Tuesday, March 12, 2024

A Look at Some Liturgical Practices


Dear Parishioners, 

A couple of weeks ago I took the time to write about some Lenten liturgical customs. I want to follow up today with a few other liturgical practices which are part of the Novus Ordo—the current Mass offered in most Roman Catholic parishes throughout the world.

As Roman Catholics, our particular rite is officially known as the Latin Rite. The pope, our spiritual leader, resides in Rome (more precisely, Vatican City). It is there where both St. Peter and St. Paul died for their faith as did many early Christian martyrs. Sadly, with the increased use of the vernacular in our liturgy, too many people seem to forget (or even to have an unhealthy distain for) our Latin heritage. I have heard people erroneously say that the Latin language is no longer in use since Vatican II. However, this is what the document on the liturgy, SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM (S.C.), actually says:

. . . Steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them. (S.C. #54)

Regarding sacred music, the document adds:

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. (S.C. #116)

During Lent and Advent, this parish has the practice of chanting the Holy, Holy, Holy (Sanctus) and the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) in Latin. Moreover, during the penitential rite, the Lord, Have Mercy (Kyrie) is also chanted in the original Greek. We try to keep our heritage alive in this small way by the use of some hymns in Latin and Gregorian chant.

Next, I was recently asked by someone whether or not we were going to return to the reception of both the Body and Blood of Jesus (at our daily Mass.) I understood what the person meant, wanting to receive also from the chalice. In reality, even if we only receive the consecrated host at Mass, we still receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ without ever partaking from the chalice. This, in fact, was the custom (standard practice) for centuries. Primarily, it was the priest who received from the chalice and not the laity.

Illustrating some further misunderstanding in the language used regarding the Blessed Sacrament, I have found that sometimes people continue to refer to the consecrated Sacred Host and Precious Blood as bread and wine. Please try not to do this. Let your language reflect your belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Yes, I know that St. Paul, occasionally, referred to the Holy Eucharist as bread (see 1 Cor. 11: 26-28). Even some hymns use phrases such as eat this bread. But it is more reverential and proper for us to use terms like (Most) Holy Eucharist, (Most) Blessed Sacrament, (Most) Precious Blood to express clearly and unambiguously the Catholic belief in Jesus’ Real Presence. If we use the term bread, may it be more suitably the Bread of Angels (Panis Angelicus) that we are referencing.

How we worship and the language we use reflects what we believe. Lex orandi, lex credendi.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


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