All posts tagged: ritual

Medieval Rites and Contemporary Dying

Medieval Rites The scribes lived over 700 years ago, but their documents give us insight into the monastery’s practices when a brother became seriously ill: The leader of the community, the prior, came to the brother’s sickbed to hear his confession. The others gathered and processed to the infirmary with oil for anointing, incense, the communion host, a cross, and candles. They assembled in the room, singing antiphons and psalms as their sick brother was anointed. The gathered brothers sang songs of petition, using words from the Gospels: “Lord, come down to heal my son before he dies,” and songs of hope: “Jesus said to him, Go, your son lives.”[1] After the anointing, the brothers arranged a schedule so that at least one person remained always at his bedside. Prayers were said for him at the daily public Mass. If the brother did not regain strength, but instead seemed to be nearing the end of his life, the entire community gathered again. In their brother’s presence, they sang a litany, naming members of the heavenly …

What’s New in the Marriage Rite?

Starting today, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the dioceses of the United States may begin using a new ritual book for wedding liturgies, entitled The Order of Celebrating Matrimony.  (It becomes mandatory on December 30, the Feast of the Holy Family.) We are welcoming a text that is truly enriched and expanded, yet still very recognizable to those of us who are familiar with (or participated in) the outgoing Rite of Marriage book, which had been in use for over four decades. The old Rite of Marriage was translated from the 1969 Latin edition – the first set of revised marriage rites published for the universal Church after the Second Vatican Council.  A second Latin edition was then promulgated in 1990, featuring a number of changes.  However, because the Church in the English-speaking world would spend most of the subsequent two decades employing a new method of liturgical translation and readying the Roman Missal for its 2011 implementation, updating the vernacular edition of the marriage rites got put on the …

Present in the Presence of the Lord

“How was the Mass?” Many friends asked me this question upon returning from my grandmother’s funeral this past January. The most authentic answer I could give people was “Comfortable.” Although my Memere (a term of endearment for my Canadian-born grandmother) was 90 years old when she returned to the Lord, the length and quality of her life did not remove the painful void caused by her death. I frequently categorized my Memere to any and everyone as my favorite person in the world. This is an oversimplified way of attempting to explain an ontological bond that I always fail to describe in words. Because I was born on my Memere’s 61st birthday, she always mused: “Your mom was too busy to send a card that day, but you were the best gift I could have ever received.” I often perpetuated the joke to my cousins, “I was born on her birthday. Obviously I’m the favorite.” My cousins surprisingly never objected. That’s because in many ways the connection me and my Mem had couldn’t be replicated. …