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Church Featured

Sundays at Home

We are living in a new time with the Coronavirus. I’m not sure if we’ve ever had a time where public Masses were suspended across the country—maybe during the 1918-1919 flu epidemic—but not within virtually any of our lifetimes at least.

Our technology allows us to livestream Masses from our parishes into our home and I appreciate the comfort that comes from seeing our priests and hearing them.

Without judging anyone who finds following along with a livestream Mass fruitful, it isn’t my bag.

Have I watched Masses on television before? Absolutely. I followed the funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II live from within St. Mary’s Cathedral. I’ve watched liturgies from Rome with three different popes.

But, as the form of Sunday worship, I submit that we have such a breadth of Catholic tradition that we can look to other forms of worship to add to our homes and, perhaps, maintain once we can rejoin our parishes in person.

Why not the Mass?

Personally, there are a few rough edges with a livestream Mass as the primary form of worship.

First, while the Mass is effectual without my presence, when I am watching it on TV or my laptop or phone, I’m not in that presence. I’m watching a video. Do I kneel toward the TV? What am I kneeling toward? Is Christ, in the Eucharistic form, in front of me? Kinda? Maybe?

I’m a techie. I’m a distributed employee. Some of my best friends are work friends who I only talk to via Slack, Telegram, and sometimes on video. I have more beers with my friends via Zoom than I do in person. I’m not a Luddite who rejects technology, but when seeking out the Real Presence of Christ, I do want to be in the presence of the Real Presence.

Second, I fear that reducing our Sunday worship to the television opens the door to us not being active participants in our prayer. When we watch movies or TV or YouTube videos or Instagram stories, we can fall into a trap of being mere spectators. Sometimes, that’s okay, but if this is the form of worship we do, there’s something missing.

Third, we have so much Catholic tradition to draw from! The Liturgy of the Hours! Little Offices, Stations of the Cross. Seven Sorrows, litanies, the Rosary, and so on.

So what instead?

First off, if you find watching the Mass via livestream fruitful, still do it. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m saying it should be, as the cereal commercials tell us, part of a balanced breakfast prayer practice.

The family is the domestic church. Whether you’re a family of one or of eight, through our baptism, we have been baptized into Jesus’ role of prophet, priest, and king and we have the grace and permission to act as Church within our own homes.

Let’s pray together as a family! Not gathered around a device, but gathered as a family.

The readings from Mass each day are available on the USCCB website. Light a candle, sing songs, offer prayer (something already written or from the heart) and read them as a family together.

Liturgical Press, the Benedictine apostolate from St. John’s Abbey in Minnesota, has released a “Holy Week at Home” guide.

I mentioned our family’s celebration of Night Prayer last week—there’s not only Night Prayer but the whole Liturgy of the Hours. I admit, though, that if you’re starting a home liturgical life, Liturgy of the Hours can be a bit scary. There are a lot of guides online and publications like Magnificat or Give Us This Day provide simplified Morning and Evening Prayer for each day.

This doesn’t mean don’t pray with the community.

I still think listening to the homily from your parish (or elsewhere too) is a great idea. I have a priest friend out of the Archdiocese of Atlanta who is praying the Angelus and Midday Prayer on Facebook Live and Instagram every day. I appreciate this since both parties—the broadcaster and the “viewer”—can fully participate.

While these are trying times, we can use them to strengthen our home prayer life in ways that can continue after we return to our churches.

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Church

Extraordinary Urbi et Orbi

Today, Pope Francis presided over an extraordinary Ubti et Orbi blessing. This blessing, “to the city and to the world”, is traditionally given a couple times of the year on Easter and New Year’s Day. It has attached to it a plenary indulgence. Pope Francis delivered the blessing after the below reflection due to the novel coronavirus impacting everyone around the world.

This is a beautiful reflection. I wanted to pull a few quotes from it, but frankly, the whole read is worth it.

“When evening had come” (Mk 4:35). The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this. For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.

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Church Daddy's Corner

Night Prayer

As mentioned before, the older girls and I try to pray Night Prayer before bed each night. Also known as Compline, this is the last “office” of the daily Liturgy of the Hours in the Catholic Church. Most commonly associated with monks and whatnot, the Liturgy of the Hours is one of the Church’s ways of fulfilling St. Paul’s mandate to pray without ceasing through regular Psalm-based prayer.

Tonight, we recorded it to share with y’all. With the novel coronavirus with churches closing and a lot of us Catholics turning to live streaming our communal prayer, the girls thought it would be a good idea to share how we do this.

To set the stage, we pray this together after they have dressed for bed, brushed their teeth, and whatnot. They’re in their beds lying down each with their own copy of Fr. Weber, OSB’s version of Compline which has both the English and Latin texts of the Liturgy of the Hours and the musical notation for it. I use my personal copy of the 4-volume set so on regular days, I can tell them about the saint for tomorrow before we begin our prayer.

If you want to try it without buying anything, there are some great resources. A helpful note: While the other parts of Liturgy of the Hours vary a lot over a four-week cycle and based on the saint of the day, Night Prayer is on a weekly cycle. Every Monday is the same as every other Monday with few exceptions. To make things even easier, you can use the psalm from Sunday every day so if teaching your kids to chant a different psalm each night seems like a big step, just learn Sunday’s to start. For Teresa, we started before she could read and she ended up being able to sing along with almost the entire week’s worth of psalms before she could follow along with the text.

Anyhow, how to get the office.

  • Printable: eBreviary has PDF booklets for the next week’s worth of Night Prayer for free.
  • Mobile Apps: Unversalis has a different translation for free on their website, but includes the U.S. version of the translation for those who purchase their desktop or mobile apps.
  • Books: There are a few different ways to get it in printed form.
    • Compline – This is what the girls use and includes musical notation. If you want a beautiful version that includes music, this is it. This is what I suggest for anyone starting off with Night Prayer and wanting to sing it.
    • Liturgy of the Hours – This is the official 4-volume complete Liturgy. If you’re reading this post, this is likely overkill and should use one of the other options. 😃
    • Christian Prayer – This was my first Liturgy of the Hours book. It is a 1-volume version of the Liturgy. It includes complete Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Daytime Prayer, and Night Prayer. One thing it has that the “complete” 4-volume set doesn’t is a hymnal. If you’re interested in starting a broader Liturgy of the Hours experience, this is a great choice. Since the text is the same, you can purchase one of these with copies of Compline and everyone has the same text.
    • Shorter Christian Prayer – Like Christian Prayer above, but with only a one-week cycle. Great for travel.
    • Night Prayer – Same publisher as the three books above, but only Night Prayer. To me, I suppose if a parish or retreat center wanted to provide books for the congregation for Night Prayer, this would be nice. I would go with Shorter Christian Prayer or the Compline book over this one.

You may notice from the video we didn’t sing a hymn. We’re supposed to; hymns are proper to the Liturgy of the Hours. But, I’m tone-deaf and have a really hard time singing songs I don’t know. When the girls were younger, it was a major win to do what we’re doing, so we haven’t.

The twins will soon be joining us for Night Prayer and they love singing. I’m planning on letting them lead us in singing one of the hymns they enjoy during that part of Night Prayer to ease them into it, since their nighttime prayer now is straight singing from the old parish hymnals they gave away when the parish bought new ones.

In short, the Liturgy of the Hours is a great way to pray as a domestic church and Night Prayer, especially, is a great way to include all the members of your family.

Categories
Microblog

Chuck Norris

Today is Chuck Norris is 80 years old. I wonder what he’s going to do for his mid-life crisis.

Categories
Politics

Texas Won't Help

Texas will not be resettling refugees in the new fiscal year, Gov. Greg Abbott told federal officials Friday.

Source: Gov. Greg Abbott Says Texas Won’t Resettle Refugees In 2020

Governor Greg Abbot is not opting Texas into the federal refugees settlement program. Under President Trump, the program changed to require specific opt-in by local officials. After 40+ states opted-in, Texas became the first to opt-out.

I’m very disappointed in our state, in particular our governor. The same day that he celebrates how strong Texas’ economy is, he announces Texas will not opt-in because we have too many needs at home.

We must not create and maintain this fear in “the other”—those who are homeless or those who are being settled into the Unites States. Texas can do better.

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Microblog Reflections

Happy New Year!

The start of the new year feels often like a natural time to kick off new things. We shouldn’t wait until January 1st to start something new or improve ourselves, but since today is January 1st, might as well start today.