Saturday, October 21, 2006

Am I Being Over-Scrupulous When I Get Upset When I See Sloppiness or Changes in the Mass?

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Early this morning, God spoke to me again through the medium of a short wave radio broadcast of Father Brian Mullahy on EWTN discussing the Mass in one of his series of programs on the Sacraments. I often get very upset at Mass when I see "extemporizing" by priests or casualness by Servers or Extraordinary Ministers when the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is being celebrated.

I've wondered if I am just too scrupulous and if I should just be worshiping instead of performing my all too frequent role of "detached critic."

In short, Fr Mullahy said that the Priest is functioning differently when he administers the other Sacraments. His words are "I baptize you", "I absolve you", "I pronounce you", "I anoint you", etc.

When the Priest is celebrating the Mass, his words are "This is My Body" and "This is My Blood." This is because the Priest in the anointment of his ordination has been ontologically changed, every bit as much as the bread and wine are changed, into a new substance, “configured to the Person of Jesus Christ in his very being”, when he celebrates the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Therefore, Fr Mullahy continued, being that he is acting “in persona Christi”, the Priest has no right to add or change any of the words or rubrics of the Liturgy of the Mass. If he does, he is acting as if he is present at a performance, only reading the lines of a script.

Similarly, being that the Mass is the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Our Lord on Calvary, the Priest has no right to use non-sacred vessels (glass pitchers or goblets), permit the misuse of vessels and the Consecrated Body and Blood by Extraordinary Ministers or Servers. Similarly, a Priest should not make changes to the requirements for vesting himself by omitting items or using vestments that are designed to draw attention to himself rather than the Mass being celebrated.

Emphasizing how important the Church considers the Mass to be, Father made the point the Church's Commandments require that we receive Holy Communion only one time a year. But we are required to go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation.

An interesting article by a seminarian that I found on the internet that covers some of these issues can be found here.
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