Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Getting Our Priorities Straight

August 22nd, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

“The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ ‘The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.'” – Catechism of the Catholic Church

We are blessed to have such a dynamic population of practicing Catholics in the Diocese of Rochester, and for as much as there is which is wrong or disordered, there is a great deal that is good and godly. And, at the end of the day, Our Lord is present in our tabernacles, regardless as to whether or not the Sacrifice of the Mass was properly celebrated. In addition to this, we have a vibrant population of lay faithful, intent on spreading the Gospel through their charitable and spiritual works. And I think that where all of us can agree, even our liberal friends, is that the Mass is, as the Church tells us, “the source and summit of the Christian life.”

Why, then, is good liturgy dismissed as too “over the top” by some Catholics who otherwise defend the Church with zeal and integrity? Why is the prerogative of the Church, which is the absolute pinnacle of human achievement, deemed secondary, or considered a disordered priority by those who, ultimately, are called upon to defend and uphold it? It seems that we have a rupture between those who profess “ora et labora,” and just plain “ora.” St. Benedict famously directed his followers to pray and labor, together and in all things. He did not direct his monks (some may think unfortunately so) simply to pray, and let God take care of the rest. Throughout the history of the Church, we see this theme of prayer and labor, of faith in action. Jesus fasted in the wilderness, but then he presided at the Passover seder, the First Mass. Monks in the Dark Ages lived often within the confines of some sort of cloister, but they preserved classical antiquity and tended to the spiritual and temporal needs of the locals. Even now, our Carmelite sisters live within their monastery, but recognize the need to order their day around prayer and labor.

Now, of course, labor can be many things. It could be running a parish. It could be running a choir. It could be running a youth group. But when the labor is not directed where it ought to be, namely, the Eucharist, the “source and summit,” the labor is in vain. As the psalmist wrote, “Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he watches in vain that keeps it” (Psalm 127). For us who are Roman Catholics, this “city” is the Church, and if we labor in ways that are not productive, or even counterproductive, we are not standing in solidarity with Christ. We are called to be vigilant, and to do Our Lord’s bidding, especially at the Mass. He commanded, “Do this in memory of me.” That is one of the most explicit things said by Our Lord in the Gospels. We look to the cryptic, metaphorical tone of the parables, and find the same Truth, but the way in which it is given is entirely different. God Himself commanded that we take this most sublime gift, a gift formed by God Himself, and partake of it with frequency.

Indeed, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says of the Mass, “in brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: ‘Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking'” (CCC 1327). If our thoughts, our prayers, our labors, are not directed towards the dignity of the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, we must rethink our priorities. It is lamentable that our Protestant brethren devote such time in studying and preaching the Scriptures without their complete and total application. It is certainly commendable to know the history of the Jewish people as outlined in the Old Testament, to know the connotations of the original Greek in St. Paul’s epistles, and to see in the Gospels the hand of the Divine Author, but that is not enough. All of this is aimed, not at the breadth and depth of Scripture or service or fraternity, but at the Holy Mass. Without the Mass, we are nothing, for it is that most sublime gift which links us physically and directly to God and the Heavenly Jerusalem.

To have a love and knowledge of Scripture is to understand that our lives are ordered in such a way as that the Mass is should be our highest priority, for in the Mass we are presented with Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. The Mass is that instrument used by God to give us Himself on a daily basis, an instrument which uses the Word as an integral part to that Mystery. But what happens when we strip the Word of its liturgical focus? We strip our Faith of its liturgical focus, and in so doing, lose sight of what our priorities really, truly are. The Mass is like a ciborium, in that it is the vessel of God’s Sacramental Presence here on Earth. Sacred Scripture is the gold lining that cradles the host, but we must realize that it is not the host itself, but a support to it. For what is more precious, the Word or He or spoke it? This is not to say that the Word is somehow not precious – it is. But God is perfection itself, and needs nothing to adorn that which is already the most beautiful thing imaginable. The Holy Scripture gives life to Our Faith, and is coupled with Tradition to present us with Christ’s Mystical Spouse, the Church, but the Word is not God. The Blessed Sacrament is.

So what should our priority be – the manifestation of God on our altars, or our own “ecclesiastical ministries” and “works of the apostolate” (which, we can all agree, are most beneficial to us as Christians)? The Church is very clear that the Mass is central to salvation, for through it we encounter Christ Himself.

And so it follows that, should we have the ability, we must strive to do our best to make the Mass beautiful. If one is a priest, it is up to him to say Mass with dignity and fidelity, not to fall into some sort of worship of the rubrics of the liturgy, but to offer high praise to God. If one is a layman, it is up to him not to profane the Mass with any of his God-given faculties. Our Lord deserves the best, and it is the sin of sacrilege to purposefully and willingly deprive God of the honor due to His Name. We see in the Gospels that we must love and serve the poor, but that we must be even more aware of the importance of He who is our God and King, He who gave us our Eucharistic Meal wherein our souls find themselves spiritually sated and our minds given to holy thoughts. St. Augustine presents us with excellent insight into this notion:

6. But Mary, the other sister of Lazarus, took a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Such was the incident, let us look into the mystery it imported. Whatever soul of you wishes to be truly faithful, anoint like Mary the feet of the Lord with precious ointment. That ointment was righteousness, and therefore it was [exactly] a pound weight: but it was ointment of pure nard [nardi pistici], very precious. From his calling it pistici, we ought to infer that there was some locality from which it derived its preciousness: but this does not exhaust its meaning, and it harmonizes well with a sacramental symbol. The root of the word [pure] in the Greek is by us called faith. You were seeking to work righteousness: the just shall live by faith. Romans 1:17 Anoint the feet of Jesus: follow by a good life the Lord’s footsteps. Wipe them with your hair: what you have of superfluity, give to the poor, and you have wiped the feet of the Lord; for the hair seems to be the superfluous part of the body. You have something to spare of your abundance: it is superfluous to you, but necessary for the feet of the Lord. Perhaps on this earth the Lord’s feet are still in need. For of whom but of His members is He yet to say in the end, Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of mine, you did it unto me? Matthew 25:40 You spent what was superfluous for yourselves, but you have done what was grateful to my feet.

7. And the house was filled with the odor. The world is filled with the fame of a good character: for a good character is as a pleasant odor. Those who live wickedly and bear the name of Christians, do injury to Christ: of such it is said, that through them the name of the Lord is blasphemed. Romans 2:24 If through such God’s name is blasphemed, through the good the name of the Lord is honored. Listen to the apostle, when he says, We are a sweet savor of Christ in every place. As it is said also in the Song of Songs, Your name is as ointment poured forth. Song of Songs 1:3 Attend again to the apostle: We are a sweet savor, he says, of Christ in every place, both in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savor of life unto life, to the other the savor of death unto death: and who is sufficient for these things? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 The lesson of the holy Gospel before us affords us the opportunity of so speaking of that savor, that we on our part may give worthy utterance, and you diligent heed, to what is thus expressed by the apostle himself, And who is sufficient for these things? But have we any reason to infer from these words that we are qualified to attempt speaking on such a subject, or you to hear? We, indeed, are not so; but He is sufficient, who is pleased to speak by us what it may be for your profit to hear. The apostle, you see, is, as he calls himself, a sweet savor: but that sweet savor is to some the savor of life unto life, and to others the savor of death unto death; and yet all the while a sweet savor in itself. For he does not say, does he, To some we are a sweet savor unto life, to others an evil savor unto death? He called himself a sweet savor, not an evil; and represented himself as the same sweet savor, to some unto life, to others unto death. Happy they who find life in this sweet savor! But what misery can be greater than theirs, to whom the sweet savor is the messenger of death?

8. And who is it, says some one, that is thus slain by the sweet savor? It is to this the apostle alludes in the words, And who is sufficient for these things? In what wonderful ways God brings it about that the good savor is fraught both with life to the good, and with death to the wicked; how it is so, so far as the Lord is pleased to inspire my thoughts (for it may still conceal a deeper meaning beyond my power to penetrate)—yet so far, I say, as my power of penetration has reached, you ought not to have the information withheld. The integrity of the Apostle Paul’s life and conduct, his preaching of righteousness in word and exhibition of it in works, his wondrous power as a teacher and his fidelity as a steward, were everywhere noised abroad: he was loved by some, and envied by others. For he himself tells us in a certain place of some, that they preached Christ not sincerely, but of envy; thinking, he says, to add affliction to my bonds. But what does he add? Whether in pretence or in truth, let Christ be preached. They preach who love me, they preach who hate me; in that good savor the former live, in it the others die: and yet by the preaching of both let the name of Christ be proclaimed, with this excellent savor let the world be filled. Have you been loving one whose conduct evidenced his goodness then in this good savor you have lived. Have you been envying such a one? Then in this same savor you have died. But have you, pray, in thus choosing to die, converted this savor into an evil one? Turn from your envious feelings, and the good savor will cease to slay you.

9. And now, lastly, listen to what we have here, how this ointment was to some a sweet savor unto life, and to others a sweet savor unto death. When the pious Mary had rendered this grateful service to the Lord, straightway one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was yet to betray Him, said, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? Alas for you, wretched man! The sweet savor has slain you. For the cause that led him so to speak is disclosed by the holy evangelist. But we, too, might have supposed, had not the real state of his mind been revealed in the Gospel, that the care of the poor might have induced him so to speak. Not so. What then? Hearken to a true witness: This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the money bag, and bare what was put therein. Did he bear it about, or bear it away? For the common service he bore it, as a thief he bore it away.

10. Look now, and learn that this Judas did not become perverted only at the time when he yielded to the bribery of the Jews and betrayed his Lord. For not a few, inattentive to the Gospel, suppose that Judas only perished when he accepted money from the Jews to betray the Lord. It was not then that he perished, but he was already a thief, and a reprobate, when following the Lord; for it was with his body and not with his heart that he followed. He made up the apostolic number of twelve, but had no part in the apostolic blessedness: he had been made the twelfth in semblance, and on his departure, and the succession of another, the apostolic reality was completed, and the entireness of the number conserved. Acts 1:26 What lesson then, my brethren, did our Lord Jesus Christ wish to impress on His Church, when it pleased Him to have one castaway among the twelve, but this, that we should bear with the wicked, and refrain from dividing the body of Christ? Here you have Judas among the saints—that Judas, mark you! Who was a thief, yea— do not overlook it— not a thief of any ordinary type, but a thief and a sacrilegist: a robber of money bags, but of such as were the Lord’s; of money bags, but of such as were sacred. If there is a distinction made in the public courts between such crimes as ordinary theft and peculation—for by peculation we mean the theft of public property; and private theft is not visited with the same sentence as public—how much more severe ought to be the sentence on the sacrilegious thief, who has dared to steal, not from places of any ordinary kind, but to steal from the Church? He who thieves from the Church, stands side by side with the castaway Judas. Such was this man Judas, and yet he went in and out with the eleven holy disciples. With them he came even to the table of the Lord: he was permitted to have intercourse with them, but he could not contaminate them. Of one bread did both Peter and Judas partake, and yet what communion had the believer with the infidel? Peter’s partaking was unto life, but that of Judas unto death. For that good bread was just like the sweet savor. For as the sweet savor, so also does the good bread give life to the good, and bring death to the wicked. For he that eats unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself: 1 Corinthians 11:29 judgment to himself, not to you. If, then, it is judgment to himself, not to you, bear as one that is good with him that is evil, that you may attain unto the rewards of the good, and be not hurled into the punishment of the wicked.

11. Lay to heart our Lord’s example while living with man upon earth. Why had He a money bag, who was ministered unto by angels, save to intimate that His Church was destined thereafter to have her repository for money? Why gave He admission to a thief, save to teach His Church patiently to bear with thieves? But he who had formed the habit of abstracting money from the bag, did not hesitate for money received to sell the Lord Himself. But let us see what answer our Lord gave to such words. See, brethren: He does not say to him, You speak so on account of your thievishness. He knew him to be a thief, yet did not betray him, but rather endured him, and showed us an example of patience in tolerating the wicked in the Church. Then said Jesus to him: Let her keep it against the day of my burial. He announced that His own death was at hand.

12. But what follows? For the poor you have always with you, but me ye will not have always. We can certainly understand, the poor you have always; what He has thus said is true. When were the poor wanting in the Church? But me ye will not have always; what does He mean by this? How are we to understand, Me ye will not have always? Don’t be alarmed: it was addressed to Judas. Why, then, did He not say, you will have, but, ye will have? Because Judas is not here a unit. One wicked man represents the whole body of the wicked; in the same way as Peter, the whole body of the good, yea, the body of the Church, but in respect to the good. For if in Peter’s case there were no sacramental symbol of the Church, the Lord would not have said to him, I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. Matthew 16:19 If this was said only to Peter, it gives no ground of action to the Church. But if such is the case also in the Church, that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven, and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven,— for when the Church excommunicates, the excommunicated person is bound in heaven; when one is reconciled by the Church, the person so reconciled is loosed in heaven:— if such, then, is the case in the Church, Peter, in receiving the keys, represented the holy Church. If, then, in the person of Peter were represented the good in the Church, and in Judas’ person were represented the bad in the Church, then to these latter was it said, But me ye will not have always. But what means the not always; and what, the always? If you are good, if you belong to the body represented by Peter, you have Christ both now and hereafter: now by faith, by sign, by the sacrament of baptism, by the bread and wine of the altar. You have Christ now, but you will have Him always; for when you have gone hence, you will come to Him who said to the robber, Today shall you be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43 But if you live wickedly, you may seem to have Christ now, because you enter the Church, signest yourself with the sign of Christ, art baptized with the baptism of Christ, minglest yourself with the members of Christ, and approachest His altar: now you have Christ, but by living wickedly you will not have Him always.

13. It may be also understood in this way: The poor ye will have always with you, but me ye will not have always. The good may take it also as addressed to themselves, but not so as to be any source of anxiety; for He was speaking of His bodily presence. For in respect of His majesty, His providence, His ineffable and invisible grace, His own words are fulfilled, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Matthew 28:20 But in respect of the flesh He assumed as the Word, in respect of that which He was as the son of the Virgin, of that wherein He was seized by the Jews, nailed to the tree, let down from the cross, enveloped in a shroud, laid in the sepulchre, and manifested in His resurrection, ye will not have Him always. And why? Because in respect of His bodily presence He associated for forty days with His disciples, and then, having brought them forth for the purpose of beholding and not of following Him, He ascended into heaven, and is no longer here. He is there, indeed, sitting at the right hand of the Father; and He is here also, having never withdrawn the presence of His glory. In other words, in respect of His divine presence we always have Christ; in respect of His presence in the flesh it was rightly said to the disciples, Me ye will not have always. In this respect the Church enjoyed His presence only for a few days: now it possesses Him by faith, without seeing Him with the eyes. In whichever way, then, it was said, But me ye will not have always, it can no longer, I suppose, after this twofold solution, remain as a subject of doubt.

By focusing on things to the exclusion of the Holy Mass, to profess a love for the Mystical Banquet but then label its most zealous defenders, to make sanctimonious pronouncements – all of this robs the Mass of its dignity. For 2,000 years, we have had the Mass, and for 2,000 years, certain Christians have diminished its apparent worth by whoring it out to this agenda or that, by sitting back and permitting sacrilege, by removing the “labora” from the “ora et labora.” The Church, however, has never ceased to teach the absolute importance of the Mass, the “source and summit.” So, yes, serve the Church through whatever apostolate you feel called to, but remember, your first priority is always to the Mass, not its parts. Love the Gospel, preach it, defend it, but recognize it as a part of the Mass, not something which stands alone, but something which totally depends on the Mass (and on which the Mass is totally dependent).

It pains me to think of how some people over the years have mistaken a zeal for good liturgy for that as its own end. Good liturgy is never an end in itself, but a means to a more perfect end, namely, the presence of God in our tabernacles. People have criticized me and my friends for “worshiping the liturgy” – what sense does it make to worship worship or to praise praise? To love the Mass is to love praying the Mass, and to love Him who is made present through it.


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15 Responses to “Getting Our Priorities Straight”

  1. annonymouse says:

    The more perfect “end” of good liturgy is the presence of God in our tabernacles?? I beg to differ!

    The perfect “end” of good liturgy is indeed the presence of God, first on the altar, and then in our bodies and souls, and as such in our communities, and then in our world!

    I revere the presence of God in the tabernacle and spend time with Him there, but that is not the main thing that we Catholics celebrate the Mass for!

  2. Gen says:

    I said “more” perfect, not most perfect. I never said that the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle was the sole and most perfect end that can be achieved via the liturgy. I said that the Mass itself is.

  3. annonymouse says:

    With all due respect, Geri, I think your priorities are all mixed up.

    The Mass is not an end to itself. The Mass is a means to an end. For that matter, the Church is a means to an end. The end is the Lord Jesus Christ, and even Jesus said He’s a means to an end, which is unity with the Father in the Holy Spirit (“I am the Way”).

    You are dangerously close, it seems to me, of making an idol out of the Holy Mass. The Mass, as are all Sacraments, are gifts of God’s grace to ultimately bring us into union with Him. Seeing the Mass or any of the sacraments as ends unto themselves borders on heresy, it seems to me.

    And actually, looking back at your post, you did say that good liturgy is never an end to itself, but a means to a more perfect end, which is the presence of God in our tabernacles.

  4. Dr. K says:

    Seeing the Mass or any of the sacraments as ends unto themselves borders on heresy, it seems to me.

    Do we not through the Sacrament of Holy Communion receive Christ Himself?

  5. Raymond F. Rice says:

    It is my understanding that the Mass is a perfect and highest form of prayer instituted by Christ to make Himself physically present to us and as a conduit for His life giving graces.
    Essentially it is similar to His life on earth; He became physically present and physically touched people.. Generally prayer is the raising of the mind and heart to God. Good liturgy should do this for you as an individual and , because the Mass is a communal service, raise us and bind us as a group. Essentially we need the sacraments, the priests to confer them, and hearts and mental dispositions to be open to Him. This is the supreme mandate for the Church ” Do this in memory of ME “.

    It will not go well for some at the final judgement if this mandate has not been followed because some people did not accept the mandate and deprived the Christian communities the Mass. Without the Mass Catholicism will perish.

  6. Gen says:

    Well said, Raymond.

  7. christian says:

    Good Post Gen!

  8. brother of penance says:

    Thank you, Gen, for this article entitled GETTING OUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT.

    Your article touches upon great matters for faith sharing and discussion: the Eucharist, Christian Life, sacraments, ecclesiastical ministries, works of the apostolate, spiritual goods, Christ our Passover, Real Presence, tabernacles, sacrifice of the mass, charitable and spiritual works, liturgy, prayer and labor, references to the CCC, Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, Scriptures, Old Testament, Greek in St. Paul’s Epistles, the Gospels, service, fraternity, Holy Mass, God, Heavenly Jerusalem and excerpts from a Church Father.

    As I read and re-read GETTING OUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT I am reminded of the necessity to narrow one’s focus, utilize resources critically to stay on target so as to make a single point with pertinent substantiation which demonstrates the soundness of one’s argument. I know that I need to do that when posting a comment.

    I really want to make a comment but find it impossible to address everything you wrote.
    That being said, what you wrote is very important for readers and worshipers to consider.
    You touch upon what is essential, namely ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’ in which is contained Christ himself, our passover. You write of the Eucharist, the Blessed Eucharist.

    So as I take some time to reflect, research and decide upon a comment which builds up, I share a link to Michael Voris who addresses something very dear to our hearts. Enjoy:

  9. mbfitz says:

    I’m still wondering, who is “Geri”? It seems annonymouse was all riled up over a very lovely post.

    Perhaps it could be added that in paying homage to God through participation in the Mass, we should focus on the Sacred, Holy, Mystical event that occurs and not worry about who else is there. We should be reverent and pious. There is no need to visit with the person next to us, as we should be communing with our Lord. The “Kiss of Peace” is not a time to turn around waving to those in the back of the church as if you had just won a beauty contest, nor is it the time for the Priest to leave Christ all alone on the altar so he can parade down the isle shaking hands like a cheap politician seeking re-election. If you need to speak to someone about something, do it after Mass OUTSIDE so others can give their private thanks. If Father wants to meet and greet, do it at the door on the way out of the sanctuary…Mass is not the byproduct of a social gathering.

  10. brother of penance says:

    In sharing the Good News of Salvation through the Grace of Jesus Christ it becomes essential to announce who Jesus is, what he did, what that means for us and what our response should be. Therefore, in making comment on Gen’s most important article, GETTING OUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT, I will follow the same pattern. Using helpful resources, my intention (as a comment to Gen’s article) is to answer what the Eucharist is, what goes on, what effects it has and what our disposition to Eucharist must be. Hopefully I will be helping us, as Gen has, get our priorities straight.

    Dr. Alan Schreck writes in CATHOLIC AND CHRISTIAN that “The essence of the Eucharist is the re-enactment of Jesus’ action of distributing the bread and wine with the words, ‘Take, this is my body’; ‘This is my blood’; ‘Do this in remembrance of me,’” Schreck continues, “Catholic Christians…….believe that when they receive the bread and wine of the Eucharist, they are actually partaking in the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” (See in Scripture Mk. 14:22, 24; Lk. 22:19; John 6:51-57; 1 Cor.10:16-17; 1 Cor.11:27-29)

    The author of CATHOLIC AND CHRISTIAN refers his readers to notable early church writings which imply or directly state that the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper are truly the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Dr. Schreck includes LETTER TO THE SMYRNEANS by Ignatius of Antioch, FIRST APOLOGY by Justin Martyr, AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK 5 by Irenaeus, MYSTAGOGICAL CATECHESES Fourth Address on the Body and Blood of Christ, by Cyril of Jerusalem and Saint Augustine’s SERMON, 272.

    Both Sacred Scriptures in the New Testament and early church writings by Church Fathers testify to the reality of Eucharist. The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ, the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. In time with the help of medieval theologians the Church uses the philosophical term ‘transubstantiation’ “to describe the mystery that the inner reality (‘essence’) of the bread and wine is transformed into the body and blood of Jesus, while the outward appearance (‘accidents’) remain the same” (see Shreck’s book page 131).

    Now that we have answered WHAT IS THE EUCHARIST?, we will answer WHAT GOES ON IN THE EUCHARIST? In obedience to her Master, the Church does the Eucharist in remembrance of Him. Dr. Schreck continues in his book, “Because Jesus commanded his apostles to “do this in remembrance of me” the Eucharist soon became the primary act of Christian worship. This re-enactment of the Lord’s Supper was accompanied by readings of the Hebrew Scriptures, accounts of Jesus’s life and teachings, and prayers…….with the Eucharist at its center, (it) came to be called ‘the Mass’”. Have we answered our second question? Yes, worship goes on in the Eucharist.

    There is, however, a very significant reality by virtue of the ‘remembrance’. The remembrance or “anamnesis” makes present the reality of what is being remembered. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Anamnesis (from the Greek word ????????? meaning memory), in Christianity is a liturgical statement in which the Church refers to the memorial character of the Eucharist and/or to the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. It has its origin in Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, “Do this in memory of me” (Ancient Greek: “????? ??????? ??? ??? ???? ?????????”, (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25).In a wider sense, Anamnesis refers to a key concept in the liturgical theology: in the worship the faithfuls make memory of God’s saving deeds.[1] This memorial aspect is not simply a passive process but one by which the Christian can actually enter into the Paschal mystery.[2]”) As such,there is a representation of Jesus Christ’s one (once for all) sacrifice on Calvary for sins. (see Schreck page 133) Blessed be the Name of God, this re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice applies the merits and graces of Christ crucified and risen to us.


    What must our disposition to Eucharist be? Why not let the Apostle Paul answer? “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”
    (1 Cor.1126-32)

    Finally, some words about Sacred Scripture which might help put it in perspective and help get our priorities straight. The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation states, SACRED SCRIPTURE IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
    21. The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God’s word and of Christ’s body. She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith, since, as inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, they impart the word of God Himself without change, and make the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and Apostles. Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture. For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life. Consequently these words are perfectly applicable to Sacred Scripture: “For the word of God is living and active” (Heb. 4:12) and “it has power to build you up and give you your heritage among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32; see 1 Thess. 2:13).

    Dr. Scott Hahn has written a book in which he substantiates with evidence that the Scriptures when proclaimed at the Liturgy make the reality proclaimed present. In other words, the Word of God, the Sacred Scriptures when read during mass have a sacramental nature making present the reality proclaimed. HOW ABOUT THAT. See Hahn’s book entitled Letter and Spirit
    (In Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy, Dr. Hahn continues his thoughtful exploration of the complex relationship between the Bible and the Catholic liturgy and offers insights into what the Bible teaches us about living the spiritual life.)

  11. Eliza10 says:

    Thanks, brother of penance! Well said!

    I am just not understanding annonymouse’s concern, that of which she seems to have an alarming apprehension: “You are dangerously close, it seems to me, of making an idol out of the Holy Mass.”

    Dangerous? Idol? I am just not seeing this. Can you explain, annonymouse, with any reference to scripture, or the catechism, or any Church document, or the writings of any Saint how one can possibly EVER be in danger of making the Holy Mass an idol?? What a curious idea! I have never heard of such a thing.

    Well, maybe something similar along these lies in the DoR, or from some university-trained or St. Bernards-trained liturgist who is trying to remake the Mass into some kind of performance art or Community-Togetherness Gathering, or from a pastoral administrator wanting to make sure people know that a Mass isn’t important – and that’s why the parish doesn’t need a priest; she’ll do just fine in charge without one. Yes, I can certainly see annonymouse’s argument fitting into these settings.

    Can you give us something to chew on here, annonymouse, so we can see the point of your alarm, and see that your concern is not just a normal byproduct of The Bishop Clark Diocese’s inventive, dissident theology?

  12. annonymouse says:

    1st of all, my error – I wrote Geri when I meant Gen – my glasses must have fogged up.

    2nd of all, GEN, I await your response. You said, and I quote: “Good liturgy is never an end in itself, but a means to a more perfect end, namely, the presence of God in our tabernacles.” I absolutely dispute that. Your response was to say “the sole and most perfect end that can be achieved via the liturgy…” is the Mass. Whatever that means. Please clarify.

    3rd – Eliza10 – I am saying that viewing the Mass as an end unto itself (which is what Gen said in her response to my first post), rather than the means to the ultimate end (mankind’s eternal union with God through Christ in the Spirit) is idolatrous. Especially in a post labeled “Getting our Priorities Straight!”

    4th – Dr. K – yes, we receive Christ in Holy Eucharist, but even that act is not an end unto itself. Jesus left us His Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Eucharist for a purpose – for our increased holiness, yes, but also so that we may have His life within us, so that we may become His presence in a world badly in need of His presence.

    Don’t get me wrong – I prize our Holy Mass and firmly believe in the Blessed Sacrament as the source and summit of our faith, the wellspring of God’s life within us and within our Church. But let us worship God and God alone, and not the Mass, shall we?

  13. Gen says:

    It’s impossible to respond to you when you’re not really grasping the entire gist of the post – your objections seem to be taken from the last paragraph or two, and by themselves they may, in your opinion, seem to be almost heretical. But when you read them in context of the post as a whole, there’s really no room for controversy.

    Again, you’re overlooking the difference between “more perfect” and “most perfect.” Aristotle wrote about these at length, describing how an end which is complete in itself (i.e. God, Heaven, etc.) would be a “most perfect end.” It’s complete, and totally independent of what we could call emotional or spiritual baggage. However, there are things which are certainly good and are “ends” of some sort, but which are not totally complete; they are not God, Heaven, etc. but lead us towards God/Heaven. These are “more perfect” than things of less obvious importance, such as eating to satisfy hunger, but are not as important as things like God, that are complete in themselves. These are “more perfect” for the reason that they are “more perfect” than mundane things, but not “most perfect” in the sense that God Himself is “most perfect.”

    The Mass is where we physically and personally encounter God in and through the Holy Eucharist. God Himself is what can crudely be called the “most perfect” end. The Mass facilitates this, for it is only at the words of the priest that God comes down to dwell on our altars. So the Mass, although not the most perfect end in itself, is absolutely necessary for our salvation as Roman Catholics. Without it, we are brought to nothing, for through it we encounter God Himself and come to participate more fully in the Paschal Mystery.

    And, like I said at numerous points throughout the post, Catholics do NOT worship the Mass. It’s right there in the same paragraph you’re struggling with. I don’t really know what the problem is.

  14. annonymouse says:

    Gen (not Geri) – thanks for the clarification.

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