Bulletin March 25
Next Saturday we will have two important events for our parish. One will take place largely out of doors - the annual Spring Clean. It is wonderful to have our parish grounds beautiful for Holy Week which begins the following Sunday. Please see the flier in this Sunday’s bulletin for how you can help.
On the same day, Saturday, March 31, we will have the Liturgy Day of Reflection with Fr. Gregory Tatum, O.P. Those who serve the parish as lectors, extraordinary Eucharistic ministers, altar servers, ushers and choir are encouraged to attend. There are sign-up sheets in the sacristy and vestibule. The Day of Reflection will enable us to get a clearer focus on the central work of our parish, the celebration of Sunday Mass and other acts of divine worship.
In our bulletin this week you will find another important flier – an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) regarding our parish Building Project. It responds to the most common questions addressed to members of the Parish Building Discernment Committee. Those who are uncertain about the history of the project and what lies ahead will find helpful answers. If there is some aspect you would like to know more about, please turn in your question to the parish office and we will try to answer it in a future update.
Besides questions about parish projects, I know you also want to grow in a deeper understanding of the practices of the Catholic Church. Sometimes even those who are life long Catholics do not know the origins of many of our traditions. I’d like to mention two, which I just recently learned. I found them in Cardinal Ratzinger’s excellent book Spirit of the Liturgy.
In the chapter on “The Body and the Liturgy” he talks about various postures (kneeling, standing, sitting, prostration, etc.), which are used in divine worship. He has a paragraph on the gesture of praying with hands joined. It goes back to when the recipient of feudal estate, upon taking tenure, placed his joined hands in those of his lord. In the symbolic act, “I place my hands in yours, allow yours to enclose mine.” (p. 204) It expresses trust as well as fidelity. The gesture is retained in priestly ordination. As Cardinal Ratzinger states:
”The newly ordained man receives his priestly task as a kind of feudal estate held on tenure. He is not the source of his priesthood. He is a priest, not through his own skills and abilities, but by the gift of the Lord, a gift that always remains a gift and never becomes simply a possession, a power of his own.”
Another fascinating tradition is how we came to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25. It has often been thought that it was simply a matter of subtracting nine months from December 25. However, as Cardinal Ratzinger points out, a careful study of early Christian literature shows that the date of the Annunciation was fixed first. The date for Christmas was set subsequently and of course was done by simply adding nine months to the date of the Annunciation.
The Annunciation was when the angel appeared to Mary, announcing that she was to be the mother of the Redeemer. When she said her fiat (“let it be done as you say,” Lk 1:38) Jesus was conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. The early Christians rightly saw this as the moment of new creation. The old creation, although it is from God and thus good, has been marred by sin and corruption. The new creation is our redemption from sin and death, which began with the virginal conception of Jesus and reached its climax in events we will celebrate in two weeks.
That the first Christians saw such significance in the conception of Jesus should give us something to reflect on. Today there are desperate attempts to place the beginning of human life at a point other than conception. Some have even tried to justify early abortion because certain theologians speculated that the soul does not enter until the moment of “quickening” (when the mother first feels movement). However, we must note that the Church never had a feast honoring “the first kick” or even the “implantation.” What the Church always celebrated regarding Jesus (and Mary) is the moment of conception.