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Changes in the Mass: Deepening Our Understanding View Comments
By Greg Friedman, O.F.M.

Like my fellow pastors around the country, I’ve been reflecting on the changes happening to the prayers that we all pray at Mass. We pastors have been attending workshops and “talking shop” about how we’ll be working with these new texts when the changes are implemented on the First Sunday of Advent.

We have an expression for that in everyday life. We say, after talking and coming to a consensus, “We seem to be on the same page.” That expression shows the importance of agreed-upon ways of speaking.

When we gather for liturgy, we also find it helpful when we’re all “on the same page.” In this case, it means praying the same words to express our shared faith. The liturgy is the public work of the Church, all over the world. Across the globe, our creed and our prayers capture what we all believe as Catholics.

Even in the early Church, a time when the presider improvised many of the prayers at Eucharist, some common phrases and expressions were used. The leader would recall the words of Jesus at the Last Supper. Teachings of Jesus and the apostles would be quoted from memory or read from collections of sayings and letters circulated throughout the Church. Parts of the Hebrew Scriptures were used, such as the Book of Psalms.

As the Church grew and became the official religion of the Roman Empire, common, agreed-upon forms of the prayers, gestures and order of the Mass took shape. Eventually, these became organized into what we know today as “rites.” A “rite” is the term for a standardized way to worship.

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Father Greg Friedman is pastor of St. Francis Seraph Parish in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has produced videos and radio shows (American Catholic Radio) and written articles and books. This article is adapted from his newsletter series, The Catholic Update Guide to Changes in the Mass, which accompanies a video series of the same name (St. Anthony Messenger Press).

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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog Trust always and a great deal in divine providence; never, never must you let yourselves be discouraged, despite contrary winds. I say it again: trust in God and Mary Immaculate; be faithful and forge ahead! <br />-Paulina do Coração Agonizante de Jesus

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