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Ascension Thursday, Not Sunday

Yesterday marked exactly 40 days since the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This is known as the feast of the Ascension. Since Easter Sunday is always on a Sunday, then the great feast of the Ascension, is always on a Thursday.

Since Vatican II, however, many dioceses have transferred the feast of the Ascension to the following Sunday. I think this does a disservice, however, to the faithful for at least two reasons, if not more.

  1. The original Holy Spirit Novena becomes muddled at best and completely lost at worst. You see, prior to ascending into heaven, Christ commanded the disciples to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit, which they did for nine days. (From Friday to the Vigil of Pentecost.) After praying for nine days, the Holy Spirit did indeed come. We name this feast Pentecost as it comes exactly 50 days after the Resurrection. (Pentecost meaning 50.) Moving the Ascension to Sunday, corrupts the original plea to pray for nine days. (The word novena comes from the Latin word for nine.)
  2. The Pascal Candle, which symbolizes the Risen Christ, loses significance. On Ascension Thursday, after the Gospel reading, the Pascal candle is extinguished. Remember, the Pascal Candle symbolizes the Risen Christ. Therefore, it should not remain lit once Christ ascends into heaven, which again, happens on a Thursday. This “extinguishing” serves as a reminder to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. If the feast day is moved, however, the candle loses significance.

There are others who have written at length about these things. If you want more, Fr. Z wrote a short bit HERE on the absurdity of Ascension “Thursday Sunday.”

Photos For Fun

I snapped a few shots yesterday of the Ascension Mass at St. James the Less with Fr. Altman. Note the Pascal Candle and remember to begin praying the Holy Spirit Novena today!

Incensing the altar, prior to the Gospel reading.

The reading of the Gospel. Note the Pascal Candle off to the left, which is still lit.

Extinguishing the Pascal Candle* after the Gospel.

The Sanctus.

*The altar boys affectionately nicknamed our Pascal Candle “Terror of Demons,” after noting the prayer that “every evil device of Satan depart” at it’s blessing on Holy Saturday.

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The 8th Day: Low Sunday

Easter is so important that it gets an octave, or eight days, not just one. Easter Sunday, or High Sunday, is the first day of the octave and today, the eighth day, is the last Sunday–Low Sunday.

I love octaves. It’s the only time when “time” is suspended, as one day is drawn out over eight.

To make matters more complicated (or fun!) there are a few other names given to today too–Dominica in Albis and Quasimodo Sunday. The former is so called because the neophytes, or the newly baptized at Easter, would now lay aside their baptismal garments, which were white. The word “Dominica” has refers to the Lord’s Day and “albis” refers to the color white.

The name “Quasimodo” comes from the introit for today which reads, “Quasi modo geniti infants…” This means, “As newborn babes..” It was a common practice to refer to particular Masses by the opening words of the introit.

And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also Divine Mercy Sunday in the the New Calendar. Deo gratias!

In honor of this glorious day, I snapped a few photos of the Traditional Latin Mass at St. James the Less with Fr. Altman presiding.

The canon of the Mass.
The servers are about to pray the Confiteor before receiving Holy Communion.
The servers line up for the Last Gospel, which Fr. Altman reads in the background.
The Recessional

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Passion Sunday is Coming

Passion Sunday is only a few days away.  Get your purple cloth ready!

Here’s a shot of our mantel from last year:

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In our home, I only veil the images where we gather as a family to pray, which happens to be the living room.

Passion Sunday is also Judica Sunday

On Passion Sunday, Psalm 42 is highlighted in the Introit and pleadingly states,

“Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art God my strength.”

“Judica” is the latin word for “judge,” which is where we get the name.

If you’ll remember in the TLM, Psalm 42 is also prayed every Sunday during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, but on Passion Sunday these prayers are omitted and will not return until Easter Sunday.  This is something like the Gloria and the Alleluia, which disappeared earlier, however, at the beginning of the “Gesima” Sundays.  All of these are omitted because they are associated with the Paschal joy of the Risen Christ.

In other words, we have this stripping away of Pascal references in order to sharpen our awareness of Christ’s Passion, which is why we refer to these final two weeks of Lent as Passiontide.

It’s beautiful how it all comes together.

Veiling of Images for Passiontide

My children always look forward to Passion Sunday, if only to see the images disappear from our fireplace mantel and the church.

All statuary in St. James the Less are veiled for Passiontide, except those way, way up high on the crossbeam.

This tradition of veiling images began sometime in the ninth century to reflect the readings of the TLM.  For example, the Gospel for Passion Sunday is always John 8 wherein the Jews take up stones to cast at Jesus, but he mysteriously passes through the crowd unseen and then hides.  Therefore, the veiling of images reminds us that Christ’s Divinity was hidden at the time of His Passion and death.

Think about that for a minute.  Again, it’s astounding how all these things come together.  Of course His Divinity was hidden!  Otherwise everyone would have believed, not just that centurion at the foot of the cross.

Secondly, veiling also strips us of visual stimuli.  Throughout the year we may become accustomed to looking at and praying with our crucifixes and icons, and so taking them away for a time helps us paradoxically to become more aware of them.

Seriously, I’m always excited for Easter Sunday for the obvious reasons, but then, how exciting to see these beautiful statues again!

Give It a Try

If you’ve never veiled your images at home before, give it a try.  It’s pretty easy to do.  I just bought a yard of purple cloth at Hobby Lobby and cut it into squares.  I’ve also heard of families using purple tissue paper in a pinch.

And speaking of veiling…

Ah, what a lovely thing to do for love of Jesus. Dear ladies, have you ever tried veiling yourself? We, too, “hide” ourselves to be only visible to Him.

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Candlemas and Crayon Wreckers

Yesterday was Candlemas, February 2nd, which is sometimes referred to as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or even the Presentation of Our Lord (in the Temple). It marks the fortieth day since the birth of Jesus and the end of the Christmas season.

Last night, during the Confiteor, at St. James the Less parish.

Prior to Mass, there was a special blessings of candles. If you’d like a detailed explanation of the great symbolic beauty of this blessing and Candlemas, click HERE for Fr. Z.

Our family loves this holy day. Why? I can think of 6 reasons:

  1. Most of the church’s lights are left off, with only one illuminating the altar.
  2. Every candle the church owns is lit and flickering mysteriously.
  3. Every person, old enough to reasonably hold a candle, gets one.
  4. There’s a procession with innumerable altar boys and acolytes and the rest of us holding our candles in clouds of incense while the choir chants beautiful antiphons in Latin.
  5. Prior to the procession, father blesses, incenses, and sprinkles with holy water everyone’s candles that had been brought from home and placed on or near the St. Joseph altar. (We had a big box blessed for use in our home.)
  6. Did I mention we get to hold lit candles nearly the whole time?
Beginning of the Procession. The rest of the servers and acolytes are already in the aisle. The whole congregation filed after father and processed around the church in candlelight.

Kids naturally love this, but so do adults. If you ever get a chance to attend one, jump at it.

Broken Crayon Syndrome and Crayon Wreckers

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a problem that this household has. It’s called Broken Crayon Syndrome.

Let me explain. The other day the Little Girls brought to my attention the lack of pretty crayon colors. In other words, we only had “ugly” colors left: green yellow, peach, and apricot. All the “pretty” colors were used up and gone. You know, like pink and purple.

Unused, ugly crayon colors. Therefore, these crayons have an especially long lifespan.

Since I’m an attentive and obliging mother, I dutifully bought a new pack of 24 crayons a month or so after the lodged complaint. Naturally the girls were very excited to use the new crayons, and sat right down to color. Now, no coloring books could be found, nor could any clean, white paper, but that didn’t bother them. Undaunted, they just took some cardboard out of the garbage can and hacked away.

Until, SNAP! Broken crayon. SNAP, SNAP! More broken crayons. SNAP, SNAP, SNAP! Broken crayons everywhere! In their race and excitement to color, they just broke the crayons. But what’s worse, they didn’t even care! They could still use them. Ah!

But I cared about those broken crayons–those lovely pinks and purples and blues! What a shame. What if I happened to want to color? It does happen every now and then. (Ok, fine, it doesn’t, but still.)

How long do you suppose that blue lasted? Oh, about 3 seconds for one Crayon Wrecker to smack away at that piece of garbage you can see there. And note the broken purple in the box.

What a bunch of Crayon Wreckers.

I caught one Crayon Wrecker red-handed, coloring on some cardboard. Guess how long that crayon remained intact? Oh, .2 seconds.

Good thing she’s cute.

And willing to use broken crayons because I’m not buying new ones for at least a year. I don’t care if we’re only down to “ugly” colors.

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Photo Post: All Souls’ Day TLM

This evening we attended a beautiful Missa Cantata for All Souls’ Day. It was a Requiem Mass celebrated by Fr. Altman.

If you’ve never attended a traditional Requiem Mass, I promise it’s worth whatever sacrifice one needs to make to get there–time, travel, enduring tired children, etc. The prayers alone are striking and heartrending. I’m thinking in particular of the Sequence, or the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath). Tonight, I was struck by verse 14, “Worthless are my prayers and sighing, Yet, good Lord, in grace complying, Rescue me from fires undying.”

For those of you who are interested, I will post a few photos and captions below.

St. James the Less Catholic Church, prior to the set-up for Requiem Mass.
The Catafalque, or empty coffin is prepared and candles are lit.
Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you shall return.
Praying prior to Mass, lights are still on.
Almost all lighting extinguished. Mass begins with, “Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.” Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord.

Praying the Dies Irae.
Father’s homily wherein he reminds us that the forces of Mordor are now moving. And we know who wins that war. (Tolkien, Lord of the Rings reference.)

The torchbearers enter and kneel for the Sanctus.

The Mass has ended. Father is putting on his cope for the Absolution, which are the final prayers at the bier or catafalque.

The Absolution.

Incensing the catafalque.

Monthly Picks

February Picks

Here are some of my favorite things for February:

Favorite New Parish:  St. James the Less in La Crosse, WI.  Seriously, we couldn’t have landed in a better place for kind families, beautiful Latin Masses, and heavenly scholas.  I’ll telling you, this place has got it going on.  They even have potlucks every Sunday after the 11am Mass.  It’s all such a blessing.

Favorite Outdoor Activity:  Hiking.  The weather seems so much more mild here that it makes it easy to be out-of-doors.

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Hiking around Grandad’s Bluff

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention all the sledding going on.  The boys drag their sleds almost every day to the park and sled down the steep sides into the baseball field.

Favorite Cocktail:  The Copyright, which is a signature drink from the La Crosse Distilling Co. and consists of Barrel-aged Fieldnotes Potato Vodka, Orange Liqueur, Honey, Lemon, and Angostura Bitters.  Here a picture of it:

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High Rye Highball on the left and Copyright on the right.

This place was hopping last Saturday night.  We can’t wait to go back and try more local drinks.  Click HERE for their website and more pictures.

Family Game of the Month:  Last month was Catan, and indeed, the children are still at it, but lately Chess has captured more attention.  This is because the 4 older children played in a local Chess Tournament, wherein The Eldest actually took the championship. She claims it was all luck.  My husband said it was all his doing with his careful and attentive teaching at home.  Her brothers say that she owes it all to them for spending hours playing with her, and I say it was all due to her grandpa’s expertise and guidance.

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This tournament was a “Swiss” style tournament with 5 rounds.  (Whatever that means.  I’ve never played Chess in my life.)  It was held at Providence Academy.

Best Amazon Purchase:  My 3 Tier 12 Bottle Wine Rack for $14.99.  Too bad it didn’t come stocked with wine.

Most Enjoyable February Book:  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I’m revisiting it again, probably for the 4th or 5th time.  If you’ve never read it, you’re missing out.  Mr. Rochester is my all-time favorite male character in a novel.  Yes, he even beats Mr. Darcy from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  HERE’S my favorite Audible version.

My Kids’ Favorite February Supper:  Hot dogs.  Yuck.  Just yuck.  But I was desperate the other day.  We were in Survival Mode.

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That’s sauerkraut on the back burner.

And here’s what I had for supper that night…

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That’s my new wine rack in the background.

Anybody have anything good to share for February?