Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday word, 31 Jan 2010

4th Sunday of the Year C (31 Jan 2010)

Jer 1. 1-5, 17-19; Ps 71; 1Co 12. 31-13. 13-; Lk 4.21-30

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Communion Etiquette 1

The question Jesus’ brief homily prompted of his listeners, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” was another way of saying, “We know this one. Who does he think he is?” You and I seek to know Jesus as our Messiah, and we seek to discern his promised presence with us. One way Jesus is present to us is in his thanksgiving, the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Fr. Snow and I desire to assist everyone’s discernment of Jesus’ presence in our lives. We want to focus on Jesus eucharistic presence and our response.

Our response begins with receiving Jesus’ body and blood in communion. I want to reflect briefly with you on our communion ritual as we celebrate in the Latin Rite of the Catholic church. Two books are put to use at each mass: the Lectionary, which contains scripture selections read during the Liturgy of the Word; and the Roman Missal, containing the Eucharistic Prayers and other prayers said during the mass of the day.

Both books have introductions called General Instructions. The revised General Instruction to the Roman Missal reminds us that communion unites us as the “People of God, purchased by Christ’s Blood, gathered together by the Lord [and] nourished by his Word.”1 We are “made one by sharing in the Communion of Christ’s Body and Blood.”2

Our sharing observes certain gestures. One is procession.3 At communion, we move together to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord. We move in song because singing is the overflow of our joyful praise, and because we are loved by Jesus, and we love him. St. Augustine said, “Singing is for one who loves.”4

Another gesture is silence.5 Like the rest of our conscious and active participation at mass, silence after all have received communion is not a vacuum of empty space. Silence intends to dispose us to deeper attitudes. Silence after all have received communion allows each of us “to praise and pray to God in our hearts.”6 After our communal silence, the priest says the prayer after communion to unite the prayers of all present and to conclude the Communion rite.7

“To take part fully aware of what [we] are doing, actively engaged in the rite, [helps us to be] enriched by its effects”8 as we return to the world. That restates my beginning remark that we desire to discern Jesus’ presence in our lives. Celebrating mass with full, conscious and active participation not only transforms silence into an active channel of grace. It transforms us to recall with our lives the one who gave himself for us and gives us hope in the ultimate victory of God’s justice, truth, love and peace.

This hope moves us, filling us with great joy and deep respect. Singing gives voice to our joy, and our bow before the sacred host and cup demonstrates our respect.9 Each of us expresses our belief in the mystery of faith, saying Amen before receiving the Lord’s body and blood and consuming them.10 The ancient word, Amen, expressing belief and solidarity, also unites us with the countless people who celebrate the mass throughout the world, with our ancestors in our Christian faith, as well as the uncounted communion of saints rejoicing in the heavenly liturgy.

We receive what Jesus offers—himself. Aware I am receiving disposes me more as his disciple today. Eating his body joins us more closely to him and to each other. Drinking his blood is our “sharing in the new covenant [and our] foretaste of the heavenly banquet.11

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause in the presence of our triune God. Ask Mary and Joseph to present you to Jesus so you may converse with him: praise Jesus for creating and redeeming you and giving you himself in the eucharist to love him more intently and follow him more closely; ask Jesus for that twin grace especially when you receive him in the sacrament of the eucharist at mass. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. The daily bread for which we pray has always been first the eucharistic bread,12 which unites us to Jesus and to each other for our world.


  1. GIRM2002, 5.
  2. Ibid.
  3. GIRM2002, 44.
  4. His Sermon 336, quoted by the GIRM2002, 39.
  5. GIRM2002, 45.
  6. Ibid.
  7. GIRM2002, 89.
  8. Decree on Liturgy, 11, the Second Vatican Council. Recent popes taught that about the liturgy before the Council, and the Council’s expressed their teaching in the now oft’ heard shorthand-principle, “conscious and active participation.” The principle is the title of the first part of Chapter 2 of the Instruction on the Eucharist, issued in 2004 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
  9. Cf. GIRM2002, 160.
  10. GIRM2002, 161.
  11. Instruction to the Order of Mass, 134, by the United States Bishops Committee on Liturgy, 2003.
  12. Cf. GIRM2002, 81.
Wiki-image of Jesus in the synagogue is in the public domain. Wiki-image of the fraction rite is used according to the GFDL.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday word, 30 Jan 2010

3rd Saturday of the Year (30 Jan 2010)

2Sm 12. 1-7a, 10-17; Ps 51; Mk 4. 35-41

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Crucial Detail

Hearing snippets of chapters of the gospels allows us to mull over what we hear in a snippet and apply it to ourselves. That’s important. One drawback in hearing snippets is that we may miss details, which help us appreciate Jesus and others in the gospels. Just as he was is today’s detail.

Hearing over a few days Jesus embark on his parable-teaching, we may miss that Mark described all we have recalled over four days, Jesus did in a single day. Jesus was in a boat moored at the shore for much of it. He continued to teach the Twelve and those with them until evening. So the detail just as he was suggests tired, hungry, a bit smelling of fish and maybe damp. Jesus was one like those he taught and formed to do his work.

Just as he was is no throwaway line. It helps us appreciate Jesus asleep, as well as the disciples afraid of the violent squall, the wind and the sea and in awe of Jesus, who calmed and stilled them. They did not yet know Jesus, who was also like them.

Even we can be surprised at thinking we know ourselves. We may feel certain about ourselves, but grace often surprises us. For example, David thought that the way he worked things for his own pleasure was something he could conceal. Nathan and David’s conversation allowed David to apply the principle of treating others as we want to be treated. David realized he had violated that principle, and had rendered on himself his verdict on another, saying to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord [and merit death].” Nathan answered David: “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die.”

Cultivating an openness and a willingness to be surprised helps us appreciate Jesus, at once fully human and fully divine. Cultivating an openness and a willingness to be surprised helps us appreciate ourselves as loved sinners. That felt knowledge makes effective our efforts to continue Jesus’ work as we deepen our relationship with him.


Wiki-image of Jesus calming a storm is in the public domain.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Catholic Charities Responds to State of the Union

In its press release of Thursday, "Rev. Larry Snyder, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) responded to the President’s State of the Union address with support for the decisions to help jobs, child care and education, but with a serious caution to make sure those suffering in poverty are not forgotten in the decision-making process."

The one-page release noted that
Of the 47 agencies responding to the survey, 83% reported an increase in the working poor seeking assistance, 70% reported an increase in families seeking assistance, 57% reported an increase in the homeless seeking assistance, and 51% reported an increase in the middle class seeking assistance.
Fr. Snyder also looked forward with commitment and a desire to address needs with contemporary methods, saying that “we are not only committed to continue serving the nation’s most vulnerable, but we also seek to find 21st century solutions to create sustainable opportunities for all those we serve.”

The release closed with a link to help people learn more.