This post dedicated to my brother Bobby who helped me deepen my Catholic Faith; love ya dude.

The Mass is to be Completely Respected by All Participants

I’ve been attending Mass, well, since almost the day I was born.  Growing up in Brooklyn and attending a Gothic style church just after Vatican II, I remember the palpable feeling of holiness within St. Marks.  At Mass; before, during, and after, there was almost complete silence (except for the occasional cry of a child) because this was a Catholic church, a place of prayer, reflection and reverence, with God in the Tabernacle.  Parishioners dressed with reverence, entered the Narthex with reverence, entered the Nave with reverence, spoke with reverence, prayed with reverence, approached the altar with reverence, received Communion with reverence, and left the church with reverence.  We were to venerate the Holy Eucharist and completely respect the Sanctuary.  The real presence of Christ in the Tabernacle, as unbelievable as it may sound to atheists, agnostics, separated Christians and some Catholics, is a fact to the Church.  This grand mystery is hard to fathom, but through Apostolic Succession, Sacred Tradition and Scripture, we know this to be true.

When we moved to Florida (early ’70s), even though our church was not as grand as St. Marks, its holiness was protected by the examples of the priests and the edict of the Pastor.  But as the years have gone by, with Vatican II implemented in a liberal fashion and with Americans becoming increasingly liberal – more or less, including Catholics, irreverence at Mass is rampant and alarming.  A Catholic church is simply not a place where you act any way you want.  You carry yourself with absolute reverence “in God’s actual presence”.

Reverence of God’s Presence Well Documented

An example of the tradition of unconditional adoration of God can be found in Exodus when Moses approached the Burning Bush.  God was actually present and told Moses to take off his sandals and not come any closer because “he was standing on holy ground”. Another example is the Temple in Jerusalem.  The most sacred part of the Temple was the Sanctuary.  The first hall was called the Holy Place.  No one was allowed to enter it, except priests twice a day.  Beyond the Holy Place was a smaller room called the Holy of Holies.  This room originally contained the Ark of the Covenant: a large box covered in gold that held the bones of Joseph (Jacob’s son) and the tablets of the Ten Commandments.  God was believed to be invisibly present in the Ark, as if it were “sitting on his throne”.  The Holy of Holies could only be entered once a year by the High Priest, on Yom Kippur.

The Jews venerated something, the Temple, with incredible humility and respect.  Jesus called it “His Father’s House”.  Jews could not imagine defiling the Sanctuary in any way, shape or form, because it was God’s place.  So why do Catholics so easily disrespect the Sanctuary, where God is present in the consecrated hosts, during the Sacrifice of the Mass?  The answer is obvious; the lack of reverence at Mass is emblematic of liberalism’s effect on our society, including Catholics and the Clergy.  The sad fact is that most Catholic Pastors are more interested in “shepherding the flock” no matter how wild the flock is, as long as the flock fill the baskets, instead of protecting the sanctity of the church and the Tabernacle.

Reestablishing the Veneration of the Mass

The Catholic Church must reestablish the absolute expectation that those who enter the Nave and participate in Mass do so with complete reverence.  Sadly, what we get now in most churches is noise, distractions, insipid preaching, and maybe even “entertainment.” But we don’t get the Mass as the Church wants us to get it.  Instead, we get:

  • Popular music rather than sacred music—syrupy folk songs or even drums and electric guitars instead of chant and hymns that normal people can actually sing.
  • Adult women and young girls who look like they are preparing for a night of club hopping, openly displaying the “junk in their trunks”, cleavage, tramp-stamps and t-backs versus covering up as a sign of humility and virtue.
  • An atmosphere so lacking in reverence that private prayer before or after Mass is difficult because of all the chattering (by people who enter movie theaters in perfect silence).
  • Extraordinary ministers who are so numerous that one begins to wonder if the word extraordinary has had its meaning reversed by some governmental commission.
  • Priests who bow at the altar of political correctness by substituting “people”, “persons” “brothers and sisters” in place of the written Word in Scripture that refers to the masculine “man”, “brothers”, etc.
  • Catholics so devoid of doctrinal knowledge that they don’t touch the Holy Water font on entering the Nave, don’t know how to genuflect – or don’t at all – don’t know how to properly recieve our Lord in the Eucharist and don’t even make the sign of the cross when called to do so.

Sadly, the list of liturgical and sacramental abuses goes on and on.  The “sense of sacred” and the mystery of the Mass have been tragically lost in many Catholic parishes these days—precisely because the liturgy isn’t being celebrated correctly.  As a result, millions of Catholics—and especially our Catholic children—are growing up without a proper understanding of the holy sacrifice and what it could and should mean in their daily lives.

There’s an old Latin saying—“Lex orandi, lex credendi”—which, loosely translated, means “the way you pray affects the way you believe.” So if the Mass is celebrated in a casual, lackadaisical, worldly, “people-pleasing” way, it stands to reason that there will be a weaker understanding of what the Mass really is—and thus a weakening of people’s faith, particularly their belief in the Real Presence.

Thank God for Pope Benedict VXI

The Man!

 

 

 

Pope Benedict is on a mission to restore the “sacred” to the sacred liturgy—and thus restore the faith of the people.  In his brand-new apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (“The Sacrament of Love”), the Pope lays out his plan to revive the proper celebration of the Eucharist, which, as he points out, is “at the root of every form of holiness” and “the source and summit of the Church’s life.”

Along those lines, the Pope lists everything he wants to see fixed, changed, and improved upon in how the Mass is celebrated in parishes around the world.  Specifically, he deals with:

  • Why Catholic politicians and leaders must publicly express their faith—especially those beliefs that are not negotiable, including defense of life from conception to natural death, family built around one man and one woman, freedom to educate one’s children, and the promotion of the common good. Moreover, why bishops must strongly reaffirm these values!
  • Why Catholics should more frequently go to confession in order to receive Holy Communion worthily.
  • Why priestly celibacy is so important as a pure imitation of Christ.
  • Why divorced and remarried Catholics are not allowed to partake of the Eucharist (that is unless the marriage is properly annulled by the Church), but how they can participate in other ways at Mas.
  • The proper way to bring the faithful to participate in the liturgy.
  • Why vestments, furnishings, art, and liturgical texts—even church architecture—are so important to a proper celebration of the Eucharist.
  • Why the music at Mass should never undermine the meaning of the liturgy—and why Gregorian chant should be preferred.
  • Why homilies need to be improved and made more catechetical—avoiding the generic and abstract homilies that seem to be so popular today.
  • Why the presentation of the gifts and the sign of peace need to be done reverently.
  • Why non-Catholics cannot receive the Eucharist.
  • Why Latin should be used more frequently in the Mass—especially in the music.
  • Why outward signs of reverence for the Eucharist are so important—particularly the gestures of genuflecting and kneeling.
  • Why the location of the tabernacle is so important—and where it really should be.
  • Why the Sunday obligation must be reaffirmed.
  • How the Eucharist can combat today’s secularization and the marginalization of the Christian faith.
  • Why priests should celebrate Mass regularly—even if the faithful aren’t present.

All this—and much more—is coming to a church near you!  Its “Sacramentum Caritatis” starring Pope Benedict XVI and all Catholics in tow.  Nuns, dust off your habits, Priests grow a spine, Catholic men “man up” and lead, and Catholic women leave the Jersylicious wardrobe at home.  The Church is turning to the right and Thank God.

 

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