Archive for the ‘Sacramentals’ Category

A Premature Passion? — Palm Sunday—Year C

March 28, 2010

So why did we just proclaim the Passion?  Isn’t the Passion a bit premature? It’s Palm Sunday, not Holy Thursday or Good Friday. Aren’t we jumping the gun? No, like the two disciples Jesus instructed in our opening Gospel, we’re being told what we are going to see. The Church has us recount the Passion on Palm Sunday to prepare us; to prepare us for encountering Christ’s Passover through the special ceremonies and symbols of this Holy Week.

Now the celebration of the Eucharist actually makes the events of the Pascal mystery present for us every time we come to Mass. Jesus’ Last Supper, His Passion and Death, His Resurrection and Ascension into glory, are all truly presented to us at each and every Mass; but during Holy Week, we unpack and encounter these events in unique and special ways.

Today you have waved palms, an ancient symbol of victory, to Christ, welcoming Him into our city. On Holy Thursday, you can go where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved and give company to Christ in his lonely solitude, with Him in His agony before His arrest and with Him as He spends the night awaiting His trial. On Good Friday, you can reverence the crucifix; you can kiss the wood of Jesus’ cross and kiss His body hanging upon it, as He dies for us. And at the Easter Vigil, you can see the sign of the light of Jesus Christ resurrecting out of darkness and death.

And so I invite you to encounter Jesus’ Pascal mystery, at this Mass, at every Mass, and through the special signs and ceremonies of this Holy Week.

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By the Throat — February 3 — St. Blaise

February 3, 2010

I began going to daily Mass in the fall semester of 2001. In college I had always gone to Sunday Mass, but after September 11th I felt that if the world was going to change for the better, it would require that people present themselves to God and offer Him more opportunity to work His grace in them. And so, two years later and seven years ago today, I was at daily Mass on the feast day of St. Blaise for the first time in my life.

At the end of Mass, Father Mark offered an opportunity for a special blessing of throats by means of two crossed candles and the intercession of St. Blaise. A line formed of the faithful, but I stayed in my pew. I felt a tug of conscience to go up there too, but I was really embarrassed by the oddness of it. “Who gets ailments of the throat anyways,” I justified to myself, and headed out the door.

With noon Mass behind me, I walked to the dining hall for lunch. I remember that I was passing an empty salad bar on my left when I got stopped in my tracks. It was like my throat suddenly got completely dry. I recognized I wasn’t choking, so I wasn’t frightened, but it took me a good minute or two get right again.

Now my best natural explanation for what happened to me is that I inhaled dust kicked up by some unseen kitchen sweeper which got blown in by a fan through the open door on my right. But it didn’t take me long to remember St. Blaise and to recognize in this providential incident God’s gentle correction.  The message: “Don’t refuse a holy blessing.”

We Catholics should not feel ashamed of our traditional blessings and sacramentals. Things like holy water, miraculous medals, and house blessings make a difference; for with these things we make an act of presenting ourselves to God and offer Him more opportunity to work His grace in us.