St. Francis of Assisi Weekly Reflections

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.

The Mensa

06-24-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner Copyright © 2000 Resource Publications, Inc.

The top of the altar used at Mass is called the mensa, the Latin word for “table.” A more precise translation would be “tabletop.” When a new altar is first put into use, the bishop anoints the mensa with chrism. It becomes holy, and it is to be respected at all times.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says the mensa is traditionally made of stone, but in the United States wood may be used (301). It should be covered with a white cloth (304), and the only objects set on top of it are to be the books, vessels, and linens necessary for the Mass (73, 306). Even floral decorations should be set around the altar, not on top of it (305). And when the collection is brought forward at a typical Sunday Mass, it is to be set near the altar, but not on the mensa (73).



06-17-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2000 Resource Publications, Inc.

Quinceañera is a Mexican celebration of a young woman's 15th birthday. It began as a simple ceremony signaling one's public acceptance of the responsibilities for womanhood. The Catholic Church has adapted it to celebrate a young woman's public profession of faith and readiness to accept the challenges of the church's mission to family and community. The Quinceañera is still an important ceremony in Latino communities because it affirms their rich cultural identity as Catholics, celebrates the handing down of faith to a new generation, extols the sacred role of women as leaders of faith, accents the gifts of women in society, and strengthens the bonds of family. Godparents are an integral part of the Quinceañera.


Wedding March

06-10-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc.

The music that opens a Catholic wedding sets the tone for the celebration. Although many couples cannot imagine beginning the ceremony with any other music than the traditional wedding march, the church suggests that this is the time for the same kind of hymn that opens the celebration of Mass. Most people know the traditional wedding march by its popular title, "Here Comes the Bride." Some parishes specifically ask couples not to use it. Many couples have assumed that this march is as necessary as the bride's white dress and the white cake at the reception, but none of these customs is absolutely essential.


Scripture for Weddings

06-03-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner

The Scriptures you hear at weddings usually come from a collection of texts specially chosen for the occasion. These passages appear in the lectionary. Often the priest or deacon witnessing the marriage has invited the bride and groom to select the Scriptures they wish to hear. On some occasions, the Scriptures should be drawn from the Mass of the day. For example, if the wedding Mass takes place on a Saturday evening during Lent or Easter, the Scriptures will be those of Sunday. Even on those days we may substitute one of the readings with one form the wedding lectionary.


Wedding Anniversaries

05-27-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2000 Resource Publications, Inc.

On special anniversaries, a married couple may wish to celebrate their union with a blessing at church. Although many parishes organize a "renewal of vows," the liturgy of the church has always avoided precisely that ceremony. Instead, the church offers texts for a Mass on the occasion of the anniversary and a blessing of the couple.


Veni, Sancte Spiritus

05-20-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2002 Resource Publications, Inc.

On Pentecost we insert a hymn into the Scripture readings of the day. After the second reading and before the Gospel, we sing "Veni, Sancte Spiritus," or "Come, Holy Spirit, Come!" – the sequence for Pentecost Sunday. A sequence is a hymn added to the Liturgy of the Word on special days throughout the year. Sequences are optional, except for those on Easter and Pentecost.

"Veni, Sancte Spiritus" was probably composed by Stephen Langton (1228), the archbishop of Canterbury, although some think Pope Innocent III (1216) was the author. Stephen Langton is also responsible for dividing the books of the Bible into the chapters we mostly observe today.


Communion Twice

05-13-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc.

Catholics share communion at Mass no more than once a day. But there are exceptions. The Catholic faithful gather once a week and share communion at the Sunday Eucharist. Some come to weekday Masses in addition. Ordinarily, we participate in no more than one Mass a day. The custom of communion only once a day restrains abuses by those who might spend their day going from Mass to Mass and communion to communion. To share communion devoutly requires good preparation. The benefits of a good communion do not quickly disappear.


Ascension on a Sunday

05-06-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc.

The Ascension of Christ, which traditionally falls on a Thursday, may be celebrated on a Sunday in certain parts of the world. The Ascension originated as a Thursday celebration because of the story of the even from the opening of the Acts of the Apostles. There, Luke says that Jesus rose from the dead, appeared to believers for 40 days then ascended to the heavens. Even though the accounts of the ascension in the Gospels suggest it took place after a shorter period of time, the liturgy of the church has honored the chronology from Acts by celebrating the Ascension on Thursday of the sixth week of Easter.


First Communion Dress

04-29-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2002 Resource Publications, Inc.

Girls sharing communion for the first time traditionally wear a white dress and veil. But the tradition is fairly recent, and the garment is not required. The origins of this custom are not clear. References to white first communion dresses appear in the 18th century. At that time children shared communion for the first time around age 10 to 12 or even older. Several interpretations of the dress emerged: It was the dress of angels who worshiped at God's throne. It imitated the garb of those serving in a royal court. It recalled the baptismal garment. And, of course, it resembles a wedding dress.


Eucharistic Prayer Choice

04-22-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2004 Resource Publications, Inc.

The Eucharistic prayers used at Mass are in four categories. The first group, simply numbered one through four, contains the principal prayers for Mass throughout the liturgical year. A second group is used for Masses of reconciliation. The two prayers of this group were originally composed for the holy year 1975 when Paul VI was pope, but they have been approved for general use, especially in penitential seasons and days when the Scriptures invited us to reconcile.


Praying the Eucharistic Prayer

04-15-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2003 Resource Publications, Inc.

The Eucharistic prayer is the most important part of the Mass. It is also the demanding part. The Second Vatican Council invited the full, conscious, active participation of the people at Mass. During the Eucharistic prayer, the priest has almost all the words, but the assembly is not passive. Even here –especially here – in silence and acclamation, we offer full, conscious, active participation.


Baptismal Certificate

04-08-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2002 Resource Publications, Inc.

After you were baptized, your name was inscribed in the baptism register of the Catholic parish where the event took place. Your entry also includes the names of the minister, your parents (if you were a child when baptized), your godparents, the place and date of your baptism and the place and date of your birth. You or your family probably received a record of that entry in a document commonly called a baptismal certificate. The certificate is your copy of the official record held at your parish of baptism.



04-01-2018Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2005 Resource Publications, Inc.

Baptism in the Catholic Church may be administered either by immersion or pouring. The two options are always listed in that order, indicating a preference for baptism by immersion, even though pouring is more commonly practiced.