Category: Mass and the Liturgy

The Holy Mass is an inexhaustible fountain of grace. As a most divine mystery it is an unfathomable source of wonder and contemplation. Countless spiritual writers have made it, and the divine liturgy enshrining it, the subject of their books and meditations, each attempting to glorify so great and terrible a gift, so holy a sacrifice. That is what the Mass is, first and foremost, the unbloody sacrifice of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, our Victim and Priest. It is the same identical sacrifice as that offered on Calvary near two thousand years ago, only the manner of offering being different. It is Calvary re-presented in an unbloody manner in every time and every place until the end of the world.

Four hundred years before the Incarnation of the Son of God, Malachias, the last of the Old Testament prophets, foresaw the Holy Mass, and, through him, God announced to Israel its advent with these words: “For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachias 1:11).

The liturgy of each individual Mass, in every approved rite, honors the whole life of Our Lord. At the consecration of the bread the altar becomes Bethlehem; with that of the wine, the altar becomes Calvary; with the covering of the chalice with the pall after consecration is symbolized the burial of Christ; and with the Minor Elevation before the Pater Noster is symbolized the Resurrection. The Victim who is glorified and Immortal cannot be slain again, but He is truly made present under the sacramental species, and He appears in that guise, as the Apostle John saw Him in vision, “as a Lamb standing as it were slain” (Apoc. 5:6).

The articles in this section deal in some way with the Holy Mass and/or the liturgical life of the Church in her feasts. Gary Potter’s article, for example, on the greatest of all liturgical writers, Dom Prosper Guéranger, is a magnificent tribute to this prolific Benedictine reformer and writer. Guéanger’s masterpiece, The Liturgical Year, employs all the Church’s liturgical treasures, East and West, to immerse the reader in the life of Christ as He lives it in our sanctuaries from Advent to last day of Pentecost.

Merry Childermas!

Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents, once known in the Anglophone world as Childermas. This curious word is an elision of “Mass of the Children,” that is, the liturgical commemoration of those little boys of Bethlehem who were … Continue reading

The Silent Woman

It is good to wait with silence for the salvation of God (Lam. 3:26). We’ve considered the Marian character of our present liturgical season in Maria’s Advent. Now I would like to reflect on one particular facet of Mary’s own … Continue reading

Christmas Letter, 2010

To our Tertiaries, Benefactors, and Friends, On a recent trip to Rome, where I was privileged to be present at the canonization of my patron, Saint André Bessette, the brothers took a tour of St. Clement’s Church, a truly ancient … Continue reading

Maria’s Advent

There is a distinctive Marian character to Advent. The stational church for the First Sunday of Advent is Rome’s (and Christendom’s) principal Marian shrine, Santa Maria Maggiore. In the Litany of Loreto, Our Lady is called the “Morning Star,” after … Continue reading

Liturgical Shoes

Whatever you think of Msgr. Charles Pope’s defense of the new Mass, one thing jumps off the monitor. It used to be the Traditional Mass that needed so much defending, since many rank-and-file Catholics questioned its worth. Now that serious … Continue reading

Glory to God in the Highest

The Gloria is the most ancient of the Church’s liturgical hymns. As with the Angelic Salutation, it was intoned first by the voice of an angel, or the choirs thereof. Saint Elizabeth added the second part of the Ave Maria … Continue reading