Ink drawing by Gloria Tuccio
Last weekend I preached about finding Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and showing Him proper reverence. Now that we are using the original Tabernacle at the Basilica, how we act when passing the center of the sanctuary needs to change. Surely many of you were taught to bow whenever walking past the Altar of Sacrifice. This teaching is correct when the Tabernacle in use is off to the side. But the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) states that if the Tabernacle is situated in the center of the Sanctuary, then it surpasses the Altar in importance. So now anytime you walk across the sanctuary in the Basilica you should do your best to genuflect to Our Lord in the Tabernacle. The only time where you would bow is during the Holy Mass.
As the GIRM states, during Mass the focus moves from the Tabernacle to the Altar of Sacrifice with anticipation for the consecration of the bread and wine that will be presented during the Offertory. Therefore, the GIRM states, those entering the sanctuary during the Holy Mass only genuflect to the Tabernacle during the entrance and recessional processions. Otherwise, you merely bow to the Altar of Sacrifice when passing by it. So those who read or assist with Holy Communion will continue to bow when entering the sanctuary during the Holy Mass. Remember that your Savior, Jesus Christ, makes Himself perpetually present in the Eucharist out of love for you. Let us all, together, strive to respond to His love with the proper reverence and respect.
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!
In the dioceses of the United States, October is Pro-Life Month. During this month we are asked to spend some time reflecting on the gift of human life. In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), Pope Saint John Paul II said, “Truly great must be the value of human life if the Son of God has taken it up and made it the instrument of salvation of all humanity!” God could have redeemed us in any way He wanted. But He chose to send His Son incarnate as one of us, taking on our human flesh and lifting it up to a new reality. By being born fully human and then dying and resurrecting in human flesh, Jesus Christ has sanctified all human life. Thus, we must respect that sanctity and defend it at all costs.
Recall how in Matthew 25:40, Jesus tells us, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Whatever we do to the least among us, from the moment of conception all the way until death, we do to our Lord Jesus. If we don’t defend the defenseless, then who will? It is up to us—Jesus’ soldiers on Earth—to defend the gift of life that He has given to every person born into this world. For whatever it is that we do, whether good or bad, we do unto Him.
Our readings at Holy Mass this weekend speak of how God will call all people “from the east and the west and from the north and the south and [they] will recline at table in the kingdom of God.” God is not calling just a select few to salvation. Rather, He is calling all of humanity to salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.
But our entry to Heaven is not automatic. Notice that in the same passage Jesus says some will be “locked out” of Heaven. Those locked out will be anyone who did not seek a personal relationship with Jesus during their life. Instead they chose sin and, as a result, eternal death. So we must live now in a way that looks forward to Heaven.
We must strive for a personal relationship with Jesus now so that we may enjoy His fullness in Heaven for all eternity. And the best way to do that is by living in full communion with the Church Jesus founded—the Catholic Church. We must strive to do so ourselves and we must strive to bring others into this great communion.
We all know people who are not Catholic. Have you invited them to join you for Holy Mass lately? When was the last time you invited someone to RCIA, the process by which non-Catholic adults come into full communion with the Church?
We will be starting up RCIA soon, and it is up to you to help us fill it up. So who can you ask? Who will you invite? With whom would you like to share the fullness of the truth and God’s call to “recline at table in the kingdom of God?”
– Father Scott Thomas
You may have recently noticed two differences in the sanctuary at St Mary’s Basilica. First, after years of sitting bare, the “old Altars” now are covered with Altar cloths. I felt it to be fitting that we keep those Altars covered with Altar cloths since they are still consecrated Altars.
One reason is that Father Mark and I use the St Joseph Altar from time to time to offer the Holy Mass privately, if we don’t have one of the scheduled Masses of the day. For decades, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass took place upon those Altars, meaning that our Lord Jesus Christ rested upon their stones. How sacred of a space and structure those Altars are, then. And I believe they should be treated as such meaning that we should take special care about what we place upon them.
Which leads to the second difference—have you noticed that the flowers in the sanctuary (behind the presider’s chair) have not been on the mensa (table) of that Altar? There, again, is a stone enclosing a saint’s relic and the spot where many Holy Masses have been offered. I believe it is more reverent to place the flowers on the portion of the Altar that was actually made for them, that is, the shelf just beyond and above the mensa where the candles are.
While I do not currently plan to begin using these old Altars publicly anytime soon, they are still consecrated Altars and should be treated with reverence. And perhaps through that reverence we will give thanks to God for the many Holy Masses that were offered on them over the years for the salvation of our ancestors and ourselves.
– Father Scott Thomas
On August 14 the Roman Church celebrates St Maximilian Kolbe. Born in Poland on January 8, 1894, he was given the name Raymond. He was such a troublemaker as a child that one day his mother looked at him and asked, “What is to become of you, Raymond!?” In response, he ran to the local church and prayed hard to the Blessed Mother asking that very question.
She soon appeared to him offering a choice between virginity and martyrdom. His response was, “I choose both!” He would go on to become a Franciscan, taking the name “Maximilian” and being ordained at age 24. He would travel to China, Japan, and India, until his poor health forced his return to Poland. In February of 1941, he was arrested by the Nazi’s for the crime of being a Catholic priest and was sent to Auschwitz.
During his imprisonment, he fulfilled his priestly duties as best as he could (in secret, of course). This led to many beatings at the hands of the guards. One day in July someone escaped from the concentration camp. As a result, ten men were picked for execution. When one cried out for his wife and children, Fr Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to replace the gentleman.
Fr Kolbe was known to have led the other nine in prayer as they were being starved to death. When he was the last one alive, he was given a lethal injection of carbolic acid. St Maximilian Kolbe was canonized in 1982 by Pope St John Paul II, who was also a native of Poland. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, and families.
– Father Scott Thomas
This Sunday, St Paul tells us, “If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). Holy Baptism is a participation in the death and Resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, those who pass through the baptismal waters are called to spiritually die with Christ and rise with Him as a new creation.
We baptized Christians are called to live for Heaven. This world is a passing world while the Heavenly Kingdom is eternal. Holy Mass and our church’s architecture should always remind us of this. That is one reason why we still use Latin and Greek in the Holy Mass instead of regular everyday language. We should also use music that is sacred.
If we just sing popular music you hear on the radio, what is so special about that? The same goes for why older churches have such high ceilings and ornate decorations made of the best materials. The high ceilings and steeples cause us to look up to higher realities, and the use of the best materials reminds us that we need to give our best to God.
Again, all of this and more is meant to draw our minds to higher, heavenly realities. After all, that’s the point of worship—to draw us closer to our goal of eternal union with God in heaven. So the next time you go to worship God, seek what is above and not what is below.
– Father Scott Thomas