Sunday, November 27, 2011

How did the new English Mass go today?

The Regal Edition of the Roman Missal available from Midwest Theological Forum.
Here, there were a few stumbles - but by and large it went well. For me as a priest, it was like learning the Mass once again. The Missal - we have the MTF Regal Edition pictured above - is beautifully bound and illustrated. It will take a little while to become familiar with both the layout and the new words, and to discover the richness of what is on offer. Check the appendices for music for the presidential prayers and dialogues, sample prayers of the faithful, etc.

The language is uplifting and - as sacred language should - veils the mystery that we must penetrate with the eyes of faith through prayer and contemplation.

For me, the Mass will never be the same again.

Today we veiled the Tabernacle with a new purple veil made by our parishioner Bonnie Hurkmans. Bonnie is also going to make veils in the other liturgical colours: white, green and red. We are blest to have people like her - and many others in the parish - who put their talents at the service of the Lord. Rosie King has made linen cloths to go under the top altar cloth and on the credence table, and she is working on one for the shelf on which the tabernacle rests. As I mentioned in my homily this morning, the veil over the Tabernacle indicates that there is Mystery beyond the veil that we are called to meditate upon, a Mystery that the Lord will reveal to those who keep silence before it in reverence and awe.

It is a beautiful Tabernacle in itself, as you can see from this previous photograph:

The new purple vestments got their first proper outing today.

Although they look a bit blue in this picture, this is the effect of night lighting
and flash. See the tabernacle above for a better idea of the colour.

The tabernacle veil is made from the same material. The vestments were purchased from House of Hansen with money donated by parishioners and include all the five parts: chasuble, stole, maniple, chalice veil and burse (these last three are not included in the price shown at the House of Hansen website). I shall use them in the Extraordinary Form for the first time this coming Thursday evening at 7pm. Parishioners have generously funded the purchase of new rose vestments which have been purchased from Luzar Vestments and red vestments which are now on order from House of Hansen. We have also received donations towards a new white set and these are now also on order from House of Hansen. Thank you to all our generous parishioners.

During this time of Advent, we consider the Mystery concealed within Mary and await - in silent conemplation - Its revelation.

I was struck by - and preached on - the orations (Collect, Prayer of the Offerings, Prayer after Communion) of today's Mass.

Prayer after Communion:
May these mysteries, O Lord,
in which we have participated,
profit us, we pray,
for even now, as we walk amid passing things,
you teach us by them to love the things of heaven
and hold fast to what endures.
Through Christ our Lord.
By what does the Lord teach us "to love the things of heaven"? By "these mysteries" or by our "walk amid passing things"? Probably the former, but the passing things of this world are also created by God and should lead us beyond them to the appreciation of the beauty of their Creator and Lord.

Indeed, the sacraments, too, are "passing things". A time will come when there is no time and no sacraments. We will no longer see Christ veiled in the Eucharistic "vestments" of the appearances of bread and wine but we shall see Him "immediately", without the mediation of sense, sign or symbol. As ecstatic as our union with the Lord in Holy Communion can be, it is a mere foretaste of the heavenly union.

The new, more sacral language, also veils a mystery. If we now find some words of the Mass a little more difficult to "get" at first, this might indicate that perhaps the previous translation was not up to the mark in showing forth the mysterious nature of the Mass. If, now, we must exert ourselves in thinking and - preferably - contemplating in prayer, this is a grace given us by the Lord. As we prayed in the Collect today:
Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming...
 We are called to "run forth" out of our comfort zone, out of our worldly way of seeing things, into the realm of mystery through prayer and contemplation. There are many "righteous deeds" that we can accumulate in readiness for the coming of the Father's Christ, but perhaps prayer and contemplation are the more important.

Wishing everyone a blessed Advent.


  1. Best wishes for journey through Advent, Father John, and of course eventually may you arrive at a Peaceful, Happy Christmas.
    As you know we have been using the prayers of the new translation since last September on this side of the pond. Personally I think they are a great improvement - like the difference between walking on the ground or flying! IN some parts the phrasing is a bit cumbersome.

  2. The new translation is such an improvement. Here in the UK we have all adapted quickly and without fuss - despite the mutterings of the naysayers.
    You have some impressively talented and dedicated parishioners who are not content just to shuffle in on a Sunday and shuffle out again.
    It seems to me that a very strong relationship has been established between priest and people.
    God bless you all.

  3. IN some parts the phrasing is a bit cumbersome.

    That may not be such a bad thing since it will force people to slow down and say the words carefully. I know in my own parish, with the old translation, you would think that there was a race to see who would finish the Creed first.

    It seems to me that a very strong relationship has been established between priest and people.

    Genty I think you are correct and it is the right relationship. In some parishes there are a few active people but the relationship revolves around "how visible can I be at Mass" and not the quiet service with God as the only witness.


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