Processional Torches in the Liturgy
We recently acquired a set of processional torches to use within our parish’s Eucharistic liturgies and will be using them regularly at our Sunday Masses and Solemnities when we have the trained altar servers to use them. I’m sure you noticed, but I wanted to write on their use and importance in the Liturgy. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) speaks about their use specifically in two sections: for the Entrance Procession and for the Gospel Procession:
120. When the people are gathered, the Priest and ministers, wearing the sacred vestments, go in procession to the altar in this order:
a) the thurifer carrying a smoking thurible, if incense is being used;
b) ministers who carry lighted candles, and between them an acolyte or other minister with the cross;
c) the acolytes and the other ministers;
d) a reader, who may carry a Book of the Gospels (though not a Lectionary),
e) the Priest who is to celebrate the Mass.
133. If the Book of Gospels is on the altar, the Priest then takes it and approaches the ambo, carrying the Book of Gospels slightly elevated. He is preceded by the lay ministers, who may carry the thurible and the candles. Those present turn toward the ambo as a sign
of special reverence for the Gospel of Christ.
The presence of candles at the Gospel heightens our awareness at Mass, alerting us to something important that is happening in the sanctuary. The Gospel contains the words of Jesus himself and so we are exhorted to pay special attention to his message. St. Jerome from the fourth century speaks to the common practice and understanding in the early Church:
“St. Jerome already defended the higher meaning of this very ancient custom of lighting candles at the Gospel, inasmuch as he insists that thereby we should give expression to the joy and jubilation of our hearts at the good tidings of salvation. — Above all, the light by its brightness and its glow symbolizes Jesus Christ, the Sun that knows no setting and the Light of the City of God as well on earth as in heaven. By means of the Gospel Christ is the light of the world; by the Gospel God has called us to the wonderful light of Christian truth and grace. In this dark vale of the earth “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my paths” (Ps. 118, 105)…From the word of God beams a secure light to guide us amid the various directions and helps, as well as amid the various wants, obstacles and dangers we meet on this path so stern and so difficult to be determined.” (The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; Dogmatically, Liturgically, and Ascetically Explained by Nicholas Gihr)
Candidates and Catechumens
At the end of January and last weekend, our parish celebrated the Rites of Acceptance for catechumens (unbaptised) and the Rite of Welcome for candidates (baptised). Very soon we enter the holy season of Lent, and with that, more liturgical rites will come as they intensify their journey of faith and we, as members of the Church, accompany them. Holy Mother Church invites us especially during Lent to accompany them as we increase our sacred practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Please keep our catechumens and candidates in your prayers, fasting for their well-being, and support them with your kindness. To help with this, here are their names: Zachary, Colton, Emily, and Ashton.
Please pray for all our other young people in catechism and sacramental preparation as well.
I am, in our Lord, yours.
Fr. Brian Trueman