SALT LAKE CITY — At the first Monsignor Benvegnu lecture, Father John Norman, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, shared the meaning, history and purpose of the prayers of the Mass and the Eucharist with participants. In the Catholic tradition, the prayers at Mass have been developed and written over the centuries for priests and the faithful for just about any circumstance, he said.
“We’ve been at this for centuries,” he said at the Oct. 22 lecture.
Fr. Norman spoke of the language changes in how participation in the Mass is described. In the past, the word “observed” was used to describe attending Mass, but today the word “praying” is used to describe the active role participants take. Regardless of the changes that may take place in refining the language of the prayers, they all serve one common purpose – to bring the faithful closer to God, he said.
“We should realize that as we pray the Mass, we are connecting sometimes to the Father, sometimes to the Son, sometimes to the Spirit, always to the Trinity, sometimes in the past or the present – there is a timeless nature to what’s happening,” Fr. Norman said.
Fr. Norman’s presentation was the first in the 2018 Benvegnu lecture series, which will continue monthly through March. On Nov. 12, Deacon Michael Bulson of Saint Andrew Parish will present the second Benvegnu lecture, “King David: The History of Mercy.” This presentation will examine the life of King David, one of the key persons in the Old Testament, an ancestor of Jesus and an extraordinary recipient of God’s mercy. The lecture will consider King David’s triumphs as well as his failings, and most of all, what lessons today’s Catholics can learn from him.
For the Dec. 10 lecture, Dr. Kandie Brinkman, a theology teacher at Juan Diego Catholic High School, will speak on “Generating a Lifelong Faith Journey.” The lecture will look at lifelong formation as a journey of the Christian life. Brinkman hopes that participants will feel a renewed desire to seek out multiple options for deepening their faith in both mind and soul.
The Jan. 14 presentation, “A Catholic Response to the Death Penalty” by Fr. Norman, will look at capital punishment, which Pope Francis recently defined as “completely inadmissible.” More than two-thirds of the world’s 200 countries have abolished the death penalty. The lecture and discussion will explain, clarify and examine this important issue.
“Giving Glory to God” is the subject of the Feb. 11 lecture by Fr. Dominic Briese, O. P., a theology teacher at Juan Diego Catholic High School. This lecture will use Scripture to remind participants that God created a good world and, despite the reality of sin, he has given his children a wonderful identity. It will also show the place of the sacraments in the process of sanctification.
On March 4, Msgr. M. Francis Mannion, pastor emeritus of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, will address the question of whether we will meet our pets in heaven in “Cats in Heaven: Yes or No?” Msgr. Mannion will look at what the Bible, Catholic tradition and the history of spirituality have to say on the matter.
The lecture series has been organized by Msgr. Mannion at the request of Fr. Norman in memory of Msgr. Mark Benvegnu, who was the parish’s pastor from 1962 until his retirement in 1986.
The Monday lectures are all presented at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 1375 E. Spring Lane, Salt Lake City, at 7 p.m. Free and open to the public.