November 12-18, 2001
volume 12, no. 156

The Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar

Part Eighteen: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

The Mass of the Faithful part two - The Preface and Canon or Rule of Consecration up to the Consecration

    The Preface begins after the priest has completed the Secret at the end of the Offertory. He stretches out his hands and says Per omnia saecula saeculorum to which the server and sometimes the faithful answer Amen. He then says Dominus vobiscum - "The Lord be with you." The response is Et cum spiritu tuo - "And with thy spirit." In the Novus Ordo Mass they translate that to "And with you." Then the priest says Sursum corda - "Lift up your hearts" to which those authorized to say it respond Habemus ad Dominum - "We have lifted them up to the Lord. The priest finishes with Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro - "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God" followed by the response "It is meet and just" - Dignum et justum est." The priest then disjoins his hands and keeps them in that manner until the end of the Preface.

    There are over 15 Proper Prefaces in addition to the Common Preface to be said as a prayer of thanksgiving in accordance with the liturgical season or Feast. All Prefaces begin Vere dignum et justum est - "It is truly meet and just." This prayer, said by the priest, leads into the Sanctus a prayer of adoration in preparation for the Consecration. It signals that all the congregation who have been sitting, unless it was a solemn high Mass with incense, should kneel at the ringing of the bells by the altar boy three times as the priest joins his hands, bows and says: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis. In the New Mass the people join with the priest in a 'concelebratory' manner - "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest." Many times they remain standing instead of kneeling even though the Sanctus represents the entry of Christ in Jerusalem. The people ought to unite themselves with the angels who hail with praises the coming of the Son of God, soon to descend on the altar. They should remember that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend.

    After the Sanctus the priest immediately commences the Canon. The Canon is the uniform norm that must be strictly adhered to and begins with the Prayers before the Consecration starting with the Te igitur as silently as possible after bowing low and kissing the altar. In this prayer he asks God through Jesus Christ to accept our offerings. Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Jesum Christum Filiuum tuum Dominum nostrum, supplices rogamus ac petimus - "We therefore, humbly pray and beseech Thee, most merciful Father, through Jesus Christ; Thy Son, our Lord." Here the priest kisses the altar and then says uti accepta habeas, et benedicas, haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia illibata - "that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to accept and bless these gifts, these presents, these holy unspotted Sacrifices." While saying this he makes the sign of the cross over the host and chalice three times, to indicate that Our Lord's sacrifice on the Cross obtained for us the blessing of the Triune Divinity - Three Persons in One. This is one of the cherished rubrics that have been lost in the New Mass which has eliminated many of the prayers of the Canon for expediency sake which, in truth, makes no sense considering the scope of what is being offered and why.

    Having completed the Te igitur - "We therefore humbly pray" - the priest interrupts the Canon with the reading of the Diptychs for the living In primis, quae tibi offerimus pro Ecclesia tua sancta catholica: - " Which in the first place, we offer up to Thee for Thy holy Catholic Church:" The name of this prayer is derived from when the priest formally read from tablets or diptyches the names of the living and dead who were to be commemorated at Holy Mass. The prayers for the dead are said after the Consecration. In the prayer for the living the priest asks God to watch over His Church and Ecclesiastical authorities - "grant her peace, to protect, unite and govern her throughout the world, together with Thy servant John Paul II and (the local ordinary), our Bishop, and all true believers and professors of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith" - quam pacificare, custodire, adunare, et regere digneris toto orbe terrarum: una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro Juan Paolo, et Antistite nostro (local ordinary), et omnibus orthodoxis atque catholicae, et apostolicae fidei cultoribus.

    After praying for the Church, the Pope and the bishop, the priest prays for the Church Militant calling to mind the specific ones he wants to pray for in Memento, Domine, famulorum famularumque tuarum N. et N. et omnium circumstantium, quorum tibi fides cognita est, et nota devotio, pro quibus tibi offerimus: vel qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudis, pro se, suisque omnibus: pro redemptione animarum suarum, pro spe salutis, et incolumitatis suae: tibique reddunt vota sua aeterno Deo, vivo et vero - "Be mindful, O Lord, of Thy servants and handmaids N. and N. and of all here present, whose faith and devotion are known to Thee, for whom we offer up to Thee this sacrifice of praise for themselves and all those dear to them, for the redemption of their souls, the hope of their safety and salvation: who now pay their vows to Thee, the eternal , living and true God."

    In the Novus Ordo these prayers have been replaced by what is called the "Eucharistic Prayer I, II, III or IV which also incorporates the Consecration with little preparation for such an august moment. In the True Mass of the Roman Rite - the Tridentine Mass declared by the Council of Trent, the priest - serving as alter Christus at the altar next commemorates the Church Triumphant by listing those in communion with, and venerating the memory in the first place of the glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord Jesus Christ; also of Thy blessed Apostles and Martyrs" - Communicantes, et memoriam venerantes, in primis gloriosae semper Virginis Mariae, Genitricis Dei et Domini nostri Jesu Christi: sed et beatorum Apostolorum ac Martyrum tuorum.

    He then commemorates the twelve apostles followed by five Popes "Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius" followed by seven specific martyrs "Cyprian, Laurence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, and of all Thy saints; by whose merits and prayers grant that we may be defended in all things by the help of Thy protection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen." In Latin it is Petri et Pauli, Andreae, Jabobi, Joannis, Thomae, Jacobi, Philippi, Bartholomaei, Matthaei, Simonis et omnium Sanctorum tuorum; quorum meritis precibusque concedas, ut in omnibus protectionis tuae muniamur auxilio. Per eundum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

    Only in Eucharistic Prayer I in the Mass of Paul VI are these saints commemorated. The Eucharistic Prayer II is actually shorter than the Te igitur itself, thus depriving the faithful of so much in the 'quickie Mass' that has become so popular in Novus Ordo circles.

    The great moment of Transubstantiation when the High Priest, Jesus Christ, as Pope Pius XII emphatically stated in his excellent encyclical Mediator Dei "by an unbloody immolation will offer Himself a most acceptable Victim to the Eternal Father, as He did upon the Cross." In the next installment we will cover the Consecration of the Mass with the Transubstantiation: From the Major Elevation to the Minor Elevation.

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November 12-18, 2001
volume 12, no. 156
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