Friday, December 26, 2014

The Mass is For God

Here’s another excerpt from Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis, by Peter Kwasniewski:

The Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated for God, on his account, as an act of profound worship directed to Him.  The new Mass, as it has been allowed to be celebrated around the world, often looks like an exercise mainly for the sake of the people – almost as if the people are the point of the Mass, and not God. (p. 67)

At our local parish, there was no midnight Mass at Christmas last year. This year, an announcement in the bulletin a week or so prior to Christmas noted that there was a “renewed interest” in having  midnight Mass, and that if 75 people put their names on a list saying they would attend, then there would in fact be a midnight Mass.

This struck me in two ways: first, that it was a sign of life, perhaps, that people did actually seem to want the midnight Mass (though who knows the motivation behind each individual?); second, that the priest himself should have a desire to celebrate that Mass – one of the three Masses that the priest is privileged to say on the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Ideally, a properly formed priest, it seems to me, would desire to say all three Masses, and would do so whether or not there were a certain number of people present. I even commented on this to my husband, saying, “Isn’t the Mass for God? It’s not about how many people show up; it’s not really for them. The Mass is an act of worship directed to God.” It’s so nice to find that same thought expressed so much more eloquently and clearly by Mr. Kwasniewski!

A little farther on, Kwasniewski says:

Recall how vehemently the reformers both of the sixteenth century and of the twentieth attacked the idea of a “private Mass,” where a priest and server offer the sacrifice without a congregation. And yet, if the essence of the Mass is an act of profound adoration of the Holy Trinity, in the shadow of Whose wings the priest then intercedes for the good of the entire Church and the conversion of the world, nothing could be better than the multiplication of such Masses devoutly offered. The critique of the private Mass runs parallel with the demise of the contemplative religious life: a nun or monk in a cell seems useless “for the people,” even though in reality such a person’s prayers are the only reason the Church does not collapse in a minute, the blood of martyrs run dry, or the world vanish in a flash of fire.

How refreshing to see someone express that last thought! I find that I am often in need of reminders that my prayers mean something to God, that they are efficacious, that God desires them, and that the Holy Spirit prompts us all to pray in certain ways for certain things (it is our discernment that is lacking!).

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

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