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Take a bow

Posted May 26, 2017 at 12:00 am

Bowing in church is commonplace, but there is also a protocol for when and how a priest, minister, lector and the person sitting in the pew should bow.

For example, in some churches the lector bows twice before proceeding to the ambo to read the day’s readings. According to individual local custom, the lector enters the sanctuary and bows first to the altar, and then to the celebrant before proceeding to the ambo. 

The first bow, according to The Ceremonial of Bishops, which is a book of the reform of liturgical rites ordered by the Second Vatican Council, is a “deep bow” made toward the altar by all who “enter the sanctuary, leave it or pass before the altar.”

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    The art of building a church

    A new church can often serve as a spiritual resurgence for parishioners, as well as a  recommitment to not only their own faith lives but also to the parish in which they belong.

    After a drought of no new church construction, the Diocese of Baton Rouge is experiencing a renaissance this spring with two new buildings coming online. The first was March 26 when Bishop Robert W. Muench blessed a palatial new house of worship at St. George in Baton Rouge.

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    The gift of suffering

    Suffering is an inescapable fact of life, from which no one is immune.

    Whether it’s the agony of the annual dental visit or much deeper mental and physical anguish caused by life events, suffering is inevitable.

    For Catholics, however, suffering is the gift that keeps on giving.

    Redemptive suffering, defined as any physical or mental tribulation, is an important tenet of the Catholic faith. Catholics, as well as Christians, believe that human suffering,

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    Las Posadas

    For most, Christmas Eve marks the beginning of the Christmas celebration.

    In the Hispanic community, however, the celebration begins more than a week earlier with the Las Posadas novena. Celebrated mainly in Mexico and the United States, Las Posadas begins Dec. 16 and ends Dec. 24.

    This Catholic tradition dates back 400 years and helps the faithful prepare for Christmas by reliving the days Mary and St. Joseph experienced during the journey to

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    Bonfires rooted in Catholicism

    Today, the bonfires are traditionally lit not long after nightfall on Christmas Eve, weather permitting. Each of the more than 100 structures located along a stretch of levee less than four miles long is doused with flammable liquids, and once the fires are roaring, their towering fames create a stunning glow, paving the way for Cajun Santa to find his way to the communities of Paulina, Gramercy Lutcher, Convent Laplace and all points bordering the river.

    Many families maintain

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    ‘Roped’ into marriage

    “Tying the knot” has a become a familiar part of our wedding parlance but in some cultures a rope, or cord, is an important part of the marriage ceremony.

    Known as the wedding lazo, or yugal, the cord is often made in the shape of a loop of rosary beads and traditionally made out of white stain or perhaps silk.

    Before the nuptial blessing, friends or family form the lazo into a figure-eight shape and place it around the neck,

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    The 12 promises of the Sacred Heart

    Many Catholics are familiar with Jesus’ private revelations to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1673-1675 to propagate devotion to his Sacred Heart, but did you know our Lord also revealed 12 promises to those who honor him in this way?

    Jesus said: I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life; I will establish peace in their homes; I will comfort them in all their afflictions; I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death; I will bestow abundant

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    Justo Juez

    Jesus is often called on by many of us in times of trials and tribulations, which is what thousands of flood victims are likely doing daily.

    For many, however, Jesus is often called on when facing courtroom battles, which might come in handy at some point during the recovery process.

    In many Spanish-speaking countries, this image of Christ, based on the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. John and readings from the Acts

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    Sweet 15?

    Sweet 16.

    The sweetest moment of a young girl’s life, complete with parties, a new dress, lots of friends and a day to be remembered forever as she takes the first step into womanhood.

    In the Hispanic community, that special day arrives a year earlier, and it has strong connections to the Catholic faith. Quinceanera, which means “one who is 15” in Spanish, is a traditional celebration of life and gratitude to God on the occasion of the 15th birthday

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    Via Matris

    The Via Matris, known as “The Way of the Sorrowful Mother,” is one of several devotions that have grown out of the preaching of the Servants of Mary.

    The Via Matris is believed to be based on private revelations reported by the founders of the Servants of Mary in the 13th century, with one study suggesting the devotion existed as early as the 14th century.

    However, others believe it is not of Servite

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    Lessons of St. John the Baptist

    St. John the Baptist is one of the church’s most revered saints, and the story of this great prophet baptizing Christ as well as being beheaded are certainly well known.

    Born of a Jewish priest, Zechariah, and St. Elizabeth, the cousin of the Virgin Mary, St. John was a fiery preacher of the word of God and is generally regarded as the voice that prepared the world for the coming of Jesus Christ.

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    The Book of Kells

    The Book of Kells, which was once described as “the chief treasure of the western world,” is an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels written in Latin. The origin of the book remains controversial among scholarly types, but the majority of academia believes it was created in a Columba monastery in Ireland around 800. However, dissenters claim it was created in Northumbria or Pictland in eastern Scotland.

    The book contains 340 folios, with their edges gilded in the course of rebinding in the 19th century. The book is

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    Celebrating the Eucharist

    The Feast of Corpus Christi, which will be celebrated May 29, dates to the Last Supper and the first Eucharist.

    But not until the 13th century was there a distinct feast of the Blessed Sacrament, the origins coming from an unlikely source. Beginning at the age of 16, St. Juliana of Liege (what is modern day Belgium), began having visions of a silver moon with a portion of it obscured while kneeling in prayer.

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    The original novena

    The Novena to the Holy Spirit is considered the oldest in the Catholic Church and the only novena prescribed by the church. Also, it is generally believed that this novena established the nine-day precedent for all novenas.

    The Holy Spirit Novena traces to Jesus who, after dining with his Apostles, sent them back to Jerusalem to await the Holy Spirit, which, according to Scripture, was nine days. This first novena was a time of preparation and petition awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit, which we celebrate

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    Papal documents

    With the release of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on April 8, one obvious question comes up: What other types of documents can the pope issue?

    Based on the reason or need, the pontiff has many types of documents at his disposal. However, before addressing the various papal documents, it’s important to remember that official church documents can come from four basic areas in the Catholic Church.

    One is from the bishops. These documents, either issued by individual bishops or by

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    A scheduling quirk

    The feast of the Annunciation is traditionally celebrated March 25 but because of a strange quirk in the calendar this year, the feast day, or Lady Day as it is also known, is being celebrated April 4. This year, March 25 fell on Good Friday, which, obviously, would not have been an appropriate day to celebrate the announcement of the angel to the Virgin Mary that she would become the mother of Jesus.

    Occasionally, the feast of St. Joseph also

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    Commingling dates to Gospel

    Perhaps one of the greatest mysteries at Mass is commingling, when the priest drops a part of the host into the chalice.

    Commingling, which dates to at least the 8th century, is rooted in the Gospel, when Jesus, at the Last Supper, broke the bread and gave it to his apostles.

    Ancient church tradition says the bread used for the Eucharist is unleavened and usually baked into small round forms, call “hosts.” The word host is taken from the Latin word hostia,

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    Flying high

    Media reports, such as the ones coming out of Pope Francis’ Latin American visit, will often refer to the aircraft transporting the pontiff as “Shepherd One.”

    Given that the president of the United States traverses the globe in Air Force One, the Shepherd One moniker would appear to have some merit.

    However, “Shepherd One” is more of a creation of the United States media and definitely not an official term. Actually, the papal plane does not have any official name.

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    Bring on the etouffee!

    For many Catholics, Lent brings on those dreaded Fridays of abstinence, when meat and chicken are not on the menu. Naturally, for those of us fortunate enough to call southeast Louisiana home, Fridays during Lent are eagerly anticipated and a holiday season of its own, with visions of crawfish boils and shrimp po-boys tantalizing one’s appetite.

    Abstinence goes back to the early days of the church and at one time restrictions were considerably more severe, but those have been

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    Unique Lenten tradition

    Lent is approaching, so naturally palates in southeast Louisiana are yearning for … pretzels?

    The pretzel, the salty little delicacy that goes well with a popular Lenten beverage containing malts and hops, is a traditional Lenten food dating to the fifth century. In fact, there is even a prayer to the pretzel.

    During the church’s early days Lenten restrictions were much more demanding and included abstaining from milk, but

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    Sunday treasure

    Sunday has long been regarded as the day we gather as family and as community to celebrate the Eucharist.

    The origin of celebrating the Eucharist on Sunday dates to apostolic times even though the early Christians, who were converted Jews, continued to observe the Sabbath on Saturday and even celebrated Mass on that day. During those early times, the Mass was celebrated within the frame of a meal (an agape), held on Saturday night after sunset.

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    Differing accounts, same message

    Jesus’ birth and the Nativity scene are perhaps the most read passages in the Bible, especially during this Christmas season. Yet, only two Gospel writers, St. Matthew and St. Luke, describe the details of his birth.

    And even their accounts offer some differences.

    Naturally, there are many commonalities, including Mary, St. Joseph and Jesus, the angels, the Holy Spirit, the locations and the historical period.

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    O Antiphons

    During the final week of Advent leading up to the birth of Christ, the Catholic Church calls attention to the messianic promises through prayer and also the Mass. Beginning Dec. 17 and lasing through Dec. 23, the O Antiphons, which some refer to as the seven jewels of the liturgy, are sung before the Magnificat during evening prayer on the seven days leading up to the Christmas vigil. They are also sung at Mass as the alleluia verse before the Gospel reading.

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    Celebrating Mary’s conception

    Most Catholics know that Dec. 8 is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and is also a holy day of obligation. But what might be confusing for some is the meaning of the feast day.

    A common misconception among Catholics and Christians is the Immaculate Conception celebrates the conception of Christ in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Since the Immaculate Conception occurs only 17 days before Christmas, the math would suggest otherwise.

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    ‘I believe’

    Creeds have been a part of the Catholic Church since as far back as the fourth century, perhaps even earlier. Creeds, a formal and official statement of Christian doctrine, are used for instructional purposes as well as professions of faith and expressions of faith in the liturgy.

    They are called creeds because of what is usually their first word in Latin: credo, which translated means “I believe.” The Apostles’ Creed, which has been called the oldest Roman catechism, and

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    Saintly hoax

    Another election season has officially kicked off, and voters in Louisiana are in the process of deciding a new governor, although much of the political arena is focused on the 2016 presidential election and how high-profile candidates are bullying the headlines.

    It was another presidential election, this one in 2000, that introduced the country to “chads” and sparked one of the greatest hoaxes ever involving a saint.

    While Florida was in the

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    Miracle in Buenos Aires

    A seemingly random act of spiritual kindness led to what has become one of the great miracles of the Eucharist in the 20th century. Adding intrigue to the Miracle in Buenos Aires even has Pope Francis playing a leading role.

    While celebrating an evening Mass on Aug. 18, 1996 at St. Mary Catholic Church in Buenos Aires, Father Alejandro Pezet was approached by a woman who had found a discarded host on a candleholder at the rear

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    The pope’s sole

    New York City is generally regarded as the fashion Mecca of the world so why wouldn’t Pope Francis’ unique attire come under the scrutiny of Big Apple fashionistas?

    After all, who wears white after Labor Day anyway?

    Missing from the pontiff’s sartorial statement, however, was the traditional red papal shoes, a custom that dates back to some of the earliest popes. Of course, back then men’s shoes were sandals.

    The papal vestments were

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    Perfect/imperfect contrition

    Since we are all humans and therefore sinners, all of our sins require some type of penance and contrition. According to The Catechism of the Catholic Church, penitents must be “contrite of heart, confess with the lips and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction.”

    Most Catholics are usually contrite of heart, although for some of us the humility element can be a bit more difficult. Confessing with the lips, i.e., confession, is likely the most difficult part, simply because in

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    Eucharistic Miracle

    At times, we all need a hand-delivered message from God regarding matters of faith.

    Consider the case of a Basilian hieromonk around the year 700 in the city of Lanciano, Italy.

    According to legend, the priest was having doubts about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. He would always pray the words of consecration at Mass, albeit with skepticism in his heart.

    However, while celebrating Mass

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