Monday, February 6, 2012

Why the EF Mass is Better (V-for-Victory blog)

There is a great post by Anita over at V-for-Victory blog, entitled “Why the Extraordinary Form Is Better: An Appeal to Priests”.  It’s a re-post of an article she wrote some time ago, with some additional introductory comments.

First, here’s an excerpt from her current introduction to the older post:

…It should come as no surprise to us to find ourselves under assault at this time: with her members so infected by the spirit of the world, it seems the Church has seldom been weaker.

This makes the need for traditional Catholic worship all the more urgent.  Business as usual will not do.  We must recover and celebrate our distinctly Catholic patrimony.  We must rebuild our moral sense, and we must present those outside the Church with a clear choice between what they have now and what they could have in the Church…  

…The Holy Father meant the freeing up of the traditional Mass to be a gift for all Catholics, not just current devotees.  It is also a great gift to priests.  How can you bear to continue in ignorance of half of the Roman rite?  And how can you bear not to be plugged in to the tradition that nurtured centuries and centuries of priests and laymen before you, and brought up generations of saints?  How can you hope to recover, in the eyes of your flocks, the dignity of the priesthood, which has been dragged through the mud of so many scandals, without the liturgy that makes that dignity shine forth more clearly than any other?

The Extraordinary Form of the Mass is a most powerful spiritual weapon.  Seldom have we needed it more.  Please do not fail to take it up and wield it boldly.

[Then follows the older post, which is a list of reasons why she thinks the EF Mass is better than the Novus Ordo. Here is reason #2 of the six she gives:]

The Extraordinary Form Sheds More Light on Truths of the Faith. One could go on meditating on the Mass until the end of time, and still not unpack all of its significance; but I find that there are some truths that the Extraordinary Rite makes more obvious.   One is the awesome dignity of the priesthood.  Another is the fact that the Mass is the Sacrifice of Calvary. 

Mass in the Extraordinary Form teaches me that the priest is not just any old guy doing a job, but a man specially selected and set apart in order to perform the Holy Sacrifice.
  I can tell this by the fact that he is facing God, as I am, but he is permitted to approach the altar and to stand in the breach, as it were, between God and myself, obtaining God's pardon and grace for me.  I can also tell this by the fact that the priest does most of the praying and performs most of the external actions, while I sit, stand or kneel quietly.  This teaches me both the futility and the needlessness of relying purely on my own efforts to win salvation: futile, because I am powerless, and needless, because in that moment, God has appointed a minister to do for me what I cannot do for myself.  

And all of this teaches me that the Mass is none other than the Sacrifice of Calvary.  The priest is alter Christus: Christ, in the person of the priest, entering the Holy of Holies, offering His own Self to secure redemption, as Paul says in Chapter 9 of the Epistle to the Hebrews.  The Holy Sacrifice itself is offered in silence: this teaches me that I am in the presence of Mystery.  This silence is not the muteness of ignorance, nor the emptiness of a deserted church; it is the expectant hush falling over Calvary as the Savior breathes his last.  This moment is so solemn that when the priest first approaches the altar at the beginning of Mass, he does so in stages, begging mercy and the forgiveness both of his own sins and those of the people.  The penitential right is not slopped or rushed through, but dwelt upon, to make us understand our own sinfulness and nothingness before the stupendous mystery in which we are about to enter.

[Anita concludes:]

The Mass in the Extraordinary Form is a precious treasure that we were foolish ever to try to change or throw away. I hope that one day the Extraordinary Rite will become the Ordinary Rite, and eventually displace the Novus Ordo entirely.  Until that day comes...I'll continue to attend the Extraordinary Rite whenever I can, and tough it out whenever I can't. 

Be sure to read the entire post here.

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