Indult for the Transfer of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
On November 16, 1998, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in accord with the provisions of canon 1246 §2, approved a procedure whereby the bishops of each ecclesiastical province would determine whether the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord would be transferred to the Seventh Sunday of Easter in their ecclesiastical province. The decision was submitted to the Congregation for Bishops for confirmation. Having received a decree from His Eminence, Lucas Cardinal Moreira Neves, O.P., Prefect of that same Congregation, as approved by Pope John Paul II, allowing that "the Ecclesiastical Provinces of the United States may transfer the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter," Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following decree.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
DECREE OF PROMULGATION
In accord with the provision of canon 1246§2 of the Code of Canon Law, which states: "... the conference of bishops can abolish certain holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday with prior approval of the Apostolic See," the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States decrees that the Ecclesiastical Provinces of the United States may transfer the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter to the Seventh Sunday of Easter according to the following procedure.
|This decree was approved by His Holiness Pope John Paul II by a decree of the Congregation for Bishops signed by His Eminence Lucas Cardinal Moreira Neves, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and dated July 5, 1999.
As President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, I hereby declare that the effective date of this decree for all the Latin Rite dioceses of the United States of America will be September 8, 1999, Feast of the Birth of the Virgin Mary.
Given at the offices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC, August 6, 1999, Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.
Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza
Bishop of Galveston-Houston
Reverend Monsignor Dennis M. Schnurr
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The date assigned in the liturgical calendar for the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is December 12. This year, the feast falls on the Third Sunday in Advent. Because "Sunday must be ranked as the first holy day of all," (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 4, see SC 106) it gives way only to solemnities or feasts of the Lord. "The Sundays of the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter...take precedence over all solemnities and feasts of the Lord" (GIRM, 5) . On Sunday, December 12, 1999, therefore, only the texts and readings for the Third Sunday of Advent may be used. (see BCL Newsletter June, 1999).
At the same time there is a growing realization in the churches of the United States of the important role played by Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patroness of the whole hemisphere of America. The extended reflections of Pope John Paul II at the close of the Synod for America is the most recent reminder of this important pastoral consideration.
Without violating liturgical law, which seeks to safeguard an integral celebration of Sunday and the Season of Advent, there are many ways in which the prayers and readings for the Third Sunday of Advent (B) are enhanced by reference to Our Lady of Guadalupe in the homily on that day. Homilists might recall, for example, that just as the Spirit of the Lord descended upon Isaiah that he might announce good tidings to the poor and oppressed, so we hear Mary proclaim that God who lifts up the lowly has looked upon her in her lowliness. As the desert cries of Isaiah and John the Baptist announced the coming of the Lord, so the roses blooming in the arid soil of Tepeyac symbolized the blossoming of Christianity in the Americas. Our Lady of Guadalupe claimed justice for the people of Tepeyac, raising up those who were oppressed. Thus she is a "mantle of justice" for all who are oppressed. ("Is it not I, your mother, who is here? Are you not, fortunately, in my care?")
The image of the pregnant Virgin of Guadalupe is likewise an apt reminder of the focus of this Sunday on the imminent celebration of the birth of Christ. Particular attention to the preparation of liturgical space for this Sunday might, therefore, include an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Likewise, the rose colored vestments prescribed for the Third Sunday of Advent have also been associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe since the time of Pope Benedict XIV. Intentions in the Prayer of the Faithful may appropriately include themes reflecting concerns for unity of the Americas, and may conclude with the collect customarily used for the Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Processions in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe are appropriate on the Third Sunday of Advent as well. Many other local traditions, including the re-enactment of the story of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe outside the liturgy may likewise enhance the celebration of the last weeks of the Advent season.
The full, conscious and active participation of each member of our assemblies in the mysteries of our faith is the purpose of liturgical law. The Third Sunday of Advent this year provides us with the opportunity to maintain the importance of the Sunday celebration of the Third Sunday of Advent while enriching our experience of the Lord's incarnation by a remembrance of his mother's care for the Church in America.
A complete Spanish translation of this article appears on the NCCB website at: www.nccbuscc.org/liturgy/innews/799sp.shtml.
Catholic Burial Practices
Recent events have brought to the fore questions regarding the practice of the cremation of a body and burial at sea. Diocesan offices for worship might find this an opportune time to renew catechesis on these questions for the benefit of pastors and pastoral ministers.
A helpful summary of the Church's teaching on cremation may be found in the 1998 statement of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, "Reflections on the Body, Cremation and Catholic Funeral Rites."
"The Church's belief in the sacredness of the human body and the resurrection of the dead has traditionally found expression in the care taken to prepare the bodies of the deceased for burial."(OCF 411)
"This is the body once washed in baptism, anointed with the oil of salvation, and fed with the bread of life. This is the body whose hands clothed the poor and embraced the sorrowing. Indeed, the human body is so inextricably associated with the human person that it is hard to think of a human person apart from his or her body. Thus, the Church's reverence and care for the body grows out of a reverence and concern for the person whom the Church now commends to the care of God." (OCF 412)
Thus, while "cremation is now permitted, it does not enjoy the same value as burial of the body...The Church clearly prefers and urges that the body of the deceased be present for the funeral rites, since the presence of the human body better expresses the values which the Church affirms in its rites." (413) However, "when extraordinary circumstances make the cremation of a body the only feasible choice, pastoral sensitivity must be exercised by all who minister to the family of the deceased." (414)
The rites of burial for the cremated remains of a body may be found in the appendix to the Order of Christian Funerals. This appendix recommends that when cremation is chosen, the body be cremated after the Funeral, thus allowing for the presence of the body at the Funeral Mass. When pastoral circumstances require it, however, cremation and committal may take place even before the Funeral liturgy.
Any catechesis on the subject of cremation should emphasize that "the cremated remains of a body should be treated with the same respect given to the corporeal remains of a human body. This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the ashes, the manner in which they are carried, the care and attention to appropriate placement and transport, and the final disposition." (416)
While cremated remains may be buried in a grave, entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium or even buried at sea, "the practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains in the home of a relative or
friend of the deceased are not the reverent disposition that the Church requires." (416) The cremated remains of the body may be properly buried at sea in the urn, coffin or other container in which they have been carried to the place of committal. When a body, or the cremated remains of a body are buried at sea, the Committal prayer found at number 406 § 4 is used:
by the power of your Word
you stilled the chaos of the primeval seas,
you made the raging waters of the Flood subside,
and calmed the storm on the sea of Galilee.
As we commit the body (earthly remains)
grant him/her peace and tranquility
until that day when he/she
will be raised to the glory of new life
promised in the waters of baptism.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Special Meeting of the BCL
A special meeting of the NCCB Committee on the Liturgy has been planned for August 16, 1999. At this meeting, the revisions of the ICEL translation of De Ordinatione will be reviewed along with the proposed introduction to the Book of Gospels which will be considered at the November 1999 plenary meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Meeting of the Hispanic Liturgy Subcommittee
The Hispanic Liturgy Subcommittee met in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from July 19-21, 1999. At this meeting the Subcommittee completed the final preparation for publication of the recently confirmed Ritual de Exequias Cristianas and discussed the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, prospective English and Spanish editions of the Ordo Celebrandi Matrimonium and the Sacramentario presently awaiting confirmation by the Holy See.
The Subcommittee also considered the results of a survey conducted over the past several months on Spanish language scriptural translations for use in the liturgy. The survey consisted of twenty sample texts, each cited from the Peruvian, Argentinean and Mexican Lectionaries in random order. Respondents were solicited from three hundred and eighty seven bishops, a random sampling of 200 parishes where the liturgy is celebrated in Spanish, the leadership of eleven Hispanic Liturgy organizations, including the presidents of IHL, ANSH, ACHTUS, NCCHM, ANDH, and NOCH and the presidents of the regional Hispanic Pastoral Institutes. Respondents favored the Mexican translation 67% of the time, the Peruvian translation 13% of the time and the Argentinean translation 7% of the time. Based upon this survey, the Hispanic Liturgy Subcommittee has made recommendations to the Committee on the Liturgy which will be considered at the November 1999 BCL meeting.
1999 National Meeting of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions
Each year, the NCCB Committee on the Liturgy and the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions co-sponsor a National Meeting of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. This year the meeting will take place from October 10-14, 1999 and is being hosted by the Diocese of Cleveland.
In preparation for the Jubilee of our Redemption, the conference will appropriately explore the many aspects of penance and reconciliation in the Church. The theme "Be Reconciled" will be explored in four major addresses: "Reconciliation and the Church," by Bishop Matthew H. Clark; "Why the Sacrament of Penance Has a Future," by Dr. Doris Donnelly; "The Eucharist and Reconciliation: Sharing the Truth at the Table of the Word," by Father George Smiga, and "Reconciliation from the Inside Out: An Ecumenical Vision," by Dr. Donald E. Saliers. A dozen workshops developing particular aspects of their theme will also be offered on Monday, October 11, 1999.
This annual meeting of diocesan liturgical commissions and offices for worship provides an important forum for collaboration in the liturgical apostolate of the Church in the United States.
Brochures and further information concerning the meeting are available from the FDLC National Office at P.O. Box 29049, Washington, DC 20017 (202-635-6990, fax 202-529-2452).