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So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.—2 Thessalonians 2:15

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Mass of the New Evangelization

It is the contention of this blogger—and I'm far from alone in the conviction—that the New Evangelization is nothing unless it is supported and enlivened by, focussed on and grounded in, founded upon and fuelled by the Holy Eucharist.

The mission of the Church is to bring souls to Christ, to a saving knowledge of Jesus, to a holy intimate loving communion with Jesus Christ and His Church.

Jesus Himself instituted the Holy Eucharist of His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity and established the priesthood to prosper His sacramental presence among us. He has chosen the means of communicating His life to us. We can do no better than to conserve and communicate the Tradition established by the Lord. 

Let the Mass be the Mass

The Mass has been entrusted to us by the Lord. The Mass is holy because it belongs to Him, it is Him. The celebration of the Mass, therefore, must ensure it is a transparent window to the Lord Who is the principal actor in the Divine Liturgy. If the Mass does not point to Jesus, then there is something seriously wrong with the manner of its celebration.

When the Mass is celebrated reverently with a clear sense of the sacred, that is, with a sense that the Mass is heaven descending to earth, that Jesus is present among us in and through His word, that His Body and Blood are made present by the Holy Spirit in and through the priest-icon, that the one Sacrifice of Calvary is made present,... people can and will enter into the transcendent mystery of the Divine Liturgy without having to be prodded by gabby choir directors who chat up the congregation and ply us with syrupy cheerleading that demands all people "actively participate" (see footnote below).

Dear priests, choir directors and commentators—stop "inviting" us to participate and simply let us choose the better part by being present to the Lord. Do your "jobs" with reverence, substance, decorum and beauty to help us worship God in spirit and truth.

Missing Person

There is much evidence that the path to the Lord has been rendered obscure. Sadly, the Mass—the Ordinary Form—has become a cacophony of voices upstaging the one Voice to which we should first listen then respond. Silence in the Mass is missing. Reverence in the Mass is missing. Beauty in the Mass is missing. A sense of the transcendent is missing. Mystery is missing.

We have allowed obsessive noise-makers to fill every second of the Sacred Liturgy with cheap music that distracts us from being because we are too busy doing. As the saying goes, we have been given two ears and only one mouth for a reason. God speaks, we listen.

If the sanctuary reminds people of their dignity in Christ, then seekers will discover a home. If the Mass is dignified, people will be reminded of their dignity. If the Mass is lovingly celebrated with beauty, people will then discover their true identity and know they are loved by God. Knowing they are loved by God, and receiving forgiveness for sins, and receiving the life of the most Holy Trinity, people will want to share with others the Good News they have received.

Reorientation

The Eucharistic Lord Himself is the font and summit of the mission of the Church. To Him be all glory and praise! The Mass is the living Tradition, the living Saviour embedded in or wedded to His wedding feast that is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

1) We need to recover the intrinsic and inseparable connection between liturgy and evangelization.

Liturgy is both the source of the Church’s mission and its goal. This was the teaching of Christ and the practice of the early Church. And it was reaffirmed by Vatican II.

Sacrosanctum Concilium says this: “The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of his Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s Supper.”

This is a beautiful vision of life lived from the Eucharist and for the Eucharist. This should be the foundation not only for our thinking about the liturgy but for our pastoral strategies as well. The reason we evangelize is in order to bring people into communion with the living God in the Eucharistic liturgy. And this experience of communion with God, in turn, impels us to evangelize.

In this regard, the Novus Ordo, the new order of the Mass promulgated after the council, has been a great blessing to the Church. Our liturgy gives us the zeal for the evangelization and sanctification of our world. The vernacular has opened up the liturgy’s content in new ways. It has encouraged active, creative participation by all the faithful not only in the liturgy but in every aspect of the Church’s mission.

By the way, for the record, I’m also very grateful that the Holy Father has allowed wider use of the older Tridentine form not because I personally prefer it, in fact I find the Novus Ordo, properly celebrated, a much richer expression of worship; but because we need access to all of the Church’s heritage of prayer and faith.

We cannot look at the liturgy as something distinct from our mission. Our worship of God in the Mass is meant to be an act of adoration, submission and thanksgiving. It’s also meant to be loving acceptance of our vocation as disciples. That’s why every Eucharistic liturgy ends on a missionary note. (W)e are sent out, commissioned to share the treasure we have discovered with everyone we meet.
Footnote

In the same lecture cited in part above, Archbishop Chaput identifies with typical virtuosic clarity, depth and concision the true nature of partipatio actuosa, frequently wrongly translated as 'active participation'. Archbishop Chaput states that
“Active participation” refers to the inner movement of our souls, our interior participation in Christ’s action of offering of his Body and Blood. This requires silent spaces and “pauses” in our worship, in which we can collect our emotions and thoughts, and make a conscious act of self-dedication. We are to “lift up our hearts,” and in contrition and humility place them on the altar along with the bread and wine.
Without the Mass front and centre, evangelization is little more than a poor sales pitch.

P.S.—This post is the 1001st post on this blog! How time flies. What better way to celebrate than to offer a post on the Sacred Liturgy and evangelization on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi... and by offering a link to a thirty-six voice canonical motet (CLICK HERE), Deo Gratias, by Johannes Ockeghem. The only words set in the motet are Deo gratias.

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, He draws us to Himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.