All posts tagged: mystagogy

Formation Like the Dewfall

“Haec ergo dona, quaesumus, Spiritus tui rore sanctifica,” “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall.” These words, prayed during Mass, at the time of the epiclesis – when the priest extends his hands invoking the Holy Spirit to consecrate the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, express the slow work of my formation. “Like the dewfall” are words that consistently capture my attention during the Eucharistic prayer, and I find myself echoing the prayer over and over again in my head, long after they escape the priest’s mouth, as if trying to retain the image forever, connecting my growing awareness of God’s love to the slow formative work of the dewfall. “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall.”  Dew is a mysterious substance, a film of moisture that appears when we wake to each new day, coating the ground we walk on. This coat of condensation is subtle, not overpowering, …

A Letter to the Newly-Baptized

To the Newly-Baptized: You may already feel it—the fact that this journey you are on made a significant transition when you were baptized. Though you remain on the same path towards Christ, your landscape and means for getting there have radically changed. In this post I will discuss three ways in which your Baptism marked a significant moment in your journey, changing you irreversibly, and then speak to the continuing nature of your journey. First, in Baptism you were adopted into a new family, one of choice. Though you were born into a birth family many years ago, Robin Jensen in Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity notes that “unlike a birth family, this was a family one chose” (57). Tertullian exhorts the one being baptized saying: When you come up from that most sacred washing of the new birth and for the first time you raise your hands with your brethren in your mother’s house, ask of your Father, ask of your Lord, for special grants of grace and attributions of spiritual gifts. (58) You now have …

The Pedagogy of Faith

Blessed be God! During my Dad’s final years of life, he was unable to communicate through the gift of voice.[1] A victim of Alzheimer’s disease, Dad’s voice suddenly departed a few years before he died. Other family members, already Dad’s advocates, became Dad’s voice in new and distinctive ways. His own vocal expressions were gone but Dad, child of God, was not. I am convinced that Dad communicated during his last years through the gift of sight. On the day he died, his eyes scanned the room where he lay, focusing intently on each of the family members gathered around his bed. Dad, even in the moments leading up to physical death, continued to “speak” to us. He continued to proclaim the goodness of God. In today’s language, we might identify him as an emissary of the New Evangelization. Faith in God, the one true God of all who reveals himself to us, is faith that enables us to proclaim in word and action, in thought and look, in Gospel and glance, the goodness and …

The Mass for Millennials: the Solemn Blessing

 “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”[1] In the Jewish tradition the Levites, the sons of Aaron, had two main functions – to offer sacrifice to God in the Temple and, as we read in Numbers, to bless the Israelites using the name of God. Through this sacrifice and blessing they carried out their task of sanctifying the people and keeping them in union with the Lord. The triple blessing found in the Book of Numbers continues to be used right to the present day, found in the Roman Missal as one of the optional Solemn Blessings to be given at the end of Mass. It has always been a powerful …

The Mass for Millennials: The Communion Hymn

St. Augustine famously said that he who sings prays twice. Commonly seen on choir t-shirts and tour booklets, a reapplication of Augustine’s phrase taken out of context elevates the skill of those able to sing as being more accomplished at prayer. Yet, this isn’t quite true. Reading the whole text which this blurb is taken from leads to a deeper understanding. Augustine writes, “For he who sings praise, does not only praise, but also praises joyfully; he who sings praise, not only sings, but also loves Him whom he is singing about/to/for. There is a praise-filled public proclamation (praedicatio) in the praise of someone who is confessing/acknowledging [God], in the song of the lover [there is] love” (Enarratio in Psalmum 72, 1: CCL 39, 986). There are multiple ways of looking at this, yet I’m interested in one specific application of this.  Augustine’s passage is concerned with love. An apt parallel can be drawn to the Song of Songs, which Origen describes as, “a drama of love is that of the Bride hastening to consummate her …

The Mass for Millennials: Holy Communion

“I want so much to be yours, and there is only one thing constantly in my way–that I am myself.” —Monica, The Jeweler’s Shop, Act III.3 For the first two acts of Karol Wojtyla’s The Jeweler’s Shop, the play follows the paths of two married couples. In the third act, we find that the children of these two couples–Monica and Christopher– are now in love, and on the verge of marriage. Because of her parents’ strained union, however, Monica takes pause at the thought of marriage. Monica fears that to be drawn into relationship means the inevitable loss of one’s self. When I read the dialogue of Monica and Christopher, I find that Monica’s doubts and misgivings resonate deeply with me. Monica seems to dwell on her own shortcomings, and on all the uncertainties the future holds. “Will it not be a mistake, my dear, will it not all come to an end?” she asks Christopher. Monica is terrified of herself, of her ability to withdraw into her own ego, to drift apart from her beloved. Particularly …

The Mass for Millennials: Sign of Peace

As a Cradle Catholic it is safe to say that I am more than familiar with going to Mass on Sundays: it has been a part of my weekly routine since day 6 (I was born on a Tuesday. Nobody’s perfect). My understanding of and attentiveness to what happens during the Mass has changed over the years as I’ve grown up and taken more interest in my own faith. There were some parts that just didn’t make any sense to me, and others that I thought were secretly hilarious when I was younger but have today become some of the most meaningful prayers in my life. I find every time I go to Mass something different sticks out. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” is probably my favorite line of the Mass right now and I only feel like I started to understand it within the last few months. And be honest: when you were ten “The Mass is ended” “Thanks be to God” was comedic gold. I’ll admit it, sometimes …

The Mass for Millennials: Communion Rite

The first time I attended Mass while studying abroad in Italy six years ago, I was nearly trampled in the sudden surge forward at Holy Communion. The nice, familiar, genteel, orderly lines cultivated through years of practice back home in the States? Totally abandoned. At first, I thought it was just an Italian thing, like the frenetic and bewildering rush for one’s daily cappuccino e cornetto in the cramped, boisterous cafes of Rome; but it happened again, in Berlin, London, Jerusalem, Paris, and Sydney, and I continue to see it on a daily basis in my current parish in Wexford, Ireland. Initially disoriented and slightly put-off by the unceremonious, mad dash towards the altar, in time I became struck by the same sharp and visceral tug towards the sacrament that the rest of assembly felt. I began to understand–sure, why wait and go through the rigmarole of polite, solemn procession, faux-patiently waiting in line, eyes piously cast downward, when you can go and receive the Lord in the very instant you wish (although preferably while …

The Mass for Millennials: The Eucharistic Prayer

A few months ago, I was stuck in the deep trenches of service options on the Catholic Volunteer Network website. Simultaneously, I was overwhelmed when thinking about the enormity of social, political, and economic issues affecting real people’s lives inside and outside the U.S. Would I be choosing one community over another? What are the implications of that? Who is my brother, sister, mother? However, the priest’s words in my dorm’s Mass serendipitously intercepted me at a crucial moment of my post-graduate discernment process. The words were nothing out of the ordinary, but resonated loudly: Look, we pray, upon the oblation of your Church and, recognizing the sacrificial Victim by whose death you willed to reconcile us to yourself, grant that we, who are nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son and filled with his Holy Spirit, may become one body, one spirit in Christ. As I heard that line in my dorm’s chapel, I felt the deep call to see what a just world might look like when shared across religious, national, …

The Mass for Millennials: Eucharistic Prayer

While serving a weekday Mass recently, the only way to remain focused while holding the Roman Missal (a large book that necessitates a strange twisting of myself to hold it upright) was to follow along on the page as the priest read the Eucharistic Prayer. This proved beneficial since I was struck anew by a phrase I have heard virtually every week since birth (although in a new translation since 2011). “Therefore, as we celebrate the memorial of his Death and Resurrection, we offer you, Lord, the Bread of Life and the Chalice of salvation, giving thanks that you have held us worthy to be in your presence and minister to you.”  The first ninety percent of this phrase had little new consequence for me. Three words, however, caught my attention and remained in my thoughts: “minister to you.” Being a campus minister, I was thrown off by seeing part of my job title appear in the Roman Missal. I like to think that any Catholic in my position would react similarly—imagine coming upon the …