Monday, October 24, 2011
THE MASS; THE PRAYER, THE CATECHESIS, THE SACRIFICE, THE MEAL AND THE COMMISSION
There is much ferment on how the Mass should be celebrated. Suffice it to say that we'll have two forms of the one Roman Rite for some time. But it seems to me that understanding the OF Mass by using the EF Mass as the basis to do so will go a long way in helping everyone to understand that the two Masses do not diverge in theology or dogma although these do in how these are celebrated.
First the Mass is prayer to God, regardless of the orientation of the priest, although the ad orientem stance makes it clear that the priest representing the laity whom he joins in facing the altar are praying to God and not one another . There is no need to see the face of the priest as he prays although this has been the case for some odd reason since the reforms of the EF Mass in the middle 1960's. Facing the people makes it look to the uncatechized and the non-believer that the priest is speaking or praying to the congregation. Of course that would be idolatry, the priest representing the laity prayers to God through Jesus Christ and by the Power of the Holy Spirit. He does not pray to God through the people. I think that would be heretical!
The Liturgy of the Word as celebrated in the OF is superior in my mind to the EF's, but that's my opinion. I don't see that changing in any way whatsoever. I find it odd that one would face away from the Congregation to read the Scriptures; It is read to the People.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist is the sacrificial aspect of the celebration of the Mass. It's focus is the priest in prayer reminding God of what His son accomplished on Good Friday for our salvation but using Holy Thursday as the paradigm to remember that one Sacrifice which God brings forward during the Eucharistic prayer for our salvation in the present. In other words, by the grace of God that one Sacrifice is re-presented on the altar in an unbloody way for God's people in the present. When some priests consecrate the Eucharist, when facing the congregation he gestures toward them as though the congregation is the 12 apostles at the Last Supper. That is heretical since the 12 apostles are the only ones at the Last Supper and they are the first priests. The Eucharistic prayer is a stylized prayer recalling how the priests of the Church would memorialize the Sacrifice of the Cross and reminding God that this is how Jesus did it for the apostles to do!
On Holy Thursday, Christ ordains the apostles as priests (bishops) to be the priests of the new covenant with all the allusions to the Jewish priests in the temple with one major difference, Jesus washes their feet (the High Priest par-excellence that the ordained priest only shares) showing that the new Covenant priest must be willing to minister to the needs of others regardless of ritual purity. In other words he is to get his hands dirty ministering to the outcast, unclean, sinner and sick and dying. The inherited cultic priesthood of the Old Testament would not include that. The New Covenant Priests does not inherit his priesthood, it is a calling and commissioning!
The Rite of Holy Communion after the Eucharistic prayer is properly the "meal" aspect of the Mass. If the Eucharistic Prayer correlates only to the function of the ordained priest established by Christ on Holy Thursday and the need for the ordained priest to complete the Sacrifice by eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ, the Rite of Holy Communion correlates to the Feeding of the multitudes prior to Holy Thursday, the feeding of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus through the Breaking of the Bread and John's Gospel on the Bread of Life Discourse which was written for a Christian community already receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in their Sunday Eucharist (as it was written between 90 AD to 150 AD).
I have no problem with the laity receiving both Forms of the Body and Blood of Christ from the Host or from the Chalice as it is the oldest tradition of the Church maintained by the Orthodox for 2000 years (and Eastern Rite of the Church for the same period of time). I prefer intinction for hygiene reasons and also to reduce the need for the number of Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. That's my opinion, feel free to disagree!
The Rite of Dismissal is our commission to go forth to where we live our lives and evangelize the world with our words and good deeds!
One solution for the OF Mass in terms of Ad Orientem is to keep the Introductory Rite at the Chair as well as the Concluding Rite. Have the Liturgy of the Eucharist celebrated Ad Orientem. However after the Through Him.. and Great Amen, the priest goes to the other side of the altar facing the people for the Our Father, Lamb of God, breaking of the Bread, the Ecce Agnus Dei and Communion of priest and people since this is the "meal" portion of the Mass, not the Eucharistic Prayer!