Tag Archives: Catholic Church

SACRISTAN – The Jack of All Trades

Having a typical human being attitude, you don’t get to realize the value of a person until you have an abrupt role reversal and get to play that person. Similarly yesterday, the Faculty of Theology had to organize the mass celebrated for the Annunciation. Myself known to be the Universal Monitor of three batches and sometimes nicknamed as the Pope, took the liberty of appointing the lectors, cantor and selecting the hymns for the mass. I assumed that this is all that I had to do, in order to organize a mass. For my surprise, when I entered into the chapel, little did I know that the job of the Sacristan was awaiting me.

The heart attack for the day started off with the shooting pain, when I saw that nothing was arranged in the chapel. No Lectionary (The book which has the daily mass readings), Missal (The book which has the prayers and responses of the priest and the congregation), wine and the host, water, microphones, lamps, hymnals and everything that you can think of which is needed for the mass. Gathering myself together, calm and composed as possible and only having 20 minutes to prepare, I prioritized the tasks. The first question I asked myself was, what is the most important thing that will be needed and without which the mass cannot be celebrated. DUH!! The Readings for the day!

Liturgy of the WordSo I found the Lectionary, grabbed the Ordo (The book that provides a guideline about the significance of the day and the readings for the day) and started to dive and find the reading for the day. Since it was a solemnity (a feast), it couldn’t have been in the lenten section, kept on finding and I called up a friend who knew how to find it and finally, Yureka! Likewise found the correct page in the Missal for the Priest and placed it on the altar.

Liturgy of the EucharistThe second priority during the mass is, of course the Host, Wine and the Water. These were placed in the sacristy, so put them into the relevant vessels and kept them on the altar. Then I went on to do the arrangements of the altar along with the vestment of the Priest. Since it was lent and the lenten colour is purple, that was a bit of a cake walk. But then how many lamps do you light during a mass? Well I learned this for the subject called Liturgy, but didn’t want to clutter my brain with too much information at that time. Why would I wanna remember that right? I’m not the sacristan! Well now I am and that was important to know. Anyways, lit a lamp and kept it. With not much of time left in hand, I was hunting for the microphones, which seem to have been missing, but tracked it down on time. The next problem was, how to get them working? Because I’m no expert in that area. Did a little bit of twisting and turning of the buttons and tested the microphones and Bingo! there you go, it works!

Having only 5 minutes in hand, the heart attack was when I realized that none of the appointed lectors and cantor were there. So managed to utilize the available human resources and reorganize the choices. Selecting the appropriate hymns was the next milestone. It was weird how we easily found the offertory and final hymns but the entrance hymn was a bit of a hard nut and missed it, because the Priest was already there to celebrate the mass.

Whew… One heck of a rat race I must say. Come to think of it, if you analyze my thought process, as to how I prioritize the tasks, it’s exactly the same way how the mass generally flows. For Liturgy, we learned that if the mass was put in a form of a graph, the 2 peak points would be,

  • Liturgy of the Word (The Gospel) Liturgy Graph
  • Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Likewise, my first 2 priorities were these. If you take a look at the Liturgy preparation, each minute detail makes a big difference and it is because it has a meaning. The celebration is a ritual. The Catholic Church breathes along with 2 lungs, Sacred Scripture and Tradition. Details like the colour of the vestments, number of lamps to be lit at different types of Eucharistic Celebrations are handed down from thousands of years young tradition. And the amusing thing is, we might find it too much to digest, so much of details and information right? But all these details are available in one repository, approximately found in all churches of the world. The Sacristan! Just like Joseph’s coat of many colours, the Sacristan is a man of many shades.

In the context of Sri Lanka, we hardly recognize the role of this man. But if anything goes wrong on the altar during the mass, he’ll for sure be the first scapegoat. And we take his job for granted. But what I realized yesterday was that, he’s a technician, an interior designer, a florist, a Taylor, a master of the Lectionary and also who knows the work of a Nun and a Priest on the altar. Hence the Sacristan is The Jack of All Trades when it comes to the mass. Hats off!

Eucharist : Communion or Discrimination??

Eucharist has been a controversial topic, specially in a multicultural and multi-religious continent like Asia. I wanted to bring out this topic because of a question raised by my non-catholic cousin and something that I learned from the theologate. This post is basically an anthropological view of the Eucharist.

The word “Eucharist” is derived from Greek, Eucharistia which means Thanksgiving. According to the explanation of the Church it is,

Following are some of the biblical quotations where Jesus refers to His Body and Blood and invites everyone to participate in the mystery of Eucharist to attain eternal salvation.

  • Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mtt 26, 26 – 28)
  • I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”” (Jn 6, 51)

The FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference) gives a vision of a Renewed Church (FABC Papers No. 106) of 8 movements within the context of Asia, where we can help people encounter Christ. Like I said Asia is coloured with many religions and cultures. Therefore, Is preaching the Gospel and living a good Christian Life (being a self example) alone are enough for Evangelization?? In the Eucharist, we become one with Christ when we receive Him into our inner being. Christ invited everyone to partake of this great banquet. Did He specify that ONLY Catholics/ Christians are allowed??

I go to the Hindu and Buddhist temples in my country. In the Hindu temple they offer the devotees Prasad a food offering made to a god and then shared among the people, to both Hindus and non-Hindus. I’m not saying that the Eucharist is similar to the Prasad!

EucharistThe Eucharist IS the very Body of Christ, it IS Christ Himself! My cousin who’s a Hindu but is more inclined towards Christianity participates in the Sunday Mass. One day, out of the blue he asked me, “Why can’t I receive Communion?” So I told him that he doesn’t know the full mystery behind the Eucharist, it is the Body of Christ and you have to be baptized  and also should be in a worthy state to receive Christ. And I’m sure that it sounded like some kind of a Criminal offense for him. But realistically speaking, we preach of a Universal Salvation and when it comes to the Eucharist where we symbolize Fellowship, we limit it to the privileged baptized!

I’m not going against the Church’s view of the Sacramentality and preserving the sacredness of the Eucharist from profanity. But there are people of simple faith like my cousin who understand the meaning of the Eucharist and would like to experience the same oneness with Christ that we experience. At the end of the day we’re all human beings, no matter how much we know that God is with us all the time, we prefer to Touch Him, See Him and Taste Him. Imagine what would happen if the Church decided suddenly to stop giving Communion?? Or God rejected you for being dark or differently abled or even highly judgmental about everything??

On a personal anthropological level, I think we can Evangelize better if we understood the real concept of the Eucharist that Christ explained to us. This is something that has to be considered instead of arguing whether we should receive communion directly on hand or tongue. It would be more meaningful if we call everyone for a fellowship, a real communion without discriminating others with the sentence announced during the mass “Non-Christians are not allowed to receive Communion!” And I hope that they will dawn someday 🙂 Till then, Eucharist is only for the Baptized Christians!….

Marriages ARE made in Heaven!!??

This is my last year at the Theologate and we have to work on our Final Year Thesis! So all my batch mates are venturing into various areas of interest to figure out what they want to do.

The Code of Canon LawSo one of my friends dropped me an e-mail with her Thesis proposal yesterday. She wanted my opinion on what I thought as a spectator/ audience. Her subject area was “Canon Law” and she wanted to find answers to the questions,

  • Are marriages really made in heaven??
  • By granting divorce is the Church unbinding what IS ALREADY bound in Heaven??
  • Or by NOTgranting divorce is the Church binding what is NOT bound in Heaven??

Clearly, this is hard meat for my first post on the blog! But facing reality, this is seriously a question that some of the canonists take into account as well as all of us keep on questioning.

I checked out her documentation and the tone of the documentation seemed very “Accusatory”. It picked on how the Church was forcibly binding people in marriage and a divorce was granted only based on Canon 1095 and any other reason had to find its way through this canon. She sounded more like she was heading for another Council :D. So this is how I basically analyzed the situation.

  1. Church’s View on Divorce
  2. My Friend’s View on Divorce

Church’s View on Divorce

We are a FamilyAs I see, the view of a family from the Church’s point is a team comprising of different players. Each player has their own strengths as well as weaknesses. One player’s strength is used to complement another player’s weakness. No Coach is obviously looking for a player who’s Jack of all trades. Likewise, in marriage, husband and wife complement each other. Divorce seems to be a rigorous process because the Church does not want a family to break so easily. It’s a fragile institution, not something that can be built in a day and then when certain cracks occur, you demolish the entire construction. Marriage is something sacred, hence it’s a sacrament. And you don’t go breaking sacraments just like that. And if the Church was to grant permission for divorce even for the slightest reason, what would be the end result of it?? It would be the visa for all individuals to flee from their responsibilities and not get into the world of “commitment” – where no matter what, you are bound to the person YOU chose to be bound.

My Friend’s View on Divorce

DivorceGetting back into the shoes of my friend, yes, I do agree with her that the Canon has certain loop holes as well as tight knots in it. As the Pope has also mentioned in two instances that the Canon has to be revised, it certainly should be implemented. So with regard to her Thesis outcome, what I suggested that she could do is, either proposes a new canon (though I’m not sure if it’s actually possible) or provide refinements for the existing canon.

At the end of the day, you question the Church means you question yourself, caz YOU are the Church. So help yourself in finding a solution to your problem. We are not the enemies of the Church nor is the Church the enemies of Her own body. Sometimes when we question the Church we tend to act like frogs in the well without even having a sneak peak into the greater reality out there. So when we are questioning or trying to find answers, we should make it a point to Think like the POPE!!