Today the liturgy permits an optional memorial of St. Polycarp of Smyrna, who had known those who had known Jesus; he was a disciple of St. John the Apostle, who had converted him around the year 80 AD.
He taught, says his own pupil Irenaeus of Lyons, the things that he learned from the Apostles, which the Church hands down, which are true. Irenaeus, who as a young boy knew Polycarp, praised his gravity, holiness, and majesty of countenance. He had lived near Jerusalem and was proud of his early associations with the Apostles.
Polycarp became bishop of Smyrna and held the see for about 70 years. He was a staunch defender of orthodoxy and an energetic opponent of heresy, especially Marcionism and Valentinianism (the most influential of the Gnostic sects). Toward the end of his life he visited Pope St. Anicetus in Rome and, when they could not agree on a date for Easter, decided each would observe his own date.
To testify his respect and ensure that the bonds of charity were unbroken, Anicetus invited Polycarp to celebrate the Eucharist in the papal chapel on this occasion.
Polycarp suffered martyrdom with 12 others of his flock around the year 156.
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Le Jour du Seigneur at Ottawa's Cathedral
The First Sunday of Lent was a very busy day with the first of a series of weekly broadcasts of Mass from Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica on Le Jour du Seigneur, on SRC/Radio-Canada, the francophone branch of the CBC.
As a way of covering budgetary shortfalls due to cuts and to meet the public demand for the Lord's Day Mass on television, the Ottawa bureau of SRC proposed locating the equipment and stay in one church for protracted periods. Thus, Eglise St-Sebastien in Vanier-Overbrook was host for seven weeks in the fall of 2009. This time it is the turn of the Cathedral. The main French liturgy normally celebrated at 10:30 has been advanced to 10 o'clock until Easter 2010 and all the Lenten Masses will be telecast through Easter (except for next Sunday).
This Sunday, I presided at the first of these Eucharists from the Cathedral. They may be viewed on demand from the website by clicking on derniere emission, or the Sunday in question (at http://www.radio-canada.ca/television/seigneur/).
Last minute consultations take part in the sacristy prior to the Mass
Notre Dame Cathedral Rector, Father Paul McKeown OSM, greets friends visiting from Magog (QC) following Le Jour du Seigneur Mass
Production equipment for the televised Mass takes up space in the sacristy
Cameraman completes the taping as parishioners recess after Mass
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Rite of Election and Candidacy
A standard celebration on the afternoon of the First Sunday of Lent is the "election" (calling those God has chosen) of the catechumens who will be fully initiated into life with Christ by the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist). The catechumens are accompanied by Catholic men and women who form the team who carry out the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) in their parishes.
I am always encouraged by this ceremony and the opportunity this affords me to welcome those who will be joining the Church at Easter. There is a follow-up Mass for the Neophytes (those "new-born" into Christ) after Easter -- this year at the 7:30PM Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral on April 18, 2010. Some scenes from Sunday afternoon's gathering:
A catechumen from Holy Korean Martyrs Parish is presented by his sponsor
Father Lindsay Harrison, pastor of Holy Name of Mary, Almonte, calls the name of a candidate
Candidates for Full Communion with the Catholic Church stand with their sponsors as their names are called
A reception followed downstairs in the parish hall
Posing for a photo marking a memorable day
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News services are drawing attention to the forthcoming introduction of a new translation of the Roman Missal expected to come into effect in Advent 2011. Here is some background information on programs being set up to acquaint priests and people for the transition:
New Words: A Deeper Meaning, but the Same Mass
The Missale Romanum (the Roman Missal), the ritual text for the celebration of the Mass, was first promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as the definitive text of the reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council. A second edition followed in 1975.
Pope John Paul II issued a revised version of the Missale Romanum during the Jubilee Year 2000. The English translation of the revised Roman Missal has been completed, and the Bishops of Canada, the United States and a dozen other nations approved the final sections of the text in late 2009.
Among other things, the revised edition of the Missale Romanum contains prayers for the observances of recently canonized saints, additional prefaces for the Eucharistic Prayers, additional Votive Masses and Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Intentions, and some updated and revised rubrics (instructions) for the celebration of the Mass.
The English translation of the Roman Missal will also include updated translations of existing prayers, including some of the well–known responses and acclamations of the people.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has devoted a section of their website (http://www.usccb.org/romanmissal/) to help Catholics prepare for the transition . As this site continues to be expanded, it will offer helpful resources for the faithful, for the clergy, and for parish and diocesan leaders. Similar preparatory materials are being readied for use in Canada by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
It is hoped that this process leading to the implementation of the revised Roman Missal in English (the First Sunday in Advent 2011 is the projected date for its launch) will be a time of deepening, nurturing, and celebrating our faith through our worship and the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.