Category Archives: Father’s Messages

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HOLY MASS EXPLAINED Part 12

“Lamb of God…” is a prayer of humble petition and invocation to Jesus Christ to purify the soul from every sin. It is also an immediate preparation before approaching the table of The Lord.

Then follows the invitation for the people, who are prepared, to come and take part in the banquet of The Lord. The priest, raising the consecrated host so as to be seen by the people, invites with the words: “Behold the Lamb of God … blessed are those who are called to the supper of The Lord”.

Everyone, who would like to participate in the supper of The Lord, responds saying: “Lord! I am not worthy to receive you ….” It is possible that we may not realize the significance of this response, because we recite this during every Mass, which we participate in. We may be led to say this prayer as a habitual act. Let us remember that it is exactly the words which the centurion, a Roman military officer, pronounced to Jesus, before receiving him into his home to heal one of his servants, who was sick. Imagine, how humbly this officer has invited The Lord, in spite of his power and authority! What are we, after all! Let us welcome The Lord with the same feeling and attitude of this officer. Since God comes into our soul with immense love, let us actually receive him into our soul with love and joy.

At the same time, since God comes into our soul, it is very important that we keep our soul pure. We must never receive unworthily with a mortal sin. If one is stained with a mortal sin, and there is no opportunity to go for Confession, then he/ she should sincerely feel sorry and ask internally for forgiveness from The Lord, before going to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord into his/her soul. Nevertheless, at the next opportunity, it is better to go for Confession and be cleansed through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

For those who think, why one should go for the Mass and receive the Body & Blood of The Lord, let me remind what Jesus has declared: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). “… he who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:58).

To be continued,

Fr. Arul Joseph V


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HOLY MASS EXPLAINED Part 11

Part Three: Liturgy of the Eucharist:

With the prayer of glory and doxology, “Through Him, with Him and in Him…” the Eucharistic prayer comes to an end. Now we begin our immediate preparation to receive the nourishing spiritual food, the Body and Blood of Christ.

Communion Rite:

Step one: As a first step of our preparation, we pray as Our Lord has taught his disciples to pray. Taught by him, we dare to call God, who is almighty and who created heaven and earth, as our Father. The prayer “Our Father” contains, first, three praising petitions directed towards God:

  • Our Father hallowed be thy name;
  • Thy kingdom come;
  • Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

This is followed by four petitions related to our various needs:

  • Give us this day our daily bread;
  • Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
  • Lead us not into temptation;
  • But deliver us from evil.

Step two: We continue to pray that we may be freed from every evil and that Jesus may consider favorably our faith, rather than our sinfulness and fill us with his peace, which he imparted to his disciples, after his resurrection. Prayer for peace is important at this juncture, because the word “Communion” means “union with” God and with one another. Having prayed for peace, as a sign and gesture of our union, we offer the sign of peace with each other.

Step three: Since by receiving of the Eucharist, we are going to receive Jesus Christ, we invoke Jesus to purify our soul by praying “Lamb of god who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us…”

To be continued,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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HOLY MASS EXPLAINED PART 10

Part Three: Liturgy of the Eucharist:

Following the response of the assembly to the invitation of the priest to proclaim the Mystery of Faith saying, “We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again”, the priest continues to pray as the presider of the assembly.

Prayer for unity and intercession:

This is the moment of the Mass, we are to put our heart and soul into acts of faith, love and adoration, because Jesus Christ is substantially present on the altar. Yes, Jesus Christ, with his divinity and humanity, is really present, just as he was present and offered himself for us on the cross. We should love to be beside him, just as Our Blessed Mother and St. John were present beside the cross on Calvary.

The Holy Mass is never a private action, even if a very few people or even if only one person or not even one person is present. It is a celebration of the entire Church. The prayer brings to our mind the presence of the communion of saints, which includes the angels and the saints.

We also pray that we may be gathered into one Body and Spirit by the Holy Spirit. We pray for the Pope, for the bishop of the local diocese, we pray for the living and deceased members. We pray especially for ourselves that through the intercession of the saints, we may one day arrive at the heavenly table, of which this table is only a foretaste.

In conclusion, we look forward to the glorious day raising our voices with those of angels and saints saying: “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever”. Our “Amen” to this prayer of glory and doxology acclaims our assent.

To be continued,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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HOLY MASS EXPLAINED PART 9

Part Three: Liturgy of the Eucharist:

Concluding the Preface with singing “Holy, Holy, Lord God of Holiness…”, the priest begins the proper Eucharistic Prayer.

Consecration:

The most solemn moment of the Holy Mass is the consecration. Up to this moment, what was on the altar is merely bread and wine. Giving praise and thanks to God; the priest, then, prays imposing his hands over the gifts. He calls upon the Holy Spirit to come down and transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ by making the sign of the cross over the gifts. Following this, he recalls the events of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. From this moment, what is on the altar is the Body and Blood of Christ in the appearance of bread and wine. With this transformation, Jesus, the Son of God is truly, substantially and really present on the altar.

One might ask, whether it is possible. Yes, it is possible, because this is done by the power of God. The priest, standing at the altar is only a minister of God, who acts visibly in the person of Jesus Christ. The ONE, who sacrificed himself on the Cross and offered his body and blood as our food has the power to transform the simple bread and wine into his Body and Blood and offer the same as the food for our spiritual life.

After this, the priest pronounces the word of consecration “This is my Body …” and “This is the cup of my Blood…” and raises high for the people to look at the marvelous and memorable Sacrament and adore Jesus Christ. With our physical eyes we see just bread and wine, but with the eyes of faith, we can recognize Our Lord himself. While it is being raised, having recognized Him, we are expected to express our faith in the words of St. Thomas, “My Lord and my God”. I have seen many people utter repeatedly these words of faith either quietly or calmly in their mouth during the elevation.

It is worth remembering what Jesus told St. Thomas, when he proclaimed his faith, after having seen and touched the Risen Lord: “Thomas, you believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

As believers, the priest invites the people saying: “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith” and the people reply, for example, “We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.”

To be continued,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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HOLY MASS EXPLAINED Part 8

Part Three: Liturgy of the Eucharist:
Following the Presentation of the Gifts, which symbolize our heart & soul and our entire life in the form of bread and wine, we move to the next stage, which is the central and most important part of the Holy Mass.

The Eucharistic Prayer:
The long prayer forms the heart of our faith. There are four Forms of the Eucharistic prayer. Considering the time factor, we, generally use the second Form, which is the shortest, for the daily Mass and sometimes for the Sunday Mass. The other three Forms are a little longer and they are used for solemn and festive days. I use the 2nd Form for the 7:30 a.m. Mass at St. Peter’s and 9:00 a.m. Mass at Casimir’s. Otherwise, on Sundays and on festive days, I use the 3rd Eucharistic prayer. Even though they differ in length, all have the same structure: We call upon God to remember all the wonderful saving

Even though they differ in length, all have the same structure: We call upon God to remember all the wonderful saving

We call upon God to remember all the wonderful saving deeds in salvation history;
We recall the central event fulfilled by Jesus Christ and in particular the memorial he left us on the night before he died. Thus, we recall his passion, death, and resurrection; and
After gratefully calling to mind all the wonderful saving acts, God has done for us in the past, we petition God to continue those deeds of Christ in the present: we pray that we may become one body, one spirit in Christ.

The Eucharistic prayer begins with the Preface, with a kind of dialogue between the presiding priest and the assembly. First, the priest greets the people saying, “The Lord be with you”. He, then, asks the people to approach the table of the Lord with the invitation, “Lift up your hearts” and the people respond, “We lift them up to the Lord”. Again, the priest asks the people to give thanks to the Lord and the people respond, “it is right and just”.

The preface introduces us into the central part of the Eucharistic prayer, concluding with the joyful and enthusiastic words, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God …” With faith and fervor we join the Angels and Saints in praising God with these words, for the marvelous gift, He is going to give us at the Eucharistic table.

To be continued
Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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HOLY MASS EXPLAINED Part 7

Part Three: Liturgy of the Eucharist:
With the homily and Creed, the Liturgy of the Word comes to an end. Then begins the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the third part of the Holy Mass. After having listened to the Word of God, having reflected over them and having proclaimed our faith, we move to the Table of the Lord. At any meal in the home, there are three actions: we set the table, say grace and share the food. Just like this, we have at Mass, three rituals known as

• The Preparation of the Gifts
• Eucharistic Prayer and
• The Communion Rite.

Preparation of the Gifts:
During the early history of Christianity, each brought from their homes bread and wine to be offered in the Church and subsequently to be distributed for the participants and the poor. Similarly, today, bread and wine, as the fruit of people’s hard work, are brought to the altar, to be offered to God. Besides, members of the parish take up a collection from the assembly and bring it to the altar, as a sign of their sacrifice, to be used for the pastoral needs and the poor. The bread and wine and the monetary offering are the symbols of our hard work, our studies, our needs, our struggles and even our own weaknesses. The priest, then, mixes a drop of water with wine, reciting a prayer, “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity”. Having offered the bread and wine and prior to consecrating them, so that they may be transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, the priest washes the fingers, praying to God for his purification, “Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin”. Finally, he invites the assembly to pray that the sacrifice might be acceptable to God.

To be continued
Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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HOLY MASS EXPLAINED Part 6

Part Two: Liturgy of the Word:
The second part of the Liturgy of the Word comprises of the homily, the recitation of the Creed and Prayer of the Faithful (General Intentions).

Homily:

Even though the priest celebrating the mass or the deacon assisting at the Mass takes the effort to prepare the homily, this part of the Mass, unfortunately, is the hardest part for some. I don’t blame them; in fact, it is difficult to listen to someone continuously for some time.

There may be many valid reasons, why it is difficult for some to pay attention to the homily preached during the Mass: may be due to many concerns about health, jobs, sports & games, family worries etc. For some, the homily may be too long and boring and for others, it is above the head and not able to comprehend the gist of the message.

Nevertheless, it is very important to know why one must pay attention to the homily. It is the Holy Spirit, who uses the priest or the deacon to enlighten His people with the message proclaimed through the three readings taken from the Bible. Basically, we need to keep our hearts and minds open with faith, so as to grasp and personalize what God shares with us.  Just like a large piece of bread is broken to feed individual persons, the Word of God is broken so that it could be received and digested by the People of God.

The homily is followed by the Creed. What we recite during the Holy Mass is known as the Nicaean Creed. This is longer than the Creed we use at the beginning of reciting the Rosary, which is known as the Apostles’ Creed. Apostles’ Creed is the one, said to have been composed by the Apostles; whereas the Nicaean Creed was composed in the 4th century at the Council of Nicaea. It encompasses all that we as Catholic should believe. By reciting it during the Mass we proclaim our faith.

The Liturgy of the Word comes to an end with the Prayer of the Faithful (General Intentions). The intercessions enable us, as the Body of Christ, to pray for the Church, the nation & the leaders, for the people in special need, the local needs and for one another. Thus, we show our fellowship and universality in the Church.

To be continued
Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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Holy Mass Explained Part 5

Before leaving for my vacation in August, I started explaining about the Holy Mass. I stopped with Part 1, “Gathering Rites”, which concludes with the Opening Prayer. This week I resume it from Part 2.

Part 2: Liturgy of the Word
After the Gathering Rites, we sit down and listen to the Word of God. It is proclaimed to us from the Holy Scripture, which has totally 73 Books (Old Testament 46 Books and New Testament 27 Books) written by human authors but inspired by the Holy Spirit. On Sundays, there are three readings read from the Bible. We believe that God speaks to us in the inspired Books. Hence, the reader, at the end of the reading, announces “This is the Word of God”. Having heard God speaking to us, we all respond saying “Thanks be to God.”

The first reading is read from the Old Testament, except during the Easter Season, during which it is read from the “Acts of the Apostles” in the New Testament. This narrates the history of how God manifested His love, chose the people of Israel, made a covenant with them; at the same time, how the people were not faithful in responding to God’s love. Generally, the first reading is related to the Gospel passage chosen for the day.

Following the first reading one of the Psalms, which is an inspired hymnal from the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament, is either sung or recited. The psalm is very closely connected to the theme of the first reading.

The second reading is read usually from one of the letters of St. Paul. Sometimes it is read also from one of the letters of St. Peter or of St. John.

The third reading is taken from one of the four Gospels. Since we believe of the unique presence of Christ, who speaks to us directly in the Gospel, it has been a long custom in the Catholic Church to stand in attentive reverence to hear the Gospel.  The Gospel is always read by the priest or the deacon, representing Christ. At the beginning of the Gospel reading, having introduced from which of the Gospel the passage is read, we all make the sign of the cross on the forehead, lips and the heart. We do so, in order that we may be cleansed in our mind to understand God’s Word, lips to proclaim His Word and heart to love Him dearly. The priest or the deacon concludes the Gospel reading saying “The Gospel of the Lord” and all the people respond “Praise to you, Lord, Jesus Christ”, proclaiming our faith in the presence of Christ in the Gospel.

To be continued,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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Sharing about my Vacation

Having returned to the Parish after my vacation, I would like to share some of my experiences and impressions, which I gained in India. This time I did not go beyond the territory of my State, Tamilnadu, so named after the language is spoken by the people. The Tamil language is one of the most ancient literary languages and so the State Government takes pride in having named the land as the land of the Tamils. I preferred to take my vacation at the end of July, thinking that the summer would be over and it would not be hot. But unfortunately, it was still hot in August, up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat could not deter me from traveling to different places to visit my friends and relatives. A few religious events within the family circle I had to preside over. Above all, my brother and sister-in-law, who is fighting against her cancer, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They wished that I celebrate the Holy Mass at home. Considering their ill health, I had to celebrate the Holy Mass at home, surrounded by the families of their three children. It was a great and meaningful celebration. I have still three sisters alive, two older and one younger. Their great concern was that I might not be nearer when The Lord would call them. I always told them that I have to be, where The Lord wants me to serve Him. The hardest thing I experienced this time was that the people were struggling with water scarcity. The ground water in many places have dried up, the people tried to demonstrate their need for water; but it was like blowing a horn into the deaf ears. The government authorities are very corrupt; corruption and bribery

I preferred to take my vacation at the end of July, thinking that the summer would be over and it would not be hot. But unfortunately, it was still hot in August, up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat could not deter me from traveling to different places to visit my friends and relatives. A few religious events within the family circle I had to preside over. Above all, my brother and sister-in-law, who is fighting against her cancer, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They wished that I celebrate the Holy Mass at home. Considering their ill health, I had to celebrate the Holy Mass at home, surrounded by the families of their three children. It was a great and meaningful celebration. I have still three sisters alive, two older and one younger. Their great concern was that I might not be nearer when The Lord would call them. I always told them that I have to be, where The Lord wants me to serve Him. The hardest thing I experienced this time was that the people were struggling with water scarcity. The ground water in many places have dried up, the people tried to demonstrate their need for water; but it was like blowing a horn into the deaf ears. The government authorities are very corrupt; corruption and bribery

The hardest thing I experienced this time was that the people were struggling with water scarcity. The ground water in many places have dried up, the people tried to demonstrate their need for water; but it was like blowing a horn into the deaf ears. The government authorities are very corrupt; corruption and bribery is high. It is because of this that the Church is not able to serve freely the poor people. The government officials expect a percentage of commission in every project of good works done to the people. Hope there will be a new dawn. Thank God, the heat, congestion on the road while traveling and spicy food did not upset my health. I am back in the parish hale and healthy.

Thank God, the heat, congestion on the road while traveling and spicy food did not upset my health. I am back in the parish hale and healthy.

May God be praised,

I am here now to serve you.Fr. Arul Joseph V.

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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Holy Mass Explained Part 5

Part Two: Liturgy of the Word

Usually, when we gather as a family or as friends for a meal, we begin with a conversation telling our stories. Likewise, after the gathering rites during Mass, the Liturgy of the Word follows. God speaks to us in the inspired Words of the Bible and we listen to Him. Having heard him speak, we thank Him by saying “Thanks be to God”.

On Sundays, there are three readings. The first reading, except during the Easter Season, is from the Old Testament. It relates to the Gospel and so it sounds like a background and insight to understand better what Jesus speaks to us in the Gospel. After the first reading, there is a Responsorial Psalm. The second reading is, usually, from any one of the letters of St. Paul or from one of the letters by other Apostles. The third reading is from one of the four Gospels. Just before reading the Gospel, the priest bows before the altar and prays that God may grant him the grace to proclaim the Gospel.

We all remain standing while the Gospel is read because Jesus speaks to us and so we show our attentive reverence. The priest greets the people, then introduces the Gospel writer and makes the sign of the cross on the forehead, lips, and heart, in order to clean his mind, lips and heart and thus enable him to proclaim the Gospel in a worthy manner. Following the priest, the people also make the sign of the cross for cleansing them and to enable them to listen with faith. The Gospel is concluded with the response of the people, saying: “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ”, and thus praise Him for having spoken to us.

Homily follows the readings. Its purpose is for “breaking the Word of God” and applying it to our life situation today. Unlike a talk or speech given in a meeting, the homily is an interpretation and application of God’s Word to our personal life. Hence the assembly is expected to keep the heart and mind open and personalize God’s message.

To be continued

Fr. Arul Joseph V.