From the Pastor January 15, 2017

frmnicks_mug_smallLast week we spoke about how, though the liturgy is first and foremost God’s work in us, we have a proper response and are called to many and varied forms of responding to God’s grace: silence and song, gesture and stillness. This week, we are reminded of the primary focus of divine worship and an interesting way in which it was highlighted in the tradition of the liturgy.

First, we see in paragraph 33 that “the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty.” Secondarily, it “contains much instruction for the faithful.”

The paragraph continues: “the prayers addressed to God by the priest who presides over the assembly in the person of Christ are said in the name of the entire holy people.” Therefore, the priest, when praying at Mass, is doing so on behalf of God’s people and his prayers are “addressed to God.” Here I would like to offer a connected side note regarding the way in which this has been emphasized in the history of the liturgy.

The vast majority of what a priest says at Mass is a prayer directed to God the Father on behalf of the people. We might ask ourselves, then, why is he always facing the people? If the prayer of the priest is addressed to God, why does it look like he is praying at me?

Here we encounter the question of directionality at Mass; I can only touch on it briefly here. In the last 50 years, it has become the custom for the priest to stand adversum populum (i.e. against the people). For more than a thousand years, however, this was not the case. Why?

To emphasize the idea that the priest is not separated from the people but is joined with them in worshiping God (the primary purpose of the liturgy), it was the norm for the priest to stand facing cum populum (i.e. with the people). This was the normative position during the Mass because, as was mentioned, the vast majority of the prayers are addressed to the Father. However, for those parts addressed to the people, the priest would turn to face those gathered.

To many people’s surprise, the Second Vatican Council did not change this practice and, in fact, presumes throughout this document that the priest and people are united in turning physically toward God to offer prayer and praise. To this day, the most current documents and missal we use at Mass, presume that the priest is facing with the people. This is seen clearly when, periodically throughout the Mass, these documents indicate the times when the priest is supposed to turn toward the people and address them (which presumes, of course, that the priest had not been facing toward them already).

Why did this ancient and theologically profound practice change? There is only one official document coming from Rome that mentions a reason for using this secondary option. The reason is found in a publication called Notitae which is put out by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. In it we can find a brief explanation highlighting the significance of the ancient practice of facing with the people, but we also find a brief explanation of why a priest might face against the people. It reads as follows: “La posizione versus populum sembra la piú conveniente nella misura in cui rende piú facile la comunicazione.” Translated from the Italian: “the position facing against/toward the people seems more convenient insofar as it renders communication easier.”

Therefore, with the exception of a consideration for convenience, the Church still officially favors the position of a priest facing with the people, a practice rooted in a thousand year old tradition of sound theology and liturgy.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

In Christ,
Fr. Nicks

Our Faithful Departed

Send recent death notices to so that we can pray for our faithful departed as a local Catholic church community. We will have a special section in the bulletin to list those who have recently passed away. Please include their name, death and funeral date and the parish they belonged to. Recent local birth announcements are also welcome.

DeSales Seniors are looking for a unique challenge!

Our seniors are asked to do a Senior Service Project each year. They are looking for ways to serve; ways to make a difference. Some have tutored children, others spend time with the elderly…and they are looking for other unique and challenging opportunities to serve our community. Have an idea? Please let us know and we will try hard to make it work. Please send your ideas to the DeSales office (525-3030) or Greg Fazzari (

Upcoming School Events

Flapjack Breakfast Fundraiser: Saturday, Jan. 21, 8-10am. You will be served a delicious breakfast by the DeSales
Senior Class. Buy your ticket at the DeSales office or at the DeSales basketball games on January 20. Thank you for
supporting the Seniors in preparing for their class gift and other graduation expenses.

Mother/Son Mass & Brunch: Sunday, Jan. 29 after 8:30am Mass at Assumption Church. All Middle & High School
boys and their mothers and grandmothers are welcome (no cost). Please RSVP to the DeSales Office at 525-3030.

Welcome to our Parish cards

We have found that the green “Welcome to our Parish” cards have become a popular sketch pad for our youngest members. While we do enjoy the artwork, it is requiring us to replace as many as 6 cards a week.

We may add some drawing paper at a later date, but in the meantime please try to keep the cards out of reach of small hands. Thank you!

Newborn Baby Basket

Expecting in 2017? Assumption Women would love to add you to our Newborn Baby Basket list so we can make sure to give you a basket after your new one arrives! Please call: Kit Chryst (529-0809) or Jackie Ormsby (525-3801) to let us know.

Attention Catholic Men

Do you recognize the current man crisis in our country but don’t know what to do? Do you feel like as a Catholic man it is difficult to live a genuine Christian life? Come and be a part of hundreds of fellow Catholic Men from the Diocese that feel the same way. “Into the Breach” is the theme for this year’s Catholic Men’s Conference. It is sure to wash away your troubles and reignite the fire in your soul. On Saturday January 28th at St. Thomas More Parish in Spokane Catholic Men will gather to listen to the most respected National Catholic Speakers talk about the battle going on right in our own lives and offer solutions to end the conflict in our homes. Register at

Catholic Social Concerns Ministry

Pope Francis invoked Martin Luther King in his speech to Congress, Sept.15, 2015. Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 16: Excerpts from I Have a Dream Speech: “I still have a dream, deeply rooted in the American dream, that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’…I have a dream that one day little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls, as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!”

MLK Day is an excellent opportunity to volunteer for community service.

The Warming Center will be holding another training session soon. Trained volunteers are badly needed to supervise the center from 7pm -7 am, especially with the prolonged cold spell. Volunteers who have not yet attended a training session can help set up a welcoming warm snack at 6 pm & help cleanup from 6 am-8 am. Contact, 529-1183, PO Box 1134. Cash donations, warm blankets, socks, gloves, hats are also in great demand. Leave items at Warming Center, First Congregational Church, Palouse & Alder, parking lot entrance, 5:30-6:30 pm when Center is open, under 25 degrees with precipitation, or in bin at WWUB office, M-F, 9 am-5 pm.

GOTR homeless tent camp needs large tarps, warm tents, fire-wood, cash donations. Please bring from noon-5, M-F.

Christian Aid can always use food donations & volunteers to help prepare meals.

St. Vincent de Paul would welcome more volunteers to help with food bank & other services.

Catholic Charities offers volunteer services to help with various chores, home repair.

Food and cash donations to BMAC & St. Vincent de Paul food banks: Please remember to bring much needed non-perishable foods every Sunday, especially in this freezing weather.

Tri-Parish Social Concerns Committee: Meeting Tues, Jan. 17, 7 pm, at St. Patrick’s, St. John of the Cross Room. At the Ministries Fair in November many expressed interest in being a part of the So-cial Concerns Committee. Please come share your energy & ideas!

Please pray that our country will welcome and show compassion for everyone. “Whatever you do for one of these, the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me.”

Saint Hilary, Bishop & Doctor of the Church – January 13th

This staunch defender of the divinity of Christ was a gentle and courteous man, devoted to writing some of the greatest theology on the Trinity. He was bishop of Poitiers in France and is one of the 35 Doctors of the Church. Raised a pagan, he converted to Christianity. His wife was still living when he was chosen, against his will, to be the bishop of Poitiers in France. He was soon taken up with battling what became the scourge of the fourth century, Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ. The heresy spread rapidly. When Emperor Constantius ordered all the bishops of the West to sign a condemnation of Athanasius, the great defender of the faith in the East, Hilary refused and was banished from France to far off Phrygia. Eventually he was called the “Athanasius of the West.” While writing in exile, he was invited by some semi-Arians (hoping for reconciliation) to a council the emperor called to counteract the Council of Nicea. But Hilary predictably defended the Church, and when he sought public debate with the heretical bishop who had exiled him, the Arians, dreading the meeting and its outcome, pleaded with the emperor to send this troublemaker back home. Hilary was welcomed by his people.

From the Pastor – January 8, 2017

frmnicks_mug_smallLast week, we saw how the liturgy belongs to the Church universal and it is not up to an individual priest or community to change its fundamental elements. As we continue through Constitution on the Divine Liturgy from Vatican II, we see that, due to the liturgies public and universal nature (the very reason why it cannot be changed by an individual priest or community), the liturgy is ideally celebrated in a communal context.

As paragraph 27 notes: “It is to be stressed that whenever rites, according to their specific nature, make provision for communal celebration involving the presence and active participation of the faithful, this way of celebrating them is to be preferred, so far as possible, to a celebration that is individual and quasiprivate.”

Following this, paragraphs 28-29 speak to the reality that there are different roles, ministries, or functions in the liturgy. It is interesting to note that we are each called to fulfill our roles faithfully and completely, but not to take on the roles of others: “In liturgical celebrations each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy.” For example, the priest has the responsibility toward the end of the Eucharistic prayer to say the doxology which is when he holds up the Body and Blood of Christ and says: “Through Him and with Him and in Him, O God almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours forever and ever.” However, the sung response, “Amen,” belongs to the people.

Normatively, the priest should not be singing or saying this response (Amen), just as the people do not say the doxology. So too, generally the lector is responsible for the first and second readings, and not the priest. Each person or group has their part and manner to participate in the liturgy. And, because the liturgy is of the utmost importance, each of us has a grave responsibility to make sure that we fulfill our part in this prayer to the best of our ability. We do this to give glory to God and to support our brothers and sisters in faith as they try to enter into divine worship.

Paragraph 30 emphasizes that this participation does not just belong to the lectors and musicians or the priest and deacons, it belongs to the whole gathered body of faithful: “To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.”

The last paragraph of this section of the document, paragraph 32, touches briefly on the importance of respecting the equal dignity of everyone who comes to celebrate the Mass. With the exception of recognizing civil authorities who may be present for a special event, the paragraph makes it clear that “no other special honors are to be paid in the liturgy to any private persons or classes of persons, whether in the ceremonies or by external display.” An example of how the church safeguards this respect for every individual’s equal dignity is by means of the casket pall in funerals. Whether a casket is made of gold and diamonds or of simple rough wood, both are covered by the same cloth before the funeral Mass begins. For, as St. Peter says in the scriptures: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.”

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

In Christ,
Fr. Nicks

Serra Club of the Blue Mountains

Happy New Year from the Serra Vocation Ministry arm of our three parishes. We will be initiating our Altar Crucifix Program once again in February at St. Francis, in March at St. Patrick’s, and in April at Assumption. Please consider signing up when it comes to your parish to pray for vocations.

Our next meeting is Wednesday, January 25th, 7:00 @ Assumption. All are welcome to this meeting of prayer and discernment.

FORMED-Is God Real?

Is God really real? “Athiesm is like a flea not believing in a God” says Chris. Youth are looking for answers…and Y-Disciple is an excellent resource. Is Jesus really divine? Is the Holy Spirit really a person? Y-Disciple – find it on FORMED under [Programs]. Our parish code is CE6DCX

Thank You!

Thank you Karen Heinzman for painting the statues of Mary and Jesus in the entrance of Assumption Church. They are beautiful!

Traveling Crucifix at St. Francis

Sponsored by the Serra Club of the Blue Mountains, our parish will be hosting the Traveling Crucifix during the month of February. Any family can sign up to have the Crucifix in their home for a week, during which time all parishioners are asked to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.