Blog Archives

YOUCAT Series 22 – How We Celebrate the Christian Mysteries: How We Celebrate the Mysteries of Christ

Questions 179 to 192
In this section we explore the elements of the liturgy; its signs and symbols, the sacred music used, and the structure of church buildings. We also look at aspects such as the liturgical year, the importance of Sunday and the Divine Office.

Q. 179
See No.’s 52 – 55 of Sacramentum Caritatis.

Q. 180
See Sacramentum Caritatis No.’s 70 & 71.

Q. 181
From No. 41 of Sacramentum Caritatis:

The profound connection between beauty and the liturgy should make us attentive to every work of art placed at the service of the celebration. (122) Certainly an important element of sacred art is church architecture, (123) which should highlight the unity of the furnishings of the sanctuary, such as the altar, the crucifix, the tabernacle, the ambo and the celebrant’s chair. Here it is important to remember that the purpose of sacred architecture is to offer the Church a fitting space for the celebration of the mysteries of faith, especially the Eucharist. (124) The very nature of a Christian church is defined by the liturgy, which is an assembly of the faithful (ecclesia) who are the living stones of the Church (cf. 1 Pet 2:5).

This same principle holds true for sacred art in general, especially painting and sculpture, where religious iconography should be directed to sacramental mystagogy. A solid knowledge of the history of sacred art can be advantageous for those responsible for commissioning artists and architects to create works of art for the liturgy. Consequently it is essential that the education of seminarians and priests include the study of art history, with special reference to sacred buildings and the corresponding liturgical norms. Everything related to the Eucharist should be marked by beauty. Special respect and care must also be given to the vestments, the furnishings and the sacred vessels, so that by their harmonious and orderly arrangement they will foster awe for the mystery of God, manifest the unity of the faith and strengthen devotion (125).

Q. 182
No. 40, Sacramentum Caritatis:

Emphasizing the importance of the ars celebrandi also leads to an appreciation of the value of the liturgical norms. (121) The ars celebrandi should foster a sense of the sacred and the use of outward signs which help to cultivate this sense, such as, for example, the harmony of the rite, the liturgical vestments, the furnishings and the sacred space. The eucharistic celebration is enhanced when priests and liturgical leaders are committed to making known the current liturgical texts and norms, making available the great riches found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the Order of Readings for Mass. Perhaps we take it for granted that our ecclesial communities already know and appreciate these resources, but this is not always the case. These texts contain riches which have preserved and expressed the faith and experience of the People of God over its two-thousand-year history. Equally important for a correct ars celebrandi is an attentiveness to the various kinds of language that the liturgy employs: words and music, gestures and silence, movement, the liturgical colours of the vestments. By its very nature the liturgy operates on different levels of communication which enable it to engage the whole human person. The simplicity of its gestures and the sobriety of its orderly sequence of signs communicate and inspire more than any contrived and inappropriate additions. Attentiveness and fidelity to the specific structure of the rite express both a recognition of the nature of Eucharist as a gift and, on the part of the minister, a docile openness to receiving this ineffable gift.

Q. 183
See No. 42 of Sacramentum Caritatis:

In the ars celebrandi, liturgical song has a pre-eminent place. (126) Saint Augustine rightly says in a famous sermon that “the new man sings a new song. Singing is an expression of joy and, if we consider the matter, an expression of love” (127). The People of God assembled for the liturgy sings the praises of God. In the course of her two-thousand-year history, the Church has created, and still creates, music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love. This heritage must not be lost. Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration (128). Consequently everything – texts, music, execution – ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons (129). Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed (130) as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy (131).

Q. 184
Go to The Paradox of Prayer and Time.

Q. 185
See Restoring Sacred Time How the Liturgical Year deepens Catholic faith.

Q. 186
See General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calander.

Q. 187
See No.’s 72 – 74 of Sacramentum Caritatis.

Here is the quote from No. 73:

Living the Sunday obligation

73. Conscious of this new vital principle which the Eucharist imparts to the Christian, the Synod Fathers reaffirmed the importance of the Sunday obligation for all the faithful, viewing it as a wellspring of authentic freedom enabling them to live each day in accordance with what they celebrated on “the Lord’s Day.” The life of faith is endangered when we lose the desire to share in the celebration of the Eucharist and its commemoration of the paschal victory. Participating in the Sunday liturgical assembly with all our brothers and sisters, with whom we form one body in Jesus Christ, is demanded by our Christian conscience and at the same time it forms that conscience. To lose a sense of Sunday as the Lord’s Day, a day to be sanctified, is symptomatic of the loss of an authentic sense of Christian freedom, the freedom of the children of God. (206) Here some observations made by my venerable predecessor John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (207) continue to have great value. Speaking of the various dimensions of the Christian celebration of Sunday, he said that it is Dies Domini with regard to the work of creation, Dies Christi as the day of the new creation and the Risen Lord’s gift of the Holy Spirit, Dies Ecclesiae as the day on which the Christian community gathers for the celebration, and Dies hominis as the day of joy, rest and fraternal charity.

Sunday thus appears as the primordial holy day, when all believers, wherever they are found, can become heralds and guardians of the true meaning of time. It gives rise to the Christian meaning of life and a new way of experiencing time, relationships, work, life and death. On the Lord’s Day, then, it is fitting that Church groups should organize, around Sunday Mass, the activities of the Christian community: social gatherings, programmes for the faith formation of children, young people and adults, pilgrimages, charitable works, and different moments of prayer. For the sake of these important values – while recognizing that Saturday evening, beginning with First Vespers, is already a part of Sunday and a time when the Sunday obligation can be fulfilled – we need to remember that it is Sunday itself that is meant to be kept holy, lest it end up as a day “empty of God.” (208)

Q. 188
Read Sacrosanctum concilium No.’s 83 – 101 on the Divine Office and also The Divine Office as a Foundation of Culture: Why It Must Be Restored.

Q. 189
Go to Save the Liturgy Save the World from Father Z’s Blog.

Q. 190
Read 8 Reasons to go to Mass:

Our ancestors risked persecution, even death, to be able to take part in Mass. When you have children someday, they will need the graces and strength that come from the Mass. If you fail to pass it on because of your own indifference, you will do the gravest injustice to them and to God. You have the power to snuff out, in one generation, the faith that has sustained your family for generations. This is an enormous responsibility. You will have to answer to God for it.

Q. 191
See Chapter V of The General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

Q. 192
Read Liturgical Laws – Why They Matter.

Reflection Questions
• What is the principle of contradiction?
See 8 Things Everyone Should Know about the Principle of Contradiction.

• Which female saint has recently become a Doctor of the Church?
See St. Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church.

YOUCAT Series 20 – How We Celebrate the Christian Mysteries: God Acts in Our Regard by Means of Sacred Signs

Questions 166 to 169
Part 2 of the Youcat focuses on the Sacraments. This first section dwells on the prominence of the liturgy; as this is where we are the closest to Christ on earth.

Q. 166
See Sacrosanctum concilium (The Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy from Vatican II):

47. At the Last Supper, on the night when He was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity [36], a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.

Q. 167
Read Sacrosanctum concilium No. 2;

2. For the liturgy, “through which the work of our redemption is accomplished,” [1] most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church. It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek [2]. While the liturgy daily builds up those who are within into a holy temple of the Lord, into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit [3], to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ [4], at the same time it marvelously strengthens their power to preach Christ, and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations [5] under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together [6], until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd [7].

Q. 168
The full text of Sacrosanctum concilium No. 10:

10. Nevertheless 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 liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with “the paschal sacraments,” to be “one in holiness” [26]; it prays that “they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith” [27]; the renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way.

Q. 169
The effect of the sacraments is worth reflecting on generally, though here especially in the context of the liturgy;

59. The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the body of Christ, and, finally, to give worship to God; because they are signs they also instruct. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it; that is why they are called “sacraments of faith.” They do indeed impart grace, but, in addition, the very act of celebrating them most effectively disposes the faithful to receive this grace in a fruitful manner, to worship God duly, and to practice charity.

It is therefore of the highest importance that the faithful should easily understand the sacramental signs, and should frequent with great eagerness those sacraments which were instituted to nourish the Christian life. (Sacrosanctum concilium No. 59)

Reflection Questions
• What is the Culture of Death?
See Why do we call it a “Culture of Death”?

• What is NaPro Technology?
See NaPro Technology

Tip: An easy way to learn new prayers is to copy and paste them to the notes section of your tablet or smart phone!

YOUCAT Series 15 – What We Believe: I Believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church

Questions 129 to 145
A close look at the four conditions that establish the truth of the Church and what this means for us as believers.

Q. 129
This question is very well written about here.

Q. 130
See Saint Augustine On Non-Catholic Christians as “Brothers”;

Those then who tell us: You are not our brothers, are saying that we are pagans. That is why they want to baptise us again, claiming that we do not have what they can give. Hence their error of denying that we are their brothers. Why then did the prophet tell us: Say to them: You are our brothers? It is because we acknowledge in them that which we do not repeat. By not recognising our baptism, they deny that we are their brothers; on the other hand, when we do not repeat their baptism but acknowledge it to be our own, we are saying to them: You are our brothers.

If they say, “Why do you seek us? What do you want of us?” we should reply: You are our brothers. They may say, “Leave us alone. We have nothing to do with you.” But we have everything to do with you, for we are one in our belief in Christ; and so we should be in one body, under one head.

And so, dear brothers, we entreat you on their behalf, in the name of the very source of our love, by whose milk we are nourished, and whose bread is our strength, in the name of Christ our Lord and his gentle love. For it is time now for us to show them great love and abundant compassion by praying to God for them. May he one day give them a clear mind to repent and to realise that they have nothing now but the sickness of their hatred, and the stronger they think they are, the weaker they become. We entreat you then to pray for them, for they are weak, given to the wisdom of the flesh, to fleshly and carnal things, but yet they are our brothers. They celebrate the same sacraments as we, not indeed with us, but still the same. They respond with the same Amen, not with us, but still the same. And so pour out your hearts for them in prayer to God.

Saint Augustine, Ex Enarratiónibus sancti Augustíni epíscopi in psalmos (Ps 32, 29: CCL 38, 272-273).

Q. 131
See the Encyclical Ut Unum Sint on the commitment to ecumenism:

2. No one is unaware of the challenge which all this poses to believers. They cannot fail to meet this challenge. Indeed, how could they refuse to do everything possible, with God’s help, to break down the walls of division and distrust, to overcome obstacles and prejudices which thwart the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation in the Cross of Jesus, the one Redeemer of man, of every individual?

Q. 132
See The Church is Holy.

Q. 133
See How Did the Catholic Church Get Her Name?

Q. 134
This is superb:

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you”. Lord, you desire us, you desire me. You eagerly desire to share yourself with us in the Holy Eucharist, to be one with us. Lord, awaken in us the desire for you. Strengthen us in unity with you and with one another. Grant unity to your Church, so that the world may believe. Amen.

Q. 135
Full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s quote on p. 84.

Q. 136
See Religious Freedom, Path to Peace:

Religious freedom expresses what is unique about the human person, for it allows us to direct our personal and social life to God, in whose light the identity, meaning and purpose of the person are fully understood. To deny or arbitrarily restrict this freedom is to foster a reductive vision of the human person; to eclipse the public role of religion is to create a society which is unjust, inasmuch as it fails to take account of the true nature of the human person; it is to stifle the growth of the authentic and lasting peace of the whole human family.

Also Nostra aetate from Vatican II.

Q. 137
See the Catholic Encyclopedia on Apolstolicity.

Q. 138
See Church Hierarchy:

When he established His Church, Jesus placed the Apostles in charge of caring for the faithful, of teaching them the faith and caring for their souls. And He placed Peter at the head of the Apostles. Through Apostolic Succession, that same hierarchy willed by Jesus, exists today in the Church with the Pope (the successor of St Peter) at her head, leading the Bishops (the successors of the Apostles) who themselves lead the faithful in their local Churches.

Q. 139
See Decree on the Apostalate of the Laity.

Q. 140
See The Church Isn’t a Democracy.

Q. 141
See What is the Role of the Pope and The Magisterium or Teaching Authority of the Church.

Q. 142
Here is a letter about the removal of a bishop who publically went against the magisterium.

Q. 143
A very good discussion on The Church’s Magisterium:

The Magisterium is a wonderful gift from God. Faithfulness to it will preserve us from intellectual slavery to trendy theology, personal prejudices, secularism, and all the other forces that threaten to rob us of the truth.

Q. 144
See The Duties of the Bishop:

The Bishop is a representative of Christ, commissioned to bear witness to him, to speak in his name, and to preserve all that has been handed down by means of the apostolic body. “And what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well.”

Q. 145
See Chastity, Poverty and Obedience:

Truth Shall Set You Free
“[Jesus’] way of living in chastity, poverty and obedience appears as the most radical way of living the Gospel on this earth, a way which may be called divine, for it was embraced by him, God and man… This is why Christian tradition has always spoken of the objective superiority of the consecrated life” (John Paul II, On Consecrated Life, n. 18).
Don’t let the world get you down. Be strong and know that if you long to give yourself fully to God through chastity, poverty and obedience, you aspire to a noble way. Such was the path chosen by Our Lord. Such is the way he chooses for many privileged souls who come after him.
If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me (Mt 19:21).

Reflection Questions
• What does the term ‘banality of evil’ mean?
See Eichmann, the Banality of Evil, and Thinking in Arendt’s Thought

• What is the sin of human respect?
See A Reflection on the Sin of Human Respect and its Antidote, the Holy Fear of the Lord

YOUCAT Series 13 – What We Believe: I Believe in the Holy Spirit

Questions 113 to 120
This section covers concepts such as the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus, the Church, as well as ourselves.

Q. 113
Go to the encyclical Dominum et vivificantem, on the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and the world by Pope John Paul II (1986).

Q. 114
Here is the full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s homily quote on page 73. Other than discussing the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus, it has a great focus on freedom, responsibility & unity.

Q. 115
See Some unusual symbols of the Holy Spirit.

Q. 116
See The Holy Spirit and Prophesy:

In the Old Testament a prophet is not primarily one who predicts the future. The idea of a prophet as one who predicts future events is a popular conception that corresponds with only a part of the function of the true prophet. A prophet is simply someone, inspired by God, who speaks in the name of God and who expresses God’s commands or his promises.

Q. 117
An extremely difficult concept to understand is how Our Lady can be the “Mother of God”; perhaps something that you have never really given much thought to previously. Below are several different sources that talk on this subject:

The Holy Spirit and Mary by Dwight P. Campbell.

Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate by Mark I Miravale.

– Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, Pope John Paul II.

An Unfathomable Marian Richness by Michael D. O’Brien.

Q. 118
See Living the gifts of Pentecost.

Q. 119
This piece is very uplifting:

One of my life-changing spiritual experiences was studying the letter of Pope Paul VI, On Evangelization in the Modern World. In the final chapter of that letter, the pope talks about the role of the Holy Spirit in evangelization. The key sentence reads, “It must be said that the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization: It is he who impels each individual to proclaim the gospel, and it is he who…causes the word of salvation to be accepted and understood.”

Q. 120
See Novena to the Holy Spirit for the seven gifts.

Reflection Questions
• How does modernism effect the Church?
See Modernism Hits the Jackpot, and Loses…Again.

• Is it ok to go to confession during Mass?
See Questions Answered: On Confession during Mass, and homilies given by non-ordained person.

20120512-200355.jpg