Gathering Rite ritual draws faithful together

By Fr. Michel Mulloy

The various ritual actions of the Gathering Rite draw the faithful together and prepare them to listen to the Word of God. Christ is present in his Body the Church when we gather, continuing his saving work. Presence in one building does not necessarily mean togetherness. The community shakes off the concerns of individual lives, opens their hearts and minds to the action of the liturgy and focuses on joining the self-sacrifice of Christ to God the Father. 

The Opening Hymn is the first prayer of the liturgy. Songs are prayers set to melodies. The stated purpose of this song is to begin the celebration, to foster unity with one another, to introduce the feast or mystery that we are celebrating that day and to accompany the procession of the priest, deacon and servers.

The community enters the eternal self-sacrifice of Christ. We must be willing to do this. This means we sing the gathering hymn to the best of our ability. A choice at this moment not to sing, to simply listen to the song or wait for it to finish, is a choice to not to join the self-sacrifice of Jesus. Furthermore, singing draws the community together. It expresses the unity with God in one another that is the hope of the celebration of the Mass. The gathering song also speaks about the feast or season of the liturgical year we are celebrating. Once again, the gathering song is designed to accompany the procession of the priest and servers to the altar. This is a reminder to us that music, although essential to the Mass, is not done for its own sake but rather to accompany the action of the Mass.

The Sign of the Cross is a declaration that we stand in this assembly as the people of God because Jesus died and rose to free us from our sins. We are not here of our own volition but gather because we are drawn here by God in Christ Jesus.

The greeting is an ancient dialogue with  roots in the letters of St. Paul. The three different forms of this greeting all express that we are here to unite our lives to God. The priest states that the community has a relationship with God, through Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. (“The Lord be with you.”) The assembly’s response indicates that the priest, who is for them Christ present leading his Body the Church, has that relationship with God. (“And with your spirit.”)

The greeting also reminds us that the Eucharist is a dialogue between God and his people. In the same way that the inner life of God is a dialogue between Father and Son and Holy Spirit, so this ritual action affords us the opportunity to share in the dialogue that is the life of God. Thus, when the priest speaking in the person of Christ, reaches out to the assembly with this ancient greeting, the people as the body of Christ are expected to respond. Together we are declaring that we believe God is present to us in his Son Jesus Christ.

The Penitential Rite which comes next is the community’s admission that we are sinners. Yet, we are here because the forgiveness of God has been given to us in the death and resurrection of Jesus. In effect we are declaring that though unworthy, we are made worthy by Christ. The “Lord Have Mercy” is less an appeal for God to be merciful and more a declaration that God IS merciful.

Next we pray the Gloria, a hymn of praise. It is appropriate at this moment in the Gathering Rite, to offer praise to God. We have just acknowledged God’s presence with us in the greeting. We have faced our unworthiness and yet declare that God’s mercy is with us. The community stands forgiven and redeemed. Praising and thanking God at this moment makes sense. Ideally the Gloria is always sung by all praising God in our unified voices.

The Gathering Rite comes to an end with the Opening Prayer. Although the priest vocalizes the prayer, the community is praying. Through the silence that follows the introduction, “Let us pray,” the community members call to mind and heart those things which they want to pray for at this Mass. When the presider speaks aloud a prayer, he is speaking for everyone. The community’s attention to his words and their clear “Amen,” which means in Hebrew, “yes I agree,” is vitally important.

Next month we will begin talking about the Word of God in the context of the Eucharist.

Let ‘Sede Vacante’ be a cry for a new bishop

I was asked last week by the editor of the West River Catholic what we should call this column that I am now writing. I decided to call it Sede Vacante. That is a Latin term which means “vacant seat.” It refers to the fact that as a diocese, we have a vacant seat in our midst. That vacant seat is the bishop’s chair, or cathedra, located in the cathedral. The light over that chair is not lit right now and the coat of arms is missing. More importantly we are missing someone who is very important for any diocese.

The Bishop is the Vicar of Christ for our local (diocesan) church. As a successor to the apostles and a member of the college of bishops, he is a visible connection to Jesus Christ and the church he established on earth. The bishop is also our direct link to the Holy Father and the universal Catholic community.

In the meantime, we are called to continue our mission, the mission of Jesus Christ. The “vacant seat” does not mean that we stop being disciples of Jesus Christ, called to attract and form intentional disciples who joyfully, boldly and lovingly live and proclaim the Gospel.

All these connections are very important to being Catholic. We are a universal church which has a local expression in western South Dakota. We have our own unique experience of church, but our experience is not so unique that we are separate from other expression of the Catholic Church elsewhere. We are not a “congregational” form of governance. We belong to each other. We are brothers and sisters of one another because we are all joined to Jesus Christ who is our brother. We are sons and daughters of one Father, and we are bound together by the Holy Spirit. The bishop is our diocesan father and our family is not complete without our father sitting at the head of the Eucharistic table, leading us into a deeper relationship with our brother Jesus and his Father. We should be praying daily for our new bishop, longing for him to come, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the choice of our Holy Father, to be seated among us.

That is where I come in. Elected, I said yes to assuming this mantle of leadership temporarily. It has been interesting and challenging from the first day. I am learning and growing in ways that I have not been asked to do in the past. Most importantly I have come to appreciate the ministry of a bishop in a much deeper way. I have not prayed enough for our bishops and for all the bishops of our country and the world.

During my short few weeks, I have come to understand the burden of a bishop’s ministry. This was made especially clear when I had the privilege to attend a meeting of the bishops of our province (North and South Dakota and Minnesota). Their responsibilities would be a challenge during any era, but our own time has made their ministry particularly heavy to bear. Gratefully they do not carry this load alone. The Lord is yoked to them on the journey. Our prayers on their behalf, raised to the Father, will lighten that load, for the Father bends down to listen to the cry of his children.

In telling you all this, you should not feel sorry for me or for our bishops. As I often tell people, every appointment on my calendar was put there by me. Likewise, this responsibility of diocesan administrator was something I accepted. I am willing to do this, to serve the Lord and his people as we continue to grow in holiness and prepare for the leadership of a new bishop.

I am finding this new assignment challenging but also so interesting. I am learning and growing. I enjoy the support of the clergy and laity of our diocese. That is a great blessing. As much as I miss having a bishop in our midst, I know the Lord is present. The mission of our local church continues. While there will be no new initiatives while the cathedra is vacant, we will continue to bring to fulfillment the great work that we have already begun. The Lord is calling all of us to do our part so that when a new bishop arrives, he will find us ready and willing.

We are so blessed in our diocese. We have wonderful priests and deacons in roles of leadership. Many talented lay men and women are involved in our parishes, serving the Lord is our ministry together. We have a hard-working and generous chancery staff. There is much to be grateful for, and we are not finished. I know there is much more that the Lord wants to give us. There is a legacy of faith that is waiting to be lived. We have only begun to discover the blessings God wants to pour into our lives through his beloved Son and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let Sede Vacante be a joyful cry for a new bishop, a cry to spur us on to continue the great work we have been given until we stand together with our new bishop to rejoice in all that will be given to us by our gracious and loving God. 

Duc in Altum 2019

This summer, the Office of Vocations served 20 parishes and touched the hearts of 668 children and youth through our diocesan Duc in Altum program. Duc In Altum draws its name from Luke 5:4 where Jesus instructs Simon Peter “put out into deep water” (Duc in Altum). You will see how Max Vetch, Corbin Olson and Cristina Esquivel, heeded the call of Jesus, to put out into the deep and to cast the net of faith. Strengthened by the Eucharist the Lord fulfilled the desires of their hearts beyond their own imaginations as their faith was stretched to help our children and youth to put out into the deep this summer.

Max Vetch

I think this last summer was one filled with sharing in the cross of Jesus. I say this not as a way to complain about my team or that the parishes were all unpleasant and unwelcoming. I say it rather because that is what the Lord put on my heart and put on my body as well. I was sick multiple times this summer, and I felt very downtrodden because of it. My own interior self was suffering as well with doubts of how everything was going to get done and how my team would handle being down a leader. I also lost some consolations in prayer that I was used to receiving. However, there is still joy in carrying the cross. Though I felt empty, I was filled each day anew by the Eucharist and the grace of prayer, and I had some great moments that let me know that what we were doing was fruitful, and it needed to be done. There were times with the kids and with my teammates where I saw God working in them, and knew that though we toil, our toil was not in vain this summer. The line that we kept coming back to was, “we are fools for Christ,” from 1st Corinthians, and thank goodness we weren’t expected to be anything more.

Cristina Esquivel

I came into Duc In Altum this summer with two core desires: to give back to the Church, and to have the adventure of a lifetime. God fulfilled both of those desires, but I never could have imagined all He’d do. You see, I’ve spent the first 20 years of my life in California, and the last 3 years in Arizona. I had never set foot in South Dakota. This was all new territory for me.

Every week and every day, I encountered God’s love – not only in the Church, but also in the new faces, families, communities, adventures, and experiences. There were many moments where I thought to myself, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.” Moments like sitting on a paddleboard in Timber Lake with the teens while the sunset blinded me. Moments like soaring over the open ranges of Lemmon in a plane while receiving free flying lessons. Moments like seeing the eyes of a child light up when he learned about Jesus in the Eucharist. Or moments like sharing tears with a teen when she connected with my testimony. There are too many moments to recount here.

This summer I encountered God in the generous hearts of so many of His people. Never had I felt so welcomed and loved. God showed me what true love looks like. Not just the “fluffy” kind of love, but the backbreaking, self-sacrificing kind of love. The kind that gives of herself even when she is exhausted and doesn’t feel like it. Real love.

I encountered Him in the unknown. Just having graduated college, God was whispering to me this summer, asking me to trust Him with my future. Every week He taught me more about what trust looks like. As we traveled home to home, at times I felt like Mary and Joseph. I gave up most of the control and independence I had developed in college, and I trusted that we would have a place to stay and meals to eat, even when I didn’t know what that looked like. I began to learn the beauty in just trusting and receiving. Even when things in my personal life were seemingly falling apart, God reminded me that just as He was exceedingly providing for me this summer, He would continue to do so. Every day we had a holy hour in front of the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, and I sat there and let myself be held by Him. Despite the highs or lows of the day, I ran to the Eucharist daily, and His graces permeated me. I noticed an interior strength and trust I had not seen before.

Overall, my encounter with God this summer could be summed up in the words, “love” and “trust.” Every week, as God continued to cover me in His love and call me to trust Him, my heart was being transformed. I can only pray that this transformation was being bled upon all the young people I interacted with.If I impacted any of these young people, it was not with my lessons; it was with my relationships with them. For God to transform their hearts, He had to transform mine. He is still at work in me, and He is still at work in them. I may never see these young people again, but I can trust that the seeds that were planted will continue to be nourished by new gardeners. As it turns out, God is so much bigger than California, or Arizona, or even South Dakota. God is alive, and so is His Church, my friends.Thank you for allowing me to tend to and be nourished by your garden. For the greater glory of God!

Corbin Olsen

While serving the Lord this summer through Duc in Altum, I grew and was blessed in ways that I wasn’t expecting at all. Going into the summer, I felt that I was being called to Duc in Altum so that God could continue forming me into the man that he is calling me to be. Almost every single day, I was given challenges and experiences that tested my limits and my patience, but ultimately made me a stronger person each time. I was reminded this summer that in order to live a life in God, your life must be grounded in prayer. By maintaining our team’s schedule and commitment to prayer, I felt my heart becoming more aligned to Christ’s.

The Lord gave me a profound love for the Eucharist this summer. As we traveled the diocese and encountered Christ in countless new experiences and people, I really came to rely on our uniquely Catholic gift: the Eucharist. In a summer of constant change from Rapid City to Timber Lake to Ft. Pierre and beyond, I was always able to rely on the same Jesus in the Eucharist through adoration and the Mass. God gave our team the opportunity to travel the diocese and form meaningful connections at every turn. He even fulfilled a longtime dream of mine — to fly a private plane — on TWO separate occasions (it was incredible)!! Now I am coming back to college — a world that is far from the Catholic “bubble” that I experienced this summer. But, after all of the experiences that I had this summer, I feel equipped and ready to bring Christ to the depths, wherever he leads me.

Fr. Riccardo will address creation, modern evils and redemption

By Shawna Hanson “We were so blessed as a family to be at the Summit.” ~Summit 2018 participant “I really want to extend my gratitude for the experience at Terra Sancta. It was so great and I truly feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to be […]

Speak up and sing out — believe in what you are doing

By Fr. Michel Mulloy

Eucharist — Part III

In the love relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Jesus eternally offers himself to the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. We come to Mass to join our sacrifices to Jesus’ eternal sacrifice. Jesus offers himself to his Father through us. Amazing isn’t it — to realize that at Mass as we join ourselves to Jesus in his sacrifice, we are caught up into the very life of God.

Priest and people are joined to Jesus Christ in baptism. We receive the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when we gather for Mass, we are Jesus Christ present. The priest is Jesus leading his body, the people. He continues his sacrifice in, with and through us, each in our distinctive roles. The simplest way to express how we join the sacrifice of Jesus is with the following phrase. We make room, speak out and believe in what we are doing.

We make room in our lives for each other. That is as literal as it sounds, but it is also attitudinal.  We are asked to slide down in the pew, to look at each other, to smile, to greet one another. We come to the Mass from a variety of dispositions, interests, needs and wants. Being attentive to one another can be self-sacrificing in that we tend to be self-serving. Making room is both physical and internal. We also make room in our lives for one another by wanting to be present and by participating with the community in the action of the Mass.

We speak out. Through the responses and prayers, we give ourselves. We pray in a way that manifests our conviction and belief. We mean what we say. We also speak out to support one another. We encourage others by our enthusiasm to voice their own prayer if they can hear us. Some might prefer to pray quietly. There are moments for silence in the liturgy. However, when we are called to vocalize a prayer, we are self-sacrificing in our willingness to be heard.

We listen up. There are several times when listening attentively can be a real sacrifice. We all know the challenge of being attentive to someone when they are speaking to us. Our mind wanders. We focus on the proclaimer, the presider or the cantor. We must not only hear what they are saying but take it in and let it sink into our lives. The effort put forth to really listen is participation in the self-sacrifice of Christ.

We sing out. Singing is praying. This is an area where many of us need to be challenged. We think of the music as “extra,” something that isn’t necessary to the Mass. Singing and music are essential liturgical action. Our voices joined in song, elevate our spoken prayer and enhance our self-giving.

Some say, “I can’t sing.” They mean they do not have a good singing voice. We also have different speaking voices and different capacities for hearing. If my voice is not as pleasing as another’s, should I not speak the prayers at Mass; if I do not listen as well as another, should I not listen at all? No. Why then do we decide not to sing if our voice is not wonderful? For some self-sacrifice means bending our stubborn wills and accepting that singing is important. Singing, like speaking and listening is essential for joining our sacrifice to Christ’s.

All this activity at Mass is sacrificial not simply by our doing it but more importantly by our belief. It is essential that I believe that Jesus is present, that he is offering himself to God the Father, and that I am participating in his sacrifice through understanding what is happening and consciously engaging in the sacrifice of the Mass. 

With this basic understanding of what we are doing in the Mass, I will, in the subsequent months, look at each part of the Eucharist and explore how we encounter Jesus in his sacrifice during the Mass.

Who’s minding the store? What’s next?

By Fr. Michel Mulloy

There are two questions I get asked a lot these days. Who is
running the diocese? Have we heard anything about a new bishop?

The first one is easy to answer. When a bishop is installed
in a new diocese as Bishop Robert Gruss was, or if a bishop dies, the College
of Consultors are required to meet and select an administrator to run the
diocese until a new bishop is ordained or installed. A bishop who has been
transferred to a new diocese can request that another bishop be named
administrator if there are special circumstances that warrant that choice. In
our diocese the administrator was chosen from the priests working in the
diocese now.

Once the consultors met, the name of the priest they
selected was sent to the apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. The nuncio is the
pope’s representative in America. For us that is Archbishop Christophe Pierre.
The nuncio acknowledges the receipt of the name that is put forward and sends
it on to Rome. In this instance, I was elected and I am grateful for the trust
placed in me by the consultors and priests of the diocese in asking me to be
the diocesan administrator.

A diocesan administrator does what a bishop did with some
exceptions. An administrator cannot begin anything that has not been
previously approved by the former bishop. The administrator cannot ordain or
bless the holy oils. Finally, an administrator cannot make any changes in
priestly assignments for one full year.

The answer to the second question is a bit more complicated.
The Catholic Church divides the world into dioceses. The dioceses are grouped
into provinces for governance purposes. Every province has an archbishop. For
us, our province consists of the dioceses in the Dakotas and Minnesota. Our
archbishop is in St. Paul/Minneapolis. Each year, bishops in the province are
asked to submit names and qualifications of priests in their diocese who would
be potential bishops. These names are collected and shared with all the
province bishops. At the annual meeting they vote on which names should be sent
the nuncio.

After receiving this list of names, the nuncio conducts his
own investigation regarding the suitability of each candidate on the list. In
addition, when a diocese is without a bishop, the nuncio investigates the
situation and needs of that diocese. The broad consultation includes former
bishops of the diocese that is vacant, key diocesan personnel and bishops from
the province and the country. This takes some time to complete. Once the
situation and needs of the diocese are understood, the nuncio will narrow the
list of candidates from those he has received from the province or elsewhere in
the country. Another round of consultation will happen concerning each of the
proposed candidates on the nuncio’s short list. All this material is collected
and reviewed by the nuncio who interprets the information. He prepares a list
of three names ranked by preference and sends that list to the Congregation for
Bishops in Rome.

The Congregation for Bishops in Rome reviews the paperwork
to ensure it is in good order. A full report is made to the members of the
congregation who meet twice a month. The congregation discusses the appointment
and votes. They may follow the recommendation of the nuncio, choose another
candidate not on the nuncio’s list or even ask for a new list of names.

Once the three names have been approved by the Congregation
for Bishops, the prefect of the Congregation presents the recommendations to
the Holy Father. The Holy Father reflects on their recommendations and informs
the Congregation of his decision. After the Holy Father has selected a
candidate, the Congregation notifies the nuncio in America who in turn contacts
the candidate and asks if he is willing to accept the appointment. The
candidate can say yes or no to the request to be ordained a bishop.

This process can often take six to eight months or sometimes
longer from the time the diocese becomes vacant until a new bishop is
appointed. Once the candidate accepts the appointment, he has three months to
be ordained a bishop and take possession of his new diocese.

So the short answer to the second question is no, we have
not heard anything about a new bishop. We probably won’t for six to eight
months or longer. Please pray the “Prayer for a New Bishop” that your pastors
distributed. Pray too for those of us who are charged with keeping the diocese
afloat in this transition.

We are asked to give ourselves in liturgy

In the eternal love relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Jesus continues to offer himself to the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. We come to Mass to join our sacrifice to that of Jesus. Jesus offers himself to his Father through us. Amazing isn’t it, to realize that at Mass as we join ourselves to Jesus in his sacrifice, we are caught up into the very life of God.

So how do we join the sacrifice of Jesus at the Mass? The first response might be to focus on the role of the priest. He is Christ present at Mass leading us, the body of Christ. We say “the priest offers (that is sacrifices in) the Mass.” The priest is self-sacrificing in his role and so is the whole assembly.

We are all baptized, joined to Jesus Christ and we receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is present in us. We are his body. He continues his sacrifice in us. The simplest way to express how we join the sacrifice of Jesus is with the following phrase. We make room, speak out, listen up, sing out and believe that is what we are doing.

We make room in our lives for each other. That is as literal as it sounds, but it is also attitudinal. We are asked to slide down in the pew, to look at each other, to smile, to greet one another. We come to the Mass from a variety of backgrounds, dispositions, interests, needs, and wants. We need to be attentive to each other. This can be self-

sacrificing in that we have a general tendency to think “me first.” Making room is both literal and internal.

We are invited to speak out. Through the responses and prayers, we are asked to give ourselves. We speak these prayers in a way that manifests our conviction and belief. We mean what we say. We also speak out to support one another. There is strength in numbers. We encourage others by our enthusiasm to voice their own prayer if they can hear us. Some might prefer to pray quietly. There are moments for silence in the liturgy. However, when we are called to

vocalize a prayer, we are self-sacrificing in our willingness to be heard.

We listen up. There are several times when listening attentively can be a real sacrifice. We focus on the proclaimer, the presider or the cantor. We must not only hear what they are saying but take it in and let it sink into our lives. We all know the challenge of being attentive to someone when they are speaking to us. The mind wanders. The effort put forth to really listen is participation in the self-sacrifice of Christ.

Finally, we sing out. Singing is praying. We join our voices together in sung prayer. This is an area where many of us need to be challenged. We think of the music as an “extra”; something that isn’t necessary to the Mass but singing and music are essential liturgical action. Our voices joined in song, elevate our spoken prayer and enhance our giving of self. Some say, “I can’t sing.” They mean that they do not have a good singing voice. We also have different speaking voices and different capacities for hearing. If my voice is not as pleasing as another’s, should I not speak the prayers at Mass; if I do not listen as well as another, should I not listen at all? No. Why then do we decide not to sing if our voice is not wonderful? For some self-sacrifice will come in bending our stubborn wills, in accepting that singing is important. Once we understand that singing, like speaking and listening is essential for joining our sacrifice to Christ’s, we will sing.

All of these ways of activity in the Mass become conscious not simply by our doing it, but more importantly by our believing. Conscious participation involves knowing why we do what we do. It is believing that my participation in the Mass is a genuine sacrifice. My sacrifice is joined to Jesus’ sacrifice through my faith.

With this basic understanding of what we are doing in the Mass, I will, in the subsequent months, look at each part of the Eucharist and explore how we encounter Jesus in his sacrifice during the Mass.