Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Part IV: At the readings.

The Holy Gospel

The liturgical days of the church are governed by rite and rank. days of high rank are counted as solemnities, and below them, feasts. Sundays are ranked with Feasts, though some other feasts and all solemnities take precedence should they occur on a Sunday. ( Such as Ss. Peter and Paul, The Transfiguration, All Saints, All Souls, The patron of the church , diocese , or country, etc.)
Days of high rank like this have three readings, while ferias and days of low rank have only two.
Three readings for the three persons of the Holy Trinity who speak to us.
The first reading, or prophecy is nearly always taken from the old testament. Here, we hear the voice of the Father, as he spoke to the Jews of old under the first covenant.
The second reading is taken from one of the epistles of the apostles. Here, we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit working in the early church. These first two readings are contained in the lectionary. We site for these readings, so that we may hear them in our heart, and meditate on them as our preparation for receiving the Blessed Sacrament. At the end of them, we all sing "Deo Gracias", "Thanks be to God". Thanks be to God for giving us his word contained in Holy scripture.
In the holy gospel, we hear the voice of the Son Jesus Christ, speaking to us. We stand out of respect for the gospel as it is sung or read, and in sung masses, the gospel book is incensed. Candles accompany the gospel procession, because Christ who is symbolized by the gospel, is the light of the world, and through the gospel of his passion, death, and resurrection, and his free gift of salvation, he brings his light to all the nations of the earth.The gospel book is a heavily decorated book, usually with a cover of silver or gold, decorated with precious or semi-precious stones.
We all know, that at the word "Gloria tibi, Domine" ,"Glory to you, O Lord" , we all make three crosses: On the forehead, lips, and chest. Each cross is symbolic of a prayer that we should say, ad how we should be receptive to all the scriptural readings, foremost, the gospel.
On the forehead, that we may meditate on it intellectually.
On the lips, that we may proclaim it outwardly.
And on the chest, that we may love it interiorly.
Dom Gueranguer says:
"You will stand during the Gospel, as though you were waiting the orders of your Lord; and at the commencement, make the sign of the Cross on your forehead, lips, and breast; and then listen to every word of the Priest or Deacon. Let your heart be ready and obedient. 'While my beloved was speaking,' says the Bride in the Canticle, 'my soul melted within me' [Cant. v. 6]. If you have not such love as this, have at least the humble submission of Samuel, and say: 'Speak, Lord! thy servant heareth' [1 Kings iii. 10]."
As was the custom of the very early church, these readings are read from the ambo, which is a high stand made of stone, with a reading desk. It should be high and prominent, to show the importance that holy mother church gives the church in her liturgical life. She prays scripture in the breviary every day, and in the course of three years goes through a good majority of the bible. Christ, through the church feeds the children, not only with his body and blood, but with his holy word also.
In many parishes, it is raised four steps above the floor, to symbolise the Four Evangelists: Ss.Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as the Four Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Ezechiel.
After the gospel, we sit for the homily. Canon law prescribes that a homily is to preached on all Sundays and solemnities, and should be about the scripture of the day, though it need not be.
It is a real travesty, that these days, it is quite hard to find good preaching. Years of bad seminary training have mad many priests preach homilies that are bones with no meat, or nothing at all. "Jelly Donuts", as they are popularly called, because they are sweet and inviting, but in the end, do nothing good for you, and may be bad for you. There are priests who preach heresy from the pulpit, based on heretical scriptural commentaries. We should pray for a reform of homiletics, and a greater interest in proper homiletics in the church.

After the gospel comes the credo. The creed is an ancient statement of the Christian faith, made to combat the heresies of the fourth and fifth century church. We say, "I believe". What do I believe in?
In God, his Son, That the Son alone saves, in the Holy Spirit, all as persons of a single Godhead,in holy church, and baptism for the remission of sins. We sum up our Christian faith before the offertory, the beginning of the Eucharistic part of mass.
Because, Communion is not a means to an end, but an end itself. When we receive communion, we say outwardly what is true interiorly of ourselves. That we are in communion with God, with the church that we communicate at, and with one another. This is why we cannot receive communion in a state of mortal sin. (We are not in communion with God. or with others.) Nor may we do it if we deny any article of the Catholic faith, not just those contained in the creed. (We are not in communion with the church, therefore, not with each other.)
It would be a false statement, a lie. It would be of itself, a further mortal sin to block our relationship with the Trinity. If we do not subscribe to an article of the creed, we should not say any of the creed, because we have denied the faith. We bow, or genuflect at the words "Et incarnatus est", in the creed, in reverence for the incarnation. Remember, at the mere mention of Jesus' name, all knees must bow. It is most fitting that we should bow, or bend our knees at the mention of his first coming.
Then follows the intercessions,where we pray for the whole estate of God's church throughout the world, for sinners, for the sick, the dying, the dead, the poor, and all others in need. After a short prayer, the offertory follows.

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