Coupla Questions (Roman Missal I)

1. S&P downgraded my blog rating from Boring to Boring Minus. Does that seem fair?

2. Of course I will root for the Redskins with limitless devotion. But could they make it a little easier this year?

3. Did you know that President Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff Harold M. Ickes‘ father was Harold L. Ickes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Interior–who refused to sell helium to the Nazis? Did you know that father and son disagree about how to pronounce their surname? (Ick-ess vs. Ick-eez.)

…If Adam and Eve had not fallen from grace, how would they have exercised their religion? Would they have used a prayerbook?

We can say this much: The religion practiced in paradise would have involved a visible sacrifice. The nature of man requires this.

1. The nature of man requires sacrifice. Man achieves fulfillment by submitting to God. Man possesses greatness, intelligence, and sovereignty—but to an infinitely lesser degree than God possesses them.

Therefore, man most shows his greatness, intelligence, and sovereign freedom by offering himself to God through an act of complete submission. This is a sacrifice: man sacrifices himself to God, by humbling himself before the Almighty One. In Greek this act is called latria; in English, worship.

2. Man’s sacrifice must be visible—that is, sensible. Man, being a composite of visible (body) and invisible (soul), acts meaningfully through actions which possess visible and invisible aspects.

…Perhaps Adam and Eve, had they not fallen, would have worshiped simply by kneeling down together under the canopy of the beautiful sky. They might not have needed a temple—God commanded the building of the Temple only after the Fall. They might not have needed words—human language as we know it also came into being after the Fall. So they may not have needed a prayerbook.

Maybe Adam and Eve could have presented the invisible sacrifice of their obedience by visibly kneeling down. Who knows? They ate the apple instead…

First of all: The Roman Missal exists because of the Last Supper. Where does the Missal come from? Ultimately, it comes from the lips of Christ.

Christ did what Adam and Eve did not do. He offered the sacrifice of Himself to the Father. He did so in utter solitude on the Cross. Only He could expiate all the irreligion of mankind, because only He has the infinite divine love to offer as His human submission.

Solitary and unique as the visible sacrifice of the Son of God is, He willed that we would not be isolated from it, but rather He willed to unite us with it. (He offered it for our salvation, after all.)

Christ unites our religion with His through the sacrament of His Body and Blood. Doing the Last Supper in memory of Him—celebrating Mass—allows us to offer Christ and ourselves to the Father as the visible sacrifice which our nature requires.

To do this, we need the Missal. Christ gave His command; the Apostles certainly memorized His words and obeyed without a book for some period of time. But experience teaches us that the most important words must be written down, lest we corrupt or—God forbid!—forget them.

At some point, now lost to history, the first Missal was written on vellum or papyrus (maybe just one page), and the Mass was read for the first time…

More to come!

4 thoughts on “Coupla Questions (Roman Missal I)

  1. Fr. Mark, Interesting thoughts here, inspirational. But as to language as we know it coming into being after the Fall, did not God speak to man, and did not Adam begin naming animals and plants at God’s direction before the Fall?

    1. I appreciate the question. I should have been clearer about what I meant. I am anticipating some things I intend to say later. My point is: Before the fall, there was a universal language. We have no experience of this, of every human being speaking the same language. Language as we know it is actually: languages. And the existence of languages as we know them stretches back to the origins of the history that we know, and we never reach “the original language.” But there WAS an original language, an original, universal language. It is just that such a language lies on the other side of the Fall, on the other side (the innocent side) of the pride that built the Tower of Babel, so we do not know it.

  2. hmmm, that is really food for thought! Thanks so much.
    I’ll wait for your other insights and words of wisdom. I appreciate your poetic sensibilities.

  3. Father Mark,

    I got to this one next (working my way backward). A few years ago, I heard one of the best descriptions of prayer by St. Teresa of Avila in her “The Book of Her Life”, in the metaphor of the garden (here from C. Burrell in WordPress:

    It seems to me that the garden can be watered in four ways. You may draw water from the well (which is for us a lot of work). Or you may get it by means of a water wheel and aqueducts in such a way that it is obtained by turning the crank of the water wheel. (I have drawn water in this way sometimes – the method involves less work than the other and you get more water.) Or it may flow from a river or a stream. (The garden is watered much better by this means because the ground is more fully soaked, and there is no need to water so frequently – and much less work for the gardener.) Or the water may be provided by a great deal of rain. (For the Lord waters the garden without any work on our part – and this way is incomparably better than all the others mentioned.

    But, the way I remember it as I originally heard it was, “First, I planted my garden by the house, and watered it from the well; but the well did not produce enough water. So I moved the garden near the stream, and hauled water from it; that proved much better. Then, I dug a ditch so I could irrigate the garden; and that was far superior. Finally, I stood in the garden, and turned my face upward to His rain.”

    By all means, they would not have needed a prayer book.



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