Christian Platonism

Rediscovering Ancient Wisdom

Archive for the ‘Mass’ Category

On the Praying for Others’ Forgiveness in the Catholic Mass

leave a comment »

Carthusian Rite Confiteor

Why the Confiteor is one of the most beautiful and important parts of the Mass

The section of the Roman Catholic Mass called the Penitential Rite is insufficiently appreciated. This part contains, among other things, the prayer known as the Confiteor. Its name comes from the first line, which, in Latin, is Confiteor Deo omnipotente…, in English translated as “I confess to Almighty God….” The Confiteor is the source of the phrase, mea culpa (mea culpa, mea culpa, me maxima culpa — i.e., one confesses that one has sinned “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”

A special virtue of this section of the Liturgy is that it is an opportunity for members of the Church to pray for one another. When I was younger, I understood the Confiteor, along with the Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison (Lord have mercy! Christ have mercy!) which comes later, as being mainly concerned with seeking forgiveness for ones own sins. But with age comes a growth in instinctive concern for others; you look around and see what difficulties and burdens others bear, and, if you have a heart, you naturally want them to be helped. As this charitable concern develops, the Mass takes on new meaning and importance.

Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (John 20:23)

Just think of what the verse above implies. Look at the suffering and the burdens others bear — whether those be their sins, or the consequences of those sins, or the guilt and shame their sins produce. And then consider the possibility that you may be an agent in removing those burdens and effecting their healing. Have you never noticed how real benefits may come to others as the result of your prayers? What if no-one else on the entire the planet is praying for these individuals? That may easily be the case! Can you not bring yourself — indeed, can you not resist the compassionate urge — to pray for them?

To give a personal example, suppose I’m at Mass and I see people in the congregation with serious obesity problems; these days, I’m afraid, that’s an all too common experience. Now God has given me the gift of physical fitness and a strong personal motivation to exercise. This is a grace not everyone has. It is a blessing, and I’m extremely grateful for it. But I have been overweight before, and therefore know that these people suffer very much because of obesity. It’s perfectly natural, then, for me to pray for them.

Now it might be objected, “Aren’t you being judgmental here? On what basis are you apparently equating their health issues with sin?” The answer is that I’m taking a very broad view of sin; it might be better to call the issue here moral imperfection, or even an insufficiency of moral strength. We need to strip ‘sin’ of its judgmental connotations in any case. The original Greek word for sin is hamartia, which means ‘missing the mark.’ It’s appropriate, then, to see the alleviation of obesity, depression, substance abuse, or many other things people suffer from as subjects of prayer in the Penitential Rite.

It is of some interest to note changes in the liturgy apropos of this. Before the reforms of the 1960’s and 70’s, the Mass was, of course, still said in Latin. People may not remember this detail, but in the traditional Tridentine Mass the Confiteor was actually prayed twice. First the priest recited it to the assistant(s) or altar servers, confessing his sinfulness and pleading for the intercession of “Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul” and “all the Saints.” In conclusion he further asked, “you brethren, to pray to the Lord our God for me.”

In response, the assistant(s) — representing the entire congregation — prayed,

May Almighty God have mercy upon you, forgive you your sins, and bring you to life everlasting.

To which the priest said, “Amen.”

Then the assistant(s) recited the Confiteor, changing only the last phrase by asking “you Father, to pray to the Lord our God for me.” The priest then prayed the same response as the assistant(s) had to his Confiteor, to which the latter responded, “Amen.” Then the priest, making the sign of the cross, prayed:

May the Almighty and merciful God grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins.

To which the server(s) replied, “Amen.”

This detail actually signifies something momentous: that the priest and congregation, symbolized by the assistant(s), are praying, interceding with God, for each other’s forgiveness.

The present form of the Roman Catholic Mass includes only one Confiteor, said jointly by the priest and congregation. In theory, nothing has changed spiritually: all are praying both for themselves and for each other. But the present liturgy leaves this more ambiguous. If not instructed in the matter, people may misunderstand, and think they are only praying for their own forgiveness.

At one level, it’s perfectly understandable and ordinary for people to be so intent on confessing their own sins and seeking forgiveness that the reciprocity of the Confiteor escapes attention. Yet Christians in this respect are called on to be more than ordinary. They are called to be priests, a priestly people (1 Peter 2:5–10; cf. Exodus 19:6); and one vital function of a priest is to intercede with God for the welfare of others.

Moreover, an exclusively self-oriented confessional attitude fails to recognize a fundamental principle of the psychology of forgiveness, a detail to which Scripture pointedly calls our attention: that forgiving others and being forgiven ourselves are so integrally related as to literally be two aspects of the same thing. Let us recall some relevant passages:

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6: 14–15)

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

Note that we are not just called to forgive those who have trespassed against us, but also those sins others commit that might not involve us at all.

Sometimes we might think that the connection between forgiving and forgiveness is merely a kind of reciprocal justice: if we forgive, then we’ve done a good deed, and our reward is to be forgiven in exactly the same degree. But the connection is actually much stronger. In a sense, our holding onto grudges, or even just a ‘stinginess’ in wishing forgiveness for anyone, automatically carries with it a burden of moral imperfection, if not outright sin. Said another way, the moment we earnestly pray for others’ forgiveness — not just those who have harmed us, but those who need forgiveness in any way and for any reason — we ourselves come into right relation to God and with ourselves. And whatever burdens we have imposed on ourselves by being out of right relation are removed.

This shouldn’t be taken to imply that an awareness of our own sinfulness isn’t terribly important. Quite the opposite: the more cognizant we are of our need for forgiveness, the more enthusiastic and willing we are to forgive others, as this is a small price to pay indeed. If we fully understood this principle, we would beg and thank God for the opportunity to forgive others!

Perhaps at this point some will expect me to suggest that we should restore the Tridentine Mass, but that is by no means my point. In fact, I think the liturgical changes have been, in the main, for the better. It seems sufficient for the Confiteor to be said once — provided that people are aware of all that’s going on. I believe it proper to say that the main focus of ones prayer here should be for others’ forgiveness. That is the object of our prayer. The action of our praying for others is itself implicitly the prayer for our own forgiveness — so that both needs are being met at the same time.

I do believe, however, that, with the present liturgy, special attention needs to be given to instruct people about the dual nature of the Penitential Rite. Further, some things I’ve read online seem to suggest that in certain diocese and/or at certain times, the Confiteor is omitted from masses. If so, then it seems to me very important that whatever is used in its place emphasize and encourage the dual aspect of praying for forgiveness.

I wrote at the outset that this is something momentous, but have yet to fully explain why. Consider this principle of each forgiving another — of striving to do this oneself, and of coming to regularly expect that others approach you in the same way — carried to its logical extreme. That is, imagine a society where this principle became conventional, usual, regular. In that case the whole orientation of the individual towards others and society in general would be transformed, and for the better. Inasmuch as the ability to heal by forgiving is natural, and human beings are naturally social and gregarious, then an ambient recognition of this principle would amount to a revolution in human consciousness, individual and social. We would achieve in practice what is yet only latent and dormant in our collective potential.  We would change as a species.

 

Advertisements

Written by John Uebersax

July 28, 2014 at 7:07 pm

The Excellence of the Mass as May Be Inferred by the Ceremonies for the Consecration of Churches

leave a comment »

The Excellence of the Mass as May Be Inferred by the Ceremonies for the Consecration of Churches

From Chapter 2 (pp. 25 – 31) of The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Fr. Martin von Cochem, OFM Cap (1630 – 1712).  Translated by  Rev. Camilus Paul Maes, Bishop of Covington, Kentucky). New York, 1896.

First of all, the great excellence of the holy Mass may be inferred from the prayers and ceremonies appointed for the consecration of churches and altars. Any one who has been present at the dedication of a church, who has followed the prayers and understood the ceremonial made use of by the bishop, cannot fail to have been edified by what he witnessed. For the benefit of those who have never assisted at the consecration of churches and altars the ceremonies connected with it shall be briefly described.

THE DEDICATION OF CHURCHES.

The consecrating bishop, who, together with the congregation, has prepared himself by fasting on the preceding day, sets apart overnight the relics to be used in the consecration. On the morning of the day appointed he betakes himself to the place whither they have been carried, and after vesting pontifically recites with the clergy present the seven penitential psalms and the Litany of the Saints. He then goes in procession with the clergy round the outside of the church, the door of which is closed, sprinkling the upper portion of the walls with holy water in the form of the cross, saying: In the name of the Father + , and of the Son + , and of the Holy + Ghost—the clergy meanwhile singing a responsory. On coming back to the church-door the bishop says a short prayer, and knocks with his pastoral staff at the door, saying: Attollite portas, principes, vestras, etc. (“Lift up your heads, ye princes, and be ye lifted up, ye eternal gates, and the King of glory will enter.”) He then goes round the church again,lower part of the walls with the same words; and on returning to the door says a different prayer, and knocks with his staff as before. A third time he goes round the church, this time sprinkling the middle part of the walls; he then knocks three times with his staff at the door, saying: “Be opened!” And upon the door being opened he makes a cross with his staff on the threshold, saying: “Behold the sign of the cross; let the spirits of evil! depart!” Entering into the church, he says: “Peace be to this house! “ sprinkling the

In the middle of the church the bishop kneels down and intones the hymn Vent, Creator Spiritus; this is followed by the Litany of the Saints and the canticle of Zachary: Benedictus Dominus Deus (“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel.”) While these are being sung he forms a cross with the letters of the Latin and Greek alphabets, which he inscribes with his staff on ashes wherewith the floor of the church has previously been sprinkled; then, kneeling before the high altar, he chants three times the words, Deus, in adjutorium meum intende, etc. (“O God, come to my assistance,” etc.). Thereupon he blesses with the prescribed form of prayer ashes, salt, water, and wine, mixing them together and signing them repeatedly with the cross, and proceeds to consecrate the high altar and the other altars. Dipping his thumb in the preparation which he has just blessed, he makes a cross in the middle and in the four corners of the altar-stone, saying: ” Let this altar be sanctified + to the glory of God, of the Virgin Mary, and all the saints, and in the name and commemoration of St. N. [naming the patron of the church], in the name of the + Father,” etc. These words are repeated five times. Thereupon he goes round the altar seven times, sprinkling it with holy water and reciting the Miserere

He next goes three times round the interior of the church, sprinkling the walls above, below, and in the middle whilst three psalms and antiphons are sung. He also sprinkles the floor of the church in each of the four corners, with certain prayers and the sign of the cross, and returns to the high altar. He then blesses chalk and sand, and mixes them with holy water, thus preparing the mortar for the laying of the altar-stone. Afterwards, going in procession to the place where the relics were deposited on the previous evening, he incenses them, and carries them with lighted tapers and smoking censers round the church. Pausing on the threshold, the bishop makes three crosses on the door, saying: ” In the name of the Father +, and of the Son + , and of the Holy + Ghost, be thou blessed, sanctified, and consecrated.

When the procession reaches the high altar, the bishop makes five crosses with chrism in the cavity of the altar, called the sepulchre, places the case containing the relics in it, incenses them, and closes the repository or sepulchre with a stone that has been blessed and the mortar prepared for the purpose. Thereupon he incenses the altar itself, and hands the censer to a priest, who goes round it incensing every part. Meanwhile the bishop makes five crosses with oil of catechumens on the table of the altar, one in the centre and one in each of the corners, with the same words employed when blessing the water, incenses the crosses, and goes round the altar incensing it. After the prescribed prayer and psalm have been recited he again anoints the altar, making five crosses upon it, saying: “Let this altar be blessed, sanctified, and consecrated.” He then again incenses the crosses and the whole altar. This ceremony is repeated a third time, whilst psalms are chanted by the clergy. Finally, the bishop pours oil and chrism over the whole altar, rubbing it in with his hand. He then goes round the interior of the church, and anoints the twelve crosses upon the walls with the chrism, saying: “Let this church be hallowed and consecrated in the name of the Father, etc.,” and incensing each cross three times. Returning to the altar, he blesses the frankincense, lays five grains of incense wherever the five crosses were made, forms five small crosses out of wax tapers and lights them. Whilst they are burning, he kneels down, as do all the clergy present, and intones the hymn Veni, Sancte Spiritus. This is followed by more prayers and a preface; the clergy chant Psalm Lxvii. in thanksgiving for the graces received; the bishop makes a cross with the chrism below the table of the altar, and recites more and longer prayers. After that he rubs his hands with bread and salt, and washes them in water. The clergy wipe the altar with linen, cover it with an altar-cloth, decorate it as best they can, whilst psalms and responsories are sung. In conclusion the bishop incenses the altar three times, and proceeds to celebrate a solemn pontifical High Mass.

All who have been present at the dedication of a church cannot find words to express their surprise at the number of different ceremonies, anointings, benedictions, and prayers that appertain to the ritual. What is the object of all of these ? It is in order to render the church a temple meet for the great and holy sacrifice offered up therein to the most high God, and to hallow and consecrate the altars whereon the spotless Lamb of God is to be slain in a mystical manner.

This is sufficient to convince any Christian of the sanctity of our churches and altars, and the great reverence we ought to pay to them. Solomon’s temple was but a foreshadow and type of the Christian Church, and yet in what respect it was held both by Jews and heathen! How much the more should we reverence and respect our churches, hallowed as they are by so solemn a dedication! We read in the Third Book of Kings that Solomon, on the occasion of the dedication of his temple, offered up no less than two and twenty thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand rams. These animals were all slaughtered by the priests, purified, and laid in pieces on the altar. And while the king prayed aloud fire fell from heaven and consumed the victims. The whole temple war filled with a cloud, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And all the people, who beheld the fire and the glory of the Lord, filled with awe, fell upon their faces and adored the Lord. Thereupon King Solomon, standing on a high place in the sight of the assembly of Israel, spread forth his hands towards heaven and said: “Is it then to be thought that God should indeed dwell upon earth ? For if heaven and the heavens of heavens cannot contain Thee, how much less this house, which I have built! ” (III. Kings viii. 27.)

Who, indeed, can fail to be amazed at this, and feel himself unable rightly to comprehend the dignity of that sacred temple ? And yet that temple was but a type, an image, of our churches. In that there was nothing but the Ark of the Covenant, which only contained the two stone tables of the law, a basket of showbread, and Aaron’s rod that had blossomed. The sacrifices of the Jews were only animals that were slaughtered and burnt, besides offerings of bread, wine, cakes, etc., whereas our churches are dedicated by the bishops with incomparably greater solemnity; they are anointed with holy oil and chrism; they are blessed by being sprinkled with holy water and incensed with frankincense; they are hallowed repeatedly by the sign of the cross, and consecrated finally by the oblation of the most holy sacrifice of the Mass. Instead of the Ark of the Covenant we have the tabernacle, where the true bread of heaven, the adorable Sacrament of the Altar, the body and blood of Christ, is continually reserved. If it is right to hold Solomon’s temple in honor, how much more ought we to reverence our consecrated churches, in which God dwells in person.

Our churches are called the house of God, and this in very deed they are, since God Himself dwells in them, and is always to be found in them. He is surrounded continually by a countless host of angels, who serve Him, who adore Him, who worship Him, who praise Him, who offer our prayers to Him. This was foreshadowed by the vision of the patriarch Jacob. Overtaken by night in the open country, he laid down to sleep, and in a dream he saw a ladder standing upon the earth, the top of which reached to heaven. By this ladder the angels of God were ascending and descending, and at the top of it he beheld God Himself. Jacob woke from his sleep trembling, and said: “How terrible is this place! This is no other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven.” (Gen. xxviii. 17.) He took the stone on which his head had rested, poured oil upon it, set it up for an altar, and on his return journey he offered sacrifice upon it to God. That was a type of the Christian Church, with its altar, anointed with holy oil and chrism, of which we can in truth say: “How terrible is this place! This is no other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven,” {NAB: In solemn wonder he cried out: “How awesome is this shrine! This is nothing else but an abode of God, and that is the gateway to heaven!} for here the angels ascend and descend, and carry up our petitions to heaven. Our churches are the place of which God speaks by the mouth of the prophet Isaias: “I will bring them [the people of the Lord] into My holy mount, and will make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their holocausts and their victims shall please Me upon My altar; for My house shall be called the House of prayer for all nations.” (Is. Lvi. 7.)

From all this we learn the sanctity of our churches, and the respect we owe to them. It is because they are the house of God, and Jesus Christ dwells in person within them in the Blessed Sacrament, surrounded by innumerable angels, that we know not how to honor them enough, how to be sufficiently devout and recollected in prayer. If we had a living faith, we should enter a consecrated church with trembling; we should worship Christ present in the Adorable Sacrament with deepest reverence, and invoke the assistance of the holy angels who are there. Such was David’s custom, as he tells us in the words: “I will worship towards Thy holy temple; I will sing praise to Thee in the sight of the angels.” (Ps. cxxxvii. 2, i.) Therefore to be inattentive in church, or in any other way to displease God by disrespectful behavior, is an insult to the Divine Majesty and dishonor to the house of God. Let us firmly resolve on entering a church not to utter or listen to an unnecessary word, nor to look about us, but to behave reverently, to pray devoutly, adore the Lord our God, to confess our sins and implore the divine mercy.

<!–[if !mso]> <! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } –>

The Excellence of the Mass

From Chapter 2 (pp. 25 – 31) of The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Fr. Martin von Cochem, OFM Cap (1630 – 1712).  Translated by  Rev. Camilus Paul Maes, Bishop of Covington, Kentucky). New York, 1896.

http://books.google.com/books?id=B8QxAAAAMAAJ

First of all, the great excellence of the holy Mass may be inferred from the prayers and ceremonies appointed for the consecration of churches and altars. Any one who has been present at the dedication of a church, who has followed the prayers and understood the ceremonial made use of by the bishop, cannot fail to have been edified by what he witnessed. For the benefit of those who have never assisted at the consecration of churches and altars the ceremonies connected with it shall be briefly described.

THE DEDICATION OF CHURCHES.

The consecrating bishop, who, together with the congregation, has prepared himself by fasting on the preceding day, sets apart overnight the relics to be used in the consecration. On the morning of the day appointed he betakes himself to the place whither they have been carried, and after vesting pontifically recites with the clergy present the seven penitential psalms and the Litany of the Saints. He then goes in procession with the clergy round the outside of the church, the door of which is closed, sprinkling the upper portion of the walls with holy water in the form of the cross, saying: In the name of the Father +, and of the Son +, and of the Holy + Ghost—the clergy meanwhile singing a responsory. On coming back to the church-door the bishop says a short prayer, and knocks with his pastoral staff at the door, saying: Attollite portas, principes, vestras, etc. (“Lift up your heads, ye princes, and be ye lifted up, ye eternal gates, and the King of glory will enter.“) He then goes round the church again, sprinkling the lower part of the walls with the same words; and on returning to the door says a different prayer, and knocks with his staff as before. A third time he goes round the church, this time sprinkling the middle part of the walls; he then knocks three times with his staff at the door, saying: “Be opened!” And upon the door being opened he makes a cross with his staff on the threshold, saying: “Behold the sign of the cross; let the spirits of evil! depart!” Entering into the church, he says: “Peace be to this house! “

In the middle of the church the bishop kneels down and intones the hymn Vent, Creator Spiritus; this is followed by the Litany of the Saints and the canticle of Zachary: Benedictus Dominus Deus (“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel.”) While these are being sung he forms a cross with the letters of the Latin and Greek alphabets, which he inscribes with his staff on ashes wherewith the floor of the church has previously been sprinkled; then, kneeling before the high altar, he chants three times the words, Deus, in adjutorium meum intende, etc. (“O God, come to my assistance,” etc.). Thereupon he blesses with the prescribed form of prayer ashes, salt, water, and wine, mixing them together and signing them repeatedly with the cross, and proceeds to consecrate the high altar and the other altars. Dipping his thumb in the preparation which he has just blessed, he makes a cross in the middle and in the four corners of the altar-stone, saying: ” Let this altar be sanctified + to the glory of God, of the Virgin Mary, and all the saints, and in the name and commemoration of St. N. [naming the patron of the church], in the name of the + Father,” etc. These words are repeated five times. Thereupon he goes round the altar seven times, sprinkling it with holy water and reciting the Miserere

He next goes three times round the interior of the church, sprinkling the walls above, below, and in the middle whilst three psalms and antiphons are sung. He also sprinkles the floor of the church in each of the four corners, with certain prayers and the sign of the cross, and returns to the high altar. He then blesses chalk and sand, and mixes them with holy water, thus preparing the mortar for the laying of the altar-stone. Afterwards, going in procession to the place where the relics were deposited on the previous evening, he incenses them, and carries them with lighted tapers and smoking censers round the church. Pausing on the threshold, the bishop makes three crosses on the door, saying: ” In the name of the Father +, and of the Son +, and of the Holy + Ghost, be thou blessed, sanctified, and consecrated.

When the procession reaches the high altar, the bishop makes five crosses with chrism in the cavity of the altar, called the sepulchre, places the case containing the relics in it, incenses them, and closes the repository or sepulchre with a stone that has been blessed and the mortar prepared for the purpose. Thereupon he incenses the altar itself, and hands the censer to a priest, who goes round it incensing every part. Meanwhile the bishop makes five crosses with oil of catechumens on the table of the altar, one in the centre and one in each of the corners, with the same words employed when blessing the water, incenses the crosses, and goes round the altar incensing it. After the prescribed prayer and psalm have been recited he again anoints the altar, making five crosses upon it, saying: “Let this altar be blessed, sanctified, and consecrated.” He then again incenses the crosses and the whole altar. This ceremony is repeated a third time, whilst psalms are chanted by the clergy. Finally, the bishop pours oil and chrism over the whole altar, rubbing it in with his hand. He then goes round the interior of the church, and anoints the twelve crosses upon the walls with the chrism, saying: “Let this church be hallowed and consecrated in the name of the Father, etc.,” and incensing each cross three times. Returning to the altar, he blesses the frankincense, lays five grains of incense wherever the five crosses were made, forms five small crosses out of wax tapers and lights them. Whilst they are burning, he kneels down, as do all the clergy present, and intones the hymn Vent, Sancte Spiritus. This is followed by more prayers and a preface; the clergy chant Psalm Lxvii. in thanksgiving for the graces received; the bishop makes a cross with the chrism below the table of the altar, and recites more and longer prayers. After that he rubs his hands with bread and salt, and washes them in water. The clergy wipe the altar with linen, cover it with an altar-cloth, decorate it as best they can, whilst psalms and responsories are sung. In conclusion the bishop incenses the altar three times, and proceeds to celebrate a solemn pontifical High Mass.

All who have been present at the dedication of a church cannot find words to express their surprise at the number of different ceremonies, anointings, benedictions, and prayers that appertain to the ritual. What is the object of all of these ? It is in order to render the church a temple meet for the great and holy sacrifice offered up therein to the most high God, and to hallow and consecrate the altars whereon the spotless Lamb of God is to be slain in a mystical manner.

This is sufficient to convince any Christian of the sanctity of our churches and altars, and the great reverence we ought to pay to them. Solomon’s temple was but a foreshadow and type of the Christian Church, and yet in what respect it was held both by Jews and heathen! How much the more should we reverence and respect our churches, hallowed as they are by so solemn a dedication! We read in the Third Book of Kings that Solomon, on the occasion of the dedication of his temple, offered up no less than two and twenty thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand rams. These animals were all slaughtered by the priests, purified, and laid in pieces on the altar. And while the king prayed aloud fire fell from heaven and consumed the victims. The whole temple war filled with a cloud, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And all the people, who beheld the fire and the glory of the Lord, filled with awe, fell upon their faces and adored the Lord. Thereupon King Solomon, standing on a high place in the sight of the assembly of Israel, spread forth his hands towards heaven and said: “Is it then to be thought that God should indeed dwell upon earth ? For if heaven and the heavens of heavens cannot contain Thee, how much less this house, which I have built! ” (III. Kings viii. 27.)

Who, indeed, can fail to be amazed at this, and feel himself unable rightly to comprehend the dignity of that sacred temple ? And yet that temple was but a type, an image, of our churches. In that there was nothing but the Ark of the Covenant, which only contained the two stone tables of the law, a basket of showbread, and Aaron’s rod that had blossomed. The sacrifices of the Jews were only animals that were slaughtered and burnt, besides offerings of bread, wine, cakes, etc., whereas our churches are dedicated by the bishops with incomparably greater solemnity; they are anointed with holy oil and chrism; they are blessed by being sprinkled with holy water and incensed with frankincense; they are hallowed repeatedly by the sign of the cross, and consecrated finally by the oblation of the most holy sacrifice of the Mass. Instead of the Ark of the Covenant we have the tabernacle, where the true bread of heaven, the adorable Sacrament of the Altar, the body and blood of Christ, is continually reserved. If it is right to hold Solomon’s temple in honor, how much more ought we to reverence our consecrated churches, in which God dwells in person.

Our churches are called the house of God, and this in very deed they are, since God Himself dwells in them, and is always to be found in them. He is surrounded continually by a countless host of angels, who serve Him, who adore Him, who worship Him, who praise Him, who offer our prayers to Him. This was foreshadowed by the vision of the patriarch Jacob. Overtaken by night in the open country, he laid down to sleep, and in a dream he saw a ladder standing upon the earth, the top of which reached to heaven. By this ladder the angels of God were ascending and descending, and at the top of it he beheld God Himself. Jacob woke from his sleep trembling, and said: “How terrible is this place! This is no other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven.” (Gen. xxviii. 17.) He took the stone on which his head had rested, poured oil upon it, set it up for an altar, and on his return journey he offered sacrifice upon it to God. That was a type of the Christian Church, with its altar, anointed with holy oil and chrism, of which we can in truth say: “How terrible is this place! This is no other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven,” {NAB: In solemn wonder he cried out: “How awesome is this shrine! This is nothing else but an abode of God, and that is the gateway to heaven!} for here the angels ascend and descend, and carry up our petitions to heaven. Our churches are the place of which God speaks by the mouth of the prophet Isaias: “I will bring them [the people of the Lord] into My holy mount, and will make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their holocausts and their victims shall please Me upon My altar; for My house shall be called the House of prayer for all nations.” (Is. Lvi. 7.)

From all this we learn the sanctity of our churches, and the respect we owe to them. It is because they are the house of God, and Jesus Christ dwells in person within them in the Blessed Sacrament, surrounded by innumerable angels, that we know not how to honor them enough, how to be sufficiently devout and recollected in prayer. If we had a living faith, we should enter a consecrated church with trembling; we should worship Christ present in the Adorable Sacrament with deepest reverence, and invoke the assistance of the holy angels who are there. Such was David’s custom, as he tells us in the words: “I will worship towards Thy holy temple; I will sing praise to Thee in the sight of the angels.” (Ps. cxxxvii. 2, i.) Therefore to be inattentive in church, or in any other way to displease God by disrespectful behavior, is an insult to the Divine Majesty and dishonor to the house of God. Let us firmly resolve on entering a church not to utter or listen to an unnecessary word, nor to look about us, but to behave reverently, to pray devoutly, to adore the Lord our God, to confess our sins and implore the divine mercy.

Written by John Uebersax

February 13, 2010 at 3:37 am

Posted in Liturgy, Mass

Names of God in the Catholic Mass

leave a comment »

It is instructive to consider the various names of God used in the Catholic Mass. The list below comes from the regular Order of the Mass, variable Eucharistic Prayers I — IV, and variable Eucharistic Prayers for Masses of Reconciliation I — II, as shown on the web pages of Felix Just S. J. .

God

One God

God the Father

God
The Lord
Lord God
The Lord, Our God
Lord God Almighty
Lord, God of All Creation
Almighty God
Almighty God and Father
Almighty Father
Our Father
God Our Father
Father, All Powerful and Everliving God
Creator of All Life
Heavenly King
Holy Lord, God of Power and Might
God of Glory and Majesty
God of Love and Mercy
Fountain of All Holiness
One God, Living and True
Through All Eternity You Live in Unapproachable Light
Source of Life and Goodness
Our Living and True God
All life, all holiness comes from you through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, by the working of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ
Lord Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ Our Lord and God
Christ Our Lord
Lord God
The Lord
Jesus
The Beloved Son, Jesus the Christ
Only Son of the Father
The Holy One
The Most High,  Jesus Christ
Maker of Heaven and Earth
Eternally Begotten of the Father
God from God
Light from Light
True God from True God
The Word
The Word that Brings Salvation
He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord
You Raise the Dead to Life in the Spirit
You Bring Pardon and Peace to the Sinner
You Bring Light to Those in Darkness
Our Savior
Our Savior, Jesus Christ
Savior of the World
Dying You Destroyed Our Death
Rising You Restored Our Life
Lamb of God
You Take Away the Sin of the World
Jesus Christ, Our Passover and Our Lasting Peace
Jesus Christ, Your (God the Father’s) Only Son, Our Lord
The Sacrifice which Restores Man to Your (God the Father’s) Friendship
The Hand  You (God the Father) Stretch Out to Sinners
The Way that Leads to Your (God the Father’s) Peace

The Holy Spirit

The Spirit
The Holy Spirit
The Lord, the Giver of Life (Holy Spirit)
Your (God the Father’s) Spirit

decoration_transparent

Written by John Uebersax

August 10, 2009 at 1:16 am