Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 17, 2003
Why don't we do this anymore?
By SR. LOUISE ZDUNICH, NDC
It would be beneficial for all of us to stop in the midst of our day to reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation
If school cafeterias are serving meat on Ash Wednesday, surely it is an oversight that may not be easily correctable at the last minute. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only two days when abstinence from meat is required of Catholics.
And I don't believe it is too much to expect all of us to observe this, even those younger than 14 though the law does not apply to them. I cannot help but cite the Muslim fasting of Ramadan as an example to us.
Holy water is a sacramental and reminds us of our Baptism. We are free to use it as much as we like, to bless ourselves upon entering the church or at home at various times. Priests bless palms on Palm Sunday with holy water.
They may bless the gathered community with holy water at Sunday Masses, whenever they so choose and some do so at least occasionally. This blessing is usually carried out instead of, or as part of, the penitential rite at the beginning of Mass. Perhaps, more could be done in this regard.
Burning incense is an ancient practice. Among pagans, it was burned to the gods as an important part of worship and to keep evil spirits away. Jews often combined it with burning sacrifices. In Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4, gold vessels of incense symbolize the prayers of the people. So, for Christians, incense symbolizes our prayer going up to God.
At first, early Christians hesitated to use incense because of its pagan origins, but when paganism was no longer a threat, they began to use it to bless and honour the altar, the sanctuary, the priests and eventually, the people.
However, incense burning presents its own problems, as some people are allergic to it. One priest who liked using incense especially for feasts solved the problem by indicating in the bulletin ahead of time at which Masses he would use incense. With several Masses available, those with an allergy could choose a Mass with no incense.
I hope this answers your questions. And, I hope it alerts us all of the need to think about how conscious we are of God's presence in our daily lives and of our necessity to renew ourselves spiritually during our work.
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