HISTORY OF THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS, PART THREE
Our previous two articles on the Mass covered the time span from the first Mass in the upper room, (Mk, 14:22, Luke, 22:19, Matt, 26:27) until the period following Vatican II, when Pope Paul VI promulgated what is known as the Novus ordo missae, (New order of Mass). The Novus ordo missae is mistakenly referred to as a ‘new Mass’, by some theologians. In order to foist onto us their own ideas of what Church teaching should consist, both theologically, and liturgically, they would have us believe that the Second Vatican Council changed much of what we hold sacred. The name of the Mass currently being offered, Novus ordo missae translates into: a ‘new order of Mass’; not a new Mass! The two preceding articles on the Mass made it very clear that there is not now, nor ever will be a new Mass! The Second Vatican Council stated in the introduction to Sacrosanctum concilium, which is the Constitution on the sacred liturgy, stated that; “...where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet present-day circumstances and needs.”
Article 21 of this document called for, with great care, a general restoration of the liturgy itself, for the liturgy is made up of divinely instituted unchangeable elements as well as other elements subject to change.
The Council must have foreseen difficulties when revisions were made, and addressed them in Article 22, saying: “Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See, and as laws may determine, on the bishop.” (22-1)
“In virtue of power conceded by law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of bishops’ conferences, legitimately established, with competence in given territories.” (22-2)
Therefore, no other person, not even a priest, may add, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority. (22-3)
Article 30 called for a promotion of active participation by the people, by means of certain acclamations, responses, psalms, antiphons, and hymns, as well as by actions, gestures and bodily attitudes. (These were defined in the article.)
Article 40 addressed the problem where even more radical adaptation of the liturgy is needed, in order to include some traditions and cultures of individual peoples into the liturgy. It required that adaptations considered useful or necessary should be submitted to the Holy See, by whose consent they may be introduced. The council wisely allowed certain changes to be made on a trial basis for a certain length of time. A good example of this is the experiment which permitted first Communion before first Confession by children. After a couple of years, the practice was stopped by the Holy See, and first Confession is now required prior to first Communion. (No matter what others might have you believe!)
Article 50 omitted parts that had been, over the years, duplicated, or were added with little advantage.
Article 51 called for the treasures of the Bible to be opened up more lavishly. In this way, a more representative part of sacred scriptures will be opened to the people over the course of a prescribed number of years.
Article 52 stressed the homily, by which the mysteries of the faith and the guiding principles of the Christian life are expounded from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year. A homily is required on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation where a congregation is present.
Article 54 allows the vernacular language in the Mass in certain parts, but also stated that care be taken to ensure that the people may also be able to say or sing together, in Latin, those parts of the Mass which pertain to them.
It is not necessary to list all parts of the Novus ordo missae here, as our readers should all be familiar with them through regular attendance at Mass. Instead, we will concentrate on a very important element of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; the Consecration.
Various polls, some taken by Catholic organizations, and others taken by non-Catholic laymen, indicate that only 30 to 40 percent of Catholics believe in the “Real Presence.” The term ‘Real Presence’ refers to the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present under the ‘accidental appearance’ of bread and wine. By this is meant that the ‘bread and wine’ are actually the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, under the external appearances of ordinary bread and wine following the Consecration. Before we continue, it must be stated here that this is an article of faith and is not to be denied if we are to call ourselves Catholic! This is not open for discussion in the eyes of the Church, nor has it ever been open for discussion.
A bishop in the 11th century, Berengarius, was declared anathema because he questioned the actual physical presence of Jesus in the Sacred Species. The declaration was made by Pope St. Gregory VII, who convened Roman Council VI in 1079. After the declaration, Berengarius repented his false teaching by making the following statement: “I, Berengarius, in my heart believe, and with my lips confess that through the mystery of the sacred prayer and the words of our Redeemer the bread and wine which are placed on the altar are subsequently changed into the true and proper and living flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and that after consecration it is the true body of Christ which was born of the Virgin and which, offered for the salvation of the world, was suspended on the Cross, and which sitteth at the right hand of the Father, and the true blood of Christ, which was poured out from His side not only through the sign and power of the sacrament, but in its property of nature, and in truth of substance, as here briefly in a few words is contained and I have read and you understand. Thus I believe, nor will I teach contrary to this belief. So help me God and these holy Gospels of God.”
In my opinion, Bishop Berengarius, in his profession of faith, quoted above, very clearly states what we, as Catholics, must believe, if we are to call ourselves Catholic.
The actions of some of our clergy and laity indicate that this divine presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is not fully accepted by them. They try to diminish our adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, both during Mass, and outside of Mass. Our Holy Mother Church strongly resists these efforts. Sadly, this frequently is the result of their attempts at false ecumenism. They will say: “We don’t want to offend our separated brethren, who consider the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist as symbolic, for they would look upon us as idolaters toward a piece of bread.” (See our editorial in another part of this issue.)
These are some general rules for all forms of Mass, many of which concern the latria (adoration) which must be shown to the Blessed Sacrament.
Before Mass, when the priest, deacons, servers and lectors arrive at the altar, if the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle, they are instructed to genuflect (except those carrying candles, sensors, lectionary etc., whom will make a reverential bow instead of genuflecting). Three genuflections are made by the priest during Mass: after showing of the Eucharistic bread, after the showing of the chalice, and before he receives Communion. At the time of the Consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus, the deacon is instructed to kneel.
Whenever anyone, except the celebrant, passes in front of the Blessed Sacrament, they are required to genuflect -- #233 of the GIRM.
There are two kinds of bow; a bow of the head and a bow of the body. A bow of the head is made when the three divine Persons are named together, and at the name of Jesus, Mary, and the saint in whose honor Mass is celebrated -- #234-a GIRM.
A bow of the body, or profound bow, is made: toward the altar before Mass by the priest and deacons if the Blessed Sacrament is not reserved in the tabernacle, during the prayers: “Almighty God, cleanse” and “Lord God, we ask you to receive”, within the profession of faith at the words, “by the power of the Holy Spirit etc.”, (on the feasts of the Annunciation, and Christmas, we are required to kneel at these words), and in Eucharistic Canon #1, at the words; “Almighty God we pray”. The deacon makes the same profound bow when he asks the blessing before the Gospel. In addition, the priest bends over slightly as he says the words of the Lord at the consecration -- #234-b GIRM.
We, the people, are also required to show reverence; The communicants approach, make the proper reverence, and stand in front of the priest. Showing the Sacred Host, he says: “The Body of Christ.” We reply “Amen”, and receive the Body of Christ -- #244-c GIRM.
The norm in this country is to receive Communion on the tongue, but we have been granted an indult from Rome to receive in the hand if we so desire.
A simple way to remember how we should show proper reverence is; To Jesus, in the Blessed Sacrament, instructions require a genuflection, whether He is exposed, or in the tabernacle. In the Eastern Churches only, a deep bow is permitted, but not in the Latin rite Catholic Church.
At the Lord’s Prayer, the priest, with hands joined, says the introduction to the prayer and then, with his hands outstretched he sings or says the prayer with the people. After the Lord’s Prayer, the priest alone, with his hands outstretched, gives the embolism: ‘Deliver us Lord”, and at the end the congregation makes the acclamation, “For the kingdom....” -- #110 and #111 GIRM.
After the sign of peace is given to the ministers, and we share the sign of peace with each other, we recite the “Lamb of God”, and then kneel -- #113 GIRM.
The priest then genuflects, takes the Eucharistic bread, and, holding it slightly above the paten, while facing the people, says: “This is the Lamb of God”. With the people, he adds, only once, “Lord I am not worthy.” -- #115 GIRM.
Next, facing the altar, the priest says softly “May the Body of Christ bring me to everlasting life”, and reverently consumes the Body of Christ. Then he takes the chalice saying, “May the Blood of Christ...” and reverently consumes the Blood of Christ. -- #116 GIRM.
After Communion, the vessels are then purified, or left at a side table, properly covered, to be purified later, if there are several vessels to be purified. -- #120 GIRM.
Certain postures and positions are required by the GIRM. The people stand from the entrance until the first reading, at which time they sit, until the Gospel acclamation at which time they stand.
We sit for the homily and stand for the Creed and the prayers of intercession. We sit for the collection of the gifts and the Offertory prayers. We stand after we say the prayer; “May the Lord accept the sacrifice” etc. The priest then recites the particular Preface for the Mass, and at the end, we say “Holy, holy, holy” etc. and then kneel, and remain kneeling until the “great Amen” at the end of the Eucharistic Canon.
It is worthy of note here to mention that in some Church buildings there are no kneelers. This is not an excuse to fail to kneel! The Church instructs that when kneeling or genuflecting is called for, the only exceptions are; a lack of room or physical inability.
We stand for the Lord’s Prayer, and remain standing until after the Lamb of God, when we kneel. After reception of Communion we may stand, sit or kneel, in meditation. We stand for the final prayers and the dismissal.
When a deacon is present, he will assist the priest in the preparation of the gifts, for example, pouring the wine and water. During the Consecration, he stands slightly behind the priest, but at the elevation of the Sacred Host and the chalice, he is required to kneel. This is found in the Ceremonial of Bishops -- #155. The Ceremonial of Bishops is used as a guide and a model to be followed for all sacrifices of the Mass, with, or without, a bishop presiding.
The Eucharistic Liturgy is the center of our faith as Catholics. It is our sign of unity with God and with each other. In the Eucharist, we are joined in the unity requested by Jesus in John’s Gospel. We are not joined in unity by holding hands. The practice is not mentioned in any book of rubrics, since it is only a recent innovation by some who would add to the rubrics of the Mass in complete disregard for Sacrosanctum concilium, Article 22, Section 3, mentioned earlier.
We should take the time to contemplate deeply on the pain Jesus suffered on the cross, in order to guarantee for us, the right to seek forgiveness for our many sins, and thereby enable us to spend all eternity with God, Mary, all of the saints, and many of our loved ones in Heaven.
We must remember that Jesus was ridiculed, spat upon, scourged with a nail tipped whip, crowned with thorns, forced to carry His instrument of death on His shoulders, nailed to the cross of death, and allowed to hang there for three hours, spilling His Precious Blood on the ground, and finally dying of asphyxiation. I suggest you stop reading for a time, and just put your entire mind and heart into contemplation of what He went suffered for us. Just think! The knowledge of what He would face on Good Friday caused Him to sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane after the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. During this time he prayed: “Father, if it is possible let this cup pass away from me; yet not as I wiliest but as thou wiliest.”
Jesus did this only for us, and yet our deportment in His Church would often indicate that we are completely unaware, or uncaring, of what He did for us. Jesus gave authority to Peter, and to his successors, our Popes, to regulate our liturgy. Their instructions are often disobeyed or ignored by some members of the clergy and laity, who give very specious excuses or reasons for their actions.
The bottom line is that this same man, Who suffered that tortuous death on the cross, is present; His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, under the external appearance of bread and wine, on the altar and in the tabernacle. Yet, some people ignore this Divine Presence in their thinly veiled attempts to Protestantize our religion. Why?
Our Holy Mother Church only requires that we genuflect or kneel in His presence. Why is this so difficult for us after what He did for us? In Philippians, 2:10, we are instructed “...that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth, and below the earth...” so should we do less, when we are in His actual presence?
Do not be influenced by priests, deacons, liturgical directors, or any others who do their best to convince you to only bow to show latria (adoration) to our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, instead of genuflecting as required by the General Instructions of the Roman Missal! By merely bowing, you are giving approval to their disobedience, and in effect, are being disobedient to Church instructions yourself!
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