"Giving up 'giving up' for Lent?"

It’s the time of year again when parents, CCD teachers, and pastors ask those in their care, along with themselves, “What are you giving up for Lent?” What, in other words, will we “sacrifice” over the next 40 days?  To read more, click here.


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Upcoming Conference at Chicago’s Liturgical Institute

Liturgical Catechesis and the New Evangelization

April 16-17, 2015


Perfect for pastors, youth ministers, teachers, DREs, RCIA leaders, liturgy directors and all Christians concerned about handing on the Faith to the next generation.


Join the Liturgical Institute for an unprecedented collaboration between liturgical and catechetical leaders who share a hope and vision for the renewal of liturgical catechesis in service of the new evangelization. In addition to introducing vital principles for effective liturgical catechesis, leading experts from the field will discuss successful strategies for reinvigorating a love for liturgy through children’s catechesis, youth ministry and the RCIA.


More information, including speakers, schedule, and registration available here.


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Liturgical Notes for Lent


The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 18.  Lenten regulations are as follows:


1. Catholics who have celebrated their 14th birthday are to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, all Fridays in Lent, and Good Friday.


2. In addition to abstaining from meat, Catholics who have celebrated their 18th birthday, until they celebrate their 59th birthday, are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  Those who are bound to this regulation may eat only one full meal.  Two smaller meals are permitted if necessary to maintain strength according to one’s needs, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted.



Ritual Masses are prohibited on Ash Wednesday, during Holy Week, and on Sundays of Lent (GIRM, n. 372).  Funeral Masses may not be celebrated on Holy Thursday, during the Easter Triduum, or on Sundays of Lent (GIRM, n. 380).  When marriages are celebrated during Lent, they are to reflect the special nature of this season (Rite of Marriage, n. 11).



The baptism of infants is allowed during the season of Lent, as norms from the Rite for the Baptism of Children suggest:  “An infant should be baptized within the first weeks after birth” (n.8.3).  But if circumstances would allow, the Easter Vigil is a most appropriate time to celebrate even infant baptism:  “To bring out the paschal character of baptism, it is recommended that the sacrament be celebrated during the Easter Vigil or on Sunday, when the Church commemorates the Lord’s resurrection” (n.9).



Sunset in the city of La Crosse on Saturday, April 4 will be at 7:35 p.m.  The May 2009 meeting of the Deans recommended that the Diocese publish both a recommended start time as well as an earliest start time.  In light of this direction, and also of that of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship which suggests at least 45 minutes be added to the time of sunset so that the vigil begins in darkness (See BCL Newsletter, February 1992), 8:30 is the recommended start time for the Easter Vigil in 2015, while 8:00 should be the earliest start time.



The annual Chrism Mass will be celebrated at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral on Tuesday of Holy Week, March 31, beginning at 10:30.


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Rite of Baptism of Children

During the “Reception of the Child” at the beginning of the Baptismal Rite, the minister, after questioning the parents and godparents about their willingness to baptize and raise the child according to the faith, is to say:  “N., the Church of God [Ecclesia Dei] welcomes you with great joy...” (versus “N., the Christian community [communitas christiana] welcomes you with great joy….”).  The change was authorized by Pope Benedict XVI on February 22, 2013, in order to clarify the membership in the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, which baptism causes, rather than simply a community of Christian believers.  See news story here.


Purification of Sacred Vessels by a Deacon

While the General Instruction of the Roman Missal allows the priest to purify the sacred vessels “at the altar or the credence table” (n.163), the deacon is to purify the vessels only at the credence table:  “When the distribution of Communion is over, the Deacon returns to the altar with the Priest, collects the fragments, should any remain, and then carries the chalice and other sacred vessels to the credence table, where he purifies them and arranges them as usual, while the Priest returns to the chair” (n.183);  the deacon may also purify the vessels immediately after Mass.  “This clarification of the deacon’s role,” explains the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, “helps to bring forth a further expression of our theology of liturgy and holy orders, matters which are indeed central to our life in the Church.”  See fuller explanation here.


Book of Blessings:  On always making use of the Sign of the Holy Cross in Blessings

“Since, from the established usage, the liturgical custom has always been in force that in the rites of blessing the sign of the cross is employed by being traced by the celebrant with the right hand over the persons or things for whom mercy is implored, this Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in order to dispel any doubts, has established that, even if the text of the part of the Roman ritual entitled The Book of Blessings remains silent about the sign itself or lacks an express mention of the appropriate time for this action, nevertheless the sacred ministers should adopt the aforementioned sign of the cross as necessary when carrying out any blessing.  Without a mention, however, the appropriate time should be regarded as when the text of the blessing uses the words “blessing,” “to bless,” or similar or, lacking these words, when the prayer of blessing itself is concluded.” (From the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 2002)  See full text here.


The Ritual Expression of the Gift of Peace at Mass

Pope Francis, in an audience of June 7, 2014, approved the Circular Letter Pacem relinquo vobis, “Peace I leave you,” on the ritual expression of the gift of peace at Mass.  Beginning with Pope Benedict and the Synod of Bishops celebrated during the 2005 Year of the Eucharist, the liturgical meaning of the exchange of peace and its implications for Christian living have been much discussed.  Among other things, the Circular Letter seeks to instill the deep meaning of the gesture.  “It should be made clear once and for all that the rite of peace…has its own profound meaning of prayer and offering of peace in the context of the Eucharist. An exchange of peace appropriately carried out among the participants at Mass enriches the meaning of the rite itself and gives fuller expression to it. It is entirely correct, therefore, to say that this does not involve inviting the faithful to exchange the sign of peace ‘mechanically.’  … The intimate relationship between the lex orandi and the lex credendi must obviously be extended to the lex vivendi. Today, a serious obligation for Catholics in building a more just and peaceful world is accompanied by a deeper understanding of the Christian meaning of peace and this depends largely on the seriousness with which our particular Churches welcome and invoke the gift of peace and express it in the liturgical celebration.”  See here for the complete text of the Circular Letter, and here for an explanation from the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship.


Liturgical Practices During Flu Season

Pastors and parochial administrators in the Diocese of La Crosse are to use their own discretion about inviting the exchange of the Sign of Peace and the distribution of the Precious Blood from the chalice during flu seasons.  Individual members of the faithful can also determine for themselves whether to exchange the Sign of Peace with their neighbors or to receive the Precious Blood from the chalice (pastors will please make those in their care aware of this option).  If a significant change in the situation surrounding the flu occurs, further direction from the Diocese will be offered.


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Click here for the 2015 Diocesan Liturgical Calendar


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Click here for the "Rite of Distributing Holy Communion Outside Mass", updated in light of the translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal.


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