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 Gregorian Plan of the Mass: The Liturgy of the Eucharist - Part One
In the last installment we covered the Liturgy of the Word formerly the Mass of the Catechumens in the Plan of the Mass. This leads to the next part of the Mass -the Liturgy of the Eucharist which was formerly known as the Mass of the Faithful which we will cover today.
In the early days of the Church, those who were not baptized were sent out of the Church after the Mass of the Catechumens for the completion of the homily and the Creed signaled the beginning of the Mass of the Faithful. Today, this has been brought back during preparation for becoming a Catholic.
The groundwork for the mind has been accomplished through the first part or the Liturgy of the Word. Now comes the foundation for feeding the soul: the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Then, as now, this vital part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass begins with the Offertory. This consists of two parts: the offering of the bread on the paten and the offering of the wine in the chalice. Then as now, they have to be offered separately, not together. Water is mixed with wine because Jesus did the same at the Last Supper. Though the prayers have been shortened in the Novus Ordo the essence remains the same. In fact, the congregation is brought more into it today by responding “Blessed be God forever” after the priest has said “Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through Your goodness we have this bread to offer which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.” This is repeated for the wine with the same response. The "Orate, Frates" has remained the same throughout the ages.
The phrasing for the Secret of the Mass and the Canon of the Mass has been incorporated into the Eucharistic Prayer. This includes the Preface which is geared to the season, intention of the Mass or feast. Yet this is always prceded by the same response leading into the Consecration Ceremony "Dominus vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo", etc. "The Lord be with you. And also with you." It actually should be translated “And with your spirit.”
The Sanctus has not changed in all this time. What has changed is the procedure for either kneeling, sitting or standing. The proper mode is to kneel for we are about to witness the greatest miracle ever the Transsubstantiation when the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Soul and Divinity. For God Himself has said in Isaiah 45:23 “To Me every knee shall bend”. The Apostle Saint Paul reiterates this in Phillippians 2:10, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in Heaven, on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.”
The Consecration: Uniquely Catholic
The Consecration must remain the same and it has. This, as mentioned in the last paragraph, is the apex to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Without the Transubstatiation the Mass would be like any other prayer service in the world. But with the miracle of the bread and wine truly becoming the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, this sets the Mass apart from any other prayer service in the world! As we detailed in the first installment it is the perfect sacrifice…a real sacrifice for in this ritual a Victim is offered up for the purpose of reconciling man with God. Jesus allowed His Passion and Death in order to enter into the institution of the Mass and therefore join them as one.
The only difference between the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Sacrifice of the Mass is that on the former Jesus physically shed His Blood, while in the latter there is no physical shedding of blood nor physical death because Christ has already been immolated once. By His death He gained for us the merit and, through the Mass, applies to us that merit and reward of His Bloody death through the unbloody oblation of His Body and Blood during Mass.
Therefore, during the Consecration when the priest elevates the Host and the Chalice to commemorate the lifting up of Our Lord on the Cross when on Calvary He gave up His life in sacrifice, and as Our Lord becomes present Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, we should kneel in devotional respect and raise our eyes in adoration, making our own Christ's sacrifice through the preist, for we are Christ’s community. His "Holy people." In many churches the bells are still rung by the servers. And it is a tradition that should be resurrected in all parishes for it calls to the faithfuls' attention these most sacred and profound moments.
This brings us to another point that we must address. Up until a few years ago, the servers have always been altar boys. Now, the bishops have been able to effect that there be altar girls. Though we are not in favor, we are always obedient to the Magisterium. This is the crux of our faith: Obedience. It bears the greatest fruit and therefore we must be obedient to the directives each bishop sets down and if their episcopacy deigns altar girls are accepted, or that you stand or sit instead of kneel, accept these in obedience but always show the utmost reverence during Mass for truly Jesus Christ, Kiing of Kings is there before us in all His glory...no matter the distractions.
Whereas in the Gregorian era the congregation was silent and, for the most part, quite passive, today we take a more active part in the Mass such as immedicately after the Elevation reciting a particular Mystery of Faith dependent on the season, intention of the Mass or feast day. The prayers for the living and dead, bringing to mind the Church Triumphant, Church Militant and Church Suffering have basically remained the same over the ages. The same for the Doxology or Little Elevation in which the celebrant raises the chalice and Sacred Host together from the altar, raising them up to God as an oblation. As in the Papal Mass established by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, so today the congregation stand after the Amen in preparation for the Lord’s Prayer.
In the next installment we shall cover part two of the Liturgy of the Eucharist with the Communion and Post Communion.
Next Wednesday: Installment Eighteen: The Gregorian Plan of the Mass: The Liturgy of the Eucharist - part two