Ask fAther terry

Father Terry invites your questions and will share his answer here and in the bulletin.  Your name will not be published. 

Email your questions to tjh@stmichaelcanfield.org or phone 330-533-6839.

Bells and Incense at Mass

“As I watched other Catholic Masses on TV during the pandemic, many still use the bells and incense. Is there a reason our church does not?” 

I will do my best to answer this question. In the very early Church, the Emperor Nero forbid the celebration of the Mass, so it was said by the early Christians underground in hiding, obviously no bells. Mass was said usually in basements around a table. The emphasis was on the Eucharistic meal. When Constantine freed Christianity in 313 AD Mass could now be said in public and was said much as it is today, still no bells. The emphasis still on the Eucharist meals. This period in Church history is called the “Classical Period.” As the years went by, and the Church spread into former pagan lands, the Mass began to move from the concept of a meal to that of a sacrifice. The sacredness of the ritual began to suppress the communal prayer concept of the meal. The priest turned around with his back to the people, so all are facing the same way (God).

 

Latin crept in, incense, this practice follows pretty much the same path, with heavy emphasis on worshiping the divine rather than celebrate “God with us”, silence, a strong sense of human unworthiness, and sinfulness, and lack of people receiving communion. This period is called the "Dark Ages". As no one was receiving communion, and Mass was in Latin, the people in pews were just observing the Mass but not participating. The dialogue in the Mass was between in Priest and the servers, but not the congregation. The bells came in at this time so the congregation could at least look at the altar to see the host being raised up.

In the Old Tridentine Mass, the “Missale Romanum”, promulgated in 1570 by Pope Pius, prescribed the ringing of the bells at both the Sanctus and the consecration. When Pope Paul VI at the end of Vatican Council II issued the revisions of the Mass, they were an attempt to return to the “Classical Period” of the Mass. But the practice of ringing the bell was retained as an option. Today the rubrics (instructions from the Vatican) leave it to the discretion of the pastor whether a bell should be used or not. The use of a bell at Mass is a long standing tradition, but not using a bell is an even longer standing tradition. Most pastors ordained just after the end of Vatican Council II were trained not to use bells. This is simplified, volumes have been written on this topic.

As far as the incense question goes the path is similar. It is part of the emphasis on worshipping the divine, rather than having a meal with “God with us.” One more factor: I am very allergic to incense. The last time I used it I ended up in the Emergency Room. I hope this has been helpful.

Pandemic Question

“Father, do you think God is trying to tell us something?”

After the past several months of the pandemic, I have had numerous people say to me: “Father, do you think God is trying to tell us something?”

My answer is “Yes I do.” Then usually a very interesting discussion follows. It might be interesting to find out what YOU think God is trying to tell us. We could then make a list of all of our answers, and see what we come up with. It would be your option to put your name on it. Send to me at the office by mail, drop in the collection basket, or email me at tjh@stmichaelcanfield.org

For example: “I think God is telling us we have forgotten how to keep holy the Lord’s Day.” (Anonymous)

From Our Parishioners:


"20 20 means perfect vision. What do you think God wants us to clearly see in this year 2020?"

 

"I think God is telling us that he’s still the one in charge. Men may think they rule the earth but they are only small specs in the whole of the universe."

 

"Maybe God is telling us that we should be paying more time and attention to our families, especially our spouses and children.”

 

There may be a lot of truth to this. I know during the stay at home orders I saw a lot more couples walking around the parking lot with children on tricycles or in strollers. It was a beautiful sight to see!
 

More about Angels

“Father, tell us more about Angels."

Not too long ago someone asked me about our Catholic belief in angels. Yes we do believe in Angels. In fact we believe there are 9 choirs of Angels. They are in order from highest rank to lowest: they are: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.
Our own Guardian Angels are members of the choir “Angels”. The three Angels that we hear much about are all members of the choir of Archangels. The names are: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

Guardian Angels

“Does our Catholic Church still believe in Guardian Angels?"

Yes we do. Furthermore, almost all churches Jewish and Christian believe we are all under the care of Guardian Angels. Psalm 91 reads: “For He commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go, With their hands they will support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” There is also this well-known passage in Matthew’s Gospel “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father (Mt. 18:10)”. The term guardian

is a good one. Angels are not mere servants for us, they guard us and direct us. I think we need them right now during this Coronavirus more than any other time in our individual lives. 

St. Michael Parish          

300 North Broad Street, Canfield, OH  44406  /  330-533-6839  /  Directions

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