Wednesday, August 19, 2015

10 things I love about the Latin Mass

The following are some of the things I love about the older form of the Roman Rite when celebrated with dignity. 

1. Worship 

The Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ. There can be no higher form of worship. Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. Christ is also present in the priest, in the proclamation of the Word of God and in the people gathered to worship in His name. 

2. Reverence

The reverence of the priest including (usually) facing the tabernacle, the bowing, the silent prayers, the gestures all turn our hearts and minds to the Lord. The Sanctus bell and incense can also add to the sense of solemnity. 

3. Silence. 

The silent prayers and in particular the canon (Eucharistic prayer) are powerful aids to prayer and meditation. 

4. History continuity. 

The Mass is ancient and extends back to the time of Christ, who instituted it. Many of the  gestures, prayers and ritual of the older form of the Roman Rite would have been familiar with saints back through the centuries. 

5. Music

A High Mass or Missa Cantata should give preference to Gregorian chant. I find that this music is powerful, easy to sing and unites the congregation in worship. It brings to mind the continuity of the Catholic Faith and how we are not alone. 

6. Gestures

When we make the sign of the cross using holy water we are reminded of our baptism, the incarnation, the Trinity and Christ's sacrifice. When we strike ourselves in the confiteor, kneel in adoration at the words of the incarnation in the creed and Last Gospel, when we stand for the Gospel and kneel for Holy Communion, our whole bodies are involved in worship. 

7. Doctrine

Every single Catholic teaching is included in the older form of the Roman rite - our need to worship, confess our sins, praise, give thanks. Our belief in the real presence and our understanding of the Communion of the Saints.  The older form of the Roman rite includes prayers for the dead and prayers to protect us from Satan. 

8. The focus of the priest and people. 

The priest and people focussing on the altar, the crucifix and and the tabernacle. These all bring us out of ourselves and  focus our minds and hearts on God. 

9. Language

Latin has a beauty and poetry that express clearly and succinctly our faith. It is a language hallowed by almost two thousand years of usage by Catholics and c.1,500 years in a liturgical setting.  It is a language that goes back to the time of Christ Himself. 

10. Unity

The Latin Mass enables people of a variety of languages and cultures to worship together. Living in Hong Kong, I love the fact I can praise God alongside an individual who doesn't speak English.  I love the fact that we kneel next to one another to receive Holy Communion rather than individually lining up.  

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