And With Your Spirit

Why do we celebrate the Holy Mass? Any thoughts?

On Holy Thursday, the Lord commanded us to celebrate Mass. “Do this,” He said. He made this ceremony the perpetual expression of His offering to the Father and the means by which He abides with us in the Blessed Sacrament.

We do the work of God by celebrating the Mass. In the parable, a landowner went to the marketplace and found people doing nothing. “Why do you idle here all day?” God made us to exercise our capacities, not dissipate them with sloth. We all individually have our own particular work to do. But the task we have in common is praying the Holy Mass.

For us to pray the Mass, we need a number of implements. Above all, we need an altar, bread, wine, a chalice, and a priest. One other object must also sit on the altar, namely the Missal.

We pray by the book. We don’t wing it. We don’t make it up as we go. We would be fools if we did, because our prayerbook contains the accumulated treasures of 65 generations. Given what happened—namely that God became man—what is the best way for us to pray together? This is it. The book has it.

All our prayers for the Mass are in here. All the parts that we know by heart—in here. The only part of the Mass that is not in this book is the Lectionary, the readings from Scripture that change from Sunday to Sunday.

Anybody like count-downs? Like T-minus 10 weeks and counting? Ten weeks until…the first Sunday of…Advent.

We have been using our edition of the Missal for a generation, ever since some of us were little. Many of us have grown up speaking English to the priest, saying “and also with you,” and “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, one in being with the Father,” and “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,” etc., etc.

I learned how to say Mass with this baby. Every Mass I have ever said has involved this edition of the Roman Missal. I have said 3,350 Masses.

But time moves on. The time has come for a fresh translation into English. We will use this old friend for ten more Sundays. On the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, we will start to use a new book.

Who remembers the last time we changed Missals? That change-over was a doozy. This transition will be much milder. It will simply be a matter of mastering the new translations of some of the prayers and responses.

You know what I think will be the hardest part?

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