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Documents on the Liturgy

General Instruction of the Roman Missal

Rev. Rama Coomaraswamy


23 It is precisely for this reason that Protestants of every shade of belief can and do use the Novus Ordo Missae in their services and as representative of their beliefs.

24 The Novus Ordo Missae retains this rite.

25 Every reference to altar has been removed from the Novus Ordo Missae

26 One should observe in reading the Holy Scriptures how 'to go up' and 'to go down' are employed in each individual passage. For if we were to give diligent consideration, we would discover that almost never is anyone said to have gone down to an holy place nor is anyone related to have gone up to a blameworthy place. These observations show that the divine Scripture was not composed, as it seems to most, in illiterate and uncultivated language, but was adapted in accordance with the discipline of divine instruction... - Homily XV on Genesis

27 In ancient times the Catechumens were dismissed. Only the baptized could participate in the sacrificial aspects of the rite.

28 This important point is clarified by Dr. Nicholas Gihr (The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass): 'yet the Offertory has not exclusively for its object the mere elements of bread and wine, but also the real object of the Sacrifice, the true and only Sacrifice of the New Law, that is, the Body and Blood of Christ, which by Consecration takes the place of the former substance of bread and wine, and thus becomes present on the altar. The Church, therefore, does not wait until the change of substance has taken place to offer to the Divine Majesty the Divine Victim; - no, she already now offers the real Victim to the Divine Majesty, regarding, as it were, the approaching Consecration of the sacrificial elements as if already passed... From this point of view it can be explained why the Church already designates her Oblation by such names (immaculata hostia, calix salutaris, sancta sacrificia illibata, sacrificium laudis, etc), as in their full sense are applicable only to Christ's sacrificial Body and Blood, - and why by reason of this Oblation she expects as great effects and fruits as can by no means be ascribed to the offering of some bread and wine, but only to the offering of the Divine Victim....From the liturgical prayers of the Offertory, therefore, we may by no means conclude that the offering of the elements of bread and wine is a real sacrifice or constitutes a part of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.' In similar manner, the Sacrifice of Christ started from the moment of His conception and culminated on the Cross. Similarly, St. Alphonsus says regarding the Offertory: 'the second condition, [for the Sacrifice of the Mass is the] or the oblation, was also fulfilled at the moment of the Incarnation, when Jesus Christ voluntarily offered himself to atone for the sins of men' (The Mass).

29 It is not blessed during funeral masses because they are said primarily for those in purgatory.

30 Pope St. Pius X spoke of Mary as 'Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament' Mary can truly say: 'Come eat my bread, and drink the wine which I have mingled for you' (Prov. 5, 9), for were it not for Mary, we should not have Him who is present in the Blessed Sacrament...' At the Banquet of Love, 'there we are refreshed with the body and blood which He assumed from Mary.' Quotes taken from the Pusillum, Saterday, First Week after Pentecost. Finally, St. Alphonse Liguori quotes the Abbot Arnold of Chartres with approval: 'Since the flesh of Mary was not different from that of Jesus, how can the royal dignity of the Son be denied to the Mother?' (Explanation of the Salve Regina, TAN publ.)

31 The 'red heifer' has been previously referred to. While it is usually said to prefigure Christ, there are problems with such an interpretation. A heifer is a virginal female cow which is sacrificed - totally immolated - before the high priest. According to Catherine Emmerick, when the Blessed Virgin was presented to the Temple, she had a red cap with horns placed upon her head and received the blessing of her father. Josephus tells us that on the night before the temple was destroyed, a red heifer gave birth to a lamb in the temple precincts. Now, it is through the sacrifice of the red heifer that the Aronic (Jewish) priesthood is purified, and indeed, there is talk of the Jews who wish to rebuild the temple reinstituting this sacrifice as it is only by doing so that this 'priesthood' could ever by purified. Now, of course, Our Lady's presence at the Cross was a total immolation, and she is the mediatrix of all graces.

32 Theodoret, In Cant., cap 3 states: 'by eating of the members of the Spouse and drinking of His blood they will attain to nuptual communion with Him.'

33 A Franciscan manual of daily meditations for priests.

34 The concept of mortification is highly significant, for in mortifying ourselves we became dead to the world and alive to Christ. The primary means of mortification are fasting and prayer. The old fast from midnight - now reduced in the novus ordo to one hour, was a highly efficacious discipline which prevented many acts that are offensive to God.

35 In The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (the fourth version of Paul VI's Missale Romanum) promulgated March 27, 1975, the following Query and response is to be found as a footnote to paragraph 1439 (Documents on the Liturgy, 1963-1979, Liturgical Press): Query: What is the genuine meaning of the offertory rite? The description of the offertory of the Mass, it is point out, speaks only of the preparation of the gifts and of placing them on the altar, of the people's offerings for the church, and for the poor, but nothing about the offering of the sacrifice. Reply: History teaches that the offertory rite is an action of preparation for the sacrifice in which the priest and ministers accept the gifts offered by the people. These are the elements for the celebration (the bread and wine) and other gifts intended for the church and the poor. The preparatory meaning has always been regarded as the identifying note of the offertory, even though the formularies did not adequately bring it out and were couched in sacrificial language. The new rite puts this specifying note in a clearer light by means of both the active part taken by the faithful in the presentation of the gifts and the formularies the celebrant says in placing the elements for the eucharistic celebration on the altar: Not 6(1970) 37, No. 25. 'Query: Does it not seem that the suppression of the prayers that accompanied the offering of the bread and wine has impoverished the offertory rite? Reply. In no way. The former prayers: Suscipe Sancte Pater... and Offerimus tibi Domine... were not accurate expressions of the genuine meaning of the 'offertory' rites but merely anticipated th meaning of the true and literal sacrificial offering that is present in the eucharistic prayer after the consecration, hen Christ becomes present on the altar as victim. The new formularies for the gifts bring out the giving of glory to God, who is the source of all things and of all the gifts given to humanity. they state explicitly the meanig of the rite being carried out; they associate the value of human work, which embraces all human concerns, with the mystery of Christ. The offertory rite, then, has been restored through that explicit teaching and shines forth with new light: ibid. It is indeed sad that for almost 2000 years we used inadequate formularies!

36 According to the Catechism of the Council of Trent, 'Sacred Scripture describes a twofold priesthood, one internal and the other external... Regarding the internal priesthood, all the faithful are said to be priests, once they have been washed in the saving waters of Baptism... Hence we read in the Apocalypse: Christ hath washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us a kingdom, and priests to God and his Father(Apoc. I, 5,6).' This is very different from the 'external priesthood' which 'does not pertain to the faithful at large, but only to certain men who have been ordained and consecrated to God by the lawful imposition of hands and by the solemn ceremonies of holy Church.' This distinction is important because, according to the General Instruction (rubrics) of the Novus Ordo Missae, it is all the faithful who 'consecrate' while in the traditional Mass, it is only the (external) priest, acting in persona Christi, who can effect the consecration.

37 St. Vincent de Paul taught that 'the dignity of a priest is so great because a priest, as a priest, has no personality of his own; he leaves it aside to put on that of Christ.' (St. Vincent de Paul, Guide for Priests, Rev. Joseph Leonard, C.M.) Similarly, Cardinal O'Connell of Boston has said 'there is no such thing as the personality... of a parish priest. Personal qualities are subject to change. These are transient things...(In Mysterious Ways, Random House, 1911). This shows the absurdity of attending a Mass that one likes because of the manner in which a priest says it. As st. Ambrose said, 'a priest shall be to thee as one not to be valued for his outward appearance, but for his office' (On the Sacraments). Similarly, when we approach the altar rail, we leave, or should leave behind, not only our passions (anger, envy, etc.), but also our own personalities charming or otherwise. 'My God, I am not worthy to receive You. Only say the word and my soul shall be healed.'

38 Matthias Scheeban, The Mysteries of Christianity, B. Herder, 1946

39 The Pusillum is a well known manual of daily meditations for priests.

40 Matthias Scheeban, The Mysteries of Christianity, B. Herder, 1946

41 The Eucharist is both a Sacrament and a Sacrifice. There are some points of difference between the Eucharist as a Sacrament and Sacrifice. The efficacy of the Sacrifice lies in it being offered, and of a Sacrament in its being received. The Eucharist as a Sacrament increases our merit, and gives to the soul all the advantages that food gives to the body. As a Sacrifice the Eucharist is not only a source of merit, but also of satisfaction. While the Eucharist as a Sacrament benefits by reason of being received only by the person who communicates and obtains graces and blessings for others only through the goodness of God. As a Sacrifice, the Eucharist is offered for the benefits the whole Catholic Church, and its satisfactory power is extended to all faithful Christians living and dead. Lastly, the chief end of the Holy Eucharist as a Sacrament is our own sanctification, while its chief end as a Sacrifice in the Mass is the supreme worship of God.

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