Sunday, February 17, 2008

First Communion!

Okay, again, that's not me. But this time, that's my parish church, and our assisting priest, Fr. Joseph, who celebrates the Sunday tridentine mass (At 7:30 AM)
I received my first communion yesterday after noon, and my second today. With both, I made sure I'd been fully shriven, said my prayers before and after mass (from the old roman missal) and given thanksgiving afterwards.
If you don't mind me drawing a bit on Kenneth Ingram's booklet "The Pilgrimage of Mass",Holy communion is like the meeting of a peasant, and a king. The peasant comes before the king, who resides ina wonderful palace that we call the church. He lies on a golden bed that we call the ciborium, in a veiled golden box, that we call the tabernacle. So he lies gloriously reposed,waiting for the peasant to come to him. For he loves him very much, and truly desires the visit of the man. And this king is so honoured, that all genuflect before him, even when they only pass him reposed.
But the meeting of this king is like no other, for there is a double receiving: You and I, we receive our lord and saviour, in the appearance of bread, yet truly and substantially, it his his body,blood,soul, and divinity. Yet as a king, he also receives us into his loving arms. If we receive in a worthy fashion, we receive countless graces. But only if we receive worthily. A sacreligious communion is a mortal sin, a slap in the face of our lord who makes himself vulnerable to sacrelige in this sacrament of his love. It's for this reason,more than any that I don't like communion in the hand. And he does make himself vulnerable.
See! the lord of all, heaven and earth are his dominion! Yet,he makes himself vulnerable in this sacrament, as he did in his Incarnation, to profanation and insult. It is for this reason that my parish always uses communion plates at all the masses. It is the reason of the corporal, the pall, the many priests who keep their fingers together after the consecration.
I always look devoutly at the host, cross my self and recite those oft cited words; "My Lord and my God" and I see the chalice,cross myself and say "Thou hast redeemed us O lord, not with perishable things, but with thine own precious blood." (Points if you can guess what scripture that's a quote from) So, reader, if you will, remember to keep reverent attention and meditate on the holy mysteries of the mass. Vatican II did call for active participation, yes, but it's not what you thinl it means. It does'nt mean saying every response, reciting every prayer, singing every hymn. Real active participation is also silent, as John Paul II and our holy father Benedict XVI have said. You know what the mass is. You know it's a mystical, but real sacrifice. Or should I say the sacrifice. The only one ever offered by Jesus on the altar of the cross. He offered it once on the altar of the cross, and perpetuates it by his own high priesthood on the cross of the altar. Jeuss is the high priest, he alone can truly offer himself to the father in sacrifice,but he uses his priests as human instruments, if you will to do so. The victim offers himself,but the church also offers him. So says the church in the Canon of the mass. A priest no longer acts as a priest who offers sacrifice once, and never uses his priestly power again. If Christ is our high priest, if he is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, it stands to reason that he should renew that sacrifice that he offered.
So Holy comunnion is the fruit of the mass, if you will. Christ is our paschal lamb. He offered himself to redeem us,he covers us with his precious blood, these the protestants agree. But they leave out that last part, they leave the typology incomplete by not eating the victim.
So, when you assist at mass, know what happens. Know that the choirs of angels really are round about you as we sing ' Sanctus,Sanctus, Sanctus.....'. Know that the whole church is there, all the saints who have gone before us. And keep reverence! Genuflect if you can. Receive kneeling if you can. I was drawn to belief in Christ's real and substantial presence by the reverence I saw at one parish, and had a crisis of faith when I saw the distraction, the lack of preparation, the ill treatment, and most of all, the lack of reverence of both the congregation and the priest. It all seemed so silly, they did;nt at all act as if they were receiving the living God. The priest changed the mass texts (at his will),substituted his own (at his will) and omitted parts (at his will). the music was terrible. There was no air of sanctity. But I'll leave off this rant about bad liturgy for another day. Just keep in mind my point: keep yourself, and the whole celebration focused on the real center of the mass. Everything, and I mean everything should be conductive to fostering meditation on the mysteries of the mass. Fine vestments, incense, music, reverance shown to the Eucharistic species. Treat the Eucharist like the gift that it is. It's not common, so don't let it be handled like it's common. The mass is by nature, something that transcends time, don't do things that root it into time like use pop music (Or anything like it. Society.Moratorium. Haugen & Haas. Google it.), ad lib the mass, come late, leave early (unless you really must) dress plainly (try to dress up a bit. I wear a nice shirt,tie and some slacks. Wear your best. I'm broke and I live in the hood', and I still dress up. What's your excuse?)
I have to look for my nephew's pants, so I'll have to leave off. Bye!

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