, crosses and statues in all churches were covered in purple before observing the Fifth Sunday of Lent. The cloth had to be opaque and free of symbols. For example, you could not cover a cross with a cloth decorated with a cross. Left unveiled were the stations of the cross, used for Lent devotions. Crosses remained covered until Good Friday, when the main cross for veneration was solemnly unveiled. Prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Easter Vigil was celebrated on Holy Saturday morning, and the statues were unveiled during the Glory to God. Where that was difficult, statues were uncovered later in the day.

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Rite of Sending

02-18-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc.

The rite of sending is a parish celebration that sends catechumens to the rite of election. At the rite of election, usually on or about the First Sunday of Lent, the church names the catechumens to be baptized at Easter. Generally, the rite of election takes place at the cathedral with the bishop. Because of the cathedral's limited space and sometimes remote location, parish communities celebrate the rite of sending.

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Lent

02-11-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2002 Resource Publications, Inc.

Lent is the season that prepares us to celebrate Easter. The main reason Lent is important is that Easter is our most important feast. On Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose passage beyond death into life offers redemption to believers. The resurrection is the cornerstone of Christian faith. The mystery of Christ’s rising from the dead is so deep that the church invites us to six weeks of preparation before we fully celebrate it. We call that period Lent.

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Flowers

02-04-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc., edited by Jonathan Branton

Flowers that decorate a church beautify the sacred place. Flowers please the eyes and the nose, engaging our senses in the wonder of creation. Flowers may draw attention to some object or to the sacred space they occupy. If your church has a gathering area (Narthex) between the front door and the worship space, a large floral arrangement on a center table may greet you as you enter. Some churches keep vases of flowers near statues of beloved saints, in wall niches or on shelves. You may also see flowers adorning the altar, ambo or font.

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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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