In this journey on the Barque of Peter, we continue to detail the evolution of the Mass and the Church
from the early Christian times to our present day so that all may better understand
the true meaning of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our faith - the One, Holy,
Catholic and Apostolic Church. Today we cover the second half of the Sixth Century, the Century of the growth of monasticism when Saint Benedict would become the father of western monasticism with the establishment of his Order of Benedictines and the time leading up to the Gregorian era which we cover today in chronicling the achievements of Pope Saint Gregory the Great.
We will be using various sources, but the best are four books that are out of print but provide so much
solid material: "My Catholic Faith - A Manual of Religion" (1949) by Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow, S.T.D. from My Mission House ; "The Glories and Triumphs of the Catholic Church" (1907) from Benziger Brothers; "The Catholic Church Alone the One True Church of Christ" (1902) from the Catholic Educational Company; and "Cabinet of Catholic Information" (1904) from Duggan Publishing Co. In addition we will be using material gleaned from "The Oxford Dictionary of Popes" by J.N.D. Kelly; The Papal Princes: A History of the Sacred College of Cardinals" by Glenn D. Kittler; "Pontiffs: Popes who shaped history" by John Jay Hughes; "The Mass of the Roman Rite" by Fr. Josef Jungmann, S.J.; "The Story of the Church" from Tan Books by Fr. George Johnson, PhD; "The Story of the Mass" by Fr. Pierre Loret; "Rubrics of
the Mass" by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas; "The Wonders of the Mass" by Fr.
Paul O'Sullivan, O.P.; and the Code of Canon Law", as well as the
"Catechism of the Catholic Church"; "Baltimore Catechism"; Catholic Encyclopedia (Thomas Nelson Publishers); "Catholic Dictionary" by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.; "Dictionary of Saints" by John J. Delaney; "Butler's Lives of the Saints" from Benziger Brothers; "Saints of the Roman Calendar" by Enzo Lodi and Fr. Jordan Aumann, OP; "1999 Catholic Almanac" from Our Sunday Visitor, and numerous missals and references.
With a better perception of what the Church stands for and what the Mass truly is, we will not
so easily be swayed by new-fangled gimmicks and liturgical abuses being
introduced by individual celebrants and ICEL, the International Committee
for English in the Liturgy. We will discover why the basis for the use of
vestments and sacred vessels, the purpose for the Rubrics of the Mass, the
logic of Church Scholars and Popes through the ages for fending off changes
that would water-down the faith and the Holy Sacrifice and even invalidate the greatest
remembrance Christ gave to His Church.
The Tools of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - Part Three
The Importance of the Crucifix and Sacred Vessels
Next Wednesday: Installment Twenty-two: Tools of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: part four
The Crucifix embodies what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass means for it represents what Jesus Christ sacrificed so that we would have Him with us as the Lamb of God for all time. He sacrificed Himself and that immolation, that bloody sacrifice, is offered up at each Mass in the unbloody sacrifice of the Altar through the consecration of the Body and Blood of Christ. Ever since the third century the crucifix has been part of the essentials of Mass. In recent times the crucifixes have begun to disappear in some churches and a more "politically correct " resurrecix or plain cross has replaced it. This is another point of consternation today. The liberal interpretation of Vatican Council II’s statement opened the floodgates for every kind of “cross” possible. In Chapter Vi, paragraph Vi, article 270 in the document on the Sacred Liturgy it states: “A cross, easily visible to the people, should be on the altar or somewhere not far from it.”
The key here is the word “cross”. To Catholics “cross” is synonymous with “crucifix.” Yet, for some reason the modernist liturgical commissions interpreted the word “cross” in the protestant sense and proceeded to do all kinds of aberration in regard to artistic interpretation. Keep in mind St. Ambrose’s words: “For what is the altar of Christ if not the image of the Body of Christ?” This image is of the crucified Christ for that is the sacrifice. It should not be one of the resurrected Christ for that takes away from the image of sacrifice His ultimate sacrifice. The Resurrection is the triumph which we will share in Heaven, but we must first carry our cross here on earth as Jesus charges in numerous places in the New Testament. The crucifix is a reminder to us that we must unite ourselves with Him during the Mass and throughout our day. The “resurrecix” does not do this, but rather bypasses the suffering, speeding quickly to the glory. My Catholic Faith, an excellent compendium on the True Church and our main resource for our daily feature APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH, states that “Every altar must have a crucifix, to symbolize the cross on which Our Lord died.” We cannot achieve the glory without the cross of Christ the crucified Christ!
It is alarming how many churches sport the new-age crosses of the resurrected Christ which show no suffering or sacrifice whatsoever. More often than not, churches that display these abberant symbols are ones where the Tabernacle is obscured, altar girls were promoted before it was allowed, and, sometimes, liberal theology is the hidden agenda. No orthodox church would acquiesce to this new wave of heresy in the adornments of the altar.
It’s most interesting to note an account we heard a while back when on the same Sunday in a certain city, before the entire congregation while the priests were giving the homily in two different churches, the crosses fell with a thud with no visible means of being loosened or released. They shattered in pieces without touching the altar. The two crosses in question: suffice it to say they were not crucifixes but the new modern rendition of man’s ego. Is God trying to tell us something?
We forget that the crucifix is a sign for all of veneration. We honor Christ when we pray before the crucifix. Just as we show honor to our loved ones by placing wreaths on their graves, keeping pictures of them in our homes or erecting statues to men and women of stature from the civic element, so we honor the Greatest of them all Who died on the cross for us. The fullness of that sacrifice is seen only on the crucifix, not on an empty cross or a cross showing the resurrected Christ without the suffering. We can enjoy the latter in Heaven; on earth we must embrace the suffering, the trials and tribulation just as Jesus did when He came down from Heaven and became like us in all things, except sin.
No implement is more important than the chalice and the paten. These, along with the ciborium and monstrance or ostensorium are consecrated and are to be handled with reverence. Before Vatican II only a priest, except in cases of necessity, could handle these. The Chalice is the most sacred of all because it is the cup which holds the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. The wine used “must be natural wine of grape and not corrupt” (Canon 942 paragraph 2). The word chalice comes from the Latin calix meaning “cup.” The chalice represents the cup in which Our Lord first offered His Blood at the Last Supper. It also symbolizes the chalice of Passion as documented in Matthew 26:42, Mark 14:36, and Luke 22:41 “Father, if Thou are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will but Thine be done.” Finally, the chalice represents the Heart of Jesus, the Font of Divine Mercy, from which flowed His Blood and Water for our redemption.
The paten is the small plate which rests on top of the chalice and on which the large host is laid. Hosts “must be made of wheat alone and recently fresh so that there is no danger of corruption” (Canon 924 paragraph 2), and “In accord with the ancient tradition of the Latin Church, the priest is to use unleavened bread in the celebration of the Eucharist whenever he offers it” (Canon 926). The word paten evolves from the Greek word patane and the Latin word patena which both mean “pan”. It is interesting that the Latin word for bread is "panis." The paten should be of the same material as the chalice. When we receive Holy Communion, our hearts become living chalices, our tongues other patens on which the priest lays Our Lord. In some churches the altar servers still hold a separate paten under the chins of communicants which was the practice before Vatican II. These have either a handle or protruding edges to hold. It is also customary at the Offertory to mentally offer all the people, all the petitions, all our toils and troubles, all our joys and life to Jesus on the paten, offered up by the Priest as we unite with Our Lord in His Passion and Death through the merits of the unbloody Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The ciborium resembles the chalice except it has a cover and holds multiple small hosts. Today, many ciboriums are like cups without stands so they can be stacked in the Tabernacle to accommodate the man small hosts.
The pyx is a small, compact circular container that will hold between one and twelve hosts and is used by the priest or Eucharistic Ministers to take Holy Communion to the sick. It, like all other sacred vessels, is specially blessed.
Though the monstrance or ostensorium is not used at Mass, the large vessel adorned and jeweled is connected with the Holy Eucharist and used for the specific purpose of Adoration and Benediction. The Sacred Host is reserved in a luna or lunette and inserted in the center of the monstrance. The priest or deacon places the Holy Consecrated Host in the luna and then in the monstrance, removing it after the closing Benediction and retiring it to the Tabernacle. In some instances the Host is left in the luna in the Tabernacle. The Host is changed at least once a month with the priest confecting a new Host at Mass and consuming the old one at the Communion.
Other items used during the Mass are the Missal or Sacramentary on the altar, containing the prayers and ceremonies of the Mass. The Lectionry is the book containing the readings of Sacred Scripture and resides at the pulpit. The cruets are small glass containers from which the server or priest pours the water and wine into the chalice and the celebrant washes his hands with the water in the Lavabo bowl. The cruets, bowl and finger towel all reside on the credence table which is meant to hold all items needed for liturgical functions.
Other articles that are sacred vessels and used during Benediction and at solemn high masses are the censor and thurible or incense boat which holds the incense, a symbol of prayer. The practice of incense dates back to Old Testament times. The censer, originated from the Latin word incensarium, is a metal bowl in which the priest places the incense on top of burning charcoal. The censer, suspended on a chain to enable swinging it, has a perforated removable cover.
One other component used during the Mass are candles. Two must be of pure wax and at a high Mass or Sunday High Mass as the case may be, at least six candles must be lit. The practice of candles dates back to the catacombs where the early Christians held candles while hearing Mass in the dark passages of the underground.
Next week we will dwell somewhat on the altar linens and their significance before resuming on our voyage of the Barque of Peter in the 7th century as the Church embarks on a Holy Campaign to solidify her supremacy in bitter clashes with enemies of the Church.