I read Mass this morning. No, actually, I sang Mass this morning, but saying “read Mass” is more fun. It annoys liberals.
We have various phrases which means basically the same thing, but with certain nuances. And old-fashioned description of what the priest does, he “reads” Mass, stresses that he is not the author, and that he is God’s instrument. “Says” Mass underscores the verbal aspect. “Celebrates” Mass emphasizes our Christian hope and optimism (perhaps too much sometimes). “Prays” Mass has always stuck me as being a little cloying, perhaps overly pious, depending on who says it, why, with what tone and how many times. Otherwise, it’s a great term.
I think it would be good to attempt to hold all these words in one’s mind simultaneously even though we pick one at a time when talking. Otherwise, how about something like “readisaycelepray”? Today I “readisaidceleprayed” Mass, of course shifting that “read” to past tense.
And notice that all of those ways have in common the concept, “Mass”. Not “liturgy”… “Mass”.
What doesn’t work is anything having to do with “preside”. That opens up all sorts of problems. The whole notion of priest – no, sorry, presbyter, as the head of the assembly, presiding at liturgy. After long doses of this sort of thing, people ( including the
priest presbyter – remember, “presbyter” should always set off alarm bells), get the sense that they, too, are celebrating, praying (never reading!) “liturgy” in the same way as the … ehem… presider. I can have a separate post on the priest/presbyter thing, why liberals want to get rid of priest and substitute presbyter and presider. (HINT: It has to do with Sacrifice.)
Let’s be clear about this.
Ten thousand million billion lay people can stand around an altar, with the arms extended, saying, praying, speaking, yodeling, Siberian Throat-Singing the words of consecration (and, yes, let’s say “consecration”, not “institution”, which is another alarm bell term). Let them stand there for 100 years, repeating the words over and over again. At the end of 100 years, on the altar there are still bread (now stale) and wine (probably dried up). That’s all. Extra dust maybe. No change in the substance of the bread and wine will have taken place.
On the other hand, today I was at the altar and, when reading, I said the proper words, prayerfully and with measure of Christian joy, God made them change their substance into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Had I said them loudly or whispered… same effect. If I had merely read them, rather than intensely concentrating on their meaning, same effect. If no other human being had been in the church, same effect. God did it through me, as His alter Christus, not because I am earnest, not because I was celebrating or presiding, but because I am ordained and lay people aren’t. And let’s remember that deacons are ordained but they aren’t priests. Only priests and bishops are priests, sacerdotes, who confect the Eucharist.
Lay people in the pews have no effect whatsoever on the sacramental, real change of the bread and wine to the Body and Blood of the Lord, transubstantiation.
Of course we priests do what we do for you.
But wait! We also do it for ourselves, whether you are there or not.
We also do it for the whole world, whether you are there or not.
Readisaycelepraying Mass is good in itself, whether there are a thousand people or not even a server. The effects of each reverently offered Mass (that’s another word, “offer” Mass) are beyond our ken. The renewal of Christ’s once-for-all Sacrifice has benefits for the world that we cannot fathom.
Moreover, the more Masses , the better.
Thus endeth the rant.