Monday, October 18, 2010

The perfect prayer is holy Mass

The perfect prayer is holy Mass
Sunday Readings for Oct. 17, 2010 (29C)
By Father Cusick

Sunday Mass Readings
Podcast of Readings Video Reflections
Lecturas y Comentarios
Sunday Readings Bible Study
Prayer of the Hours
Burning Question: What does "pray without ceasing" mean to you?

For bodily weariness there is rest and upon arising from sleep one is able to rejoin the human race with renewed vigor. One may even go apart from work and home for an extended period. But in the task of prayer there can be no rest, for Christ commands us "Pray always". Prayer is the vigilance of one in battle, defending the stronghold of the soul against temptation and sin.

In the Book of Exodus Israel is under attack; Moses, his hands aloft, is the figure of intercession and prayer on behalf of the people in the life and death struggle against Amalek. Only as long as he is able to hold his hands thus will the chosen people gain the victory over their enemies. That he may continue to pray and not grow weary he is seated upon a stone and his hands are supported with the help of Aaron and Hur. Aided thus he is steadfast and the chosen people are victorious.

"The prayer of Moses responds to the living God's initiative for the salvation of his people. It foreshadows the prayer of intercession of the unique mediator, Christ Jesus." (CCC 2593)

Moses’ prayer in the battle against Amalek is a sign only of the greatest warrior and the most awful struggle. Jesus Christ upon His cross holds his hands aloft with the help of the nails; His feet are supported not by a stone but by a piercing nail. His hands are held in place in the perfect prayer for the sake of victory over the most terrible enemy of death which entered the world through sin. Until the last drop of His blood is shed and until His last breath His hands are held thus. There is no rest; the battle is total. All must be given to defeat the enemy of all.

The holy Mass is the experience here and now of this most glorious battle of God over the most fearsome enemy of death. But in order that His victory may be in us and that we may find life unending in Him we must pray always this prayer of victory. We must not lose the heart of sacrifice so that our sins may not tear us from His grasp.

A superficial or trite celebration of the holy rites can mislead and deceive the faithful, lulling us into a lax and casual understanding. The liturgy can become a mere social gathering, an opportunity for friends to say hello or a venue for trotting forth the latest fashions. The crowding of the faithful into the sanctuary, making of it a mere stage, have undermined the truths of the Mass, displacing Christ as the actor who saves sinful man. The role of altar server is for many just another activity for the boys and girls to include on their list of social services in anticipation of applying for high school rather than an opportunity to encourage young men to associate with the work of the priest as an opening to a priestly vocation. These things most assuredly have nothing in common with the death of Christ on the cross, relived in each Mass, and undermine what is most necessary in the life of the praying Church.

We have not been serious as a Church about what we say we believe about the Eucharistic Sacrifice. And we have paid the price. Attendance has fallen as uncatechised Catholics on the margins replace the Mass with sleep, shopping or other more satisfying social events. Young men have dropped out of service on the altar as young women, at such an age much more poised and socially at ease, have taken over their roles. Vestments, sacred vessels, and sanctuaries lack noble beauty. Lectors who have not practiced the reading of the Scriptures prior to Mass leave the people without a proper hearing of the Word. Priests replace prayer with banter and prescribed liturgical gestures are ignored.

The family is the unique school of prayer where the most lasting lessons are learned.

"The Christian family is the first place of education in prayer. Based on the sacrament of
marriage, the family is the 'domestic church' where God's children learn to pray 'as the Church' and to persevere in prayer. For young children in particular, daily family prayer is the first witness of the Church's living memory as awakened patiently by the Holy Spirit."
(CCC 2685)

Family prayer leads to and flows from the perfect prayer of the Church which is every holy Mass.

At every moment, all over the world, the Body of Christ is at prayer. In churches, chapels, convents and monasteries, with soldiers in the field of battle or with the persecuted in hidden places, the hands of the faithful are raised aloft in union with the heart of the suffering and triumphant Lord. Our liturgy of the Mass is the upraising of the Lord’s hands on the Cross unto death, that He may then rise to give us life. We must never grow weary of a correct and dignified offering of the sacred rites. The Lord God has proved we are worth it with the payment of the most precious cost: His own Life Divine.

(See also Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph number 695.)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What to do at Mass?

Mass Class
By Jeff Guhin, Jennifer Nestojko, Mike Hayes

OCT. 3, 2010 ( - So once you get to mass, what do you do? Well, it’s helpful to think of Mass as you would a dinner party. Here are five tips that will make it go well.

1. Get There

Try to arrive about 10 minutes or so before the start of the Mass.

This allows you plenty of time to greet others and it gives you some time to center yourself and meditate. There may be some churches where parishioners are urged to greet one another and talk. Mass is about celebrating relationships both with God and with your fellow Mass-goers, so it’s nice to be able to catch up with people before you get started. Think of it like a birthday dinner for a good friend: you wouldn’t want to walk right in when the dinner starts. You’d want to come by early, wish your friend a happy birthday, and then chat with your other friends at the party before dinner starts. If you don’t come to Mass early, it’s like missing cocktails: sure, you can do it, but it’s a lot less fun.

If you are a regular, be mindful of new parishioners and visitors. Welcome them into our larger family just as God welcomes every one of us.

If you’re running late, you have a lot of options. First off, there are later Masses at just about every church. Check out your local diocese’s website or to find out what times Masses start. However, if you’ve really got to go to this Church for this Mass, just be sensitive to the flow of the service-try to hang in the doorway or in the back of the Church until a convenient time to quickly find a spot. Again, it’s a lot like a dinner party: if the host is giving a speech, you don’t want to walk up to your seat and distract everyone.

It’s always better to go to Mass than to not go to Mass, but sometimes it’s best just to reschedule. If you’re running late because of totally unavoidable delays-and this is the only Mass you can attend-then you can still receive communion even if you come to Mass after the Gospel is read (which happens about halfway through the service). If you could have come to Mass earlier and just didn’t though, Catholics consider it a sin, simply because you’re treating Mass like a job to get done and ignoring the importance of your relationship to God and your community. After all, if your friend were having that birthday party and you barged in 45 minutes late, shook her hand, gave her a hot dog you bought at the 7-11, and then stormed out again because you had something else to do, your friend would probably wonder why you came at all. The same is true for Mass.

2. Getting in the Door

A) Walking into the church

As you enter the church, a member of the parish may greet you, and someone might hand you a song sheet, encouraging you to sing. Any Christian community should welcome newcomers, but it’s just as important that you allow yourself to be welcomed. If you march into the rear pew, look really solemn, and then march right out again, you’re not exactly making it easy for people to get to know you. If folks don’t talk to you, check your breath, use a breath mint if necessary, and then shake someone’s hand and say hello. Mass is a lot more meaningful if you know the people you’re going to Mass with.

B) Holy Water

The Baptismal Font or some dispenser of “holy water” is located near the entrance in most churches. Catholics dip their fingers in the water and make a sign of the cross. The water reminds them of the sacrament of Baptism and unites them with Christ, who said “all you who are thirsty, come to the water.” The water is called “holy” simply because it is blessed.

3. Get Thee to a Pew

Catholics are a respectful lot. So before entering your pew, be sure to bow or genuflect as a sign of respect for what’s before you. It might be a little odd, but just think of it like having to kiss your grandmother on both cheeks instead of just one.

The rules are actually pretty simple:


1. When you pass the tabernacle, which is a box usually in the front of the Church that contains the Blessed Sacrament. This shows respect to the presence of Christ contained in the Tabernacle.
2. At the beginning of mass, as you sit down, directing your genuflect towards the tabernacle, if it contains the Blessed Sacrament. You will know if it contains the Blessed Sacrament because a candle will be lit right next to it, or because you asked someone, or because you are God. The candle thing is probably easiest.
3. At the end of Mass, as Mass-goers leave their seat, directing the genuflection towards the tabernacle if it contains the Blessed Sacrament. (There is no need to genuflect before or after receiving communion.)


1. When facing the altar, if there is no tabernacle behind it, or if the tabernacle does not contain the Blessed Sacrament.
2. If you have to cross in front of the altar as a lector or a speaker.
3. If you’re Catholic and choose to receive Communion, you also need to bow before receiving communion in most places.

To genuflect, drop to your right knee to the floor in a solemn, slow way. Go as close as you can if you don’t think you can do that-while God may appreciate your sacrifice, fellow Mass-goers probably won’t enjoy the ambulance that will come to pick you up if you bust your knee out backwards.

4. Wake Up and Smell the Incense


The mass is not like the movies, where you passively sit and watch, and it isn’t even like a melodrama, where you get to cheer and boo on cue. Even if some Masses, like Palm Sunday, may seem like a melodrama, Mass-goers are not an audience. They’re active participants who make the liturgy happen. At most masses, it’s important that a community of believers is present. A priest is necessary for a Mass, but so are the Mass-goers!

The words and actions of Catholics at Mass are an active form of prayer, and a real chance to build a relationship with those around them and with God. For Catholics, Mass is a lot of things at once: it’s a re-enactment of Christ’s suffering and death, a celebration of community, and the chance to connect with the real presence of Christ’s body and blood. Not only is your participation vital to making all of that happen, but it also will make your experience of the Mass much more exciting.

5. Mass Manners

Mass is like any social event. It’s considered good form to be attentive to those around you and bad form not to. So, unless you expect a call from God, it’s a good idea to keep the cell phones and beepers turned off (or set to vibrate if you have an emergency situation). You might try leaving your cell phone at home, unless you’ve already become so addicted to it you’d shrivel up. If the room is available, you might take your crying baby to the “cry room” where you can see the Mass but not disturb others or simply take him or her outside. It’s just like if your friend were giving a speech at a big dinner, save for his retirement. Sure, you want to hear the speech, but if your kid is crying really loud it hurts it for everyone.

Mass is actually not that hard. Just follow along with what other folks do, be respectful of traditions, and try to enjoy it. After all, the dinner party isn’t only for Jesus. It’s also for you.

Jeff Guhin, Jennifer Nestojko, Mike Hayes

Monday, September 13, 2010

Virtues of the Newer Vernacular Mass

Virtues of the Newer Vernacular Mass

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

As a priest I have been privileged to walk in the “wide Church.” That is to say, I have been able for all 21 years of my priesthood to say the Traditional Latin Mass while at the same time celebrating the newer, Ordinary Form of the Mass in some very dynamic parishes.

I have always loved both forms of the Roman liturgy and this sometimes gets me in trouble since there are dynamics within the Church where, at times, people on both sides want me to choose sides. I have no problem that people have their preferences, but as a priest I think I am required to serve a very diverse Church. I thank God too for the gift to be able to do this and to really love the current diversity. I realize too that diversity has its limits and, thus, I stick to the rubrics in both forms of the Mass: “Say the black, do the red!”

I have discussed in the past why I like the Traditional Mass and the video at the bottom of this post is a PBS interview where I speak of my love for it. I would like to take a moment however and also say what I like about the newer Ordinary Form of the Mass and also my acceptance of the fact that the old Mass did have need for some attention.

1. Rediscovering the value of subordinate roles and ministries in the Mass – There was a tendency in the Traditional Latin Mass for the action of subordinate ministers such as the deacon, subdeacon, choirs and cantors, to be non-effectual. In other words, what they did, didn’t really count. The schola (or choir) might sing the introit, the Kyrie and Gloria, but what they did still had to be recited by the priest quietly as well. In effect, their singing didn’t really count. It might sound pretty and all but it was really only what the priest recited that mattered. The last version of the Traditional Mass in 1962 had begun to remedy this. Thus the priest was no longer required to read the Scripture readings quietly if the Deacon and Subdeacon were chanting them. It was OK for him to listen to what they were chanting. But the schola’s chant still had to be re-read by the priest to “count.” The newer, Ordinary Form of the Mass has restored the subordinate ministries to their own proper function. Hence, if the readings are read by a lector or deacon the priest does not have to re-read them. If the choir sings the communion verse or song, this suffices and it is not required that the priest re-read it. I like this about the new Mass.

2. I love the cycle of readings in the newer Mass. It is rich in its sampling of Scripture. The three year rotating cycle means that most of the New Testament is read every three years along with a rich sampling of the Old Testament. The Traditional Latin mass usually offered only a brief reading from the New Testament epistles and a Gospel pericope. It is very limited compared to the richness of the current Lectionary which includes, on Sundays, an Old Testament passge, a psalm, a New Testament epistle and a Gospel passage. Further the sequential reading from one of the four Gospels along with a matching Old Testament reading is helpful. The readings from the Traditional Latin Mass tended to skip around and its logic was not always clear. As a preacher and lover of Scripture I have been richly fed by the new lectionary. I could wish for a slightly better translation than the current NAB we use here in the States but in the end I feel very well schooled by the newer liturgy when it comes to Scripture.

3. Restoration of the General Intercessions – There is a strange moment in the Old Mass when, after the homily and creed the priest turns and says to the people (Dominus vobiscum (The Lord be with you) and they reply et cum spiritu tuo (and with your spirit). He then says, Oremus (Let us pray). But there is no prayer. He simply turns back to the altar and the people are once again seated. Many centuries before there had been bidding prayers here similar to our current “Prayers of the Faithful” or “General Intercessions.” They had been composed by Pope Gelasius but were later suppressed by Pope Gregory since they prolonged the Mass. But somehow the call to prayer (that odd little “oremus“) stayed there all those centuries.

There was need to attend to this. Either restore the prayers or drop the call to prayer. The current, Ordinary Form of the Mass has restored these prayers or general intercessions. I think this is a valuable aspect of the Ordinary Form of the Mass if it is done correctly. We ought to to pray for others as is so beautifully done in the Eastern Rites of the Church. It seems suitable that, after hearing and reflecting on God’s Word, we be drawn to pray for ourselves and the world.

However there is a tendency in some parishes to misunderstand the nature of these prayers. They are general intercessions, not particular ones. The prayers ought to be of a general nature not for every one’s sick cousin, aunt, or brother, mentioned by name with a full medical report included in the prayer. Rather we pray for the sick in general, for the poor, for Church leaders, Government leaders, for abundance of the fruits of the earth, for peace and so forth. Specific political and idiosyncratic prayers are wholly to be avoided.

If these norms are observed, the general intercessions (or prayer of the faithful) is a beautiful and ancient practice restored in the ordinary and newer form of the mass and it also links us more to the practice of the Eastern Rites.

4. The general rediscovery of the existence and role of congregation is a good part of the newer Ordinary Form of the Mass. In the Traditional Latin Mass, especially in its recited form the congregation had little to do but watch the Mass. The priest interacted only with the servers who made the responses on behalf of the people. Even when the priest turned to say something to the congregation he was instructed to look down.

If members of the congregation did wish to interact and make Latin responses this was made more difficult by the fact that the Mass was largely whispered by the priest. In the 1950s attempts were made to remedy this by encouraging the people to learn their responses in the Mass and use missals to follow the Mass carefully. Permissions were given for the priests to say the Mass in a louder voice and microphones were even added to some altars. But the lengthier Latin responses were still difficult for many ordinary Catholics to make and keep up with.

Today, in the newer liturgy the role of the congregation is respected and they are expected to play an active role in the Mass and make responses proper to them. It is true that there has been some obsession with this by overzealous liturgists. At times some of them demand that the people do everything and that there is never a place for a choir to sing a more advanced setting of something. But in general, the integral involvement of the congregation in the newer and ordinary form of the Mass is something I value highly.

5. The Vernacular is also a positive development. I love the Latin Language but I also know that it is a great advantage to have many parts of the Mass in the local language. This has assisted in greater participationof the faithful in the Mass to an immense degree. It is difficult to expect the congregation to take a routinely active role if the Liturgy is almost wholly said in a language they do not know. Simple Latin responses are one thing, but try to get the whole congregation to say the confiteor (I Confess) well together. It can be done in some self-selected congregation where there is interest in Latin, but in more general settings it would be difficult.

That said, it is a true loss that most of the faithful have become completely separated from any experience of the Mass in Latin. This is something not envisaged by the Council which permitted a wider use of the vernacular but also commended the use of Latin and foresaw it’s continued common use in the liturgy.

A further point here is to lament how poor our vernacular translations have been for years and how good it is that a more accurate translation is on the way. Praise God.

6. Flexibility and the wider possibility for inculturation is also something I appreciate about the newer Ordinary Form of the Mass. Careful balance is needed here and rubrics need to be followed but the greater allowance for wider forms of music and cultural expression has allowed the Liturgy to flourish in different settings. I have a vibrant African American Catholic Parish wherein gospel music and extended preaching along with a charismatic enthusiasm give real life to the Mass in an authentic manner.

It is true that not every experience of inculturation with the new Mass has been as successful. This is especially true in more suburban American settings where culture is more secular and ephemeral and too many worldly forms find their way into the Mass. But where is a sacred tradition to draw on, it is nice to have some flexibility to incorporate this.

There is no doubt that the newer Ordinary Form of the Mass has some serious issues. It emerged in a time of great cultural tumult and emerged as if out of a whirlwind. We are still waiting for the dust to settle in many respects. But there are good and wonderful things as well. Pope Benedict is helping a great deal to reconnect us to tradition and to see both forms of the Liturgy as beneficial to each other.

It is fine to have a preference but I am blest to love both forms and serve vibrant and passionate communities using both forms. Both communities love the Lord and are serious about the liturgy and deeply connected to it. What a blessing to look out each Sunday and see, not boredom, but engaged and passionate people, alive and aware that the Lord is ministering to them in the sacred liturgy. What a blessing, a double blessing!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Biblical and Heavenly Roots of the Sacred Liturgy

The Biblical and Heavenly Roots of the Sacred Liturgy
By Msgr. Charles Pope

Catholics are often unaware just how Biblical the Sacred Liturgy is. The design of our traditional churches, the use of candles, incense, golden vessels, the postures of standing and kneeling, the altar, the singing of hymns, priests wearing albs and so forth are all depicted in the Scriptures. Some of these details were features of the ancient Jewish Temple, but most all of these are reiterated in the Book of Revelation which describes the liturgy of heaven.

The liturgy here on earth is modeled after the liturgy in heaven and that is why it is so serious to tamper with it. The Book of Revelation describes the heavenly liturgy and focuses on a scroll or book which contains the meaning of life and the answers to all we seek. It also focuses the Lamb of God, standing but with the marks of slaughter upon it. Does this not sound familiar? It is the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

We do well to be aware of the Biblical roots of the Sacred Liturgy not only for our own edification but also as an answer to Protestant Christians who have largely set aside these rituals and, some of whom, criticize our use of them. Many people consider our rituals empty and vain, “smells and bells.” Some consider austere liturgical environments devoid of much ritual to be “purer,” and closer to the worship in “spirit and in truth” that Jesus spoke of in John 4.

To such criticisms we must insist that these rituals, properly understood, are mystical and deeply biblical. Further, they are elements of the heavenly liturgy since almost all of them are mentioned as aspects of the worship or liturgy that takes place in heaven. In this light it is a serious mistake to set them aside or have a dismissive attitude toward them.

With that in mind we ought to consider the Biblical references to the most common elements of Catholic and Orthodox liturgies. I place an ocassional note in Red where it seems appropriate.

Candles -

  • Rev 1:12-13 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man. In traditional catholic parishes there are six candles on the high altar and a seventh candle is brought out when the bishop is present.
  • Rev 4:6 Seven flaming torches burned in front of the throne.

Altar -

  • Rev 9:13 The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God.
  • Rev 8:3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.

Chair -

  • Rev 4:1 and lo, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne! And he who sat there appeared like jasper and carnelian, and round the throne was a rainbow that looked like an emerald….
  • Daniel 7:9 As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was ancient of days took his seat;… In the sacred liturgy the Chair of the priest is prominent. But, as he takes his seat we are invited not to see Father Jones, but rather the Lord himself presiding in our midst.

Priests (elders) in Albs:

  • Rev 4:4 the elders sat, dressed in white garments…..

Bishop’s Miter, priest biretta –

  • Rev 4:4, 10 With golden crowns on their heads……they cast down their crowns before the throne…. In the Liturgy the Bishop may only wear his miter at prescribed times. But when he goes to the altar he must cast aside his miter. The priest who wears the biretta in the Old Mass is instructed to tip his biretta at the mention of the the Holy Name and to lay it aside entirely when he goes to the altar.

Focus on a scroll (Book) The Liturgy of the Word -

  • Rev 5: 1 And I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I wept much that no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” In the ancient world books, as we know them now, had not been invented. Texts were written on long scrolls and rolled up.

Incense, Intercessory prayer -

  • Rev 8:3 another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God…..
  • Rev 5:7 and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints;

Hymns –

  • Rev 5:8 – And they sang a new hymn: Worthy are you O Lord to receive the scroll and break open its seals. For you were slain and with your blood you purchase for God men of every race and tongue, and those of every nation.
  • Rev 14:1 Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads… and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.
  • Rev 15:3 And they (the multitude no one could count) sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and wonderful are thy deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are thy ways, O King of the ages! Who shall not fear and glorify thy name, O Lord? For thou alone art holy. All nations shall come and worship thee, for thy judgments have been revealed.”

Holy Holy Holy

  • Rev 4:8 and day and night they never cease to sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,

Prostration (Kneeling) -

  • Rev 4:10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne.
  • Rev 5:14 and the elders fell down and worshiped - In today’s setting there is seldom room for everyone to lie, prostrate and flat on the ground. Hence, kneeling developed as a practical solution to the lack of space but amounts to the same demenor of humble adoration.

Lamb of God -

  • Rev 5:6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain,

Acclamations –

  • Rev 5:11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”


  • Rev 5:14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!”.


  • Rev 8:1 When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (and you thought your priest paused too long after communion?)

Mary -

  • Rev 12:1 And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 2she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.

Happy are those called to his “supper”

  • Revelation 19: 6Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;… And the angel said£ to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

Golden Vessels, vestments -

  • Rev 1:12 – And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,
  • Rev 1:13 – and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest
  • Rev 5:8 – the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense
  • Rev 8:3 – Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, at the golden altar before the throne.
  • Rev 15:16 – The angels were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests.
  • Rev 15:17 seven golden bowls

Stained Glass -

  • Rev 21:10 [The heavenly city] had a great, high wall, with twelve gates,… The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. (The image of stained glass in our Church walls is hinted at here).

Here is but a partial list, drawn only from the Book of Revelation. I invite you to add to it. You might also read The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn, and The Mass: A Biblical Prayer,by Fr. Peter Stravinskas.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

350,000 Catholic Masses a day!

Now This is Communion

AUG. 31, 2010 ( - There is an estimated (at least) 350,000 Catholic Masses celebrated every day on planet Earth. It is celebrated in every nook and cranny on the planet, by every race and nationality, and using every language. And each of these Masses is celebrated (generally) using the same scripture readings and the same prayers.

Every single one of these 350,000 Masses is actually doing exactly what Jesus said to do in scripture (Luke 22:19, 1 Cor 11:23-29) when he said “Do this in memory of me.” Catholics live that out as a Church over 350,000 times a day. That means there are 4 priests saying those precise words, “Do this in memory of me,” every single second of every single day.

Every one of these Masses is literally and continually making present Christ’s (once and for all) sacrifice on Calvary for all mankind. At any second you can join your own prayers to one.

When you participate in a Catholic Mass, you are participating in the same celebration as these other 350,000 daily Masses all over the world (you wanna talk about a “mega-church”?). We are all joined in the same readings and prayers and we partake of the same, specific Eucharist. And the rest of the time, when we are living out our faith outside of Mass, there are (literally) a billion other Catholics around the world continually offering it up on our behalf.

Now that’s unity (John 17:11). That’s communion.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Entering" into Holy Communion

"Entering" into Holy Communion
Corpus Christi Sunday, June 6, 2010 (Corpus ChristiC)
By Fr. Charles Irvin

Sunday Readings
Lecturas y Comentarios
Prayer of the Hours
Burning Question: Do you really believe in the True Presence at Communion?

Our celebration today brings welcome relief, relief from the flood of depressing attention we have been forced to give to our Church as an institution. The doleful accounts of our institutional failure to protect our children from sexual predators along with the inadequate responses on the part of our Church officials to recognize the crimes committed have kept us all under a dark cloud.

Without diminishing our concerns about the failures and crimes of priests and bishops, today’s celebration of Corpus Christi brings us the joyful good news of God’s astounding gift of Himself to us in the Body of Christ, a reality that we encounter in celebrating the Eucharist, in receiving Holy Communion, and in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. There is a great mystery here – how is it that God’s love has brought Him to be so deeply immersed in our sinful humanity? We will never plumb the depth of that wonder. At the same time we should never cease rejoicing in the fact that He took on our humanity in its best and in its worst. Because of God’s love many priests, centering their hearts on the Eucharist, strive all the harder these days to be good and holy priests.

There will be a lot of homilies preached around the world this Sunday that will center on the sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel where we find Jesus declaring that He is the bread of life, that His flesh is true food and His blood true drink. I am the living bread that came down from heaven, He declared: Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. This led to a dispute among many who asked, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" To which Jesus declared: Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Upon hearing these words of Jesus, many of His very own disciples left Him.

Many Christians around us today do not accept the truth of Jesus’ words about His Body and Blood. For us as Catholics, however, along with Eastern Orthodox Christians, this teaching of Jesus is central to the very nature of the Church. Without the Body and Blood of Christ, the Church wouldn’t be what it is. The Eucharist makes the Church and the Church makes the Eucharist. Without Christ’s sacrifice of His Body and Blood there would be no priesthood. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is central to the very existence of the Church. Likewise it is central to our life as Catholic Christians. Because of it we can access heaven, whereas before Christ gave it to us heaven’s doors were closed. The Eucharist and the Church are God’s marvelous gifts to us. They are not of our making.

Jesus Christ saves us from our sins by offering the totality of Himself to our Father in heaven, offering His body, blood, soul, and divinity. Jesus continues this one sacrifice of Himself down though the ages of human history in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In the Mass, Jesus takes us into Himself. Through Him, with Him, and in Him He then returns us back home to our Father in heaven. It is a dynamic act, a continuing act, not something that happened only once over 2,000 years ago just outside the walls of Jerusalem.

When we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass during the offertory prayers the priest takes a cruet of water and mingles a few drops of that water into the wine. As he does so he will pray, “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” Moments later during the Eucharistic Prayer the priest calls down the Holy Spirit, asking God to consecrate the mingled water and wine into the Blood of Christ. It is in our mingled humanity with Christ’s divinity that the life of God the Son comes to us in the Eucharist, in His Mystical Body. The Church is never more Church than in that moment. In the Eucharist, God’s life and our human life are fused together.

Hopefully, when we spend time in Eucharistic adoration outside of Mass we make the proper connection between the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist with the Mystical Body of Christ that is present and active in the world. After all, when we receive the Eucharist in holy Mass the idea is to take the true and real presence of Christ within us out into the world. We celebrate Mass not simply as a private devotion to save ourselves and enliven individual holiness within us. Yes, we do that but with the greater purpose of carrying out our Father’s mission. He sent His Son into the world not to condemn it, but to save it. Christ’s mission is our mission. All Eucharistic devotion is quite central to that mission, a mission that is active, not passive, in the world, not separate from it.

Many centuries ago theologians spoke of the Eucharist as the Mystical Body of Christ. The phrase is often used today to identify the Church. Once again we need to realize, to make real in our lives and in the lives of those around us, the reality that the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ because the Eucharist constitutes the Church.

In their Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught us: “…the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's supper.”

The Body of Christ takes us into Jesus’ entire life, a life given over to God in every way at every moment. His death on the cross was the culmination of His life among us as Jesus of Nazareth. Christ’s resurrection was the beginning of His life as the Spirit-filled Christ risen in glory. This is what we mean when we enter into “the Paschal Mystery”. When we receive the Body of Christ we enter into His life – His life in its fullest extent. We do not enter it simply because we will to do so, we enter into it because we are called and empowered to do so by the Holy Spirit. Mass (the Eucharist) is not something we watch; it is something we do.

God calls us to Himself not in some remote and distant heaven, but here on earth. His call is to us now; His call is present. Our response is not some future response; our response is now, here on earth. The bread and wine we offer at Mass symbolize the sacrifices of ourselves. Our giving thanks in the Eucharistic Prayer is our surrendering ourselves to God in Christ’s surrendering of Himself to His Father.

We should never simply “get” or “receive” Holy Communion. We enter into Holy Communion; we enter into the totality of Christ’s incarnate life among us. There is an intrinsic interconnection between the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (which we call Eucharist), Holy Communion, and the Blessed Sacrament. In this sense, “receiving Holy Communion” is a dynamic reality: we receive Christ and in so doing, Christ receives us, and by the power of the Holy Spirit presents us to the Father.

The intended result of our active participation in the whole offering of the Mass will be found in an ethic of life that participates in Christ’s active life in our world, a life that is sent into the world “so that the world might believe” in God’s caring love for us all as His children. We are here at Mass in order to be sent, sent with God’s enterprise, with God’s meaning and purpose for our lives. We come to Mass to join ourselves into Christ in His Mystical Body and into His mission among us.

The purpose of Mass is not to be seen as an action wherein the priest simply consecrates hosts; some people think their participation in the Eucharistic Prayer is all about watching the priest and then receiving Holy Communion. Truly it is much more. Our Holy Communion incorporates us into the Body of Christ, but our incorporation is not something that we simply receive. We are taken up rather into the totality of what Jesus Christ is all about so that through Him, with Him, and in Him, all honor and glory will be given to our Father in heaven.

May you fully, actively, and intentionally participate in that reality, a reality summed up in the dynamism of Corpus Christi. May the Body and Blood of our risen Lord Jesus Christ bring us together into eternal life.

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Friday, May 7, 2010

The case for Catholic Mass vs. Protestant services

"So Very Dry" Liturgy
The case for Catholic Mass vs. Protestant services

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: Nowadays there seems to be a shift from the spirit of the liturgy to mechanical and ritualistic performance. Since our liturgy is so very dry, many Catholics in several parts of India are going to Protestant churches where the worship is spontaneous, meaningful and gives them a sense of involvement and satisfaction. Some of the questions put to you and your answers seem to be not appealing to the soul. Should we not think of promoting meaningful liturgy in the light of the local culture and its needs? -- P.J., Dindigul, India

A: We occasionally receive questions of this type which touch upon fundamental issues regarding the purpose and nature of liturgy.

Over the years, this column has addressed many points of liturgy, some of which are admittedly technical and maybe even rarefied. But I always strive to give my readers the benefit of the doubt and presume that their inquiries stem from a sincere desire to celebrate the liturgy according to the Church's heart and mind.

I do not believe that it follows that an exact and precise liturgical celebration is thereby a soulless and mechanical ritual. Nor is a cavalier attitude toward rubrics an inevitable proof of authentic Christianity. There can be both good faith and hypocrisy behind both attitudes, but these are the failings of individual human beings that do not touch the heart of the question.

I strongly defend fidelity to liturgical norms because I believe that the faithful have a right to be able to participate in a recognizably Catholic liturgy, a liturgy that flows from Christ himself and is part of the great stream of the communion of saints.

While not doubting the sincerity of my correspondent, I must take exception to his way of characterizing Protestant worship with respect to Catholic liturgy. I believe that we are before a question that goes much deeper than external forms. The crux of the problem is not that our separated brethren have more exciting performances but that we have failed to teach our faithful basic Catholics doctrine on the Mass and the Eucharist.

Any Catholic who has the tiniest inkling of what it means to assist at Mass; to be present at the Lord's Passion, death and resurrection; to be able to unite his or her prayer presented to the eternal Father united together with Christ's supreme sacrifice; to have the possibility of sharing the Bread come down from heaven -- how could such a Catholic ever compare this privilege to any Protestant service, even though admittedly it might have better music and more able preaching?

At the same time, the Church's liturgy is already endowed with flexibility and a richness that can readily respond to local characteristics as determined by the national bishops' conferences. Apart from the essential problem of lack of liturgical formation there is the question of the abandonment or lack of use of many treasures, both ancient and new, that can transform our liturgies into beautiful and deeply spiritual experiences.

When the full possibilities of genuine Catholic liturgy are used, the celebration is not a tad less participative, spontaneous and meaningful than any non-Catholic service. The difference is that in liturgy, just as in sports, authentic spontaneity, participation and creativity are found within the rules and not outside of them.

Apart from the liturgy Catholicism has a plethora of forms of prayer and associations, from historic confraternities and sodalities to modern charismatic prayer groups and ecclesial movements. I believe that these multifarious expressions can satisfy all forms of spiritual sensibility and desire for involvement much better than any individual group of Protestants.

Therefore if some of our Catholic faithful are migrating to Protestant groups, I don't think we should be blaming the liturgy but rather double our efforts to celebrate it properly and proclaim the truth of the great mystery of faith.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why Celebrate Mass in Latin?

Why Celebrate Mass in Latin?

By Msgr. Charles Pope

APR. 23, 2010 ( - Today beginning at 12:30 pm here in Washington at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a Solemn High Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form will be celebrated in the Great Upper Church. For those unfamiliar with all the Church jargon of the previous sentence let me decode. The “extraordinary Form” of the Mass is the form of the Mass as it was celebrated prior to 1965 when Liturgical changes brought about the Mass as we have it today.

Prior to these changes the Mass was celebrated exclusively in Latin with only the homily (and sometimes the readings) in English or whatever the local language was. The celebrant also faced in the same direction as the people which some have wrongfully described as the priest “having his back to the people.”

To say this is a “Solemn High” Mass means that all the ceremonial options are observed. There is incense, extra candle bearers, and many of the prayers and readings of the liturgy are sung. The celebrant is also assisted by a deacon and subdeacon. To say this is a pontifical Mass means that it will be celebrated by a bishop and will include two extra deacons and an assisting priest. Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa is today’s celebrant.

For those who are unfamiliar or unappreciative with the splendor of the Latin Liturgy in this form soem questions often arise.

1. Why pray in Latin or any language unfamiliar to the language of the people who attend?

Simply put, praying in Latin is to pray in what has been a sacred language for the Church. It is a common feature of cultures down through human history that they often prayed in a language other than the language of the home and streets. To pray liturgically is to enter heaven, a world apart from the every day world. To use another and more ancient language is a common way many cultures have underscored this.

At the time of Jesus, the synagogue services and the Temple liturgy used ancient Hebrew. Jesus and his contemporaries did not speak Hebrew at home or in the streets any longer. They spoke Aramaic. But when they prayed they instinctively used the ancient prayers which were Hebrew.

In the early Church it appears that the earliest years saw the use of the Greek language for the Liturgy. It seems to have been used even though many people spoke Latin throughout the empire. But many did not think Latin was suited for the Liturgy which required a more elevated language than what most people spoke. By the 5th Century however Latin came to be introduced in the Western Empire as it became an older and more venerable language to them. Eventually Latin wholly replaced Greek in the liturgy of the Church in the Western empire (except a few remnants such as the Kyrie). It remained the language of worship until about 1965 when the local languages were allowed. However, it was not the intent of the Church that Latin should wholly disappear as it has largely done. Latin remains for the Church the official language of her worship.

So, why pray in Latin? Why not? It is for us a sacred language of worship and there is an instinct in human culture that liturgy is world apart where we enter heaven. It is not wrong to pray in the local language but, truth be told, it is not the usual practice in human history.

2. Why does the celebrant face away, or “have his back to us?”

It is really a wrongful description to say the celebrant has his back to us. What is really happening is that the celebrant and the people are all facing the same direction. They are looking toward God. On the center of every older altar was a crucifix. The priest faced it to say Mass and all the people faced it with him. He and they are turned toward the Lord.

In the ancient Church, they not only faced the cross, they also faced to the east to pray. An ancient text called the Didiscalia written about 250 AD says, Now, you ought to face to east to pray for, as you know, scripture has it, Give praise to God who ascends above the highest heavens to the east . In later centuries it was not always possible to orient the Church so that everyone could face east. But the Crucifix above the altar represented the east and the Lord. Hence everyone faced the Lord to pray.

The idea of facing each other to pray is wholly modern and was never known in the Church prior to 1965. Hence the answer is that the celebrant is facing the Lord to pray and so are we.

3. Why is so much of the Mass whispered quietly?

Not everything is whispered but the much of the Eucharistic prayer is. Historically the whispered Eucharistic prayer (or Canon) developed in monastic settings where it was not uncommon for more than one liturgy to be celebrated at the same time at various side altars. In those days priests did not concelebrate masses as they do frequently today. Each priest had to celebrate his own mass. In monasteries where numerous priest might be in residence, numerous liturgies might be celebrated at similar times. In order not to interrupt each other, the priests conducted these liturgies with a server quietly. This practice continued into modern times.

Over time this monastic silence came to be regarded as a sacred silence. The whispering of the prayers was considered a sign of the sacredness of the words which “should not” be loudly proclaimed. (There are other more complicated theological trends that swept the liturgy too complicated to go into here that also influenced the move to a more silent liturgy) At any rate, the practice of a sacred silence came to be the norm eventually even in parish churches. Hence the hushed tones were not an attempt to ignore the faithful who attended or make their participation difficult but it was associated with a holy silence. People knelt, praying as the priest prayed on their behalf.

In the past century as literacy increased among the lay faithful it became more common to provide them with books that contained the texts of the liturgy and those who could read were encouraged to follow along closely. Through the 1940s and 50s these books (called “missals”) became quite common among the laity. By the 1950s there were also some experiments with allowing the priest to have a microphone or to raise the level of his voice so the faithful could follow more easily. These “dialogue Masses” were more popular in some place than others. Sacred silence was still valued by many and adjusting to a different experience was not always embraced with the same fervor, it varied from place to place.

Today, with the return in some places to the celebration of the Old Latin Mass (called officially the “Extraordinary Form”) this sacred silence is once again in evidence. For those who are not used to it, it seems puzzling. But hopefully some of this history helps us understand it. Once again we are faced with the dilemma of how loudly the priest should pray the Canon (Eucharistic Prayer) at such Masses. There are different opinions but a fairly wide consensus that the prayer should be generally said in a very subdued voice.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Understanding the Spiritual Dimension of the Holy Mass

Understanding the Spiritual Dimension of the Holy Mass

ParishWorld Editor's Note: The following is a reflection on the spiritual dimension of the Holy Mass, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. It is simple, pious, reverent and catechetically acceptable. presents it because of its solid description of the spiritual and devotional dimensions of the mystery of the Mass. We are not asserting that the source of the message is in fact the Blessed Virgin in an apparition to Catalina. That is for others to determine.

APR. 21, 2010 ( - Catalina Rivas of Cochabamba, Bolivia, who now dwells in Mérida, Yucatán, México. She is said to receive Messages from Jesus, Mary, and the angels. She has the approval of her Bishop, René Fernández Apaza, who has given his imprimatur to her Messages. The following text is the reproduction of booklet, “The Holy Mass,” in which Our Lord and Our Lady explain to Catalina what is really going on during the Mass in the spiritual realm, and how we should be more concentrated on the great mysteries that are taking place.

Bo. Daniel Gagnon, OMI, of the Commission for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Archdiocese of Mexico, wrote about this book: “I do not find anything against the faith or the customs of the Church. It is not my function to confirm its supernatural character; nevertheless, I recommend it for its spiritual inspiration.”

The Testimony of Catalina
on the Holy Mass

In a marvelous catechesis, the Lord and the Virgin Mary have been instructing us first on how to pray the Rosary, that being to pray it with our hearts, and meditate and enjoy the moments when we encounter God and our Blessed Mother. They have also instructed us on the way to make a good confession and, in this document, a teaching on what happens during the Holy Mass and how to live it with our hearts.

This is the testimony that I must and want to give to the whole world, for the greater Glory of God and for the salvation of all of those who want to open their hearts to the Lord. It is also given so that many souls consecrated to God will rekindle the fire of their love for Christ, some of whom are the owners of the hands that have the power to bring Him to our world so that He can become our nourishment. It is also given for others so that they break lose of the “routine practice” of receiving Him, and relive the amazement of their daily encounter with Love. And it is given so that my lay brothers and sisters from the entire world live the greatest Miracle with their hearts: the celebration of the Eucharist.

It was the vigil of the Annunciation, and the members of our group had gone to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Some of the ladies of the prayer group had not been able to do it, and so they left their reconciliation for the next day before the Mass.

When I arrived at church the next day, a little bit late, the Archbishop and priests were already coming out of the sacristy. The Virgin Mary said with Her soft and feminine voice that sweetens one's soul:

Today is a day of learning for you, and I want you to pay close attention because of what you will witness today. Everything that you will experience today, you will have to share with all of humanity.” I was deeply moved without understanding why, but I tried to be very attentive.

The first thing I noticed was a choir of very beautiful voices that was singing as if it was far away. For moments the music came closer and, then, it went further away like the sound of the wind.

The Archbishop started Mass and, when he reached the Penitential Rite, the Blessed Virgin said:

“From the bottom of your heart, ask the Lord to forgive your faults that have offended Him. In this way, you will be able to participate worthily in this privilege of assisting at the Holy Mass.”

I thought for a fraction of a second: “Surely I am in a state of grace of God; I went to confession last night.”

She answered: “Do you think that since last night you have not offended the Lord? Let Me remind you of a few things. When you left to come here, the girl who helps you approached to ask you for something and, as you were late and in a hurry, you did not answer her in a very nice way. There was a lack of charity on your part, and you say, you have not offended God...?

“While on the way here, a bus crossed over your lane and almost hit you. You expressed yourself in a very non-advisable way against that poor man, instead of saying your prayers and preparing yourself for Mass. You have failed in charity and lost your peace and patience. And you say you have not hurt the Lord?

“You arrive at the last minute when the procession of the celebrants is already coming out to celebrate the Mass... and you are going to participate without previous preparation...”

I replied, “All right, my Mother, say no more to me. You do not have to remind me of more things because I am going to die of grief and shame.”

“Why must you all arrive at the last moment? You should have arrived earlier to be able to pray and ask the Lord to send His Holy Spirit that He may grant you a spirit of peace and cleanse you of the spirit of the world, your worries, your problems, and your distractions so as to enable you to live this so sacred a moment. However, you arrive almost when the celebration is about to commence, and you participate as if it is an ordinary event, without any spiritual preparation. Why? This is the greatest of Miracles. You are going to live the moment when the Most High God gives His greatest gift, and you do not know how to appreciate it.”

This was enough. I felt so bad that I had more than enough to ask for forgiveness from God. It was not only for the offenses of that day, but also for all the times that, like so many other people, I had waited for the priest to finish his homily before entering the Church. It was also for the times that I did not know or refused to understand what it meant to be there, and for the times that perhaps my soul was full of more serious sins, and I had dared to participate in the Holy Mass.

It was a feast day, and the Gloria was to be recited. Our Lady said: “Glorify and bless with all your love the Holy Trinity, in your acknowledgement of being one of Its creatures.”

How different was that Gloria! Suddenly I saw myself in a far off place full of light, before the Majestic Presence of the Throne of God. With so much love I went on thanking Him, as I repeated: “For your immense Glory we praise You, we bless You, we adore You, we give You glory, we give You thanks, Lord, God, Heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.” And I recalled the paternal face of the Father, full of kindness. “Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world...” And Jesus was in front of me, with that face full of tenderness and Mercy... “For You alone are the Holy One, You alone are the Lord, You alone are the most High Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit...”, the God of beautiful Love. He, Who at that moment, caused my whole being to tremble...

And I asked: “Lord, deliver me from all evil spirits. My heart belongs to You. My Lord, send me Your peace so that I can gain the finest benefits from the Eucharist and that my life may produce the best fruits. Holy Spirit of God, transform me, act within me, guide me. Oh God, give me the gifts that I need to serve you better!”

The moment of the Liturgy of the Word arrived, and the Virgin Mary made me repeat: “Lord, today I want to listen to Your Word and produce abundant fruit. May Your Holy Spirit clean the interior of my heart so that Your Word grows and develops in it, purifying my heart so that it may be well disposed.”

Our Lady said: “I want you to be attentive to the readings and to all of the homily of the priest. Remember that the Bible says that the Word of God does not return without bearing fruit. If you are attentive, something from all that you heard will remain in you. You should try to recall, all day long, those Words that left an impression on you. Sometimes it may be two verses, other times the reading of the entire Gospel, or perhaps only one word. Savor them for the rest of the day, and it will then become part of you, because that is the way to change one's life, by allowing the Word of God to transform you.

“And now, tell the Lord that you are here to listen, that you want Him to speak to your heart today.”

Once again I thanked God for giving me the opportunity to hear His Word. And I asked Him for forgiveness for having had such a hard heart for so many years, and for having taught my children that they had to go to Mass on Sundays because it is commanded by the Church, and not for love and the need to be filled with God.

I had attended so many Eucharistic Celebrations mostly out of obligation and, because of this, I believed I was saved. But I did not live it and, much less, did I pay attention to the readings or to the priest's homily!

How much pain I felt for so many years of needless loss because of my ignorance! How superficial is our attendance at the Mass when we go only because someone is getting married, or for a funeral Mass, or because we have to be seen by society! How much ignorance about our Church and the Sacraments! How much waste in trying to instruct and enlighten ourselves about the things of the world, which in a moment can disappear, leaving us with nothing and, at the end of our life, not serve to extend a minute to our existence! However, we know nothing of that which will give us a little of heaven on earth and, afterwards, eternal life. And we call ourselves cultured men and women!

A moment later the Offertory arrived, and the Holy Virgin said: “Pray like this: (and I repeated after Her) Lord, I offer all that I am, all that I have, all that I can. I put everything into Your Hands. Build it up, Lord, with the little thing that I am. By the merits of Your Son, transform me, God Almighty. I petition You for my family, for my benefactors, for each member of our Apostolate, for all the people who fight against us, for those who commend themselves to my poor prayers. Teach me to lay down my heart as if on the ground before them so that their walk may be less severe. This is how the saints prayed; this is how I want all of you to do it.”

Thus, this is how Jesus asks us to pray, that we put our hearts as if on the ground so that they do not feel its severity, but rather that we alleviate the pain of their steps.

Suddenly some characters, whom I had not seen before, began to stand up. It was as if from the side of each person present in the Cathedral, another person emerged, and soon the Cathedral became full of young, beautiful people. They were dressed in very white robes, and they started to move into the central aisle and, then, went towards the Altar.

Our Mother said: “Observe. They are the Guardian Angels of each one of the persons who are here. This is the moment in which your guardian angel carries your offerings and petitions before the Altar of the Lord.”

At that moment, I was completely astonished, because these beings had such beautiful faces, so radiant as one is unable to imagine. Their countenance was very beautiful with almost feminine faces; however, the structure of their body, their hands, their height were masculine. Their naked feet did not touch the floor, but rather they went as if gliding. That procession was very beautiful.

Some of them were carrying something like a golden bowl with something that shone a great deal with a golden-white light. The Virgin Mary said: “They are the Guardian Angels of the people who are offering this Holy Mass for many intentions, those who are conscious of what this celebration means. They have something to offer the Lord.”

“Offer yourselves at this moment; offer your sorrows, your pains, your hopes, your sadness, your joys, your petitions. Remember that the Mass has infinite value. Therefore, be generous in offering and in asking.”

Behind the first Angels came others who had nothing in their hands; they were coming empty handed. The Virgin Mary said: “Those are the angels of the people who are here but never offer anything. They have no interest in living each liturgical moment of the Mass, and they have no gifts to carry before the Altar of the Lord.”

At the end of the procession came other angels who were rather sad, with their hands joined in prayer but with their eyes downcast. “These are the Guardian Angels of the people who are here, but do not want to be, that is to say, of the people who have been forced to come here, who have come out of obligation, but without any desire to participate in the Holy Mass. The angels go forth sadly because they have nothing to carry to the Altar, except for their own prayers.”

“Do not sadden your Guardian Angel. Ask for much, ask for the conversion of sinners, for peace in the world, for your families, your neighbors, for those who ask for your prayers. Ask, ask for much, but not only for yourselves, but for everyone else.

“Remember that the offering which most pleases the Lord is when you offer yourselves as a holocaust so that Jesus, upon His descent, may transform you by His own merits. What do you have to offer the Father by yourselves? Nothingness and sin. But the offering of oneself united to the merits of Jesus, that offering is pleasing to the Father.”

That sight, that procession was so beautiful that it would be difficult to compare it to another. All those celestial creatures bowing before the Altar, some leaving their offerings on the floor, others prostrating themselves on their knees with their foreheads almost touching the floor. And as soon as they arrived at the Altar, they would disappear from my sight.

The final moment of the Preface arrived, and when the assembly said, “Holy, Holy, Holy”, suddenly everything that was behind the celebrants disappeared. Behind the left side of the Archbishop, thousands of Angels appeared in a diagonal line, small angels, big angels, angels with immense wings, angels with small wings, angels without wings. As the previous ones, all were dressed with tunics like the white robes of the priests or altar boys. Everyone knelt with their hands united in prayer, and bowed their heads in reverence. Beautiful music was heard as if there were many choirs with different voices, all singing in unison together with the people: Holy, Holy, Holy...

The moment of the Consecration, the moment of the most marvelous of Miracles had arrived. Behind the right side of the Archbishop appeared a multitude of people also in a diagonal line. They were dressed in the same tunic, but in pastel colors of: rose, green, light blue, lilac, yellow, in short, in different and very soft colors. Their faces were also brilliant, full of joy. They all seemed to be the same age. You could note (I can't say why) that they were people of different ages, but their faces looked the same, without wrinkles, happy. They all knelt down as well at the singing of “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord...”

Our Lady said: “These are all the Saints and the Blessed of Heaven, and among them are the souls of your relatives who already enjoy the Presence of God.” Then I saw Her, exactly to the right of the Archbishop, a step behind the celebrant. She was suspended a little off the floor, kneeling on some very fine, transparent but, at the same time, luminous fabric, as crystalline water. The Holy Virgin, with hands joined, was looking attentively and respectfully at the celebrant. She spoke to me from there, but silently, directly to the heart, without looking at me:

“It surprises you to see Me standing a little behind Monsignor [the Archbishop], does it not? This is how it should be... With all the love that My Son gives Me, He has not given Me the dignity that He has given the priests of being able to perform the daily Miracle with My hands as they do with their priestly hands. Because of this, I feel a deep respect for priests and for the miracle that God carries out through them, which compels Me to kneel here behind them.”

My God, how much dignity, how much grace the Lord pours over the priestly souls, and neither we, nor perhaps some of them, are conscious of this.

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Before the Altar, there appeared some shadows of people in a gray color with their hands raised. The Holy Virgin said: “These are the blessed souls of Purgatory, who await your prayers to be refreshed. Do not stop praying for them. They pray for you, but they cannot pray for themselves. It is you who have to pray for them, in order to help them depart so that they can be with God and enjoy Him eternally.

“Now you now see it; I am here all the time. People go on pilgrimages, searching for the places where I have appeared. This is good, because of all the graces that they will receive there. But during no apparition, in no other place, am I more present than during the Holy Mass. You will always find Me at the foot of the Altar where the Eucharist is celebrated; at the foot of the Tabernacle, I remain with the angels because I am always with Him.”

To see that beautiful countenance of the Mother at that moment of the words “Holy, Holy, Holy...” as well as all the others with their radiant faces, with hands joined, awaiting that miracle which repeats itself continuously, was to be in Heaven itself. And to think there are people who can, at that moment, be distracted in conversation. It hurts me to tell you, many men, more than women, stand with their arms crossed, as if paying homage to the Lord as one equal to another.

The Virgin Mary said: “Tell all people that never is a man more manly then when he bends his knees before God.”

The celebrant said the words of the Consecration. He was a person of normal height, but suddenly, he began to grow, becoming filled with light, a supernatural light between white and gold that enveloped him and grew very strong around the face. And because of it, I could not see his features. When he raised the Host, I saw his hands, and on the back of his hands, he had some marks from which emanated a great deal of light. It was Jesus! It was Him Who was wrapping His Body around the celebrant, as if He were lovingly surrounding the hands of the Archbishop. At that moment, the Host began to grow and became enormous, and upon it the marvelous face of Jesus appeared looking at His people.

By instinct, I wanted to bow my head, and Our Lady said: “Do not look down. Look up to view and contemplate Him. Exchange your gaze with His, and repeat the prayer of Fatima: Lord, I believe, I adore, I trust, and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust, and do not love You. Forgiveness and Mercy... Now tell Him how much you love Him, and pay your homage to the King of Kings.”

I told it to Him, and it seemed as if I was the only one He was looking at from the enormous Host. But I learned that this was the way He gazed at each person, with love to the fullest. Then I lowered my head until I had my forehead on the floor, as did all the Angels and the Blessed from Heaven. Perhaps for a fraction of a second, I wondered how Jesus was taking on the body of the celebrant and, at the same time, He was inside the Host. And as he lowered the Host, it returned to its normal size. Tears ran down my cheeks; I was unable to let go of my astonishment.

Immediately, the Archbishop said the words of the Consecration of the wine and, as the words were being said, lightning appeared from the heavens and in the background. The walls and ceiling of the church had disappeared. All was dark, but for that brilliant light from the Altar.

Suddenly, suspended in the air, I saw Jesus crucified. I saw Him from the head to the lower part of the chest. The cross beam of the Cross was sustained by some large, strong hands. From within this resplendent light, a small light, like a very brilliant, very small dove, came forth and flew swiftly all over the Church. It came to rest on the left shoulder of the Archbishop, who continued to appear as Jesus because I could distinguish His long hair, His luminous wounds, and His large body, but I could not see His Face.

Above was Jesus crucified, His head fallen upon His right shoulder. I was able to contemplate His face, beaten arms and torn flesh. On the right side of His chest, He had an injury, and blood was gushing out toward the left side, and toward the right side, what looked like water, but it was very brilliant. They were more like jets of light coming forth towards the faithful, and moving to the right and to the left. I was amazed at the amount of blood that was flowing out toward the Chalice. I thought it would overflow and stain the whole Altar, but not a single drop was spilled.

At that moment, the Virgin Mary said: “This is the miracle of miracles. I have said to you before that the Lord is not constrained by time and space. At the moment of the Consecration, all the assembly is taken to the foot of Calvary, at the instant of the crucifixion of Jesus.”

Can anyone imagine that? Our eyes cannot see it, but we are all there at the very moment that they are crucifying Jesus. And He is asking for forgiveness to the Father, not only for those who killed Him, but also for each one of our sins: “Father, forgive them, because they know not what they do.”

From that day on, I do not care if the world thinks I am crazy, but I ask everybody to kneel and try to live, with their heart and with all their sensibility that they are capable of, this privilege that the Lord grants us.

When we were going to pray the Our Father, the Lord spoke for the first time during the celebration, and said: “Wait, I want you to pray with the deepest profundity which you can summon. At this moment, bring to mind that person or persons which have done you the greatest harm during your life, so that you embrace them close to your bosom, and tell them with all your heart: `In the Name of Jesus, I forgive you and wish you peace. In the Name of Jesus, I ask for your forgiveness and wish my peace.' If the person is worthy of that peace, then the person will receive it, and feel better for it. If that person is not capable of opening up to that peace, then peace will return to your heart. But I do not want you to receive nor offer peace when you are not capable of forgiving and feeling that peace in your heart first.

“Be careful of what you do,” continued the Lord, “you repeat in the Our Father: forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. If you are capable of forgiving but not forgetting, as some people say, you are placing conditions upon the forgiveness of God. You are saying: You forgive me only as I am capable of forgiving, but no more.”

I do not know how to explain my pain, at the realization of how much we can hurt the Lord. And also how much we can injure ourselves by holding so many grudges, bad feelings and unflattering things that are born from our own prejudices and over-sensitivities. I forgave; I forgave from the heart, and asked for forgiveness from all the people whom I had hurt at one time or another, in order to feel the peace of the Lord.

The celebrant said, “...give us peace and unity...” and, then, “the peace of the Lord be with all of you.”

Suddenly, I saw that among some (not all) of the people who were embracing each other, a very intense light placed itself between them. I knew it was Jesus, and I practically threw myself to embrace the person next to me. I could truly feel the embrace of the Lord in that light. It was Him Who embraced me giving me His peace, because in that moment, I had been able to forgive and remove from my heart all grief against other people. That is what Jesus wants, to share that moment of joy, hugging us and wishing us His peace.

The moment of the celebrants' Communion arrived. There I once again noticed the presence of all the priests next to the Archbishop. When he took Communion, the Virgin Mary said:

“This is the moment to pray for the celebrant and the priests who accompany him. Repeat together with Me: `Lord, bless them, sanctify them, help them, purify them, love them, take care of them, and support them with Your Love. Remember all the priests of the world, pray for all the consecrated souls...'

Dear brothers and sisters, that is the moment in which we should pray for them, because they are the Church as we, the laity, are also. Many times we, the laity, demand so much from the priests, but we are unable to pray for them, to understand that they are human, and to comprehend and appreciate the solitude that many times can surround a priest.

We should understand that the priests are people like ourselves and that they need to be understood, to be cared for. They need affection and attention from us because they are giving their life to each one of us, as Jesus did, by being consecrated to Him.

The Lord wants the people of the flock that God has entrusted to the priest to pray and help in his sanctification. Someday, when we are on the other side, we will understand the marvels that the Lord has done, giving us priests who help us to save our souls.

The people began to leave their pews on their way to Communion. The great moment of the encounter had arrived. The Lord said to me: “Wait a moment; I want you to observe something...” An interior impulse made me raise my eyes towards the person who was going to receive Communion on the tongue from the hands of the priest.

I should clarify that this person was one of the ladies from our group who the previous night was unable to go to confession, but this morning was able to do so before the Holy Mass. When the Priest placed the Sacred Host on her tongue, a flash of light, like a very golden white light, went right through this person, first through her back, then surrounding her from the back, around her shoulders, and then her head. The Lord said:

“This is how I Myself rejoice in embracing a soul who comes with a clean heart to receive Me.” The tone of voice of Jesus was that of a happy person.

I was astonished to see my friend return to her pew surrounded by light, embraced by the Lord. I thought of the marvel that we miss so many times by going to receive Jesus with our small or large offences, when it should be a feast.

St. Padre Pio
the Holy Mass

Many times we say that there are no priests to whom to go to confess at any given moment. But the problem is not about confessing at each moment, but the problem resides in our ease of falling into evil again. On the other hand, in the same way that we make an effort to search for a beauty parlor, or men search for a barber when we have a party, we have to also make an effort to seek a priest when we need to remove all that dirt from ourselves. We must not have the audacity to receive Jesus at any moment with our hearts full of ugly things.

When I went to receive communion, Jesus told me: “The Last Supper was the moment of the greatest intimacy with My own. During that hour of love, I established what could be thought of as the greatest act of lunacy in the eyes of men, that of making Myself a prisoner of Love. I established the Eucharist. I wanted to remain with you until the end of the centuries because My Love could not bear that you remained orphans, you whom I loved more than My life.”

I received that Host which had a different flavor. It was a mixture of blood and incense that inundated me entirely. I felt so much love that the tears ran down my cheeks without me being able to stop them.

When I returned to my seat, while kneeling down, the Lord said: “Listen...” A moment later, I began to hear the prayers of the lady who was seated in front of me and who had just received communion.

What she said, without opening her mouth, was more or less like this: “Lord, remember that we are at the end of the month, and I do not have the money to pay the rent, the car payments, nor the children's school. You have to do something to help me... Please, make my husband stop drinking so much. I cannot bear any more his being intoxicated so often, and my youngest son is going to repeat the year again, if you do not help him. He has exams this week... And do not forget our neighbor who must move. Let her do it right away. I cannot stand her anymore, etc., etc.”

Then the Archbishop said: “Let us pray,” and obviously all the congregation stood up for the final prayer. Jesus said in a sad tone: “Did you take note of her prayer? Not a single time did she tell Me that she loves Me. Not a single time did she thank Me for the gift that I have given her by bringing down My Divinity to her poor humanity, in order to elevate her to Me. Not a single time has she said: thank You, Lord. It has been a litany of requests, and so are almost all of those who come to receive Me.”

“I have died for love, and I am risen. For love I await each one of you, and for love I remain with you... But you do not realize that I need your love. Remember that I am the Beggar of Love in this sublime hour for the soul.”

Do you all realize that He, Love, is begging for our love, and we do not give it to Him? Moreover, we avoid going to that encounter with the Love of Loves, with the only love who gives of itself in a permanent oblation.

When the celebrant was going to give the blessing, the Holy Virgin said: “Be attentive, take care... You do any old sign instead of the Sign of the Cross. Remember that this blessing could be the last one that you will receive from hands of a priest. You do not know when, leaving here, if you will die or not. You do not know if you will have the opportunity to receive a blessing from another priest. Those consecrated hands are giving you the blessing in the Name of the Holy Trinity. Therefore, make the Sign of the Cross with respect, as if it was the last one of your life.”

How much we miss in not understanding and not participating every day at the Holy Mass! Why not make an effort to begin the day a half hour earlier and run to the Holy Mass and receive all the blessings that the Lord wants to pour over us?

I am aware that, because of their obligations, not everybody can attend daily Mass, but at least two or three times a week. So many avoid Mass on Sundays with the smallest excuse, that they have a child, or two, or ten, and, therefore, they cannot attend Mass. How do people manage when they have other important types of commitments? They take all the children, or take turns and the husband goes at one hour and the wife another, but they carry out their duty to God.

We have time to study, to work, to entertain, to rest, but WE DO NOT HAVE TIME, AT LEAST ON SUNDAY, TO GO TO THE HOLY MASS.

Jesus asked me to remain with Him a few minutes more after Mass had finished. He said: “Do not leave in a hurry after Mass is over. Stay a moment in My company and enjoy it, and let Me enjoy yours...”

As a child, I had heard someone say that the Lord remained with us for five or ten minutes, after Communion. I asked Him at this moment:

“Lord, truly, how much time do You stay with us after Communion?”

I suppose that the Lord must have laughed at my silliness, because He answered: “All the time that you want to have Me with you. If you speak to Me all day long, offering Me some words during your chores, I will listen to you. I am always with you. It is you who leaves Me. You leave the Mass, and the day of obligation ends. You kept the day of the Lord, and it is now finished for you. You do not think that I would like to share your family life with you, at least that day.”

“In your homes, you have a place for everything and a room for each activity: a room to sleep, another to cook, another to eat, etc. Which place have you made for Me? It should not be a place where you only have an image, which collects dust all the time, but a place where at least five minutes a day the family meets to give thanks for the day and for the gift of life, to ask for their needs of the day, to ask for blessings, protection, health. Everything has a place in your homes, except Me.”

“Men plan their day, their week, their semester, their vacations, etc. They know what day they are going to rest, what day they will go to the movies or to a party, or visit grandmother or the grandchildren, the children, their friends, and to their amusements. How many families say at least once a month: `This is the day for our turn to go and visit Jesus in the Tabernacle,' and the whole family comes to talk to M<%18>e<%0>? How many sit down in front of Me and have a conversation with Me, telling Me how it has been since the last time, telling Me their problems, the difficulties they have, asking Me about what they need, making Me part of these things? How many times?

“I know everything. I read even the deepest secrets of your hearts and minds. But I enjoy your telling Me about your life, your letting Me participate as a family member, as your most intimate friend. Oh, how many graces does man lose by not giving Me a place in his life!”

When I remained with Him that day and on many other days, He continued to give us teachings. Today I want to share with you this mission that He has entrusted to me. Jesus said:

“I wanted to save My creature, because the moment of opening the door to Heaven has been impregnated with too much pain...” “Remember that not even one mother has fed her child with her own flesh. I have gone to that extreme of Love to communicate My merits to all of you.

“The Holy Mass is Myself prolonging My life and My sacrifice on the Cross among you. Without the merits of My life and My Blood, what do you have with which to come before the Father? Nothing, misery and sin...

“You should exceed in virtue the angels and archangels, because they do not have the joy of receiving Me as nourishment like you do. They drink a drop from the spring, but you that have the grace of receiving Me, you have the whole ocean to drink.”

The other thing that the Lord spoke about with pain concerned people who encounter Him out of habit, of those who have lost their awe of each encounter with Him. That routine turns some people so lukewarm that they have nothing new to tell Jesus when they receive Him. He also said that there were so many consecrated souls who lose their enthusiasm of falling in love with the Lord, and have made their vocation an occupation, a profession to which nothing more is given, except that which is demanded of one, but without feeling...

Then the Lord spoke to me about the fruits that must come from each Communion that we take. It does happen that there are people who receive the Lord daily but do not change their lives. They spend many hours in prayer and do many works, etc., but their life does not go on transforming, and a life that does not transform cannot bear true fruits for the Lord. The merits we receive in the Eucharist should bear the fruits of conversion in us and fruits of charity toward our brothers and sisters.

We the laity have a very important role in our Church. We do not have the right to be silent, because the Lord has sent us out, as all the baptized, to go forth and announce the Good News. We do not have the right to absorb all this knowledge and not share it with others, and to allow our brothers to die of hunger when we have so much bread in our hands.

We cannot watch our Church crumble as we stay comfortable in our parishes and homes, receiving and receiving so much from the Lord: His Word, the homilies of the priests, the pilgrimages, the Mercy of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the marvelous union with the nourishment of Communion, the talks of preachers.

In other words, we are receiving so much and we do not have the courage to leave our comfort zone and go to a jail, to a correctional institution, to speak to the neediest. To go and tell them not to give up, that they were born Catholic and that their Church needs them there, suffering, because their suffering will serve to redeem others, because that sacrifice will gain for them eternal life.

We are not capable of going where the terminally ill are in the hospitals, and by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, helping them with our prayers during that time of struggle between good and evil to free them from the snares and temptations of the devil. Every dying person has fear, and just taking their hand and talking to them about the love of God and the marvel that awaits them in Heaven next to Jesus and Mary, next to their departed ones, gives them comfort.

The hour in which we currently live does not allow us to be indifferent. We must be an extension of the hands of our priests and go where they cannot reach. But for this, we need courage. We must receive Jesus, live with Jesus, nourish ourselves with Jesus.

We are afraid to commit ourselves a little more, and when the Lord says, “First seek the Kingdom of God, and the rest will be added onto you,” He says it all, brothers and sisters. It means to seek the Kingdom of God, by all possible means and with all means, and to open your hands in order to receive EVERYTHING in addition! This is because He is the Master Who pays the best, the only One Who is attentive to your smallest needs.

Brothers, sisters, thank you for allowing me to carry out the mission that was entrusted to me, that of having these pages reach you. The next time you attend Holy Mass, live it. I know the Lord will fulfill for you His promise that “your Mass will never again be the same.” And when you receive Him, love Him!

Experience the sweetness of feeling yourself resting against the folds of His side, pierced for you in order to leave you His Church and His Mother, to open for you the doors to His Father's House. Experience this so that you are able to feel for yourself His Merciful Love by means of this testimony, and try to reciprocate with your childlike love.

May God bless you this Easter.

Your sister in the Living Jesus,

Lay Missionary of the
Eucharistic Heart of Jesus

Copyright © 2004 by The Great Crusade of Love and Mercy. All rights reserved. This booklet is published in coordination with The Apostolate of the New Evangelization. Translated from the April 2003 Revision of the original Spanish edition, published in Merida, Mexico. Permission is granted to reproduce this booklet in its entirety with no changes or additions and as long as the reproduction and distribution is done solely on a not-for-profit basis.

This document is available at no cost online, and can be downloaded and printed from the following Web Sites: in English at: and Spanish at:

For information on ordering printed copies of this booklet and other books and videos, please write to: The Great Crusade of Love and Mercy, Inc., P.O. Box 857, Lithonia, Georgia 30058 USA, or visit the ministry's Internet Site at:

Click here for the Full Story that was published in the August-September, 2005 issue of “Michael”.