Posts filed under: worship

I truly don’t feel like Jesus is right there during the Eucharist. When I feel Him really with me is during praise and worship, personal prayer time, and I see Him all the time in other people. Why do I need anything more than His grace and a personal relationship with Him? - Anonymous

This may sound really odd, but I don’t feel Jesus there either. I guess we’re in the same boat! That’s the really strange thing about the Eucharist. Somehow Jesus was okay with the fact that our senses just shut down around the Eucharist. We don’t see God, hear God, touch God, taste God… and yet it’s God there.

The key is that — as with all things that are authentically divine — our eyes don’t work. We have to trust the “eyes of faith.” And, as the traditional theological dictum goes, faith is “of things we hear,” not things we see. So we can’t count on our eyes, but we can count on what we are told and what is passed down to us… the Word.

Faith, not sight! That’s the only answer that you and I can hold onto. But we’re not clinging desperately… we’re actually anchored onto a rock more firm than any human certainty. God has said so!

So when you go to Adoration or go to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, ask him humbly for that grace to “see” more clearly with your eyes of faith and to discover his Presence. Because of that Presence, our lives can never be the same!

It’s great to hear that you’re able to have so much fervor and clarity of Jesus’ presence in personal prayer, etc. It’s truly a gift! It won’t always happen. A little bit on that here. But pray that the same thing start to happen more frequently with the Eucharist… it’s a great support for faith. But faith ultimately isn’t about what we feel… it’s about what we believe.

And if that’s the case, then that relationship — with a God who gives himself to you as food and drink — will be more personal than anything else we could ever have imagined! And that grace will be more tangible than anything else we could ever have imagined!

I love being Catholic. Every day just convinces me more that I don’t deserve this at all. It’s just way too much. God is good!

- Father Shane

I have no other means of proving my love for You than to throw flowers, that is, not to pass up any little sacrifice, any look, any word, to take advantage of all the little things and to do them out of love… I want to suffer out of love and even rejoice out of love, so I will throw flowers before Your throne. […]
Jesus, what purpose will my flowers and my songs serve You? Oh, I know well that this sweet-scented rain, these fragile petals that have no value, these songs of love of the littlest of hearts — these will charm You. Yes, these little nothings will give You pleasure.
St. Therese of Lisieux

I have no other means of proving my love for You than to throw flowers, that is, not to pass up any little sacrifice, any look, any word, to take advantage of all the little things and to do them out of love… I want to suffer out of love and even rejoice out of love, so I will throw flowers before Your throne. […]

Jesus, what purpose will my flowers and my songs serve You? Oh, I know well that this sweet-scented rain, these fragile petals that have no value, these songs of love of the littlest of hearts — these will charm You. Yes, these little nothings will give You pleasure.

St. Therese of Lisieux

Before there were houses in this land, there were altars.

— Archbishop Jose Gomez (Los Angeles)

Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup:

"We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever.."

And concerning the broken bread:

"We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever.."

But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs.”

But after you are filled, give thanks this way:

"We thank Thee, holy Father, for Thy holy name which You didst cause to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality, which You modest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Thou, Master almighty, didst create all things for Thy name’s sake; You gavest food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to Thee; but to us You didst freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Thy Servant. Before all things we thank Thee that You are mighty; to Thee be the glory for ever. Remember, Lord, Thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in Thy love, and gather it from the four winds, sanctified for Thy kingdom which Thou have prepared for it; for Thine is the power and the glory for ever. Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the God (Son) of David! If any one is holy, let him come; if any one is not so, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen."

But permit the prophets to make Thanksgiving as much as they desire.

— The Didache (roughly 80 AD)

Is it true that Catholics aren't allowed to say "Yahweh?" If this IS true, why not? If NOT true, where did these rumors begin? Thank you! Be blessed! - Anonymous

Sort of. It’s no longer to be pronounced out loud in the liturgy, ever since a 2008 Vatican decree. The text is here and an explanatory article is here.

The reasoning is that the first Christians continued a tradition in Judaism that expressed the infinite holiness and majesty of God by holding his name (the one he gives himself in Exodus 3:14) to be unpronounceable.

So it’s not as if it’s an arbitrary restriction, and certainly not because somebody in the Vatican didn’t like singing “You Are Near.” Rather, if we voluntarily abstain from using the word, we are showing reverence for God.

God bless you!

- Father Shane


Tumblr’s “New Blog” button :)

Can’t not reblog.

Hi Father Shane,

Why do we split the Lord's Prayer in 2 within the context of the mass? and why is it common practice to NOT pray the 2nd part (for the kingdom, the power...) without the context of the mass? Just curious. BTW love the blog!

- jonmanongdo

Matthew 6:9-13 doesn’t include the “doxology”:

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever, amen.

But we pray it in Mass (ever since Vatican II) and most Protestants follow the Anglican Book of Common Prayer in adding it.

It’s a phrase that shows up in some Old Latin (i.e., translations from Greek made before St. Jerome’s Vulgate, which later became standard) manuscripts, but that scholars agree definitely wasn’t part of the original text. So you won’t find it in the major Bible translations.

It’s an elaboration of a slightly shorter version that’s in the Didache (chapter 8), a 1st-century document that isn’t Biblical but that gives more fascinating insight into the life, liturgy and beliefs of the very earliest Christians.

In the West, it really only came into use with the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, so Catholics never picked up on it. Personally I think the liturgical reform made a great choice in fitting it as a conclusion to the 6th-century text which immediately precedes it, but tastes can differ on all that.

God bless you!

- Father Shane

Why do some priests not allow you to kneel when receiving the Eucharist? - Anonymous

Well, here’s how the bishops’ conference puts it:

The new edition of the General Instruction [for the Roman Missal] asks the Conference of Bishops in each country to determine the posture to be used for the reception of Communion and the act of reverence to be made by each person as he or she receives Communion. The Conference of Bishops of the United States has determined that in this country Communion will be received standing and that a bow will be the act of reverence made by those receiving. These norms may require some adjustment on the part of those who have been used to other practices, however the significance of unity in posture and gesture as a symbol of our unity as members of the one body of Christ should be the governing factor in our own actions. 

I honestly don’t know if a priest is within his rights to compel someone to stand. Sure, the person is outside the norms and can even be making a spectacle in order to “make a point” to the priest and everyone else (sad but true; it happens), but I personally just give them Communion attempting to avoid further conflict and further spectacle.

Charity/obedience/unity vs. perceived greater reverence… ouch. Tough call.

God bless you!

- Father Shane

When did the church start allowing girls to be altar servers? - Anonymous

Technically in 1994 (with a letter sent by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship to all bishops), though the reasoning the letter gives is based on the new Code of Canon Law, which was released in 1983:

Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law. (canon 230.2)

But the Vatican left it to each bishop to decide whether to allow female altar servers in his diocese, so in some countries you won’t find any girls serving at the altar, whereas in the States it’s allowed practically everywhere, with considerable variation from parish to parish regarding how exactly serving is organized between boys and girls.

There’s some more interesting background here, if you’re interested in further details.

God bless you!

- Father Shane

Those folks at Magnificat…

really know how to make missals. Check out this new one they’re selling for the new translations that we’ll start using at Mass this winter. The sample pages are really works of art.

People do not come to church because of spiritual amnesia —either they have forgotten about God or they have forgotten what the Mass is. I remember as a seminarian reading an interview with Flannery O’Connor in which she recounted an incident from her childhood in the deep South where less than 5 percent of the population was Catholic. Flannery invited a young Baptist girl to come to Mass one Sunday. The girl had never set foot in a Catholic Church and went with great curiosity. After the Mass, Flannery O’Connor was anxious to hear her friend’s reaction to the Catholic Church. The girl said how very impressed she was and went on to explain why: “You Catholics must really have something. The sermon was so boring, the music was awful and the priests mumbled in that language nobody could understand, and all those people were there. You Catholics must have something very special.” What brought Catholics to Church every Sunday morning in those days was the Eucharist.

— Cardinal Sean O’Malley (Boston)

Hey Father, do you have any recommendations for good books on the Mass? I love the Eucharist and I love the Mass, but sometimes it's really easy for me to just space out and recite the prayers but not feel or mean them. I feel like I know about the Mass, but I need to start actually experiencing it better. - Anonymous

Definitely that’s a fantastic idea for all of us all the time. It’s something about the Eucharist — Christ’s presence far closer to us than we can even imagine — that we have to keep asking God to help us renew that wonder of discovering Him there.

I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read it myself yet, but Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper is already a classic. Another good one that was recommended to me a little while back is Edward Sri’s A Biblical Walk Through the Mass.

If you have a vow of poverty like me, here are a couple links to online resources to print: a classic article by Father John Hardon and an excellent series done for Relevant Radio. You might also find something of interest here or here, both collections of classic Catholic spirituality in e-book format.

Let us know if you find anything better. Also, if anybody has any other suggestions, please reply to this post! 

God bless you.

- Father Shane


Corpus Christi

Today is the feast of Corpus Christi, a Catholic celebration for the Body of Christ in the Mass.

The vintage postcard above shows a Corpus Christi procession in Trent, Italy.

Congratulations to everyone in countries that are celebrating Corpus Christi today, especially those who get to participate in the Vatican’s procession with Pope Benedict this evening!

In the US, we’ll celebrate it on Sunday.

Hi Father! I am planning to spend some time in adoration and prayer in the chapel at my parish this summer, and I was wondering if you think it would be appropriate to listen to m iPod as I pray. Of course, I would be listening to worship music that always helps me get into prayer and just feel quiet and peaceful. What do you think? - Anonymous

Good question. I guess the answer gets to the nature of prayer. 

Worship music can help foster the right emotions, as you say. Then, too, “singing to Jesus” is a wonderful way to use those little empty times through the day when you’re not thinking about anything else. But why? Because it’s something that you’re saying to Jesus.

The personal prayer that is being fostered during a time of prayer like you mention can be of the four basic kinds of prayer: adoration, petition, reparation or thanksgiving. All except “adoration” include the idea of “conversation with God.” Adoration doesn’t necessarily imply the use of words at all.

So the question is going to be if your experience of the music is something passive (me listening) or something active (me talking). Because if you’re mostly listening, well, then it’s not that different from you listening to your iPod while someone else tries to talk to you. Are you really giving them your full attention? Not really. If you’re singing to Jesus, that’s fine too, but you have to be ready to listen as well.

Jesus wants to have a conversation with you. What’s the best way to do that?

I would suggest that listening to worship music on your way to adoration would be a fantastic way to “prime” your soul for it, to calm you down, and to get you into the right mood to open your heart and soul to God. But once you’re in the chapel, it would be best to turn it off. 

Enjoy the silence there, because that’s where Jesus is going to talk to you and that’s how he is going to tell you secrets you would never have imagined.

God bless you!

- Father Shane

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