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Church

Palm Sunday

This Sunday marks one week before Easter and so it is Palm Sunday. Usually, we would begin Mass with a more formal beginning—a reading of a Gospel passage of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, the blessing of palms, and a solemn procession.

Due to the circumstances—and in accordance with the Vatican’s decree on Holy Week with the Coronavirus—the full beginning to Mass will not be happening this year.

While we can join with our parishes and our bishops in livestreams, it is also important to act as a domestic church—offering worship within our smallest units of community.

To that end, I put together a brief prayer service we’re going to hold at home this weekend.

Some key points of this liturgy:

  • Procession — My kids love singing and love being active. We will start near our front door with palms. Yes, I ordered a palm altar decoration last week, but historically, churches that could not source palms would use branches of local trees. This seems like a good time to utilize that tradition, so use any branches that you’re willing to have inside! We’ll gather at the front door (inside), bless ourselves with holy water, offer a prayer, and then process through the house with our palms and incense.
  • Readings — We will read, basically, the Sunday readings. The first reading, the psalm, the second reading are the ones for Mass this year. The Gospel will be the one that is said at the beginning of the solemn Palm Sunday entrance. The assigned Gospel is the Passion and, with the kiddos, we are going to just focus on that piece of our faith story on Good Friday.
  • Intercessions — The guide says leader, but I’d like to try to have each of the older girls read one of them.

Nothing fancy and most of it has been pulled with slight adaptations from official texts.

If this is fruitful for your family, please let me know!

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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.

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Church Daddy's Corner Reflections

Compline

Since the early days of the Church, there has been a tradition of praying the psalms throughout the day, which evolved to the current Liturgy of the Hours.

The tradition has mostly centered over the centuries in monastic communities, particularly in those that follow the Rule of St. Benedict.

Christian monasticism existed for generations before St. Benedict was born near 480 in Italy, primarily in the Eastern tradition (pre-Schism, of course), though his Rule and the monastery he founded earned him the title of Father of Western Monasticism.

While he was aware of other Rules, that is, guides for monks to follow in living a monastic life, he sought to write down his observations. Mostly expanding from the Rule of the Master, which was a pretty harsh rule written a couple of decades before Benedict’s. In his Rule, Benedict sought to find a happy ground between providing structure and flexibility.

For Benedict, he saw the role of the monk is to do two things: work and pray. Or phrased differently, work and work. He saw the regular cycle of praying the psalms, along with the Mass and other forms of prayer that make up the monk’s life as the Work of God or Opus Dei (the actual Latin translation of the phrase, not the relatively new group within the church that spun up all of those conspiracy theories).

I’ve been attracted to monastic ideas for as long as I’ve been religious for a whole host of reasons; one of the major reasons being the Liturgy of the Hours.

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Austin Church

Joys and Sorrows of Liturgy

This week, Austin celebrated the ordination of our first auxiliary bishop, Bishop Danny Garcia while the Notre Dame and Holy Cross communities celebrated the funeral of Fr. Ted Hesburgh, CSC, President Emeritus of ND and arguably their most influential president, short of founder Fr. Sorin himself.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, we can see both.

First, the ordination Mass of Bishop Danny Garcia:

And the Funeral Mass of Fr. Ted Hesburgh:

There are additional videos and pictures from the Wake Service and the campus remembrance service available from http://hesburgh.nd.edu/.

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Reflections

A Funeral and A Birthday

On Saturday, I started the day with a funeral and ended it with my birthday dinner. When the funeral was set for the 15th and I was asked to help organize the reception, I paused. Without question, without hesitation, Ruben’s funeral and the celebration of his life with his family and friends far, far outweighed any need for me to celebrate my birthday, but there was the thought that I can’t celebrate my birthday, or at least couldn’t without guilt, when the day’s focal point would be the funeral of a good friend, long before his time should have come.

A Cake with Happy Birthday Candles