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Mass
The Divine Liturgy

 

Our help is in the name of the LORD
Who made heaven and earth.

—Psalm 124:8
 

 
Indifference | An Obligation, a Duty, a Habit | Something Real | Reason to Rejoice | The Desire to Love | Worship | Faith and Love | Abuses | Be Not Afraid | Conclusion: Self-deceived

 
SADLY , many of those who go to church are trying primarily to feel good about themselves, and they often treat the Blessed Sacrament and the sanctity of the church environment with casualness, if not outright carelessness. They don’t receive the Blessed Sacrament, they take it for granted. They partake of the Eucharist out of habit and guilt. Worship for them isn’t an expression of true love, and it doesn’t arise out of an ardent desire to sacrifice everything and suffer anything to live a holy life.

  

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sake was met with indifference, ingratitude, and contempt, even by His own people. So should it be any surprise that today the celebration of the holy Eucharist is met with indifference, ingratitude, and contempt, even by His own anointed?

  

 
An Obligation, a Duty, a Habit

To many Catholics, attending church is an obligation, something of a duty, a habit—maybe even a burden carried for the sake of guilt—that we might prefer to avoid in order to enjoy other things more immediately pleasant and satisfying. Some of this problem derives from the fact that the Church herself even states that we have an obligation to attend church on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation; it’s written in the Precepts of the Church. But when the Church speaks like this, the intent is to help us understand the bare minimum of what constitutes a Christian life. It’s a bit like specifying the minimum ingredients—flour and water, for example—needed to make bread. Or it’s like saying that some sort of fluid intake is a necessary minimum to sustain life.

But when you are told these things, they often seem like abstract and dull rules.

If, however, you were lost in a desert, dying of thirst, you would drag your body through hot, burning sand to reach a water hole. Water, in that case, would be no abstraction. It would be real.

  

Have you ever read news reports about big snow storms and how churches cancel services because travel is too dangerous? Yet people will still flock to football games and shopping malls in that same, dangerous weather. Now, when people would cancel Mass but go to a sporting event, it isn’t very difficult to determine what they believe to be most real and precious in their lives, is it?

  

 
Something Real

Well, instead of thinking about the Eucharist as an obligation, think of it like water in the desert, something real. In the Body of Christ you have Faith; you literally see the Father because “when you see Me you have seen the Father.” In the Blood of Christ you have Love, because what greater love is there than to shed your blood for another?

What greater reason is there to rejoice?

 
Reason to Rejoice

In fact, if we look at the Easter Exultet from the traditional Latin Mass, we can see that the angelic choirs of heaven have reason to rejoice at every divine liturgy for the same reason they rejoice at the Easter Vigil:

that the darkness of the world is scattered;

that wickedness is put to flight;

that sin is cleansed;

that innocence to the fallen is restored;

that gladness is given to the sorrowful;

that hatred is driven forth;

that concord is prepared;

that haughtiness is bent down;

that heavenly things are united to those of earth and things divine to those which are of man.

Once you see the reality of the Eucharist, rather than an abstract obligation, something will change. Instead of feeling pushed into doing something, you will feel drawn to your deepest desire. There is a big difference there. When we’re pushed, we either dig in our heels and resist or we become passively aggressive through laziness. That’s human pride. But when we desire something we would fly, if we could, to get to it. That’s what Catholic mysticism is all about. It’s the desire for holiness. It’s the desire to love.

 
The Desire to Love

You have within your heart the desire to love, but it has somehow been buried under fear because of what was lacking in your own childhood. When you were a child, abstract and dull rules were imposed on you, and you were left feeling empty and lazy. You did not experience religion as a matter of real love. Now, by the grace of God, you have the opportunity to embrace your faith and rediscover the love that God gave you in the beginning but that languished because it wasn’t watered properly. The rediscovery of that love begins with genuine worship.

   
Worship

The liturgical work of joining our lives to the sacrifice of Christ is called worship, and worship far transcends mere spirituality. Many persons today who do not even believe in God call themselves “spiritual,” but when we join with Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, we give meaning to our constant sacrifices for the souls of others. Christ’s Passion and death made it perfectly clear that suffering sacrifice is the only way to crack open the hardened free will of the human heart. So when we freely suffer for the sake of other souls, we contribute to paying the mystical price of their repentance. Even angels cannot do such majestic work!

  

If angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering.

  

—Saint Faustina, Diary, 1804

   
Faith and Love

Keep in mind that the Body of Christ is faith, and the Blood of Christ is love. Therefore, to take Communion worthily (1 Corinthians 11:27) [1] does not mean only that you must be free from mortal sin and able to receive graces in pure faith. It also means that you must be willing to “pay the price” of receiving Christ within you. And what is that price? It is the willingness to make the personal sacrifice of shedding your own blood—that is, to stop defending your pride and personal pleasure—so as to love others according to the Way of the Cross, in perfect sacrifice. Only in this way can you receive Christ’s love worthily.

 

  

When Jesus told Peter that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38), He said this as a warning, not as an excuse. In speaking to Peter, He speaks to all of us. Unless we discipline ourselves with fasting and sacrifice, we will fail to reach deep enough within ourselves to overcome the unconscious anger and fear that leads us into disobedience. Without disciplined sacrifice, all those pious words on our lips won’t do very much at all to help us attain the holiness we think we want.

Remember also that Christ warned us that worship must be an act of genuine love: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

  

Therefore, understand that the Blessed Sacrament is sacred and that we should partake of it with due reverence. It might seem to you that neither God nor others care about what you do or wear at church, but every act of irreverence will be accounted for at your final judgment. Better to correct things now, while you have the chance, rather than pay for it all later. 

1.

Maintain a general attitude of sacred silence in the church. If you have to communicate with someone, speak only in a reverent whisper.

2.

Fast (i.e., abstain from food) for at least an hour before receiving holy Communion, according to Canon law (Can. 919 1). And for that matter, fast for an hour after receiving. It’s admirable to not send Christ into a pit of half-digested food, but it is just as admirable to not pour garbage (such as coffee and donuts) on Him.

3.

In the Roman rite, make a genuflection [2] before receiving holy Communion, or receive kneeling.

4.

In the Roman rite, receive the Host on the tongue.[3]

5.

Dress modestly. For both men and women, no jeans, no sneakers, no shorts, no shirts or jackets with sports or political insignia, and no visible tattoos.[4] For women in particular, no leggings without a skirt, no tight slacks that reveal the shape of your butt, no short skirts, no bare shoulders, and no low necklines.


6.

It is admirable and beneficial for women to cover their heads,[5] but let it be a real “veil,” such as a stylish scarf over the head and shoulders, rather than a doily precariously balanced on the top of the head.

A chopped veil that falls short as a proper veil.

A good lace veil that covers the back of her head and neck.

An elegant use of a scarf as a chapel veil.


7.

Arrive before the formal liturgical greeting by the priest, and do not leave before the dismissal.[6] Anything less than this makes a mockery of your lay obligation to assist [7] at the liturgy. Moreover, if you really loved God, you would not receive Communion if you arrive late.[8]

  

Protestants say that their Communion is just a symbol. Well, they’re right. Just as Melchizedek’s offering of bread and wine was a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice of His Body and Blood, the Protestants’ “Communion” is a symbol—a symbol of the real sacrifice of the Catholic Eucharist.

  

 
Abuses

In regard to liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass and the Eastern Catholic liturgies preserve a reverent environment well suited to nurturing love. The language, the music, the incense, and the liturgical actions of the priest(s), server(s) and the congregation all combine to focus human action into an act of love. Although the Novus Ordo has this potential as well, the new order of the Mass is also open to abuse. The real division between the traditional and the modern concerns reverence, or, more technically, conservatism.

A conservative—a true conservative—seeks to conserve respect for the divine mystery of Christ’s Incarnation and Passion that is behind every liturgical action of the Catholic Church. Thus, the Novus Ordo can be offered conservatively, and there are places—though they may be hard to find—where it is offered conservatively.

You may have to travel quite a distance on Sundays to find a conservative Mass, but you may not have the time for extensive travel on weekdays. Therefore, if you have to go to a liberal parish, then, instead of putting money into the collection, leave a note of warning.
 

When I attend Mass here, I will not support this parish financially as long as you do any of the following:

Use female altar servers

Use extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion in non-extraordinary circumstances or refer to them as “Eucharistic ministers”

Fail to maintain a general atmosphere of modest reverence for the sacred environment, especially when women serving as lectors or ushers wear slacks or jeans instead of modest skirts

 

Alter the liturgical texts or disobey the rubrics

Make the homily into joking entertainment

I will give my monetary support only to those who defend and teach the true faith and who respect the holy mysteries of the divine liturgy.

 
This isn’t being judgmental, it’s a matter of giving a legitimate warning about abuses.

  

The psychological idea behind all abuses is to “dumb down” the Mass so that anyone, even a child, can understand it; the unwitting consequence of this is that no one, not even a child, can take the Mass seriously.

  

 
Be Not Afraid

So do not be afraid. Commune with God in ways that even angels cannot. Remain steadfast in the Faith, and do not become angry with the sins of others, but think of the mercy that awaits them, if only they would repent their sins and accept God’s mercy. And then pray and make sacrifices that they do accept it.

Pray, and make sacrifices.

—The Blessed Virgin Mary,
Fátima, 1917

 
Conclusion: Self-deceived

In the end, no matter what prayer and liturgical practices you follow, if they are not leading you to love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength; if they are not leading you to forsake the world and its enticements; if they are not leading you to live a chaste and modest lifestyle; and if they are not leading you to treat others with forgiveness and compassion, then, to borrow an expression from Saint James, you are self-deceived.

 

The Holy Mass explained to Catalina by Jesus and Mary

 

Who wrote this web page?

 

Notes.

1. “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.” For more information about documented and authenticated Eucharistic miracles, see Eucharistic Miracles from The Real Presence Association. 

2. See Peter Elliot’s definitive text, Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), §336. A genuflection is a sign of adoration due to God. To make a proper genuflection, keep your back straight, bend your left leg, and touch your right knee to the floor. Note that a curtsy is just a timid, half-hearted attempt at a genuflection. Note also that a bow, in the Roman rite (unlike the Eastern rites), is simply a sign of respect, as would be given to another person; to bow, rather than to genuflect (or kneel), before the Blessed Sacrament is to give the appearance of “respecting” Christ while secretly denying His sacred presence.
     It’s true that the norm in the US is to bow before receiving Communion. And, I will add, it’s also true that the norm in the US is that most Catholics don’t have a clue as to what Christianity really is, and that many so-called Catholics are in a perpetual state of unrepentant mortal sin. So, if you want to resist the impending persecution from the world that will sweep away much of the true faith, then resist the norm of ignorance and apathy that surrounds you now in the Church itself. So, at the least, genuflect before receiving the Host (and the Chalice); if circumstances are comfortable, then adore Christ by kneeling to receive Him. (Reception of Communion while kneeling is protected by church law; see Redemptionis Sacramentum, 91). 

3. This is not an issue in the Eastern rites because of the universal practice of intinction (dipping the host into the Precious Blood, with reception in the mouth), but all Roman Catholics have the right to receive the host on the tongue (see Redemptionis Sacramentum, 92 and GIRM, 161). This right cannot be legally denied, even in the flu season, and any priest who denies you does so illicitly and thereby commits a grave sin. (If any priest consistently tries to force you to receive in the hands, then start wearing gloves. Every priest knows that reception of the host in gloved hands is absolutely forbidden.) It is also illicit to be denied Communion for kneeling (see Redemptionis Sacramentum, 91).
     Furthermore, in regard to sanitation, it is more sanitary to receive the host on the tongue that to receive the host in your hands. Keep in mind that by the time for Communion your hands have been subject to far more bacterial and viral contamination than the hands of the priest. Plus, a good priest will not even touch your tongue when giving Communion. As for “extraordinary” ministers of Holy Communion, well, what’s the point of your not touching the host with your hands if you are willing to let anyone other than a priest touch the host? 

4. If you have a tattoo that you acquired in a time of spiritual ignorance, then, to prevent the sin of giving scandal to others, cover it in sorrow for having desecrated your personal temple of the Holy Spirit. 

5. When a woman refuses to cover her head in prayer, she also refuses to take seriously the spiritual battle with evil—and that’s a sad thing for her and for the entire Chrurch as well. 

6. “Eating and running” is a social blunder that can get you barred from future dinner invitations. Do you think that it offends Christ any the less? 

7. See Can. 1247 and 1248. 

8. You are obligated by Church law to receive holy Communion only once a year (see Can. 920 §1); partaking of the sacrament of the Eucharist more than this minimum is optional. Therefore, refraining from receiving holy Communion when you have not been able to prepare yourself properly (e.g., in quiet meditation before Mass begins) would be of greater honor to Christ than receiving Communion as a formality simply because you managed to get there “before it was all over.”

 

Additional Resources

Eucharistic Miracles  from The Real Presence Association.

 

 

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