Sunday, November 26, 2006

The order of the Mass

Trinity Sunday and father was about to go into his sermon on Christ as King, so he asks, "How many noticed that today I'm wearing white vestments instead of green?" A number of hands go up, about 2/3rds of those present. "So how many didn't notice?" No hands go up.
Now this should be prefaced by two facts. Fact one: Father has never been one to allow the laity to fore go their responsibility:
In liturgical celebrations each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy. --Sacrosanctum Concilium.
In father's eyes the responses are part of the office of the faithful attending Mass, and they should loudly and with reverence perform those parts.
Fact two:This particular morning between the Greeting and the Penitential Rite a number of adults were chattering when they should have been silent. Going into the Penitential Rite father felt, quite justifiably in my opinion, that people should have been silently contemplating their sins in preparation for our recital of option C of the rite rather than chatting.
The lack of response to his question, as well as the earlier talking motivated father to toss his homily on Jesus' appearance before Pilot and launch instead into a sermon on appropriate behavior at Mass.
This was not a tirade against the behavior of the community, but rather a thoughtful sermon on the place of the laity in worship. He explained how the Mass was both community and personal. There are parts of the Mass during which the community prays together and parts when we should be praying alone. Response during the proper times is our (the laity's)way of fulfilling our office. Quiet during the proper time is necessary for us to engage in respectful individual prayer during the times when we should be doing so.
I have always been glad that father, while a supporter of the N.O., is very exacting in adherence to the Roman Missal.
After Mass I thanked father for his sermon and expressed my appreciation for his strict stand on the Mass. His answer?
"Well it is the liturgy of the Church. They don't pay me to be creative."

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