Jan 22, 2011

Ministries in the Church

Certain ministries were established by the Church even in the most ancient times for the purpose of suitably giving worship to God and for offering service to the people of God according to their needs. The conferring of these functions often took place by a special rite, in which, after God's blessing had been implored, a Christian was established in a special class or rank for the fulfillment of some ecclesiastical function. Some of these functions, which were more closely connected with the liturgical celebration, slowly came to be considered as a training in preparation for the reception of sacred orders. Before Vatican II, there were four Minor Orders:  lector,  exorcist,  acolyte and porter. There was also subdiaconate.  These were required before one could receive the Sacrament of Orders as a deacon or priest.   Vatican II called for the revision of sacraments and liturgy. What up to now were called minor orders are now called Ministries.

Two ministries, adapted to present-day needs, are preserved in the whole Latin Church. They are that of Lector and Acolyte.

Lector/Reader: The reader is appointed for a function proper to him, that of reading the word of God in the liturgical assembly. Accordingly, he is to proclaim the readings from sacred Scripture, except for the gospel in the Mass and other sacred celebrations; he is to recite the psalm between the readings when there is no psalmist; he is to present the intentions for the general intercessions in the absence of a deacon or cantor; he is to direct the singing and the participation by the faithful; he is to instruct the faithful for the worthy reception of the sacraments. He may also, insofar as may be necessary, take care of preparing other faithful who are appointed on a temporary basis to read the Scriptures in liturgical celebrations. That he may more fittingly and perfectly fulfill these functions, he is to meditate assiduously on sacred Scripture. Aware of the office he has undertaken, the reader is to make every effort and employ suitable means to acquire that increasingly warm and living love and knowledge of Scripture that will make him a more perfect disciple of the Lord.

Acolyte: The acolyte is appointed in order to aid the deacon and to minister to the priest. It is his duty therefore to attend to the service of the altar and to assist the deacon and the priest in liturgical celebrations, especially in the celebration of Mass; he is also to distribute communion as a special minister when the ministers spoken of in the Codex Iuris Canonicican. 845 are not available or are prevented by ill health, age, or another pastoral ministry from performing this function, or when the number of communicants is so great that the celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged. In the same extraordinary circumstances an acolyte may be entrusted with publicly exposing the blessed sacrament for adoration by the faithful and afterward replacing it, but not with blessing the people. He may also, to the extent needed, take care of instructing other faithful who on a temporary basis are appointed to assist the priest or deacon in liturgical celebrations by carrying the missal, cross, candles, etc., or by performing other such duties. He will perform these functions more worthily if he participates in the holy eucharist with increasingly fervent devotion, receives nourishment from it, and deepens his knowledge about it. As one set aside in a special way for the service of the altar, the acolyte should learn all matters concerning public divine worship and strive to grasp their inner spiritual meaning: in that way he will be able each day to offer himself entirely to God, be an example to all by his gravity and reverence in church, and have a sincere love for the Mystical Body of Christ, the people of God, especially for the weak and the sick.

The ministries are conferred by the Ordinary (the bishop and, in clerical institutes, the Major Superior) through the liturgical rite De institutione lectoris and De institutione acolythi as revised by the Apostolic See. Candidates for ordination as deacons and priests are to receive the ministries of reader and acolyte and are to exercise them for a suitable time, in order to be better disposed for the future service of the word and of the altar.

(Extracts taken from MINISTERIA QUAEDAM)

Jan 13, 2011

A Good SCC Animator !

Mr. John Sangle is an auto-rickshaw driver and after the day's hectic work he comes and picks me up in his auto. We go through the narrow slums to a house and the Catholic family welcomes us. Mr. John leaves the house and goes on his 'Reminder Ministry' to all the neighboring Christian houses reminding them that its time for SCC Meeting (Small Christian Community). Some people tell me that this morning he had reminded them and now he has gone again to give the second reminder. For the past few years Mr. John is the SCC Animator for the Ganesh Nagar Zone of Sacred Heart Church, Pune. Soon children, youngsters and adults start trickling in.

In a small room the people are seated on the ground mats while around 13 children sit right in front facing the small family altar. We begin with the Rosary which happens to be multi-lingual. After each decade a hymn is sung and at the end the Litany of Our Lady is prayed. The gathering sings loudly in Marathi and all take turns to say the decades of the Rosary. The children are attentive and don't seem to be bothered with the 45 minutes of prayer going on. After the Litany the Scripture is read and I give a short reflection in Marathi. The prayer meeting ends with a concluding prayer and a Marian Hymn. Mr. John thanks me and as he leaves me back in his auto he explains to me about the Pastoral Plan he is going to prepare.

I go for the meetings on alternate Thursdays but Mr. John continues with his SCC animation every Thursday and I can feel the serenity and peace of Christ within myself and those present for the meetings.

Jan 11, 2011

Hunted Down Unknowingly !

The way Eskimos kill wolves is ingenious. They will coat the blade of a sharp hunting knife with blood. The blood will freeze on the blade. Then the blade will be coated again, frozen, and repeated till the blade is completely hidden by the frozen blood. Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up.

When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. The lust for more blood drives the animal to lick faster and faster, never realizing he is now licking his own blood. In the end, the wolf bleeds to death on the snow and the Eskimo has his prey.

It could happen that we may uncritically go after certain false but attractive systems, theories, philosophies which may turn out to be a lethal weapon of self-destruction without our realization.

Jan 9, 2011

Oldest Surviving Gospel Fragment

This fragment is generally accepted as the oldest surviving fragment of the New Testament found in Egypt.

John 18:31-33

the Jews, "For us it is not permitted to kill
anyone," so that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he
spoke signifying what kind of death he was going to
to die. Entered therefore again into the Praeto-
rium Pilate and summoned Jesus
and he said to him, "Thou art king of the


On the reverse side: John 18:37-38

a King I am. For this I have been born
and (for this) I have come into the world so that I would
testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth
hears of me my voice." Said to him
Pilate, "What is truth?" and this
having said, again he went out unto the Jews
and said to them, "I find not one
fault in him."

What does the symbol of Fish signify?

The fish was an early symbol for Christianity, since the Greek word for fish, ichthus, is an acronym (the first
letter of each word) for the Greek phrase "Iesous Christos Theou Huios Soter" which means

Ἰησοῦς - Iesous - Jesus
Χριστὸς - Christos - Christ
Θεοῦ - Theou - God
Υἱός - Huios - Son
Σωτήρ - Soter - Savior

Complete Meaning is : "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior" 

Jan 8, 2011

What is κοινωνία ?

Koinonia is a Greek word that occurs 20 times in the Bible. Koinonia’s primary meaning is “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” The first occurrence of koinonia is Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Christian fellowship is a key aspect of the Christian life. Believers in Christ are to come together in love, faith, and encouragement. That is the essence of koinonia.

Philippians 2:1-2 declares, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Koinonia is being in agreement with one another, being united in purpose, and serving alongside each other. Our koinonia with each other is based on our common koinonia with Jesus Christ. First John 1:6-7, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

A powerful example of what koinonia should look like can be found in a study of the phrase “one another” in the Bible. Scripture commands us to be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10), honor one another (Romans 12:10), live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16; 1 Peter 3:8), accept one another (Romans 15:7), serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13), be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32), admonish one another (Colossians 3:16), encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13), spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24), offer hospitality (1 Peter 4:9), and love one another (1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11; 3:23; 4:7; 4:11-12). That is what true biblical koinonia should look like.