Sunday, August 12, 2007

Catholic Vigilance

“Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.”

How do Catholics wait vigilantly for the Lord?

The answer is simple; we wait in prayer. And, the greatest prayer we have is the Holy Sacrifice of Mass. The Mass is the Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross offered up continually under appearances of bread and wine. It is the final perfect sacrifice. The Catholic Mass is the age-old representation of the ultimate salvific act of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sacrifice of the Cross. Each Mass should beautifully manifest this Catholic doctrine through its prayers and rituals. Authentic liturgy should honor and glorify God, atone for man’s sins, and thank God for the graces He has bestowed on the world.

When we attend Mass we enter a world that is partly visible and partly invisible. A world of symbols and rituals, through which we remember Christ’s saving deeds and renew His Sacrifice. It is a world so full of meaning that even the holiest and wisest never stop wondering at its mystery.

In March I offered at all Masses an outline of Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis where he speaks of ars celebrandi — that is, the art of celebrating [the Mass]. The Holy Father says, “…everything – texts, music, execution – ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated…”

We are at the Foot of the Cross at each Mass. This place is not Peoria, AZ. Today is not August 12, 2007. This place is Mount Calvary. Today is Good Friday. Envision yourself there.

At His feet we plea: Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

The Kyrie is the only short prayer in Mass rite in Greek. The Kyrie eleison nine times addresses fervent petitions for mercy to the triune God. The Kyrie is a cry for help of touching humility and simplicity, one proceeding naturally and directly from the heart.

The ninefold signification of the Kyrie is devoutly thought to refer to the nine kinds of sins and wants, or it has been said that thereby we express our desire of union with the nine choirs of angels.

At His feet we sing: Gregorian chant was developed from Hebrew chants. Gregorian chant has been for centuries the music of the Roman Catholic Church. It is the most notable contribution of the Catholic church to the musical tradition of the west. Chant is an important part of the history and tradition of the Catholic Church.

Gregorian chant belongs in the Catholic liturgy today. The Vatican II document, Sacrosanctum Concilium states that "the Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy; therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services."

The organ amplifies our prayer. The pipe organ is the instrument named by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council as the traditional instrument for our worship. Choirs were to be led by the most suitable instrument to lead a congregation:

“... the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1963)

Pope Paul VI's 1967 Instruction Musicam Sacram repeats this. And in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, once again the pipe organ is reaffirmed as the instrument to be afforded first place. And "it is appropriate that.... the organ be blessed according to the Roman Rituale" So important a part of the church is the organ that the instrument has its own special blessing rite!

Prayer and music; two important aspects of Catholic worship.

Let us pray our beliefs well, so that we may live this day’s gospel: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.”



Blogger paramedicgirl said...

That was a really good post, Father. I take it that it was your homily for today? Very appropriate. Good homilies are hard to come by, sadly enough.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Connie said...

Good post
However one thing: It appears that organists are becoming very scarce these days. We are currently looking for a good music director and those who have applied either play the organ poorly or not at all.

So if you have a good organist, hang on to them!

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:51 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

This is great, Father. Coincidentally, I just wrote a post on the virtue of strength yesterday. (Click on my name to check out the blog.) My thoughts were very similar to yours, we are strong in quietness and in trust (Is 30:15).

4:20 PM  

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