Category Archives: Liturgy

You give life to all things and make them holy

You are indeed Holy, O Lord and all you have created rightly gives you praise.…You give life to all things and make them holy. Eucharistic Prayer III

To be holy means ‘to be set apart.’ A common example is the chalice used for the Holy Eucharist. It is sanctified (made holy) for use in the Eucharist. Being set apart for holy mysteries, it cannot be used for a common cup at a dinner party.

There is actually a biblical example of this. In the Book of Daniel, King Belchazzar takes the holy chalices and pattens his father, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. He used them at a dinner party, during which a disembodied hand wrote on the wall that his would be destroyed. (See Daniel chapter 5.)

This prayer begins by stating that God is holy. He is set apart. He is different from everything else. There is no one like God. There is nothing in the universe like God. Too often we try to describe God with terms arising from human emotions or experience. God is not like us at all. He is holy.

But then, the prayer goes on to say that God gives life to all things and makes them holy. What does that mean. Everything in the universe, including us, have been created by and made alive by God for a specific purpose. By setting humanity apart for the specific purpose he has given to humanity, he makes us holy. But holiness is only realized when we live for that purpose for which God has made us. What is that purpose?

The 1891 Baltimore Catechism put it simply:
            To know God 
            To love God
            To serve God
            To be happy with God forever.
Jesus would add to that “and to love your neighbor as yourself.”

That is God’s purpose for humanity, but God also has a specific purpose for you. He created you with certain gifts, talents, and inclinations so that you would have your own individual style in which you fulfill God’s general purpose for all humanity. The gifts, talents, and inclinations God gave you may direct you to be a businessperson, a teacher, a religious, a homemaker, an artisan, or an athlete. When you discover what God created you to do and do it with all your heart to the glory of God and for the benefit of mankind, you will find lasting fulfillment and true holiness.

An Offering to you

“May he make of us an eternal offering to you, so that we may obtain an inheritance with your elect.” Eucharist Prayer III

Often, we think of an offering as some money we put in a basket, probably something we can do without. We consider it our responsibility to support our parish, so the bills can be paid, and we can have a place to worship. But do we ever consider that we are the offering? The gift we place in the basket is just a practical way to present an offering of our time and sustenance to the God who has given us all things. Before we can give ourselves, our very body and soul, God must make us an offering. In other words, we are not the giver, but the gift that God gives to his Church.

Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13

So many of you give yourselves to the work of God here at Guardian Angels and Our Lady of Hope: to build up the Body of Christ, to work towards unity in the faith, and to journey toward the discovery of the fullness of Christ. I consider myself fortunate to be a part of this great group of Christian faithful.

I could single out so many here in gratitude for your selfless acts of service and giving. I could embarrass all of you. However, I do have one I would like to mention, knowing just how angry I am about to make her. Sister Linda Barringer has given herself to Christ through decades of service as a religious. For the last 17 years she has given herself to the body of Christ as a teacher and equipper at Guardian Angels. Many of you reading this letter have benefited from her instruction. Some she guided into the Catholic Faith. Others she has instructed more deeply in the Faith. And for others she has instructed your children. It is unfair that she has come to her retirement at a time of such turmoil when traditional retirement parties cannot be held in her honor. She deserves better, and I hope we can do something more official for her in the fall. For now, please honor her by saying a prayer for her.

Whenever you hear in Mass, “make of us an offering to you,” consider the example of Sister Linda, priests, religious and lay people who sacrificially give themselves to the Body of Christ. And seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit of how he would give you to Christ and his Church.

Gloria as a bouquet of praise

Have you ever gone to visit a friend or relative and brought flowers as a gift? It is a wonderful way to warm the reception and bring joy to the gathering. Similarly, the Psalmist encourages us to enter God’s presence with praise.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

When we come to mass, we enter God’s presence and bring him a spiritual bouquet of praise by singing the ancient hymn of the Gloria.

Singing has always been an important part of worship. Moses sang a hymn of praise after crossing the Red Sea. The judge, Deborah, sang a song of victory when Israel defeated the Canaanites. Music was integral to David’s life of worship as he left us much of the book of Psalms. Jesus and the apostles sang a hymn as they walked from the upper room to the Mount of Olives on Holy Thursday. If you want to become more aware of God’s presence in your life – sing.

Singing also has excellent health benefits. According to Prevention magazine, singing:

  • Reduces stress
  • Strengthens your immune system
  • Increases concentration
  • Strengthens your heart
  • Assists bonding with your community

When the angels announced the birth of the Son of God, they sang a song, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace to people of good will.” When we come to God in the mass, we repeat this refrain as a gift of our hearts to Him. As a bouquet has many flowers, the Gloria gives multi-faceted praise. Our praise blooms in splendor when we sing, “We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory.”

We acknowledge the great work of salvation accomplished by Jesus, our Lord. “You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer; you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.”

Then, we finish off our bouquet with the proclamation of the Trinity. “Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.”

Each Sunday as we gather, we rejoice that Jesus has opened the gates of heaven and invited us in for a dinner party. Like good guests we bring a bouquet to honor our host and to give him thanks. So, we sing with all our hearts using the voice God has given us, and become ever more aware that we are in the presence of the Almighty King.

Yours in Christ,

Father Ed