Saturday, January 17, 2009

February 2009

February 2: Candlemas

Most people recognize February 2nd as Groundhog's Day. The Church from antiquity has recognized it as a special day for another reason, as according to the liturgical calendar it is The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and the Purification of Mary. This day has also from antiquity been called by another name as well: Candlemas. This is because of the sublime custom of distributing, blessing, and lighting of candles during the Mass appointed for that day.

A high point is the lighting of the candles from the Preface through the Consecration, a visually moving way of signifying the high point of the service. At St. Paul's we have been observing Candlemas for a number of years, but most people didn't notice it because it didn't fall on a Sunday. Whenever it fell on a weekday (liturgically, feria), it was generally observed in the morning, when only a few people would be in attendance. Since it is a Feast of our Lord, when in 2003 it fell on Sunday, it took precedence over the regularly scheduled Sunday Mass, and therefore was observed and the entire worshiping congregation was present and able to appreciate it.

Since then we’ve been altering our observance a bit to enable more people to attend this Feast, by moving it to the Wednesday Midweek Mass whenever it did not happen to fall on a Sunday. This year February 2nd falls on Monday, and although we will be having First Monday Vespers that night, we will not observe Candlemas until Wednesday night, the 3rd.

Every member of St. Paul's is encouraged to come to this beautiful and dignified ceremony and Mass. February 2nd is the fortieth day from Christmas, which makes it the day when any woman who gave birth was required to come for her rite of purification. Thus the Blessed Virgin Mary came, and when she came she presented her first born Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as she was also required to do by the law.

When Jesus was presented in the temple, the priest Simeon also came in and declared, in the words of the Nunc Dimittis,

Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.

This declaration of the Christ Child as a Light is the reason for the ceremonial use of candles at this Mass. The use of these lights in connection with the Blessed Sacrament emphasizes the analogy of Simeon's exultation on receiving the Child with our own reception of Christ at the altar. This connection is made at every Mass, of course, in our own recitation of the Nunc Dimittis. At Candlemas, the connection is highlighted because the Gospel appointed for the day is this very Gospel.

The name of this Feast, Candlemas, also subtly provides a link to the Feast from which it springs, that great feast of forty days earlier, namely Christmas.

+ Pastor Eckardt

February Birthdays

2/2 Mindie Fisher
2.3 Joshua Kraklow
2/5 Tom Wells
2/17 Monroe Kemerling
2/23 Carol McReynolds
2/24 Ruth Snider

February Ushers
Otis Anderson, Scott Clapper, John Ricknell, Bill Thompson

February Anniversaries

A Letter from Kewanee Food Pantry
Received 10 January 2009

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your generous contribution of 22 bags of food to the Kewanee Food Pantry from Sept. 2 – Dec. 31, 21008. God bless.
Marjorie Davis, Director

Daily Mass for Lent, note time change:
The daily mass schedule for Lent is as follows.
Mondays, 8 am.
Tuesdays, 9:30 am (Kewanee Care)
Wednesdays, 7 pm (as usual).
Thursdays, 8 am
Fridays, 8 am
Saturdays, 9 am.

Note the time change for Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays: 8 am. This does not apply to Ash Wednesday, which, as noted above, will be observed at 7 am and 7 pm
During Lent, Saturday (Junior) catechesis follows morning mass.

The Lighter Side
– on Marriage
* They call our language the mother tongue because the father seldom gets to speak.
* It doesn't matter how often a married man changes his job, he still ends up with the same boss.
* My wife and I always compromise; I admit I'm wrong and she agrees with me.
* Marriage is a relationship in which one person is always right and the other is a husband.
* A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
* A successful woman is one who can find such a man.
* A husband said to his wife,
* “No, I don't hate your relatives. In fact, I like your mother-in-law better than I like mine.”
* A man said his credit card was stolen but he decided not to report it because the thief was spending less than his wife did.
* The most effective way to remember your wife's birthday is to forget it once.
* Cosmetics: A woman's way of keeping a man from reading between the lines.
* Married life is very frustrating. In the first year of marriage, the man speaks and the woman listens. In the second year, the woman speaks and the man listens. In the third year, they both speak and the neighbors listen.

Shut ins

Mary Hamilton at home; Ruth Snider at home; Mark Baker at home, and Anna Baker at home. Jack Stewart at Kewanee Care; Mirilda Greiert at Courtyard Estates; Elva Garrison at Avon Nursing Home; Ruth Melchin at Hillcrest Home; Jane Melchin at Lutheran Home, Peoria. At printing, Lorraine Mohr was temporarily at Kewanee Care, expecting to move back home in a few days.

Altar Guild Notes

Weather intruded in our plans for a January meeting, so we plan again, to do some sewing at our meeting, set now for February 2nd, and we will be doing some sewing on the altar linens. Jan is bringing her sewing machine; some will bring pins.

Please note that the amount of wine set out for Sunday mornings has sometimes been a bit scant, and should be increased just a bit. Also, the purificators set out for Mass should be the ones with the fancier cross; the others are for Pastor’s private calls.

Septuagesima Season
This season includes the three Sundays prior to Lent. February 8th is Septuagesima Sunday, February 15th is Sexagesima Sunday, and February 22nd is Quinquagesima Sunday. These names mean seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth, respectively, and indicate the anticipation of Easter by as many days, approximated on the Sunday that falls nearest to the seventieth, sixtieth, or fiftieth day before Easter.

Wednesday afternoons
are now reserved for a meeting of volunteers to work on preparation of new Ordos, an, at 2:30, to record St. Paul’s on the Air. Anyone may join us, especially for the recording, which is really a Bible Class.

Ash Wednesday, February 25:
On this first day of Lent, we will celebrate Mass twice, both at 7 a.m. and at 7 p.m. On both occasions we will observe the imposition of ashes, to mark the first day of this holy season of fasting and prayer.

Looking Ahead: A Change in the Easter Schedule

This year, we are initiating a change in schedule for Easter. The Sunrise Mass will be moved to 7 am Sunday morning, rather than 6 am. This moves the Easter breakfast to about 8:30. There will be no late Easter Mass, however.

Therefore, plan ahead: only one Mass on Easter morning, at 7 a.m., followed by the Easter breakfast.

As in the past, the Easter Vigil will be held at 7 pm on Saturday, the day before Easter.

Keeping the Feast: A Study of the Holy Liturgy (continued)
Our Father and Words of Institution

At this point in the Mass—from the Our Father and Words of Institution until the time of distribution, it is fitting for the entire congregation to kneel, in humble acknowledgment that here Christ is condescending to come to us in pity and mercy.

During the Our Father, the Celebrant holds his hands out or up high, and chants what, together with the Verba, forms the central ingredient of the canon. Jesus instructed His disciples to pray using these words. He did not offer that command in a vacuum, but, we may rightly assume, meant for it to be used especially in connection with His Supper.

Next, the celebrant sings or speaks the words of institution, as the Formula of Concord insists: “the words of institution are to be publicly spoken or sung before the congregation distinctly and clearly, and should in no way be omitted” (SD, VII, 79).

This is said in opposition to the practice which arose in the sixth or seventh century, of the celebrant’s saying the canon of the mass (which includes the Our Father and the Words of Institution) silently. The people knew the words were being said, but they could not hear them.

This was likely an outgrowth of a venerable third century practice called the disciplina arcani in which the catechumenate were not allowed even to remain present for the liturgy of the faithful, when the Our Father and the Verba were said. There was a very close scrutiny kept regarding those who could even hear those words in the liturgy. And even when they were preached or written about, it was done only obliquely, using intentionally vague expressions. The idea behind this practice was a worthy one, namely to uphold the sanctity and holiness of the Sacrament, in much the same way as the name of God was not to be spoken aloud during Old Testament times. There was even a practice among women of donning their veils at this time, and the doors of the church are watched so that no one but the communicants may be present. The overall idea at work was that a great mystery is here, at which we bend the knee and worship with sighs too deep for words. This understanding is actually considered by many to have been a key contributing factor in the appeal of the church in its early centuries. Although we no longer have the disciplina arcani, we can learn from its use. There is no need, for example, to take school children into the sacristy and have them taste unconsecrated bread before their first communion, as if to remove the mystery. The mystery ought to be preserved; after all, that’s why we call it a sacrament.

Yet as we consider this history we also find an instance of a noble idea taken too far, particularly in the rise of the “secret” utterance of the canon. For by the seventh century, nobody at all was able to hear the clearest expression of the Holy Gospel. Virtually every instance of the arising of a faulty or poor practice in the history of the Church can be traced to some pious or decent idea or purpose now come to be abused, and this is no exception. The removal from the hearing of the people of the Words of Institution—which Luther regarded as the purest expression of the Gospel—should not be taken otherwise than as a diabolical robbery of the words of our Lord from His people. One of the salient features of the Reformation was to provide that the Gospel was heard. Often this is misunderstood to mean merely that Bibles were put in to the hands of the people. Although the printing press was certainly a tremendous invention which aided the success of the Reformation, the primary place for the hearing of the Gospel was at mass. The Gospel was to be preached, and, most prominently, to be clearly and distinctly heard most especially in the Word of Institution.

There is on the other hand no warrant for providing that all the people say the Our Father aloud at this point. Although certainly the Our Father is and ought to be chief among the daily prayers of Christian people, and therefore is properly said by all during the prayer offices (matins, vespers, etc.), yet at mass it takes on an additional, consecratory purpose, and therefore ought to be said by the celebrant alone. Although the custom of congregational recitation of the Our Father with the celebrant at mass is common in the twenty-first century, is a Roman Catholic innovation from De Musica Sacra, issued on 3 Sept.1958 by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. This ruling authorized the faithful to say the Our Father with the celebrant (in Latin: the Pater Noster), but only at a Low, i.e., spoken Mass. Since Vatican II, in the 1960s, even that restriction was lifted. But it was not so prior. From antiquity the Church has sung aloud only its response to the Our Father, saying “For Thine is the kingdom,” etc.

By this rubric a reminder of the connection between the Our Father and the Words of Institution made: the Our Father always belongs with the Words of Institution, and, together with them, effects the very consecration of the elements. Moreover, in this we also have a hint of respect toward the old disciplina arcanum. That is to say, while it is important that these words be heard clearly and distinctly; yet their removal from the lips of the people at this point is a subtle reminder of their profound sacredness. All of these words are therefore uttered by the celebrant alone, and thus the holiness of the moment is accentuated.

Private Confession is always available to anyone between 6 and 6:30 pm on these Wednesdays (and also, as always, by appointment).

Pastor is usually available as well on Saturdays, from about 4 pm until Mass.

Know Anyone Who Might Need a Visit?
If ever you become aware of a member who might have a special need or desire for a pastoral visit, please contact Pastor to let him know. 852-2460.

On the Lookout for Visitors
Don’t be shy about inviting visitors to join you when you come to church. Brochures are available in the hallway to give friends, associates, relatives, etc. If you think someone might be interested but is hesitating, offer to pick him up and bring him with you. Offer your assistance if the liturgy is unfamiliar.

St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443

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