The Proper Church Attire

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Image Source : Kevin Dooley

What is the proper church attire? When we are told to wear our Sunday Best, it can refer to our best clothes, most formal clothes, or the clothes most suitable for going to church. In this context, Sunday Best should be taken to mean as clothes that are the most presentable in relation to the occasion and the place. Determining what the proper church attire is has nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do about according due respect to the Church which we consider the House of God.

Basic Standards of Church Attire

The Church is a place of worship and prayer. It is necessary therefore to preserve the solemn atmosphere of the place. When determining if a dress is proper to use in church, churchgoers are asked to do so in consideration of other churchgoers as well and the purpose why most people go to church. It should be an attire that denotes self-respect and respect for the sense of decency of others.

Unsuitable clothing tends to draw attention and distract people from the service being performed in the altar. Choosing to dress modestly is the safest way to go when unsure. When in doubt, it is always best to bring along some form of cover-up like a shawl or jacket which can worn during mass.

Clothes that are Not Recommended to be Worn in Church

Churchgoers are advised not to wear the following when hearing mass

1. tight-fitting clothes, flashy clothes

2. clothes that show too much skin like tank tops, spaghetti strap tops, skimpy shorts, beachwear, plunging necklines, dresses with long cuts or slits, very short dresses, and see-through clothing

3. caps, sports jerseys

4. slippers

Dress Code – Not an Obstacle

The dress code required by the Church should not serve as an obstacle to going to church. Churchgoers are in no way being required to come in expensive clothes, only that they come in their best in relation to their circumstances. Wearing jeans was traditionally frowned upon during early times since they were considered work clothes then. In today’s time, if a particular clothing is a person’s only modest and presentable attire, then there is nothing that should prevent him or her from entering the Church wearing it.

Honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary in May

ave maria

 

Traditionally, the month of May has been dedicated by the Catholic Church to the Blessed Virgin Mary. May events usually pertain to the crowning of Mary as the “Queen of May” as her image is crowned with flowers. This special honor is related to Mary’s special role as the Queen of Heaven and Mother of God.

This devotion is said to have originated from the Jesuits as a means of counteracting immorality and infidelity among the students of the Roman College of the Society of Jesus. This was sometime towards the end of the 18th century. The practice eventually spread to other Jesuit Colleges as well as Catholic churches. Various forms of Marian devotions were soon practiced including pilgrimages, daily recitation of rosary, and the May Altar.

ave maria procession

 

The May Altar can be placed in churches or homes. The altar is typically a table with a Marian picture or image, decorated with different flowers abloom in May. Families pray the rosary preferably the whole month, hopefully to instill the practice all throughout.                                              .

Churches on the other hand, may hold processions prior to the start of every mass. Children typically dressed in white carry letters to spell out “AVE MARIA”. The practice of honoring Mary with flowers was traced to Medieval Europe’s monasteries and convents. People of the Middle Ages usually associate Mary with their gardens and this might be attributed to the floral imagery liberally used in the writings of Church Fathers.

In the Philippines, daily offering of flowers in churches is quite common in observance of Flores de Mayo, and culminating in a major event called the Santacruzan. This parade includes biblical characters and historical figures in relation to St. Helena’s search for the true cross of Jesus Christ. The mobile arches used by each participant are decked with flowers plus other decorations denoting bounty.

How Many Times a Day Can We Receive Holy Communion?

Image Source: Johnragai
Image Source: flickr/Johnragai

I’ve never really thought much about this as I have found myself many times before attending mass and receiving Holy Communion more than once a day. I am daily mass goer of the 7 am mass in our church specifically after bringing my children to school located beside it. That pretty much accounts for the first mass and the first receipt of Holy Communion. There are days however that there will be scheduled activities that will include the celebration of the mass in our community, my children’s school, or special occasions like weddings and the like. Here then enters the possibility of another mass and another chance to receive holy communion within the same day.

I have just recently come into the fact that the Catholic Church actually imposes a limitation on the number of times a person can receive the Holy Communion in a day although there is no prohibition in the number of masses that can be heard for the same day. This is to ensure that the faithful lives a balanced spiritual life that does not border on the extremes. In other words, this is to prevent people from using the act of receiving the host as a temporary “fix” apart from the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Their essence cannot be separated.

As per the 1983 Code of Canon Law, a person who has already received the Holy Communion for the day can receive it again (iterum) on the same day provided it is within the Eucharistic celebration in which he or she participates. The recipient of the sacrament twice over for the same day must have attended the mass from start to finish and not simply appear in time for communion and then leave. The Church makes it clear that the provision is for allowing a person to receive communion again and not “again and again” for the same day.

Also, there is a reminder of the ample preparation before receiving communion including the need to go to confession if necessary as well as the usual fasting from food and water at least an hour before. There are exceptions to these guiding laws. A person in danger of death can be given communion even outside the context of a Holy Mass. Fasting period is also reduced to a quarter of an hour for sick people.

It is worth noting that the Catholic Church requires a faithful to receive Holy Communion at least once a year. This is known as the Easter Duty Law. Catholics are required to avail of the sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion any day during the Easter Season. This period usually extends up to Pentecost Sunday or about 50 days after Easter.

Living Out Values of Commandments – Feb. 16, 2014

 

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Mt 5:20-22.27-28.
33-34.37

Continuing his “Sermon on
the Mount,” Jesus shows how
demanding the “New Law” can
be. Through a series of forceful
statements, he shows that real
holiness can be achieved only by
satisfying the greater demands
of the values enshrined in every
individual commandment.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness
surpasses that of
the scribes and Pharisees, you
will not enter the kingdom of
heaven.
You have heard that it was
said to your ancestors, ‘You
shall not kill; and whoever kills
will be liable to judgment.’ But
I say to you, whoever is angry
with his brother will be liable
to judgment. You have heard
that it was said, ‘You shall not
commit adultery.’ But I say to
you, everyone who looks at a
woman with lust has already
committed adultery with her
in his heart.
Again you have heard that
it was said to your ancestors,
‘Do not take a false oath, but
make good to the Lord all that
you vow.’ But I say to you, do
not swear at all. Let your ‘Yes’
mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’
mean ‘No.’ Anything more is
from the evil one.”

Jesus tells us that he is not as concerned with the the outward manifestations of obedience to the commandments as He is with us doing what is asked of us willingly and without intent to conceal the truth. Our conscience serves as His voice that will guide us in determining what is right and wrong.

Following Jesus requires us to live out the real values of commandments beyond the mere contextual meaning provided by each. When we are commanded not to kill, we are reminded to also consider the everyday “killing” we do to others when we destroy their reputation with rumors or the hate in our hearts. Every act we do in following the commandments must be rooted to our love for God and others.

Salt of Earth and Light of World – Feb. 9, 2014

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Gospel Mt 5:13-16

Soon after having proclaimed
the Beatitudes, Jesus
challenged his disciples to be
“salt of the earth” and “light of
the world.” Such is the mission
he assigns to us today.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with
what can it be seasoned? It is
no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled
underfoot.
You are the light of the
world. A city set on a mountain
cannot be hidden. Nor do they
light a lamp and then put it
under a bushel basket; it is set
on a lampstand, where it gives
light to all in the house. Just so,
your light must shine before
others, that they may see your
good deeds and glorify your
heavenly Father.”

As we have accepted the truth that Jesus is the one source of light that we cannot do without, we are enjoined to become the salt of the earth and the light of the world ourselves. While actual salt preserves food, we as the salt of the earth should be instruments as well of preserving our faith. As a light of the world through living a life centered on Christ, we are able to offer illumination in the threat of darkness presented by sin.

Any one can do this in his or her own capacity, where location and time does not matter. This message is especially directed to the laity who have a very special role in spreading the word of God. Religiosity and spirituality need not be confined among priests and other religious workers. Every faithful is given that extraordinary chance to participate in the mission. To be the salt of earth and light of world is a challenge we must take.

Presentation of the Lord – Feb. 2, 2014

 

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Gospel: Lk 2:22–32 (or 2:22–40)
When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the baby up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
There lived in Jerusalem, at this time, a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel; and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So, he was led into the temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law.
Simeon took the child in his arms, and blessed God, saying,
“Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace,for you have fulfilled your word
and my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you display for all the people to see.
Here is the light you will reveal to the nations,and the glory of your people Israel.”

The Presentation of the Lord can be readily seen as one ordinary couple’s way of fulfilling one of just many religious duties of the faithful during that time. However, the event represents something deeper especially with the mention of how Simeon was able to detect something special in what seemed to be an ordinary child. The event is interpreted by the Catholic Church to signify the special appointment of Jesus as the “eldest” of all human beings and His offering as the one Savior of mankind from sin. The faithful are called upon to make their own presentation through a life inspired by the works and words of Jesus.

Simeon’s presence in this special event signifies what awaits those who truly believe and live by the word of God. Those who choose to emulate the ways of Christ through their own lives are the ones truly witnessing for Him. The Presentation of the Lord serves as an invitation to the faithful to be one in spreading light and unity as they go about their daily lives.

 

Stampita Prayer 1: Don’t Quit Prayer

Don't Quit - La Vida Milagrosa

Image Source: morguefile.com/creative/xololounge

One of the most encouraging prayers there is, is the “Don’t Quit Prayer”. It speaks of acceptance that some things will go wrong, that the road ahead may be difficult to travel and full of challenges, that there may be lack in finances and material things, and that the mere act of smiling may be hard to do because of the heavy burden we carry. Never the less, it encourages us to rest when needed, to renew strength but never to quit.

It confirms that life will present situations that cannot be explained while reminding us not to give up since the solution we seek might just be around the corner, waiting to be harvested if only we persevered for one more day. It reminds us to be patient in waiting for what we have been seeking for quite some time. Everything will come in its own time and at the very right time meant for us.

Success is said to be just failure turned inside out. The difference may lie in just one more try and we’ll never really know just how close we are unless we see it to the finish. It ends with the emphasis on not letting go particularly during the most difficult times since it could be the turning point towards the attainment for what we seek.

It is easy to be bitter against God especially when we are going through very difficult situations that challenge our human capacity to interpret justice. It can be very hard to comprehend why “bad” things have to happen to good people. Jesus has said that the path to following Him is not easy but there are rewards that await those who do. The ultimate rewards may not be of the earthly kind but trust that Jesus will take care of our earthly needs as well.

Choosing Disciples of Jesus – January 26, 2014

 

Image Source: flickr.com/photos/baggis
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/baggis

Gospel Mt 4:12-23

Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies of old. But he also looks to the future. That is
why, from the very beginning of his apostolic life, he chooses some “special disciples” who will become his assistants and the foundation of the Church.

 When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and          Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen.” From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers: James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

Source: wordandlife.org

God has a great plan for all of us. Jesus serves as the messenger and the executor of this plan but He wants us to be part of it and trusts us to be active participants in spreading the word of God. Although His first invitation was heard a long time ago in the Sea of Galilee to His first disciples, His invitation echoes through time up to now through all corners of the world. The invitation to serve is a continuing one and is especially meaningful today because this is the Year of the Laity. This confirms the fact that serving God is not only limited to priests and nuns but also extends to the lay people who have families and professions to consider. All of us can be disciples of Jesus if we acknowledge His call and participate in the services of the Church.

 

Santo Nino – January 19, 2014

Image Source: flickr.com/photos/verzo
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/verzo

 

Gospel Mt 18:1-5.10

From a simple question
about who ranks first in the
Kingdom of God, Jesus takes
the opportunity to teach us how
much he values children, and
how much we too should value
and love them.

At that time the disciples
approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the
Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over,
placed it in their midst, and
said, “Amen, I say to you, unless
you turn and become like
children, you will not enter the
kingdom of heaven. Whoever
humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the kingdom
of heaven. And whoever receives
one child such as this in
my name receives me.
Whoever causes one of
these little ones who believe in
me to sin, it would be better for
him to have a great millstone
hung around his neck and to
be drowned in the depths of the
sea.
See that you do not despise
one of these little ones, for I
say to you that their angels in
heaven always look upon the
face of my heavenly Father.”

Source: wordandlife.org

In the Philippines as well as other countries, the image of the Child Jesus, more popularly known as the Santo Nino is much revered. However, the faithful is reminded to go deeper and consider what the image represents. The Santo Nino is a representation of the innocence and the inherent good qualities that every child possesses.

When asked by his disciples as to who is considered to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus answered that it is those that are like children in their humility and trust in God. Jesus also reminds us to take care not to be the source of corruption of innocent children for to do so puts us in a situation where we are better off “with a millstone hung around our necks to be drowned in the depths of the sea”. These words underscores the gravity of leading children into sin. Children occupy a special place in God’s kingdom.

Baptism of Our Lord – January 12, 2014

Image Source: flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword

 

Gospel Mt 3:13-17

The baptism of Jesus marks
the beginning of his public life.
As he enters the waters of the
Jordan River, he receives the
formal investiture as the long-awaited
Messiah/Servant on
whom the Father’s favor rests.

Jesus came from Galilee
to John at the Jordan to be
baptized by him. John tried to
prevent him, saying, “I need to
be baptized by you, and yet you
are coming to me?” Jesus said
to him in reply, “Allow it now,
for thus it is fitting for us to
fulfill all righteousness.” Then
John allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water
and behold, the heavens were
opened for him, and he saw
the Spirit of God descending
like a dove and coming upon
him. And a voice came from
the heavens, saying, “This is
my beloved Son, with whom I
am well pleased.”

 

Source: wordandlife.org

John the Baptist has been telling the people about the coming of the Messiah and the need to repent from sins. Many heeded his call and asked to be baptized by him. When Jesus Christ himself asked John to baptize Him, John was hesitant. Sinners came to him to cleanse themselves of their sins but here was Jesus, the Son of God, who is all good and pure, asking to be baptized as well.

John believed that it was Jesus who should be baptizing him. Jesus prevailed on him to do it because it was as it should be. When Jesus underwent baptism, it was to show his oneness with man, being a God who became man. The Baptism of Our Lord at Jordan River served as the formal introduction of Jesus by God the Father when the heavens opened up for the descent of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism to the faithful is a call for love and service as we do our part in Jesus Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and kingly mission.