Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

What Is Sacred?

April 15th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

The question of what truly is “sacred” is one which, unfortunately, goes answered only in the hollow ruminations of the liberals or the presumption of religious formation in the minds of the orthodox. Very seldom is it actually palpably set forth for the faithful, and when it is, it is scoffed at, rejected, and blatantly denied. The nature of sanctity is not open for debate.

The sacred must give glory to God, not to those created by him. Far too often, the music and rhetoric at Mass focuses on the congregation, not the sacred mysteries. Why is this? Why do many priests and administrators place over-emphasis on the created in lieu of the Creator? It stems from a basic misunderstanding of the faith. This is not to say that these individuals have no faith – they do, but it is often deformed. The sacred is something about God, not us. It must not focus on our culture, but on the culture of the Church, i.e. timeless and Roman. When we put ourselves into the liturgy, that is, our ideas of music, our ideas of reverence, we push out the dignity of the unadulterated Liturgy, whether we intend to or not.

Whether we like it or not, Gregorian Chant is specific and unique to Roman Liturgy. It belong there just as cars belong on roads and ships belong at sea. We wouldn’t say “I like ships, so let’s put them on our streets.” No, that’s ludicrous. We may like boats, but their places are at sea, not in city thoroughfares. So too does secular, folk music, rock music, belong outside of the Liturgy. It may be very good in the eyes of the faithful, but this not mean that it has a “right” to be introduced into Mass simply to make things “more appealing” to us as a congregation.

Just as Gregorian Chant is specific and unique to the Liturgy, so too is the use of Latin and Greek. The Second Vatican Council never said that the Mass must be said wholly in the vernacular, with the purposeful and willful exclusion of Latin. Each and every document regarding the Mass stresses that the absolute and definite role of the Latin language in the Roman Rite. It is the Roman Rite. When we begin to see the use of the timeless language of the Church as a barrier to faithfulness, there is something deeply wrong. Indeed, the use of Latin is sacred, and the use of the vernacular, when utilized for an agenda (such as “inclusivity”) is profane. I have mentioned it before that all “profane” means is “outside of the shrine,” “outside of the sacred” in other words.

While a congregation must be mindful of its culture, it must not let that same culture subvert the meaning of the Mass. By making the Mass “our Mass” we remove the timelessness of heaven from it. For everything that we can do is merely human – the Mass is something divine. For this reason, it must be approached by reverent faithful, not presuming their equality with God, and it must be celebrated by dignified and pious priests. Sacred Liturgy is not a show – it is a sampling of the celestial liturgy, in which Christ Jesus is the High Priest. Our pastors must reflect Christly virtues in that they know what is sacred and what is profane. Just because something happens in church does not mean it is blessed by God. Remember the moneychangers in the temple, those who profaned the sacred. They were physically assaulted by God in a showing of divine wrath. There is no difference between the moneychangers of 30 AD and the perpetrators or liturgy abuse in the sanctuaries of 2010 AD.

To understand the sacred is to elevate our mind-frame from “here and now” to “forever.” The Mass is not just a one-hour show on Sundays. It is the time at which God comes to us and we to Him. He deigns it beneficial to us to make Himself present in the Blessed Sacrament. That is sacred. That is timeless. This timelessness dictates, undeniably, the use of a timeless medium. I ask you – what is more timeless: Marty Haugen’s Gather Us In, or the Kyrie from the Missa de Agelis? The former is a manifestation of the congregation-oriented prayer so unfortunately common in our parishes. The Missa de Angelis is an ancient setting of the Mass, never changing and untouched by centuries of religious debate and controversy.

The Mass is timeless. We are not. To respect the sacred, to be a sacred people, means that we cannot take it upon ourselves to make the Mass what we think it ought to be. If we do, we have turned our eyes from God and fixed them upon ourselves at His expense. What tyranny, that the faithful turn worship of God to worship of self.

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One Response to “What Is Sacred?”

  1. Bernie says:

    Amen! Well said.

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