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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Questions & Answers About the Church Year

What is the meaning of Advent?

This season of four weeks before Christmas represents the four thousand years (according to the Scriptural reckoning) that mankind had to wait for the coming of the Redeemer.

What is the object of Advent?

We become aware of ourselves as spiritual Jews, recalling the advent of Christ’s first appearance while awaiting his Second Coming. It should light the spark of desire for this definitive encounter and for the graces he gives us as our Savior and Redeemer. Advent prepares us for the birth of Christ.

Why do we call Jesus’ birthday Christmas?

It is because the Church celebrates the festive day with Masses that specially commemorate the birth of our Lord.

Why do we traditionally offer three different Christmas Masses?

It is seen as a threefold act of thanksgiving to the divine persons of the Blessed Trinity who participated in our redemption.

What is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord?

On the fortieth day after Christ’s birth, Mary, in obedience to the law, offered her divine Son to his heavenly Father. It was once called the Purification because Mary offered the required clean oblation in the temple.

Why is it also called Candlemas Day?

It is because the priest blesses candles on this day. Candles are symbols for Jesus who is the Light of the World. Simeon proclaimed him to be the light of enlightenment of the Gentiles (Luke 2:32). Candles are blessed on this day with beautiful prayers and hymns: “May we who carry them to praise your glory walk in the path of goodness and come to the light that shines forever.” A procession is made to the church where Mass will be offered.

What is done on Ash Wednesday?

Ashes are blessed by the priest and placed on the heads of the faithful.

What makes up the ashes?

They are the remnants from blessed palm used the previous year. The ashes remind us that our bodies are destined to soon return to dust. That is why the priest says: “Remember, man, you are dust and unto dust you will return.

What are the ceremonies of Passion (Palm) Sunday?

It is a pious custom to cover the crucifix, statues, and pictures in violet to represent the brief time before the passion that Jesus hid from the Jewish authorities, following his terrible humiliation by them in the temple. Since it is also Palm Sunday, we also celebrate Christ’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Palms are blessed in the church. The Jewish people greeted Jesus with palm branches and hailed him as their king. We know, of course, that he was not the kind of king they wanted and that Jesus really came to Jerusalem to die.

Why is the last week of Lent called Holy Week?

It is because we specially commemorate the events making up our redemption. Many graces are given us in this most holy time.

What takes place during Mass on Holy Thursday?

The Church commemorates the institution of the Eucharist (and the Priesthood). As a special sign of joy, the Gloria is sung and bells are rung during its recital. Extra hosts are consecrated for special reservation that evening and for communion on Good Friday. The Eucharist is carried in procession to the repository at a side altar. The organ and bells are now silent until the Gloria on Holy Saturday. This expresses the deep bereavement of the faith community over the passion and death of Christ.

Why is this the customary day for the consecration of holy oils?

Although sometimes moved to another day like Monday or Tuesday (for practical reasons) of Holy Week, the bishop consecrates the oils that are used at baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick, and certain consecrations. Holy Thursday is chosen since it is the day that Jesus instituted the priesthood and made the apostles dispensers of his graces through the sacraments. Priests renew their promises.

Why are the altars stripped after Holy Thursday Mass?

This indicates our sorrow at the pitiful exposure of our Lord during his scourging and crucifixion.

What does the washing of the feet signify?

It is connected to the calling of the apostles as the first priests. The deep humility of Christ must also be found in his servants and ministers. St. Augustine associated it to our faith and baptism. Jesus washed the feet of his apostles before instituting the Eucharist. This reminded them of the purity and humility of heart that should be theirs before receiving and distributing Holy Communion.

What are the observances for Good Friday?

This is not a feast day, and no Mass is said. There may be special readings of the passion, Stations of the Cross, and Veneration of the Cross. We remember the death of Jesus. Various supplications are prayed.

Why do priests prostrate themselves at the foot of the altar on this day?

It expresses our profound grief at the suffering and death of Jesus.

What does the Church pray for in the great Supplications?

In the context of solemn petitions, the priest prays for the Church, the Holy Father, the bishops, the clergy and laity, the country, those preparing for baptism and/or reception, the suffering, separated brethren, Jews and other non-Christian people of faith, etc. We actually dare to pray that they might share in the fruits of Christ’s saving death. After all, our Lord died for all men and women.

How is the Veneration of the Cross conducted?

The priest or deacon holds up a Cross at three areas in the church: the back, middle, and front. If veiled, he reveals another of its three points as he moves toward the sanctuary. He proclaims: “This is the wood of the Cross on which hung the Savior of the world.” The people respond, “Come, let us worship.

How is the Cross worshipped or adored?

The priest lays the uncovered Cross before the altar, and then he kneels and kisses it. Traditionally, he would kneel three times at different distances and would finally kiss the wounds on the figure (corpus).

What does the choir traditionally sing?

They sing the reproaches that Christ must have made to his ungrateful people on this day.

Why is no Mass celebrated on Good Friday?

It would be unbecoming to celebrate the UNBLOODY renewal of the sacrifice of the Cross on the day we commemorate the BLOODY sacrifice of the Cross.

Also, every Mass makes really present the saving activity and presence of our RISEN Lord. Today we remember the shadows and not the light directly.

What does Holy Saturday bring to mind?

Many things come to mind. The darkness, candles, sacred silence and repose brings us to the Lord’s borrowed tomb and his descent to the limbo of the fathers (the righteous dead who awaited their Savior). But also, the festivities of the evening press upon us. We will soon celebrate our Easter joy.

What are the services for Holy Saturday?

The most elaborate liturgy of the year it is also the most beautiful and profound. There is the blessing of the new fire and the lighting of the Paschal Candle. There are a whole series of readings that trace our salvation history. There is also an incredible Easter Proclamation called the Exsultet. The Litany of the Saints is recited and baptismal faith is reaffirmed. A blessing is made over the baptismal water in preparation for the initiation and reception of new members into the faith.

What does the blessed fire of the candle signify?

The Paschal Candle is a symbol for Christ. Extinguished on Good Friday, it is restored brand new (resurrected) on Holy Saturday. The fire of the candle, from which other candles in the church are lit, signifies Christ as the Light of the World who dispels the darkness and gives warmth against the cold world and sin. Five incense grains are pressed into the candle representing the five wounds of Christ.

How is the baptismal water blessed in this celebration?

A whole series of Old Testament prophesies that point to baptism is read and prayers are made for the neophytes and those who reaffirm their faith. After the blessing and renewal of baptismal promises, the priest sprinkles the people. During the blessing, the Paschal Candle is dipped three times into the water as an invocation is made to the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. The water reminds us that the waters of baptism cleanse the world of sin.

What does the Church celebrate at Mass on this day?

The Church celebrates the resurrection of Christ. The Gloria is chanted, bells are rung, and the solemn Alleluia is sung.

What does the word Easter mean?

Easter or “East star” is derived from the rising of the sun or the resurrection of Jesus. It has also been called Pascha, a name taken from the Jewish festival when a lamb was slain in memory of the blood of the lamb that saved the first born of the Israelites. Jesus is the new Lamb of God who was slain on the cross and whose blood will save us.

What is the Ascension?

Forty days after Easter we commemorate Christ’s triumphant ascent into heaven.

What ceremony is peculiar to this day?

It is customary to extinguish the Paschal Candle, symbolizing the departure of Christ from earth to his Father in heaven.

What is Pentecost?

This is the commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit and it traditionally occurs ten days after the Ascension, or fifty days after Easter. We celebrate it on Sunday.

What are the Holy Days of obligation?

In the United States they are as follows:

  • Solemnity of Mary – Jan. 1
  • Ascension Thursday – (40 days after Easter)
  • Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary – Aug. 15
  • All Saints – Nov. 1
  • Immaculate Conception – Dec. 8
  • Christmas – Dec. 25

Canada: Holy Days are Christmas and Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

What is Ordinary Time?

This is a name given to the liturgical time outside of the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. Of course, in a sense, no time is ordinary. Every day and every liturgy is a wondrous opportunity to grow closer to the Lord and to live out our discipleship.

For more such material, contact me about getting my book, CATHOLIC QUESTIONS & ANSWERS.