Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Thursday, July 23, 2020 - Virtual Church

Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 398
Reading 1 JER 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13
This word of the LORD came to me:
Go, cry out this message for Jerusalem to hear!

I remember the devotion of your youth,
how you loved me as a bride,
Following me in the desert,
in a land unsown.
Sacred to the LORD was Israel,
the first fruits of his harvest;
Should any presume to partake of them,
evil would befall them, says the LORD.

When I brought you into the garden land
to eat its goodly fruits,
You entered and defiled my land,
you made my heritage loathsome.
The priests asked not,
“Where is the LORD?”
Those who dealt with the law knew me not:
the shepherds rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
and went after useless idols.

Be amazed at this, O heavens,
and shudder with sheer horror, says the LORD.
Two evils have my people done:
they have forsaken me, the source of living waters;
They have dug themselves cisterns,
broken cisterns, that hold no water.

Responsorial Psalm36:6-7AB, 8-9, 10-11
R. (10a) With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
O LORD, your mercy reaches to heaven;
your faithfulness, to the clouds.
Your justice is like the mountains of God;
your judgments, like the mighty deep.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
How precious is your mercy, O God!
The children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They have their fill of the prime gifts of your house;
from your delightful stream you give them to drink.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
For with you is the fountain of life,
and in your light we see light.
Keep up your mercy toward your friends,
your just defense of the upright of heart.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.

AlleluiaSEE MT 11:25
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 13:10-17
The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted
and I heal them.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
Prayer to make Spiritual Communion:
People who cannot communicate now make spiritual communion.
At your feet, O my Jesus I bow down and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abysses itself into its nothingness and Your holy presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your love, the ineffable Eucharist. I wish to receive you in the poor home that my heart offers you. In anticipation of the happiness of sacramental communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, oh my Jesus, that I may come to you. May Your love inflame my whole being, for life and death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it. Amen

Saint July 23 : St. Bridget of Sweden, Foundress, and the Patron of Widows and Europe

Born: 1303 at Finsta Castle, Uppsala, Sweden
23 July 1373 at Rome, Italy
7 October 1391 by Pope Boniface IX
Major Shrine:
Patron of:
Europe, Sweden, Widows
The most celebrated saint of the Northern kingdoms, born about 1303; died 23 July, 1373. Early life
She was the daughter of Birger Persson, governor and provincial judge (Lagman) of Uppland, and of Ingeborg Bengtsdotter. Her father was one of the wealthiest landholders of the country, and, like her mother, distinguished by deep piety. St. Ingrid, whose death had occurred about twenty years before Bridget's birth, was a near relative of the family. Birger's daughter received a careful religious training, and from her seventh year showed signs of extraordinary religious impressions and illuminations. To her education, and particularly to the influence of an aunt who took the place of Bridget's mother after the latter's death (c. 1315), she owed that unswerving strength of will which later distinguished her.
In 1316, at the age of thirteen, she was united in marriage to Ulf Gudmarsson, who was then eighteen. She acquired great influence over her noble and pious husband, and the happy marriage was blessed with eight children, among them St. Catherine of Sweden. The saintly life and the great charity of Bridget soon made her name known far and wide. She was acquainted with several learned and pious theologians, among them Nicolaus Hermanni, later Bishop of Linköping, Matthias, canon of Linköping, her confessor, Peter, Prior of Alvastrâ, and Peter Magister, her confessor after Matthias. She was later at the court of King Magnus Eriksson, over whom she gradually acquired great influence. Early in the forties (1341-43) in company with her husband she made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella. On the return journey her husband was stricken with an attack of illness, but recovered sufficiently to finish the journey. Shortly afterwards, however, he died (1344) in the Cistercian monastery of Alvastrâ in East Gothland.
Bridget now devoted herself entirely to practices of religion and asceticism, and to religious undertakings. The visions which she believed herself to have had from her early childhood now became more frequent and definite. She believed that Christ Himself appeared to her, and she wrote down the revelations she then received, which were in great repute during the Middle Ages. They were translated into Latin by Matthias Magister and Prior Peter.
St. Bridget now founded a new religious congregation, the Brigittines, or Order of St. Saviour, whose chief monastery, at Vadstena, was richly endowed by King Magnus and his queen (1346). To obtain confirmation for her institute, and at the same time to seek a larger sphere of activity for her mission, which was the moral uplifting of the period, she journeyed to Rome in 1349, and remained there until her death, except while absent on pilgrimages, among them one to the Holy Land in 1373. In August, 1370, Pope Urban V confirmed the Rule of her congregation. Bridget made earnest representations to Pope Urban, urging the removal of the Holy See from Avignon back to Rome. She accomplished the greatest good in Rome, however, by her pious and charitable life, and her earnest admonitions to others to adopt a better life, following out the excellent precedents she had set in her native land. The year following her death her remains were conveyed to the monastery at Vadstena. She was canonized, 7 October, 1391, by Boniface IX.

US Bishops' Chairmen Condemns Vandalism and Destruction of Catholic Sites - FULL TEXT

Bishop Chairmen Condemn Acts of Vandalism, Destruction at Catholic Sites

July 22, 2020
WASHINGTON — Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement in response to reports of increasing incidents of church vandalism and fires:

“In the last few weeks, we have witnessed, among other things, one church rammed with a car and set on fire, as well as statues of Jesus Christ and of the Virgin Mary defaced or even beheaded. An historic mission church has also been badly damaged by fire, and the cause is still under investigation.

“Whether those who committed these acts were troubled individuals crying out for help or agents of hate seeking to intimidate, the attacks are signs of a society in need of healing.

“In those incidents where human actions are clear, the motives still are not. As we strain to understand the destruction of these holy symbols of selfless love and devotion, we pray for any who have caused it, and we remain vigilant against more of it.

“Our nation finds itself in an extraordinary hour of cultural conflict. The path forward must be through the compassion and understanding practiced and taught by Jesus and his Holy Mother. Let us contemplate, rather than destroy, images of these examples of God’s love. Following the example of Our Lord, we respond to confusion with understanding and to hatred with love.”


RIP - 14 Religious Sisters Die during COVID-19 Pandemic from the Order of the Felicians in the USA

Catholic News World originally brought you this sad story in May. However, CNS and NCR now report that 3 more religious sisters from the Order of the Felicians have died. Sister Mary Madeleine Dolan, 82, died May 10 and Sister Mary Danatha Suchyta, 98, one of the sisters thought to have survived the illness, died from its effects June 27. Also, Sr. Mary Ramona (Florence) Borkowski, 93, Lodi, New Jersey (April 18). May they Rest in Peace.May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

The Felician Sisters’ community in Livonia, Michigan, lost 13 sisters to COVID-19 (the 14th was a Felician in New Jersey). This community is home to 44 Felician sisters and five members of other congregations who are students at nearby Madonna University. In addition to the 13 Sisters who died in Michigan, another 17 were infected but have recovered.
Original Post from early May:

One convent of Felician Sisters saw the Deaths of 11 of their Sisters during the month of April while the Coronavirus Pandemic was spreading. At least five of their deaths were linked to COVID-19. The other deaths are not yet confirmed to have been linked.
These Sisters belonged to a convent which was started 80 years ago. They served all groups of people in education, and in care for the sick. They were also devoted to the poor.

The following information was provided by the Felician Sisters of North America on the 11 women:

Sister Mary Luiza Wawryzniak

Sister Mary Luiza Wawryzniak was a Felician sister for 80 of her 99 years. A native of South Bend, Indiana, she joined the order after high school, where she served in the convent caring for Sisters and in prayer ministry.
She died on April 10.

Sister Celine Marie Lesinski, 92
Born in Detroit, Sister Celine Marie Lesinski was a Felician for 71 years.

Organist, librarian and director of volunteers at Angela Hospice Home Care.
She died on Easter.

Sister Mary Estelle Printz, 95
A Detroit native, Sister Mary Estelle Printz formally began her journey as a Felician Sister in 1946, professing her final vows in 1954.

She died Easter.

Sister Thomas Marie Wadowski, 73
Sister Thomas Marie Wadowski, a Detroit native, was a Felician sister in Livonia for 54 years. She formally joined the Felicians in 1965, professing final vows in 1973.
She died on April 15.

Sister Mary Patricia Pyszynski, 93
Sister Mary Patricia Pyszynski was an educator for 60 years — serving as an elementary and middle school teacher in 13 schools in Michigan and as a director of religious education.
She died on April 17.

Sister Mary Clarence (Adeline) Borkoski, 83
An educator for 48 years, Sister Mary Clarence Borkoski had been taught by the Felician Sisters when she was in elementary school. She made her final vows in 1963. She earned her bachelor’s and master's degrees in education, retiring in 2008.
She died on April 20.

Sister Rose Mary Wolak, 86
Sister Rose Mary Wolak enrolled at Madonna College with her twin sister, later completing an English degree with a minor in journalism and a secondary teaching certificate. She formally joined the Felicians in 1955, pronouncing final vows in 1963.
She died on April 21.

Sister Mary Janice (Margaret) Zolkowski, 86
In addition to a life in education, Sister Mary Janice Zolkowski authored the 586-page book, “Felician Sisters of Livonia, Michigan: First Province in America” as she also served as administrative assistant to the president of St. Mary’s College in Orchard Lake from 1978 to 1982.
She died on April 22.

Sister Mary Ann (Fernanda) Alice Gradowski, 73
Sister Mary Ann Alice Gradowski was an educator for 36 years, having been taught by Felicians.

She entered the Felicians in 1964, professing final vows in 1973. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Madonna University and a master's degree from Eastern Michigan.
She died on April 25.

Sister Victoria Marie Indyk, 69
A registered nurse and a professor, Sister Victoria Marie Indyk was devoted to the Felician Mission in Haiti, where she led frequent mission trips of nursing students.

A Detroit native, she entered the Felician community after high school graduation in 1969 and professed final vows in 1978.

She died on April 26.

Sister Mary Martinez (Virginia) Rozek, 87
Sister Mary Martinez (Virginia) Rozek taught elementary, middle and high school at several schools in Detroit and, with a degree in French, also taught foreign languages at Madonna. She was principal at schools in Garden City, Detroit and Hamtramck, as well as in Pomona, California.
She died on April 28.
Edited from Michigan Health Watch - 

Powerful Prayers to St. Mary Magdalen by St. Anselm to the Patron of Converts and Temptation

Patroness of Women, penitent sinners, pharmacists, prostitutes, sexual temptations, hairdressers.
St Mary Magdalene, you came with springing tears to the spring of mercy, Christ; from him your burning thirst was abundantly refreshed through him your sins were forgiven; by him your bitter sorrow was consoled.
My dearest lady, well you know by your own life how a sinful soul can be reconciled with its creator, what counsel a soul in misery needs, what medicine will restore the sick to health.
It is enough for us to understand, dear friend of God, to whom were many sins forgiven, because she loved much.
Most blessed lady, I who am the most evil and sinful of men do not recall your sins as a reproach, but call upon the boundless mercy by which they were blotted out.
This is my reassurance, so that I do not despair; this is my longing, so that I shall not perish.
I say this of myself, miserably cast down into the depths of vice, bowed down with the weight of crimes, thrust down by my own hand into a dark prison of sins, wrapped round with the shadows of darkness.
Therefore, since you are now with the chosen because you are beloved and are beloved because you are chosen of God, 1, in my misery, pray to you, in bliss; in my darkness, I ask for light; in my sins, redemption; impure, I ask for purity.
Recall in loving kindness what you used to be, how much you needed mercy, and seek for me that same forgiving love that you received when you were wanting it. Ask urgently that I may have the love that pierces the heart; tears that are humble; desire for the homeland of heaven; impatience with this earthly exile; searing repentance; and a dread of torments in eternity.
Turn to my good that ready access that you once had and still have to the spring of mercy.
Draw me to him where I may wash away my sins; bring me to him who can slake my thirst; pour over me those waters that will make my dry places fresh. You will not find it hard to gain all you desire from so loving and so kind a Lord, who is alive and reigns and is your friend.

For who can tell, beloved and blest of God, with what kind familiarity and familiar kindness he himself replied on your behalf to the calumnies of those who were against you? How he defended you, when the proud Pharisee was indignant, how he excused you, when your sister complained, how highly he praised your deed, when Judas begrudged it.
And, more than all this, what can I say, how can I find words to tell, about the burning love with which you sought him, weeping at the sepulchre, and wept for him in your seeking?
How he came, who can say how or with what kindness, to comfort you, and made you burn with love still more; how he hid from you when you wanted to see him, and showed himself when you did not think to see him; how he was there all the time you sought him, and how he sought you when, seeking him, you wept.
But you, most holy Lord, why do you ask her why she weeps?
Surely you can see; her heart, the dear life of her soul, is cruelly slain.
O love to be wondered at;
O evil to be shuddered at;
you hung on the wood, pierced by iron nails, stretched out like a thief for the mockery of wicked men; and yet, 'Woman,' you say, 'why are you weeping?' She had not been able to prevent them from killing you, but at least she longed to keep your body for a while with ointments lest it decay.
No longer able to speak with you living, at least she could mourn for you dead. So, near to death and hating her own life, she repeats in broken tones the words of life which she had heard from the living.
And now, besides all this, even the body which she was glad, in a way, to have kept, she believes to have gone.
And can you ask her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?'
Had she not reason to weep?
For she had seen with her own eyes--if she could bear to look--what cruel men cruelly did to you; and now all that was left of you from their hands she thinks she has lost.
All hope of you has fled, for now she has not even your lifeless body to remind her of you.
And someone asks, 'Who are you looking for? Why are you weeping?'
You, her sole joy, should be the last thus to increase her sorrow. But you know it all well, and thus you wish it to be, for only in such broken words and sighs can she convey a cause of grief as great as hers. The love you have inspired you do not ignore,
And indeed you know her well, the gardener, who planted her soul in his garden. What you plant, I think you also water.
Do you water, I wonder, or do you test her?
In fact, you are both watering and putting to the test.
But now, good Lord, gentle Master, look upon your faithful servant and disciple, so lately redeemed by your blood, and see how she burns with anxiety, desiring you, searching all round, questioning, and what she longs for is nowhere found.
Nothing she sees can satisfy her, since you whom alone she would behold, she sees not.
What then?
How long will my Lord leave his beloved to suffer thus?
Have you put off compassion now you have put on incorruption? Did you let go of goodness when you laid hold of immortality?
Let it not be so, Lord.
You will not despise us mortals now you have made yourself immortal, for you made yourself a mortal in order to give us immortality.
And so it is; for love's sake he cannot bear her grief for long or go on hiding himself. For the sweetness of love he shows himself who would not for the bitterness of tears.
The Lord calls his servant by the name she has often heard and the servant knows the voice of her own Lord.
I think, or rather I am sure, that she responded to the gentle tone with which he was accustomed to call, 'Mary'. What joy filled that voice, so gentle and full of love.
He could not have put it more simply and clearly:

'I know who you are and what you want; behold me; do not weep, behold me; I am he whom you seek.'

At once the tears are changed; I do not believe that they stopped at once, but where once they were wrung from a heart broken and self-tormenting they flow now from a heart exulting. How different is, 'Master!' from 'If you have taken him away, tell me'; and, 'They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him,' has a very different sound from,
'I have seen the Lord, and he has spoken to me.'
But how should I, in misery and without love, dare to describe the love of God and the blessed friend of God? Such a flavour of goodness will make my heart sick if it has in itself nothing of that same virtue.
But in truth, you who are very truth, you know me well and can testify that I write this for the love of your love, my Lord, my most dear Jesus.
I want your love to burn in me as you command so that I may desire to love you alone and sacrifice to you a troubled spirit, 'a broken and a contrite heart'.
Give me, 0 Lord, in this exile, the bread of tears and sorrow for which I hunger more than for any choice delights.
Hear me, for your love, and for the dear merits of your beloved Mary, and your blessed Mother, the greater Mary.
Redeemer, my good Jesus, do not despise the prayers of one who has sinned against you but strengthen the efforts of a weakling that loves you.
Shake my heart out of its indolence, Lord, and in the ardour of your love bring me to the everlasting sight of your glory where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, God, for ever. Amen.

LITANY to St. Mary Magdalene

Lord, have mercy on us. 
Christ, have mercy on us. 
Lord, have mercy on us. 
Christ, hear us. 
Christ, graciously hear us.
 Holy Mary, Mother of God, 
Saint Mary Magdalene, Pray for us. 
Sister of Martha and Lazarus, Pray for us. 
Who didst enter the Pharisee's house to anoint the feet of Jesus, Pray for us. 
Who didst wash His feet with thy tears, Pray for us. 
Who didst dry them with thy hair, Pray for us. 
Who didst cover them with kisses, Pray for us. 
Who wast vindicated by Jesus before the proud Pharisee, Pray for us. 
Who from Jesus received the pardon of thy sins, Pray for us. 
Who before darkness wast restored to light, Pray for us. 
Mirror of penance, R 
Disciple of Our Lord,Pray for us. Wounded with the love of Christ, Pray for us. Most dear to the Heart of Jesus, Pray for us. Constant woman, Pray for us. Last at the Cross of Jesus, first at His tomb, Pray for us. Thou who wast the first to see Jesus risen, Pray for us. Whose forehead was sanctified by the touch of thy risen Master, Pray for us. Apostle of apostles, Pray for us. Who didst choose the "better part,"Pray for us. Who lived for many years in solitude being miraculously fed, Pray for us. Who wast visited by angels seven times a day, Pray for us. Sweet advocate of sinners, Pray for us. Spouse of the King of Glory, Pray for us.
V. Saint Mary Magdalene, earnestly intercede for us with thy Divine Master R. That we may share thy happiness in heaven.
Let us pray. May the glorious merits of blessed Mary Magdalene, we beseech Thee, O Lord, make our offerings acceptable to Thee: for Thine only-begotten Son vouchsafed graciously to accept the humble service she rendered. Who livest and reignest with Thee and the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. R. Amen.
May the prayers of blessed Mary Magdalene help us, O Lord : for it was in answer to them that Thou didst call her brother Lazarus, four days after death, back from the grave to life. Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, Unity in Trinity, world without end. R. Amen.
Prayer Source: Kyrie Eleison — Two Hundred Litanies by Benjamin Francis Musser O.F.M., The Magnificat Press, 1944

New Vatican Document on Reform of Parish Communities - Calls for Cooperation and Openness

Vatican News reports that the Parish is at the service of evangelization.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy releases a new document to help guide the reform of parish communities. It is entitled “The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church.”
By Isabella Piro

The Church offers space for everyone to find their place, while respecting the vocation of each individual. This idea forms the core of the Instruction on the parish, which the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy released on Monday.

The document does not promulgate any new legislation, but proposes methods to better apply existing rules and canonical norms. The aim is to encourage the co-responsibility of the baptized and to promote pastoral care based on closeness and cooperation between parishes.

What emerges most forcefully from the Instruction is the urgency of missionary renewal, a pastoral conversion of the parish, so that the faithful may rediscover the dynamism and creativity which allows the parish to be always "going forth", aided by the contribution of all the baptized faithful.

The Instruction consists of 11 chapters and can be divided into two parts: the first (chapters 1-6) offers a broad reflection on pastoral conversion, missionary outreach, and the value of the parish in the contemporary context. The second part (chapters 7-11) dwells on the subdivisions of parish communities, various pastoral roles that make them up, and the ways in which the governing norms are applied.

The parish: "A house among houses"
The Instruction describes the parish as “a house among houses” – a permanent sign of the Risen One in the midst of His people, according to the first part of the document.

The missionary nature of the parish is fundamental for evangelization. Globalization and the digital world have altered its specific link with the territory it encompasses. Therefore, the parish as such is no longer just a geographical space, but an existential space. It is precisely in this context that the parish’s "flexibility" emerges, allowing it to respond to the demands of the times and to adapt its service to the faithful throughout history.

Missionary renewal
The Instruction, therefore, stresses the importance of a missionary renewal of parish structures. Such renewal should steer clear of self-referentiality and rigidness. Rather, it should focus instead on spiritual dynamism and pastoral conversion based on the proclamation of the Word of God, the sacramental life, and the witness of charity. The "culture of encounter" should provide the necessary context for promoting dialogue, solidarity, and openness to all. In this way, parish communities will be able to develop a true "art of accompaniment". In particular, the Instruction recommends the witness of faith in charity and the importance of caring for the poor which the parish evangelizes.

Every baptized person must be an active protagonist in evangelization. Therefore, a change of mentality and interior renewal is essential in order to carry out a missionary reform of pastoral care.

Naturally, these processes of change must be flexible and gradual, since every project must be situated in the real life of a community, without being imposed from above and without "clericalizing" the service of pastoral care.

Diocesan subdivisions
The second part of the Instruction opens with the analysis of the subdivisions within the diocesan territory.

First, the document explains, parishes should follow the key factor of proximity, while taking into account the similarities of the population and the characteristics of the territory. The document then dwells on the specific procedures relating to the incorporation, merging or division of parishes, and on those relating to the Vicariates Forane (also known as a Deanery), which bring together several parish units, and the pastoral units that group several Vicariates Forane.

Parish priest: "pastor" of the community
The Instruction then delves into the theme of assigning the pastoral care of parish communities, both in ordinary and extraordinary ways.

First of all, the role of the parish priest as "pastor" of the community is underlined. He is at the service of the parish, and not the other way around. His role “involves the full care of souls.” The parish priest must therefore have received the Order of the Presbyter, excluding any other possibility.

He is the administrator responsible for parish property and is the juridical representative of the parish. He ought to be appointed for an indefinite period of time, since the good of souls demands stability and implies knowledge of the community. However, the Instruction recalls that a Bishop may appoint a parish priest for a determined period, provided it is not less than five years and that the Episcopal Conference has established this by decree.

When he has reached the age of 75, the parish priest has the “moral duty” to present his resignation, though he does not cease from office until the Bishop has accepted it and communicated his acceptance in writing. In any case, acceptance will always be for a “just and proportionate cause”, so as to avoid a “functionalistic” conception of the ministry.

Deacons: ordained ministers, not 'half-priests and half-laymen'
A portion of the eighth chapter is dedicated to deacons. They are collaborators of the Bishop and the priests in a singular mission of evangelization. Deacons are ordained ministers and participate to a degree of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, especially in the area of evangelization and charity, including the administration of goods, the proclamation of the Gospel, and service at the Eucharistic table.

They are not to be considered as "half-priests and half-laymen", according to the Instruction which quotes Pope Francis, nor is their vocation to be considered from the perspective of clericalism or functionalism.

Witness of consecrated persons and generous commitment of laity
The Instruction published by the Congregation for the Clergy also reflects on consecrated men and women, as well as the laity, within parish communities.

Consecrated men and women contribute in the first place from their “‘being’, that is, from the witness of a radical following of Christ.” Lay faithful participate in the evangelizing action of the Church. They are called upon to make a “generous commitment” through the general witness of their daily lives, lived in conformity with the Gospel, while placing themselves at the service of the parish community.

Lay faithful can also be instituted as Lectors and Acolytes (i.e. for service at the altar) on a stable basis, by means of the relevant rite. But they must be in full communion with the Catholic Church, have received adequate formation, and lead exemplary personal lives.

In addition, in exceptional circumstances, they may receive other assignments from the Bishop, "at his prudent judgement". These include celebrating the Liturgy of the Word and funeral rites, administering Baptism, assisting at marriages – with the Holy See's permission – and preaching in a Church or oratory in case of need.

Under no circumstances, however, may lay people give the homily during the celebration of the Eucharist.

Bodies of ecclesial co-responsibility
The Instruction also reflects on parish bodies of ecclesial co-responsibility, including the Parish Finance Council, which is constituted as a consultative body, is presided over by the pastor, and is formed of at least three members.

The document says the administration of a parish’s goods is “an important area of evangelisation and evangelical witness, both in the Church and in civil society.” All goods belong to the parish and not to the parish priest, the Congregation for the Clergy reaffirms. The task of the Parish Finance Council will therefore be to foster a "culture of co-responsibility, of administrative transparency, and of service to the needs of the Church.”

The Parish Pastoral Council is also consultative in nature, and is “highly recommended”. “Far from being simply a bureaucratic organ, the Pastoral Council highlights and realizes the centrality of the People of God as the subject and active protagonist of the evangelizing mission, in virtue of the fact that every member of the faithful has received the gifts of the Spirit through Baptism and Confirmation.”

Its main function is to offer practical proposals for the parish’s pastoral and charitable initiatives, in harmony with the objectives of the diocese. Proposals require the favorable acceptance of the pastor in order to become operative.

No ‘tax on the Sacraments’: an offering is a free act
The final chapter dwells on offerings for the celebration of the Sacraments.

They must be "a free act" on the part of the one offering, and should not be requested as if it were a tax or a fee. Priests are urged to offer a virtuous example in their use of money, through a sober lifestyle and transparent administration of parish goods. In this way, the faithful will be encouraged to contribute willingly to the needs of the Parish, which are also their own.

Previous Instructions
It should be remembered that the new Instruction follows the interdicasterial Instruction of 1997, dedicated to the theme "Ecclesia de mysterio: On certain questions regarding the collaboration of the non-ordained faithful in the sacred ministry of the priest", and the Instruction of 2002, published by the Congregation for the Clergy on "The Priest, Pastor, and Guide of the Parish Community”. (Translated from the original Italian)
FULL TEXT Release: