Understanding the sacraments: Preparing for Lent

Looking at our campaign of Christian service as we anticipate the Easter celebration The opening prayer for Ash Wednesday describes Lent in striking military language—we are embarking on a “campaign of Christian service” in which “we take up battles against spiritual evils” and arm ourselves “with weapons of self-restraint.” A …

Understanding the sacraments: Nourishing our relationship with God

Introducing the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy In my previous column I discussed the Synod on the Family’s emphasis on the importance of popular piety and family devotions. In that column I mentioned the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (DPPL), produced in 2001 by the Congregation …

Understanding the sacraments: Nurturing family devotions

Synod on the Family to address Church concerns, including safeguarding and promoting forms of popular piety On Oct. 5 the third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops begins its work on the “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization.” In preparation for the synod, the …

Understanding the sacraments: The Synod on the Family

Praying for the pope and bishops as they address how the Church can live more fully the sacrament of reconciliation Pope Francis, recognizing the enormous challenges facing the family, has called the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to consider “pastoral challenges to the family in the …

Understanding the sacraments: The sacrament of holy orders

This celebration is a rich and profound liturgy that expresses the mystery and power of the ordained ministry The Diocese of Knoxville is celebrating two ordinations within a month. On May 31, Bishop Stika ordained four men to the priesthood, and on June 14 he will ordain three seminarians to …

Understanding the sacraments: The liturgical year

Introducing the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and the mystery of Christ unfolding In this column I have been looking at the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which laid the foundation for the reform of the liturgy. So far we have looked at the principles that guided the liturgical reform, …

Understanding the sacraments: Sacred art and furnishings

Unity, not uniformity, is the Church’s criterion in identifying sacred creations that praise God In my last column I interrupted my series on the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy to talk about the cathedral church of a diocese, summarizing the discussion found in the Ceremonial of Bishops. …

Understanding the sacraments: What is a cathedral?

The building is ‘a symbol of the spiritual temple that is built up in souls’ How is a cathedral different from all of the other church buildings in a diocese? The most authoritative answer to this question is provided by the Ceremonial of Bishops (chapter 3), a text promulgated by …

Understanding the sacraments: Principles of reform

Vatican II liturgy restoration ensured faithful would experience an encounter with Blessed Trinity Last month, in recognition of the Year of Faith, I introduced the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium). I began by looking at the constitution’s description of the liturgy in order to understand …

Understanding the sacraments: Christ is always present

The Second Vatican Council and the liturgy The Year of Faith, which began on Oct. 11, 2011, and concludes on Nov. 24, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council as well as the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. …

Understanding the sacraments: Mystical rites

A catechesis of the sacrament of holy orders in which Christ authorizes, empowers ministers of grace Baptism, Eucharist and confirmation are the sacraments of initiation through which we receive new life in Christ. Penance and anointing of the sick are sacraments of healing through which we are restored to spiritual …