The Last Word - May 2019

‘Holy, Holy, Holy’

Many of my fondest memories growing up took place in our family kitchen.  In many ways, we were a “kitchen” family.  My father would come home from work and take his place in the rocking chair at the end of the kitchen.  From this location, he could talk to mom while she cooked supper, listen to his children’s events of the day, and make his decisions on family issues, disciplines, or activities.  I remember when extended family members came to visit, they would congregate in the kitchen where my father would entertain them, while my mother would be cooking to feed them.  In the evenings, I would sit at the corner of the kitchen table and watch my parents and their visiting siblings play cards or board games.

The kitchen was also a place for daily chores.  My favorite chore was to set the table and then, on mom’s command, gather Dad and the siblings around the kitchen table for the meal.  Once everyone was gathered around the table, Dad would lead us in our prayer before the meal.

I am reminded that this favorite childhood chore of mine has, in a different and more significant way, continued throughout my 37 years of priesthood.  Every day at Mass, I set the table, call my parishioners to the table, and listen to our Prayer of Thanksgiving, after which together we sing that great “Sanctus” acclamation (“Holy, Holy Holy”). 

There are several acclamations within the Eucharist.  They are brief phrases or sentences sung or recited by the congregation during a liturgy.  The two most important acclamations are the Alleluia before the Gospel reading and the memorial acclamation after the consecration.  However, the “Sanctus” has always been my favorite acclamation.

I often sing various renditions of the “Sanctus” to myself.  When I see a sunrise or sunset, when I am struck by a beautiful scene of nature, or when I experience a significant moment with others, I find myself singing this wonderful acclamation.  Like all liturgical acclamations, they function as a form of unified praise directly addressed to God or to Christ.

Each time I sing the “Sanctus,” I am reminded of the Most Holy Trinity.  “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are filled with your glory” reminds me to praise God the Father and creator of all.  We praise Him for the creation of all life and all things around and above us.  “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” reminds me to offer my praise to Christ for the redemption and salvation He has won for us.  How important to be reminded that Christ comes in the name of the Lord!  “Hosanna in the Highest” reminds me of that triumphal entry of Christ into the holy city of Jerusalem.  It is that great presence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of the people who waved their palm branches in a great spirit of joy and confidence that only the Spirit can give.
So, let our acclamations be done with enthusiasm, as we reflect upon the great things God has done for us.

Father James Plourde, pastor, Notre Dame du Mont Carmel Parish in Madawaska, Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Saint Agatha, and St. Peter Chanel Parish in Van Buren