Sunday, 3 October 2010

et lux in tenebris lucet

Finding and going to low Mass in the EF is becoming extremely important to us both. It is not easy to give reasons why, though you don’t need a reason to search after beauty and truth. It is not that the newer rite, when celebrated and prayed devoutly, isn’t also very beautiful, it is just so much harder to pray.

Maybe this is to do with the preparation of the priest. For the EF he will definitely say his vesting prayers as he puts on the “armour of Christ”, he is given every opportunity to lose himself and align to the Divine. Then there is the statement of the priest at the foot of the altar “Introibo ad altare Dei”, “ I will go to the altar of God”; a statement of intent and unworthyness. So often in the newer rite, approaching the altar is like going onto the stage, a greeting to the audience, a quick joke or reference to the weather or the state of the car park. The newer rite Mass starts to seem as if it is about us and our relationships with each other, rather than our relationship with Christ.

Maybe it is about the discipline of the “choreography”. The priest is so wholly engrossed with every muscle, nerve and fibre of his body, he ought not become distracted by worldly things.

What about the congregation? Perhaps we can appear to be a bunch of uncommunicative, crusty losers. Perhaps we don’t care. We feel we have nothing to be self-orientated about, we don’t want to be talking with each other, we are there to re-order our lives to God. We do not deserve what we are about to partake in, but for our sins and the sins of the world, we are there and we pray. There is solidarity in the singleness of purpose, cementing friendships seems much less important.

Finally, there is a very personal reason, it is the fact that we can listen to the Last Gospel, after the Angels have done their bit and the Sacrifice of the Mass has been taken up to Heaven. Hearing the Last Gospel (the beginning of St John’s Gospel) then becomes the first communal act after the reception of Holy Communion and after the Dismissal “Go the Mass is ended”. What more fitting thing can we do, having communicated so intimately with Our Lord and having said our personal prayers of thanksgiving? It is a communal act like no other. It shows us our position in the great scheme of things. It is an affirmation of our relationship to the Light now enveloping our hearts post-Communion. It is our first gift.

The Last Gospel encapsulates all the Physics it is possible to study, it also marries matter and spirit like no other piece of writing. The Incarnation is seen in cosmic terms.

For me it is like a caress, a loving gesture to take out into the world. It is the Truth encapsulated in a few short paragraphs. Where else should we be, what else could we do but hear it after Mass?


Ttony said...

"The Last Gospel encapsulates all the Physics it is possible to study, it also marries matter and spirit like no other piece of writing. The Incarnation is seen in cosmic terms."

That's really set me up for the week - thank you.

Robert Heath said...

I like all of your thoughts. Its funny, I am a choir director, and I love a high Mass with all the proper chants, though it can be very stressful.

But I think I love a silent low Mass even more, for many of your same reasons.

And there is something about the final Gospel. I hadn't been to a traditional Latin Mass in years prior to the Pope's motu proprio a couple of years ago, but for some reason that last Gospel stuck in my mind, and I was still pretty young when I last went to a Traditional Mass years ago. I miss that very much. I like your insights about it. Thank you.