Ink drawing by Gloria Tuccio
“The kingship and empire of Christ have been recognized in the pious custom, practiced by many families, of dedicating themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; not only families have performed this act of dedication, but nations, too, and kingdoms. In fact, the whole of the human race was at the instance of Pope Leo XIII, in the Holy Year 1900, consecrated to the Divine Heart.” - Quas Primas, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI, December 11, 1925.
Coming up on the 24th of November is the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This feast was implemented by Pope Piux XI in 1925 with Quas primas, in the face of secularism, the spread of materialistic atheistic Communism, and its cousins Fascism and Nazism. We need to rededicate ourselves and our families to the Our King, Jesus Christ, rather than give into the spirit of the world. When we come into His presence, in the Liturgy of the Mass and the other sacraments, His divine attribute of splendor or glory or majesty, whatever you will, has the power to transform us. His majestic glory changes us. Let us then be changed into who we are called to be.
The Handbook of Indulgences says: #27. A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful, who piously recite the above Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ the King, if it is recited publicly on the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ the King, and piously carry out the precepts in the Norm.
Therefore, we’ll be praying the prayer of consecration after all the Masses next weekend. The requirements for obtaining a Plenary Indulgence on the Feast of Christ the King are: Public recitation of the prayer “Most Sweet Jesus, Redeemer – Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King.” Say one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary” for the intentions of the Pope (this is in the bulletin). Make a Sacramental Confession within a week of (before or after) the Feast of Christ the King. Worthily receive Holy Communion (ideally on the Feast of Christ the King) And be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin.
Fr. Scott and Fr. Mark plan to trade months in offering a
weekly reflection or catechesis in our future bulletins.
Be sure to check out what they have to share!
Make your way through the Holy Land to experience Him, follow in His footsteps, and see Him in the works He performed - your footsteps will become His. Celebrate votive Masses in the very places where these miraculous gifts became pages in the Gospel. See where He was back then, and feel how He is still there today!
What is needed to say the Mass? The Roman Missal, chalice, bread and wine, what else? A priest, an altar, the chalice veil? The primary question we should ask is, “What are we doing at Mass?” It is the most important moment of Salvation History worked out in front of our eyes! It’s the marriage feast of the Lamb as he weds himself to his bride the Church. Did you get that? The wedding banquet of Jesus to us, his Church. If we understand then that the altar is where all of this is happening, then it can give us a glimpse into what honor we show to the sacred vessels (ie. chalice and paten) and how we treat them. A mysterious moment is happening on the paten and in the chalice. If the nuptial moment is happening between God and man at the altar, it’s being made present in the sacred vessels so that we can see it. So we’ve got terms such as marriage feast, wedding, and nuptial moment.
It’s important that we use these words to help us recover the beautiful mystery. We cover brides with a veil to signify the mystery of what is taking place in a marriage; the groom unveils her in order that the marriage covenant can be enacted and the nuptial union can begin. This is what the priest is doing when he unveils the chalice, the place where the mystery of faith is worked out. The precious bride signified by the chalice is unveiled so that the priest, in the person of Christ, can unite the Divine will of God to the bride, the Church. Many have noticed that we use these new things which are very ancient and part of the liturgy of the Mass, albeit “a praiseworthy practice” according to the General Instruction (GIRM). These things help us as priests in persona Christi to pray the Mass. It’s our hope that by utilizing these treasures of the liturgy, you come to a deeper understanding, appreciation, and active participation in praying the Mass, the great mystery of Salvation.
– Father Mark Schoffner
Things that are on the increase are termed as ‘growing.’ The amount of daylight in the day is not increasing, or for that matter is it growing. As the darkness lingers later into the morning and descends upon us earlier in the evening, it’s worth taking a moment to contemplate light, darkness, and faith. Darkness is an absence of light. It doesn’t exist on its own. The sun’s rays dispel the darkness from the strength of the one star which illumines our solar system. It’s the power of one light, not many by which it is banished. It seems though that darkness is beginning to pervade even that which was and should be in the light. The light which guided us all, faith, is being fractured into many smaller lights and distractions. What was our solitary guide in life is being usurped by the lights of tv and the glimmer of cell phones.
The flashing of a sale, the power of a scoreboard, the neon glow of a light in a bar. The light that is the Truth of our Faith is being forsaken for others, and we are paying the prices in our society and families. The immemorial search for the great light of Truth itself is waning due to our distractions. When this happens, we linger on and settle for the lesser lights which illumine fleeting moments but fail to dispel the dark and show us the way. In this absence, everything becomes confused; good and evil are not easily discernible. Which road to take becomes a difficult decision to make. It is urgent then that we pray and work to rekindle the light of faith in our hearts and others. Once we lose the great lantern of faith, even the other flickers of light themselves dim. Faith, the great light, illumines all of human existence and must then be desired and prayed for, it’s source being God. Let us implore him for an increase.
– Father Mark Schoffner
For the conversion of Russia, for freedom and tranquility for the Church to worship, for defense from satanic forces attacking the faithful— these are several of the reasons why the St. Michael prayer has been prayed. Since the inception of the St. Michael prayer, which was written by Pope St. Leo XIII, it has been prayed fervently to implore the heavenly help we all need. Michael (which means “Who is like God!”) is the angel considered the protector and patron of the universal Church and also the guide of departed souls to paradise. He is a soldier, intercessor, and companion and guide at death.
Fighting the great dragon Satan in the Book of Revelation, he commands the whole of heaven in the fight against Satan. And, since the prince of lies is out to get us and deceive us about ourselves and God’s love for us, we intercede and ask for help from our heavenly helpers, namely St. Michael. Rebellion against God has caused many to sin, namely Satan and his demons, and he seeks to pull us down with him. That heavenly rebellion trickles down and affects us here on earth. There is a cosmic battle in which we all participate. In seeking to conquer the prince of the world and the spirit of the world, we’ve begun again the intercession of this extra help to defend ourselves, our families, and our parish from the attacks of evil.
Good things are happening here at St. Mary, and we know evil will certainly try to undermine the will of God for our lives and parish. St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us! “Whenever some work of heroic proportion is to be performed, Michael is commissioned. Thus from the work and from the name of the Angel we are given to understand that nobody is able to do such things as only God can accomplish” - St. Gregory.
– Father Mark Schoffner
It’s always good to be reminded about important activities or events. In thinking about this week’s blurb, I thought I could touch on a subject which seems to be getting a lot of traction in our parish these days. Fr. Scott and I seem to have made the Sacrament of Confession a point of our homilies and exhortations since we've gotten here not because we like sitting in a little room and listening to people, but because of what Jesus promises to those who partake of the sacrament. The covenant which we entered into with God at our baptism is one of union with God. We are all to be united to him and love him. Sin offends that like a bad odor at the dinner table. But worse, it cuts us off from the life of grace which God is otherwise graciously pouring upon us.
Maybe you haven’t been in a while? We are suppose to go at least once a year, but more frequent is admirable. Pope Francis says he likes to go about every two weeks unless needed otherwise. I myself try to make a good confession about every two weeks as well. I just wanted to give some tips on confession. Examine yourself, not in a mirror to see what you look like, but examine your soul, your conscience. Use the Ten Commandments to see where you have failed to live up to the dignity you’re called to as a beloved son or daughter of God. Take your time and be specific with the kind of sin you have committed and how many times. Confess your sins, not everybody else’s. Listen to the counsel and penance and trust that the words of absolution are what Jesus says they are, final. Sins wiped away. Then go out and live the life of grace God intends for you.
– Father Mark Shoffner
Throughout the Christian world, familiar sounds can be found, namely the sounding of a bell. One can think of the many towers and chapels in France and Italy, to the huge bells of the great German cathedrals, or maybe Big Ben in London with its familiar sound and presence. Used originally to rouse monks from praying and to call a community to prayer, their usage has grown and developed along with the rites of the Church. From wooden boards, to gong-looking devices, to ones that look like glorified cowbells (ie. Bell of St. Patrick), the community of believers have used something to make a noise to rouse us to pay attention and worship the living presence of God.
Here in Natchez we have our own notable sound calling us to the hour, the Angelus, and the beginning of Mass. Maria Alexandrina is the name of our big bell in the tower, and this beautiful bell has sounded over Natchez for 169 years as of this year.
Recently, we purchased a small set of bells to aid and alert the congregation and choir that it’s time to begin worship. They’re referred to as sacristy bells, different than the sanctuary bells which are rung during the epiclesis (calling down of the Holy Spirit) and consecration. Sacristy bells are placed either where a procession would begin or from where the priest would leave the sacristy en route to the altar to say Mass. They serve the function of alerting everyone we’re about to begin. We hope that this aids our parish community in a dignified manner to better worship the Lord of Lords. You know, it’s always good to start on a good note! Even the ring of a bell!
– Father Mark Shoffner
In the early centuries of the faith, the faithful would gather in the afternoon and evening to chant hymns and songs of praise to God and in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This was a wide-spread practice which brought the faithful to the church to close out their day of work and labor.
In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries there arose in the Mass a special emphasis on the Eucharist and the importance of seeing it during the elevations during Mass. We still have these practices today. It allows for people to make a prayer of thanks, petition, or a spiritual communion if they will not be receiving the Eucharist. When Pope Urban IV instituted the Feast of Corpus Christi in 1246 it called for special hymns, processions, and that the Blessed Sacrament be exposed in a monstrance.
Key to this placing of the Flesh and Blood of Our Lord for veneration was that the people would receive a blessing (latin: benediction) by the minister through him making the sign of the cross with the Blessed Sacrament. The minister himself veiled with a cope and humeral veil beautifully reducing the minister and highlighting the Lord present. The Lord, present there among the faithful, blessing his people. How great is that! Today we still celebrate that feast and we have periods of exposition with benediction, on Mondays at St. Mary’s.
The songs we sing are actually verses of a much longer hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi. The Divine Praises recited at the end are affirmations of the faith proclaimed in reparation for heresies and errors taught about dogmas and tenets of the faith. So when you come pray, particularly on days of Eucharistic exposition, you join the centuries old praise of Almighty God!
– Father Mark Shoffner
Since the beginning of our faith, the Eucharist has had a special and preeminent place in the life of the Church. From the very earliest days it was taught and reminded that it was no ordinary bread nor was it a symbol, but the real flesh and blood of Jesus. The Eucharist being the most perfect presentation of the Lord’s Sacrifice on the Cross was clearly taught for centuries. In order that the faithful experience the sensation and truth of Jesus Christ’s real presence in the Body and Blood, tabernacles were built, altars became more adorned and devotions arose around the Blessed Sacrament with prayers and processions.
Here at St. Mary’s - Our Lady of Sorrows Parish - we are blessed to have a beautiful temple to the Lord with a beautiful place to adore our Lord resting quietly in the marble altar. On Monday we have the Blessed Sacrament exposed and shown in a manner of adoration and worship, concluding with Benediction, a centuries old devotion with prayers, songs, and blessing.
We are reminded “...while the Eucharist is reserved in churches or oratories—that Christ is truly Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us.’ For He is in the midst of us day and night; He dwells in us with the fullness of grace and of truth. He raises the level of morals, fosters virtue, comforts the sorrowful, strengthens the weak and stirs up all those who draw near to Him to imitate Him, so that they may learn from his example to be meek and humble of heart, and to seek not their own interests but those of God.
Anyone who has a special devotion to the sacred Eucharist and who tries to repay Christ's infinite love for us with an eager and unselfish love of his own, will experience and fully understand—and this will bring great delight and benefit to his soul—just how precious is a life hidden with Christ in God and just how worthwhile it is to carry on a conversation with Christ, for there is nothing more consoling here on earth, nothing more efficacious for progress along the paths of holiness.” (Mysterium Fidei, P. Paul VI 1965)
– Father Mark Shoffner