Thursday, March 3, 2011

Deepening Respect for the Eucharist and The Eucharistic Sacrifice

In his Chrism Mass sermon of 2009 (find in here) His Grace Archbishop Buti Thlagale called on the faithful of the Archdiocese to deepen respect and reverence for the Eucharist and the Eucharistic sacrifice.

The re-introduction of the Extra-ordinary form at the Cathedral provides a continuous living sermon on these important themes. As his Grace points out “External gestures help to condition our internal spiritual attitude towards the Holy.”

It may be instructive to highlight a number of His Grace’s points (they follow in italics) and illustrate how the Extra-ordinary Form gives special expression to these.

Altar rails that have been dismantled, thus we no longer kneel when receiving the ‘Body of Christ’.

The altar rails are used during the Extra-ordinary form as this is the norm. Altar rail coverings have been introduced and the faithful encouraged to place their hands under these cloths. Communion is always distributed using the communion plate to prevent the loss of any the smallest particle of the Sacred Host.

Many no longer genuflect, not even a bow that acknowledges the presence of Christ in the tabernacle.

During the Extra-ordinary form the priest and servers perform numerous genuflections. For example, during the Solemn mass (after the consecration) the celebrant and master of ceremonies genuflect whenever the chalice is uncovered. The servers genuflect whenever they cross in front of the altar and all genuflect during the consecration and elevation of the Sacred Species.

All genuflect both during the Creed and the last gospel when “Et incarnatus est” is said.

These genuflections assist the faithful in realizing the sacred nature of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

We have abandoned silence and a prayerful atmosphere in the church.

The aspect of the Extra-ordinary form most commented on by the faithful is that they feel they have time to pray when the Extra-ordinary form is celebrated.

Formational materials for the Extra-ordinary form have emphasised the importance of Holy water as a sacramental and its role in preparing us for Mass when we make the sign of the cross while entering the church.

The law of the Eucharistic fast is also mentioned in all formational materials as is the need for the communicant to be in a state of grace.

It would be ideal if priests could once more pray while they vest in the sacristy. This practice would reinforce the culture of silence and a proper preparation for Holy Mass.

As this is mandated in the Extra-ordinary form the priest has to do this. We have noted that this has indeed reinforced a culture of silence and proper preparation, even in an extremely busy sacristy such as the Cathedral’s.

It is most edifying to see the priest praying with altar-servers in the sacristy before and after Mass. Silence in the sacristy is also conductive to an atmosphere of prayer. Such a practice stays with the altar-servers long after they have graduated from the sacristy. Some sacristies regrettably are like a market place. No prayers are said.

Of their own initiative the servers began prayers before and after Mass in the Extra-ordinary form. This is done every Sunday on which the mass is celebrated with all 11 servers participating.

It would equally be ideal to restore for the lay faithful, prayers before the Mass and prayers of thanksgiving after Mass. Such exercises would help us to focus on the “real presence” of Christ who has been received during Mass.

While this has not yet proved possible, the Extra-ordinary Rite does provide ample time for the faithful to silently prepare themselves for communion while the priest is saying his preparatory prayers and to make a thanksgiving while the rest of the faithful receive.

Faithful used to making a traditional thanksgiving i.e, prayers of Adoration, Contition Thanksgiving and Petition report that they have ample time to do this during the communion and the ablutions.

The pew missalettes contain a number of prayers for the faithful to say both in preparation and thanksgiving. This has proved slightly problematic as the faithful are so happy with these prayers that Fr. Shaun is asked if they can take a missalettes home to be able to use these prayers. While this is wonderful, it does mean that we constantly need to print more missalettes.

No comments: