School Musical, Passiontide, Incense, etc. (April 2)

School Musical: Students in our school have been rehearsing many hours to put on their production of Godspell, the musical. Please come see the moving and inspirational fruits of their hard work. There are two showings: Sunday, April 2nd at 2:00 pm and Monday, April 3rd at 7:00 pm in the Christ the King School Gymnasium.

 

Hidden Saints: In these last two weeks before Easter known as Passiontide, we cover the statues and images of Jesus and the Saints in the church and other public areas. It is an old tradition that continues today. Passiontide is a period that emphasizes the impending passion and death of Jesus. In the old Church liturgical calendar, Passiontide began with the Gospel about Jesus going into hiding. This passage inspired Christians to symbolically represent Jesus’ self-concealment by draping purple cloth over crucifixes and depictions of Christ. Of course, when Jesus went into hiding, His disciples and friends went with Him, so we also cover the images of the Saints who are the friends of Jesus. These enshrouded figures also evoke the pall of death and prepare us for Good Friday, a day when the world will shudder at Jesus’ demise, but don’t worry: Easter will return these holy Saints into our lives and into our church. Perhaps you have never realized the beauty of these images until they were removed. May we never take Jesus or the Saints for granted in the same way.

 

Why Incense? Many of the things used in our sacred liturgy have both spiritual and practical purposes: Before the chasuble (the outer vestment of the priest) symbolized the love of Christ it was the common outer cape of the day. Before the candle signified the light of Christ it helped illuminate texts and processions in the days before electricity. Before the alb (the common vesture worn by altar servers, clergy, etc.) signified spiritual purity it was the common toga of the day. The case of incense is no different.

 

The Jewish people used incense in the temple for many reasons. Remember that the Jews slaughtered animals and burned their remains in sacrificial offerings to God. The incense served a practical purpose: it masked the odor of offal and burning flesh. There was another significance to incense. The Jews noticed its elegant movement upwards. It visibly expressed the flight of invisible prayers to God in heaven:  “Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice!” (Psalm 141:2).

Incense was not immediately used by early Christians even though they were accustomed to it, being Jews. Incense was primarily associated with animal sacrifice and so early Christians, who didn’t continue the offering of animals, did not immediately utilize incense in worship. However, because of the early Church’s Jewish roots and the sacrificial nature of the Mass – the Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of Jesus on the cross – the use of incense eventually became incorporated into our Catholic liturgy. Incense symbolized our prayers rising to God, highlighted the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist, and beautified the temple with a fragrant redolence. The individual granules of incense came to represent the many Christians who offered up their lives to God in immolation and martyrdom. Incense also served practical functions: its sweet aroma masked the odors of old churches and dense crowds and was thought to assist in the extermination of vermin and pests. 

Incensation is an ancient custom of the church that is still permitted and encouraged. Incense is used to bless people and sacred objects and to give adoration to God in the Eucharist. Because I know that some of you suffer from allergies or asthma, we will only have incense at our “high Mass,” i.e., the Sunday 10 a.m. Mass, and on special occasions, e.g., Midnight Mass for Christmas, Easter Vigil, Holy Thursday, important solemnities, etc. Other Masses on the weekend and throughout the year will be incense-free.

 

IMPORTANT: Palm Sunday Masses in the Parish Center: Please note that all Sabbath Masses next weekend (April 8 & 9) – with the exception of the Sunday 8 a.m. Mass – will commence in the Parish Center at their usual times. The palms will be blessed and will be carried in procession into the church.

 

Living Rosary: All parishes are invited to St. Peter’s for the Pro-Life Living Rosary.  Each parish will lead a Hail Mary, and as an Archdiocese, we will say a rosary to support the culture of life.  Go to St. Peter’s Parish  today, Sunday, April 2, 2017 at 2:30pm, and stay for a reception after.  Contact Whitney Bradley, 402.552.9003 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , for more information.

 

Vacation: Fr. Catania will be away on vacation April 3-7 to visit his Bishop and other priests of the Personal Ordinariate of St. Peter in Texas. Please pray that he be refreshed and return home safely.

 

Participation Aid: To help greater participation in the Mass you’ll find new, easy-to-use Mass cards in your pews with the musical notation and words for the basic parts of the Mass. Moreover, on the backside of the card you’ll find the words to the St. Michael Prayer with which we end every Mass.