Tag Archives: Mass

A Brief Reflection on the Anglican-Use Mass

This past Sunday, I had the distinct privilege to attend the approved Anglican Use Mass at St Jean Baptiste here in Victoria.  Ever since Sunday, I have been telling every single Catholic I see to go to it and experience it for themselves.  I walked away thinking to myself “This is what the Council had always intended; this is what the Mass is supposed to be like”.

It is, indeed, quite a different Mass than the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal that is normative in Catholic parishes throughout the world.  It is also different in certain ways from the Extraordinary Form that I have experienced on various occasions.   It was very simple – only 20 – 30 people were in attendance as the community is currently quite small – but extraordinarily beautiful.  The prayers are exquisite, aesthetically pleasing, moving, etc.  I walked away with a real sense of the sacred, a deeper sense of the sacred.  It did not need pomp and circumstance in order to be beautiful for it was structured so as to not need that.  However, I would very much love to experience their liturgy in the form of a High Mass one day.  The choir – 3 people – sang the Introit, Hymns, etc the way music is meant to be sung: with life!  Finally, the community itself is so very welcoming and delightful.

I have only been once, but already I am itching to attend again.  I pray I have one or two more opportunities to come out to experience their form of the liturgy.  The position ad orientem, the posture of the congregants, etc.  All of this stamped upon me a deep and profound sense that we were in the holy of holies: Christ was coming down to us to lift us up to sit with Him on His heavenly throne.

I write this brief reflection with one singular purpose: to encourage anyone who reads this to do all that is in their power to go and experience this beautiful tradition of the Mass for themselves.  Hopefully – and I believe Benedict XVI is thinking this way – it will inform how we celebrate our current form of the liturgy to bring it back in greater conformity with our ancient traditions.

in Christ

-Harrison

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The New Liturgical Translation: What is Changing, What Can We Expect? Part 1

A friend of mine asked if I could post about the new translations to be used for the Mass and so am happy to share the beauty that we are going to be experiencing in the parishes in just a few weeks time.  My goal is two-fold: to discuss the new translation and then to discuss the emphases of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (something that helps priests and the faithful know what to do and when during the Mass).  I may make this into two posts depending on the length of the New Translation section.

1. The New Translation

Before I say anything else I want to say this: IT IS NOT A NEW MASS! 🙂 Many people have been speaking about “the new mass” that is coming to us at advent.  The Mass is never new in the sense of being completely different from something before, though the form of its expression changes.  We can say “the new expressions of the Mass”, “the new translation of the Mass”, but we can’t say “the new Mass”.

Getting that out of the way, I want to speak about translations in regards to the faithful and translations in regards to the priest.  For the faithful, not much is changing, and so will go through the changes one by one since there is only a few of them.  For the priest, EVERYTHING changes in that there is a new translation for virtually everything the priest says.  If there is anyone who needs to make and adjustment, it is the priest.

Let me begin with the responses, and then I will give a couple of examples of parts that change for the priest.

1.1 Responses of the Faithful

1.1.1 And With Your Spirit

Perhaps the most well known change – and probably the hardest one to change simply because of human habit – is the response “and with your spirit” which is said in response to “The Lord be with you”.  We all know very well the original response: And also with you.

So, why the changes?

When we say “and also with you” it gives the sense that the Mass itself is simply an act of the community, that what is happening is our work alone.  This is not the case.  We do not come to Mass to worship.  Rather, we are moved to Mass by God’s grace and it is God Who initiates the Mass through His Spirit which witnesses to His Son.  So, when we are at Mass, we are responding to the movements of God’s grace.  As one Russian Orthodox theologian wrote once, Mass, in a sense, begins when we wake up and decide, with God’s help, to respond to His grace which moves us to Mass by the very power and attraction of God’s loving Presence.  Mass is the formal beginning of that response.  It is God’s initiative, not ours.  This is why, as a sidenote, I get frustrated by the comment “why do I need to go to Mass if I can just worship God in nature?”  I have a LOT of problems, actually, with that comment, but the one I find most frustrating is that it presumes that going to Church is our work and our work alone, that we are doing God a favour.

“And with your spirit” however, has a very different meaning than “and also with you”.  First and foremost, it is a much more accurate translation in comparison to the Latin “et cum spiritu tuo”.  But it is also more theologically accurate and is in accord with the principle that God is the principle actor of the liturgy.

When we say “and with your spirit” we are acknowledging that it is the Spirit Who works in the priest or bishop: even the priest is responding to God’s invitation to celebrate the liturgy.  We are acknowledging that God is the one working in the priest.  By saying it, too, we are acknowledging the priesthood of the celebrant: it is an act of the Church declaring “this person is celebrating on our behalf.  He is leading us to the Father.  He is bringing us to participate in Christ’s paschal mystery.”  In short, it is the Spirit that guarantees that this is a Mass according to the mind of God, and we are acknowledging the presence of the Spirit in the priest.

1.1.2 The Penitential Rite

This has some slight changes so I am going to post them side by side for you to see (changes are in bold):

I confess to almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned
through my own fault,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord, our God.
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;

therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

First, we acknowledge the gravity of our sin.  Sin is no laughing matter, and while the word sin does acknowledge our sinfulness – obviously – ‘greatly sinned’ demonstrates the gravity (and is more faithful to the Latin.  The consistency of the gravity continues in the triple-acknowledgment that we have sinned.  It is to really get it in our head that sin is our fault and it demonstrates our contriteness.  When we say sorry to someone and we really mean it, we need a method to make that known.  We don’t just say “sorry”.  Thus the triple-expression is a means of demonstrating our true repentance and sorrow for our sin.  This is to prepare us for the redeeming mystery we are partaking and, through our acknowledgment, we are anticipating the saving power of Christ’s death, descent, and resurrection which we celebrate in the Eucharistic Rite.  It is a humbling act which opens us up to be redeemed by the Lord.  Jesus did not come for the righteous, but for the sick and the sinner.  It is an act of humility, of acknowledging our sinfulness – which is a reality for every human being – so that we can take the sweet medicine of the Eucharistic Lord.

On a side note: these words, to an extent, only have an effect in so far as we embrace them as true.  Thus we must ever-grow in embracing the words and prayers of the Mass.  By doing so, our hearts are made more open, more receptive, to the saving graces that are made present to us by the Lord’s passionate love on the Cross for us.

I am going to have to end there because we are already at 1200 words.  I will continue on Friday (though it is looking more probably that it will be Monday) with the next part: the Gloria.  We will see how far along we get and then move on from there.

in Christ

-Harrison

 

 

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The Cloud of the Ascension

As I have been reflecting on the readings for this Sunday, something suddenly burst forth in my mind when I read the following passage from the Acts of the Apostles:

When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.

I don’t know about you, but I know that when I have read this in the past, I have always thought of some white fluffy cloud either taking Jesus out of sight, or Jesus being lifted up on some fluffy cloud.  Don’t ask me why, but I think part of it is because we only tend to think of clouds that way.  So, when we see the word, we immediately associate that concept of the cloud to the passage.

Yet, what hit me was that, perhaps my concept of cloud is not what is meant in this passage.  You see, the image of the cloud has a rich history both in the Old Testament and in the Gospels.  This site has a good overview of the various passages in Scripture that use the image of the cloud.

The images that use a cloud, however, that were most prominent in my mind were the image of the cloud that descended on Mt Sinai and the Mount of the Transfiguration.  In Exodus 19:19, the Lord God says to Moses that he will descend upon him in a thick cloud.  In Luke’s Gospel, we find that a cloud overshadowed Jesus and the disciples, with a voice speaking from the midst of the cloud “this is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”

Thus, when I heard the reading from Acts, it dawned upon me that the cloud by which Jesus disappears is not a cloud as we understand it.  It is the cloud of the presence of God: the Father has come to bring the Son back to His rightful place in Heaven.

The descent of the cloud is a sign of the presence of God.  It is a mysterious cloud.  Many Church Fathers see the cloud, for example, as the mysterious presence of God, a presence that creates a darkness in the minds, for we are unable to comprehend God.  It is a sign of God, too, enacting a new promise with His chosen people.

The cloud “took Jesus from their sight”.  It does say that Jesus was taken up, and we do call it the Ascension.  Yet we cannot look at it in spatial terms.  We must look, rather, at the Ascension as Jesus’ ascent to His throne in Heaven, which is not a spatial event, but rather relational and greater than the three dimensional world we live in.  Jesus was taken from the sight of the disciples in the clouds.  What was clear has now passed over into the liturgical, scriptural, and sacramental life of the Church (what St Leo the Great calls the Mysteries).  Jesus is removed from our sight, but not from our hearts.  What was seen, is now seen by faith.  What was known through the senses is now known by the soul.  What was heard from the lips of Jesus now comes to us through the Scriptures and the teaching of the Church.  The cloud darkens the heart because it is lifting the heart of the disciples into a more intense, more intimate relationship with the Lord, a relationship that is realized at Pentacost.  The darkness of the cloud is really the light of faith acting in our lives.

When you then begin to think about it, you begin to realize that the darkness that is experienced in faith (not the darkness of suffering, but the darkness of insight, the darkness of not being able to grasp God and His inner life) is really only the start of the spiritual life.  Just as the disciples receive this darkness just prior to their mission of preaching, so we as disciples of Jesus, through the darkness of not seeing Jesus in our prayer, in our inability to grasp God despite our intense desire to do so is not an abomination of faith, but rather the fulfillment of faith.  We see that we are not on the wrong path, but on the right path, because we become purified, like the disciples.  Just as they mistakingly looked up and were corrected by the angels, so too does God correct us in our darkness about our desire to grasp Him.  Our darkness reminds us that we are unable to grasp God, and once we accept that in our lives we are able to receive the Holy Spirit fully in our hearts, thus being able to be moved to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world.

As we can see, the event of the Ascension is very important to us as Christians.

in Christ

-Harrison

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