In case you missed them, here are the Did You Know? Columns, sponsored by the Liturgial Life Committee published in the Parish Bulletin from January 2019 through February 2020.


The Colors of the Liturgical Seasons: Do you know the colors of the liturgical seasons and their significance? Here’s a quick explanation from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, #346-347:
White is used during Christmas Time & Easter Time, and on major celebrations of the Lord, of Mary, and of many Saints; it is the color of celebration, joy and purity. Gold may also be used on more solemn occasions.
Red is used on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Pentecost Sunday and the feasts of the apostles, evangelists and martyrs. It is the color of sacrifice, blood and fire.
Green, the color of Ordinary Time, expresses hope, life and growth.
Violet (or purple) expresses penance and mourning. It is used during Advent & Lent, and may also be used at Masses for the Dead.
Rose (or pink) may be used in place of violet on the third Sunday of Advent and the fourth Sunday of Lent. It expresses anticipation and joyful expectation.
(Published on January 6 & 13, 2019)


What is genuflection and why do we genuflect at church?
A genuflection is made by bending one’s right knee to the ground. This liturgical gesture signifies adoration, and it is reserved for Jesus present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Whenever the Most Blessed Sacrament is present in the church or chapel, the liturgical ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it.
It is also customary and proper for people to genuflect whenever they come into or leave the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, both before and after Mass, and when visiting church for personal prayer at other times. A genuflection is also included in the veneration of the Holy Cross on Good Friday. For more information about genuflection, check out the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, #274. 

(Published on January 20 & 27, 2019)


What is the Eucharistic Fast and Why Do We Have It? The current practice of the Church is that those who wish to receive Holy Communion are to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception of water and medicine only, for at least one hour before receiving Holy Communion (not necessarily an hour before Mass begins).
This fast applies to everyone who is of age to receive Holy Communion. Those who are advanced in age or who suffer from any infirmity, as well as those who take care of them can receive Holy Communion even if they have taken something to eat or drink during the previous hour (Code of Canon Law, #919.1-3).
The Church intends this Eucharistic fasting as a means of spiritual preparation for the Eucharist and a way of showing reverence for the Sacrament. The traditional total fast from midnight was reduced to a three-hour total fast in 1957, and to the current one-hour fast in 1964.
(Published on February 3 & 10, 2019)


What is Ordinary Time and how long does it last? Besides the two major liturgical seasons of Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter, the yearly liturgical cycle includes 33 or 34 weeks in which no particular aspect of the mystery of Christ is celebrated, but rather the mystery of Christ itself is honored in its fullness, especially on Sundays. This range of weeks is called Ordinary Time.
In the current liturgical year, Ordinary Time began on Monday, January 14, and continues through Tuesday, March 5, the day before Ash Wednesday. After the Easter Season, which will end on Pentecost Sunday, June 9, Ordinary Time will resume on Monday, June 10, and will end with the First Sunday of Advent, December 1.
(Published on February 17 & 24, 2019)


Why do we have ashes on Ash Wednesday? The custom of using ashes in religious rituals dates to the traditions of the Old Testament. Consider Jeremiah 6:26: “O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes.” See also Isaiah 58:3; Daniel 9:3; Jonah 3:6; Judith 4:15; Job 42:4-6. Throughout the Old Testament, ashes symbolize repentance and penance.
From the tenth and eleventh century forward, the Christian Church made use of ashes at the beginning of Lent, including marking the forehead of penitents, to express the commitment to repentance during Lent in preparation to celebrate the Paschal Mystery in Holy Week. In the twelfth century the practice of making the ashes by burning palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday became customary.
Since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the liturgical renewal of Lent included a refocus upon the ancient baptismal character of the season; in this context Ash Wednesday represents a call to ongoing conversion, so we hear: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” or “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” In the end, we wear ashes not to proclaim that we are holy, but to acknowledge that we are a community of sinners in need of repentance and renewal as we approach Easter.

(Published on March 3 & 10, 2019)

How is the date for Easter determined each year? The Gospels attest that Jesus’s death and resurrection occurred around the time of Jewish Passover. In Jewish tradition, Passover is celebrated on the first full moon after the spring equinox. So the Christian churches set the date for Easter on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox.
Some Eastern Orthodox Christian churches follow a variable calendar which leads to their celebrating Easter close to but only sometimes on the same date as it is celebrated in most Christian churches. In the Roman Catholic Church, Easter can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25. This year, we are celebrating Easter on April 21, one of the latest dates it can occur.
(Published on March 17 & 24, 2019)

What is a Communal Penance Service and why is such a service held during Lent? It is fitting, both for individual Christians and for the whole Christian community, to conduct a communal celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent, so that all may be helped to prepare to celebrate more fully the Paschal Mystery.
In this way, we are all called to recognize not only our personal sinfulness and our individual need for the grace of God’s forgiveness, but also to realize more acutely how one’s own sins weaken and at times undermine the faith and moral convictions of others in the Christian community and in the world at large. In a Communal Penance Service, we affirm our need for reconciliation both with God and with one another, a reconciliation that can only be realized by the merciful grace of God within each of our hearts and within the community of faith as a whole.
At a Communal Penance Service, after a Liturgy of the Word and common prayers, all are invited to make a sacramental confession individually. For this reason there are typically ten or more priests on hand for individual confessions. Here at Saint Elizabeth, our Lenten Communal Penance Service is scheduled for Wednesday, April 10, at 7:00 PM.Bulletin Column for (Published on March 31 & April 7, 2019)

What is the Sacred Triduum? Just as the solemnity of Easter is closely associated with the Jewish feast of Passover, so the Sacred Triduum (Latin for: “three days”), may be considered the “high holy days” for Christian believers. This most holy time of the liturgical year includes three solemn liturgies: the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening; the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday afternoon, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening.
In the Sacred Triduum, the Church solemnly celebrates the greatest mysteries of our redemption, keeping by means of special celebrations the memorial of the Lord Jesus, crucified, buried and risen. The entire three days have a special sacramental significance: we mark the institution of the twin Sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders on Holy Thursday, while the Initiation Sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist) are at the heart of the Easter Vigil liturgy. This sacramental focus is reinforced by the Renewal of Baptismal Promises by the entire congregation at Mass on Easter Sunday.                                                                                                                                                              (Published on April 14 & 21, 2019)

What is the proper manner for receiving Holy Communion? The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM, #160-161) directs that the norm for receiving Holy Communion in the diocese of the United States is standing, not kneeling and not genuflecting. 

The proper form of reverence to be used in approaching the Holy Eucharist is a simple bow of the head; the liturgical norms of the Church do not call for making the sign of the cross at this time, neither before nor after receiving Holy Communion.
Holy Communion is offered to the communicant with the words "The Body of Christ." The option of receiving Holy Communion in the hand or on the tongue belongs to the communicant, not to the one distributing Holy Communion. In either case, as soon as the communicant receives the Sacred Host, he or she consumes it entirely.                          (Published on April 28, May 5 & May 19, 2019)

Why is incense sometimes used during Mass? The use of incense was part of ancient worship patterns attested in both the Old and New Testaments (see Psalm141:2; Rev. 8:3-4). The ritual continues to be used in solemn liturgical celebrations.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (#75; 276) explains that incense is an expression of reverence and of prayer and signifies that the Church's offering and prayer rise up in the sight of God. Incense is used for the Cross, the altar, the Book of the Gospels, gifts of bread and wine, the Paschal Candle, the priest celebrant (to reflect his sacred ministry) and the congregation (to reflect its Baptismal dignity).                                                                                                                                                                                         (Published on May 12, 2019)

What is Pentecost Sunday and why do we celebrate it? Pentecost is one of the most important feast days of the liturgical year. This Solemnity brings the Easter season to a close. It celebrates the person of the Holy Spirit coming upon the Apostles, Mary and the first followers of Jesus - giving them the gifts and graces needed to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations.
The name Pentecost comes from the Greek word pentecoste meaning 50th. Pentecost Sunday always occurs 50 days after Easter and 10 days after Ascension Thursday. Depending on the timing of Easter, Pentecost Sunday may fall anywhere between May 10 and June 13.
The liturgical color for Pentecost is red. The priests and deacons wear red vestments at Mass to symbolize the burning fire of God's love. Here at Saint Elizabeth, we adorn the reredos wall behind the altar with red drapes and the altar itself will be decorated with a predominantly red theme.
(Published on May 26 & June 2, 2019)

Why do people bless themselves with holy water upon entering and leaving the church? The liturgical custom of blessing oneself with holy water by dipping one’s right hand into the holy water font and making the Sign of the Cross with one’s right hand is traditional Catholic practice. This gesture expresses our faith in the Holy Trinity and serves as a reminder of our Baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is through Baptism that we become members of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.
At Saint Elizabeth, the holy water fonts are located on the four corners of the Baptistry in the main area of the church narthex. There are also holy water fonts at the entrances to the daily Mass chapel.
(Published on June 9 & 16, 2019)

What is the proper posture during and after the distribution of Holy Communion? The General Instruction of the Roman Missal envisions the entire congregation standing and joining in singing the Communion chant or hymn during the entire time of the distribution of Holy Communion (GIRM, #86-87).
By exception, in the diocese of the United States, the traditional custom of kneeling after the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) until after the Great Amen, and again after the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) has been maintained. As a result, people typically remain kneeling during the distribution of Holy Communion, both before and after they themselves have received Holy Communion. The General Instruction also notes that after the distribution of Communion, the faithful may sit or kneel during a period of meditative silence or while a hymn of praise is being sung (#43).
(Published on June 23 & 30, 2019)

What is the gesture people make at the beginning of the Gospel reading at Mass and what does it mean? The General Instruction of the Roman Missal directs that before going to the ambo (lectern), the deacon who is to proclaim the Gospel bows in front of the priest-celebrant and asks for a blessing. The priest blesses the deacon, saying: “May the Lord be in your heart and on your lips, that you may proclaim his Gospel worthily and well, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (GIRM, #174).
After introducing the Gospel with the words: “A reading from the holy Gospel according to...,” the deacon (or the priest who is reading the Gospel in the absence of a deacon) makes the sign of the cross with his thumb on the Gospel book and then on his forehead, mouth and breast before beginning to read the Gospel passage. In a parallel fashion, after responding Glory to you, O Lord, the entire congregation makes the sign of the cross on their forehead, mouth and breast (GIRM, #134). With this liturgical gesture, we are asking God to bless our minds and hearts so that we will be open to hear the Gospel and that we might proclaim through our lips the good news of Jesus Christ.                                            (Published on July 7 & 14, 2019)

Why do people bow their heads in the middle of the Profession of Faith? In the Profession of Faith or Creed, all call to mind and confess the great mysteries of the faith before these mysteries are celebrated in the Liturgy of the Eucharist (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, #67).
All stand when reciting or singing the Creed. And at the words: ... and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man..., all make a profound bow. On the solemnities of the Annunciation (March 25) and of the Nativity of the Lord (December 25), all genuflect rather than bowing while saying these words (GIRM, #137).
Both the profound bow and the genuflection express a special reverence for the mystery of the Incarnation; that is, Jesus’ taking on our human nature for our salvation.              (Published on July 21 & 28, 2019)

Why is the main part of the church called the Nave? Nave is from the Latin word for ship (as in navy and naval), a vessel that carries its passengers safely to their destination. The Nave is the central and main part of the church building, extending from the narthex (entrance or vestibule) to the chancel or sanctuary (the area around the altar).
From the early centuries of Christianity, a ship has been used as a symbol for the Church, sometimes called “the Bark of Saint Peter.” Early Christian teachers and spiritual writers applied the image of Noah’s ark to the Church, describing the Church as the ship that safely carries Christian believers on the pilgrimage of earthly life, with Saint Peter (and his successors, the popes) as the helmsman.
When we gather in the nave of the Church, we are “sailing with Christ” through the often stormy waters of everyday life to the shores of eternal life in the kingdom of heaven.  (Published on August 4 & 11, 2019)

What is the wooden cabinet in the narthex that contains the 3 glass vessels? This cabinet is called the Ambry, (from an Old Latin word meaning a “place to store tools”). The ambry was traditionally a recess in the side wall of the church, typically in the sanctuary area or in the sacristy, where sacred oils used in sacramental celebrations are stored. The word was also used to refer to the cupboard, cabinet or a larger closet where the sacred vessels (chalice & patens, etc.), liturgical books and even vestments were stored.
Here at Saint Elizabeth the ambry is located outside the Good Shepherd Room (aka the cry room) on the left side of the narthex (vestibule). The glass vessels contain the three holy oils used in the liturgy: the Oil of Catechumens, the Holy Chrism, and the Oil of the Sick. These oils are consecrated by the bishop at the cathedral on Holy Thursday morning and shared with churches around the archdiocese as an expression of each parish’s unity with the bishop in the cathedral church. (Published on August 18 & 25, and September 1, 2019)

Why is incense sometimes used at Mass? The General Instruction on the Roman Missal (#276) notes that “incensation is an expression of reverence and of prayer, as signified in the Sacred Scripture.” In Psalm 141:2 we read: “Let my prayer come like incense before you; the lifting up of my hands, like the evening sacrifice.” And in Revelation 8:4, we read: “The smoke of the incense, along with the prayers of the holy ones, went up before God from the hands of the angel.”
There are several points in the Mass when incense may be used if desired, including during the entrance procession; incensing the Cross and the altar at the beginning of Mass; at the proclamation of the Gospel; during the offertory prayers, the gifts of bread and wine, the Cross, the altar and the priest & people may be incensed; and during the consecration, during the elevation of the Host and the Chalice (GIRM, #277). (Published on September 22 & 29, 2019)

Why does the altar server ring a bell during the Eucharistic Prayer? The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (#150) notes: “A little before the consecration, when appropriate, a server rings a bell as a signal to the faithful. According to local custom, the
server also rings the bell as the priest shows the host and then the chalice.”
The custom of ringing a bell during the Eucharistic Prayer dates from a time when the Mass was celebrated in Latin with the priest facing away from the people. At the time, the congregation could not always see what the priest was doing and often did not understand the Latin words. The first bell is rung shortly before the consecration to calls the congregation’s attention to the prayer of consecration which follows. In most churches the bell is rung a second and third time with the elevation of the newly-consecrated gifts.
The bell is first rung when the priest extends his hands over the gifts of bread and wine and calls down the Holy Spirit to consecrate the gifts (this prayer is called the epiclesis). The priest then speaks aloud the institution narrative and consecration in which he recites the words of Jesus at the Last Supper
consecrating the bread and wine as the Body and Blood of Christ (GIRM, #79). (Published on October 6 & 13, 2019)

Where do the readings used at Sunday Mass come from? All the readings proclaimed at Mass are drawn from the Sacred Scriptures and are arranged for the entire year in a four-volume Lectionary for Mass which is used in Catholic Churches around the world in their respective vernacular languages.
The Liturgy of the Word on Sundays and solemn feast days includes the First Reading drawn from the Old Testament (or the Acts of the Apostles in the Easter Season), the Responsorial Psalm from the Book of Psalms (either sung or recited), the Second Reading drawn from the New Testament Letters or the Book of Revelation, and the Gospel Reading.
The Gospel passages are arranged in a three-year cycle (A-Matthew; B-Mark; and C-Luke), with the Gospel of John used primarily in Lent and the Easter Season. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal notes: “In the readings, the table of God’s word is prepared for the faithful and the riches of the Bible are opened to them” (GIRM, #57). (Published on October 20 & 27, 2019) 

What prayer does the priest say quietly before Holy Communion? After the singing of the Lamb of God, as the congregation kneels, the priest offers this quiet prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, whom by the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit, through your Death gave life to the world, free me by this, your most holy Body and Blood, from all my sins and from every evil; keep me always faithful to your commandments, and never let me be parted from you.”
In these words, the priest acknowledges his own sinfulness and need for God’s forgiveness, just as a few moments later, the entire congregation joins in saying: “Lord, I am not worthy...” (GIRM, 156-157). (Published on November 3 & 10, 2019) 

Why does the celebrant break a small piece of the consecrated host into the chalice? The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM)
notes that the priest breaks the Eucharistic Bread [the large host] in imitation of Christ’s gesture of breaking bread at the Last Supper. In apostolic times the entire Eucharistic ritual was known as “The Breaking of the Bread” (recall the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24: 30-35).
By receiving Communion from the one Bread of Life which is Christ, the many people at Mass are made one body, as Saint Paul reminds the Corinthians (1 Cor. 10:17). The priest breaks the Bread and puts a piece of the host into the chalice to signify the unity of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the work of salvation (GIRM, #83). (Published on November 17 and 24, 2019) 

Why do we have an Advent Wreath? The use of the Advent Wreath is a traditional devotional practice begun in the Middle Ages which still has a place, both in the Church and in the home. A wreath of evergreen branches typically surrounds four candles, three purple and one pink or rose candle. One candle is lighted on each Sunday of Advent.

The wreath and candles are full of symbolism tied to the Advent-Christmas season. The circle of the wreath, having no beginning nor end, signifies God's unending love and the gift of eternal life that Jesus offers to all. The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent, and each candle represents 1,000 years, reflecting the ancient tradition that counted a total of 4,000 years between Adam & Eve and the birth of Jesus. Additional symbolic meanings have been attached to the candles over the centuries, expressing a series of virtues (hope, peace, joy and love) and biblical characters (prophets, the Bethlehem manger, shepherds and angels). While the placement of the Advent Wreath varies in each church, here at Saint Elizabeth it is located inside the center double entrance doors from the narthex into the nave of the church. (Published on December 1 & 8, 2019)

Why is the Nativity manger placed on the side aisle of the church at Saint Elizabeth? The custom of displaying a Nativity scene (creche or manger) during the Christmas season owes its origins to Saint Francis of Assisi who made the first live Nativity scene for Christmas eve in 1223. Even as far back as the fourth century, Christian churches used paintings of the birth of Jesus and the words of Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets as wall decorations.
The documents of the church clearly state that the manger or crèche should not be located near the altar, pulpit or presidential chair. The Book of Blessings (#1544) specifically directs that “when the manger is set up in the church, it must not be placed in the sanctuary, but rather in another location suitable for prayer and devotion and easily accessible to the faithful” (#1544). Similarly, other liturgical documents note that the altar should remain clear and free standing, not obstructed by large floral displays or the Christmas crib. For this reason, here at Saint Elizabeth, the indoor Nativity scene is displayed in the left side ambulatory of the main church, while an outdoor manger set stands on the walkway up to the front of the church between late Advent and the feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January. (Published on December 15 & 22, 2019)

Why do we sing so much at Mass? The General Instruction of the Roman Missal affirms the importance of singing in these words:
“The Christian faithful who gather together as one to await the Lord’s coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing together psalms, hymns and inspired song (Col.3:16). Singing is the sign of the heart’s joy (Acts 2:46). Thus Saint Augustine rightly says: ‘Singing is for
one who loves.’ There is also an ancient proverb: ‘One who sings well prays twice.’
“Great importance should therefore be attached to the use of singing in the celebration of the Mass, with due consideration for the culture of the people and the abilities of each liturgical assembly.” (GIRM, #39-40) (Published on January 12, 2020)

Is Ash Wednesday a holy day of obligation? Although it is not one of the six official holy days of obligation for Catholic believers, Ash Wednesday is one of the best-attended holy days of the year. In a similar way, many people come to Mass on Thanksgiving, not because of an obligation but rather with a genuine spirit of gratitude to God. 

On Ash Wednesday, all Christians are invited to come with a sincere desire to repent of past sins and to draw more closely to Christ as we begin the season of Lent. During Lent we are called to embrace Jesus’ own spiritual journey through suffering on the cross to the joys of the Resurrection. The reception of ashes marks our commitment to follow Christ more faithfully. (Published on February 23, 2020)