Keen-eyed Mass-goers will have noticed that we have started using a chalice veil and burse at Masses at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish. A chalice veil is a white or colored cloth that is draped over the chalice at the beginning of Mass and removed at the altar at the time of the presentation of the gifts (the offertory). A burse is a white or colored case for the corporal cloth that the chalice and paten rest on upon the altar. The instructions for the celebration of Mass note that “it is a praiseworthy practice for the chalice to be covered with a veil, which may be either of the color of the day or white.”
So why do we use a chalice veil at Mass? There are numerous reasons, the first being practical: to keep dust and flying insects away from the bread and wine. The more important reasons are symbolic. The changing color alerts the congregation to the change in feast or celebration of a saint (our altar cloth does this too). In the Old Testament, a veil or curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple: the chalice veil reminds us of the curtain setting apart the Holy of Holies, and prompts us to approach the altar aware of our unworthiness to enter into union with God. The removal of the chalice veil is one of the first liturgical actions at the offertory. This action is an echo from scripture as well: the torn curtain at the death of Jesus, which signifies the transition from the Old Covenant to the consummation of the New Covenant promised by Jesus at the Last Supper.
The burse is a case for the corporal, the sacred linen upon which rests the chalice and paten (the plate on which the host rests). It is used for reasons of convenience and reverence. Convenience so that the corporal has a place to go and doesn’t fall off the chalice and reverence in case any particles of the eucharist remain in the corporal. While the corporal is always white, the burse usually matches the color of the chalice veil and the priest’s vestments.
The burse is placed on top of the veil which covers the chalice. When the chalice and paten are completely prepared for the liturgy with chalice veil and burse, they may be referred to collectively as a “vested chalice.” While these lesser known and seen “vestments” might seem inconsequential or unimportant, we should always show the utmost reverence for the eucharist and the sacred vessels and linens used around the eucharist. Such items have both practical and sacred or symbolic purposes. It’s always a good idea to learn more about them.
Last month, I had the chance to get away for a few days and attend a 10-year reunion of the seminary Class of 2013 from the Pontifical North American College in Rome, my alma mater. It was a great time to see so many of my classmates, many of whom I had not seen since we were in Rome together, a decade ago.
We met in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, on the Jersey Shore. Ocean Grove, known as “God’s square mile on the Jersey Shore,” is a fascinating place. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Ocean Grove is noted for its abundant examples of Victorian architecture. It was founded in 1869 as an outgrowth of the camp meeting movement in the United States, when a group of Methodist clergymen formed the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to develop and operate a summer camp meeting site on the Jersey Shore. By the early 20th century, the popular Christian meeting ground became known as the “Queen of Religious Resorts.”
While out East, a classmate and I had a chance to drive to Philadelphia and visit the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. There we were able to venerate the tomb of St. Katharine Drexel, the second American-born saint and patron saint of racial justice and of philanthropists. We also visited the newest basilica in the United States, the Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, located in the East Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, which was named a basilica just earlier this year. Within the church is the shrine to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, a title of the Virgin Mary originating with her apparitions to St. Catherine Labouré in Paris in 1830. While at the Shrine, I prayed specifically for all members of OQLH Parish. While in Philadelphia, I would be remiss to not stop and get a Philly Cheesesteak. Having to decide between the famous rivals, Geno’s Steaks or Pat’s Steaks, we settled on Pat’s. It was a great lunch!
Back in Ocean Grove, as we sat on the beach one evening reminiscing about out time in Rome and the joys and struggles of the past decade of priesthood, I thought of an inscription over the North American College in Rome that says, “Young men who have come to this place from the distant shores of America, keep their gaze upon the Vatican hill, strengthen their faith and their love for the Roman Pontiff.” Here we were, sitting quite literally on the now not-so-distant shores of America, together after 10 years: it was a great moment. In your kindness, pray for the Class of 2013, and pray for all priests and deacons in our Church. God bless you.
I want to take this opportunity in the bulletin to update you on the Inspired by the Spirit campaign and some of the capital projects that we are working on in the parish. Like last year, we will have the parish annual report published around October but I wanted to take a moment to speak more on the capital improvements.
Campaign: The Inspired by the Spirit campaign is wrapping up throughout the Diocese of La Crosse. Not only was it a success in our parish but it was a resounding success throughout the diocese. Our parish met and exceeded our goal of $785,000 in pledges. The diocese as a whole exceeded its $40 million goal and raised $55 million in pledges, of which approximately $36 million will return to the parishes. Currently at OLQH, we have received $250,654 of the $510,250 parish share. Thank you to all who have and continue to participate!
HVAC Temperature Controls: The diocese has approved the project to upgrade our HVAC temperature control system. This is a major expense that was not a part of the campaign. This project will allow the parish and school to more easily monitor and adjust the temperature in the various parts of our building. The materials have been ordered and hopefully the installation will begin in late summer/early fall. Assumption Catholic Schools is assisting in the cost of this project.
Church AC Units: As you might remember, we have been having issues with the church AC units. While the temperature control project described above will fix some of the problems, we had a fan motor die earlier this summer and just two weeks ago had a compressor fail. The necessary parts to fix these units have been ordered. The mandated changes in refrigerants have made the fix a bit more complicated and expensive but it’s still less expensive than installing all new units. OLQH has had these units since 1982 so we have gotten our money’s worth on them.
Rectory Bathrooms: We have selected Altmann Construction to refurbish the rectory bathrooms, as part of the campaign. We are currently waiting on the final bid from Altmann and then, once we receive diocesan approval, we can move forward with this project, probably beginning in the winter of this year.
School Windows: We are hoping to begin the campaign project to replace the school windows and install a drop ceiling and new LED lighting in the school in the summer of 2024. We are currently in the bidding process. This project can really only be done during the summer so as to not interrupt classroom instruction. Assumption Catholic Schools is assisting in the cost of this project.
That’s the update for the now. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like further clarification on any ongoing project. God bless you.
Many of you know that I am a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse—that is, a diocesan (or secular) priest. In other words, I do not belong to a religious institute. However, that is not entirely accurate. I am a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic, a branch of the Order of Preachers, or Dominicans. St. Dominic’s feast day is August 8th so I thought I would explain this facet of my priesthood a bit.
From the very beginning of the foundations of the Order of Preachers, there have been diocesan priests who have affiliated themselves with the Order of Preachers but without becoming Dominican friars. Before 1968, the Order (like many others) was divided into three parts: the First Order of the friars, the Second Order of the nuns, and the Third Order of laity. After 1968, the Dominicans abolished these divisions and realized that no matter how one is a Dominican, all members are part of the “Dominican Family.”
In 2014, I began formation in the Dominican tradition—learning the Dominican preaching charism and observances of the Rule—in order to formally affiliate myself with the Dominican Order through profession in the third order, what is now called the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic. The Priestly Fraternity is a fraternity of diocesan priests who have been urged by supernatural grace to enroll in the Order of St. Dominic and who profess a rule of life suited to their state. Profession in the Order of St. Dominic makes these priests members of the Dominican Family and sharers in the grace and mission of the Order of Preachers. However, these priests are free for service in their own diocese and under the jurisdiction of their own bishop. They are not Dominican friars but rather “Dominican diocesan priests”—Sons of St. Dominic.
On September 14, 2016, after over two years of formation, I made my solemn profession to live according to the Rule of St. Dominic. Kneeling before the Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Albert the Great of the Order of Preachers, with my hands in his hands, I made a promise that I would live according to the Rule of St. Dominic for life. Being a full member of the Order of St. Dominic, I strive each-and-every-day to be imbued with the spirit of St. Dominic so that I can pursue greater perfection before God and the world. Please know of my prayers for you all and humbly request yours for me! St. Dominic, pray for us!
This weekend I am celebrating my tenth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. My actual anniversary is on June 22 but this weekend worked out better to celebrate at and after the Sunday 10:00 AM Mass. Like most people celebrating anniversaries, I have been asked if it seems like ten years. The response will be familiar to many: some days it seems like a lot less and some days it seems like a lot more!
I was struck when I saw my previous assignments typed out in the program for this Sunday’s Mass: I’ve served as a priest in three deaneries of the diocese, having grown up in a fourth and served as a seminarian in a fifth. My time studying canon law in Washington, DC seems like yesterday and yet I completed the program in 2019. Even here at OLQH, I am starting my third year as pastor. Time flies, as they say!
Our own plans never really turn out the way we expect them to. We can plan and organize and devise and, in the end, it’s God’s plan that happens. I am reminded of Father Robert Letona’s ordination to the diaconate that took place here at Our Lady Queen of Heaven in May of 2009. There is a photo of the then-Deacon Letona and me (as a seminarian) outside of the parish office in the Gathering Space. Little did I know then that 12 years later I would be named pastor of the parish. I felt God’s humor when Bishop Callahan called to tell me I was assigned to OLQH and remembered that Mass all those years prior.
In all of this, I believe the lesson learned is that God is control. It’s not an easy lesson to learn. We want to be in control. Yet, when we try to plan, it usually doesn’t work out. I am reminded of a line from a Robert Burns poem: “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” In my ten years of priesthood, I certainly have learned to expect the unexpected and to trust in Divine Providence, as difficult as that is sometimes. Nonetheless, it’s a lesson for all Christians to learn.
I am hopeful for the next ten years. Who knows what the future will bring. In the program for my first Mass, I wrote that I had one request: “Please pray for me. Please pray that I may be a good and holy priest. Please pray that I may be a fervent priest that is able to bring souls to God.” That is still my request. Pray for me and I will pray for you. God bless you all.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, known as Corpus Christi. This feast began in Italy with a priest who had lost his faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and decided to walk to Rome as a pilgrim in an effort to once again believe in the Real Presence.
One day in 1263 in Bolsena, Italy, while this priest was celebrating Mass, the consecrated Host he held above the altar began to bleed onto the corporal, the small cloth upon which the host and chalice rest during the Mass. The remains of this Eucharistic miracle and the very corporal itself are still in existence and you can venerate them if you ever get to go to Italy and visit the Cathedral in Orvieto in Umbria. I have been privileged to visit that Cathedral several times and attend Mass in front of the corporal.
St. Thomas Aquinas, who was living in Orvieto at the Dominican studium generale, a school of theology, was asked by Pope Urban IV to write the Office (the texts for the Liturgy of the Hours) and the Mass texts for the solemnity of Corpus Christi that the pope was to institute the following year, in 1264. St. Thomas wrote the hymns for the Office which include the Pange Lingua, the Tantum Ergo, and the O Salutaris Hostia. Thomas also wrote the sequence Lauda Sion Salvatorem which we chant on every Corpus Christi Sunday. Thomas also wrote the prayers for the Mass on Corpus Christi, which we use in English translation as well.
You may have noticed that we sung a sequence on Pentecost Sunday as well. There are several feasts in the Church year where we sing sequences. Sequences are hymns sung before the Gospel. Traditionally it is sung after the Alleluia but in modern times, it is sung before the Alleluia. Before the year 1570 there were sequences for many of the feasts throughout the year: in fact, at the height of their use, there were sequences for nearly every Sunday and feast day of the year. After the Missal of Pius V was promulgated in 1570 the number of sequences was reduced to four but one other (the Stabat Mater, which we traditionally sing at the Stations of the Cross) was later added in 1727. By the time of our current Missal, there are only four sequences left in the Mass and only those on Easter Sunday and Pentecost Day are required.
I end with a strophe from Thomas Aquinas’ Pange Lingua. May it be our encouragement today:
Therefore, the great Sacrament let us reverence, prostrate: and let the old Covenant give way to a new rite. Let faith stand forth as substitute for defect of the senses.
As many of you heard at the Masses last weekend, the church air conditioners went on the fritz when we started them up this year—so the Mass you were at might have been warm or cold! We had to replace a condenser fan and a capacitor in one of the units. This replacement was not a major issue; what is the bigger concern is the control system that controls the HVAC in the church, offices, school, and rectory. You may remember that I wrote about this in my November 6, 2022 bulletin column. We are now at a point to address the HVAC control system.
The proposal to replace the entire control system for the boilers, air conditioners, and everything in between is a large project: in fact, a $90,000 project. Of that $90k, $50,000 of it is for the units in OLQH School. This project needs to be done and will hopefully give the parish much more control over the whole HVAC system in the offices, church, school, and rectory. The parish currently has the money to be able to accomplish this from the Inspired by the Spirit campaign, a recent bequest to the parish, and from our savings. Assumption Catholic Schools has agreed to pay their share of the school cost, as well. This will be finalized at the next parish finance council meeting, pending diocesan approval.
In addition, we are finalizing proposals to fully air condition the rectory. For some reason, only half of the rectory is air conditioned. Three of the bedrooms have no AC (including my own). We are looking at the most cost-effective way of getting AC into those bedrooms without cutting too many holes (if any) in the flat roof of the rectory. This project will hopefully be accomplished in the near future.
After Mass last weekend, one of the parishioners mentioned to me that I must feel like a homeowner as pastor. I certainly do, at times; although not many homes have 2 boilers, 4 furnaces, and 19 air conditioners! Nonetheless, like any home, we have to take care of our infrastructure. Thanks to your continued generosity, the parish is at a place where we can not only keep up with the maintenance but improve on what we already have. As always, please do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions or concerns.
The month of May is dedicated to Our Lady. Many of you may have grown up praying the Angelus at 6:00am, Noon, and 6:00pm. Traditionally church bells peel out at these times to remind the faithful of the Annunciation of Mary and subsequent Incarnation of Christ. Pope St. Paul VI wrote that the Angelus “reminds us of the Paschal Mystery, in which recalling the Incarnation of the Son of God we pray that we may be led through his passion and cross to the glory of his resurrection.”
Our own church bell rings for the Angelus as well, although at 7:00am rather than 6:00am (lest we awaken the neighbors too early). In the Vatican, since the time of Pope St. John XXIII, the popes have appeared in the window of the Apostolic Palace on Sundays to give the weekly “Angelus Address” and to pray the Angelus and bless the crowds gathered. However, during the Easter Season, the Angelus is replaced by the Regina Caeli, known in English as “Queen of Heaven.” It’s a fitting title for our parish!
The Regina Caeli is prayed every night after Night Prayer (known as Compline). Each liturgical season has its assigned Marian anthem (for example, the “Hail, Holy Queen” is prayed during Ordinary Time). In Easter, it’s the Regina Caeli. You’re probably familiar with the words: Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia. The Son you merited to bear, alleluia, Has risen as he said, alleluia. Pray to God for us, alleluia.
Why is Mary considered the Queen of Heaven? The Venerable Pope Pius XII taught that Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through Him, with Him, and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular choice of the Father. Mary is called Queen of Heaven because her son, Jesus Christ, is the king of Israel and the heavenly king of the universe; indeed, the Davidic tradition of Israel recognized the mother of the king as the queen mother of Israel.
Pope Pius XII established the feast of the Queenship of Mary through his 1954 encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam (‘To The Queen of Heaven’). Pope Pius XII gives us a commission: “Let all, therefore, try to approach with greater trust the throne of grace and mercy of our Queen and Mother, and beg for strength in adversity, light in darkness, consolation in sorrow; above all let them strive to free themselves from the slavery of sin and offer an unceasing homage, filled with filial loyalty, to their Queenly Mother. May Mary’s name be held in highest reverence, a name sweeter than honey and more precious than jewels. All, according to their state, should strive to bring alive the wondrous virtues of our heavenly Queen and most loving Mother through constant effort of mind and manner.”
Today we celebrate Palm Sunday, or officially, Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. On this day the Church recalls the entrance of Christ the Lord into Jerusalem to accomplish his Paschal Mystery. According to the Gospels, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, and the celebrating people there laid down their cloaks in front of him, and also laid down small branches of trees. The crowds kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” Hosanna is Hebrew and comes from the word hôshia-nā’ which means “save, rescue” and, liturgically, refers to a cry expressing an appeal for divine help.
Centuries ago, the emperors used to distribute branches of palms among their nobles and commoners. Today, palm fronds and other small branches are given and held during the procession and beginning of Mass. While in the United States, palm fronds are the most common, throughout the world, other types of branches are used. When I lived in Italy, I saw that olive branches are quite common there on Palm Sunday.
At the beginning of the procession before Mass, the priest gives a brief address in which the faithful are invited to participate actively and consciously in the celebration. The priest explains that since the beginning of Lent until now the faithful have prepared their hearts by penance and charitable works. On Palm Sunday, the faithful gather together to herald with the whole Church the beginning of the celebration of the Lord’s Paschal Mystery, that is to say, of his Passion and Resurrection. For it was to accomplish this mystery that he entered his own city of Jerusalem.
Therefore, with all faith and devotion, the priest encourages everyone to commemorate the Lord’s entry into the city for their salvation, following in his footsteps, so that, being made by his grace partakes of the Cross, the faithful may have a share also in his Resurrection and in his life.
We pray to God this weekend that He may, as the Collect for Palm Sunday states, graciously grant that we may heed Jesus’ lesson of patient suffering and so merit a share in his Resurrection.
I enjoy reading the Magnificat each month. One of the parts I enjoy reading are the brief commentaries on the psalms in the daily morning and evening prayers. Last month, one of these commentaries struck me. It said, “Pride sets subtle snares. Whenever we imagine that we are in control of life—our own or someone else’s—we have fallen prey to the ancient whisper in the Garden: ‘You shall be like gods.’ Mortality is the enduring reminder that we become like God not by our own power but by the power of the cross.”
Many of the sins that we fall into have at their root some form of pride: that it’s all about us and what we want—all that matters are our own desires, wants, pleasures, and needs. We subtly forget about both God and our neighbor. We can easily fall into this pride as easily as we step on a rock. We want to believe it takes stepping across the Grand Canyon but in reality, sin is much subtler. Temptation can be almost imperceptible when we aren’t paying attention.
Sometimes people ask me why they seem strong in resisting temptation after the Sacrament of Confession or a retreat or other spiritual exercise. They might be good for a while and then fall back into the old habits of temptation and sin. It is that old whisper in the Garden. We imagine that we are in control of our lives but, in reality, God is in control. He’s the one that we should rely on to guide us and tell us what to do. When we put ourselves in control we are bound to fail and fall back into our old ways. Therefore, we must pray at all times, both in temptation and outside of it. We can never become complacent in fighting against evil or in seeking God in all things.
As the Magnificat commentary states: “we become like God not by our power but by the power of the cross.” During this season of Lent, we have many opportunities to reflect on the cross, the instrument of our salvation. One of my favorite Latin sayings is “Ave, O Crux, Spes Unica!” — “Hail, O Cross, Our Only Hope!” We cannot save ourselves and we already have a savior, Jesus Christ, who won for us our salvation on the cross. By uniting ourselves closer and closer to Jesus and letting God have control, we become more the person we were created to be. In the end, I am reminded of the beginning of a prayer by St. Basil of Caesarea: Steer the ship of my life, Lord, to your quiet harbor, where I can be safe from the storms of sin and conflict.