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Advent Domestic Church Liturgical Year Maurisa The Latin Mass

3 Devotions for Advent

Advent is such a beautiful season of anticipation and preparation. There are so many wonderful saints to celebrate and devotions to practice.  Over the years we’ve observed the passage of Advent using the Jesse Tree and an Advent Calendar. We’ve joyfully celebrated the feasts of Saint Nicholas, Saint Lucy, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Immaculate Conception. My family loves the traditions associated with each of these devotions. As I’ve learned more about many of the older, lesser known traditions we’ve added more to our Advent observances.  Three absolutely lovely traditional devotions are observing the Advent Ember Days, attending a special advent mass dedicated to Our Lady called a Rorate Mass, and praying the ancient O Antiphons before our evening family rosary.

Ember Days

Basically, Ember Days occur four times a year and roughly coincide with the change of seasons. The Ember Days of Advent fall the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following Saint Lucy’s feast on December 13th. Ember Days are marked by voluntary, partial fast and abstinence from meat (full abstinence on Friday, of course) as penance, by prayerful gratitude for God’s abundant gifts, and in especial prayer for the priesthood.  If you have access to a Traditional Latin Mass parish you can attend mass in which the Ember Days are particularly observed in the readings and propers for the day. For a more in-depth look at the observance of Ember Days, check out the link at the end of this post to an article I wrote for Catholic Sistas a few years ago.

Rorate Mass

A special mass found only in the Extraordinary Form is the Rorate Caeli Mass or Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary for Advent. It honors the Blessed Mother as the vessel which bore the Light of the World. Celebrated in the early morning before dawn and lit only by candlelight the church progressively grows brighter as the sun begins to rise. The symbolism of awaiting the dawn and arrival of the Light of the World is palpable. What a lovely way to honor Our Lady and what a deeply transcendent way to celebrate Advent meaningfully. I attended my first Rorate Mass last Advent. It was so incredibly peaceful and breathtakingly beautiful. With the times we are living in, if you are blessed enough to have access to a Traditional Latin Mass parish this devotion is definitely one with potential to raise your observance of Advent to a new level.

O Antiphons

Praying the O Antiphons on the days leading up to Christmas Eve is probably the easiest and most accessible of the three devotions to implement. Over a thousand years old, the O Antiphons are the seven antiphons recited preceding the Magnificat during Vespers. They are so named because each antiphon begins with “O”—O Sapientia (Wisdom), O Adonai (Lord), O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (Key of David), O Oriens (Rising sun), O Rex Gentium (King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel (God with Us).  You may recognize each of the 7 titles of the Messiah from the familiar Advent hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel

You can easily pray the O Antiphons at home with your family. Beginning on December 17th and ending on December 23rd recite the appropriate O Antiphon, then the Magnificat, and then the O Antiphon once again. Family Feast and Feria has a lovely free printable prayer booklet you can download to assist in observing this beautiful devotion. For your little ones; Look to Him and Be Radiant has coloring pages for each of the O Antiphons. It’s a wonderful devotion that draws us into the mystery and prophesies of Christ.

If you end up adopting one of these traditional devotions this Advent, let us know in the comments. May you and your families have a most blessed and fruitful Advent and may you be well prepared to welcome the Christ Child into your hearts and homes this Christmas.

References and Resources

What are Ember Days

Rorate Caeli Masses in Honor of Our Lady

Praying the O Antiphons

Categories
Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kathleen Spiritual Growth

Why I Veil: A Millennial Perspective

This Lent, I started covering my head during Mass. I know, I know- off the Traddie rails, am I right? But hear me out.

I wanted Lent to be different. I wanted to be able to say that I had prepared in a way that I hadn’t the rest of the year. I really felt strongly that I should start to do this.

And guys? It was amazing.

The Sacrifice of the Mass

The biggest thing that veiling has done for me has helped me stay focused on the sacrifice of the Mass.

As a mother of two young kids, here’s what my preparation for Mass looks like. I get up (probably late) and run around like a crazy person making sure we’re all dressed and have the diaper bag and everyone is wearing shoes and coats and underwear. My son is mad that he can’t wear his football shirt. My daughter is mad because she doesn’t like to go anywhere or do anything if she has to, but would prefer to float through life without any obligations. (Me too, kid. Get in the car.) My husband stands in the wrong place or something and annoys me because he’s not in my head and I’m mad at him for not doing what I’m thinking of asking him to do because I didn’t leave enough time to get ready. Once we get to church it’s an hour of picking up thrown books, handing out this week’s Magnifikid to my daughter if I was smart enough to bring it, handing out last week’s Magnifikid to my son to color on and having him flatly reject it (sorry, you can’t read, so you don’t get your own subscription), and convincing both children that Daddy will, in fact, come back after being an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. He didn’t go away to war.

And if it’s a weekday Mass? All that an hour earlier and by myself. Do you know how much ambient noise there is at a weekday Mass? None. Do you know how much noise my tired cranky children produce? Not none.

Wearing a veil has become a physical reminder to myself that I am in the presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament. I am participating in literally the most important thing I will ever do. Not that the obligations of my family go away, but I am able to switch my mind back much faster and focus much more after distractions.

It’s Not About Me

Wearing a veil at Mass has changed the way I feel about myself as a woman in unexpected ways.One of the concepts that I love is that we veil what is sacred. The tabernacle and altar are veiled. Women are sacred- we have a duty unlike any other. We have the privilege of veiling before the Lord that men do not.

When wearing a veil at Mass, I am not Kathleen anymore. I’m not the girl that’s worried about her forehead wrinkle and that weird hair that sticks up at my hairline. I am a daughter of God, and I am able to be much more humble before Him. It is not about me.

As someone who can tend towards the sin of vanity, I had hoped that this would happen and it has truly allowed my relationship with my God to deepen.

Sacred Femininity

One thing I never expected was the way veiling would make me feel about my femininity and even my fertility.

Since I had my son four years ago, my attitude towards my fertility was that it was basically a long slog towards menopause. I had (have) grave medical and psychological reasons to avoid or postpone subsequent pregnancies. Super fun when you practice NFP and you’re not even thirty yet.

But veiling has made me focus on my femininity. That focus has made me realize that while I don’t know if I can handle a pregnancy now (or in the near future), my fertility is a sacred gift from God and not something to be merely managed. The power and privilege to have the ability to carry a child (with regards to how God designs us, not restricted to married or fertile women) is unbelievable, and I am so unbelievably lucky that I get to experience that.

Veiling is not for every woman. It is not required for Novus Ordo Masses (although I wear mine at NO Mass), and if it makes you uncomfortable this is clearly not the sacramental for you. But if you are intrigued by the idea, I suggest giving it a try. I promise, you will never think about yourself before the Blessed Sacrament in the same way again.

 

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Allison Current Events Ink Slingers Parenting

How We Honor Memorial Day

memday2Our family marks Memorial Day by beginning with a visit to one of two local cemeteries. We stroll along the walks, “looking for soldiers,” as we remind the younger ones what US service stones look like. Since we have done this for years, we notice new graves and how familiar ones look that year (“Someone brought flowers for Sgt. Boyle,” or “Let’s clean up this sailor’s stone; no one’s been here.”). Both cemeteries have been carved out of the Alaskan forest so there are plenty of wild roses, dog woods, and yarrow flowers to tie into bouquets for neglected markers. Our mood is somewhere between comfortable and serious as we visit all the servicemen and women, reading their names aloud and decorating the lonely ones.

Of course, there are many other graves that we notice and wonder about: elaborately decorated boulders with someone’s story and photo etched into the stone; simple slabs with just a name and dates; spousal plots half printed and half empty ~ waiting; and the terribly tiny ones. I always cry in the reminder of searing pain, in the gratefulness of my family all together, in the acknowledgment that this is part of life, and in the great pride of being an American.

We complete our visit by tucking ourselves into a corner for prayer and a picnic among our fallen brothers and sisters. We remind the kids of what the day is a memorial for; we pray for their souls; we thank them for their service; we pray for their sad families; we thank God to be living in America. Our day at home ends with some night-time reading of a pertinent storybook (They Were Strong and Good, The Blue and the Gray, Pearl Harbor-ready to read are some on our children’s bookshelf) and a war film of Ken’s choosing for the older members.

Today is Memorial Day, my Sistas. May it be happy; may it be prayerful; may it be honorable.

*The history of the holiday*

Categories
Apologetics Conversion Discipleship Doctrine Domestic Church Ecumenism Erika Evangelization Faith Formation Ink Slingers Mass Prayer Sacred Scripture Spiritual Growth Vocations

Mass Confusion: Interference

Earlier today I was driving down the road listening to my local Catholic station. Every so often a popular rock station would bleed in and cover the beautiful sounds of a Mass with Fr. Mitch Pacwa. Talk about Mass confusion***! I couldn’t seem to help myself, even as I listened to him intone the words of Consecration, from singing along with the popular rock songs. As I caught myself doing so, time and time again, I was reminded that this is somewhat “normal” for me and many other Catholics, Christians, and/or any faithful throughout our faith-lives to be so easily distracted by secular things.

On a basic level, this distraction has roots in Satan. The more concentrated we become on God, the more frustrated Satan is. So, in an effort to separate us from God, Satan throws little distractions at us. Physically, my Mass confusion was caused by two local radio stations sharing the same frequency; however, spiritually, each time I sang the words to a popular rock song instead of staying focused on the Mass, Satan was winning. Of course, this makes me wonder if perhaps God also uses the physical effects of a Catholic station sharing the frequency with a popular rock station to gain followers from the crowd of rockers.

Even through my Mass confusion I began to wonder about other things that distract us from the beauty of Mass and therefore from God: liturgical abuses**. Recently, my mother and I were discussing various experiences we’ve had on vacations with local Masses. She recounted one particular Mass, where the Eucharist was basically reduced to ‘chips and dip’, from which my whole family emerged silent and disturbed.If we err by thinking we are the center of the Liturgy, the Mass will lead to a loss of Faith ~ Cardinal Raymond Burke We were hours from our home with three children in the car, yet none of us spoke on the way home. I remembered another experience where we spent the entire Mass trying to find anything familiar besides some of the words – the Tabernacle was nowhere to be seen, the Crucifix was MIA, rubric defined words of Consecration were changed, and the layout of the church itself was in the round. We had other experiences with fewer abuses as well. Locally, we have a diverse celebration of Mass as well, but no where near the levels experienced outside our home area. Such Mass confusion dilutes the Word of God, Jesus, to our image of Him instead of transforming us into the Image of Him.

Some seem to thrive on Mass confusion in an effort to be more tolerant, entertaining, diverse, etc. Often, those faithful to the rubrics and to both ‘t’ and ‘T’ traditions are accused of being “rubric-Nazis”, “holier-than-thou”, “intolerant”, “behind the times”, and “divisive”. Yet Scripture tells us to stay faithful to the traditions given to us by Jesus and the Apostles as well as to avoid leading others astray. God is the ultimate in constancy whereas Satan is ever changing to tempt us away from God. Yes, we are called to be welcoming and universal, but we don’t do that by abandoning 2000 years of traditions and making Mass less about God and more about ourselves. Just as I experienced Mass confusion with my radio stations blending with one another, we all experience Mass confusion when we try to bend Mass to secular understanding.

Have veneration and respect for the holy Liturgy of the church and for its ceremonies. Observe them faithfully. Don't you see that, for us poor men, even what is greatest and most noble must enter through the senses? ~ St Josemaria EscrivaThere are many questions in my mind — that I’m unsure how answer. Have any of these changes to the Mass increased vocations, faithfulness, tolerance, holiness, etc?  When we knowingly participate in a less-than-stellar Mass (according to rubrics & Tradition) do we still gain the graces given to us through Mass? By knowingly (for convenience-sake*) choosing a Mass where there is less adherence to the rubrics and Tradition, am I putting my soul at stake or am I just exposing myself to disdain (since I veil in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament) and Mass confusion? Do I mitigate whatever harm going to a confused Mass because I chose to do so based on getting my reluctant Catholic husband to Mass? Or do I add to the harm (to my soul and perhaps his) by exposing him to Mass confusion?

* Obviously, when we only have one option available for Mass, whether on vacation or due to lack of churches, we are filled with all the graces available from Mass. However, in my area, we have many available options for Mass. I live 20 miles outside of the nearest ‘big’ town, yet there are 3 Catholic churches with different pastors within 2 miles of my home. If I were to drive all the way to town I’d add at least another dozen Catholic churches to the list of available options.

** More information on common liturgical abuses:

*** As I was writing this post I was completely unaware of a book published with this same title about liturgical abuses.

Categories
Current Events Ink Slingers Kerri Uncategorized

Catholic School Upholds Church Teaching while Others Demonstrate Hypocrisy

Recently the local Catholic High School in my area made the local news after an incident involving the school’s prom.  I heard about the story from two very different corners.  From one corner, praise for the school for holding up the teachings of the Church; from the other corner, a particular group I am affiliated with had concerns about representing itself at the school after this incident.  I was one applauding the school after the reported incident and found myself defending the school to the other group.  I’d like to take this opportunity to explore the issue, the facts, and the hypocrisy involved in this.

First, what was the issue?

A female student at the school and her girlfriend, also a student, were denied entrance to the senior prom because they were coming as a same-sex couple.  Remember: this is a Catholic school.

This made the local news in our area.  Including pointing out that the students had started a petition to be sent to the school’s principal, president, and the bishop.  I don’t expect it to go any further than that.  End of story.

The Catholics in the area that I know (and I know many people across several parishes) praised and applauded the school for standing by its Catholic roots.  It is a Catholic school after all.  It has every right to handle situations as it sees fit, according to the teachings of Mother Church, the Magisterium.

But then I got an email early this week that unexpectedly referred to this incident.  I am on the email list for the local Alumnae Club of the college where I received my master’s degree.  The college is an all-female, private school in New England and mostly an undergraduate school.  As a graduate student I did not participate in many of the college traditions that the undergraduates did (the House system, afternoon teas, etc.).  So although I am on the email list and have been to one gathering of local alumnae several years ago, I don’t participate in anything beyond that.

The Club presents a book award to a graduating female student at all the area high schools each year, including the Catholic high school.  So the email I received was from the person who had volunteered to present the award at the Catholic high school.  She was concerned that the Club shouldn’t give an award there in light of the “incident” and she felt “uncomfortable” attending the awards ceremony.

Initially I was shocked.  But then I realized that I should not be shocked at all.  What did I expect?  We do live in a world that thinks the secular way is the only way and anyone that lives differently must be wrong and must be corrected or boycotted or whatever until they conform.  Then I just got irritated.

I won’t go into the specifics of what transpired over the course of the afternoon and several more emails back and forth.  But I do want to present a few of the facts.  The facts that show the hypocrisy involved in something like this. Let’s look at those.

Fact #1-Catholic school: This is a private school.  Thus is has the right to admit whomever it wants, kick out whomever it wants whenever it wants, make its own rules regarding its events, etc.

Fact #1-Private college: This is also a private school.  Thus it also has the right to admit whomever it wants, kick out whomever it wants whenever it wants, make its own rules regarding its events, etc.

Fact #2-Catholic school: This school is Catholic.  Being Catholic means it must align itself with the Church in every respect.  They teach religion classes, they teach abstinence education, they expect their students to attend Mass once a week and on Holy Days of Obligation, etc.  They are Catholic and are allowed to be because of the religious freedom we are guaranteed in this country.

Fact #2-Private college: This school is all-female.  It prides itself in offering single sex education and in developing strong, female leaders for society.  They can remain an all-female college because they are private and thus are not considered to be discriminating based on gender.

Fact #3-Catholic school: This school admits any student willing to attend, willing to pay the tuition, and able to meet the standards set forth by the school, including an entrance exam.  Students of all faiths can be admitted if they score well on an entrance exam, but they must know that it is a Catholic school and it will not bend its teachings for non-Catholic students.

Fact #3-Private college: This school only admits women.  No men are admitted as regular, full-time undergraduate students.  The only men you’ll see on campus besides professors, college employees, and visitors are men from some of the other area colleges taking classes there as part of an agreement between the colleges and the occasional male graduate student (the graduate program overall is really small).

Fact #4-Catholic school: As a Catholic institution, the school is a part of the 2000 year old tradition of the Church.  2000 years of traditions!  2000 years of unchanging teachings!  The school is not free to bend teachings at will to please students or parents or anyone else.

Fact #4-Private college: Also has a long history of traditions that students and alumnae take great pride in, traditions that go back a hundred years or so, but traditions I can respect.

Considering these few facts, I see two private schools, one that follows the moral principles and teachings set forth by a 2000 year old church and the other who prides itself on single sex education.  Is the first discriminating unfairly for not admitting a same-sex couple to an event it is sponsoring on school grounds?  Is the other discriminating unfairly for not admitting men to its prestigious school?

Is respect too much to ask?

The answer to both is … no.  The first has religious freedom on its side, the other has the fact that it is private on its side.

Think what you want about the Catholic high school and its decision, but they are within their rights as a Catholic school.  The private all-female college is also within its rights to remain an all-female school.

My question is where is the respect?  Respect for a school who stands by a set of values, which is so rare in our society these days.  Respect does not have to mean agreement.  I would think a group of women who take pride in the single sex education they were privileged to receive through the private college they attended would be able to respect a high school that also functions under a set of guiding principles that go much deeper than their alma mater.  It seems hypocritical to me that they would fight for their school if it was somehow threatened to be made co-ed and expect others to stand with them while at the same time giving no respect to a school that also lives by a high moral standard that creates a unique set of circumstances.

Am I the only one that sees the hypocricy?

But maybe mutual respect is too much to ask?  How sad if that is true.

What say you?

[As of this writing, the original club member agreed to graciously attend the award ceremony (the NEXT day) to give the award (I wanted to volunteer, but I couldn’t find a babysitter on such short notice) and the club decided to discuss the issue further with the national alumnae association to decide how to proceed in future years.  I may not have the same kind of connection to this particular alma mater of mine as the other ladies who spent their undergraduate years at this college, but I will be highly disappointed in my college if they advise the club to no longer attend the awards ceremony at this particular Catholic school.]