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Sacrifice of the Mass
On 25 June, at the invitation of the Festival of Faith, I attended a Latin Mass at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney. It was a Missa Cantata which attracted a very large number of traditional Catholics.
A sense of the sacred - so lacking in many Mass celebrations these days - was very much in evidence, with the priest facing east, along with the congregation, towards the altar, Gregorian Chant, kneeling at the altar rails for Communion and receiving on the tongue.
An awareness of the Real Presence was underlined by the reception of the Host only from the consecrated hands of an ordained priest, who in persona Christi utters the words of Consecration and changes the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.
The sacrificial nature of the Mass was more overtly underlined in the wordings of many of the prayers as well as of the Roman Canon - uttered sotto voce. And the celebration of the Mass involved only the priest, accompanied by male acolytes. Lex orandi, lex credendi.
Certainly, it is the Mass that matters. But traditional Catholics see the Tridentine Mass as a particularly strong expression of our beliefs; the saints loved it, the martyrs died for it and the Church's enemies hated it.
St Leonard of Port Maurice once said: "The just could exist more easily without the sun than without the Mass."
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 18 No 9 (October 2005), p. 15
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