THE CATHOLIC MASS
December 7, 2003: My brother's family invited me to Sunday Mass this morning at Edward the Confessor Church in Syosset, New York. The first page of the program read:
Make ready the way of the Lord, clear him a straight path...Come Lord Jesus
THE GOSPEL MESSAGE...Luke 3:1-6. "WITH OR WITHOUT YOU...Think about the last time you got involved at church, more involved than just attending Mass. For some of us it might be a long and painful dredging of our memories, so much time has passed. Oh we're willing and able, but we're used to letting more experienced and eager volunteers get there first. Its easy to get complacent...as long as the work gets done in the end. But how do we know the work is done? While we're admiring other's efficiency, it's hard to see the missing part: what we could have added. Sure that ministry, or a service will "get by" without us, but who knows what it could accomplish with us?
Consider John the Baptist. He didn't ask who else volunteered, or if someone was more qualified. John simply got up, got out and did the job that needed doing. Now John wasn't the only traveling preacher in Jordan, and maybe he wasn't even the best preacher. But because John was willing, people's hearts and minds were prepared for Jesus' arrival. Think of the souls and lives that might have been lost, had John left his job to someone else. Are you thinking that God's work will get done with or without someone like you? Think again."
THE CHOIR AND CONGREGATION SANG:
O COME, O COME, EMMANUEL (Think of all the events of the 20th century...Matthew 24. KJV).
O come, O come, Emmanu-el...And ransom captive Israel...That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanu-el, Shall come to thee, O Israel!
O come Thou Wisdom from on High...Who orderest all things mightily...To us the path of Knowledge show, And teach us in her ways to go.
O come, O come, Thou Lord of might...Who to thy tribes on Sinai's height...In ancient times did give the Law, In cloud and majesty and awe.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse's stem...From every foe deliver them...That trust thy mighty power to save, And give them victory o'er the grave.
O come, Thou Key of David come...And open wide our heavenly home...Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery.
O come, Thou Dayspring from on High...And cheer us by thy drawing nigh...Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death's dark shadow put to flight.
O come, Desire of nations bind...In one the hearts of all human kind...Bid thou our sad divisions cease, And be thyself our Prince of Peace.
Who is this son of man?
SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
FIRST READING...A READING FROM THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET BARUCH
Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendour of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the Eternal Name.
For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God's worship.
Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and west at the Word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God.
Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you born aloft in glory as on royal thrones.
For God has commanded that every mountain (every nation) be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, that Israel may advance secure in the Glory of God.
THE FOREST AND EVERY KIND OF FRAGRANT TREE HAVE OVERSHADOWED ISRAEL AT GOD'S COMMAND; for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM (Psalm 126):
THE LORD HAS DONE GREAT THINGS FOR US; WE ARE FILLED WITH JOY.
When the LORD brought back the captivves of Zion, we were like men dreaming (the American Dream). Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing.
Then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad indeed.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the torrents of the southern desert. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves.
A READING FROM THE LETTER OF SAINT PAUL TO THE PHILIPPIANS.
Brothers and sisters: I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day unto NOW. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.
God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that ye may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Al-le-lu - ia! Al-le-lu - ia! Al-le-lu - ia!
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths: all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontus Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachontis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.
Every vally shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
He will keep the Feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in Darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed...(1 Samuel 2:9,10).
And this shall be a sign unto thee...
I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before my anointed for ever.
And it shall come to pass, that everyone that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsal of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priest's offices, that I may eat a piece of bread...(1 Samuel 2:34-36; 3:11-14).
For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:
Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way: for that he himself also is compassed with (the same) infirmity (see Zechariah 3).
And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.
And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron...
Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the Oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil...(Hebrews 5:1-4, 11-14).
VATICAN ISSUES NEW, FINE-TUNED GUIDELINES ON MASS
by David O'Reilly
PHILADELPHIA, January 11, 2004 __Jim Rosengarten gasped when he learned the Vatican wants him to stop calling himself a eucharistic minister. Rosengarten may still distribute communion to shut-ins and at Mass at St. Vincent's parish in Philadelphia's Germantown, as he has done for years.
But under the Roman Catholic Church's new guidelines for the celebration of the Mass, THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO ASSIST THE PRIEST THIS WAY are expected to henceforth use their proper titles. They are "extraordinary ministers of holy communion." "Oh, my God," Rosengarten exclaimed. "What a shame."
It was not the title's mouthful of syllables that disturbed him, he said, but the Vatican's reasons: IT WANTS THE PRIESTS ROLE AT MASS UNAMBIGUOUSLY DISTINCT. ONLY THE PRIEST CONSECRATES THE BREAD AND THE WINE, THE ESSENTIAL ACT OF EUCHARIST. The distinction is just one of dozens of refinements that Catholics worldwide may encounter at Mass in the year ahead.
Dismayed by the many small local variations that have crept into the celebration of the liturgy around the world (and also by a blurring of the priest's role in some churches), ROME IS CALLING FOR NEAR-UNIFORMITY IN THE WAY MASSES ARE CELEBRATED.
The Vatican has codified and clarified virtually every detail--when to stand, who wears what, how to drink from the chalice, how to hold a gospel book--and put it into a 100-page document called the General Instruction for the Roman Missal. It replaces the previous general instruction of 1985.
The Rev. Daniel Mackle, head of the Philadelphia Archdiocese Office for Worship, praised the guidelines as necessary. In some parishes, Mackle said, the Mass "has become like a painting coated in candle soot. IT HAS TO BE CLEANED UP SO WE CAN SEE THE TRUE BEAUTY." Pope John Paul II approved the new instruction's original Latin Version three years ago, but it was only last March that the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship approved the English language version for the United States.
Mackle has been asking parishes in his diocese to start with an inventory of all the prayers, hymns, Scripture readings, processionals and other rituals of their liturgies, and compare them with the carefully prescribed order of the general instruction...
While some of the directives may seem modest, Mackle said THERE IS THEOLOGY BEHIND ALMOST EVERY DETAIL OF THE MASS, WHICH IN THE CATHOLIC TRADITION RE-ENACTS THE LAST SUPPER AND JESUS' DEATH AND RESURRECTION.
For example, he said, the book of the Gospels is carried at the entrance processional but not at the recessional, "BECAUSE WE HAVE ALREADY RECEIVED THE WORD OF GOD DURING THE MASS, AND ARE NOW CARRYING IT WITHIN US AND OUT INTO THE WORLD."
The Sun and Moon (Levi and Judah)
The Passion of Christ
The Rise of the World Church