A brief explanation of some aspects of the Mass in its Extraordinary Form (4)
To acquire a ”notable liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier form of the liturgical celebration” (Motu Proprio, Benedict XVI, July 2007) or an exploration into the theological, historical, devotional, liturgical, ritualistic, architectural, artistic, linguistic, practical, legalistic, mystical… aspects of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
What is the Structure of the Mass?
The Preparation: Mass starts indeed with a spiritual awaking. None can approach the divine Mystery that is to be celebrated without a sufficient conditioning time of prayers. The rule of fasting (today’s rule is as little as one hour before communion), of a proper attire (church clothes, too often forgotten), sacred silence in church… the vesting prayers of the priest, the sign of the cross with holy water as we enter into the church, or- the aspersion of the same water by the priest on Sunday, the prayers at the foot of the Altar and its confession of sin through the Confiteor and the received absolution contribute to this preparation. (page 10-16 in red missalette)
The Teaching: It is part of the preparation. Through Scripture readings, Old and New Testament we are given the sense of the feast that is to be celebrated. We will see later why the readings are said in Latin and not only in English. The sermon, when given, is a parenthesis in the celebration of the Mass (that is the reason why the priest removes the maniple while preaching). (page 16-20 )
The Offertory: Gifts are taken out and set apart to be presented to God. The bread is offered to God with the prayer ‘Suscipe’; wine added with a drop of water is poured into the chalice saying the ‘Offerimus tibi’, hands of the priests/Jesus Christ are washed; Secret prayer is said from the proper of the day. (page 22-32)
The Consecration: It is the core of the Mass. Preface, Sanctus, words of consecrations, genuflections and elevations: Transubstantiation is done, Christ is substantially present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. (page 34)
The Communion: That is the participation to the Sacrifice rendered and accepted by God. (page 36-44)
The Thanksgiving: Is the conclusion of the Mass. It is an essential component of the Sacrifice. (page 46-50)
Next Week: The Altar of the Church?