I remember when I first started re-discovering my love for the Catholic faith, I attended Mass at a beautiful church (Saint Brigid in Johns Creek, GA) that had the tabernacle and crucifix displayed prominently up front. The church I had been attending did not have this, so when I walked into this church, it moved me profoundly. During the consecration I heard these beautiful bells ringing, which called to my attention the miracle that was taking place upon the altar and helped to connect me in a deep and mysterious way to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
I love the crucifix. I love the tabernacle not stuck in a corner, I love that Catholic Churches have the altar front and center. I love to watch the priests and deacon kiss the altar when they enter and leave Mass. I love the bells, the candles, the incense, the statues, the oils, the vestments, the stained glass windows . . . all of it. These little traditions and sacramentals all mean something, and make the Mass all the more meaningful and beautiful. They all help me in all my human failings and distractions to focus on what is really going on at Mass. Are they necessary for the validity of the sacrament? No. But can they help one to truly appreciate and recognize the beauty of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Yes!
When we see incense being used in our churches, it is meant to remind us of heaven, and that our worship of God in the Christian liturgy is divine in origin. It also reminds us to pray, and that our prayer rises to God like the smoke from the censer, purifying our worship of God, and allowing his Holy Spirit to work in us to make us holy.
In an era where a tragically large number of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, the ringing of Sanctus bells can help one focus on the miracle that takes place upon the altar. For me,at least, I love the bells and all of our beautiful traditions, which are a very powerful devotional aid during Mass, and a rich sacramental tradition of the Church
Sometimes you just have to stop for a minute, take a break from all of the sad, bad and scary news around you, thank God for the many blessings that you do have, and go do something happy. Today I planted purple pansies and it made me smile. All for the glory of God, Amen!
Remember, it’s Friday – No Meat Today!
Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. Abstinence refers to the avoidance of certain foods. The most common form of abstinence is the avoidance of meat, a spiritual practice that goes back to the earliest days of the Church.
Catholics over the age of 14 are required to abstain from meat and from foods made with meat in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday.
According to the USCCB, “abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chicken, cows, sheep or pigs – all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden. However, moral theologians have traditionally taught that we should abstain from all animal-derived products (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste). Fish are a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater specaes of fish, amphibians, reptiles (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.”
Many Catholics do not realize that the Church still recommends abstinence on all Fridays of the year, not just during Lent. In fact, if we don’t abstain from meat on non-Lenten Fridays, we’re required to substitute some other form of penance.
Wishing you all a very holy and joyful Lent!
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear? All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matthew 6:25-32)
Pray big for your children and grandchildren! This time of year many are headed off for mission trips, vacations and Spring Break. Lots of prayers that God keeps them all safely tucked away in the palm of His hand, and that our Blessed Mother watches over them.