Things to Know


What are the items used at Mass?

The Precepts of the Church

The 5 Precepts of the Catholic Church 1. You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor. We must “sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord” (Sunday), as well as the principal feast days, known as Catholic holy days of obligation. is requires attending Mass, “and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.” 2. You shall confess your sins at least once a year. We must prepare for the Eucharist by means of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). This sacrament “continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.” 3. You shall receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season. This “guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.” 4. You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church. “e fourth precept ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.” 5. You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church. “The fith precept means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.”

The Ten Commandments

While the entire Judeo-Christian tradition uses the same Scriptural content for the Ten Commandments, their exact division and numbering varies. The Catholic tradition uses the division of the Commandments established by St. Augustine. 1. I am the LORD your God. You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve. 2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. 3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day. 4. Honor your father and your mother. 5. You shall not kill. 6. You shall not commit adultery. 7. You shall not steal. 8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. 10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. Again, the Ten Commandments are a description of the basic freedom from sin that is necessary to live as a Christian. They are a minimum level of living, below which we must not go. The Ten Commandments and Catholicism have been bound together since the time of Christ. In fact, Jesus refers to the Ten Commandments and assures their validity in his dialog with the rich young man in Matthew’s Gospel (Mt 19:16-21). (Catechism #2052). It’s important to note that each Commandment is simply a summary of a whole category of actions. Don’t be legalistic, searching for a way around them because their wording doesn’t fit you perfectly! • For example, “bearing false witness against your neighbor” covers any kind of falsehood: perjury, lying, slander, detraction, rash judgment, etc. The Catholic Ten Commandments are linked together to form a coherent whole. If you break one of them, you’re guilty of breaking all of them (Catechism, #2069). The Commandments express man’s fundamental duties to God and neighbor. As such, they represent grave obligations. To violate them knowingly & willingly in a significant way is to commit mortal sin. (Catechism, #2702-3) The Catechism of the Catholic Church has a detailed description of the Catholic Ten Commandments. Read it!

11 Names for Mass given by the Catechism

The Mass is extremely important to the Christian life. As such, the Church has developed a number of different names to refer to it, all of which capture some important aspect of it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists and explains 11 such names (CCC 1328-1332). There are more names than that in our tradition, but these are particularly important. Here are the 11 names for Mass given by the Catechism: 1) Eucharist The Greek word this comes from means “thanksgiving.” The Mass is an act of thanksgiving to God – the best we can give! 2) Lord’s Supper The Catechism gives two explanations of this name: first, because of the Mass’ connection to Christ’s “Last Supper”; second, because the Mass anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in heaven. 3) Breaking of the Bread First, because Jesus used a part of the Jewish Passover tradition that involves the breaking of bread to institute the Eucharist. Second, because his disciples on the road to Emmaus “recognized him in the breaking of the bread.” (cf. Luke 24.35) Lastly, because this is how early Christians referred to the Mass (cf. Acts 2.42) 4) Eucharistic Assembly Because the Mass is ordinarily celebrated with a group of Christians, visibly manifesting the Church. 5) Memorial Because in the Mass we remember and make present Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on the cross. 6) Holy Sacrifice Because Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is made present during Mass, allowing us to unite our selves with him in offering to the Father. 7) Holy and Divine Liturgy Because of all the liturgies in the Church’s life, the Mass is the most important one. 8) Sacred Mysteries Because the Mass contains the greatest mysteries of the Christian life: God’s revelation, the incarnation, Christ’s death and resurrection, and communion. 9) Most Blessed Sacrament Because of all the 7 Sacraments, the Eucharist – the centerpiece of the Mass – the most important. This is because the Eucharist is Christ himself! 10) Holy Communion Because when we receive the Eucharist, we are mystically uniting ourselves to Christ and his Body. 11) Holy Mass “Because the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives.”

Lenten Regulations

1. The days of both Fast and Abstinence during Lent are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily His Resurrection. The other Fridays of Lent are days of Abstinence. On a day of Fast, only one (1) full meal is permitted, and two (2) smaller meals, which, if added together, would not exceed the main meal in quantity. Those between the ages of 18 and 59 are obliged to fast. On a day of Abstinence, no meat
may be eaten. Those who have reached the age of 14 are obliged by the law of abstinence.

2. The obligation to observe the laws of Fast and Abstinence “substantially”, or as a whole, is a serious obligation.
3.The Fridays of the year, outside of Lent, are designated as days of penance, but each individual may substitute for the traditional
abstinence from meat some other practice of voluntary self-denial as penance.
4.The time for fulfilling the Paschal Precept (Easter Duty*) extends from the First Sunday of Lent, February 18, 2018 to the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, May 27, 2018. *Canon 920, 1. All the faithful, after they have been initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, are bound by the obligation of receiving Communion at least once a year.

What are Sacramentals?

"What are Sacramentals?" While they are similar in name, Sacraments and Sacramentals have a unique and distinct role in the life of the Catholic Church. The seven Sacraments are outward signs that give grace to those who receive them in a worthy manner. Sacramentals are sacred signs instituted by the Church which bear a resemblance to the Sacraments. They prepare us to receive the fruit of the Sacraments and sanctify different circumstances of life. Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the Sacraments do, but by the Church's prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the theology of the sacramental in this way: “Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy. Sacramentals are instituted for the sanctification of certain ministries of the Church, certain states of life, a great variety of circumstances in Christian life, and the use of many things helpful to man. In accordance with bishops' pastoral decisions, they can also respond to the needs, culture, and special history of the Christian people of a particular region or time. They always include a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign, such as the laying on of hands, the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of holy water (which recalls Baptism). Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood: every baptized person is called to be a ‘blessing,' and to bless.Hence lay people may preside at certain blessings; the more a blessing concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained ministry (bishops, priests, or deacons). Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church's prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. ‘For well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives with the divine grace which flows from the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. From this source all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power. There is scarcely any proper use of material things which cannot be thus directed toward the sanctification of men and the praise of God.'” – (CCC, 1667 – 1670) Among Sacramentals, Blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. They include both praise of God for His works and gifts, and the Church's intercession that they may be able to use God's gifts according to the spirit of the Gospel. For example, the blessing at meals is a chance to offer God a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. It makes holy the mere need for nutrition and is a reminder of the most blessed meal, the Eucharist. The religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in various forms of piety, such as the veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, medals, etc.

The Altar

The altar is a fixed, freestanding table, the central focus for the celebration of the Eucharist. It is both altar and table. As altar, it is the place of sacrifice, where Christ, who was sacrificed on the cross for us, becomes present again under the sacramental form of bread and wine. As table, it gathers the people of God to share the Body and Blood of Christ, their holiest meal, which recalls the passover and grants a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. The altar is traditionally made of stone, but it may be constructed of another solid, well-crafted material such as wood or metal, which establishes its beauty and dignity. Its rectangular shape suited the liturgy before the Second Vatican Council, when the Scriptures were read from the sides of the altar. Today’s altar is often more square to accommodate the priest, the bread and the wine. But it should always be clear among church furnishings that the altar is the center of focus. When the altar of a church is consecrated, the bishop anoints its top with chrism. Chrism is the perfumed oil we reserve for the sacraments that are celebrated only once in one’s lifetime: baptism, confirmation and ordination. The consecration of an altar sets it apart permanently for its sacred purpose. In conjunction with this anointing, the altar also represents Jesus, whose title “Christ” means “anointed.” The proper reverence upon entering a church is to bow to the altar, unless the tabernacle is centrally located, in which case one genuflects to the tabernacle. In the past, the altar was located against the rear wall, and the priest celebrated Mass with his back to the people. Additional altars were often located in chapels around the church, permitting other priests to celebrate separate Masses at the same time. Today a church should have one altar, freestanding so the priest may walk completely around it. It should be permanently fixed to reflect the stability of our faith (General Instruction of the Roman Missal 299).

Altar Cloths

The altar used for Mass is covered with a cloth. At home and in restaurants we often cover our tables, especially for a banquet or meal of some importance. Similarly, the altar is covered because of “the banquet in which the Body and Blood of the Lord are offered” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal 304). But the altar is covered for another reason: “out of reverence for the celebration of the memorial of the Lord.” We dignify the altar where we will solemnly remember the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection. When a new altar is dedicated for a church, it is sprinkled with holy water, smeared with chrism, incensed and then covered with a cloth. Many of these symbols also appear in the baptismal liturgy, suggesting that the altar is covered in a garment just as the faithful are, as a sign of eternal life. There are no rules governing the material to be used. the size, shape and decoration of the cloth are to be “in keeping with the altar’s design.” At least one white cloth must be used. In the United States, cloths of other colors may also adorn the altar, but the topmost must be white. It may cover the top only; it need not dangle over the other cloths.After the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the altar cloths are completely removed. The Good Friday liturgy begins with a bare altar. A cloth is placed on the altar just before the communion rite, but it is removed again immediately after the Good Friday service, and the altar stands bare until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.

Sit, Stand, Kneel: The Symbolic Meaning of All that Moving at Mass!

Sitting Sitting is a posture of listening. Catholics sit for the first reading (often from the Old Testament), the Psalm (often actually sung), and the second reading (New Testament, not from the Gospel). We also sit for the offering, and the homily (sermon). We sit, ready to hear and receive. We sit to listen. Standing
For Prayer: Standing has been a posture of prayer for Jewish people since before the time of Jesus. Standing during prayer is also seen throughout different parts of the Bible. So, as Catholics, we continue to utilize this posture for prayer today.
Some examples of when we stand during Mass for prayer: When we pray the opening prayer (led by the Priest) say the Lord’s Prayer (as a congregation), and the Prayers of the Faithful (the prayer requests for the congregation). For the Creed: We stand as we say in unison what Christians have believed from the earliest times, in the form of the Nicene or Apostles Creed. We stand to affirm our unity and our beliefs together as Christians. For the Gospel: Standing is also a sign of respect. We have many readings from the Bible during Mass, but we stand for the Gospel out of particular respect, since these are the words and deeds of Jesus himself.
For the Procession: We stand at the beginning and end of Mass, also as a sign of respect as the celebrant (Priest or Bishop who is celebrating the Mass) processes in to begin the Mass, and processes out once the Mass has ended.
Kneeling When we enter Mass, we genuflect, where we bend and touch one of our knees to the floor. We are humbly acknowledging Jesus in the tabernacle, in the Eucharist. Catholics believe that Jesus is fully present, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist, which is Holy Communion. We believe when Jesus said “This is my body,” that he meant it literally. Jesus is veiled behind the appearance of bread and wine, but His presence is fully and truly there. This is something that the very earliest Christians believed, and continue to believe right through to the present day in Catholicism. So we acknowledge that by genuflection. Kneeling is a posture of respect and adoration. Another time when we kneel is during the preparation for and before/after reception of the Eucharist (the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion). We kneel, again, because we believe Jesus is fully and truly present in Communion. If you believed you were literally in the presence of Christ himself, falling to your knees would be a natural thing to do- probably even falling flat on your face.
So, we always kneel during this part of Mass, and we remain kneeling until the elements are put back away in the tabenacle, and the tabernacle is closed. The postures of Mass can, reflect your state of mind, or it can help put you in the right one. If you are sitting, standing and kneeling during Mass at all othe right times, but your heart isn’t in it, or you are distracted, or not focusing on the reason why you are in a particular posture, then you lose the bemefit of what the postures are meant to accomplish. But if you come into Mass and you genuflect towards the tabernacle, because you are humbly acknowledging Christ’s presence there, and if you sit, intent on listening with your mind, body, and soul, and if you stand, heart focused on prayer, and if you kneel acknowledging the presence of your Savior, then, you’ve got something
As in all of the structures within Mass, and within Catholicism as a whole, there are so many tools to help move your heart, mind, and soul closer in relationship with Jesus.
But you can’t just go through the motions.
And if you truly engage, and accept and embrace the meaning behind what you are doing, the graces and joys and richness available to you in Mass and in the Catholic Church are immensely beautiful, and only bring you nearer to your Savior.

Ordinary Time

Ordinary Time
Ordinary Time I - after the Baptism: Monday after the Feast of the Baptism through Shrove Tuesday. After the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Ordinary Time begins. Ordinary does not mean plain. The name comes from “ordinalis” meaning "showing order, denoting an order of succession.” It is used in this sense to refer to the order
of the counted weeks. That is to say, it is a season of counted weeks. Ordinary Time after the Baptism focuses on the early life and childhood of Christ, and then on His public ministry. The liturgical color of Ordinary Time is green; however, as in all seasons, other appropriate colors are worn on particular feast days. (For example, white is typically worn for Marian feast days, except in some Spanish countries where blue is an approved liturgical color.) Ordinary Time II - after Pentecost: The day after Pentecost through the final day before Advent. This is the second period of Ordinary Time and is the longest liturgical season. Ordinary Time resumes after Pentecost and runs until the final Saturday before Advent. This period of Ordinary Time focuses on Christ’s reign as King of kings, and on the age of the Church. This is the age we live in now, which is the time between the age of the Apostles and the age of Christ’s second and final coming for which we are ever preparing. The final Sunday in Ordinary Time is the Feast of Christ the King; the Saturday after this feast is the final day of Ordinary time. The liturgical color of Ordinary Time II is green; however, as in all seasons, other appropriate colors are worn on particular feast days.

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Marian Calendar

The Ambry

An ambry is the cabinet where holy oils are stored. Every church has one, though many people don’t know what its called. Three Oils are kept in the ambry - - the oil for anointing the sick, the oil for anointing catechumens, and chrism for baptism, confirmation, priesthood, and the consecration of altars and walls. The bishop blesses these oils in large containers at the Chrism Mass every year during Holy Week. Then the oil is poured into smaller vessels and brought to all the parishes of the diocese. The ambry is replenished with fresh oil every year. The shape and size of ambries varies quite a bit. The church gives very few specific instructions about its appearance. After the Chrism Mass, the Bishop instructs the presbyters in the sacristy about the “reverent use and safe custody of the holy oils.” After a priest anointsthe sick, he isinstructed to return the extra oil to a place “where it is reverently kept.” According to Canon Law, pastors should carefully keep all oils “in a fitting manner.” With those vague instructions the design for an Ambry needs only to be appropriate for its sacred contents and safe from vandalism, theft or some other harm. The Ambry may be visible or concealed. Many churches have an Ambry built into a wall of the sacristy. At St. Margaret of Cortona, you will find the Ambry on a pedestal near the Baptismal Font as you enter the church through the main doors. We have a great respect for the sacraments in which we use these holy oils. By keeping them in dignifies vessels and displaying them in a handsome case, the faithful can better regard their significance. Canon law also permits a priest to carry the oil of the sick with him in case of necessity. Most priests carry a small container in the glove compartment of their car. This picture is the actual Ambry at St. Margart of Cortona Parish in Little Ferry, NJ.

When lighting a candle

When you light a candle for another person or for your very personal intention always remember that the candle prolongs your prayer. As long as the candle is burning, your prayer is rising to God. Like the candle is spreading light and warmth, so you can imagine that with your prayer, your love and the love of God is flowing towards the person for whom you pray. Your prayer makes the life of the person brighter and warmer. Your prayer brightens your vision so that with greater confidence you can look upon the person and see with the eyes of the Love of God. When you pray for a pesonal intention light will enter the darkness;hope fills you. You may trust that God himself looks upon you and HIS merciful love overshadows you. A candle radiates a gentle light. In the dim light of a candle you will look upon people and on your own life with gentleness. In calmness you will also be able to look at your own faults to have them healed by God.

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Angels The English word “angel” comes from the Greek angelos, which means “messenger.” In the Hebrew Scriptures, with two exceptions, the Hebrew word for angel is malak and also means “messenger.” Although “angel” nearly always applies to heavenly beings when used in the Bible, it occasionally applies to human messengers. The most significant angel is Gabriel, who appears to Daniel, Zachary and Mary. We celebrate the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael on September 29. On October 2 we celebrate the feast of our Guardian Angels, who watch over and safeguard all God’s creatures. “No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent, for God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:10–12). Explanation of the 9 Choirs of Angels 1. Seraphim Name means the burning ones, and they are Attendants at the Throne of God. They praise God singing, “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts!” (Isaiah 6:1-7) 2. Cherubim Name means the Fullness of Wisdom, and theyContemplate God’s providence. Assigned to protect special places. (Exodus 25:18-21; Ezekiel 10:14; Revelation 4-6) 3. Thrones Represent the steadfastness of the love of God. The contemplate God’s power and judgment, and they appear as the most unlike the others when revealed. (Ezekiel 10:17; Colossians 1:16; Daniel 7:9) 4. Dominions Lord over the lower choirs and humanity. They take illumination from the higher hierarchies and govern the universe. (Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16) 5. Virtues Run the operation of movement in the universe. They are often associated with planets, elements, seasons, and nature. (Ephesians 1:21) 6. Powers Assist in governing the natural order. They are warrior angels tasked with fighting the war against the demonic choirs. (Ephesians 1:21, Ephesians 6:12) 7. Principalities Princes of the lowest triad assigned to care and guard communities, kingdoms, states, and parishes. They are associated with transitions in power. (Ephesians 3:10, Ephesians 1:21) 8. Archangels Leader angels assigned to communicate and carryout God’s important plans for man. Michael, Gabriel, and Rafael are the only 3 names we know. (Jude 9, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, The book of Tobit) 9. Angels Angels are closest to the material world and humanity. The lowest choir is where we get the majority of our personal guardian angels. (Luke 22:43, Matthew 18:10, Hebrews 13:2)

What is a Sacrament?

A sacrament is an outward sign of an invisible spiritual reality. Because humans are a unity of a physical body and a spiritual soul, God uses the means of physical objects and rituals to convey spiritual truths that we cannot detect using our senses. The sacraments are seven in number and have their source in the saving work of Jesus in his passion, death, and resurrection, and were established by Him for the sanctification of every member of His Church.

Sacraments and Sacramentals

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The Papal Artifacts Collection by Father Richard Kunst, Curator

A growing collection of old, rare, and unique papal items, from documents to papal clothing.