Friday, September 14, 2007

Solemn High Mass on EWTN Now!

Note: This post has undergone some editing and fine-tuning so if you read it previously, don't be surprised to see some things added.

Today is the Feast of the Triumph and Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the first day that the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite may be freely celebrated based on Summorum Pontificum.

I am on a vacation day today and have on the Solemn High Mass on EWTN right now, celebrated by the visiting FSSP priests who are there training several of the friars interested in the Mass. WOW!

EDIT: Right after the Consecration, EWTN seems to have encountered technical difficulties and we have lost the Mass, at least temporarily. It came back just as the priest was drinking from the Chalice.

I must confess, when the priests entered, wearing the most breathtakingly beautiful Sacred Heart vestments, and birettas, I cried. I felt like a caged-bird released. While I was too young to have any recollection of this Mass before Vatican 2 (I was born in 1962), there was an awesome sense of freedom in my soul that I just can't describe. I never would have known that when I stumbled into Assumption Grotto in 2005, God was leading me to a place that would release something I never knew was there: A longing for this old Mass. For me personally, I can see how the Latin Novus Ordo was a stepping stone to something so much more magnificent.

Te Deum laudamus; te Dominum confitemur

I am following along in the pamphlet which is downloadable at EWTN made by the FSSP for today's Mass. You can find it here on the motu proprio resources page. The Epistle and Gospel are being read in english - good english - the kind I like to hear in Church, so different from ordinary conversational english.

Rev. Fr. Calvin Goodwin, FSSP, wearing a beautiful preaching stole, has just read the Gospel and is now doing the sermon. He is talking about Summorum Pontifcum, about the Mass itself, and now is addressing the use of Latin, and the ad orientem posture of the priest who faces the altar, not the people, leading them in prayer. I hope EWTN or the FSSP will publish the words of the sermon so we can link to it.

As a sidenote, there was a "Mother Angelica sighting". Yep, Mother is there behind the grates right in the front row, assisting at this Mass. I am so glad she lived to see this come to pass. She is being shown a second time in the background and appears deep in contemplation. This Mass is conducive to it. All of the stimulii common to the new Mass I grew up with, are completely removed. As I have witnessed at Assumption Grotto during the Latin Novus Ordo, those stimulii are totally unnecessary even in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. It is the absence of interpersonal stimulii which enabled me to first discover the depths of the Latin Novus Ordo when experiencing it as it is celebrated at Grotto. The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, "kicks it up a notch" in the area of sacredness, magnificence, and reverence.

God is wholeheartedly placed at the center of this Mass and it is loaded with humility. Just as an example, before the priest ascends the steps to the altar, here is the exchange between priest, deacon, and subdeacon. If you pray the Divine Office or read Scripture regularly, you may recognize some of the words, straight out of Psalm 42.

V: I will go to the altar of God.
R: To God the joy of my youth.

V: Do me justice, O God, and fight my fight against an unholy people, rescue me from the wicked and deceitful man.
R: For Thou, O God, art my strength, why hast though forskaen me? And why do I go about in sadness, while the enemy harasses me?
V: Send forth Thy light and thy truth: for they have led me and broughtme to they holy hill and Thy dwelling place.

R: And I will go tothe altar of God, to God my, the joy of my youth.
V: I shall yet praise Thee upon the harp, O God, my God. Why are thou sad, my soul, and why art though downcast?
R: Trust in God, for I shall yet praise Him, my Savior, and my God.

This Mass brings something back to the liturgy, that in my humble opinion has been lost and even shunned: the concept of humility. As I read the translations in this booklet, it also brings back an understanding that we are a sinful people, but a people whose salvation is made possible by the graces of God through the Sacrifice of the Mass, if we respond to those graces worthily. I recall all too well a reaction I developed to the use of the altar rail: It begs for humility and for a pure soul, free of mortal sin. Unfortunately, in many parishes today, the confession lines are empty, but the Communion lines are full. I say again, that rail which is suppose to be an extension of the altar, whispers a sense of the sacred and it BEGS for a clean soul. This is true especially where confession is readily available before Mass. Those lines of penitents have a gravitational pull.

Since coming to Grotto, I have become a student of the Mass. Now, I see myself as a student of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. I hope all of you too, will deep dive this Mass to see all of the richness it offers us from a spiritual standpoint. Every single thing (vestment, tool, etc), and ever single action (bowing, removal of biretta, ringing of bells, etc.) has a purpose and it gives us an opportunity to meditate. For example, as the priest drinks from the Chalice, the deacon and subdeacon back away to either side, and each bows his head until the celebrant puts the Chalice down. Such subtle moves provide us with a chance to reflect on the sacredness of the Precious Blood. It goes to the magnitude of what has taken place, and Who it is we receive.

I don't see less opportunity to participate. I see more opportunities. These are just in a whole different dimension - much of it interior, but some also manifesting themselves in certain outward expressions, as well. We genuflect during the Creed instead of bowing out of reverence and humility for the fact that God became man, born of a Virgin.

This Mass will be rebroadcast at 6:00pm tonight, and at midnight. Set your tape or Tivo to record if you will be at the Mass.

As I close this post, Fr. Goodwin is doing an excellent job of bringing out many of the Church's teachings on the Mass, especially words of Pope Benedict. He has addressed the "deformations of the liturgy" found in the way the Novus Ordo is often celebrated - not the way the Church intends it to be celebrated. He is talking about how this deformation includes the emphasis on "celebration", as opposed to the reality of the representation of the sacrifice made by Jesus. The Mass is not a celebration, it is a sacrifice. His sermon offers us a good dose of solid catechesis.

Come to Grotto tonight and dive into the Solemn High Mass at 7:00pm.

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