Prayer Life

patron saint of sports saint sebastian's important message for athletes

I’d imagine every Roman Catholic has a different favorite Saint to call upon whenever faced with a particularly difficult challenge or when a particular Saint can help them through a crisis. The vivid stories of all the Saints, most of whom bravely defended their faith in the face of adversity, serve to inspire and strengthen us all.

painting of saint sebastian shot with arrows tied to a tree

Remember, however, that praying for a Saint’s support is not only good practice during times of need, but is also there at any time to support and strengthen you.

Luckily, practically all our endeavors have been placed under the guardianship of a Saint. We pray to Saint Anthony when we’ve lost something, implore Saint Jude when all else has failed and call upon Saint Francis to bless our animals and pets. The intercession of Saints serves to strengthen our faith and add weight to our prayers.

Most Catholics have a special relationship with a small number of Saints, and whenever we need help, we pray to one of these, hoping to receive support. The Saint becomes our representative before God – rightly so – because after all, these Saints have all displayed a greater love and commitment to God than most men and women.

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The Most Popular Patron Saints and Angels

The Catholic Church has a long tradition of choosing patron Saints. Today, a simple internet search will quickly produce a list of hundreds of patron Saints, all of whom have a special area of expertise.

Patron Saints are often selected because of the life they lead. Saint Francis of Assisi loved animals and nature and is, therefore, the patron Saint of ecologists. Francis de Sales was a writer and has, consequently, become an advocate for journalists and authors. Whatever profession, art or situation, you can find a patron Saint and ask for her/his assistance.

Angels and archangels are also exceedingly popular. Thousands of people pray for the protection of Archangel Michael or the assistance of Angel Gabriel. Among the most popular patron Saints are Saint Anthony, Saint Jude, Saint Francis, Saint Sebastian, Saint Christopher, Saint Patrick, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Joseph, Saint Cecilia, Saint Valentine, Saint Therese of Lisieux, St Padre Pio and Saint Christopher. These Saints have become part of our everyday spiritual landscape and can be an enormous source of comfort and strength.

graphic - most popular patron saints list

To illustrate what a powerful role patron Saints can play in our daily activities, let’s look at the lives of two of the most popular Saints: Saint Sebastian, who is an advocate for athletes, and Saint Christopher, whose medal many of us have on our car key ring or pendant.

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Saint Sebastian – Patron Saints of Sports

Recently, Saint Sebastian has become very popular. He was even named Patron Saint of last year’s Olympic games in Rio. Athletes and sports people have sought inspiration and intercession from Saint Sebastian, and we have to take a look at his life story to understand why Saint Sebastian has become the patron Saint of athletes.

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Saint Sebastian’s Life Story

Saint Sebastian is believed to have come from France and was educated in Milan. In 283 AD, he joined the army, serving the Roman emperor Diocletian. Diocletian was particularly brutal in his treatment of Christians, arresting and executing them in large numbers. Many believe that Sebastian joined the army and became an undercover preacher so he could minister to the Christians in the army and those in custody.

Because he was a highly capable soldier, he moved up the ranks quickly and became a Praetorian Guard for the Emperor, Diocletian. Secretly, Sebastian spent much of his time preaching to soldiers and prisoners, and he soon became known as a powerful healer. Throughout his life in the army, he also converted many soldiers to Christianity.

However, after several years, he was caught and sentenced to death by Diocletian. Soldiers brought him to a field and tied him to a tree. He was used as an archery target and hit by countless arrows. The soldiers eventually left, believing he was dead.

saint sebastian's journeys quote

A woman, known as Irene of Rome, bravely recovered Sebastian. Her husband had been martyred by the same emperor and consequently, she wanted to help Sebastian. Within weeks, she nursed him back to full health.

Having regained all his strength and realizing what had happened, Sebastian decided to publicly denounce Diocletian. He knew a place where the emperor would pass, waited for him and publically admonished him for his treatment of Christians.

Surprised to see Sebastian alive, Diocletian quickly had him arrested and once again sentenced to death. This time, he ordered soldiers to beat him to death with clubs. Sebastian died, and his body was thrown into the local sewer.

In a vision, Sebastian asked a woman to recover his body. She obliged, and Sebastian was buried in the catacombs of Rome. Later, his remains were dispersed, and many relics from his remains are on display in churches throughout Europe.

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Prayer to Saint Sebastian

Because of Sebastian’s strength and tenacity, many athletes pray for his intercession. The following prayer is the most well-known prayer to Saint Sebastian.

Dear Commander at the Roman Emperors court,

You chose to be also a soldier of Christ and dared to spread

The faith in the King of Kings – for which you were condemned to die.

Your body, however, proved athletically strong, and the executing arrows extremely weak.

So, another means to kill you was chosen, and you gave your life to the Lord.

May athletes be always as strong in their faith as their Patron Saint clearly has been. Amen

Many athletes recite this prayer before competition and may also carry a Saint Sebastian medal.

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What We Can Learn from Saint Sebastian

When we reflect on the life of Saint Sebastian, there are several qualities we can aspire to attain:

aged painting of saint sebastian tied to a post
  • Work Ethic: Saint Sebastian was deeply dedicated to his work in the army, as well as to his service to Christ. His quick rise to higher ranks illustrates a strong work ethic, even in the face of great adversity. His dedication to Christ was even more pronounced. By joining the army to spread the word of God and support Christians in the army and in prison, he put his own life in danger.
  • Courage: Saint Sebastian displayed enormous courage, not just during his time as an undercover soldier, but especially after the first execution attempt. He risked his life to serve Christ and preach the gospel.
  • Endurance: Saint Sebastian bravely endured and survived the first execution attempt. This can be particularly inspiring for athletes who feel like giving up during an endurance test or competition.

It seems fitting that Saint Sebastian is the patron Saint of sports.

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Catholic Athletes

As Catholics with a public profile, athletes have a responsibility to live out their faith. Catholic athletes like Bonnie Blair (a speed skater) are involved in organizations such as the Catholic Relief Services. Some other notable Catholic athletes are:

  • Jordan Speith (Golf)
  • Brett Favre (Football)
  • Timothy Goebel (Figure Skater)
  • Joe DiMaggio (Baseball)
  • Kobe Bryant (Basketball)
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Saint Christopher – Patron Saint of Travelers and Motorists

Even though Saint Christopher was never canonized by the Catholic Church, he is one of the most popular Saints. The story of how he carried Christ across a ferocious river is well known, and many people pray for his protection before traveling.

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Saint Christopher’s Life Story

Finding Saint Christopher in history books is difficult. The name “Christopher” means “Christ-bearer” and is associated with the Egyptian Saint, Menas. Christopher may also have been a martyr by the name of Reprobus, who died in 251 AD. However, many legends and popular stories speak about the Saint Christopher we know and love today.

In these stories, he is described as a man of exceedingly tall stature. One day, he decided to serve the greatest king on earth and went to offer his services to the local ruler. who gladly accepted Christopher’s offer. When Christopher saw the king making the sign of the cross at the mention of the devil, he deemed the devil to be more powerful than the king and decided to serve the devil instead. He joined a band of thieves, the leader of which called himself the devil.

Believing he was now serving the most powerful king, Christopher was surprised to see the devil avoiding the sign of the cross and once again realized there was someone even mightier.

st christopher with baby painting patron saint of travellers

Wishing to find out about Christ, Christopher went to a local hermit to seek advice. The hermit educated him about Christ’s life and teachings and told Christopher to fast and pray.

But because Christopher was so tall and strong, he vehemently objected to fasting and asked if there was another way to serve the Lord. Following deep reflection, Christopher offered to help travelers across a nearby river, reassured by the hermit that doing so would please Christ.

The river was extremely dangerous, and many people had lost their lives trying to get to the other side. One day, a small child approached Christopher and asked to be taken across. Mid-stream, the waters suddenly rose, and the child became exceedingly heavy. Exerting himself completely, Christopher finally managed to bring the child to safety.

When Christopher inquired as to why he was so heavy, the child told him that he was Christ and that Christopher had indeed carried the whole world on his shoulders. The child then vanished from Christopher’s sight.

According to legends, Christopher left and started to evangelize people and eventually arrived in Lycia, Asia Minor. After several attempts to execute him, Christopher was eventually captured and beheaded.

Christopher only became popularized in the 7th century, when several churches were named after him. Even though he was never officially beatified, Saint Christopher is one of the most cherished Saints in the Catholic tradition.

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Prayer to Saint Christopher

Many people pray to Saint Christopher before setting off on a journey.

Saint Christopher “Motorist’s Prayer:

Grant me O Lord a steady hand and watchful eye.

That no one shall be hurt as I pass by.

Thou gravest life, I pray no act of mine

May take away or mar that gift of Thine.

Shelter those, dear Lord, who bear me company,

From the evils of fire and all calamity.

Teach me to use my car for others need;

Nor miss through love of undue speed

The beauty of the world; that thus I may

With joy and courtesy go on my way.

St. Christopher, holy patron of travelers,

Protect me and lead me safely to my destiny.

st christopher silver medal charm on bracelet
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What We Can Learn from Saint Christopher

Saint Christopher continues to inspire us with his strength and courage, and perhaps we can try to replicate some of his many qualities:

  • Humility: Throughout his life, Saint Christopher wanted to serve the greatest king, despite his own strength and power. He humbled himself to imitate Christ’s humility
  • Desire to Serve Others: Saint Christopher served and protected whomever he brought across the river. After carrying Christ, he went on to serve Christ by evangelizing thousands of people.
  • Endurance: Saint Christopher endured adversity throughout his life and remained dedicated to serving Christ.
  • Desire to Protect Others: Today, we pray to St. Christopher for protection, knowing of his desire to protect the people he carried across the river.

Saint Christopher displayed such strength and determination that it is apt for us to ask for his intercession whenever we travel. Despite the power of the river and the weight of Christ, Saint Christopher endured and brought each person across the river safely.

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Saints Inspire and Strengthen Us

Being a good Christian can be difficult, particularly when we are going through difficult times. Sometimes, we struggle to believe and often feel alone.

woman praying in pew at catholic cathedral

During such times, reflecting on the Saints and asking for their intercession can be an enormous source of strength as well as inspiration. The special prayers to Saints can comfort and encourage us throughout our lives.

Perhaps Saints are positioned between Christ and us, because they were fully human but managed to dedicate their lives entirely to Christ. In that sense, they are human just like us, while also possessing strength and grace far greater than our own could ever be. Consequently, they inspire, guide and protect us.

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Patron Saints – A Source of Everyday Comfort

Patron Saints are undoubtedly a great source of comfort. Whatever activity we engage in, we can ask for the support of the relevant patron Saint. Saint Sebastian has undoubtedly inspired thousands of athletes, and Saint Christopher continues to offer protection on our journeys. It is immensely comforting to know there is a patron Saint for all occasions and activities.

Patron Saints can play a role in our everyday lives and in our most ordinary activities. By praying for their intercession and reflecting on their inspirational strengths we can perhaps grow in faith, love and courage.

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Creatures of Habit

Over the years of teaching, I have learned that students hate change. Once students get into their groove and figure out their classes, they really don’t want to change. I moved the desks around a couple of times one semester and each time I thought I was going have a revolt on my hands. Students are just reflecting who we all are though, because we are all creatures of habit. We get settled into our routines and don’t really stray too far from that routine.

At our church, we go to the 8:30 mass and we see the same people, every Sunday. There is a comfort to it. You get to know your fellow parishioners and feel comfort with having a familiarity about your day. For a lot of us, it also means that we probably grew up with one priest. That priest was at the parish when you were baptized and possibly even married you. Years of seeing the same face for years and years was a comfort to us and they even became a part of the family.

Shifting Priests makes for Strong Parishes

However, as Bob Dylan famously said, “The Times They Are A Changing’” While each diocese is different, most Bishops move priests around to different parishes every 6 years or so, as decreed by the USCCB, and sometimes more like 2-12 years. In the Sioux Falls diocese, it is about every 7 years or so that priests get moved around. Of course, if there is a death or some other circumstance, priests can be moved based upon the needs of the communities.

The main reason for moving priests so often is to make sure parishes stay fresh and healthy. It keeps the focus on Jesus Christ instead of the priest. If a parish was to have a priest for 20 years, the personality of the priest would be driving the parish, not the sacraments.

At our parish, Father Stevens informed us this past Sunday that he is being transferred to a different parish after being with us for the past 7 years. For me, he is the first priest that I’ve known really well that I am losing. Both being a convert and our nomadic lifestyle when we were first married meant that I didn’t really know my previous priests too well and so didn’t think about it as much. This time is different. Megan and I are very active in our parish and have gotten to know Fr. Stevens well over the past few years. We’ve even spent the last couple of years helping plan St. Therese’s 100th anniversary.

I’m going to miss Father Stevens, but know that wherever he ends up, his deep devotion to God and his wonderful homilies will inspire those who have the chance to hear them and work with him.

How to Learn to Like the New Guy

One of the problems with change is that we are quick to judge something that is different. Even if it is better, we won’t like it. That favorite chair of yours that really should have been replaced years ago “feels” better than the new one you got. It really doesn’t, but it seems that way because it’s new and not what we are used to.

I know this is what a lot of us are going to feel come July when we get a new priest. He won’t be like Father Stevens and for that, we will judge him. How are his homilies? No way can they be as compelling. What will be his focus? Will he be too lenient or too strict? Will he drive parishioners away or bring them in? These are all questions that we are going to face when we meet our new priest.

So what do we do? Deuteronomy 31:8 gives us some idea: “Yahweh himself will lead you; he will be with you; he will not fail you or desert you. Have no fear, do not be alarmed.”

I think a good way to handle a change in a priest is to do so with a clean slate.

  1. Pray –  Don’t worry about what your new priest will be like and put trust in God’s hands that He is with you.
  2. Avoid comparing your new priest with your old one. Each of us is different and have a difference in the way we see things.
  3. Reach out – there is no better time than when the priest is new to the area to have him over for dinner. Or meet for coffee. He has a lot of new people he needs to get familiar with, so why not help it out a bit?

Get Out of your Comfort Zone

One of the reasons why I do like to change things up in my classroom is to jostle students out of their comfort zone a little bit. I want to challenge them and get them to not be complacent – and not just where they sit, but also how they think. If you are going through a change in your parish, don’t fret about it, but take it as an opportunity to grow your faith. Get a little uncomfortable and push yourself. You never know, it could be a great thing.

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Saint Faustina Catholic Medal

Catholics throughout history have used medals as a reminder of the faith and the lives of the saints. The images of the saints remind us about the details of their lives, and they give us a way to remember to imitate the holiness of the great ones who have gone before us. Each time someone places one of these medallions around their neck, it’s a physical reminder to be faithful.

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Priest celebrate a mass at the church

There is a great deal of history and symbolism behind all the different vessels and vestments we use in the practice of our faith. From the cassock to the ciborium and the crosier to the burse, we have a lot of items and terms that are foreign to modern ears.

We have so much history and tradition, the amount of lore associated with Catholic traditions can seem overwhelming.

However, while at times it may seem intimidating, remember that the basic tenets of the Catholic faith remain the same.

As Catholics, we learn and grow by increasing our understanding of the underlying histories and meanings behind the holy traditions of the Church such as the history of the pyx as the sacred vessel for the Eucharist.

The Pyx

A pyx (or pyxis) is a small container that priests or Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers use to carry the consecrated host to people who cannot, for whatever reason, attend Mass that day. Most often, they bring the Eucharist to those who are sick or homebound.

The containers are usually shaped like a cylinder. The lid, often with a sacred symbol or image on the top, may have a hinge and clasp or simply lie flat on the top. Most pyxes are made from gold, brass, silver or pewter to honor the sacred host that it contains.

Inside of Pyx

The use of metal in construction is also important in cleaning the vessel. Using non-porous metal means that crumbs and particles of the Blessed Sacrament will not be embedded or lost. Taken a step farther, some pyxes are constructed with a bump in the bottom to make retrieving the individual hosts without crushing or breaking easier.

Engraved Pyx

When a Eucharistic Minister places the consecrated host into a pyx, he will put the pyx in a small pouch, called a burse. The pouch is usually made out of leather or fabric, and it can be drawn closed. Often, the minister will fix the burse around his neck when he carries the pyx.

The Word, “Pyx”

The name “Pyx” comes from Greek and Latin words. The Greek root word is πυξις, pronounced puxis, and the Latin is a transliteration of the Greek word pyxis.

When the church was first formed, the term was commonly used for any kind of box. If you wanted to carry around your gold coins to go to the market, you might put them in a pyxis.

In the United Kingdom, they still use the word “pyx” in this way. They have a ceremony, called the trial of the pyx, where newly minted coins are tested to see if they fit the metallurgical standards set by the government. This tradition has remained the same since the 13th century.

Eventually, the word “pyx” came to refer to only sacred vessels. This shines a light on the naming conventions for almost all our liturgical items.

The name for nearly every piece of liturgical clothing or communion vessel was once a common term for everyday items. When the culture began to change, and people stopped using those words, the church kept them until they became terms that refer only to sacred items.

The Sacred Pyx

In the Middle Ages, the pyx was the most common term used for the cup which held the Eucharist. In the Customal of Cluny, a document from the eleventh century, it speaks of a deacon taking a golden pyx out of a large dove that hangs permanently above the altar. It would be like the tabernacles that churches use to hold the blessed Eucharist today.

Golden bird statue

In some places, the word pyx referred to a special kind of container in a specific shape, a dove. This custom developed especially in late antiquity. The example above comes from France.

They would use this pyx to hold the Blessed Sacrament between celebrations of the Eucharist. This pyx would then be suspended above the altar for all to see.

The dove, as you may know, is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and it is a common image on pyxes in the Catholic Church, as well. The dove helps to symbolize the presence of the Holy Spirit in the mass, and it connects the work of the Holy Spirit to what the priest does in consecrating the bread and the wine. Eventually, the pyx became known as only the cylindrical objects we use to carry the host.

Eastern Christians

Garden dedication area

Eastern Christians, however, use the word to refer to their tabernacles which contain the consecrated host between celebrations of the Eucharist. This pyx is especially used during the season of Lent for the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.

This Eucharistic liturgy uses already consecrated bread and wine to celebrate it on weekdays during Lent. This liturgy tones down the joyful character of the Sunday liturgy in keeping with the somber and repentant themes of Lent.

The Catholic Church has many wonderful traditions that help to give meaning and history to our practices. It also makes everything a bit more confusing for the new Christian.

We use Latin terms and refer to items that no one outside the church would know. It’s important for each of us to familiarize ourselves with these traditions, so we can answer questions and pass on our faith to the next generation.

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We used to pray the rosary as a family when I was a child, and though I may have found it tedious at times, I cherish these memories. Often, my siblings and I would get the giggles in between Hail Marys. However, a beautiful calm spread throughout the house whenever we prayed together.

Praying together sowed the seeds for my spiritual journey, and children, even in today’s high-tech world, still harbor a deep sense of spirituality and mystery. As parents, it is up to us to awaken this inherent spirituality as, one day, it will become a great source of strength to our children.

As a mom, I found it important to take the time to select the appropriate set of rosary beads for my kids. The beads you choose will become a beloved heirloom and provide them with memories they will treasure.

Mary Mother of God

Mary mother of god

Before you start looking at the rosary beads for children, it’s important to remember to make the rosary somewhat child-friendly. Kids probably respond best to stories, and therefore, you may like to start off by telling them lots of stories about Mary and her son, Jesus. By introducing both as real people, your children will make a personal connection, and, undoubtedly, they will want to hear more.

There are lots of lovely children's Bibles and books, crafts and coloring activities available and, by using such resources, you’ll help your kids to build a relationship with Mary and Jesus. Once you feel they understand, you may introduce the rosary and talk about finding special rosary prayer beads.

Rosary Beads for Kids

The type of rosary beads you buy for your children will very much depend on your child’s age and gender. Nowadays, you can find special rosary beads for kids of all ages. Let’s look at some of your best options:

Small Baby Fabric Rosary Beads

If you’d like to introduce your baby to the rosary, you may like to opt for a fabric, cuddly-toy, one-decade rosary. This rosary features a rather large, stuffed fabric ring with ten fabric beads and a soft rubber cross attached.

These beads are soft and snuggly, and your baby can easily hold onto the beads. This is a wonderful way of introducing the rosary early and you can, on occasion, add a prayer or a story about Mary and Jesus.

Teething Rosary Beads

Most little ones will at some point need a teething ring, so why not get teething rosary beads. They are made from colorful silicone, knotted safely and perfect to chew on!

Colorful, Chunky Wooden Rosary

Personally, I love the simplicity of a wooden rosary and the colorful, chunky beads. The children’s variety usually comes in strong primary colors, often with a different color for each decade. These beads also have a beautiful, wooden crucifix and make the perfect beads for boys or girls.

Blue rosary beads

Other Types of Rosary Beads

Rosary beads are available in all colors and shapes. It's beneficial to allow your child to pick her/his favorite, because there are plenty of choices, and this is truly a personal decision. Girls usually love jewelry, and jewel-based rosaries are very popular. There are also rosaries with sports themes like football and basketball for young athletes.

Personalized and Themed Rosary Beads

Personalized rosary beads, featuring your child’s name, make for a very special, meaningful gift. By the same token, if your child has an affinity to a particular Saint, it’s lovely to present her/him with rosary beads dedicated to her/his favorite Saint. I've also seen stunningly beautiful Guardian Angel rosary beads.

Yellow and black rosary beads

Make Your Own Rosary Beads

My first choice would always be to make rosary beads with your child, because it will make them so special and unique. From buying beautiful beads to choosing a crucifix, and perhaps various medals, right through to investing the time to make the rosary beads, makes it an unforgettable and meaningful process for you and your child.

While you are making the rosary beads with your kids, you might consider telling stories about Mary and Jesus and your own experiences as a child growing up Catholic. You can turn the experience into a spiritual journey.

Your child will enjoy the crafting and be immensely proud of the rosary beads. No doubt, self-made rosary beads will be greatly treasured.

Engage Your Child and Make It Meaningful

The most important thing about buying rosary beads for your child is to make it a spiritual, personal process, one your child can understand and cherish. By doing so, you instill a love and affection for the rosary that is sure to be a great source of strength to your child throughout his or her lifetime.

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Pre-college, I didn’t really pay attention to the distinct differences among the services within Holy Week. To me it was a week of going to church day after day and I dreaded it. And for years after I was not a regular church-goer.

However, when I returned with vigor to my Catholic roots, I began attending as many of the services held during Holy Week as I possibly could. And with that many questions arose:

  1. Why is there no consecration on Good Friday?
  2. Triduum? What?
  3. Why do we kiss Jesus’ feet on the cross? And some people genuflect. Should I be doing that?
  4. Oh man, I really need to go to confession.

That last one is a statement and not a question, sure, but it was still a concern that arose that scared me to death. So it earned its place on the list.

Why is there no consecration on Good Friday?

The first time in my adult life I attended all services within the Triduum, I was confused when we seemed to leap-frog right to communion without the entirety of the Liturgy of the Eucharist during the Good Friday service. Turns out, this is called the Liturgy of the Presancitified.

So let’s back up to the presanctification part.

Actually – let’s back up to the beginning of the Triduum. The Triduum lasts for 3 days, but is really a single liturgical celebration. “Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.” – USCCB

The Easter Triduum celebrates three events – The Passion (Holy Thursday), Death on the Cross (Good Friday, Holy Saturday), and Resurrection (Easter Vigil – Easter Sunday).

The Triduum is actually a distinct liturgical period after Lent. Lent ends and the Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday night.  You will note that there are no closing rites at the end of this Mass or on Good Friday as the Triduum will continue for 3 days.

Highlights of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper:

  • Washing of the feet following the Liturgy of the Word
  • The Gloria is sung for the first time since the beginning of Lent. The bells rang during the Gloria will be silent until Easter Vigil. Minimal musical accompaniment, if any, is used only to support the singing and will remain so until Easter Vigil.
  • No Concluding Rite
  • Eucharist is placed in repose (a different part of the church or chapel previously prepared) – not the tabernacle which is emptied and remains open.
  • Altar is stripped and crosses are removed or veiled.
  • Adoration usually available at the place of repose until midnight.

The Triduum continues on Good Friday with a series of 3 events:

  1. Liturgy of the Word
  2. Adoration of the Cross
  3. Holy Communion
  • No Opening Rite (because it is a continuation of Holy Thursday’s celebration, which had no Concluding Rite)
  • Altar is completely bare – no crucifix, no candles
  • Anointing of the Sick and Penance are only sacraments celebrated.
  • Celebrant may completely prostrate himself before the altar (lay face down on the floor).
  • The Solemn Intercessions – The congregation is asked to kneel and pray silently for each intercession.
  • Adoration of the Cross – after which the Cross is then placed at the altar with candles on either side. (Remember all crosses were removed or veiled the night before.) The Cross can be venerated with a kiss, genuflection, or other sign of deep respect.
  • No Liturgy of the Eucharist, as the consecration took place on Holy Thursday – hence “Presanctification”. Move straight to the Our Father and Holy Communion. The priest will spread a cloth on the altar and bring in the Blessed Sacrament from its place of repose.
  • Altar is once again stripped of everything but the cross and 2 or 4 candlesticks.
  • No Concluding Rite

Holy Saturday – We wait at the tomb with prayer and fasting. The altar is still bare and Sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Holy Communion given only to the dying.

Easter Vigil – This is where we shift from waiting at the tomb to celebrating the Resurrection. We move from dark into Light.

  • No Opening Rite
  • Begins after sunset outside the church
  • 4 parts:
    1. The Solemn Beginning of the Vigil (Lucernarium) – Service of Light
      • Blessing of a fire and pascal candle outside the church and a procession with candles is led into the church. The church progressively gets lighter and lighter until all lights are at full brightness at the Gloria.
    2. Liturgy of the Word
    3. Baptismal Liturgy – catechumens and RCIA candidates are baptized and initiated into the faith.
    4. Liturgy of the Eucharist

Easter Sunday  – Easter Mass in morning (or afternoon if necessary). Triduum concludes with the evening prayers on Easter Sunday.


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Stained glass window with images of chalice and crosses

The Eucharist has always meant a lot to me because it is infinitely more than just a ritual. It is the true physical presence, not just the spiritual presence of Jesus Christ. Dedicating an entire month, all of April, to the Eucharist seems not only fitting but also very special. Attending Mass or Adoration awards us a chance to encounter Jesus in a very real way. We place ourselves in His divine presence and draw on His love and guidance.

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Sedona Arizona’s Chapel of the Holy Cross

The chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona is considered one of the seven man-made wonders of the state. Located in an area famous for its surroundings (there have been many movies shot in the area), the chapel is a prominent feature, having won the Award of Honor of the American Institute of Architects, in 1957, only a year after being built. It has been drawing visitors from all over the world ever since.

A trip to the chapel would be the ideal opportunity to breathe new life into one’s faith―the scenery and setting are truly some of the most impressive of any church.

The chapel is built on a spur, 250-feet high, and it features a large stone cross inlaid in the glass side of the building that overlooks the valley below. The chapel was constructed to capture the view of the sunset shining through the valley, and it is complemented by the beautiful, sunshiny weather in the area.

It was built in only 18 months, quite a feat, considering the literally ground-breaking amount of work needed. The total cost of building would be $2.7 million, in today’s terms ($300,000 at the time). The interior is left quite bare and undecorated so as not to detract from the atmosphere of the space around it. The glass side of the chapel is supported by the large stone cross built into it. The chapel is a good example of how some churches can really keep the cross at the center of the overall symbolism of the building.

Mass is not celebrated regularly at the chapel since the local parish is served out of the church in Sedona. The chapel is now intended as a place for private prayer and reflection. It is situated in the Coconino National Forest, at 5,000 ft. above sea level.

Visitors to the chapel should be prepared for a short walk from the lower carpark, but, overall, the climate and access are quite agreeable, with not much humidity. This and the wheel-chair accessibility make the site a majestic destination where young and old can marvel at the scenery and the impressive monument to the Catholic faith.

The chapel has a very interesting history. It was conceived by local architect and artist Marguerite Brunswig Staude. After visiting the Empire State Building, the artist was inspired to create a place of worship that was in touch with modern architecture and design. One of the final wishes of her late mother was that she build a church to spread the word of the Lord and provide a place for Catholics to get closer to God.

Altar and tabernacle in Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona Arizona

Originally, the project was to take place with the help of architect Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright) and be modeled on the Empire State Building in style. However, the advent of the Second World War prevented the project from taking place at either of the two sites originally intended. Budapest, Hungary was the original proposed site, but the war made it impossible, and Los Angeles was an early candidate, but it was hard to get permission from the Archdiocese there (and there were also concerns the Japanese could invade the west coast).

Staude then considered Arizona as an alternative. While visiting the local area, she saw Rx engraved in a stone below where the chapel would be built, which she took as a sign from above (the family’s business was pharmaceuticals). Also, one of the surrounding hill formations resembled the Madonna and Child, while another resembled the Three Wise Men.

Several problems stood in the way of building the chapel. Lloyd Wright withdrew from the project as the project was significantly less grand, in his opinion, than originally conceived. Obtaining a building permit proved difficult, as the state owned the land. The latter problem was resolved with the help of Barry Goldwater, who met with Staude in Washington and was so impressed with the plans that he walked over to the Secretary of the Interior and immediately received the permit.

Chapel of the Holy Cross seen from a distance

More Details

The chapel is located about 10 minutes by car outside Sedona (4 miles), which, itself, is located 30 miles south of Phoenix. Access is free, and there is free parking available, also.

Visitors are welcome every day from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas. Adequate footwear should be worn for the climb to the chapel, as the closer parking lot to the building is reserved for the disabled.

Final Thoughts

The chapel is a prime example of how hard work and dedication to one’s faith can literally move mountains. The symbolism of the surroundings of the church is in tune with nature but, existing in its own right, has had parallels drawn between it and the message of Christ to be peaceful while also standing up for one’s beliefs. It has had a colorful history, especially during its development, but it now remains as a tranquil place of reflection that might be a good place to include on any Catholic’s list of places to visit in the southwest.

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Stations of the cross graphic

Easter is on the horizon and, as I look ahead on my calendar, I am reminded of the history tied in with this beautiful holiday and the prayers it inspires. You may already be very familiar with the Stations of the Cross, but I wanted to take this space to really reflect on Jesus’ walk to His death, the moments He experienced along the way, and the moments of grace we can find in His journey.

Statue of Jesus Christ

You may already have the Stations represented in the nave or main section of your church through pictures or high relief images depicting the different moments. You may have learned about them in bible school or just read about them.

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Have you selected what to give up for Lent yet? I made my decision during Mass on Sunday, and as you can tell from the title – I’m giving up worrying for Lent. God asked me to trust Him in this week’s Gospel, and I want to give Him just that – my full trust.

The catch is that trust in Him means that I have nothing to worry about. We’ll see if I am able to keep my end of the bargain.

So in preparation for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, I need to prepare myself for the task ahead. I need a few tools to help me on this quest.

Here’s what I came up with. Please feel free to add your own in the comments section below.
1. Attend Adoration
Eucharistic Adoration can clean a whole lot of gunk out of your brain. Start by finding a way to focus by using a prayer or scripture reading. Allow yourself time to just sit and be still and listed to what God has to say.
2. Tell God about it
Empty yourself of your worrying thoughts by bringing them all to God and laying them open before Him. Hold nothing back. Tell Him everything no matter how trivial you may think it is. Use God as a sounding board. You may be surprised at what conclusions the two of you come up with.
3. Don’t try to force it out
It won’t end well. You could get caught in an ugly cycle of worrying about worrying. Give yourself enough slack to recognize that cold turkey isn’t the best way to stop worrying.
4. Exercise-Run the rosary
Nothing silences the voices in my head like exercise. That may be because I loathe exercise. I really do. I have to constantly talk myself into doing the next rep and concentrate on form. There’s no space in my brain for anything other than getting to the end of a workout. This may also be a good time to start Running the Rosary.
5. Get perspective
We have a wonderful place called The Banquet here in Sioux Falls where we can go serve meals to anyone who is searching for food or fellowship. An evening there certainly puts my worries in perspective. I know my children have a safe place to sleep and food to fill their bellies. It doesn’t mean my worries are any less worthy, but it sure sorts out the ones that are completely unnecessary.
6. Be grateful
This is really an extension of #5. All those little things we take for granted like the blanket keeping my feet warm, hot showers, and a beautiful sunset – when is the last time I took a minute to thank God for those things? What about the people who surround you like the room mom who helped organize the Valentine Party when you forgot the treats, or the priest who prayed made time for you when you needed help putting life in perspective? The list of things we should be grateful for is inexhaustible.
Forty days. Lent is 40 days and this exercise in trusting the Lord will hopefully make me a better Catholic. What are your thoughts on what to give up for Lent?

My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation. God alone is my rock and salvation, my fortress; I shall never fall.
Psalm 62:2-3

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