Sunday, November 27, 2011

Roman Missal v. 3.0

Yesterday evening marked the beginning of a new era in the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Missal, the book containing the rites of worship, has been updated. In the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, the words have been changed to more accurately reflect the original Latin, the original language of the Church. This follow blog post is all about the "New Mass," and it's my hope that it can be of interest to both Catholics and those of other denominations of Christianity.

The "New Mass" is not really new at all. In fact, it is the same Mass, only with different words. The words of this "New Mass" present a deeper approach to the prayer that is the Mass, and it allows for its congregation to more fully appreciate the glory that is appropriately due to the Lord. During the translation of the Mass from Latin to English, there were several critical mistakes made in the translation process. For one, the process was greatly rushed, an error that many linguists recognize as the premier danger in translating. Another thing being that the Mass was translated to conform to the vernacular English. In the past, the Mass had been said in Latin, a language that was almost exclusively used in the Catholic Chuch, and there was even a specific dialect of Latin, Ecclesial Latin, that was the foundation of the Catholic faith. The language was reverent and exclusive, allowing the congregation to truly experience the transcendence of the Mass. However, this reverence was lost with the use of the vernacular English. Instead, the Mass became almost "secularized," unrecognizable from any other form of ceremony. The Third Edition of the Roman Missal has renewed this reverence to the Mass by ensuring that the language used is different from every day English. Thirdly, many of the connections between the Mass and Sacred Scripture were lost in the translation, leaving behind the very foundation for the Mass, being Scripture. I don't even feel the need to explain just how important this is, nor can I express my joy at seeing it renewed. Perhaps a smaller aspect

Now that that's out of the way, I'd like to just take a moment to reflect on my own personal favorite parts of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal.

For starters, many congregational responses to the priest have changed. Most notably, when the priest says, "The Lord be with you," the congregation follows with, "And with your spirit." Gone are the days of, "And also with you," what one priest friend of fine referred to as, "The 'right back atcha' of the Catholic faith." I am inclined to agree. The new response is more reverent, and refers more closely to the ontological change of the priest as instilled with the Spirit of Christ, acting in the Person of Christ at the Mass.

My own personal favorite change is in the "Ecce Agnus Dei." In the past, after the sign of peace, the congregation knelt and the priest said,
"This is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to His supper."
Now, note the reverent diction of the new translation:
"Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb."
The new translation reflect the Scriptures more accurately with the word "Behold," used by Pontius Pilate in presenting Christ by saying, "Ecce homo," or "Behold the man."
However, though I am overjoyed at this, this is still not my favorite part. Note that the word happy has been changed to the word blessed. In the original Latin, the word for blessed was "beatus." Blessedness is man's highest possible achievement, achievable only through the perfect graces of God alone, and is attained through eternal life with God in Heaven. The Church Fathers taught, and the Church today continues to teach, that this perfect end achieved in life with God in Heaven is called, "The Beatific Vision," in which we see God and are perfectly happy. Get the connections?
God made us, each and every one of us, to be happy. To be blessed. It's the same thing, only now we have a word for the specific kind of happiness, the most perfect kind of happiness there is, that can only be found in God. Amazing.

Needless to say, I am thrilled for the new translation of the Mass. I hope you all are too. I encourage you to comment if you have any questions or...well, comments. This is a perfect opportunity for Catholics to grow in their faith or to begin growing and investing themselves more in the universal Church.

For more on the changes in the Order of the Mass, see this link:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Adventure

Sir Ernest Shackleton once said, "Better a live donkey than a dead lion."
I've always had a bit of a conflict with this quote. Shackleton is one of my heroes. And I understand what he's trying to say. But I have trouble with it because I have always believed that to die for glory, my own or God's, is the best possible route to ultimate happiness and immortality through the memories of me left behind in the people I love.
But then I realized the contradiction that I am. My very existence (as the Sebastian people know and love) is a contradiction.
I want to die for glory.
I want to live forever.
I want to be Peter Pan. Any one who knows me well knows this: I have an avid fear of growing old. Gerascophobia. Not so much a fear of dying, necessarily. Every one's afraid of dying (any one who tells you differently is trying to get your vote next November.) But I want to be always young and to have not suffer.
But we have to suffer. There is no love without suffering.
And if I do not suffer, I will life forever. And if I live forever, I can never die for glory. And if I never live with love and die for glory, namely God's, then I can never achieve eternal happiness and immortal life in Heaven with Him.
Immortality is something we praise so highly in this society, in this world. Whether it's seeking to live longer or be famous enough to be remembered throughout time...there's still just one problem with that.
We're all going to die. Everything that has a beginning has an end. Including memory. Someday, even Shackleton will be forgotten.
Even I will be forgotten.
And even I will die.
But, I think I'm beginning to realize another dimension to our "Culture of Death."
We have completely forgotten what life is. Life isn't something to be endured. Life isn't something to be "cured" like an illness. Life isn't something to be engineered or used for one's own purpose. Life isn't something that we use to glorify ourselves.
Life is an adventure.
We live, we laugh, we love, we cry, we crash, we crumble.
We give, we grown, we gain, we fall, we fail, we fade.
We sing, we speak, we celebrate, we hate, we hurt, we hide.
We tell people that we love them, then we watch them turn to dust.
We rise out from the ashes, only to return once more.

It is better to be a live donkey than a dead lion. It's better to be alive at all! Death is no lion. Death is the easy way out. Death without life, without having lived a life full of love and striving for holiness and blessedness and all done in humility for no other purpose than to glorify God, is not death at all. It's selfishness. The opposite of love.
Death is not God's gift to man. Life is. And life after death is God's greatest gift to man.

"To live will be an awfully big adventure."