Last week, we talked about our upcoming transition to a new edition of the Missal, our prayerbook for Mass.
The Lord be with you. –-And with your spirit.
We will start using the new Missal on the First Sunday of…? Advent. November…? 27.
When we get together to pray and offer the Mass, the ceremony we perform has a special name: Liturgy. The word comes from ancient Greek and means “public work.” The common work we do together in church: the liturgy.
Our heavenly Father beckons us to do this work of prayer together. When it comes to adapting ourselves to this new Missal translation, maybe some of us are thinking, like the first son in the parable: “No! I will NOT re-learn how to go to Mass!”
Let’s think about it. The first son’s reply may have come from honest fatigue. Maybe he had intended to rest on that particular day. Maybe his lazy, good-for-nothing, con-artist brother had not done a lick of work for months or even years. Who knows? The second son may very well have had a good reason to resist his father’s directive.
But then the day began to pass. The sun rose high in the sky. The field of labor beckoned. The son thought better of himself. ‘Well, my father is out there working. I guess I might as well get out there with him.’
When we celebrate the Mass together, we sing some of our prayers. We thank God for musicians, cantors, and choirs, who help us sing. The hymns we sing, which change from week to week—these do not come directly from the Missal. But some of the other singing parts do come, word for word, out of the book.
For instance, near the beginning of the Mass, we echo the canticle that the angels sang over the Bethlehem fields on Christmas Eve: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will!”
Did you know that the angels did not actually say, “Lord God, heavenly king, Almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory?” They said: “We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.”
Just kidding. The angels sing in a celestial language, which we won’t altogether know until we get to heaven.
But: we will have a new translation of the Gloria to use at Mass.
And guess what else? Bishop DiLorenzo has foreseen that changing everything on November 27 would be kind of tricky. He said, “Go ahead and start singing some of the new prayers next Sunday.”
So, when you arrive for Mass next Sunday, make sure you get a little white paper. The words for the Glory to God and the Holy, holy, holy will be slightly different.
Listen, we cannot get around the fact that this new Missal translation means work. The Lord will be patient with us if we grumble a little. If you want to say to me today, “Father, I refuse to fuss and bother with re-learning the Mass! I will just mumble.” –That’s fine. Feel free to say that today. Just make sure that you change your mind by next Sunday.
By singing the Glory to God and the Holy, holy, holy together, we participate in the perpetual song of the choirs in heaven.
In the case of the Gloria, as we noted, we heard the first part of it on the night when Christ was born. The angels and saints sing to the Triune Majesty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This is the fundamental meaning of life, after all: to glorify God. Right now, while we make our way on earth, we have to struggle and study and sometimes lift heavy burdens in order to glorify God with a worthy moral life. But when we reach the end of the pilgrim road, then we will lay our cares and burdens down and just gaze upon the beauty of all things. Our song will pour out of us, effortlessly.
What about the Holy, holy, holy? How do we know that they sing this song in heaven?
The prophet Isaiah heard the angels singing the first part of the song. King David sang the second part of it. When Jesus came to Jerusalem, the people sang this song to Him, thereby acknowledging that He is the Messiah.
So, you see what I am saying: We cannot mess around with this.
The Lord be with you.