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 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Ordinariate Mass: "Therefore, let us keep the feast."

Following The Peace in the Ordinariate liturgy, known commonly in the Ordinary Form of the Mass as the Sign of Peace, there is a brief but beautiful exchange between the celebrant and the congregation:
The People kneel.
As the Priest takes the Host and breaks it, he sings or says:
(Alleluia.) Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; 
People: Therefore let us keep the feast. (Alleluia.)
The exchange is taken from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians chapter 5, verses 6 to 8:
(7) For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. (8) Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (RSVCE).
(7) For Christ our pasch is sacrificed. (8) Therefore let us feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (Douay-Rheims)
The Mass then proceeds with the celebrant mingling a particle of the Body of Christ with the Blood of Christ in the chalice, followed by the chanting/saying of the Agnus Dei.

If one reads the entire fifth chapter of Corinthians, one would immediately understand the implications of the connection between the exchange in the Mass and the subject about which Saint Paul is speaking.
1 Corinthians 5
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
3 For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment 4 in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; 10 not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”
To summarize:
  • Immorality is incompatible with the Christian life (v. 1; vs. 6 & 7).
  • Immorality, therefore, has no place in the Church (v. 2).
  • Immorality in the Church must be judged by the Church (vs. 3-5).
  • Immoral behaviour contaminates the brethren (v. 6).
  • Be holy (vs. 7 & 8).
  • The Mass—the festival—is not shared with those living in sin (v. 8).
  • We are not to associate with those who bear the name of Christian (brother, v. 11) but who have betrayed the Faith (until they come to repentance).
  • An important distinction: those outside the Church are judged by God (vs. 9-13)
The last item reminds the reader of the statement Pope Francis made which has caused some eyebrows to rise: "Who am I to judge?" Assuming he meant that we are not to judge those (persons) outside the Church, Pope Francis is correct. Those who are outside the Church fall under the judgement of God. However, Saint Paul teaches that the Church, granted authority by God over souls, is most definitely responsible for judging those inside the Church who violate the Gospel. By judgement, St. Paul necessarily means weighing actions, acknowledging sin and assigning appropriate correction for bad behaviour. Of course, when it comes to behaviour and ideas, we must certainly weigh such matters regardless of the context. The Church is in the world but not of it (cf John 17:16; Romans 12:2). We identify worldly behaviours so to avoid them, and we identify holy behaviour so we may emulate it. We perform that "judgement" upon ourselves, for example, every time we pray the Penitential Act during the Mass, and when examine our consciences during the day and before retiring at night, and when we confess our sins in the Sacrament of Penance.

We confess our sins because we have been "called out" of the world, not in the sense St. Paul intends in his letter to the Corinthians. We must be in the world to lead others out of sin, out of worldliness. As mentioned previously, we are in the world, just not of it. We are called away from worldliness. We are called to be holy.
ecclesia: from Medieval Latin, from Late Greek ekklēsia assembly, from ekklētos called, from ekkalein to call out, from kalein to call
Bearing in mind the larger context, the exchange of the words borrowed from Corinthians reminds us that we are called to be unleavened bread, i.e., holy. Catholic politicians who defy Church teaching should pay special attention: the one who behaves according to worldly standards, who promotes sinful behaviour and is therefore not in a state of grace, should not receive Holy Communion. Of course, the Church makes this clear in her teaching, which is of course the Apostolic Tradition.

Saint Paul makes very clear the consequences of living according to worldly ways when we should know better as Christians. As Christians, we know that the life Christ calls us to is a life of hope, joy, freedom and, when we pass from this world to the next, eternal happiness.

Feasting with the Lord

By 'keeping the feast', we acknowledge our dependence on the living God. We can only truly keep the feast when we surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and accept His invitation to newness of life and submit to His will. Discipleship comes with that joy filled responsibility to keep Christ's commandments:
Holy Gospel according to St. John, Chapter 4 
(15) If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
(21) He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
(23) If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (24) He who does not love me does not keep my words(.)
Freedom and Humility

Every Mass is the Sacrifice of Calvary, the Passover Feast, the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If we are truly His disciples, we should present ourselves in the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) and avail ourselves of the graces which help us prepare to enter into such a magnificent celebration.
(5:8) Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Following closely on the heels of the Agnus Dei in the Ordinariate Mass is the Prayer of Humble Access, which includes an appropriate acknowledgement of our status before God, which begins:
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies.
The Corinthian excerpt, followed by the Agnus Dei, followed by the Prayer of Humble Access and the Domine, Non Sum Dignus constitute a litany, a tapestry of humility punctuated with brief silent rests, that disposes the soul to the invitation from God to move from this world further into or toward the Kingdom of God. Do recall that in the Mass, earth meets heaven, heaven descends to earth! Do recall that moments earlier in the Liturgy we prayed the Pater Noster:
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The importance of humility and repentance, of conversion, echos throughout the Ordinariate Mass on three distinct occasions: 1) the Collect for Purity and the Kyrie (which, in the celebration of Low Mass follow the Prayers of Preparation (Confiteor, etc.); 2) The Penitential Rite which, in the Ordinariate Form of the Mass, follows the Prayers of the People prior to the Offertory; and concludes with the succession of prayers described above that immediately precede Holy Communion.

Before a feast, a fast.

Fasting helps us "make room" in our hearts for the Lord. Furthermore, we forgo profane food prior to receiving the Bread of Heaven. We so desire to feast at the banquet of the Lord that we refrain from spoiling our appetite, so-to-speak.

Do you keep the fast before Holy Communion? Those who attend the Extraordinary Form typically keep a three hour fast, per the custom established by Pope Pius XII. The Ordinary Form calls for a one hour fast before Mass, per the observance (Canon 919) established by Blessed Pope Paul VI.
Canon 919
  1. One who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception only of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion.
  2. A priest who celebrates the Most Holy Eucharist two or three times on the same day may take something before the second or third celebration even if the period of one hour does not intervene.
  3. Those who are advanced in age or who suffer from any infirmity, as well as those who take care of them, can receive the Most Holy Eucharist even if they have taken something during the previous hour.

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