Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Mass (of Saints and Sinners)

I've been trying to psyche myself up for the Traditional Latin Mass at 7am in the morning. I finally resolved to go tomorrow, and of course my boss tells me I'm working 8-5. I think what I'm missing in the Novus Ordo is the Catholic dogma of the sacrifice of the mass and the numinousness of the liturgy. I enjoy the Novus Ordo in the Cathedral, and I agree with Fr. Neuhaus when he said that it can be done reverently but it can also be horrifically abused. But I'm thirsting for something different. I want to find the Roman in Roman rite Catholicism.

I've found 2 problems in the Church mainly. The first is that of priests and lay Catholics not knowing or teaching the official dogmatic position of our Church. And the second is that the few I hear who do know and teach authentic Catholicism, do so in broken English (I've had great Philippino, Indian, and Italian priests but they barely spoke the language).

But even with those two critiques, I must say that the Mass and the Rosary are becoming essential to my life. If I can't take the Eucharist, I need at least to go to Mass, and if I can't go to Mass I need at least to pray my Rosary. I like what Fr. Richard John Neuhaus wrote on it:

"It is the Mass that holds together the maddeningly ragtag and variegated thing that is the Catholic Church. Which is to say it is the Presence. Which is to say it is Christ, doing it again, just as he promised."

I think that's God's honest truth. I've been reading snippets of "The Literary Converts" by Joseph Pearce (a convert himself) and I found a quote I really liked from a Catholic convert most people don't know about:

"The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. For respectable people the Anglican Church will do." - Oscar Wilde

I love this quote, I love the mass because it is such a great example of this. I like the liturgy because it puts me in my place. I am a sinner and I kneel in the Cathedral, and in the windows and statues I see Christ, Mary, and the Saints, the heroes of the faith and in the pews I think of myself and others, the sinners. And that by feeding on Christ in the Eucharist, and partaking of his sacrifice I also partake with the other saints already glorified in Heaven. And so I think: what a blessing, that sinners like ourselves are in the same family as the saints. I'm "related" to St. Thomas Aquinas and J.R.R Tolkien, and I kneel before the same altar and sacrifice which all the saints did. Thus I am reminded of Fr. Richard's words, the mass at the heart of it is "Christ, doing it again, just as he promised"

May God grant me a life filled with Masses, and by his grace may I one day be a saint instead of a sinner (though I know technically all Christians are saints, I'm referring to an actual objective increase in holiness).

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