Happy Birthday, Pope Benedict XVI!

Our pope emeritus celebrates his 88th birthday today. This photo was apparently taken this morning in the Vatican, outside Benedict’s home, where he received a group of Bavarians in traditional costume and shared a mug of German beer with them. Pope Benedict’s older brother is there on the right side (seated, with sunglasses).

Ad multos annos!

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Ciborium Veil

A few months back a kind individual gave me a ciborium veil that his wife had made. I was finally able to put it into use on Holy Thursday. (For various reasons which I won’t get into here, we will not yet be using it on a regular basis.)

On Holy Thursday, it is appropriate for the ciborium to be veiled as it is processed through the church to the altar of repose at the end of Mass. In fact, the ciborium veil used to be required whenever the ciborium contained consecrated hosts. (The veil is not put on until the hosts are consecrated.) The use of the veil was never forbidden, but has certainly fallen out of practice in most places.

I don’t have access to the various liturgical books at present, but I have always understood that the Blessed Sacrament is technically considered to be “exposed” when the ciborium does not have a veil on it.

Here is a photo of the veil over the ciborium in our tabernacle:

It turned out to be just the right size for our largest ciborium.

It turned out to be just the right size for our largest ciborium.

The basic reason for veiling the ciborium is because we veil all things that are sacred. Hence it is common for the altar to have various veils over it (at least a linen cloth, but not excluding even other types of cloths that cover it entirely). This is one of the reasons why priests wear special vestments. This is why we often see veils on tabernacles.

It’s also a reason why we should dress modestly — our bodies are sacred!

If you want to read more about the Christian understanding of veiling, there is an entire chapter on it in Martin Mosebach’s book The Heresy of Formlessness, which I notice is available also in Kindle format.

It used to be a real art form to make these veils. Nuns used to paint beautiful Eucharistic designs onto silk, or embroider delicate patterns. There were also some practicalities that developed with time as well. For example, since the veil should be removed before you unlid the ciborium – in case there are any particles on the underside of the lid (so they will not end up on the veil when you put the whole thing down on the altar), and also, in case the ciborium was rather full and the veil should sweep some of the hosts out of it while it was being removed – sometimes veils were made with a little loop sewn onto the top that made it easier to pick up with the finger and lift the veil off. (Modern variations on this old trick have been accomplished by sewing on a small plastic ring.)

Of all the liturgical paraments, ciborium veils would probably be the easiest to make. It would be a great project for someone who sews and wants to do something for the church. You make a circle of fine fabric (silk, damask, etc.), line it with satin or moiré or the like, and there is a hole or slit in the center of it large enough to fit over the cross on top of the ciborium. There are other forms — for example, four flaps that hang down the sides of the ciborium –, and of course there are other possible details, such as fringes and so forth, but in its most basic format it is quite straightforward.

Is the ciborium veil used in your parish?

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A Holy Thursday Gift

For several months now I’ve been undertaking a transformation of the rectory chapel here at St. Barnabas, to change it from the guest room that it used to be to a room that looks like a chapel and is a fitting place to pray before the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Today, Holy Thursday, the new altar was delivered. It was very generously built and donated by a local businessman who has a woodworking club. Over the past several weeks he and his buddies built it, and today they delivered, assembled, and installed it. Some photos:

The wall behind it will be covered with a curtain soon; thus the window (and source of glare) will be hidden.

The wall behind it will be covered with a curtain soon; thus the window (and source of glare) will be hidden.

The emblem on the front of it is a bronze Lamb of God emblem. I hope to find some bronze candlesticks to complement it. The brass-tone tabernacle will stand out then in distinction from the various bronze implements.

I think I have a good crucifix to suspend behind it also, once the curtain is in place.

I think I have a good crucifix to suspend behind it also, once the curtain is in place.

I have some first class relics of various saints, also, and over time I hope that I can find some good reliquaries to display them in between the candlesticks. I guess for a chapel this size we will have four candlesticks on the gradine (but I have to consult on this).

We do not know what relic is in the altar stone, the papers having been lost. But it is an old altar stone nonetheless, and I'm glad that it was possible to include it in this altar also.

We do not know what relic is in the altar stone, the papers having been lost. But it is an old altar stone nonetheless, and I’m glad that it was possible to include it in this altar also.

Of course I’ll need to get a nice altar cloth also. So… a work in progress! But I think it will be very nice when finished.

It happens that every now and then I do not have a public Mass scheduled on a certain day, so I’ll be able to celebrate Mass on this altar on those days. It will surely be of use to the other priest who lives with me and visiting priests as well. And of course, the Blessed Sacrament will be reserved and it will be a place of daily prayer.

A wonderful Holy Thursday gift!

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Mass Ad Orientem for the Annunciation

This morning I celebrated Mass ad orientem for the Solemnity of the Annunciation, on our historic high altar at Holy Rosary Church. The Mass (which was a Novus Ordo in English) was offered for all the deceased of the parish: for those who sacrificed to buy this altar when the parish was built, those who assisted at Mass celebrated on this altar for about 2/3 of the parish’s history, and those who have admired this beautiful high altar ever since the new altar that faces the congregation was put in place. May all of the parish’s deceased rest in peace.

There was also the possibility of gaining the plenary indulgence with this Mass, since it is part of our Jubilee Celebrations.

"Through Him, with Him, and in Him..."

“Through Him, with Him, and in Him…”

Special thanks to my “official photographer” for snapping a few photos.

See my previous writings on Mass “facing east” (ad orientem) here, here, here, and here.

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Inspiring Episcopal Leadership on the Eucharist

I was recently pleased to come across a decree issued by the Archbishop of Ferrara, Italy, Most Rev. Luigi Negri, who is an impressive leader in the Italian church. This bishop takes seriously his duty to safeguard the Holy Eucharist in his local church, and so, in this decree, summarizes the relevant norms from the various sources of Church law and also issues some norms of his own. This document impressed me so much that I translated the entire thing and share it with you here. (My source for the original Italian doc.)

Archbishop Luigi Negri

Archbishop Luigi Negri

Just take a look at this. The archbishop directs that in all the churches of his archdiocese, the following statement should be read before the distribution of Holy Communion:




The decree also covers things like the use of the communion plate (paten) and altar bells – and more. There’s at least one thing that might not make sense to American readers (the thing about additional tables for First Communion – this may be more of an “Italian problem”), but overall I think that much of this decree will be inspiring and edifying. Click the following icon to download it:

Click icon to download.

Click icon to download.

While it has no binding force outside the Archdiocese of Ferrara-Comacchio, in any case it may instruct some, edify others, and perhaps even inspire some priests and/or bishops to exercise similar leadership on a parish or diocesan level.

The Most Holy Eucharist is the Church’s greatest treasure, and in times like these when belief in the Real Presence seems to be quite weak in some areas, and where shocking abuses of the Blessed Sacrament seem to be occurring with a startling regularity, such episcopal leadership is most opportune and, indeed, very inspiring.

Thank you, Archbishop Negri!

English translation of the decree by Rev. Bryan W. Jerabek, J.C.L.

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Devotion to St. Joseph: A Story

The holy death of St. Joseph.

The holy death of St. Joseph.

On this Solemnity of St. Joseph, I am pleased to share my translation of a brief story from an Italian devotional book. I translated the text as it was found on the blog Cordialiter.

* * *

A rich man had been married for many years and had received from God the gift of three sons. He was devoted to St. Joseph and every year he solemnly celebrated March 19th, begging the Patriarch’s blessing upon his children.

It happened that precisely on the feast day of St. Joseph one of his sons died. The next year – and again, exactly on March 19th – the second son died. The pious father did not stop honoring the saint. But he was exceedingly aggrieved when the anniversary neared, fearing that the third son might die as well.

Absorbed in sad thoughts, he found himself one day in the country and there he received the gift of a clarifying vision. He saw dangling from the branches of a tree two young men who had been hanged. An angel appeared to him and said, “Do you see these two young men hung by a rope? That is how your sons’ lives would have ended if they had reached an older age! But since you have been devoted to St. Joseph, he obtained for you from God that they should die at a young age, to save you from affliction and dishonor and them from eternal damnation. So do not cease celebrating the saint’s feast day – to whom you shall be indebted for yet another grace, seeing as your remaining son will lead a holy life and one day be a bishop.”

When the vision ended the good father recovered his composure. And things thereafter took place as the angel had said.

* * *

St. Joseph, pray for us!

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30 Weeks; an update on Catriona and life in general

Father Jerabek:

An update on my sister’s pregnancy. Thank you again to all who are praying!

Originally posted on Momma's Finding Her Balance:

30 weeks is here!  Our original goal date of March 10th has come and gone and Catriona is still hanging in there, though she is making her requests to join us a little more firm every day.  Over the last week she has dropped, and landed squarely on my bladder, so every step I take now makes me need to use the bathroom…. I should buy stock in Charmin.  I am home from work until Catriona does decide to show up at this point.  Between the late fusion, infection, and now constant hormone induced migraines I am currently spending more time lying down than I have in years.  The medication I am taking to control the migraines (which were raising my blood pressure to dangerous levels) knocks me out.  I think I may have actually caught up on sleep from the last two years… I am sure I will miss all…

View original 242 more words

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Potato Onion Oil Egg Salt

Tonight I tried my hand at a great meatless meal, Spanish Tortilla. It is nothing like the tortilla we know in the USA, made from flour or corn. This one, rather, is made from eggs and potatoes (and oil, onion, and salt). And it’s delicious. Very simple and relatively easy.

I’ve never been to Spain, but I understand that this is a very widespread dish there and served in many ways (appetizer, main course, etc.). It also apparently stands up well to reheating (we’ll find out tomorrow).

To make mine I followed the directions in this Spanish Video. I basically halved the ingredients – I used two potatoes, a medium-small white onion, four small eggs, and about 3/4 cup of oil. I went a little too heavy on the salt. Overall, though, not bad for the first try. This is a very flexible recipe and you could do a lot with it. But for a simple and relatively easy Lenten meal, using basic, cheap ingredients, this might be just the thing for you.

This video, also in Spanish, has English subtitles and gives you a good overviewIt’s a flexible recipe, depending upon the size of the potatoes and onion, your tastes, and how much you want to make. I cooked the onions first until they were transparent, then added the potatoes; but many videos I’ve seen show them just putting everything together all at once. The key is cooking until the potatoes are fork-tender, and not having the heat so low that they can’t get a little brown. On the other hand, you’re not making chips, so the pan shouldn’t be too hot.

Search for Spanish Tortilla and you’ll find all kinds of variations and recipes! Enjoy!

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Some Beautiful Modern Vestment Work

My friend David Gardiner has a vestment for sale at his web site right now that really catches my eye:

Here’s a detail of the 90-year-old embroidered vesica (medallion), in pristine condition:


Great price for it too! (See details on this page.) If I had a parish dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, I would definitely be looking for a way to buy this fine garment! We need more beauty in our churches and in our liturgy. We need to experience the beauty of humility!

Hopefully someone will snatch up this set and put it to good use!

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Kids at Mass

"Let the little children come to me." Window in a church in Paris, photographed by Fr. Jerabek

“Let the little children come to me.”
Window in a church in Paris, photographed by Fr. Jerabek

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, writing for the New Liturgical Movement, has an excellent article on children and the Traditional Latin Mass. However, I notice that there are several fine points in it that could apply or be helpful also for those young families that attend Mass in the vernacular (the Novus Ordo Mass). I especially enjoyed this point:

Kids need to practice sitting still at home before they can do it well in Church. We parents often make the mistake of trying to correct bad Mass behavior at Mass, where it is ineffective and awkward. A month or so of a family rosary can teach most kids how to sit still, because at home one can be insistent about the expected behavior in a way one can’t readily do at Mass. It is a chance to practice sitting still and, for older children, kneeling, so that their little bodies become familiar with a certain discipline of formal prayer, which feeds right into the Mass. Those with large families know that you can see the difference between children who have been given such opportunities and those who have not.

I’ve written various times on family prayer (here, here, and here, for example). I hadn’t made this particular connection before, however. But to me, it makes sense. Teach kids to pray at home and, thereby, to sit still, and Mass will be easier. There’s more great points before and after the above excerpt – check out all of Dr. Kwasnieski’s article.

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Tabernacle Safety

Recently we’ve heard the shocking news of the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament that took place in and around Ars, France. From the photos I’ve seen, many of the tabernacles involved were very old wooden ones that were hacked into. In other words, they were not removed from the church and later pried open, but vandalized on site so as to gain access.

From other stories that I’ve heard of things like this happening, there’s a certain sense in which, when someone with diabolical motives wants to get at the Blessed Sacrament, they’ll stop at nothing to get it. Even still, there is much that can be done to make it very difficult for such a tragedy and crime to happen, from having a properly secured church building to a properly secured and solid tabernacle.

What does Church law say about the tabernacle in this regard? Canon 938 § 3 of the Code of Canon Law indicates: “The tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved habitually is to be immovable, made of solid and opaque material, and locked in such a way that the danger of profanation is avoided as much as possible.”

Probably many of us have seen abuses over the years concerning this law; for example, I recall seeing a church with a glass tabernacle, in which the Holy Eucharist was displayed in a glass bowl with colored lighting shining underneath it. That is wrong on many levels…

In any case, what we can focus on here, perhaps, with regard to the above canon, is the immovability of the tabernacle. Back in the day when many altars had a reredos (vertical back part), many tabernacles were built into the altar. Thus they would be secured within a framework made of marble, some other stone, or wood, and only a locked door would be visible. That is the case with our tabernacle at Holy Rosary parish:

The tabernacle is secured inside the wooden high altar, and is itself made of metal with a special locking door that would be quite difficult to break into.

Nowadays, perhaps, it is more common for the tabernacle to be freestanding, positioned on top of an altar or some sort of stand. That is the case with ours here at St. Barnabas:

In this case, the tabernacle is bolted down in such a way that it would be quite a production to remove it once installed. And, since it’s made of metal and has a secure lock, it would be very hard to break into as well.

There is a fair amount more we could talk about with regard to security and precautions to take with the Blessed Sacrament, but we’ll leave it there. The Holy Eucharist is the greatest treasure we have, Christ himself present in our midst, and so it is due the highest possible respect and care.

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Some New Altarware

Our new altar candlesticks, crucifix, and missal stand arrived recently for Holy Rosary parish – one of the fruits of the fundraiser that I had. (Side note: another Mass for benefactors will take place soon.)

Here are two photos:

Unbleached candles for Lent.

Unbleached candles for Lent.

I wasn't standing right in the middle, so some things look off-center.

I wasn’t standing right in the middle, so some things look off-center.

You’ll note that there are no flowers on the high altar. This is because during Lent, with the exception of certain Solemnities and Feast Days (such as Laetare Sunday, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, etc.), it is not permitted to have flowers on the altar (see GIRM # 305). That means that, in the morning, when I go over there, I need to remove those silk flowers showing in the photos above out from under the altar as well. (Tomorrow’s Mass is the first Mass celebrated there during Lent.)

Again, my gratitude to all of our generous benefactors, particularly the one who bought this new altarware for us!

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