Quick Lessons from the Catechism: Where is the Liturgy Celebrated? (And The Lateran Basilica)

Instead of celebrating the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica is celebrated in the Latin lung of the Catholic Church today. Why does the dedication of one of the four major Roman Basilicas trump the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time? For a simple explanation of the reasoning behind this move in the liturgical calendar, please read Fr. Will Schimd’s letter to the parish of St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church found on page 3 of the bulletin.

Lateren Basilica

Since we commemorate the basilica’s dedication in Rome, I found this to be the perfect day to explain what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about where the Liturgy is celebrated. Drawing from the section that deals with the Church’s Liturgy, the Catechism states briefly that…

Christ is the true temple of God, “the place where his glory dwells”; by the grace of God, Christians also become temples of the Holy Spirit, living stones out of which the Church is built (CCC 1197).

In its earthly state the Church needs places where the community can gather together. Our visible churches, holy places, are images of the holy city, the heavenly Jerusalem, toward which we are making our way on pilgrimage (CCC 1198).

It is in these churches that the Church celebrates public worship to the glory of the Holy Trinity, hears the word of God and sings his praises, lifts up her prayer, and offers the sacrifice of Christ sacramentally present in the midst of the assembly. These churches are also places of recollection and personal prayer (CCC 1199).

For a deeper and fuller understanding of where the Liturgy is celebrated, I encourage you to read paragraphs 1179-1186. In the future, this series will focus on the other paragraphs found in this section on the Liturgy.

Till then, I encourage you to check out the liturgical documents found on The Catholic Liturgical Library website. I would also encourage you to read the Second Vatican Council document on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, as well as The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI).

The Sacred Liturgy is one of the areas within the Church’s theology that many people have opinions on, however, most of these opinions are uninformed and invalid since many have never properly studied the Liturgy. We must read the documents that Church provides for us to have a complete understanding.


The 50th Anniversary of Inter Mirifica

Yesterday, December 4, we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Decree on the Media of Social Communications from the Second Vatican Council known as Inter Mirifica. Along with this document we also celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

When the Council Fathers gathered during the early 1960’s, I guarantee they had no idea how social communications and media would develop and advance from the day this document was promulgated by Pope Paul VI. In the 1960’s, computers were housed in entire rooms, now we have computers in our hands. Technological advances have evolved drastically over the past 50 years, but especially in the past 20 years with the advances in laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other devices.

These instruments have not only advanced the world we live in, but the Church is using these same tools, along with the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, other social media outlets and Catholic apps to announce the same Gospel proclaimed by the Apostles 2000 year ago. Proposition 18 from the Synod on the New Evangelization states, “Education in the wise and constructive use of social media is an important means to be utilized in the New Evangelization.”

Many seminarians, deacons, priests, bishops, religious sisters, religious orders, dioceses, archdioceses, and even the Pope (@Pontifex) have Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, or both. The Catholic Blogosphere has exploded in recent years with many lay people developing blogs alongside the clergy and religious to promote the beauty and Truth of Jesus Christ and His Church.

Even with all that is on the Internet in regards to the Catholic Church, I recently heard a statistic that shocked me – only 13% of Catholics that attend Mass each Sunday know of a Catholic online presence. What?!

Although Inter Mirifica has taken hold in the life of the Church, there is still a lot more work to be done, if the the above statistic is true. It really takes about 50 years for documents to make their presence felt in the life of the Church after an ecumenical council. With that being said, the documents of the Second Vatican Council are at the beginning stages of bearing their fruit. It’s an exciting time to be a Catholic!

I would encourage you to read the Decree on the Media of Social Communications, Inter Mirifica, as soon as you can. It’s a short document and one that you will understand. If you have any questions about the document, feel free to contact me.

Below are five quotes that stood out for me from Inter Mirifica

“The most important of these inventions are those media which, such as the press, movies, radio, television and the like, can, of their very nature, reach and influence, not only individuals, but the very masses and the whole of human society, and thus can rightly be called the media of social communication” (#1).

“It is the duty of Pastors to instruct and guide the faithful so that they, with the help of these same media, may further the salvation and perfection of themselves and of the entire human family. In addition, the laity especially must strive to instill a human and Christian spirit into these media, so that they may fully measure up to the great expectations of mankind and to God’s design” (#3).

“First, a good press should be fostered. To instill a fully Christian spirit into readers, a truly Catholic press should be set up and encouraged. Such a press-whether immediately fostered and directed by ecclesiastical authorities or by Catholic laymen-should be edited with the clear purpose of forming, supporting and advancing public opinion in accord with natural law and Catholic teaching and precepts…effective support should be given to good radio and television programs, above all those that are suitable for families. Catholic programs should be promoted, in which listeners and viewers can be brought to share in the life of the Church and learn religious truths” (#14).

“Since the proper use of the media of social communications which are available to audiences of different cultural backgrounds and ages, calls for instruction proper to their needs, programs which are suitable for the purpose-especially where they are designed for young people-should be encouraged, increased in numbers and organized according to Christian moral principles. This should be done in Catholic schools at every level, in seminaries and in lay apostolate groups. To speed this along catechetical manuals should present and explain Catholic teaching and regulations on this matter” (#16).

“It will be the task of the Bishops, however, to watch over such works and undertakings in their own dioceses, to promote them and, as far as the public apostolate is concerned, to guide them, not excluding those that are under the direction of exempt religious” (#20).

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen…Pray For Us! 

Angels and Saints at Ephesus

Over the weekend, I attended Holy Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Parish in Jasper, Indiana. After Mass was over, we knelt as we always do to say our “After Mass” prayers. As we were praying and talking a bit, I said to Tara, “Wow! Listen to that organ!” The organ throughout the Mass lifted us into the Heavenly Kingdom because that’s exactly what the mission of Sacred Music is to do.  As the Second Vatican Council document, Sacrosanctum Concilium (The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) states, “In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things.”

We must return to a Holy Mass that is sacred, beautiful, and prayerful. The music at Mass is not meant to distract us nor is it there to entertain us. In the Holy Mass, we are reminded of the Sacrifice of Christ and we renew the covenant He established with us at the Last Supper. In his new book, Evangelical Catholicism, George Weigel says,

“To begin: Evangelical Catholicism understands the liturgy to be fundamentally God’s work, not ours. To celebrate the Church’s liturgy, especially the Holy Mass, is our privileged participation in the liturgy of the angels and saints [emphasis mine] around the Throne of Grace of the thrice-holy God…Evangelical Catholic liturgy can and does accommodate various musical forms, although following the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, it takes seriously Gregorian Chant as a kind of universal Catholic musical grammar; at the same time, it welcomes more modern chant forms and seeks to incorporate into Catholic worship the great hymn traditions [emphasis mine] of other Christian communities.” (72-73).

Angels and Saints at Ephesus

With the help of De Montfort Music, the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles release their new CD today – Angels and Saints at Ephesus. This is the follow up CD of their debut album – Advent at Ephesus. The Benedictine Sisters are prophetically living and preaching words of Weigel at this very moment. They see that Sacred Music will lead to a Sacred Liturgy.

I encourage you to purchase this beautiful music, listen to it, and encourage others to do the same. You can buy the music either at their website here or via iTunes. I would also encourage you to share this album with your Priests and Directors of Music/Liturgy. Ask them to have at least one Mass at your parish with Sacred Music. With music like this being produced and with work of De Montfort Music, we have the ability to bring back a sacredness to the Holy Mass sooner than later.