I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours recently, and a line from Psalm 14 really struck me.
"They never pray to the Lord
See how they tremble with fear
Without cause for fear"
One of the 4 Pillar documents of the 2nd Vatican Council, the document governing revisions to the Mass, (Sacrosanctum Conclilium) in paragraph 54 says this: "Steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them."
So here are some of the most common Latin Mass parts:
Mass "Ad Orientem" (The Priest Facing the East) or, as it is typically referred to falsely as "The priest celebrating Mass with his back to the people", is the way 22 of the 23 Catholic Rites celebrate Mass EXCLUSIVELY.
Some in the Latin Church advocate celebrating the Mass "versus populum" or with the priest facing the people.
And some dioceses in the United States have started REQUIRING Mass be celebrated by the priest "facing the people" sighting the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, paragraph 299.
Father Z has written over and over again about how the translation of paragraph 299 of the GIRM, and the subsequent request for clarification sent to Rome on GIRM 299, expressly forbids dioceses from banning Mass celebrated by the priest "With his back to the people"
I quote from some of his article below:
GIRM 299 actually says that what is desirable, when possible, is that the altar be separated from the wall, not that Mass be versus populum.
4th Sunday of Lent – “Light and Darkness of Soul”
A theme that we hear throughout all of the readings for this Sunday is physical blindness, physical sight, spiritual blindness and spiritual sight.
I typically read the readings for the upcoming Sunday on Monday at some point and then see what happens over the week. And so every priest and monk and nun and religious brother and sister around the world promises to pray from this book, which is called the “Liturgy of the Hours” at least 5 times each day throughout the day. The first “Liturgy of the Hours” that most priests and monks and nuns pray is called the “Office of Readings” which consists of 3 Psalms followed by a page from Sacred Scripture and then a page from a saint.
All of this to say that this Wednesday, while praying the Office of Readings, I came across my homily. The reading was from a letter written by Saint Theophilus of Antioch, and I was just like to read a few excerpts from his letter.
“Those who can see with the eyes of their bodies are aware of what is happening in this life on earth. They get to know things that are different from each other. They distinguish light and darkness, ugliness and beauty, elegance and inelegance, proportion and lack of proportion…God is seen by those who have the capacity to see him, provided that they keep the eyes of their mind open. All have eyes, but have some eyes that are shrouded in darkness, unable to see the light of the sun. Because the blind cannot see the sun, it does not follow that the sun does not shine. The blind must trace the cause back to themselves and their eyes. In the same way, you have eyes in your mind that are shrouded in darkness because of your sins and evil deeds.
A person’s soul should be clean, like a mirror reflecting light. No one who has sin within him can see God.”
Let me, Fr. Hollowell, say here that the best way to deal with spiritual blindness is by taking advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will literally feel a weight lifted off of you, a physical weight, particularly if you have not been for a long time. Not only that, but when you come, the Sacrament of Reconciliation gives you new grace to move forward.
Saint Theophilus of Antioch says later “If you understand this, and live in purity and holiness and justice, you may see God.” About 99.9999% of time, it is not a physical vision, but rather when you pray and quiet yourself, you will experience a calm, quiet peace…which is what God desires for each of us at every moment of our lives.
Jesus tells the woman at the well in today’s Gospel that “the hour is coming when people will worship the Father in Spirit and truth”
Saint John Chrysostom, a saint in the 300’s, (whose relic is on our rerdos back here, which, by the way, these relics were donated by the Hopwood’s to Saint Paul’s. So the first one, as you are looking up here left to right is Saint Basil. The next one is a relic from St. Philip the Apostle. On the other side of the Tabernacle is St. Gregory of Nyssa and then the one on the end is St. John Chrysostom. Relics are meant to hearken back to the days when the first Catholics would have Mass in the catacombs over the dead bodies of the saints. Each Catholic altar also has a relic of a saint in it.
Anyway, St. John Chrysostom said about this line that Jesus speaks to the woman that the hour is coming when people will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, that Jesus is talking about the Catholic Church as being the place where this true worship takes place.
The Catholic Mass has been handed on through 2,000 years
There have been lots of changes through those 2,000 years, but the essence remains unchanged
There are now tens of thousands of denominations, and a lot of those denominations strive to worship more spontaneously than the Catholic Mass, but even then, there is a form to their spontaneous-ness. No denomination would say that complete and utter chaos is worship, so various denominations might not be aware of the form their worship takes, but there is always some form or another to any worship.
So the Catholic Mass has a form that has been preserved for 2,000 years. At this and every Mass we understand ourselves to be joining something that is already going on. Jesus appears on this altar when the words of consecration are prayed over bread and wine. Heaven, Calvary and this Church are intermingled in a glorious way.
At this and every Mass, literally the hour has come where we are worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth.
2nd Sunday of Lent, 2023 “Don’t Chase Mountaintop Experiences”
It is normal, on a human level, to crave mountain top experiences where we see Jesus in all His glory
But the vast majority of the time…when we pray we don’t feel anything, at least in the way most of us expect to “FEEL” prayer
Peter James and John in today’s Gospel see the most amazing sight. They see Jesus Transfigured, shining and golden and speaking with Moses and Elijah and God the Father tells them “this is my Beloved Son, listen to him.”
And yet, 40 days later, when soldiers come to arrest Jesus in the garden, all of the Apostles, including Peter, James and John flee. Peter, later that same night, denies 3 times that he know Jesus.
What this shows is that mountain experiences do not last…ever…on this side of Heaven. If they ever lasted on this side of Heaven, Peter, James, and John would not have abandon Jesus.
What DOES last?…a prayer life that involves listening to the quiet whisperings and nudgeings that God is putting on your heart.
There is no way around it…day in and day out setting time aside for prayer to grow in your relationship with Jesus. Find whatever works for you to get to a place of silent prayer, listening for the quiet and calm voice of God
If you are moving from one mountain top experience to the next, and don’t recognize Jesus at any other time, you will, when the going gets tough, abandon Jesus.