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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Missa Cantata Tridentina



Having missed the High Mass in Octaves of Christmas on January 1st, 2008, I endeavored to attend the Epiphany Mass on Sunday, January 6th, 2008.



Ordinary of the Mass

It was sublime. The ladies, pious in their mantillas. The Gregorian Chants from the schola cantorum, echoing through the chapel, stirred my soul. The ancient rituals impressed upon me my insignificance in the LORD's scheme of things — not unlike a traveler humbled at the edge of an uncrossable desert or a climber awed by an insurmountable cirque of peaks — His timeframe spans immeasurable eons; I'm but a mere blip. At the same time, I am comforted that I am granted by grace to participate in this — to be part of it. The Mass of Ages is almost 1500 years old: it was here before I was born; it will be here after I die. I find comfort in that.

Even non-believers like Carl Jung have acknowledged that the Tridentine Mass is a solemn rite of extraordinary power.

The very entrance of the priest, bearing the veiled chalice and paten and preceded by servers, announces that an action of extraordinary importance is about to be re-enacted. It may be re-enacted daily, but it is no everyday action.

From the repeated allusions to offering, oblation, and victim, it becomes clear that the action is a sacrifice. By its nature the Mass is always a sacrifice, but its sacrificial character is more insistently affirmed and articulated in the Tridentine than in the present rite.
         (Bill Shuter, The Tridentine Mass, Commonweal, 2000)


In a serendipitous moment of clarity, a paragraph in the booklet reminded me of the necessity of maintaining — and reinforcing — my position (see also "Without Roots...):


Participation in Mass and the Gift of the Holy Sacrifice

The Mass is not about us. It is about the worship of God. If it were about us, then we would be adoring ourselves, and putting ourselves in the place of God. The Mass is the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Christ in obedience to His Father on Calvary for the salvation of the world. It is not entertainment. Worship is not having an attractive emotional experience that I design according to my likes and dislikes. It is receiving the gifts of that Holy Sacrifice and uniting my whole being with the great hymn of praise offered by the whole Church. Religion is not about us or about our feelings; it is about offering to God the praise which is His due. And He asks us to praise Him according to the ritual forms as celebrated by his Church.  (3)


Being part of this is like coming home, my spiritual home.



Mass in my school church, the Mission de Santa Clara de Asis. The first Mass celebrated here was on December 1st, 1777. In addition to Sunday nights, I would be here — an oasis of peace and strength in the midst of a hectic campus — almost 5 days a week, every afternoon, for the weekday Mass.

The following image and quote from Extraordinary Form says it all:




For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
         (St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 8:38-9)


It has always been my belief to fight tooth and nail (and then some) for what I believe in; and, with the grace of God, may I continue to do so. For what it is worth, here's a quote by the grandson of J. R. R. Tolkien:

I vividly remember going to church with him in Bournemouth. He was a devout Roman Catholic and it was soon after the Church had changed the liturgy from Latin to English. My grandfather obviously didn't agree with this and made all the responses very loudly in Latin while the rest of the congregation answered in English. I found the whole experience quite excruciating, but my grandfather was oblivious. He simply had to do what he believed to be right.
         (Simon Tolkien)


Aspérges me, Dómine, hyssópo, et mundábor: lavábis me, et super nivem dealbábor...



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