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.

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.


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.


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.



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.


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!


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.



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.


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.


Oil of the Sick

10-29-2017Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2002 Resource Publications, Inc.

The oil of the sick is used for the sacrament in the Catholic Church. Traditionally this oil is olive oil, but any vegetable oil will suffice. The bishop blesses fresh oil each year; in case of necessity, any priest may bless the oil for this sacrament. In the distant past lay people anointed the sick, but today only a priest or bishop may administer this sacrament.

This sick were anointed even at the time of Christ. In Mark 6:13, Jesus sent the disciples out to anoint the sick. James 5:14 urges the sick to send for the elders of the church for an anointing. The custom of anointing the sick continued, but for several hundred years only the dying were anointed. The priest prayed for their forgiveness and anointed them on seven different parts of the body.



10-22-2017Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc.

A catechumen is an unbaptized person preparing for baptism, confirmation, and communion. A catechumen is an apprentice—someone who is learning about the faith from those more experienced at it while practicing the faith to the extent possible. The word looks plural, but it is singular. A "catechumenate" is a group of catechumens; it is also the word for their formation.

Catechumens range in age. Some are adults; others are as young as children preparing for first communion. If Catholic parents want their infant to be baptized, the child does not become a catechumen first. A person becomes a catechumen by participation in the rite of acceptance into the order of catechumens.


Rite of Acceptance

10-15-2017Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc.

The rite of acceptance into the order of catechumens establishes a relationship between unbaptized persons and the church. Candidates express their intention to become members, and the church accepts them as catechumens. The ceremony may take place several times a year at a weekend Mass. Ideally, it begins outside the church. The priest for the Mass usually presides, but a deacon may do so.

The celebrant greets everyone and recalls the religious experience of the candidates. As they and their sponsors step forward. He asks the candidates their names and two questions about what they are seeking and why. The sponsors and assembly express their willingness to help the candidates find and follow Christ. The celebrant prays.



10-08-2017Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc.

If you are interested in joining the Catholic Church, you'll hear about something called "RCIA." The initials stand for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the book ministers use to guide you through the stages and steps of church membership.

If you've never been baptized, and you are old enough to read this, you begin your preparation with the precatechumenate. During this time you have some spiritual conversation about God and the Church.

Once you decide to follow Jesus Christ, you celebrate the rite of acceptance into the order of catechumens. As a catechumen, you are considered a member of the Church in a broad sense. Unmarried catechumens may have a Catholic wedding; deceased catechumens may have a Catholic funeral.



10-01-2017Liturgy CornerFr. Paul Turner © 2001 Resource Publications, Inc.

Chrism is the most special of all the oils used for Catholic sacraments and rituals. Traditionally, it is olive oil enhanced with balsam, a perfume. Today, other oils and perfumes may be used, especially in regions where the traditional ingredients are difficult to obtain. No matter the formula, chrism should have a pleasing aroma.

Chrism is the oil used for the three sacraments that may be received only once in a lifetime: baptism, confirmation, and ordination to the priesthood. It carries a strong association with the Holy Spirit, who consecrates the faithful for service according to the sacrament they receive.