Sunday, March 02, 2014

Diversity and Unity in Liturgy

This was posted in July of 2007. I am bringing it over from my other blog. 

“Take and Eat”
We can almost imagine being there with the apostles as Jesus gave them his Body and Blood for the first time at the Last Supper - the First Mass - because He does the same for us, each time we receive Holy Communion.

Just as Our Lord made the apostles into His first bishops and priests, they in turn ordained and consecrated more bishops and priests, taking the Holy Mass far and wide into many lands with many differing cultures.

In the midst of so many different cultures, there arose many differences in the ways the Mass was offered. Is it really the same Mass everywhere? Does each rite of the Mass have the marks of the Catholic Church: one, holy, Catholic (or universal), and apostolic?

Regardless of the differences in ceremonies and prayers, the Mass has always remained the same in essence.  Everywhere that there is the Mass, there is the Sacrifice of Calvary and there is the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Each Mass has the same three principal parts: the offering of the bread and wine; followed by the consecration of the bread and wine into the Precious Body and Blood of Our Divine Lord; followed by the partaking of Holy Communion.

Differences in Culture
In some cultures, people showed reverence by kneeling. In other cultures, they showed reverence by standing. Ways of approaching God and the world differed. As the Church spread throughout the world, the bishops took into consideration the different customs and ways of the people, and thus the different rites of the Mass came to have somewhat different prayers and ceremonies.

In the East, there arose the Greek rite, the Russian rite, the Ukrainian rite, and more. After the Great Schism, some of the churches of the Eastern rites remained faithful to the Holy Father and united with Rome.

The Mass of Pope St. Pius V
In the West, through the first fifteen centuries of the Church, the ceremonies and words of the Mass became more and more diverse. Then Pope Saint Pius V appointed learned men to study the ancient ceremonies and prayers, and to rewrite the Roman Missal, bringing unity to the words and ceremonies of the Mass. In 1570, he commanded this Missal to be printed and published, and to be the only Missal in use…except for those rites that had been in use for two hundred years or more, principally the Eastern Catholic rites.

In 1962, Pope John XXIII added the name of St. Joseph to the Roman rite Mass, and set down some new guidelines for the liturgical year.

The Mass of Pope Paul VI
In 1969, after Vatican Council II, Pope Paul VI made major changes to the Roman rite Mass, changing ceremonies and the wording of many of the prayers, and allowing the Mass to be offered in the language of the people.

Since the introduction of the Mass of Pope Paul VI, the “old Latin” Mass of Pope Pius V has continued to be offered by retired priests, as well as by some groups of priests both inside and outside the Catholic Church. In the 1980’s, an Indult was granted by Pope John Paul II, authorizing bishops to provide for a Tridentine Latin Mass in their diocese for those who prefer it.

Motu Proprio

Now that Pope Benedict has issued his Summorum Pontificum, there will be greater opportunity for the expansion of the Mass of Pope Pius V, for those who are particularly drawn to worship God through its venerable prayers and ceremonies.

The Four Marks
The Mass, in every form that the Popes have approved, has the four marks of the Church.

It is one: one Sacrifice and one Sacrament, offered in union with the one Holy Father.

Each Mass is holy and produces the means of holiness for its members, even producing saints. We have the great Saint John Chrysostom, the golden-tongued orator, an early Greek Father of the Church. We have St. John Bosco, the gentle but zealous apostle to youth, who celebrated the Tridentine Mass of Pope St. Pius V.  In our own time, we have Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who ministered to Jesus in the poorest of the poor, who attended the Mass of Pope Paul VI.

The Mass is Catholic or universal, reaching out to people everywhere and in all ages, striving to reach different people in the ways that they are best able to bring their hearts and minds to the worship and love of Almighty God.

The Mass, in every rite, is apostolic, having been passed down to us in all its essentials from the apostles, who received it from Our Lord Jesus Christ.

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