Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Mass for Exaltation of the Cross

The Discovery of the True Cross by Gustave Doré

I am preparing today to offer Missa Cantata at 7pm for this wonderful feast, followed by veneration of the relic of the true Cross. It's also the fourth anniversary of the Holy Father's Moto Proprio Summorum Pontificum, which gave every priest the opportunity to offer the Traditional Mass at any time.

Although I was offering this Extraordinary Form of Mass for some time before this, the more regular offering has enabled me to soak up more of the riches of the more ancient form, its richness of scriptural references and quotations, its rhythm and cadences, its ability to foster prayer - certainly for me as the priest. Not just in the quiet tranquility of Low Mass but even in a Solemn Mass with deacon and sub-deacon, because many lay ministries are taking place through the music, the chant and the serving, even in the midst of what might be thought of as a lot happening on the sanctuary and in the church, in fact, one's own little part only makes up a share of that. So I often find myself at a Solemn Mass standing before the altar, having perhaps completed the prayers, being able to soak up the chant and feel a real sense of prayer, beauty and wonder. This is actual participation in the meaning of the Mass and it is effected through many people, lay and sacred ministers all playing their part. The idea that the "Old Mass" excluded lay people is, in fact, absurd, for it takes many more lay people co-operating with he priest to be able to offer a Solemn Mass. They can't just turn up and walk the "gifts" down the aisle at the Offertory, they need to prepare and practice beforehand the singing, music and serving, the sanctuary. In other words, those taking actual participation need to be be much more engaged than just turning up in order that everyone can enjoy actual participation.

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