Via Media

Via Media

What Did You See and Hear?

Many thanks for the kind comments so far. I am a little shaky on my feet here, which surprises me. I am not sure why. I am conscious of trying to strike the right balance. And, in other news that will surprise no one, what is most on my mind and in my heart is not bloggable. At least not 100% of the time.

As promised, let us begin – let us really begin with an old favorite (of mine at least) – What Did You See and Hear?

Let’s explain for the newbies:

“What Did You See and Hear” is your basic Monday-morning quarterbacking post. Except it’s Mass we’re talking about, not a football game.

Well, and not only Mass. Divine Liturgy, church service…what have you.


I started this feature ages ago simply because I was curious. You will find that is a huge element of my blogging. I’m nosy and curious. ‘Satiable curiosity. I just want to know what’s going on.

Specifically, I was curious about how Catholics were experiencing Mass around the country and around the world. Same Scripture readings, same prayers…so how’s it all shaking out?

Sometimes the reports are fascinating in the differences. Other times depressing in their sameness – as with those Sundays in which the whole of Catholic Nation, it seems, is having to endure Ashes.

So let’s do it. Tell me what you saw and heard..and let’s reach back in our memories to include Ash Wednesday, as well as this past Sunday. Whoever you are and where ever you attended religious services of any kind this past week…what happened?


What I like, if you can, is for you to at least tell us what part of the country you’re in and denomination. If you want to get more specific, that’s great. I’m most interested in preaching, music and anything unique that you experienced. It’s not designed as a discussion thread, although I usually end up pulling a comment or two and making another post out of that.

So…anyone? Anyone?

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posted March 3, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Amy, thank you for all of your work. I recently found your blog through Deacon Greg’s and I must say your family’s been in my prayers. I’m a Catholic from SC just recently getting into the whole ‘Catholic New Media’ idea but I’m hooked. It’s really made me evaluate my faith and how I practice it. Also thanks to all of the people making interesting comments in the many blogs I read.
Ash Wednesday was a big treat for me. My wife stayed home to care for our teething and VERY loud daughter so I took our son to Mass. I love the look in his eyes (he’s 3 1/2 yrs old now) during different parts of Mass. He’s been confused about why we can’t sing Alleluia (he loves that part) but is real excited for Easter to come so he can sing it again. We have a great young Priest along with an excellent Deacon who both love to interact with the young kids in our parish and it’s really affecting my boy in a good way.
So I guess the best part of the past week and a half was realizing how, although I’m doing my best to teach my son about how to be a good Catholic and a good man, he’s reminding me how exciting it is to go to Church. We can learn so much from our children just by watching their enthusiasm and occasionally seeing ourselves in them.

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Your Name

posted March 3, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Oh – I’ll go 1st.
My 1st thought is that I am a hypocrit. We have been quizzing our children after mass, mostly re the readings and homily, but I am amazed how little I remember right now.
BTW – I go to a Catholic church (which also has a school) in the suburban Denver area.
Ash Wednesday – 1st impression is “it was beautiful.” But I love Ash Wednesday. I do remember the entrance song as it was not something I have ever heard used as an entrance hymn: the pianist played the “Kyrie” – no singing. I don’t know which particular “Kyrie” it is, but it is very lovely. I remember wondering if that was kosher liturgically, then just enjoying. We did sing the “Kyrie” a few minutes later. Our parish has the practice of doing the “Sanctus,” “Agnus Dei,” etc. in Latin during Advent and Lent. Don’t remember the homily or communion hymn. Exit hymn was “Jesus, Remember Me.”
Last Sunday – Same thing re “Kyrie” as entrance hymn. This time we had a choir which sang and I remember one choir member signaling that everyone was supposed to sing. Still seems a bit odd. I still love the Latin.
Homily was re importance of prayer, fasting and almsgiving in Lent.
Don’t remember the communion hymn.
Exit hymn was “Jesus, Remember Me” – will be same all through Lent.
Next week I will try to pay better attention.

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posted March 3, 2009 at 11:10 pm

On Ash Wednesday, I had the privilege of attending the school Mass at St. Patrick’s in southwest Nebraska. The church was packed, with lots of parents, grandparents, and others in the back behind the students. The presence of the Holy Spirit at school Mass is almost palpable.
Saturday evening we were blessed to have Bishop Bruskewitz celebrate the Mass. He was here for a conference on rural parishes. He is a great homilist and gave an engaging homily on the importance of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

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posted March 3, 2009 at 11:45 pm

Went to the 12:15pm Mass at St. Joseph’s in Fort Collins, Colorado. My mind was wandering during Mass. I was there with my wife and one of our daughters. I’d invited a non-Catholic friend from work to attend Mass with us. Her mom was in the ICU at the hospital, and I thought she might need a break from being at work/hospital for the past several days. I found myself wondering how she viewed Holy Mass, especially with the distribution of ashes. There were the usual trophy runners, bailing after receiving their ashes. I’ve never understood that.nwfyf3
Sunday, we went to the 5pm LifeTeen Mass at St. Joseph’s. It’s pretty mellow and not as snapping/clapping as other youth Masses I’ve been to. The one thing that I recall vividly was the priest offering suggestions for things to give up during Lent. One of his suggestions was complaining. I am a master of the art of complaining, and am really trying to take this suggestion to heart.
Also, at Ash Wednesday, it was announced that we’d be doing the Latin “Sanctus” and “Agnus Dei”. This warranted a small fist pump from me, which made my wife laugh. Hooray for little victories.

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posted March 3, 2009 at 11:53 pm

Yay! I’m glad you brought this old favorite with you from your other blogs. I think I started reading your blog when it was “Open Book”.
For Ash Wednesday, I do remember that we didn’t sing “Ashes” and that we sang “I Want to Walk As a Child of the Light” (it was school Mass) and “The Glory of These Forty Days”. Other than that, I cannot remember.
I’m the organist, so I was at several Masses on Sunday. We did “On Eagle’s Wings” at all the Masses, but the rest of the music varied from Mass to Mass.

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Paul Snatchko

posted March 4, 2009 at 1:29 am

I live in New York. However, I attended Mass on Sunday in Anaheim, CA, at the L.A. Religious Education Congress (in the arena of the Anaheim Convention Center). I’d guess at least 10,000 people were there. (This was the 3:30 p.m. Closing Mass. There had been another Mass at 8 a.m. in the arena.)
The principal celebrant was Cardinal Roger Mahoney. He was joined by eight other bishops (one of whom wore vestments of one of the Eastern-rite Churches) and many priests and deacons.
In his homily on the passage from Mark’s Gospel, Cardinal Mahoney observed that Mark wrote “the Spirit DROVE Jesus into the desert” as opposed to the Gospel writers Matthew and Luke who wrote “the Spirit LED Jesus into the desert.”
“This is a radical difference,” the cardinal said, adding that we, too, sometimes are “driven” and sometimes are “led” by the Holy Spirit into our 40-day observances of Lent. With the economic crisis, he said, Lent 2009 may seem like one into which we are being “driven.”
As far as music goes, what stood out most for me was the music during the Offering. The orchestra played the beautiful piece “Gabriel’s Oboe” (by Ennio Morricone) as the altar was prepared.

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posted March 4, 2009 at 1:44 am

The church was full for the 7 p.m. Mass on Ash Wednesday with some people having to stand throughout the entire Mass. it was the second Mass of the day. The earlier one was at noon. There were many children and it was quite noisy. I don’t mind the noise as it is a reminder of our vital and growing church and the families that are there together. Everyone who got ashes also received a cross to put on a keychain during Lent. The Confirmation class sat together in one row. The choir was full. One song was in Latin (Adloramus Te Christe I think). Another was I Am the Bread of Life. Readings alternated English/Spanish. There were two priests present and two short homilies — one English, one Spanish.
The most interesting thing about the Saturday Vigil Mass was the long line for Confession prior to it. Some left without going to Confession and the priest was still hearing Confessions when it was time for Mass to begin. As I recall, he left the confession room to introduce the guest priest who was celebrating the Mass and then returned. The visiting priest is leading a parish Lenten retreat this week. One song was Hosea.
You and your family are often in my thoughts. Recently I picked up brochures in the narthex and there was a very familiar name in the citations. They are great little leaflets and this is not the first time I have picked them up to give to someone interested in learning more about Catholicism.
small Southern city

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posted March 4, 2009 at 1:50 am

I attended Ash Wednesday services at the regular 5:30 Mass at my Dominican parish in Berkeley. There were three times the number of people that are normally in attendance.
Something happened during Communion that I’ve never experienced at Mass — or in church at all, for that matter. As he was leaving his pew to join the line up the center aisle, a short, stocky, middle-aged man lost his temper over something (what, I’ve no idea), and muttered, all-too-audibly, “Jesus f*****g Christ!”
I like to think of myself as shock-proof, but this really jarred me. I can only assume the man is mentally ill or has been pushed to some kind of brink. He’s in my prayers, in any case.
(Well, you asked!)

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Clayton Emmer

posted March 4, 2009 at 2:56 am

I went to noon Mass on Ash Wednesday at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, MN. Standing room only. Packed with students. The music was reverent, the homily a bit long (given that many students seemed to need to leave to get to class at 1 pm). The whole service lasted about 75 minutes.
I’m always fascinated by the way ashes serve as a homing device for Catholics.

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Your Name

posted March 4, 2009 at 5:51 am

We had an interesting homily Sunday on the good news about temptation. In short, being tempted to sin is not in itself a sin. It is an opportunity to grow in holiness. Experiencing temptation means that our consciences are active, that we are trying to live right. As an example, a full-blown alchoholic isn’t tempted to drink, but has given into it to the point he doesn’t think about it. A recovering alcholic may struggle with the temptation to drink, but the temptation is a testament to his growing strength in sobriety. (Not that alchoholism is a sin – this was an analogy.)
I rarely remember the music selections, which are usually okay. We have also gone with the Greek Kyrie and Latin Sanctus for Lent.
I’m delighted to see your new blog, Amy. Continuing to keep your family in prayer.

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posted March 4, 2009 at 6:33 am

I was at Mass with 300 junior high and high school students in a gym. Lots of the kids aren’t Catholic, or even Christian. They were sleepy. The pianist was absent, so the music was only a cantor with guitar. The sound system left a lot to be desired. The homily was pretty much ignored (the pastor is out of touch with these kids, and insulted Oprah Winfrey…).
But they listened to the readings. They sang along (quietly) to ‘Hosea.’ They like to sing the echo-y part. They all came forward at the imposition of ashes. Two students served as Eucharistic Ministers. I think many prayed and got their respective Lenten acts together.
The Holy Spirit was there.

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posted March 4, 2009 at 6:56 am

6:45am Ash Wednesday Mass. No music. Pretty well attended for that time of morning – certainly much larger than the regular daily Mass crowd – I really love Mass w/o music. I find I focus and pray much more. Our parish has a number of retired priests and they are all great preachers – this particular priest almost always brings Church history into his homilies, which I love.
Sunday Mass? Also early, w/music. Much simpler than usual, which impressed me – it is Lent, after all – plus we are chanting the Agnus Dei. Very nice!. We have only been in this parish 3 months, so I don’t know if this is how it is every year, or new for this Lent. The Mass was offered by another retired fellow, but the pastor preached. It’s diocesan lenten appeal time…

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posted March 4, 2009 at 7:13 am

Just as others have remarked, at my parish it was packed. And this in spite of Ash Wednesday not getting much “promotion” at Sunday mass.
There is a widespread desire to publically recognize that we are dust, in need of God’s grace.

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Sarah L.

posted March 4, 2009 at 7:16 am

parish in the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan
Ash Weds.- I went to a service instead of a full Mass (just Liturgy of the Word and ashes, presided over by our deacon). It was prayerful and pretty quiet, even with the Religious Ed classes in attendance. I thought we dodged the “Ashes” bullet, but then it showed up as the closing song. This year my 6-year old boy received the ashes instead of saying “no thank you” like last year!
Sunday- This Gospel stood out in my mind. A few weeks ago a visiting priest hammered us because we couldn’t quote Jesus’ first words in the Gospel of Mark. And here they are. At our parish, the Sanctus and Agnus Dei are in Latin for Lent (only). I’ve known the Agnus Dei for a couple of years, and this year I hope to get the Sanctus memorized so I don’t have to consult the hymnal.

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Ron Chandonia

posted March 4, 2009 at 7:39 am

Our parish is located in the Martin Luther King Historic District in Atlanta. As we did last year, we observed Ash Wednesday in a joint service with MLK’s congregation at Ebeneazer Baptist Church. Joining with us were congregations from other nearby Baptist, Methodist, and Congregational churches, all of them primarily African-American. The pastor of Ebeneazer Baptist has urged his flock to observe Lent, and he shared with everyone who came to the Ash Wednesday service a brochure explaining some traditional Lenten practices, including fasting. The service consisted mainly of songs, a homily (from the pastor of Ebeneazer), and the imposition of ashes (by clergy from all of the churches involved). It was a deeply moving service and an excellent way to get the Lenten season underway.

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posted March 4, 2009 at 7:45 am

I did Ash Wednesday at 7:30 pm in St. Peter and Paul Parish in Manorville, Long Island. It is very close to my house and was at one time a Satellite of my home parish, but now is separate. This allowed me to go to my Al Anon meeting in the basement of the rectory there right after. It was a priest I did not know — very tall and very expressive. He preached on Lent as a celebration of the Life we all enjoy because of the first Easter. There was no music. I went to the meeting with a shameful incident from my childhood in my mind, and was able to “Repent and believe the Gospel” about it very effectively, thank you.
Sunday I went to my home parish — St. John the Evangelist in Center Moriches. It is a beautiful new building that we built together several years ago and I love being there. The 5:30pm service is the youth mass and the youngsters sing beautifully but the young lectors need a little coaching. One of the leaders of the music ministry is a father I sponsored in RCIA and has become such a positive force in the parish. He did a soft and spiritual guitar solo as the lead-in to the second Communion song — very moving. The priest was our new Assistant Pastor, a couple of years out of seminary. He’s still a no-frills communicant who doesn’t look up during the homily — but we love him.

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posted March 4, 2009 at 7:49 am

Where I work as organist, we’re running a mixture of Lenten classics and sentimental favorites in the hymn selections. Of course, there’s the annual “how much unaccompanied organ is allowed” controversy. I say none (based on the GIRM) and the choir leaders want the usual walking-around music and interludes. The via media here is no preludes or postludes and simple registrations.

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Your Name

posted March 4, 2009 at 8:08 am

This year at my Queens, NY parish, we had separate Spanish and English evening services. The English service was held in the elementary school auditorium specifically for the CCD students and their families. There were over 350 persons who atended; standing-room-only! Our Homlist is a visiting ‘transitional’ Deacon who is blind. The students have already met him; for most parents it was a first time. He concluded his Homily by reinforcing that if they (everyone) came up for ashes they were agreeing to follow Jesus that night, and everyday thereafter. In fact, he said he wanted them to say back to the minister after recieving ashes: “Yes, I will follow Jesus.” Although I had to remind a few who came to me, nearly everyone repeated those exact words! It quite a statement and moment of grace for all involved.

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posted March 4, 2009 at 8:13 am

Diocese of Baltimore.
Ash Wednesday Mass was totally packed. We did sing “Ashes” as well as “Hosea” and a couple of unmemorable traditional hymns. Sunday was excellent – our homily was all about going to Confession, nothing else. Four dioceses here are offering Confessions on Wednesday nights in every single parish during Lent. Awesome. Father’s best line: “How dare we NOT go, when Christ loves us so much?”
He’s right. How dare we?

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posted March 4, 2009 at 8:21 am

Ash Wednesday 7pm was very crowded. Ashes were given out after the Mass was over!? I guess to keep people there – in the past, many have left after the ashes were given. I’m pretty sure this is liturgical abuse as the penetential rite and the gloria were skipped.

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posted March 4, 2009 at 8:31 am

Ash Wednesday at our place. (Large urban parish in Chicago.) I went to mass with the school kids and sat with the kindergartners. I think I prep them well for Lent. Too well. I have this gimmick (but, hey, it works!) Shrove Tuesday I make my way through all the kindergarten and first grade rooms to ‘take Lent out of the purple Lent box.’ Out come the dried palms, the ashes, whatever parish prayer book we’re using, the Rice Bowl. In goes a big poster of the Alleluia. By sixth grade, they roll their eyes, but I have to say that every kid on the site knows that we do NOT sing the Alleluia during Lent and more to the point, that we save it for LOTS of singing to celebrate the Resurrection.
All fine and good, until the pastor is preaching his Ash Wednesday homily about beginning Lent. A kindergartener gets agitated in the front row. Beside herself. Calling to me. I get to her. “He doesn’t have the BOX!” She is worried. I tell her that Lent can start without the box right there next to the pastor.
Our Lenten music is of wonderful quality. We do a progressively more complex series of Kyries as Lent builds. We never sing Ashes or Hosea. (I’d almost forgotten, until I read above.) What has really struck me is the full bodied sound we are hearing when the congregation chants the Our Father.
We have 40 catechumens and candidates this Lent, which is a lot. Also, we’re packed. SRO on Ash Wednesday and really full (a big church, too) on Sundays. I’ve got tons of people signing up for Adult Confirmation, too. (So many, I’m getting worried about where to put them.)
I think that Lent coinciding with such great economic uncertainty is making a lot of folks ‘vote with their feet’ as it were. They are looking for something, and I so hope they are finding it in our liturgies. (Of course, I know it is there to be found. We need to not stand in the way, is all.)

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Your Name

posted March 4, 2009 at 8:39 am

This Sunday’s Mass was also the baptism of my grandson Jonah , and 2 other babies! Father tied in Noah with the idea of baptism (water the flood, new life) and presented the three families as the promise of the new a grandparent being there it was with intense joy and gratefulness recalling the gift of faith handed on to me and thus continuing to be carried on to another generation!

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posted March 4, 2009 at 8:57 am

At our school’s Ash Wednesday Mass, the priest was able to relate to both students and teachers with his comparison of Lent to parent-child relationships. When a young child wanders away, a parent, upon finding the child, will exclaim, “Where have you been?!” Later, in the teen years, one of the most frequent questions of a parent to a child is, “Where are you going?” These two questions are good food for thought on Ash Wednesday. It is a time to stop and reflect on where we have been – what sinful ways have overcome us since this time last year – and where we are going – how we will use Lent and its practices to make a better path for ourselves. I’m going to use these two questions to guide me throughout Lent this year!

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Cathy J

posted March 4, 2009 at 8:57 am

Ash Wednesday: 3:00 p.m. service, Eastern MA St. Patrick’s. Not a Mass; I actually prefer the prayer service to a Mass on Ash Wednesday, and I skipped out of work for this. The church has a small school, so I was expecting a certain number of kids, but the place was packed, as in out of the sanctuary, down the stairs, into the meeting rooms packed. Music was fine, if a bit out of tune; they did include The Glory of These 40 Days and did not not include Ashes or Hosea (neither of which I think I have ever heard). Two disappointments: they had EMHCs distributing ashes, as well as two priests (I know, huge crowd, but I changed lines), and they did not say Remember man, though art dust..etc. Minor items, really.
1st Sunday: 4:30, my regular Eastern MA church, beloved very elderly priest, whose sermons wander even in the best of times (I was the lector). Music was generally OK, this church tends too much to the contemporary for me. But we did have the Agnes Dei for Lent; I don’t know how that has crept into commmon usage, but I’m all for it!

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Your Name

posted March 4, 2009 at 9:27 am

I find it interesting that Ash Wednesday, which is not a holy day of obligation, is often better attended that most holy days of obligation. I went to the 7:30 pm Mass. The RCIA class I help teach had their Rite of Election. The only drawback is that I only had ashes on for a couple of hours before I went to bed.

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Carbon Monoxide

posted March 4, 2009 at 9:37 am

Waldorf, MD
Chanted Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Mysterium Fidei in Latin. Kyrie in Greek. Monsignor Parent also did some prayer (don’t remember which) in Latin. Parent is also an excellant homilist. Homily was on doing useless (to the world) things like adoration, chanting, etc.

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posted March 4, 2009 at 9:45 am

I went on Sunday to St. Peter’s in Birmingham, a kind of ho-hum contemporary style Mass, compared to the Cathedral where I usually go. But St. Peter’s is just down the road, and the TV news shouted the “roads are trecherous!!!!” (They weren’t. It was like a quiet winter wonderland with a little wet on the roads.) I don’t remember wonderful young Fr. John’s homily, because I kept thinking how another priest who made an announcement just before Mass had also added about Fr. John, “I know the Church is against cloning, but I sure wish we could clone Fr. John!” That started my mind spinning about Fr. John and how true it was, whenever I looked at him.

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Cheeky Lawyer

posted March 4, 2009 at 9:59 am

Ash Wednesday at the CIC in downtown Washington D.C. Packed to the gills. Celebrant was the Arlington Vocations Director. I think he spoke about making this lent different and also pointed to the story from that Monday’s Gospel about the men who brought their friend to Jesus and lifted the roof off and lowered him down. He urged us to bring others to Jesus and to let ourselves be carried by others.
Sunday Mass at St. Bernadette’s in Silver Spring. Parochial Vicar was the celebrant, and I am having a brain cramp on what he said. The music was awesome as usual. No exit hymn. Just silence. The 11 am Mass is very, very good. St. B’s is the sort of parish where one leaves and has nothing to complain about. Mass is just Mass. It is a great blessing.

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posted March 4, 2009 at 10:14 am

At St. Pat’s in downtown Columbus, the young priest noted the standing-room-only congregation and said, “By a show of hands, how many of you don’t know this isn’t a holy day of obligation?” He seemed incredulous and said he would love to see us all back for more daily Masses, especially during Lent. He reminded us that blessed ashes is a sacramental, not a sacrament. In his homily he suggested we give up something rather than just do something extra.

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posted March 4, 2009 at 10:48 am

Dear Amy,
I’m a newbie, and I’m going to be so bold as to cheat and skip back to the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. This was a Sunday where God handpicked the readings for me and gave my priest the homily.
Some necessary back-story: I am a young woman who has had a dramatic falling out with a friend almost a year ago. This event caused many unwelcome changes in my life and I have been angry, angry, angry and brooding, brooding, brooding. I recognize the damage that clinging to this anger has caused to my soul and yet I continue to persist in it. I am the prodigal son still sitting in the pig sty. My vow for Lent was going to be to stand up.
But this was not Lent yet, and I was still settled in my anger; slovenly, lazy and brooding.
Then the Lord told me this:
“Thus says the LORD:
Remember not the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the desert I make a way,
in the wasteland, rivers.
The people I formed for myself,
that they might announce my praise.
Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob,
for you grew weary of me, O Israel.
You burdened me with your sins,
and wearied me with your crimes.
It is I, I, who wipe out,
for my own sake, your offenses;
your sins I remember no more.”
And then I said this:
Lord, heal my soul, for I have sinned against you.
And then He said:
“…Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus immediately knew in his mind
what they were thinking to themselves,
so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk?’
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”
—he said to the paralytic,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
He rose, picked up his mat at once,
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
Praise God!

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posted March 4, 2009 at 11:19 am

At Immaculate Conception in Knoxville I am thrilled to report that we did not sing “Ashes” but rather “These Forty Days of Lent,” which we have not sung in years (we have a new musical director). I was in the bathrrom with my four year old during the Offertory Hymn. :-) The Communion Song was, “Turn to Me,” which I used to like before the inclusive language makeover. The closing song was “Lead Me, Lord,” which we did not finish–personal pet peeve of mine: if you are going to sing a song about the 8 Beatitudes, let’s hear all of them!
No flowers on the altar, a cross in the vestibule set up amongst sand and cactuses and decorated in purple, purple cloths on the altar and side altars and draped from the banner-hangers.

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Your Name

posted March 4, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Ash Wednesday, I visited a church near my office. The church was large, and the people sat as far apart from one another as possible. We all wanted to be there, but it seemed noone wanted to be TOGETHER. Ah well.
There was no music, which is common for a noontime/weekday Mass, but I really wish it wasn’t – at least not for special days like Ash Wednesday or a Holy Day. They had baskets with the “Little Black Book” meditations from the Diocese of Saginaw on tables around the sanctuary so you could pick one up on your way back to your seat from receiving ashes. I was encouraged to see a lot of people taking them.
This last sunday I was back at my own parish after several weeks away. We had the Call to Continuing Conversion for one candidate for full communion coming into the Catholic Church from another Christian faith. I may have been more attentive than the average parishoner since I’m part of the RCIA team, but I thought it enriched the liturgy. Unfortunately, our pastor is not very involved in planning the Rites that are sometimes added to the Sunday liturgy, so he tends to trip over the script he is given. (grrr) But the RCIA director who introduced the candidate, and the sponsor who spoke on behalf of the candidate both did a great job, and the congregation responded with interest and support for the candidate. I love it when the congregation engages in these Rites rather than checking their watches!!!
Looking forward to following your new blog. God’s blessings and Mary’s prayers be with you.
-writing from Silicon Valley in sunny California

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posted March 4, 2009 at 2:20 pm

I have the great good fortune to belong to a parish that has a splendid liturgy and beautiful music, a boys choir, a men’s scola and a parish choir as well a congregation that loves to sing.
On Sunday, at the sung mass – boys choir and men’s scola, the Litany of the Saints was chanted instead of an entrance hymn, kyrie and agnus dei in Latin and the congregation knows the responses.

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Jackie B

posted March 4, 2009 at 3:46 pm

I love Michael Dubriel’s admonition in his book, The How To Book of the Mass about taking away one word from the Mass.
Well, that was all my distracted mind could handle on Sunday! The homily was on the Gospel reading about Jesus going into the desert to fast and pray. Father mentioned that Jesus knew his calling, and I realized that I had lost mine. What was my calling in this changing time in my life?

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posted March 4, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Ash Wed- Confession…I went face to face for the first time at St Francis Of Asissi Church in NYC near Madison Sq. Garden. The lines for cofession were long….the Mass was packed (every color and Nationality in attendance)….Yeah, I was emotional during “Hosea”.
When in NY go to this church… will be impressed. I came from NJ to jump start my Lent. Audrey’s post hit home. I’m in “that place” now as well.

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Your Name

posted March 4, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Favorite Lenten incident thus far: During the children’s comments at Mass on Sunday Father Seamus complimented the youth about their eagerness to come to Mass and to be attentive so early on a Sunday morning. “Lent is one of the most important and solemn seasons of the Church year,” he explained, “when we have the occasion to look at ourselves to see where we need to make changes in our lives.” Looking at a tiny girl to his right, he asked, “Anna, is there something in your life that you need to change?” Up popped a quick, firm response: “This morning I changed my little brother!”

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Susan Peterson

posted March 4, 2009 at 8:50 pm

I now attend a Byzantine Rite Church, and the eastern church doesn’t have Ash Wednesday; Lent, or the “Great Fast” starts on the Monday before Ash Wednesday-that day and Good Friday are fasts from both dairy and meat. Of course serious Orthodox do this for the entirety of the Great Fast.
However, I went with my husband to the Ash Wednesday service at his Anglican parish. They just had their church building taken away from them by their ex diocese, but almost immediately were able to move into a closed Catholic church up the road. (Today the Catholic diocese’s property commission approved the sale to his church; it just needs the bishop’s signature. Believe me, if we have to close a church, these are good people to have in it. )
Someone had accidentally turned off the furnace thinking it was a light switch. If it hadn’t been Ash Wednesday the pipes might have frozen before this was discovered. The temperature was 41 when the service started. It was very cold. The Anglican priest gave a sermon in which he went over all the Biblical references to the association between repentance and ashes. He was partly doing this because there are now some new people coming to the church from non liturgical church backgrounds, and he is very careful to show them that there is a Biblical background to the customs of liturgical churches which seem strange to them. He wrote in his email to parishioners later that he was so cold that he could hardly move his lips to preach, but I couldn’t tell; he still spoke for at least 20 minutes! My feet were cold as this was one time when I had worn open heeled shoes instead of cozy boots. Anyway, we had the 79 BCP liturgy-I wish they would use Rite 1-. I went up for ashes; when I am there I receive a blessing instead of communion. When we do have music there, on Sunday, it is half Episcopal hymnal, and half “praise music.” They haven’t heard of “ashes” and if they did, “create ourselves anew” would not get past their Christian orthodoxy screen!
Susan Peterson

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posted March 4, 2009 at 11:56 pm

This Sunday it snowed in Georgia. Given the conditions and the fact that most of our kids were sick, my husband and I decided to split up: he would take our oldest son in the morning and I would take our oldest daughter in the evening. His Mass was unusually long due to a guest priest in town to conduct our parish mission, who gave a homily which, I am told, included the line, “And if you think my homily is long, wait until you get to eternity!” Between that Mass and mine, however, the parish sent out the word that because of the hazards [so foreign to our region] caused by the snow, those planning to attend the evening Mass were relieved of the obligation to go. Mass was not cancelled; we went, and enjoyed a sparse, peaceful liturgy–no cantor or accompaniment, no crowd, and our homilist abbreviated his prepared words in the interest of getting everyone home safely and quickly. He spoke of the inconveniences that seem to throw a wrench in our plans but are really part of God’s plan, which I believe he linked to poor Noah having to build an ark and fill it with animals, but I may be superimposing another priest’s words from earlier in the week. His more significant connection was the challenge to accept what God throws your way and be changed by it, according to His plan.

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posted March 5, 2009 at 6:03 am

What did I see??
More people.
Heard the same from several pastors.

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posted March 5, 2009 at 11:10 am

Went to the local university chapel, since I broke my arm walking to church on Sunday and am staying with my parents until I can reliably dress myself. :) 7 PMish (for the benefit of college students’ timesense). It was beyond standing room only, especially since there was only 2 Ash Wed. Masses/services instead of 3. At one point, somebody tried to put a chair in front of the door leading to upstairs, which is where Father vests! People were everywhere. Music was all non-penance and non-sin; “Ashes” was as dark as it got. The homily was very good, as it exhorted students to try to get closer to God during Lent. But still, no talk about sin. Well, you have to feed people with milk first, and a lot of college-age people have never really been taught about sin. Sunday, btw, there was a really good Lenten homily on Lent’s origins in catechumens’ preparation for baptism, and how baptized persons were supposed to fast and pray right along with them back in the early Christian days. Still no talk about sin, per se, but getting closer. (I think Father is slowly implementing a plan to teach about sin.)

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posted March 5, 2009 at 12:57 pm

My sister lives in AL. She told me her priest did not have the lector read the readings, and he did not read the Gospel. He said he was going to try something different for Lent and so he had the congregation read the readings silently to themselves and then he had an interactive exchange with them discussing what the readings meant to them. I was appalled. My sister was not.

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posted March 5, 2009 at 4:32 pm

I went to two Ash Wednesday “events”. I work in a Catholic hospital in Minnesota, and an announcement came over the PA in the AM that Ash Wed services would begin in a few minutes. So, I scurried to the chapel, only to find that there was a line to receive ashes, which extended to the hallway. I am not sure if there was no Mass or other liturgy, just ash distribution, if Father was planning on doing it after ashes or something else, but I scurried back to my office.
Then, in the PM another announcement came over the PA that Ash Wed services would occur again in a few minutes. Again, I scurried to the chapel and this time there was a Mass with ashes distributed before Communion. So, that was nice and it is a real blessing to work somewhere where Mass is available regularly.
Father’s homily basically stated that “none of us” are really serious sinners, so we don’t have to beat ourselves up about it all. I sometimes am amazed at the generational differences in Catholicism, and remarked to my wife that the V2 generation must have really been traumatized to still be overcompensating against the idea of us being sinners in the hands of an angry God.
But, on the bright side, the ash distributers said the more authentic (to me, at least) “remember you are dust and to dust you shall return”. Oh, and no “Ashes” to sing.

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posted March 5, 2009 at 10:04 pm

The comment about Ash Wednesday liturgy in the chapel of a Catholic hospital prompts my experience in a large Catholic hospital chapel for Ash Wednesday in Illinois. Lent is a time for getting real with ourselves before the God who is always real and faithful before us; this is always needed and good. But the particular blessing of this Ash Wednesday liturgy in the packed chapel was the presence of nurses and physicians right off the floor in a range of scrubs and uniforms. How God gives gifts of creativity and devotion to his people! The witness of each other supports our process of ongoing conversion – a turn to God and to our brothers and sisters.

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