Monday 16 April 2012

High Mass at Sacred Heart Church

The altar awaits the awesome mystery to be carried out upon it.

Calling to mind the words of Pope Saint Pius X, “You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens at the Altar. When acting in this way you have prayed Holy Mass”, I approached Sunday’s High Mass in Loughborough with a refreshed vision. It was a wonderful example of the noble simplicity of the rites offered to us by Holy Mother Church.

A good attendance by Sacred Heart Parishioners and LMS members, added further to the festive character of Low Sunday (being in octava Paschæ). A stirring sermon rallied the faithful to loyalty to Pope Benedict, calling for prayers for vocations and reconciliation within the Church, at a time when so many - even clergy - are promoting their own dissenting teachings. My thoughts were also with the Society of St Pius X and the hoped for reconciliation, that this rich form of the Roman Rite may be even more freely available than it is now.

The sanctuary party after Mass.

Thanks to Jeremy Boot for the photos - more of which are at the end of this post.

It's been a while since I assisted in choir at High Mass and, having tranquil time for prayer, I also got a good view of the intimate details of the Celebrant’s actions at the altar - which some who don’t understand the Traditional Form of the Mass seem to think are so superfluous. Just read Dom. Prosper Guéranger on the signs of the cross during the Per ipsum to see what a rich theology, inspired by the theologia of the early Church Fathers, they are missing: Here is what he says about it...

Before the conclusion of the Great Prayer, a very solemn rite is performed; it is Holy Church’s last confession of the identity existing between the Sacrifice of the Cross and that of the Mass. The Priest uncovers the Chalice containing the Blood of Our Lord, and after making a genuflection, he takes in his right hand the Sacred Host, and in his left hand the Chalice, then he three times makes the sign of the cross with the host, over the Chalice, going from one lip of the Chalice to the other, saying: per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso - then, making the sign of the cross between the Chalice and his own breast, with the sacred host, as before, he adds: est tibi Deo Patri omnpotenti, in unitate Spiritus Sancti: he replaces the Host above the Chalice and slightly elevates both saying: omnis honor et gloria, he then puts down the Host again, and re-covers the Chalice; and having done so, says: Per omnia saecula saeculorum, and the people answer: Amen.

What does this action of the Priest signify? Holy Church possesses her Spouse in the state of immolation and of sacrifice; nevertheless, He is living. Thence she would here bring out, in a marked manner, this His character of the living God, and she expresses it by thus reuniting the Body and Blood of the Lord, placing the Host immediately over the Precious Blood, in order to give Glory to God. She then bids the Priest say: per ipsum, by Him is the Father Glorified; et cum ipso, with Him is He glorified, because God the Father has not a glory superior to that of the Son, nor isolated from that of the Son (see what majesty in this cum ipso); and, in ipso, in Him is the Father glorified: the glory, which is brought by the Son to the Father, is in the Son, and not outside of Him, in ipso. Thus, by Him, with him (that is to say, conjointly with Him), and in Him, are all honour and glory to God the Father. The Priest, twice again, makes the sign of the cross, but this time he makes it between the Chalice and his own breast. And why this difference? He is pronouncing these words: est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitate Spritus Sancti; as neither the Father, nor the Holy Ghost have been immolated, it would be unbecoming, whilst naming them, to place the Host over the Blood which belongs to the Son alone, Who alone was clad in our human nature, and alone was immolated for us. But whilst pronouncing these last words: omnis honor et gloria, the Priest again holds the Sacred Host over the chalice, expressing thereby, that in the veins of the Divine Victim that he is offering, the Precious Blood flows together with immortality for evermore. So the Priest can now say to God: omnis honor et gloria; this offering is the most glorious Act that can possibly be made to thine honour, for we possess the risen Christ, and it is His very Self that is immolated to thine honour, on this Altar. No, He who is offered is not a mere creature; but by Him, and with Him, per ipsum et cum ipso, are all honour and glory to God. Thus, this glory goes straight to God; He cannot refuse the homage which is paid to Him, which is rendered by Him who is immolated, but yet is living still. The Sacrifice thus truly offered indeed, is the greatest Act which can be done for God. On Calvary, the immolation of our Lord was a hideous and abominable crime; but here, this immolation is all that is most glorious for God, and it is so, because He who is offered is living. It is the Living God we offer; it is the Living Son offered to the Living God. What more grand, what more just, than to express this thought by placing the Body of our Lord directly over His Blood? See here how it is that the Sacrifice of the Mass is the most glorious Act that can he done for God, since all honour and all glory are rendered to Him at this sublime moment; per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso.

This solemn rite, of which we are treating, shows us how much God has loved the world. When we consider that He whom the Priest is thus holding in his hands, is not only He by whom all glory is given to God, but even He who shares this same glory together with Him: per ipsum, et in ipso! It is the Word of the Father who allows himself to be lifted in one’s hands, to be touched, because He wishes that all glory should be given to God, omnis honor et gloria, He wishes that there should ascend to God a homage from which He cannot turn away. What now are all the homages of men compared with the worship paid by our Lord Himself to His Father!

Yes, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is verily the most glorious Act we can possibly do for God; one can offer a prayer, or perform an act of virtue, but that does not force the attention of God; whereas at the Mass He is forced, by all This own Infinite Perfections, to be attentive to the worship there paid Him.

Now let us see if this important rite can be traced up to the first centuries. It is certainly very ancient; it must have existed in all ages, as it is to be found everywhere. It can at once be understood that Holy Church, offering up her Spouse unto God, could never say that He is dead; she has immolated Him, it is true, but He whom she has thus immolated is living and this she must needs confess. Lo! now are accomplished the three great Mysteries, the Passion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension. That our Christ is indeed our very own, is what these three Mysteries truly express, and Holy Church right well remembers it. Before these were accomplished, there was not so much richness, if we may be allowed the expression. He was born at Bethlehem, but the Incarnation alone was not to save us, according to the designs of God; although it would have sufficed thereunto and super-abundantly, if such had been the Divine Decree. Then, Christ suffered His bitter Passion, but that was not enough; there must be his Victory over Death, His Resurrection. There must yet be something more. Christ must open Heaven, He must have His Ascension; it needs must be, I say, that our human nature, which He deigned to take to Himself, in which He suffered, by means of which He subjected Himself to death, - that this very human nature should be throned in heaven, - His Ascension, therefore, is a very necessity. So truly and indeed, He whom we hold in our hands, is the Lord himself, He who suffered, He who died, He who hath risen again, He who hath ascended into Heaven.

Behold here the reason why we owe great thanks to our Lord, for having allowed us to be born since the accomplishment of all these stupendous Mysteries. For in the case of those who died between the taking place of the Resurrection and the Ascension, although happier far than those who preceded them in point of time, still are we much more fortunate than they, for in their day, Christ was not as yet completed in his Mysteries. Those who died between the Death of Our Lord and His Resurrection, were less happy than the first named; and as to those who died before our Saviour, they had but the hope, and they were obliged to quit this life, before seeing this hope realised. Oh! how far more highly favoured are we, than those who have gone before us! and so we say: unde et memores Domine, nos, servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta eiusdem Christi Filii tui Domini nostri tambeatae Passionis, nec non et ab inferis Resurrectionis, sed et in coelos gloriosae Ascensionis. What energy in these words! but moreover what profound reverence, and what love ought we not to have for one single Mass, since it is the one grandest thing which Our Lord Himself has done! It is even all that He can do; it is that which He will ever do, for the ministry of Our Lord is never to cease; Priest He is and ever will be: tu es sacerdos inaeternum.

It is His Father Himself who declares the perpetuity of His Priesthood: Iuravit Dominus et non paenitebit eum: tues Sacerdos in aeternum secundum Ordinem Melchisedech. The Lord hath sworn it, iuravit: thou art Priest for ever, saith He, according to the order of Melchisedech. The Lord adds this, because Jesus Christ is to exercise His ministry by means of bread and wine which were likewise the matter of the Sacrifice of Melchisedech. Priest, then, is He for ever, offering Himself ever for us, living for ever; and all this, as Saint Paul says in order to make intercession for us: Semper vivens ad interpellandum pro nobis; yet retaining ever the wounds of His Passion, so as to bespeak the sacrifice and to offer these His wounds to His Father for us. Confidently then, does Holy Church say to God: Iube haec perferri per manus Sancti Angeli tui in sublime altare tuum, in conspectu divinae Maiestatis tuae, that is to say, these things which we are here offering, in order that they may be wholly one with that Altar yonder in Heaven, since of this they are truly worthy. For on the Altar of earth, just as on the Altar of Heaven, it is always and ever Jesus Christ who is the Offerer, being Priest for ever, and who is likewise, at the same time, the Victim also. Yea even when the world ceases to exist, Our Lord will continue to render unto God, the very same worship, in his quality of Priest: Sacerdos in aeternum, because it is meet that God should be honoured for ever. Nevertheless, the two ends of Sacrifice which regard propitiation and impetration shall exist no more; Jesus Christ, Sacerdos in aeternum, will continue only to adore and give thanks.

It is well to remark here, that the Sacrifice of praise surrounds the Sacrifice of the Mass, whereby true life is given to the former. Holy Church has fixed the hour of Tierce for the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This was the hour at which the Holy Ghost came down upon the Church; hence at the beginning of this hour we are bid, in the Office, to say: Nunc Sancte nobis Spiritus ... The Church invokes this Divine Spirit who by His very presence gives warmth to her love and prepares her to offer the Great Sacrifice. Ever since Matins, the entire Office has been lighted up by the beaming rays of this Sublime Sacrifice; and this its influence will last on, even unto the Compline hour, which concludes the Sacrifice of Praise.

Formerly, as we have already said, the Elevation used to take place at the end of the Canon. The Greeks have retained this Custom which is observed as follows. The Priest having placed the host above the Chalice and said the words: Omnis honor et gloria, turns towards the assembled faithful, holding the Body and Blood of our Lord, which he shows to the people, whilst the Deacon utters aloud these words: Sancta Sanctis, holy things for the holy!

The Great Prayer of the Canon being terminated, the Priest interrupts the silence which reigns in the holy assembly, by exclaiming: Per omnia saecula saeculorum. And the people answer: Amen, as a sign of approbation of what has just been done, and of union with the offering just presented to God.

Fr Mark Lawler preaches a rousing homily.

Vidi aquam.

The Epistle.

1 comment:

Parate Viam Domini said...


Nice to see a good of number younger men in the sanctuary but that does seem to be the norm for the EF, the priests always manage to look younger.

Quite interestingly I have noted that a lot of our orthodox priests also take some care of themselves, not ostentatiously of course but always well turned-out, unlike some other (less-orthodox) clergy who always seem to appear like a badly-made bed!

I say more power to all your elbows! :-)