Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What's different for Lent (from my Sunday bulletin column)

Food for the Flock

Lent is 10 days away. Next Sunday, Father Ang and I, in our homilies, will “set the tone” for these weeks of fasting, praying and caring for the needs of others.

In this bulletin is a handout with many Lenten opportunities. Our prayers should especially focus on: conversion for ourselves and others; those preparing to enter the Church at Easter; the needs of the poor.

Monthly prayer. In consultation with the Adult Faith Formation committee, each month we emphasize a different prayer as a parish. For February, it will be an “Act of Love”; for March, the Prayer to St. Joseph; and in April, the Divine Mercy chaplet.

A different tone at Mass:

* Sober music, less instruments.
* Except for 4th Sunday of Lent, no flowers at all in the church or chapel.
* Like last Advent, we will use a psalm-antiphon at the entrance, instead of a hymn. This is the norm, seldom followed.
* We will use the Confiteor—“I confess to Almighty God…” for the Penitential Rite. We strike our chest, one or three times, as a sign of sorrow.
* The Kyrie follows, the choir will lead; no Gloria.
* The priest has an option of two Eucharistic Prayers “for Reconciliation.”
* We’ll use the “Dying you destroyed our death” memorial acclamation for Lent; for Easter, “Lord, by your Cross and Resurrection.”
* We’ve been learning the Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”) in Latin; for Lent and Easter, we’ll try the Sanctus (“Holy, Holy”). I know change is challenging, but not only is Latin part of our heritage, Vatican II specifically said to do this: “steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.” Please be positive; the melody is simple and beautiful. It is a shame never to use it as a parish. Our musicians will review new music before Mass, and we’ll have handouts.
—Father Martin


Fr. Christensen said...

Excellent ideas. We will be doing many (sadly not all) of them at my parish. That being said, I have two questions/comments that have been a topic of discussion at our Liturgical Committee meetings and among priest friends. First, it seems as though the documents do not allow for "less" instruments during Lent but rather require "no" instruments - other than the organ to support the singing if it is necessary. I would love to hear some thoughts/interpretations on that.

Second, it is my understanding that the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconcilliation cannot be used on Sundays and other days for which there is a proper preface. The Eucharishtic Prayers for Reconcilliation have prefaces proper to the particular Eucharistic prayer that must be used in conjunction with it. Since the Sundays of Lent have their own proper Prefaces which must be used it prohibits the use of the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconcilliation on Sundays of Lent. At least that is what they taught us in the seminary. I also would love to hear some thoughts and or discussion on that as well.

Anonymous said...

Father Fox, as a layperson I think these ideas and plans are wonderful. I wish I could go to your church and be present for them.

Sharon said...

In 'Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year' by Msgr Peter Elliott it says:
90. ...The organ and other instruments are to be used only to sustain singing.

Are flowers permitted in the sanctuary during Lent? I know that they are forbidden on the altar, most modern altars being the size of card tables would make it difficult to fit a posy, but the documents seem to give permission for them to be in the sanctuary.

Father Martin Fox said...

Father Christensen:

Thanks for your kind words.

I am confused about the Eucharistic prayers for reconciliation, because of the three data that seem contradictory:

1. EP's with their own prefaces are to be used with their prefaces, not without them, and

2. Lent has it own proper prefaces.

3. The Ordo recommends using these prayers during Lent!

My conclusion arrives where you did: the Sunday Lenten prefaces are proper for the day, while the others are proper for the season. So I infer the Reconciliation prayers may be used on weekdays.

I am not overly fond of the EPs for reconciliation; they aren't bad, but they aren't great. OTOH, I do like the so-called "Swiss" prayers, which I guess you can only use in Ordinary Time, but that's another subject.

Sharon: you're probably right about the flowers, I guess I would say that I'm making a judgment on the matter by saying, no flowers, rather than enforcing an edict. I do plan to have flowers for Laetare Sunday -- roses, of course!

Flambeaux said...

One editorial comment, Father: whether or not instruments are permitted during Lent, it is proper to note "fewer instruments", not "less instruments".

Otherwise, I really like the list.

Father Martin Fox said...


You are absolutely right; I am a little chagrined because that's the sort of thing I usually don't mess up. It just shows, as I near 45, that I'm slipping.

As Our Lord said, if they do such things in a green tree, what will they do in the dry?

Fr. Christensen said...

Fr. Fox,

You are right, it is confusing. I would make one comment about using the Ordo as an authoritative document. It is not. It is not a document of the Church, it is merely a complilation of information meant to be a help to priest, but it in no way has any authority whatsoever. Sometimes I get perturbed with people who somehow think the ordo trumps Church documents.

I think, as you pointed out, that the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconcilliation would be quite appropriate during the weekdays of Lent, but not for Sundays because they have their own proper prefaces which cannot be used with the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconcilliation.

On a related note, do you have any thoughts on the other Eucharistic Prayers (II and IV) that have prefaces attached to them. Are we required to use the prefaces attached to them if we use that particular Eucharistic Prayer? If so, can you use those Eucharistic Prayers on Sundays of Lent, Easter, and Christmas since those seasons have proper prefaces for Sundays? I would love to hear anyone's thoughts on these liturgical dilemmas.

Father Martin Fox said...


You are right, the Ordo is not necessarily authoritative. I do rely on it to get things right, and perhaps I repose more confidence in it than I ought. But as you say, it does not have any inherent authority, but rather the sources it is supposed to draw from, have authority.

About Eucharistic Prayers II and IV; my recollection from somewhere is that the preface for EP II may be replaced with any preface, while the preface for EP IV may not. I am pretty sure Msgr. Elliot says this, and I presume he drew from the GIRM; but at this moment I can't recall that for certain. In any case, that's how I've handled it.

I really like EP IV, but that feature of it means, it seems to me, using it during Ordinary Time, as I tend to think the seasonal prefaces should be used in the other seasons, even if they aren't always "required."

Here's an oddity: EP IV is included in the Marriage Ritual book! So what do you do? Do you omit the Marriage preface? The lesson is that while the ritual books are authoritative, they aren't necessarily well thought out. As you probably know, a number of them were rushed, and they need further attention.

Eric said...

Keep up the good work father. Have your crook at the ready. I'm sure you always do.
As for flowers on the alter, they are probably referring to the high alter. I've never seen flowers on the NO alter, although I'm sure someone has done it. High alters have been yanked in many parts of the country so a clarification is needed.
I've also heard the entire sanctuary refered to as the "alter."
No need to respond, just thinking out loud.

"Father Barry" said...

Excellent stuff here, Father. I'm particularly curious about the St. Joseph prayer. I assume that there's a particular one you have in mind. Care to share?

Todd said...

My preference would be to introduce Latin and/or plainsong during ordinary time, so as to avoid the perception that accompaniment and the vernacular are indulgences along the lines of candy or smokes that we give up during Lent, only to restore during Easter.

Regarding the Roman (as opposed to the American) approach to the use of Reconciliation I and II on Sundays, a few things:

- We would need to find the particular instructions given with those anaphorae (if any) in the rubrics of the new Roman Missal.

- Roman practice would look less to dogmatism or proof-texting and more to pastoral need in the use of those prayers.

It's interesting these prayers remain so popular among the laity.

Flambeaux said...

Approaching 45?

I would never have guessed.

And don't feel bad -- we all need proof-readers.

Anonymous said...

As Todd suggested, my church is refraining from latin ordinaries (although using the propers twice) to prevent the idea of Latin being penitent or somber in and of itself. Sadly, the only ordinaries we currently know are the "jubilate deo" ones pulled from... Advent and Lent. Still, there's the Gloria VIII for Easter.


Father Martin Fox said...

Fr Barry:

Well, I do have one picked out, but I don't have it handy; I have it on my computer at the office. There were several that had some history to them.

I have hopes of remembering to post it, down the road...that isn't very reassuring, but it is honest, don't you think? (Don't be shy about reminding me...)

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments by all. Just a few tid-bits to add flavor.

1. Latin Lenten Liturgical Leanings - Yes, there is the ‘danger’ (eeek!) of Lenten association with the congregational Latin chants. Pace, dear friends! Example 1: A recent wedding discussion of the Mass introduced a maternal suggestion of the Kyrie, Sanctus, etc. and the bride *reverently* said, ‘no, that is for Lent.’ (Latin use here is normal during Lent. Compline and Benediction and other times) Example 2: A first grader told me that he saw some of JPtG’s funeral and was impressed that (and I quote) “they sang our music.” So fear not, little flock! If we can sing ‘We Gather Together’ outside of Thanksgiving, we can handle this and take the ‘risks’ our more horizontal friends can dare! J)))))

2. Perpetual Preface Ponderings: Yes, the Lenten Sunday Prefaces are proper but refer only to the Year A cycle. Now, I am sure that the readers of this post are cannibalizing their Legion of Mary to find RCIA staff-helpers (hehehe) and longing to proclaim those chapter-long Year A Gospels with meaning and sincerity……..

(Purgatory awaits me!)

So a seasonal preface of Lent should be fine. As for the Eucharistic Prayers…

a. EP IV - How nice to have a prayer addressed exclusively to God! How refreshing to pray and hear the word ‘sacrifice’ over and over again! How literal to translate “handing the cup”! How did ICEL not mess this one up? I personally wish that the EP IV Preface (seems like a New York Sandwich – nothing in the middle) Rule was dropped. Here’s a bite for discussion: Many of my conservative priest friends do not like this one. Why? Permit me to duck!

b. Reconciliation 2 -Another one I love. It is a great summary of JPtG’s Reconcil. et Pen. Ibid on the Preface rule.
c. So………….Given the contradictory presentation of Preface rules in various GIRM, prenots, and Ordos, as well as the clear good they present, what to do, what to do? I think we call agree that the denizens of Liturgical Oz are not too worried, so where does that leave us? And worse, does any one notice?

Father Robert Dunn

Father Martin Fox said...


Well, you may be on to something; it could be I'm hurting my cause, but I don't think so. It would, if the Latin disappears again, until last Lent.

In fact, we've been using the Latin Agnus Dei off and on for over a year, since Advent, 2005.

My plan is to have the Sanctus likewise become part of our repertoire after this; and somewhere down the road, assuming this works, we'll look at doing the same again with another prayer, until we've done what Vatican II said, concerning teaching the people to say or sing together those parts of the Ordinary -- in Latin -- that pertain to them.

"Father Barry" said...

Father: I have a sneaking suspicion you are just as (if not more) likely to remember to post it than I am to remind you. They say the memory's the second thing to go...

...I'll definitely try, though.

Deacon Jeffery BeBeau said...

Indeed the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation during Lent can be used.

The Church has answered this one for us. In the Missale Romanum 2002 under the rubric for "The Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation" (accoring to the draft translation of the Latin): "The Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation may be used in Masses in which the mystery of reconciliation is conveyed to the faithful in a special way, for example, in Justice, In Time of War or Civil Disturbance, For the Remission of Sins, For the Promotion of Charity, of the Mystery of the Holy Cross, or the Most Holy Eucharist, ofthe Most Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as in Masses during the Season of Lent. Even though they have been composed with a proper Preface, they may also be used with other Prefaces that refer to penance and conversion, as, for example, with the Prefaces of Lent."

In our discussions on Lent lets not forget, Paschale Solemnitatis - Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and
Celebration of the Easter Feasts, which has many useful points for the celebration of Lent and Easter, many of which eventually ended up in the new Missal

Deacon Jeffery BeBeau

Anonymous said...

I think its wonderful that Episcopalian priests like yourself are trying to bring your people closer to Catholic tradition

Father Martin Fox said...


My page makes clear many ways that I am a Catholic priest.

Are you really unaware of that?

David said...

Wonderful, Father - I'd love to see the results!

Dennis said...

As a college student, I implemented that plan exactly 20 years ago at the Newman Center where I was the volunteer music coordinator. Latin Sanctus and Agnus Dei. Entrance antiphons using St. Meinrad psalm-tones.

It caught people off guard because, well, it was the 80's. Before I came up with that idea, I had never heard the Sanctus or the Agnus Dei. But it sounded like a nice way to draw people into Lent and into the Paschal mystery.

I think people liked it. Except for the two nuns who just stopped coming. At the time, I just figured they had other churches they needed to go to.

michigancatholic said...

Excellent, excellent. Fr, you are really helping the people under your care to celebrate the Church year in an appropriate way.
So many times, it is possible for people to just *drift* through. Your changes obey the church and help the people in your charge. Bravo!

As to the Latin, I think it's excellent. Using it at Easter is NOT a problem at all. Rather it marks the season for what it is--high and holy. Using Latin there and using some Latin elsewhere in the minds of the laity will "hook" the events of the church up with the actions of Christ at Easter. It could not be better.

Thank you for the terrific part you are playing in helping the Church to be gracious and worshipping. It's wonderful.

Aimee Milburn said...

This is wonderful, Father. One suggestion: after they get comfortable with the Latin chants, start doing the Missa de Angelis mass for the Easter season. I was music director for my parish, and every year we would chant the more Lenten-sounding chant mass during Lent, and switch to the Missa de Angelis from Easter all the way to Corpus Christi.

It took them some getting used to, but after a couple years people began coming up and telling me how much they had come to love it, how it had really changed their experience of the mass, and made it much deeper.

Plus, the Missa de Angelis is commonly chanted in Rome for the Pope - so people can chant along with any televised masses from St. Peter's (or chant in person if there on pilgrimage), a nice side benefit for the universal Church! When JPII passed away, I watched his funeral, and recognized every chant they did because we’d been doing them in my parish. It was very powerful, chanting along with them from half a world away.