Tuesday, November 15, 2016

So what about those new Norms for Mass?

OK ... So you heard about the new Norms for Mass during the homily last weekend and still aren't quite sure what Father was talking about?

Let me try to explain ... 

Back in May, the Bishop and the Council of Priests of the Diocese of Raleigh approved some changes to the way Mass is celebrated in the Diocese. Many of these are just reaffirming what came out in the Third Edition of the Roman Missal back in 2011, but others of them define what options are going to be used in the Diocese and which are not. 

Taking a step back, the purpose behind these changes is to help each of us focus more intently on what is happening during Mass and to avoid anything that might be a distraction from wholehearted worship -- just like those jewels on the walls of the Temple in this past Sunday's Gospel were originally meant to draw people into worship but ended up being a distraction for them (Luke 21:5). 

So with that in mind, the Diocese published new Norms for Mass back in May, and the different parishes began to implement them on a schedule that was convenient for them. At St. Michael, we like to make changes around Advent, since that's a natural time in the liturgical year to start new things. Some of the changes we're going to make beginning this weekend will be more noticeable than others, but here's a quick summary. In case you're an eager beaver and want to read the whole document yourself, I've put the reference paragraphs in the Norms for Mass at the end of each point.
  •  As we have begun to do already this fall, we will continue to focus on quiet time before Mass starts. We invite all our parishioners and visitors to talk to each other and to build community in the gathering space before and after Mass, but to reserve the sanctuary as a silent space for those who need a quiet refuge to be with the Lord (par. 7).
  •  In the past, people have held various postures during the praying of the Lord’s Prayer; beginning this weekend we ask people to hold their hands folded in prayer during the Our Father – not outstretched,  and also not holding hands – in order to focus on our own internal response to the Eucharistic Prayer (par. 80).
  • As we move from the Our Father into the Sign of Peace, we ask everyone to offer the Sign of Peace to those around them in the pews and not to move around in the church, in order to keep a quiet and reverent atmosphere before Communion (par. 81).
  •  The Communion Procession is a time to come forward to receive Holy Communion and to show our oneness in Christ and His Church – in other words, it is a “single purpose procession.” To demonstrate this truth, the Bishop has ended the option to come forward for a blessing in the Communion line  (par. 89).
    • At the same time, however, we recognize that there are circumstances when someone will need to come forward in the Communion Procession without receiving Communion – young children accompanying their parents, for example – and in these cases, the minister of Communion (whether an ordained Priest or Deacon, or a lay person) will not offer a blessing but may smile and say “God bless you” to these people.
    • The purpose of this distinction is to not embarrass someone who comes forward unknowingly in the procession, while maintaining the primary purpose of the Communion Procession as the moment to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord as those united in the Catholic Faith.
  • Although it is not a change from previous teaching or practice, the new Norms for Mass reiterate the teaching of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that all Catholics attending Mass in the United States should receive Communion in a standing posture (par. 92). All those receiving Communion have the option to receive on their tongue or in their hands, but everyone is reminded that we receive Holy Communion; we should never reach for, grab for, or “one-hand” our reception of the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion.
  • Finally, we will be focusing particularly on the important moments after we receive Holy Communion when we are able to unite ourselves most perfectly to the Lord and pray for ourselves, our loved ones, and the whole world. Thus, we will begin to keep a few moments of sacred silence after Communion and before our Song of Praise to allow all of us to spend some time uniting ourselves to Christ Jesus Whom we have just received (par. 95).
So that's the scoop. As I said earlier, if you really get excited about all this stuff (and let's be honest, there's a LOT to get excited about!), the entire document is only about 30 pages long, and it is available on the Diocesan web site: http://www.dioceseofraleigh.org/sites/default/files/files/General-Norms-for-the-Celebration-of-the-Sacred-Litugy-of-the-Mass-in-the-Forma-Ordinaria.pdf.

I hope this was a help, and I'll see you at Mass!
Father Ryan

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Wow!

I had the great opportunity to hear Father Jim Sichko this morning at our Sunday Mass, and it seems like the whole parish enjoyed him tonight as we began our Parish Mission. Tonight he reminded us that we need to TRUST to get anywhere in the spiritual life ... and sometimes that just means, "Stop being a jerk!"
I hope you can join us Monday night and Tuesday night at 7pm in the Church for the remainder of our FANTASTIC parish mission - as we learn to "Be You ... Be Kind ... Be Merciful ... Be Christ"!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Power of Grandparents

Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Wenceslaus ... whom we typically think of around Christmastime, as he went out on the Feast of Stephen (Dec. 26) to do some good works for the poor around his castle.
An important part of his story, though, begins long before he was ever crowned king. Wenceslaus' parents were nominally Christians, but they were what we'd call "non-practicing" today. His grandmother, St. Ludmilla, on the other hand, took a deep interest in Wenceslaus' faith education and invited him to come live in her castle and be tutored by her private chaplain, Father Paul (it must be nice to be able to run your own Catholic school for just one student!).

Thanks to St. Ludmilla, Wenceslaus learned rhetoric and statecraft and all those things a good king would be expected to know -- but he also made his Sacraments and learned to be a good Christian and a compassionate king. It is even said that, when he walked into a meeting with the German Emperor to negotiate a treaty on behalf of his kingdom, Emperor Charles got out of his seat to go and meet this impressive young ruler. (Emperors typically don't do that sort of thing ... they wait for the visitors to come and see them!)

So today I am very grateful for my own grandparents who were wonderful models of the practice of the Christian Faith. They were also my godparents, so that's a doubly good reason for them to make me think of Jesus! May God be good to them for their positive influence in my life.

And to all you grandparents out there -- especially grandparents whose children aren't particularly good models of faith for your grandkids -- say a prayer to St. Ludmilla today that she will help you to form your grandchildren in the Faith with your good example. She made a saint out of her grandson, so she might just help you, too!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What about the Sacraments?

I was in class this morning (as I'm supposed to be while in summer school!), and we had a good discussion about the importance of the Sacraments in the life of the Church. Our professor pointed us to one of the clearest and most concise discussions I've ever seen about the beautiful importance and effects of the Sacraments in the life of the Church ... so I thought I'd share it with you. It comes from Lumen Gentium, the "Constitution on the Church" from the Second Vatican Council, paragraph 11:

It is through the sacraments and the exercise of the virtues that the sacred nature and organic structure of the priestly community is brought into operation. Incorporated in the Church through baptism, the faithful are destined by the baptismal character for the worship of the Christian religion; reborn as sons of God they must confess before men the faith which they have received from God through the Church. They are more perfectly bound to the Church by the sacrament of Confirmation, and the Holy Spirit endows them with special strength so that they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith, both by word and by deed, as true witnesses of Christ. Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life, they offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with It <n.b.: Pius XII, Mediator Dei: one sacrifice of Christ, to which all unite themselves>. Thus both by reason of the offering and through Holy Communion all take part in this liturgical service, not indeed, all in the same way but each in that way which is proper to himself. Strengthened in Holy Communion by the Body of Christ, they then manifest in a concrete way that unity of the people of God which is suitably signified and wondrously brought about by this most august sacrament.

Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from the mercy of God for the offence committed against Him and are at the same time reconciled with the Church, which they have wounded by their sins, and which by charity, example, and prayer seeks their conversion. By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of her priests the whole Church commends the sick to the suffering and glorified Lord, asking that He may lighten their suffering and save them; she exhorts them, moreover, to contribute to the welfare of the whole people of God by associating themselves freely with the passion and death of Christ. Those of the faithful who are consecrated by Holy Orders are appointed to feed the Church in Christ's name with the word and the grace of God. Finally, Christian spouses, in virtue of the sacrament of Matrimony, whereby they signify and partake of the mystery of that unity and fruitful love which exists between Christ and His Church, help each other to attain to holiness in their married life and in the rearing and education of their children. By reason of their state and rank in life they have their own special gift among the people of God. From the wedlock of Christians there comes the family, in which new citizens of human society are born, who by the grace of the Holy Spirit received in baptism are made children of God, thus perpetuating the people of God through the centuries. The family is, so to speak, the domestic church <n.b.: first introduction of this term!>. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state.


Fortified by so many and such powerful means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state, are called by the Lord, each in his own way, to that perfect holiness whereby the Father Himself is perfect.

I hope that this beautiful reflection helps to stir up your appreciation for the Sacraments in a new way, as it stirred up mine this morning. May the Sacraments continue to be a help to deepen all of our faith this summer, and all through our lives!

In Christ Jesus, from Chicago,
Father Ryan

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

He is Risen!

Happy Easter! We have been celebrating the Resurrection for the last week-and-a-bit, and we are still so happy at this gift of God to us -- new life -- that we sing out "Alleluia" to the Lord!

Easter is such a big day in the life of the Church that we celebrate an entire 8 days as if it were Easter morning -- we call this the Octave of Easter. This past Sunday, we closed out that Octave with the Second Sunday of Easter, a day in the life of the Church has a bunch of different names. It has been called the Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, The Sunday in White Robes ("Whitsunday" in Old English), or my favorite, Quasimodo Sunday.

(c) Disney Studios, 1996

Most people hear Quasimodo and think of a certain Hunchback who lived in a certain Cathedral in Paris ... and rightly so! If we were celebrating Mass in Latin this past Sunday, the first words you would hear would be Quasi modo geniti infantes, rationabile, sine dolo lac consupiscite ("Like newborn infants, you must long for pure, spiritual milk" - 1 Peter 2:2).  The Hunchback of Notre Dame was dropped off on the church doorstep as a baby on this day in the church year, and so he was named for the Mass of the day -- Quasimodo Sunday!

No matter what you choose to call it, I hope that this beautiful feast day and the great joy and hope that the Resurrection offers us may be a source of peace and gladness for you and those you love!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Walk the Walk!

As we walk the Road to Calvary with Christ Jesus this week, I wanted to let you know about all the special Holy Week activities happening at St. Michael for the Week of the Passion -- please come join us and be near to Jesus during this season of deep mysteries and overflowing graces!


Saturday, March 19 
  5:00 PM
Palm Sunday Mass
Church             
  7:00 PM
Palm Sunday Mass (Misa en español)
Church                             
Sunday, March 20
7:15 AM
Palm Sunday Mass
Church
8:45 AM
Palm Sunday Mass
Church
8:45 AM
Palm Sunday Mass
Green Hope H.S. **                      
10:30 AM
Palm Sunday Mass
Church
10:30 AM
Palm Sunday Mass
Green Hope H.S. **      
12:15 PM
Palm Sunday Mass
Church                                               
2:00 PM
Palm Sunday Mass (Misa en español)
Church                               
6:00 PM
Palm Sunday Mass
Church
Monday, March 21
7:00 AM
Mass
Church                                               
8:30 AM
Mass
Church               
Tuesday, March 22
~~ No morning Masses as requested by the Diocese to set up for the Chrism Mass. ~~
2:00 PM
Chrism Mass
Church
7:00 PM
Mass (Misa en español)
Church                               
Wednesday, March 23
7:00 AM
Mass
Church
8:15 AM
School Mass
Church               
2:00 PM                            
Living Stations of the Cross - StMS School Students 
Church
Holy Thursday, March 24
8:30 AM
Morning Prayer
Church
7:00 PM
Mass of the Lord’s Supper (English)
Church                               
7:00 PM
Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Misa en español)
Parish Center                 
9-11:00PM
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Chapel
Good Friday, March 25
8:30 AM
Morning Prayer
Church                               
12:00 PM
Stations of the Cross
Church                                 
3:00 PM
Celebration of the Lord’s Passion (English)
Church                               
6:00 PM
El Viacrucis del Señor (en español)
Church               
7:00 PM              
Celebración de la Pasión del Señor (español)
Church
Holy Saturday, March 26
8:30 AM
Morning Prayer/ Blessing of the Easter Food
Church                                              

No Confessions Today

8:00 PM
Easter Vigil Liturgy (English) (begin outside)
Church               
8:00 PM
Easter Vigil Liturgy (Misa en español)
Parish Center                 
Easter Sunday, March 27
7:15 AM
Easter Sunday Mass
Church                               
8:45 AM
Easter Sunday Mass
Church                                               
8:45 AM
Easter Sunday Mass
Green Hope HS**          
10:30 AM
Easter Sunday Mass
Church                               
10:30 AM
Easter Sunday Mass
Parish Center
10:30 AM
Easter Sunday Mass
Green Hope HS**
12:15 PM
Easter Sunday Mass
Church                               
12:15 PM
Easter Sunday Mass
Parish Center 
2:00 PM
Easter Sunday Mass (Misa en español)
Church                               
No 6pm Mass will be celebrated
** (Green Hope H.S. is located off High House Rd on Carpenter Upchurch Rd in West Cary)

Let us be near to You!

On this Friday before Holy Week, the Church stands with Mary at the foot of the Cross. This was the prayer we prayed at Mass this morning:
O God, who in this season
give your Church the grace
to imitate devoutly the Blessed Virgin Mary
in contemplating the Passion of Christ,
grant, we pray, through her intercession,
that we may cling more firmly each day
to your Only Begotten Son
and come at last to the fullness of his grace.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Let's ask her help to stay with Jesus during this beautiful week of grace and mercy -- able to recognize the enormous challenge of the Cross and its call to conversion and selfless service, but also able to see the Cross as a tremendous fountain of mercy and love that fills and strengthens us for that transformation.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Severe Weather Update

Because of expected bad weather, our High School Bible Study is CANCELLED for tonight. PLEASE BE SAFE, and if you see the Wicked Witch of the West ride by, you might want to take cover!

PS: Other parish activities MAY take place tonight; please check with your specific meeting or organization to see what their plans are.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Fourth Sunday of Advent



I don’t usually publish my homilies … or even write them down for that matter … but I enjoyed my homily this morning so much that I really wanted to share it with you.


As the Church celebrates each of the Sundays of Advent, she presents a virtue for us to meditate upon each week. The first week we looked at Hope, the second week we looked at Peace, then last week, “Pepto-Bismol Sunday,” we meditated together on Joy. Now, today, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the Church asks us to meditate on the great virtue of Love.

Now something happened this week that can teach us a lot about Love – the new Star Wars movie came out. I haven’t seen it yet, and if any of you tell me how it ends, you’ll go straight to Hell. But we learn about love from an important moment in the original trilogy when Luke Skywalker crash lands on a swampy little planet called Dagobah and meets a little green fellow named Yoda. Now Dagobah is really a lot like Bethlehem: they’re both places that nobody really ever wants to be. But while Luke is there, Yoda tells Luke to pull his X-Wing fighter ship out of the swamp using only the power of his mind. Luke’s response is, “I’ll try”, but Yoda tells him, “Do, or do not; there is no try.”

That’s the same advice we can take today as we try to live the great virtue of Love. I’ve never tried to pull a fighter ship out of swamp so I can't tell you how difficult that is, but I can tell you for sure that loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength is really hard, and so is loving my neighbor as myself. And yet Yoda’s words strike us as very true: no matter how hard it is to love, “Do, or do not; there is no try.”

We see beautiful examples of that kind of love in the readings of today’s Mass. In our second reading, from the Letter to the Hebrews, we hear about Jesus, who showed the greatest love for us when He gave all of Himself on the Cross for our salvation. And in today’s Gospel, we hear about our Blessed Mother, who showed a tremendous love for her cousin Elizabeth as an example of love of neighbor. When she arrives at the house, she had just made a tremendously difficult journey through the mountain country, and yet her first words are not, “The road was long, the food was terrible, and the donkey sweated the whole way.” Instead, her first words are greetings for her cousin: her love for Elizabeth trumps everything else. “Do, or do not; there is no try.”

So what about us? It’s our job to clean up the table after Christmas dinner, but we clank and clatter and crash around so much that we drown out the football game on TV. Or we need to take Great Aunt Susie to the airport, but we complain about it the entire way there and all the way back. Sure, we’re doing the right thing, but are we really doing it with love?

Thankfully, today's Scripture readings tell us what it takes to live the virtue of love, the same way that Mary and Jesus do. It’s the same thing that the prophet Micah uses to describe Bethlehem in our first reading today – it’s about being small, so that there is enough room for God and others. Unless we can be small enough to leave room in our hearts, in our lives, and in our calendars for God and others, then we aren’t going to be able to live this beautiful virtue of love.

Now, this is hard work. But just like Luke in the swamps of Dagobah, as we try to become small enough to leave room for the love of God and neighbor, we can Do or do not; Love or love not. There is no try.  


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Doughnuts? I like doughnuts!



I discovered today that Nov. 5 is one of TWO National Doughnut Days in the United States. That leads me to some “holey” thoughts about the way God interacts with us.

http://images.fineartamerica.com/images/artworkimages/mediumlarge/1/donut-with-sprinkles-kim-fearheiley.jpg


It’s often been said that there is a “God shaped hole” within each of us, where we recognize that we can’t “dough” everything all by ourselves. In other words, we are dependent beings. We need something beyond ourselves to fulfill us and bring us peace of soul.

We can try to fill that hole with all sorts of things … not typically jelly or Boston crème, but instead with work, or technology, or food, or vacations, or even unhealthy behaviors.  The problem is that none of these things can truly fill and fulfill us. We can try to cram more and more of these “goodies” into our lives, but it is only the infinite Presence of God that will truly fill the needs and dependencies we hold within us. He can meet our needs and fulfill our desires for happiness, peace, and joy in a way that no limited earthly thing can even come close.

So … enjoy a doughnut today (preferably with chocolate frosting and sprinkles), and take a minute to ask the Holy Spirit to fill in the hole for you!