Monday, March 28, 2011

Exam Season Again

Once again, I'm on a short hiatus. I'll likely be able to post again at the end of the week.
My next few posts will deal with the Stations of the Cross, and I'm also considering writing a post about the movie "Doubt" with Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

In the meantime however, I'm writing a marketing paper and prepping for final exams.

Also, here are three lovely pieces of music. First is my favourite portion of Summer, from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Second is Arepsalin, which I'm told is a Coptic hymn. Third is Crucem Sanctam Subiit, which I've read is a modern recreation of what Templar chant might have sounded like.




Saturday, March 19, 2011

Reflections on the Agony in the Garden

Luke 22:

[39] And going out, he went, according to his custom, to the mount of Olives. And his disciples also followed him. [40] And when he was come to the place, he said to them: Pray, lest ye enter into temptation.


[41] And he was withdrawn away from them a stone's cast; and kneeling down, he prayed, [42] Saying: Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not my will, but thine be done. [43] And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony, he prayed the longer. [44] And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground. [45] And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow.


[46] And he said to them: Why sleep you? arise, pray, lest you enter into temptation.

Mark 14:

[32] And they came to a farm called Gethsemani. And he saith to his disciples: Sit you here, while I pray. [33] And he taketh Peter and James and John with him; and he began to fear and to be heavy. [34] And he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here, and watch. [35] And when he was gone forward a little, he fell flat on the ground; and he prayed, that if it might be, the hour might pass from him.


[36] And he saith: Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt. [37] And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping. And he saith to Peter: Simon, sleepest thou? couldst thou not watch one hour? [38] Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. [39] And going away again, he prayed, saying the same words. [40] And when he returned, he found them again asleep, (for their eyes were heavy,) and they knew not what to answer him.


[41] And he cometh the third time, and saith to them: Sleep ye now, and take your rest. It is enough: the hour is come: behold the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Matthew 26:


[36] Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray. [37] And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. [38] Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me. [39] And going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. [40] And he cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: What? Could you not watch one hour with me?


[41] Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak. [42] Again the second time, he went and prayed, saying: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done. [43] And he cometh again and findeth them sleeping: for their eyes were heavy. [44] And leaving them, he went again: and he prayed the third time, saying the selfsame word. [45] Then he cometh to his disciples, and saith to them: Sleep ye now and take your rest; behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners.


This is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful scenes of the Bible. Sin and death entered the world through Adam in the Garden of Eden, the bright and perfect garden, and now all sin will be conquered  through Christ, the new Adam, in the garden of Gethsemane, which is dark and unwelcoming.
The three, Peter James and John, are seen to represent the temptation we all have towards lukewarmness. We take small steps of spiritual progress and are tempted to look at it as "good enough". It never is. We can never do enough for our God. When we look at our own efforts as good enough, we too fall asleep. Worse still, we have already been called to stay awake by our Lord. "Stay you here, and watch with me." "Pray, lest ye enter into temptation." In the face of Jesus' constant reminders to keep watch, we still fall back into lukewarm contentedness and cease to look upon the suffering of our God. We refuse to look at our own sin, which has been taken entirely into Christ, and instead we close our eyes and exist only for ourselves. Even when He comes and wakes us up, we still do not listen.
Yet, this is precisely why Jesus came. He came so that He could wake us up time after time after time. On our own, we slumber in death and darkness, but Jesus has taken that to Himself so that we, if we choose to follow Him, can wake up and keep watch.

This suffering of Jesus in the garden is recalled again only in His Passion which is to come shortly. Christ's human nature is tormented by the suffering that He knows he must endure. He too does not want to suffer, but unlike us who avoid our trials, Jesus embraced His because it was the will of the Father.
Jesus at this point experiences the entire suffering of humanity, and takes it all into Himself. He takes all the sin and pain and betrayal and brokenness into His own soul to that He can allow us to overcome it with Him.
In Pope Benedict's new volume of Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, the Holy Father goes into great depth regarding the parallels between the prayer of Jesus and the Psalms. Every word of Jesus is in fulfillment of the Old Testament, and His prayers perfect the Psalms that until that point had been only pointing towards He that would come.
Benedict says that the fear Christ experiences is "the primordial fear of created nature in the face of imminent death, and yet there is more: the particular horror felt by him who is Life itself before the abyss of the full power of destruction, evil, and enmity with God that is now unleashed upon him, that he now takes directly upon himself, or rather into himself, to the point that he is "made to be sin" (cf. 2 Cor 5:21)."
Since Jesus Christ is God, He sees and experiences the evil of our world in its entirety, through all time, at this one moment, and He experiences it not only in its entirety, but also with more perfect clarity than we can ever know, and more than we could ever experience. It is necessary that He must experience this totality of sin and death, that He may conquer it in His sacrifice.
The sins of every last member of Creation is felt individually at that very moment by our Lord. Every single failing and turning away and rejection is felt in all its depraved horror, and yet He took it willingly, knowing that He did so to redeem us. He did so out of unimaginable love for us, totally in spite of our constant failures, because we belong to Him.

Jesus' prayer is also the most critical passage for our understanding of the Hypostatic Union, that is, that "in Christ one person subsists in two natures, the Divine and the human", yet that the Son of God is one Person, not two, just as the other two Persons, the Father and the Holy Ghost, are of one substance. Jesus embodies the perfection of human will and Divine will. In us they are frequently opposed, but in Jesus they are in perfect harmony. He is untainted by sin, and therefore His orientation towards the Divine will is unhindered by the world and by evil. In Jesus is the perfected, fulfilled humanity that we achieve only in death, so as to rise again and live forever. The human element is not suppressed, or hidden, or subordinated, but is perfected and completed. God becomes man so that men might become gods (St. Athanasius). Jesus does this through radical obedience, which is the ideal towards which our human natures originally were to be ordered.
In this very short passage, Jesus shows both His true humanity through His recognition and perfection of free will, and His Divinity, when He again addresses God as Abba. The use of "Abba" displays His relationship with God, as a Son, and as consubstantial with the Father.

These passages must be seen as the final step towards the death of Christ. Here in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus takes into Himself all sin and all death. Just as He invites Peter and James and John, He too invites us personally to stay awake and keep watch. He calls us to constant vigilance, that we might turn away from sin, and contemplate only Him.
In Him, and only in Him, may we be perfected. God became man so that men might become gods.


All quotations are from the Douay Rheims translation of the Holy Bible. Themes are borrowed from Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem to the Resurrection by Pope Benedict XVI.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Aspérges of the Traditional Latin Mass

To start, once again using the great resource of this Fisheaters page, here is the full text of the Asperges according to the 1962 missal.


As the priest enters and walks down the aisle toward the Altar, bow your head or make a profound bow toward him.
The Aspérges
Aspérges Me (during the year) or Vidi Aquam (during Paschaltide)
The priest, wearing a cope, blesses the Altar, himself, the servers, and the people with Holy Water. We beg God's mercy (or, during Paschaltide, we praise His mercy) and asks Him to send our church's Guardian Angel to protect us.
Stand. Make a profound bow and cross yourself as the priest passes
by and blesses the people of your pew with holy water.
Aspérges (outside of Paschaltide):
Aspérges me. Dómine, hyssópo, et mundábor: lavábis me, et super nivem dealbábor.
Thou shalt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall become whiter than snow.
Miserére mei, Deus, secúndum magnam misericórdiam tuam.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy. [Psalm 50]
P.Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
P.Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
Here, at the mention of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost together, the priest will pause in his blessing of the people.
S.Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.
S.As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Aspérges me. Dómine, hyssópo, et mundábor: lavábis me, et super nivem dealbábor.
Thou shalt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall become whiter than snow.
Vidi Aquam (replaces the Aspérges during Paschaltide):
Vidi aquam egrediéntem de templo, a látere dextro, allelúia: et omnes ad quos pervénit aqua ista salvi facti sunt et dicent: allelúia, allelúia.
I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia; and all they to whom that water came were saved, and they shall say, alleluia, alleluia.
Confitémini Dómino, quóniam bonus: quóniam in sæculum misericórdia ejus.
Praise the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever. [Psalm 117].
P.Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
P.Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
S.Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.
S.As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Vidi aquam egrediéntem de templo, a látere dextro, allelúia: et omnes ad quos pervénit aqua ista salvi facti sunt et dicent: allelúia, allelúia.
I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia; and all they to whom that water came were saved, and they shall say, alleluia, alleluia.
After either the Aspérges or the Vidi Aquam, the priest returns to the foot of the Altar
Osténde nobis, Dómine, misericórdiam tuam.Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy.
S.Et salutáre tuum da nobis.S.And grant us Thy salvation.
P.Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam.P.O Lord, hear my prayer.
S.Et clamor meus ad te véniat.S.And let my cry come unto Thee.
P.Dóminus vobíscum.P.The Lord be with you.
S.Et cum spíritu tuo.S.And with thy spirit.
P.Orémus.P.Let us pray.
Exáudi nos, Dómine sancte, Pater omnípotens, ætérne Deus, et míttere dignéris sanctum Angelum tuum de cælis, qui custódiat, fóveat, prótegat, vísitet, atque deféndat omnes habitántes in hoc habitáculo. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.
Hear us, O holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, and vouchsafe to send Thy holy Angel from heaven, to guard, cherish, protect, visit and defend all that are assembled in this place: Through Christ our Lord.
S. AmenS. Amen
The Mass is in two main parts: The Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful. The Mass of the Catechumens is that first part of the Mass which centers around penance and the Word and is meant to instruct. In the early Church, the uninitiated and unbaptized were allowed to attend only that part of the Mass and had to leave before the Mass of the Faithful, which centers around the Sacrifice, began.
Sit while the priest vests for Mass, replacing his cope with a chasuble


This occurs before the High Mass, directly after the procession.


Since I'm not a theologian, I first had to do a bit of research to find out exactly what hyssop is. My initial guess had been that it was related to the first Passover, in which the Hebrew people marked their doors with the blood of a lamb in order to be spared when the angel of death came to Egypt. It appears that I was correct about this, and hyssop became important in the Mosaic law, especially when it was connected with blood of a sacrifice, and generally representing purification.
The marking of doors by the Hebrews in Egypt prefigures the Blood of Christ shed on the Cross. The Hebrews were marked by the blood of a sacrificial lamb to spare them from death, so too were we marked and washed by the Blood of the final and perfect sacrificial Lamb of God. The angel of death saw the markings on the doors of the Hebrew people and passed over them, and in the same way will God's judgement see the mark of the Lamb on us who have accepted it, and have mercy on us.

In the Aspérges, we are sprinkled with holy water. I am particularly fond of the symbolism of water in its dual meaning of life and death. Water provides life for us, and is necessary for our survival, but it also has destructive potential and many have died in the water. When we are baptized in the water, both of these meanings are made present in a rich way. First we die to ourselves so that we may live in God. We make the descent with Christ to the dead so that we may rise with Him again to eternal life.
The Aspérges recalls this death to self and life in Christ by bringing us the holy water. The water once again cleanses us, to be whiter than snow. We renew our baptisms which purified us, so that we may begin the Mass with our souls pure and humble before our God.

I also notice the Vidi Aquam which replaces the Aspérges during Paschaltide. Both have the same ultimate meaning, the idea of purifying ourselves, but the emphasis is different. Instead of begging for God's mercy ("Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy"), we thank Him for the mercy He freely offers us ("Praise the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever"). In this case we celebrate because we are assured of the mercy of God.

The mercy of God is limited only by our acceptance of it, and our cooperation with His grace. As the water reminds us, we put ourselves to death, put to death the flesh, so that we may rise with Him and follow Him to heaven. As we realize in the prayer of St. Francis, it is in death that we may be born to eternal life. In baptism we follow Jesus into the water of the Jordan, and by doing so we also are called to follow Him through His Passion, through His Crucifixion, to the tomb and into hell, to the dead, so that on the third day we may rise again with Him to eternal life and the immediate experience of God, the beatific vision.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Case of the Veiled Crucifix

I was, with great sadness, back at my 'home parish' this week, rather than the always-lovely and reverent TLM. I had hoped that this Lent would be different, but I didn't really believe it would be. Once again, our priest has veiled the crucifix, and it will remain so until Easter.
I understand the symbolism behind it. During Lent we should turn to various forms of asceticism, and the Sanctuary is reflecting our interior condition. I get that. Covering up the crucifix through all of Lent is not the way to do that.

I'll start out by establishing how this practice stands with regards to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the Missale Romanum itself, then after that I will write about my own spiritual reaction to the lack of the crucifix at Mass and my reflections on this scenario.

First, from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

117. The altar is to be covered with at least one white cloth. In addition, on or next to the altar are to be placed candlesticks with lighted candles: at least two in any celebration, or even four or six, especially for a Sunday Mass or a holy day of obligation. If the diocesan Bishop celebrates, then seven candles should be used. Also on or close to the altar, there is to be a cross with a figure of Christ crucified. The candles and the cross adorned with a figure of Christ crucified may also be carried in the Entrance Procession. On the altar itself may be placed the Book of the Gospels, distinct from the book of other readings, unless it is carried in the Entrance Procession.

Next is the document Paschale Solemnitatis:

The practice of covering the crosses and images in the church may be observed, if the
episcopal conference should so decide. The crosses are to be covered until the end of the
celebration of the Lord’s passion on Good Friday. Images are to remain covered until the
beginning of the Easter Vigil.

Paschale Solemnitatis has to be read carefully. It doesn't appear to be clear about what the bishop's conference may decide. The endnote of this document also refers to the Roman Missal, which other sources imply is more specific regarding not covering crosses before Passiontide. I'm not sure I've understood it as well as I should, Anyway, to clear things up I searched the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to see what their specific instructions are, since it is clear that any covering of the cross must be approved by that body. Here's what I found:

Decoration. The season [Lent] is marked by a stark character; flowers are expressly forbidden in the altar area. That same character should be reflected in all aspects of “decoration” throughout the season. Some places retain the custom of covering the cross, statues and other images for the last two weeks of Lent (a period that used to be called “Passiontide”).

http://www.cccb.ca/site/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2328&Itemid=1226

So it appears that the CCCB only allows the covering of the cross at Passiontide (fifth Sunday of Lent) and afterwards.

I'm also reading an EWTN article right now that deals with the covering of the cross during Lent. EWTN is more clear in its interpretation that veiling is limited to Passiontide until the end of the celebration of the passion on Good Friday, and also that it is more common for the covering to occur after Mass on Holy Thursday. EWTN also indicates that veiling is forbidden before Passiontide. The article refers to a 17th century bishop's document which is not sourced, so if anyone knows about that please let me know.
Specifically:

Veiling during all of Lent may have been a common practice in the Middle Ages, but it has been restricted to Passiontide for several centuries. Hence, the practice our reader described is incorrect. The altar or processional cross is not veiled and, indeed, its use is implied in the rubrics for the solemn Masses of Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday.
http://www.ewtn.com/library/liturgy/zlitur72.htm

I also have here a document from the USCCB that says thus:

The Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, provides a rubric at the beginning of the texts for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, which allows that: “the practice of covering crosses and images in the Church from the Fifth Sunday of Lent is permitted, according to the judgment of the Conferences of Bishops. Crosses remain veiled until the end of the celebration of the Lord's Passion on Good Friday; images remain veiled until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.”
The Missale Romanum of course will be the normative rule for the entire Latin Church. Unfortunately I do not have an English copy of the text. A Latin pdf may be found at this link. I think the USCCB is clear enough in this case.

So with all this, I think it is clear that the covering of the crucifix should not be done before Passiontide for any reason. To do so before Ash Wednesday is clearly incorrect.


Now, more importantly, we have to look at the spiritual effects of not following this instruction. The covering of the cross after it is permitted is a good thing. It does quite obviously have a penitential aspect to it. It is very austere and humbling. However, since it is so powerful, it should also be extremely limited.
There is a very good reason that a crucifix must be present at Mass. Preferably on the Altar, but most certainly very very close to it. In my opinion, the ideal is to have the Altar, tabernacle, and crucifix as a single entity, like this:

I think this is a good example because the altar is fairly simple, therefore the tabernacle is easy to see.
To have those three elements as an unbroken whole emphasizes the necessary link between them. Again I have to refer to my old background for this blog:

This is what the Altar should be. It draws attention and reverence towards the sacrifice of Christ and His Real Presence in our Church.

When I have to deal with a covered crucifix throughout all of Lent, I believe that it seriously damages my experience at Mass. The worship itself seems directionless. The tabernacle is there (and thank God that it hasn't been shoved in some side chapel), but our altar is plain and barren, and also very physically separated from the tabernacle and crucifix, which are close together. I have personally found it much harder to focus, both this Sunday, and all of last Lent. While the tabernacle is in an appropriate place, it is unadorned, and the crucifix is a more visual reminder of Christ's presence.
Its absence is very palpable, in my opinion. It annoys me that it is gone, and I wish our priest did not do this.
I believe that the covering of the crucifix also adds, intentionally or not, to the common theme these days which makes the priest the centre of the Mass. This is most clear through the common versus orientem posture of the priest that has become the de facto norm, as well as the situation of priests putting their own personal touches to the text of the Mass.
By removing the crucifix, my priest seems to be directing attention away from that part of the Sanctuary, and towards himself. It becomes "his Mass", no longer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In my perfect parish, the Altar, tabernacle, and crucifix would all be placed in the same part of the Sanctuary, but certainly not one of these elements can be removed without serious damage to the Mass. The decision to move tabernacles to side chapels is just as damaging, and just as obviously harmful to us, the faithful. We need to be able to focus our devotion on Christ, and those three elements both work together to help us do so visually. The crucifix reminds us of His crucifixion, the tabernacle of His True Present, and the Altar of His sacrifice of Himself. Lacking one of these elements, we are all impoverished.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Template Redesign

After a suggestion from somebody on Reddit, I removed my picture template in order to increase readability. I hope it helps.
I like how it looks now. I did love that picture, but this is an acceptable alternative, and worthwhile if my posts are more readable.
I have to say, reading light text on a darker background is very fatiguing.

Just because I love that picture though:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Addendum to: The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar

I said in my last post:
"The last thing that strikes me is the action of actually ascending the Altar after the prayers. Without having studied in depth the theology of the Mass, it seems to me that this action represents the priest taking on the role of alter Christus, another Christ. It may not be that exact moment that this is considered to be the case, but it certainly means something significant that the priest is going "in unto the Altar of God", physically rising above the congregation to where Christ is in the tabernacle, to the Altar where the Sacrifice of the Mass will again be offered in worship of God."
I'd now like to add on to that just slightly.

I had meant, when I wrote this, to also deal with the concept of the Mass as being God's presence on earth, and in a sense being heaven on earth. Later in the Mass the priest prays "Let my prayer, O Lord, like incense before You; the lifting up of my hands, like the evening sacrifice." Just like the incense used throughout the Mass, the priest himself brings our prayers up to God and, as Christ became Man and dwelt among us, one like us in all things but sin, the priest also brings God to us via the Consecration.
So the priest, when he ascends the Altar, also in a manner of speaking ascends to heaven in order to bring Christ back to us.


I am utterly fascinated by the many layers of meaning in the TLM. I'm confident that I've hardly even scratched the surface yet; there is simply so much to take in.

The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar

Notes from a non-theologian layman:

I managed to attend a High Mass again yesterday for Quinquagesima Sunday. I get more and more out of it each time I go, and this time was notable because the only time I got lost was the time that I noticed my little booklet was missing the page for the Consecration. Obviously that threw me off a bit, but it wasn't really my fault, so I count that as not getting lost at all.

Something that struck me especially this Sunday was the prayers at the foot of the Altar.
I've been looking around on the internet for  the text of the prayers (I don't own a missal), and I found a great little resource at Fisheaters.com.



Here's the full text from that section:



Prayers at the Foot of the Altar
Júdica Me and the Confiteor
The priest returns to the foot of the Altar.
Stand
The priest genuflects at the foot of the Altar and recites the "Júdica Me," a part of Psalm 42 written by an Israelite priest 800 years before our Lord was born and which speaks of his yearning to worship on the holy hill of Jerusalem. The Júdica Me is omitted from Passion Sunday to Holy Saturday inclusive and in Masses for the Dead.

Then he will say the Confiteor, confessing and begging God's forgiveness for his sins. The server, speaking for the people -- the unordained royal priesthood -- then says the Confiteor on our behalf as we mentally accuse ourselves of our sins and ask the Saints to pray for us. The priest then absolves us (this does not obviate private Confession).
Kneel
In nómine Patris, et Fílii, + et Spíritus Sancti. Amen.
In the Name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Introíbo ad altáre Dei. S.Ad Deum qui lætíficat juventútem meam.
I will go in unto the Altar of God. S.To God, Who giveth joy to my youth.
Júdica me (Psalm 42):
The priest joins hands and says:
Júdica me, Deus, et discérne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab hómine iníquo, et dolóso érue me.
Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man.
S.Quia tu es, Deus, fortitúdo mea: quare me repulísti, et quare tristis incédo, dum afflígit me inimícus?
S.For Thou, O God, art my strength: why hast Thou cast me off? and why do I go sorrowful whilst the enemy afflictech me?
P.Emítte lucem tuam, et veritátem tuam: ipsa me deduxérunt, et aduxérunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernácula tua.
P.Send forth Thy light and Thy truth: they have led me and brought me unto Thy holy hill, and into Thy tabernacles.
S.Et introíbo ad altáre Dei: ad Deum qui lætíficat juventútem meam.
S.And I will go in unto the Altar of God: unto God, Who giveth joy to my youth.
P.Confitébor tibi in cíthara, Deus, Deus meus: quare tristis es, ánima mea, et quare contúrbas me?
P.I will praise Thee upon the harp, O God, my God: why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me?
S.Spera in Deo, quóniam adhuc confitébor illi: salutáre vultus mei, et Deus meus.
S.Hope thou in God, for I will yet praise Him: Who is the salvation of my countenance, and my God.
P.Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
P.Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
S.Sicut erat in princípio et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.
S.As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
P.Introíbo ad altáre Dei.
P.I will go in unto the Altar of God.
S.Ad Deum qui lætíficat juventútem meam.
S.Unto God, Who giveth joy to my youth.
Adjutórium nostrum + in nómine Dómini.
Our help + is in the Name of the Lord.
S.Qui fecit cælum et terram.
S.Who hath made heaven and earth.
Confiteor by the Priest first, and then the People:
The priest enters the Throne Room of God. He humbles himself and makes a public confession, bowing down to say the Confiteor for his own sins:
Confíteor Deo omnipoténti, beátæ Maríæ semper Vírgini, beáto Michaéli Archángelo, beáto Joanni Baptístæ, sanctis Apóstolis Petro et Paulo, ómnibus Sanctis, et vobis, fratres: quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne, verbo et ópere: He strikes his breast three times mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa. Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper Vírginem, beátum Michaélem Archángelum, beátum Joánnem Baptístam, sanctos Apóstolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et vos, fratres, oráre pro me ad Dóminum Deum nostrum.
I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you, brethren, that I have sinned exceedingly, in thought, word and deed: He strikes his breast three times through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, brethren, to pray to the Lord our God for me.
S.Misereátur tui omnípotens Deus, et dimíssis peccátis tuis, perdúcat te ad vitam ætérnam.
S.May Almighty God have mercy upon you, forgive you your sins, and bring you to life everlasting. .
P.Amen.P.Amen
We enter the Throne Room of God and, standing before Him, accuse ourselves of our sins. The server says the Confiteor on our behalf:
Confíteor Deo omnipoténti, beátæ Maríæ semper Vírgini, beáto Michaéli Archángelo, beáto Joanni Baptístæ, sanctis Apóstolis Petro et Paulo, ómnibus Sanctis, et tibi, Pater: quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne, verbo et ópere: mea culpa [strike breast] , mea culpa [strike breast] , mea máxima culpa [strike breast]. Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper Vírginem, beátum Michaélem Archángelum, beátum Joánnem Baptístam, sanctos Apóstolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et te, Pater, oráre pro me ad Dóminum Deum nostrum.
I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virginto blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you Father, that I have sinned exceedingly, in thought, word and deed: through my fault [strike breast]through my fault [strike breast]through my most grievous fault [strike breast]. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and Thee Father, to pray to the Lord our God for me.
The priest joins hands and grants us absolution of our venial sins:
P.Misereátur vestri omnípotens Deus, et dimíssis peccátis vestris, perdúcat vos ad vitam ætérnam.
P.May Almighty God have mercy upon you, forgive you your sins and bring you to life everlasting.
S. Amen.
S. Amen.
P.Indulgéntiam +, [cross yourself] absolutiónem, et remissiónem peccatórum nostrórum tríbuat nobis omnípotens et miséricors Dóminus.
P.May the Almighty and merciful God grant us pardon +,[cross yourself] absolution, and remission of our sins.
S.Amen.S.Amen.
Deus, tu convérsus vivificábis nos.
Thou wilt turn, O God, and bring us to life.
S.Et plebs tua lætábitur in te.
S.And Thy people shall rejoice in Thee.
P.Osténde nobis, Dómine, misericórdiam tuam.
P.Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy.
S.Et salutáre tuum da nobis.S.And grant us Thy salvation.
P.Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam.P.O Lord, hear my prayer.
S.Et clamor meus ad te véniat.
S.And let my cry come unto Thee.
P.Dóminus vobíscum.P.The Lord be with you.
S.Et cum spíritu tuo.S.And with thy spirit.
P.Orémus.S.Amen.




The aspect that strikes me first of all is the solemnity and deliberateness of this entire section. Whereas in the Novus Ordo, there is no ceremony to approaching the Altar itself, here the priest is physically separated from it until he has first begged to be made worthy to approach. For me, this really underscores the fact that this is a holy place, and that we are all sinners.
The Altar was in this case raised three or four steps above the rest of the area in which the priest was standing (forgive me, I don't know the proper name for it [probably the sanctuary?]). I don't know if this is true of all High Altars, but it has been the case of every one I can currently recall. Since the priest has not yet ascended to the Altar, he is still at (almost) the same level as his parishioners, which says to me that he is praying with us (maybe more accurately for us) to be made worthy, and that as he prays to be made worthy of his role, he truly prays to represent his entire congregation.
The entire scene makes me consider standing before God Himself. It makes me think about being before such an awesome and incomprehensible Presence. I think the Mass itself considers the same thing when the priest says "I will go in unto the Altar of God: unto God, Who giveth joy to my youth."
The last thing that strikes me is the action of actually ascending the Altar after the prayers. Without having studied in depth the theology of the Mass, it seems to me that this action represents the priest taking on the role of alter Christus, another Christ. It may not be that exact moment that this is considered to be the case, but it certainly means something significant that the priest is going "in unto the Altar of God", physically rising above the congregation to where Christ is in the tabernacle, to the Altar where the Sacrifice of the Mass will again be offered in worship of God.

All in all, the prayers at the foot of the Altar is another aspect of the EF that I believe emphasizes reverence and fear of God far better than is done today in the Novus Ordo. We will all be judged before the Altar of God.
"Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man."

Please also see my addition to this post, at this link.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi
The law of prayer is the law of belief is the law of life.


I started this Facebook group just last night. Please help me spread the word. Maybe we can convert the lukewarm, and do our small part to help Faith act in the world.


We hold firmly, and with all our hearts, that we will believe as we worship. The prayers of the Holy Mass contain more theological genius than any of us will ever fully comprehend. Besides that, the grace offered to us at the Holy Mass is astounding in its saving power. 

The amazing benefits of the Mass will shape profoundly our beliefs. Unfortunately, poorly celebrated Masses will also do enormous damage to our faith. We can see this clearly in our world today. So many Masses are celebrated poorly. They lack reverence, they lack a sense of the sacred... in short, they lack fear of the Lord. We're also seeing a painful drop in vocations, a decline is Mass attendance, and a lack of belief in that which the Church has always taught. 

Poorly celebrated Masses have contributed enormously to the emergence of pro-abortion "Catholics", contracepting Catholics, indifferent Catholics, lukewarm, pro-homosexual 'marriage', and heretical Catholics of all stripes. 

We've heard the phrase before, "Save the Liturgy, Save the World." I see no reason that this is not so. If we believe the Faith that has been passed down to us by Holy Tradition, how can we act otherwise? 

As St. Paul says, "Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, saith Anathema to Jesus. And no man can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost." (1 Corinthians 12:3) When we act with the Spirit, in accordance with what we know to be True, how can we sin? We fall short only when we don't allow the Spirit to work through us. We can never even begin to understand the Holy Ghost unless we allow our hearts and minds, our consciences, to be formed by our true worship in the Holy Mass.  


Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi! 
A good Mass can make a saint out of every one of us.