September 23: Obligatory Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina

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September 23:

Obligatory Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina

In anticipation of the memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, relics of the Saint will be exposed for public veneration at Saint Joseph’s Seminary on September 16, from 9:00am-3:00pm, and at

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on September 17 and 18, throughout the day.  The Saint Pio Foundation has organized this tour of the official relics of Padre Pio throughout the United States on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of his birth and the 15th anniversary of his canonization.  Please contact Saint Joseph’s Seminary or Saint Patrick’s Cathedral for more information.

“Everyone Can Sing!” Workshop – November 18

“Everyone Can Sing!” Workshop – November 18

The Office of Liturgy will be hosting a workshop at Saint Joseph’s Seminary on Saturday, November 18, from 10:00am-12:00pm entitled, “Everyone Can Sing!: Tips and Tricks for Helping ‘Non-Singers’ Learn to Sing the Sacred Liturgy.”  This workshop is intended to help adults and children who consider themselves to be “non-singers” to sing well and in tune at liturgical celebrations.  Topics to be covered include:

  • The role of singing in the liturgy
  • The spiritual benefits of singing
  • Physiological and psychological barriers to singing in tune
  • Pedagogical tips and exercises for learning to sing or teaching someone else to sing
  • Encouraging congregational singing
  • Encouraging singing in the classroom
  • Tips offered by the Ward education method

This workshop will be presented by Dr. Jennifer Donelson, D.M.A., director and associate professor of sacred music at Dunwoodie.  Registration is $10 and may be accessed on the Liturgy Office website.

 Archdiocesan Training Videos for Liturgical Ministers Available

 Archdiocesan Training Videos for Liturgical Ministers Available

The Office of Liturgy and the Office of Adult Faith Formation have produced training videos for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and Lectors in both English and Spanish.  The videos present the history and theology of these ministries and also discuss the practicalities of serving in these roles.  Presenters include faculty members from Saint Joseph’s Seminary.   The videos may be accessed directly on the Liturgy Office website.  As well, parishes interested in obtaining copies of these resources may do so by contacting the Office of Liturgy at liturgy@archny.org or by calling 914.968.6200, ext. 8177.

Announcement: Parish Pipe Organs

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Next to the church building itself, a pipe organ is usually one of a parish’s most valuable assets and the preeminent liturgical appointment in its patrimony.  When properly maintained, these instruments will give decades of faithful and reliable service to a parish community.  As such, they should receive appropriate care from artisans who are well versed in the craft of organ building and maintenance.  Pastors are to be advised, however, that the pipe organ industry is not regulated or licensed, and some organ “builders” or “restorers” do not have the best interests of the parish or the instrument in mind.  Disreputable practices, such as the indiscriminate removal of parts of an organ or only certain ranks of pipes, can greatly harm the musical integrity and monetary value of these instruments.  Pastors who are approached by an organ firm for the purposes of removing any part of a pipe organ are urged to contact the Liturgy Office before agreeing to such a project.

In an effort to preserve the pipe organs of the archdiocese for use by future generations, the archdiocesan Liturgical Music Commission, under the supervision of the Office of Liturgy and in consultation with the Office of Pastoral Planning, is undertaking an inventory and assessment of pipe organs in those church buildings which are to be relegated to profane but not sordid use as a result of Making All Things New.  The resulting reports will be forwarded to the vicar general/chancellor and the archdiocesan Insurance Division. This work is intended to ensure that the organs in these churches are carefully conserved throughout the parish transition process until a final decision is made by the chancery concerning the disposition of these instruments.  Representatives of the Liturgical Music Commission will soon be contacting the pastors of the affected churches to arrange for an evaluation of their pipe organs.  In the meantime, the commission requests that no organ builder, restorer, or other representative be given access to any portion of these instruments.

Questions or concerns regarding this process may be directed to the Office of Liturgy at liturgy@archny.org or by calling 914.968.6200, ext. 8177.  As well, pastors may wish to consult the newly published Archdiocesan Guidelines for the Installation and Maintenance of Pipe Organs, which can be accessed on the Liturgy Office’s website.

Liturgical Q and A: Successive Feasts and Holy Days of Obligation

Liturgical Q and A: Successive Feasts and Holy Days of Obligation

In recent months, the Office of Liturgy has received a number questions concerning the successive celebrations of the Feast of the Holy Family and the Solemnity of2016 Liturgical calendar 300x300 - Liturgical Q and A: Successive Feasts and Holy Days of Obligation Mary, Mother of God on Sunday, December 31, 2017 and Monday, January 1, 2018, respectively.  Specifically, it has been asked which Mass should be celebrated on the evening of December 31, keeping in mind that the celebration of solemnities normally begins with the evening of the preceding day?

In answering this and similar questions, one should first consider the following principle established by the 1969 General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar: “If several celebrations fall on the same day, the one that holds the highest rank according to the preceding Table of Liturgical Days is observed” (60).  Taking this into account, it might seem at first that evening Masses on December 31, 2017 should celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, considering that Solemnities of the Blessed Virgin Mary appear higher than Feasts of the Lord on the Table of Liturgical Days.  However, another lesser-known norm promulgated by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship must also be borne in mind.  In 1984, the Congregation offered the following additional guidance on this issue: “In the celebration of Mass, precedence is always to be given (“præcedentia semper danda est”) to the feast of precept [holy day of obligation], regardless of the ranks of the two consecutive feasts….”  This rule appears to have been established as a way of serving the pastoral needs of the faithful who attend evening Masses and expect to celebrate the Sunday liturgy, thus fulfilling their obligation.

To return to the particular question at hand, inasmuch as the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God falls on a Monday in 2018 and is, therefore, not a holy day of obligation, evening Masses on December 31, 2017 should celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.  This is due to the fact that the solemnity of Sunday is always observed as a holy day of obligation, while the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God is not in this case.  The following chart summarizes these points:

Saturday, December 30, 2017 *Sunday, December 31, 2017 Monday, January 1, 2018
Masses after 4pm Masses throughout the day Masses throughout the day
Feast of the Holy Family Feast of the Holy Family Solemnity of Mary,

Mother of God

*=Holy Day of Obligation in the 2017-2018 liturgical year

A related issue concerns the fulfillment of one’s obligation to attend Mass on consecutive feast days, and whether a person can satisfy both obligations by attending Mass on the evening of the first day.  Clergy and other parish staff may find themselves asked this very question in the coming months as it relates to the successive celebrations of the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas on Sunday and Monday in 2017.  In a recent statement on this topic, the USSCB’s Secretariat of Divine Worship noted that, in such cases, the prevailing view of a majority canon lawyers is that each day of obligation must be fulfilled with a separate Mass.

Read more in our September newsletter.

Fall Academic Offerings in Liturgy and Sacred Music at Saint Joseph’s Seminary

Fall Academic Offerings in Liturgy and Sacred Music at Saint Joseph’s Seminary

Saint Joseph’s Seminary has announced that the following liturgy and sacred music courses will be offered this fall on Monday evenings (7:00-9:30pm) from September 11 through December 18:

Introduction to Liturgy – Fr. Matthew Ernest, S.T.D.  (Yonkers and Huntington campuses)

Introduction to Chant – Dr. Jennifer Donelson, D.M.A. (Yonkers campus only)

These courses are being offered in conjunction with the Saint Cecilia Academy for Pastoral Musicians, a four-course, fully accredited program offered through Saint Joseph’s Seminary in the field of liturgical music for the purpose of introducing musicians to the history, theology, and pastoral principles of liturgy and sacred music.  For more information about these courses or the Saint Cecilia Academy, visit the Liturgy Office website.

 First Communion in the Liturgical Life of the Church Workshop

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 First Communion in the Liturgical Life of the Church Workshop

The Office of Liturgy will be hosting a workshop on Friday, October 13, from 3:00-5:00pm, on “First Communion in the Liturgical Life of the Church.”  This talk will be given at Saint Joseph’s Seminary by Dr. Donna Eschenauer, Ph.D., associate academic dean at Dunwoodie and the author of First Communion Liturgies: Preparing First-Class Celebrations.  This workshop will be of interest to sacrament program coordinators, catechetical leaders, priests, and music directors.  In addition to generous time for questions, three pastoral areas will be explored: First Communion in the context of the sacramental life of the parish, liturgy with children, and preparing the liturgy for First Communion.  Registration for this workshop is $10 and may be accessed on the Liturgy Office website.

 Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, Revised Edition

 Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, Revised Edition

The USCCB’s Divine Worship Secretariat has announced the publication of a revised edition of the Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, which was first published by the USCCB in 1995.  The new edition of the Guidelines was approved by the US Bishops at their June 2017 meeting, and it incorporates expanded information and guidance in light of recent medical and technological advancements.  New and updated norms related to the distribution of Holy Communion to persons with feeding tubes, gluten intolerances, and age-related dementias are included in the revised Guidelines.  All involved in pastoral ministry are encouraged to read this important document which may be downloaded directly from the USCCB’s website.

 Circular Letter on Bread and Wine for the Eucharist

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In July of this year, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a circular letter to diocesan bishops and their equivalents concerning the bread and wine to be used for the celebration of the Eucharist.  In its letter, the Congregation noted that the bishop is given the task of watching over both the quality of the bread and wine to be used for Mass, as well as those who prepare these materials.  While, until recently, it was usually the case that religious communities were entrusted with the baking of bread and the making of wine for Mass, hosts and wine are now also routinely sold by large companies.  In view of this, the Congregation has asked bishops to remind producers of these materials of the norms that must be observed.  These include the following:

  • “The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition.  It follows, therefore, that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.  It is a grave abuse to introduce other substances, such as fruit or sugar or honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist.  Hosts should obviously be made by those who are not only distinguished by their integrity, but also skilled in making them and furnished with suitable tools” (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 48).
  • “The wine that is used in the most sacred celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances….  Great care should be taken so that the wine intended for the celebration of the Eucharist is well conserved and has not soured.  It is altogether forbidden to use wine of doubtful authenticity or provenance, for the Church requires certainty regarding the conditions necessary for the validity of the sacraments.  Nor are other drinks of any kind to be admitted for any reason, as they do not constitute valid matter” (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 50).

The Congregation also reiterated several guidelines originally published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith concerning the celebration of the Eucharist by persons who cannot consume bread or wine made in the usual manner:

  • “Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.  Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.”
  • “Mustum, which is grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature (for example, freezing), is valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.”
  • “The Ordinary is competent to give permission for an individual priest or layperson to use low-gluten hosts or mustum for the celebration of the Eucharist.  Permission can be granted habitually, for as long as the situation continues which occasioned the granting of permission” (24 July 2003, Prot. N. 89/78 – 17498).

Pastors are to be advised that several companies producing hosts do so in both gluten-free and low-gluten forms, and that gluten-free hosts are not valid matter for the Eucharist.  A list of suppliers of low-gluten hosts which are valid for use in the celebration of Mass may be downloaded from the USCCB’s website or acquired by contacting the Office of Liturgy.

With regard to wine to be used for the celebration of Mass, pastors should equally be aware that much of the wine that is sold in retail stores is either of doubtful liceity or validity.  This is due to the fact that many products sold as “table wine” often contain added water (up to 25%), cane sugar, beet sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, other fruit concentrates, and stabilizing chemicals.  In these cases, such wines do not satisfy the requirements that sacramental wine be “fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, [and] not mixed with other substances.”  With this in mind, only wine that is labeled for sacramental use and which has received ecclesiastical approbation should be used for the celebration of the Eucharist.  A list of companies that produce wine that is approved for sacramental use may be obtained from the Liturgy Office.