This is a new series I intend on publishing weekly so look for the updates.
The Purpose of the Liturgy
What is the Purpose of the Liturgy? Have you ever asked yourself this question, and if not why? In case you haven't ever asked yourself this question take a moment now and reflect asking yourself what the purpose of the Liturgy is. Have you done that? Good, What did you come up with? To come together as a community in prayer... well not exactly. The purpose of the Liturgy is similar to that of Eucharistic Adoration the only difference is that unlike Eucharistic Adoration we receive the body and blood of our Lord. The Purpose of the Liturgy is then not simply to draw us into heaven with the Angels and Saints, but to draw us into God. That the Angels and Saints are there is nothing more than secondary. I, myself am there with the Lord God Creator of the Universe. The Purpose more expressly is to draw us into the solitude of contemplation.
Solitude does not mean loneliness or being alone for who can escape God? No Solitude is what you may have been more commonly called "A personal Relationship with Jesus Christ". The objection that normally shows up about now is "Yes but what about the Saints? We cant exclude them", no and we should not. Do you have a large family? I have 5 brothers who I love to death, when I am with 1 I am always mindful of the rest, but I understand that sometimes they want to spend more personal time with me 1 on 1. Or when I am with all 5 we may all be in the same room however I may be more focused on one at the moment than I am on the rest. This does not mean I ignore them it only means that my attention is focused. The Mass be it the Tridentine or the Novus Ordo is the same way, when the Liturgy is going on I am focused on one Brother on the eldest Brother Jesus Christ. "But Christ is in us" one might object... Yes this is true, however Christ is present in the Church, in the tabernacle in a way he is not present in my neighbor.
If we wish to participate in communal events outside of the Liturgy which praise worship and Glorify God there are many other ways to do this that are fitting. However if I am showing up to Mass one day a week and I am coming for the communal element of worship I am coming for the wrong reason. My reason for coming to the Liturgy should always be to be drawn into a contemplative prayer, how I feel is not important, what I get out of it is irrelevant. I do not even come to receive communion though this is good. I come because the Supreme Creator and Ruler of the Universe Humbled Himself, became Man, Lived, suffered and Died. In The unbloody sacrifice of the Mass I am transported back or rather the crucifixion is transported forward and perpetuated continually Here on the Altar until the end of time. I come to unite myself with God in a way that I cannot do anywhere else and all other unification is through him, it is centered on him. With out him there are no Saints, I have no brothers and sisters so while it is good to pray together, here I must put first things first and focus completely on God and be with him in a way I am not with him any other time.
The Liturgy is not a Party, its not a "Celebration" in the "happy" sense of the word, It is a solemn celebration. Just imagine if you will being at the foot of the cross seeing the person you love the one who loves you more than life itself the one who is dieing for you who has suffered so much so that you do not have to suffer eternal punishment. Just imagine how innocent he is how pure how clean and yet. Yet he is taking your punishment he is paying a debt that is not his to pay, out of Love. Watch The Passion of the Christ and play "Happy" music, listen to the guitars rock out. Cant you see the disgust on the blessed Mothers face. Her Son just died for you and rather than solemness you are acting as though it is some sort of party!
Prayer and the Liturgy
There are two forms of prayer in the Liturgy both of which are contemplative forms. The first form is what is sometimes called Vertical Prayer. This form of prayer is directed at and through Jesus our Lord. particular examples of this form are the Credo (I believe) and the Our Father.
The rather common mistake that the Our Father is a communal prayer come from a lack of good teaching. Lex Orandi Lex Credendi, How you pray is how you believe. Holding our hands out like most people have been taught to do implicitly in what is called Orans, by its very nature implies community or rather the larger community present. This however is not appropriate as when we pray the Our Father even privately we always pray Our Father. This is because we never say the prayer alone, by this I do not mean we pray this as the whole Church but rather that I... Me... I pray this with Christ. This prayer is said with me and Christ to the Father. I am able to approach the Father only because Christ is with me. This is why it is proper to pray with your hands folded, while we are praying this prayer with others present the prayer is between Me, Christ, and the Father.
Another commonly mistaken communal prayer is the Credo or the Creed as it is called in English, this is of course do to the horrible translation of the creed which is used at the Novus Ordo. Credo in its Latin means I believe, Thus when we say Credo in unum Deum(I believe in one God)... It is I professing my Faith in front of Others in a prayerful way, I... Me... With complete free will... This is what I believe, not anyone else, it doesn't matter what they believe... I BELIEVE THIS PERIOD.... I don't care what anyone else claims to believe. It is me taking personal ownership and responsibility for my Faith, this is always why we say in the Novus Ordo "I confess to you my brothers...". I am owning up to my own short comings, me, in front of a crowd which is very difficult and a complete submitting of my own pride. or in other words "Me? I have sins?". This vertical type of Prayer is not Ego centered it is rather Christ centered and it is I coming before him unworthy as I am and saying Please forgive me.
The other type of prayer is horizontal prayer, we can recognize this type of prayer because the Priest says "Oremus." or in English "Let us pray". Here is where we as a community join our prayers together with the Priest who sends them through the head(Christ) to God the Father.
There is another set of prayers that is said in the Tridentine that while remnants of it exist in the Novus Ordo they are not many. There are certain Prayers in both The Tridentine and the Novus Ordo which are said silently. These prayers have the express purpose of being prayers to Christ FOR the people, they are prayed in quite because they are not for us they are about us. It is our earthly head, the Priest who we send to Christ and God the Father to plead on our behalf. Who am I that I may approach God? "And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die." In this we realize our Humility and it is fulfilled. One is chosen from among us and that one is Moses he is our intercessor to God, to Christ the Living God. This is why we pray for the Holiness of our Priests that they may be worthy to have Christ through them offer His body blood soul and Divinity.