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Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Mass - Advent 2011 - The Roman Missal Third Edition Part 5

The Mass
Advent 2011
Roman Missal Third Edition

Part 5

The Liturgy of the Eucharist
When Heaven Touches Earth
Do this in memory of me

During the second half of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary is “made present” to us by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the priest. As we stand in prayer at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist we will notice the priest using new words, substituting “my sacrifice and yours,” for “our sacrifice.”

Priest: Pray, brethren that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.

People: May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his holy Church.

In preparation for the Eucharistic prayer we prepare and present ourselves for sacrifice with Christ. The new translation of the part of the priest more closely reflects the original Latin text which referred to “my” sacrifice and “yours.” The “my” part of the sacrifice points to Christ’s sacrifice which will be made present through the priest acting in “persona Christi”. The “your” part refers to the entire body of the Church who offers itself in union with Christ at Mass.

We respond by asking the Lord to accept both Christ and our own sacrifice united through the power of the Holy Spirit by the hands of the priest for the good of Christ’s holy Church. This part of the Mass is most significant to the Body of Christ. We are so used to saying the words but do we really understand what we are asking?

Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity is about to be made present on the altar. Heaven will touch earth at the moment of consecration and the united sacrifice of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church Triumphant, Church Militant and Church Suffering will be unified during the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass. The bloody sacrifice Christ made for us on the Cross of Calvary and the non-bloody sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice. And we are asking God to allow us to participate with Our Lord in his sacrifice by joining our life’s sacrifices, joys, sorrows, achievements, concerns, praises and thanksgivings to his. Talk about awesome, this is awesome.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Eucharist this way: “The Eucharist is a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial…Christ our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God the Father by his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting redemption… The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice…The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. The Church which is the Body of Christ participates in the offering of her Head. With him, she herself is offered whole and entire. She unites herself to his intercession with the Father for all men. In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The life of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are all united with those of Christ and with his total offering…The whole Church is united with the offering and intercession of Christ….To the offering of Christ are united not only the members still here on earth, but also those already in the glory of heaven…The Eucharistic sacrifice is also offered for the faithful departed who have died in Christ but are not wholly purified.“ (CCC 1366-1371)

This is a profound offering we are participating in, we who are many are truly one in the body in Christ.

The introductory dialogue continues:

Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.

Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right and just.

Our new response “It is right and just,” is actually not new. It is a literal translation of our response in the Latin Mass, “Dignum et iustum ets.” another example of Liturgiam Authenticam.

There will be noticeable changes in the four Eucharistic prayers, but that will be for another commentary. Our next response will come at the end of the preface of the Eucharistic Prayer, that of the Sanctus or Holy Holy Holy. The Sanctus was added to the Mass by Pope St. Sixtus in the 2nd century. Usually sung, this hymn is composed of two parts. The first part is where we will notice a change. Instead of “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory,” we will sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.” This again is a direct literal translation of the Latin, “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus sabaoth.” This idiom also comes directly from scripture as the angels praise and honor our Lord with Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts in Isaiah 6:3.

Ecce Agnus Dei
Behold the Lamb of God

After the Sign of Peace and before reception of Communion when the priest elevates the host, the Lamb of God, instead of saying, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper,” the priest will now say, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

The words of the new version of the communion prayer call to mind the words of the angel in Revelation 19 when he announced Jesus Christ the Lamb of God as bridegroom joinging himself with his bride the Church.  "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory.  For the wedding day of the Lamb has come, his bride has made herself ready...Blesssed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb."  (Revelation 19:7-9)

This is no ordinary meal we are being invited to partake of. At this meal, Christ gives His Body on the altar, to His bride, the Church. We are then called to consume Our Lord’s Body in an intimate communion. This communion is likened to the marital union of husband and wife. It is significant to note that the baldacchino (canopy, Chuppa) built over the main altar in many cathedrals represents the wedding bed. At the altar, under the baldacchino, we the Church (bride) join Jesus (bridegroom) uniting with Him in an intimate communion. This is what being “called to the supper of the Lamb” represents. 

The Eucharist is now elevated for us to lovingly gaze upon.  Formerly our response was, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” We will now respond, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

These words are the humble words of the centurion to Jesus. In the gospel of Matthew and Luke we read of the Roman centurion who appealed to Jesus for a cure for his servant. Jesus said that he would come and cure the servant, but the centurion responded, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Matthew 8:8, Luke 7:6-7) With this response we recognize ourselves, like the centurion, not worthy to take Jesus sacramentally into our souls (under our roof) during communion. Just as the centurion trusted in Jesus’ mercy and ability to heal, we too state our unworthiness but trust in Jesus’ ability to heal us and make us a worthy vessel to receive him, body, blood, soul and divinity as an intimate guest of our souls.

Blessed Advent to All from Lynn's Timeless Treasures Devotional Gifts of Faith.
Creation of Adam - Michaelagelo - Sistene Chapel
Ghent Altarpiece (Adoration of the Mystic Lamb) - Jan van Eyck
Lamb of God in Heaven
All Saints - Fra Angelico
The Baldacchino (Wedding Canopy) over the altar St. Peter's Basilica Rome - Lorenzo Bernini
Blessed Sacrament at Elevation

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