Here is my article for The Wanderer appropriate for this Sunday.
What Does the Prayer Really Say? 2nd Sunday after Pentecost (1962 Missale Romanum)
I keep talking about Greenville, SC in these columns. Recently, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, stationed at St. Mary’s and a High School Chaplain, had a great exchange with some young men about ad orientem worship. Father posted about this on the internet and I share it with you. (My emphases)
Friday, May 09, 2008
High Schoolers Facing East
Six high school boys stayed after Thursday’s daily Mass at St Joseph’s Catholic School:
"Father, why didn’t you celebrate Mass facing East today?"
"I’m doing so on two days of the week, and on the other two the usual way. Do you like the Mass when I celebrate facing East?"
"It feels more holy. It’s older right? But you’re not really facing East here."
"There’s something called ‘liturgical East.’ It’s when the priest faces what used to be the East ‘cause all the churches were built to face the rising sun, which was a symbol of the resurrection and also because Jesus would return to Jerusalem, which was in the East."
"Like Muslims facing Mecca."
"Sort of, but I’m not going to start wearing a turban"
"You could wear your biretta more often."
"I like Mass when you face East because it feels like you are offering the Mass for us more."
"I just like stuff that’s more traditional."
"I think it feels more, well, manly. Do you know what I mean. Is that dumb?"
"That’s interesting. No, I don’t think it’s dumb, but I have to think about why it might be true."
"I think it’s good because I was thinking more about God and not you, and when you elevated the host it was like Jesus floating there. It was more mysterious. It was cool."
"Would you like me to continue saying Mass facing with you to the Lord?"
"You don’t feel slighted because I have turned my back to you? You sure I haven’t hurt your feelings?"
Laughter all around. "You’re not that good looking anyway Father."
"OK, why don’t you all go to lunch now?"
A return to ad orientem worship is important. So much damage was done to Catholic identity by turning the altars around. And to think that this was never required by the Council or the Church’s liturgical documents! Our Holy Father Pope Benedict has taught about the importance of ad orientem worship, though we must approach any changes with great patience and lots of catechesis. But it is time to move forward. You who are pastors of parishes: give this some thought. This is part of Pope Benedict’s vision, his “Marshall Plan”, for the reinvigoration of Catholic identity.
In the traditional Roman calendar for the 1962 Missale Romanum today is the Second Sunday after Pentecost. In the Novus Ordo many people are celebrating Corpus Christi today, which is really suppose to fall on the Thursday before. This gives more people a chance to participate. I don’t object as much to the transference of Corpus Christi to Sunday as I do to the appalling removal of Ascension Thursday to Sunday. Ascension Thursday is, after all, Scriptural and of very ancient observance. Corpus Christi is relatively new, modern even: it comes only from the 13th century.
Let’s see today’s quintessentially Roman style Collect for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost in the 1962 Missale Romanum.
This week’s Collect survived the slash and burn expertise of the liturgists of the Consilium to live unscathed on the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time in the Novus Ordo, but it was already in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary on the Sunday after the Ascension (which as everyone knows is supposed to be on a Thursday). It is also prayed at the end of the Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. This is a marvelous prayer to sing in Latin! It is simultaneously stark and lavish. Its elements are carefully balanced. It is perfectly Roman.
COLLECT – (1962MR):
Sancti nominis tui, Domine,
timorem pariter et amorem fac nos habere perpetuum:
quia numquam tua gubernatione destituis,
quos in soliditate tuae dilectionis instituis.
Your bulky editions of the Lewis & Short Dictionary contain the entry, the lemma, for timor: “fear, dread, apprehension, alarm, anxiety” and, in a good sense of “fear”, “awe, reverence, veneration”. Immediately there come to mind many citations from Scripture. All clerics once knew the phrase from good old Psalm 111 sung every Sunday afternoon at Vespers, “Initium sapientiae est timor Domini… Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Look up the first chapter of the Book of Sirach and find a meditation on timor Domini… fear of the Lord. This is in the New Testament as well. Gubernatio means “a steering, piloting of a ship” or “direction, management”, which is where we get the word “government”. A gubernator is the pilot of a ship. For the adverb pariter look under the lemma for par, paris, meaning, “equally, in an equal degree, in like manner, as well” or like simul, “of equality in time or in association, at the same time, together.” The verb destituo is basically, “to set down” and thus it comes to mean literally, “to put away from one’s self” and therefore, “to leave alone, to forsake, abandon, desert”. This contrasts with instituo, “to put or place into, to plant, fix, set” and a range of other things including “to make, fabricate”, “take upon one’s self, to undertake”, “to order, govern, administer, regulate”.
Make us to have, O Lord, constant fear
and, in equal degree, love of Your Holy Name:
for You never abandon with Your steering
those whom You establish in the firmness of Your love.
Do you see how the concepts are balanced? Timor/amor (fear and love) and instituo/destituo (establish and abandon)? In instituo I hear a “setting down” in the sense of how God made us and by that making He takes us up to Himself. He will not abandon His role in our care and governance. God sets us down next to Himself, under His watchful eye, so that we don’t go wrong. He shelters us. Our humanity is “set down” now at the Father’s right hand in the person of Christ. In destituo, on the other hand, I hear a “setting down” in the sense of a setting aside, away, an abandonment of interest. In gubernatio God is, our pilot, our steersman, keeping his hand on the wheel of our lives. We are solid and on a sure course because His loving hand is firm. Were He to abandon us, our ship would wreck. We would be “destitute”.
Amidst the vicissitudes of this world we depend in fear and love on His Holy Name, which we invoke in our neediest moments. Let us never invoke it in vain or frivolously!
A name, in biblical and liturgical terms, is far more than just the unique combination of sounds by which we label a person or thing. Names refer to the essence of the one named. In the case of a divine Name we must be reverent and careful. We must be like Moses who put off his shoes before the burning bush. Moses learned God’s Name so he could tell the captive Jews that the one who is Being Itself – “I AM” – would set them free (cf. Exodus 2). They were destitute. Then they were instituted as His People. For the Jews, the name of God was so sacred, so loved and feared in awe-filled reverence, that they would not pronounce the four Hebrew letters used to indicate it in Scripture, something like YHWH. They substituted “Adonai”, “Lord”.
God’s Name dominates the first phrase of the prayer. What does the Lord Jesus Himself say about His own Name? In John 16:23 Jesus reveals His unity with the Father and the power of His Name saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name.” In Mark 9:38-39 we read an exchange between the beloved disciple and the Lord: “John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me.’” The Gospel of John says that, “these [signs] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (20:31). His Name – His Person – is our path to everlasting life. Signs and wonders are connected with Jesus’ Holy Name. The Apostles and disciples worked many miracles through the Name of Jesus (cf. Acts 2:38; 3:6; 3:16; 4:7-10; 4:29-31; 19:13-17). The Apostle Paul wrote to his flocks about the Name of Jesus. What he taught reveals a fundamental aspect of God’s will for us His images.
God focuses in the Second Commandment on what we might do with our hands (Exodus 20:4: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image…”) and in the Third on what we might say (Exodus 20:7: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain”).
St. Paul wrote: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). The Name of God, of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit, is worthy of our fear and our love.
Consider the Holy Name of Jesus. Keep in mind not only love for the Name but also the fear which is Its due. Do not exclude the fear which is really reverential awe. In Scripture forms of words for “fear” occur hundreds and hundreds of times. This a healthy loving fear. Scripture is imbued with loving fear of God, indeed, an awe leading to love. Consider, for example, this passage the Book of Revelation which can teach us timor: “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” (Rev 19:11) But in the book of Malachi, speaking of the Name of God, we read, “But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall” (Malachi 4:2).
God’s Holy Name is sacred. “God fearing” men and women need not have terror of the Lord, but speaking and hearing His Holy Name will warm them with His love.
WDTPRS aims to help you explore and love more deeply the true content of the prayers of Holy Mass. This is eighth year of the series. Fr. Zuhlsdorf welcomes E-mail. Send letters in care of The Wanderer. Visit the internet blog (wdtprs.com). Father is available for conferences and retreats.