5.25.2008

We Remember....Thanks!


By Mark A. Wright, HMC(SS)
22 June, 2000

I first saw him on a park bench
I've seen him every day
Sitting in a shady grove
Where my children come to play
Sometimes he feeds the birds and squirrels
Or whittles little toys
Sometimes he just sits and smiles
At the laughing girls and boys
And I never paid him any mind
'Till one day just this year
I noticed that he wore a frown
And on his cheek ... a tear.

Well I asked him why he seemed so down
He looked up, began to say
I lost half my friends 60 years ago today
He told me of the terror
As he fought to reach dry land
By the time the beachhead was secure
Half his friends lay in the sand.

That was just in one long day
He fought on for 4 years more
And the 60 years from then to now
Have not dimmed His sights of war
He said they have reunions
Just to keep in touch and share
And for each comrade who has gone on
They leave an empty chair

Well, His park bench has been empty now
About 6 months or so
And if I'd never took the time
Then I never would've known
That sitting on that simple bench
With bread crumbs and little toys
Was a man who gave his all
To guarantee my daily joys
So give thanks to all the men and women
Who're still here or have gone before
And made the highest sacrifice
In both Peace time and in War
Because they bought our freedom
Paid their own blood, sweat, and tears
Then endured the heartache of those empty chairs
For all these years.

So please do not ignore them
Or speed by without a care
'Cause you never know
When you might pass by
A hero, unaware.

5.24.2008

Whatever Happened to Corpus Christi Processions?

The weekend we honor the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ -- Corpus Christi. As a child I remember my parish, named after this awesome gift, having Eucharistic Processions. Today, only a few parishes have these spiritual events and one could ask "Why?" The short answer is the people of God. Our world today is filled with all types of distractions -- computers, sporting events and occupational over-time. These remove us from the reality that is our Lord.
The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines gives us some food for thought this day.

160. The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is observed on the Thursday following the solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity. [In the United States it is observed on the Sunday following Trinity Sunday.] This feast is both a doctrinal and cultic response to heretical teaching on the mystery of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and the apogee of an ardent devotional movement concentrated on the Sacrament of the Altar. It was extended to the entire Latin Church by Urban IV in 1264.

Popular piety encouraged the process that led to the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi, which reciprocally inspired the development of new forms of Eucharistic piety among the people of God.

For centuries, the celebration of Corpus Christi remained the principal point of popular piety’s concentration on the Eucharist. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, faith, in reaction to various forms of Protestantism, and culture (art, folklore and literature) coalesced in developing lively and significant expressions Eucharistic devotion in popular piety.

161. Eucharistic devotion, which is so deeply rooted in the Christian faithful, must integrate two basic principles:
the supreme reference point for Eucharistic devotion is the Lord’s Passover; the Pasch, as understood by the Fathers, is the feast of Easter, while the Eucharist is before all else the celebration of Paschal Mystery or of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ; all forms of Eucharist devotion must have an intrinsic reference to the Eucharistic Sacrifice, or dispose the faithful for its celebration, or prolong the worship which is essential to that Sacrifice.

Hence, the Rituale Romanum states “The faithful, when worshipping Christ present in the Sacrament of the Altar, should recall that this presence comes from the Sacrifice of the Eucharist, and tends towards sacramental and spiritual communion” (169).

162. The procession on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is, so to speak, the “typical form” of a Eucharistic procession. It constitutes, in fact, a prolongation of the celebration of the Eucharist: immediately after Mass, the Host, which was consecrated at that Mass, is carried outside of the church, so that the Christian people might “give public witness to its faith and devotion regarding the Most Blessed Sacrament” (170).

The faithful understand and appreciate the values inherent in the Corpus Christi procession: they are aware of being “the People of God” that walks with its Lord, proclaiming faith in him who has become truly “God-with-us”.

It is necessary, however, to ensure that the norms governing Eucharistic processions be observed (171), especially those ensuring respect for the dignity and reverence of the Blessed Sacrament (172). It is also necessary to ensure that the typical elements of popular piety, such as the decoration of the streets and windows, the homage of flowers, the altars upon which the Blessed Sacrament will be placed at the stations along the route, and the hymns and prayers “should be so arranged that all may manifest their faith in Christ and devote their attention to the Lord alone” (173), and exclude all forms of competition.

163. The Eucharistic procession is ordinarily concluded with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In the specific case of the Corpus Christi procession, the blessing constitutes the solemn conclusion of the entire celebration: the usual priestly blessing is replaced by the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament.

It is important that the faithful understand that this blessing with the Blessed Sacrament is not a form of Eucharistic piety that stands on its own, but that it is the concluding moment of a sufficiently long act of worship. Hence, liturgical norms prohibit “exposition merely for the purpose of giving the blessing” (174).

5.17.2008

Trinity: The Preacher's Nightmare?


How does one describe a mystery? How does one define the undefinable? When it comes to the Most Holy Trinity that can easily be the case for the preacher. Each year when I get to this celebration I feel a mental block. What is something new that I can add to what I have said before? Nothing!

Father, the Creator. Son, the Redeemer. Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier. Okay, I knew that.

Father, the Lover. Son, the Beloved. Holy Spirit, the Love! Something novel? Perhaps.
But the important fact remains that we who are baptized into our Lord Jesus Christ share in that love. How truly blessed we are!

5.11.2008

Happy Mother's Day!

In honor of the one who gave birth to me. Thanks, Mother.

Come Holy Spirit!

Today is a very important and memorable day for me since Pentecost was the feast I celebrated at my First Mass. While the day brought many anxieties, the reliance on the Holy Spirit to get me through gave me a great peace. It is amazing that 16 years later the items that caused that uneasiness are things of the past, but there are others to take their place. I have faith that they will continue to subside with the awesome gift from the Father and the Son. Come, Holy Spirit!