Archive for the 'Liturgy' Category

Viewpoints: Putting Safeguards for Communion

My comments on the above article, posted on 16/06/2011

I agree with Dr Chung’s points on the reception of Holy Communion. We should bring back the use of the altar rail/kneelers and the communion plates. Every crumb of the Blessed Sacrament is still Our Lord.

As mentioned by Dr Chung, the position of kneeling during Communion facilitates easy administering of the Sacrament due to ‘better vantage and reach’. I am wondering why we have lost this practice over the years. At Papal Masses in Rome, the Eucharist is distributed on the tongue and kneeling, in line with the long standing tradition. Since our Holy Father is beginning to show us the ways of devotion to the Sacrament by his very example, perhaps it would do well for parishes everywhere to imitate.

Yet far from blindly copying, we should reflect on the significance of all these actions. Why receive on the tongue? Why receive kneeling? Surely there are good reasons for the Holy Father to be encouraging these small yet significant acts.

If we do not cultivate respect for the dignity of the Holy Eucharist, everything else is fair game. If this is not sacred, nothing else is. Yes, we should not aim to be scrupulous but aim to be sensible. If we do not treat the Holy Sacrament with a sense of sacredness, that is truly a senseless pity. We have received such a precious gift, therefore let us not take it for granted but treasure it.

Corpus Christi 2010

Today we had Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Chapel of St Joseph Institution International. I served Mass together with the usual brothers. The music was very beautiful. Of notice is the Sequence before the Gospel, named Lauda Sion. It was 24 verses long. I think the schola took about six or seven minutes to finish singing it. It was good, allowing the meaning to sink into me. This sequence was composed by St Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. It perfectly summarizes all the teachings on the Holy Eucharist.

Some of the verses which are very striking, especially:

Sumunt boni, sumunt mali:
sorte tamen inaequali,
vitae vel interitus.
Mors est malis, vita bonis:
vide paris sumptionis
quam sit dispar exitus.

Both the wicked and the good
eat of this celestial Food:
but with ends how opposite!
With this most substantial Bread,
unto life or death they’re fed,
in a difference infinite.

It reminds us to prepare ourselves well to receive Holy Communion, to be in state of grace before that. Many Catholics do not prepare themselves well for Communion. It is very lamentable. If we do not take this seriously, we are eating to our death. Blessed are those who prepare well, for they are eating to eternal life. This is what they mean when the verse writes ‘but with ends how opposite!’. All the good and bad Catholics eat the same Holy Eucharist, yet the outcome is different! Those who eat well, go to heaven. Those who do poorly, go to hell.

In the Ordinary Form, the priest (or extraordinary minister if you are unfortunate) will say ‘Corpus Christi’ or ‘Body of Christ’ before administering the Holy Sacrament to the recipient. In the Extraordinary Form, the full words are ‘Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.’ or in English ‘May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep your soul unto life everlasting. Amen.’

In the new rite we acknowledge that the Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, but perhaps we have forgot one thing; we are eating it so that we may enter heaven. It cannot be simplified as just having a family meal every Sunday. This is a matter of life and death!

It was one of the most impactful Masses I have served. I understood what was going on. I managed to pray. Best of all is, despite recent events I felt peaceful. Absolute bliss. It was indeed a foretaste of heaven. It is as the hymn Ave Verum Corpus goes, ‘Be a foretaste of sweetness to me; In my death’s great agony’

After Mass we carried on with the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament. We sang a number of hymns, including O Salutaris Hostia, one English version of O Salutaris Hostia, Pange Lingua Gloriosi, and the rarely heard Te Deum Laudamus.

Another thing which struck me was, after the ablutions and before the Post Communion prayer, I saw that the altar was bathed with sunlight. Absolutely amazing.

Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam aeternam. Amen.

Death and Liturgy

A relative of mine passed away recently. He was bedridden for a few years. He was baptized in March this year by a priest who went to visit his home. His wife also returned to practicing the faith.

On the day of the cremation, the priest arrived at the wake to take the body to the church. After a few short prayers, the undertakers transported the body into a hearse.

On arrival at the church, the body was brought into the church with the altar servers in front, and the priest flanking the coffin. We followed behind in procession. The immediate family placed a white pall over the coffin. The priest was in purple vestments.

The priest preached a simple homily about the end of life. The intercessory prayers followed, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist was commenced.

As at all Masses for the dead, there was no final blessing.

The body was sprinkled with holy water and incensed before being brought out of the church. In the Extraordinary Form, this takes place at the Absolution of the Dead. The Absolution of the Dead is not practiced in the Ordinary Form.

After that we recited the In Paradisum.

May angels lead you into paradise; upon your arrival, may the martyrs receive you and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem. May the ranks of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, the poor man, may you have eternal rest.

The family removed the white pall. As the body was being brought out, we sang one more hymn.

The cremation was at Mandai. A lay funeral minister led the rite of commital. Very emotional for all the relatives present.

Having attended Requiem Masses in the Extraordinary Form, this Mass seemed rather insipid. The hymns didn’t seem very mournful at all. It was vaguely comforting. Of course we must be grateful for having a choir to sing for the funeral Mass.

I think this arises from a problem in modern Catholic music. In theory, we should sing the Mass, not sing songs at Mass. What do we mean by singing the Mass? If we look at the missal carefully, there are things such as the Introit, Responsorial Psalm, Communion Antiphons, and these are meant to be sung. Instead, we have taken the easy way out and substituted them with ‘suitable’ hymns, which may turn out to be not so suitable afterall.

Meaningful parts such as these are left out.

Introit: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

It’s bad enough that we are leaving things out from the modern missal. Let’s not discuss what the modern missal has removed from the old missal. In the old missal it would be like this:

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

A hymn becomes you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall a vow be repaid in Jerusalem. Hear my prayer; to you shall all flesh come.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Dies irae is also omitted from the Ordinary Form:

Day of wrath! O day of mourning!
See fulfilled the prophets’ warning,
Heaven and earth in ashes burning!

This sequence was formerly recited or chanted before the Gospel. Nowadays it has been removed. We can still, however, sing this hymn during the Divine Office. This hymn reminds us of the Final Judgement, and asks us to pray to God to spare us. There are several orchestral versions of this song, which you can easily find on Youtube.

The offertory antiphon is also very comforting to the bereaved:

Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,
free the souls of all the faithful departed
from infernal punishment and the deep pit.
Free them from the mouth of the lion;
do not let Tartarus swallow them,
nor let them fall into darkness;
but may the sign-bearer, Saint Michael,
lead them into the holy light
which you promised to Abraham and his seed.

O Lord, we offer you
sacrifices and prayers in praise;
accept them on behalf of the souls
whom we remember today.
Let them, O Lord, pass over from death to life,
as you promised to Abraham and his seed.

Lamentation, lamentation. Students of classical music know that the Requiem Mass has inspired many musicians to write great pieces of music based on the Mass. These prayers are also great spiritual treasures. What treasures we are losing nowadays!

Other than the music, there are also external signs. Traditionally, the vestments are black. The Church, like a sorrowful mother, puts on mourning colours for those who have left the earthly life. Of course, Purple and White are allowed nowadays.

Nevertheless we make the best with what we have. Let us remember the Holy Souls in our prayers.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Easter Triduum 2008

Happy Easter boys and girls!

This year I missed Holy Thursday, as a result of guard duty. I booked out in the morning on Friday.

I went to my parish in the afternoon for the Stations of the Cross and the Good Friday service. I was there with Joshua, and we had only standing space. The choir was excellent. Hymns were quite orthodox. They sang Venantius Fortunatus’ Pange Lingua in English and another Latin hymn which I can’t figure. I have an axe to grind about the veneration of the cross. They did not let us kiss the cross, instead settling for a bow.

In the evening I attended the Tenebrae service at St Patrick’s School chapel. It was organized by the Schola. It was from seven thirty to ten pm. Very long indeed. I was getting quite fidgety halfway through, and was looking forward to the end. When the end arrived I was thoroughly jolted by the Strepitus(noise). Basically, the congregation will smash their missals against the pews to make loud noises. The symbolism behind all this is the earthquake which occurred after Christ died, and when the dead starting walking the earth. Yea, it really had its effect.

Tree, which solely wast found worthy
the world’s Victim to sustain.
harbor from the raging tempest!
ark, that saved the world again!
Tree, with sacred blood anointed
of the Lamb for sinners slain.

On Holy Saturday I attended the Mandarin Easter Vigil at Nativity. They had three readings instead of seven. I don’t know; it seems like I am losing my appetite for long liturgies.
We had Legion meeting after that. At nine thirty pm.

O vere beata nox, in qua terrenis caelestia, humanis divina iunguntur!


Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us

Stella Matutina, ora pro nobis

Our Lady of Perpetual Succor, pray for us

St Michael the Archangel, pray for us

St Jude, pray for us

St Benedict, pray for us

St Dominic, pray for us

St Anthony, pray for us