A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC
July 29, 2016
January 18, 2020
Understanding Lenten Rituals
March 5, 2016
A few years ago I wrote in the bulletin about the rich liturgies and rituals that we as Catholics take part in during Lent and the Triduum (the three days) and I have been asked by many to repeat the information. My hope in doing so is that the information will encourage your participation, enlighten your Lenten journey and serve to draw you closer to Jesus Christ. I encourage you to talk to family members, especially your children, about the gift of these shared practices. Let’s take a look at:
Ash Wednesday – This marks the official beginning of Lent each year for Christians around the world, not just Catholics, but all those who believe in Jesus Christ. The marking of ashes on the forehead is an outward sign of our sinfulness and our intention to become more like Christ. The ashes used are from the palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. The palms are burned then mixed with a very small amount of oil so that they will adhere to us. In the very early days of Christianity, sinners would lay prostrate at the foot of church steps and literally buckets of ashes were poured over them. The ash cross on our foreheads is a powerful statement of our sinfulness and our desire to repent. As we are marked with ashes the priest or layperson says, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Both are acceptable wording and it is the priest who decides which words to use in his assigned parish.
Palm Sunday – the official liturgical title is “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion” - when as Christians we often take part in processions to remind us of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In Scripture the people lined the streets, waving palm branches and laying them on the ground before Christ. By this time in the life of Jesus, many had come to believe he was the Savior for which they had waited. We hold and wave palms because we KNOW he is the Savior! At this Mass the Passion of Christ is read and we as a body of Christ acknowledge that Jesus died to save us from our sins.
Holy Thursday – At sunset on this day Lent officially ends and we take part in “Thursday of the Lord’s Supper”, reminding us of that last meal Jesus shared with his Apostles when he
gifted the world with The Eucharist. Immediately following this supper, Jesus asked the Apostles to be with him in Garden of Gethsemane where he prayed for his Father to save him from what he knew in his heart must happen – all while his beloved Apostles fell asleep. How often in our lives have we “slept” rather than being fully present to Jesus? The words of the songs we sing are haunting; “Stay here and keep watch with me, the hour has come.” This Mass begins with the Presentation of Holy Oils – these are the oils that Bishop Donald Kettler will bless at the “Chrism Mass” at the Cathedral of St. Mary on Thursday, March 17th at 7:00 pm. If you have never attended, please consider doing so. It is a moving and solemn liturgy and in it you will witness a gathering of vested diocesan priests who come, or send someone in their name, to receive the three oils to be used in ministry to the people of their parishes. The oil is olive oil – it really has no scent. However, fragrance of balsam or myrrh (yes, one of the gifts from the Three Kings to Baby Jesus), is added to the oil for Sacred
Chrism – the most significant of these three oils:
Oil of the Catechumen – marked on the vessel with OS, a Latin abbreviation for “Oleum Sanctorum”, although often the vessel is marked with OC. This oil is used for those who come asking for Baptism. It is used in the pre-baptism anointing.
Oil of the Sick – marked on the vessel with an OI, a Latin abbreviation “Oleum Infirm”
Sacred Chrism – marked on the vessel with SC, a Latin abbreviation for “Sacrum Chrisma”
These oils are kept in a glass enclosed cabinet called an “ambry.” Here at St. Francis Xavier you will find the ambry on the left hand wall as you enter the church from the Gathering Place. Take your children there and let them see the oils. You will notice that the Sacred Chrism (SC) holds the highest place of honor in the middle. This oil is used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders. Oil of the Catechumen (OS) is used for those yet to be baptized. And Oil of the Sick (OI) is used for the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Look for more information next week.