Friday, March 24, 2017

Seeing Clearly

Dear Parishioners,

Last Friday March 17th, the school held its annual St. Patrick’s Day Bazaar. It was a huge success with excellent food, games, music, and fellowship. All had a great time thanks to the hard work of all our volunteers. I was particularly impressed by one group who rarely receive any recognition—the clean-up crew. When I went into the hall Sunday afternoon, the hall was spotless, and the floors looked like they had just been polished. Thank you clean-up volunteers.

Today, the 4th Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday. Laetare in Latin means “rejoice.” Just like Gaudete Sunday which in Latin also means rejoice, it means we are more than half-way to Easter when our Lenten pilgrimage will come to an end. This week’s gospel tells of Jesus’ healing of the man born blind (John 11:1-45). It’s an amazing miracle, but the greater miracle is the man’s seeing who Jesus really is—the Lord! Hopefully, our penances of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving have opened our hearts to more clearly see who Jesus is and enter into a stronger relationship with the Lord.

- Fr. Carl

“The way to destroy bad habits is by watchfulness and
by doing often those things which are opposites to one’s besetting sins.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars


Week 3: Altar

The altar is the centerpiece, the most important part of the church to which everything else is subservient. Every Catholic church is built for the altar. Altars have been part of religious services going back to antiquity, even before churches were built; the name altar is derived from a Hebrew word meaning “place of sacrifice.”

Well into the fourth century, there were no churches nor public worship. Christians held their divine services away from the occupying Romans in places like private homes. Often the altar was a simple wooden table or chest.

The top of the altar, called the mensa, a Latin word for table, traditionally has been made of stone. The altar is consecrated by a bishop and becomes the symbol of Christ: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Mt 21:42).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the altar: “On the altar, which is the center of the church, the sacrifice of the cross is made present under sacramental signs. The altar is also the table of the Lord, to which the People of God are invited” (No. 1182). Here for us is Mount Calvary; here too, the bread and wine are turned into the body and blood of Christ.

* In the early Church, altars were built on the sites of martyrs’ graves. As more churches were built, relics were contained in or buried under altars, a practice that still occurs today.

The altar decorated at Christmas, St. Jane Frances de Chantal (Riviera Beach, MD)
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www., on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***