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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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Cyril of Alexandria: Saints are not born with halos around their heads. Cyril, recognized as a great teacher of the Church, began his career as archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt, with impulsive, often violent, actions. He pillaged and closed the churches of the Novatian heretics (who required those who denied the faith to be rebaptized), participated in the deposing of St. John Chrysostom (September 13) and confiscated Jewish property, expelling the Jews from Alexandria in retaliation for their attacks on Christians. 
<p>Cyril’s importance for theology and Church history lies in his championing the cause of orthodoxy against the heresy of Nestorius, who taught that in Christ there were two persons, one human and one divine.</p><p>The controversy centered around the two natures in Christ. Nestorius would not agree to the title “God-bearer” for Mary (January 1). He preferred “Christ-bearer,” saying there are two distinct persons in Christ (divine and human) joined only by a moral union. He said Mary was not the mother of God but only of the man Christ, whose humanity was only a temple of God. Nestorianism implied that the humanity of Christ was a mere disguise. </p><p>Presiding as the pope’s representative at the Council of Ephesus (431), Cyril condemned Nestorianism and proclaimed Mary truly the “God-bearer” (the mother of the one Person who is truly God and truly human). In the confusion that followed, Cyril was deposed and imprisoned for three months, after which he was welcomed back to Alexandria as a second Athanasius (the champion against Arianism). </p><p>Besides needing to soften some of his opposition to those who had sided with Nestorius, Cyril had difficulties with some of his own allies, who thought he had gone too far, sacrificing not only language but orthodoxy. Until his death, his policy of moderation kept his extreme partisans under control. On his deathbed, despite pressure, he refused to condemn the teacher of Nestorius.</p> American Catholic Blog Father, I have come to the understanding that Jesus asks very little from us, only that we accept him as our friend and love him and care for one another. How simple! And yet how difficult! Please give me grace not to disappoint him, who has given his all for me. I ask this in Jesus's name, Amen.

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