Sunday, November 18, 2007
Operatio sequitur esse
Just making a few observations from a lot of liturgispeak which has taken over the Church in past decades...
For example, the reference to the altar and the Consecration of the Wine and Bread into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, making Him Sacramentally and Substantially and Truly Present, is often referred to as the "Eucharistic Sacrifice". Which is fine, but too often the word "Sacrifice" is dropped in favor of "Table".
The altar is NOT a "table". We are not going to a picnic. We are not enjoying some weird ritualized Thanksgiving Dinner with a side of cranberries. It is COMPLETELY improper to refer to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as the "Eucharistic Table". To do so completely denies what is actually taking place.
Go thee and read the Old Testament, for the Catholic faith is the fulfillment of the Jewish religion. In the Old Testament, pay special attention to things like sin, atonement, and sacrifice. Because you will read over and over again how the Priest offers the Sacrifice of Atonement on behalf of the People. And you will see that the sacrifice is a Blood sacrifice, and it is made on an altar, which is raised because that is what allows the blood to drain.
And we know that Jesus was crucified, and his sacrifice was indeed a blood sacrifice, and indeed, his blood certainly did drain and was shed for our ATONEMENT.
The altar is NOT a table, but it is an altar of sacrifice, and when we kneel (as Latin-rite Catholics) during the consecration, we are kneeling before that very altar as the priest offers the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross for our atonement. There it is again. (And just to be very clear, theologically...we do NOT re-crucify Jesus. This is a heretical idea. Jesus died ONCE for our sins. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass makes the crucifixion of our Lord present to us in an un-bloody sacrifice).
Why can't we re-crucify Jesus? That's in the Old Testament, too. In Leviticus, as the people suffered in the wilderness of Sinai, God told Moses to strike the rock and water would gush out. Moses did as directed, and the water gushed outward for the people and the animals. In Numbers 20, God directed Moses to TELL the rock to yield water. What did Moses do? He STRUCK the rock. Twice. And this kindled God's anger, and He in turn delivered a judgment of His justice, that Moses would wander the desert for 40 years for his disobedience, and he would not see his people into the promised land. They would enter without him.
Why is this significant? Who is the rock? Jesus. (Yes, Peter is also the rock, but stay with me here because the Petros theology is a totally different subject.)
And we see that the "rock" cannot be struck more than once...in order for the water (grace, Holy Spirit) to flow outward again, only words need to be spoken. Doesn't that sound familiar? Such as...the WORDS of consecration?
So we go back to the Mass. Now, consider this:
When you and a group of people go to address a person of importance, you choose a spokesperson, correct? And so when you go, you all face the same direction, that is, oriented towards your "audience", the person you honor or petetion or both. This is respectful and proper. For if your spokesperson turned his back upon the important person and spoke on your behalf but facing you, wouldn't you be shocked? Wouldn't you feel just awful? Wouldn't you just SQUIRM with embarassment?
So why aren't you squirming with embarassment at Mass? We aren't the "audience" although the current setup seems to make us so. GOD is our audience! Why is the priest facing US?
Keep in mind that the Priest is offering the Sacrifice of the Mass on Our behalf, and his audience is not us...but GOD.
So the next time you or someone you know complains that in the Tridentine Mass the priest's back is toward the people, stop and reconsider our own precarious position in relation to our Creator.
Do you really want to see reform in the Church? Do you want to see an increase in holiness both in the liturgy and the people? Then go to the Source and Summit. Go to what's important, and start there. THEN you will see the conversion of hearts.
Put the tabernacle back front and center on the altar, turn the altar ad orientem, as it was always meant to be. Contrary to popular opinion, Vatican II never decreed that the altar be moved. Doing so was a disasterous innovation that was NOT proscribed.
Operatio sequitur esse...action follows upon being.
People ask where the reverence has gone in the Mass. Vatican II is not at fault. Unfortunately, the Church is made up of human beings who err in judgment, and we are in need of reform in order to bring us into obedience with what the text of Vatican II actually stated. The goals of liturgical changes were unity, holiness, enrichment, conversion, and mission. As a Church, we overshot our goals and took the focus from Jesus and placed it on ourselves. Where is the reverence? It's still there...but if we would take the time to properly order the sanctuary, we might find our spiritual lives properly ordered as well.
Just my humble suggestion, and I'm not the first to state such a thing. I love the Mass, I have no problem with the Novus Ordo, which is fine, because it's all I know. But indeed, there are problems, and indeed, they need to be addressed. So, to those powers that be, can we PLEASE get on with the proper reforms?