Change Hearts, Change Minds

The Roman Empire was a hostile environment for Christians prior to its tolerance by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. Even when the Romans allowed Christians to freely practice Catholicism there was still a taste of disdain between Catholics and pagans.

To be a Catholic in the first three centuries, prior to its tolerance, meant your life was on the line. Where as today if you publicly declare devout Catholicity, you may get mocked or ridiculed for believing that life begins at conception, or that marriage is between one man and one woman. You may even get bantered for being too traditional or orthodox. Sure there may be some jeering here and there, but for the early Christians you could be martyred for publicly proclaiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Some people were content to closet their faith and wear masks. Not physical masks, but spiritual, in order to avoid martyrdom. While other Catholics chose not to hide behind a mask. They chose to live and share their faith openly knowing full well it may cost them their life, and were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to preach the truth.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” –John 14:6

Christ is Truth. To be a Catholic, a Christian, we are called to live truth, and to proclaim that truth to others, whether it be family, friends, or strangers. Professing the truth isn’t easy when there’s hostility in the air. Truth is also rigid. It is objective rather than subjective. But we need structure such as the Latin Mass. It focuses our attention on truth. Christ never said it was going to be easy, but He promised everlasting life in heaven if we endure.

The majority of the apostles were martyred for proclaiming the Truth of Catholicism, except for the apostle John who was exiled on the island of Patmos. Many early Christians freely gave up their lives for the faith. They did not wear (spiritual) masks. They did not hide. They openly shared the faith with others. Some may assert, “yes but they were followers of Christ,” which is true, but we too are called to be followers of Christ, to be disciples. That is what it means to be a Catholic. We do not hide from Truth. We affirm Truth. We profess Truth every Mass when we say the Credo.

In every age there has been a masquerade. Some Catholics choose to don their spiritual masks, losing sight of being a witness that attests to the true Catholic faith. While others chose to live authentic traditional Catholic lives publicly. Not afraid to shout from the rooftops that they adore Christ in traditional Catholicism and all the teachings of the Church.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” –John 10:10

Christ promised us everlasting life. That begins here and now by cooperating, living, and sharing the beauty of traditional Catholicism with others, and to affirm all the teachings of the Church.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.” –1 Peter 2:21

We are to be imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5:1). As Catholics we are to set the example of Christian Truth to others, to lead and to teach just as Christ did. That means we must not mask what is true and authentic when it comes to Christ or Catholicism.

Everything that occurs within the Body of Christ effects you and I, whether directly and indirectly. This goes for the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of the human person, and the sanctity of gender–masculine men and feminine women.

Christ promised us that if we endure to the end we’ll have everlasting life. Sitting at the Heavenly banquet with Him. It is not too late. It’s never too late to change hearts and open minds to the truth, to the fullness our Catholic faith. We should pray for others that their masks come off, and their hearts and minds open to the objective truth of our faith. You may know people who claim to be Catholic but don’t necessarily agree with or outwardly live the faith. With authentic traditional Catholicism there is hope. Thankfully more and more Catholics are finding the beauty and Truth in traditional Catholicism.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” –John 8:32

by John Connor

Patience

Patience is a virtue is an old “proverbial” phrase that refers to one of the seven heavenly virtues. This phrase has even been used in popular culture pointing out that patience isn’t always easily to practice, but it can be easily accessible if one so chooses to exercise it. Popular music has also allocated the need for more patience, which comes from a 1980s song that says, “all we need is a little patience.” Even secularism acknowledges the need for more patience.

“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” –St. Francis de Sales

The seven heavenly virtues are a response to the opposition of the seven deadly sins. In the case of patience, the deadly sin is wrath.

Forgiveness and mercy stem from patience, but in order to grasp the importance of this virtue, we also have to understand its formidable opposition–wrath. Wrath, or anger, is a powerful emotion. Anger in itself is not a sin, the virtue of patience allows one to reciprocate so that anger does not bloom into mortal sin.

“The term virtue is from the word that signifies man; a man’s chief quality is fortitude. Taken in its widest sense virtue means the excellence of perfection of a thing, just as vice, its contrary, denotes a defect or absence of perfection due to a thing. In its strictest meaning, however, as used by moral philosophers and theologians, it signifies a habit superadded to a faculty of the soul, disposing it to elicit with readiness acts conformable to our rational nature.” –Catholic Encyclopedia

Like any other virtue such as chastity, honesty, and humility, patience has to be put into action with a bit of practice. Habits have to be formed, much like charity. You choose to love God and neighbor. It doesn’t happen on its on accord. No. Virtues have to be learned and practiced. The seven deadly sins points to our own selfish desires. The heavenly virtues takes the focus from the individual and shines its light towards God and others.

The seven deadly sins are engrossed around the sin of sins–pride. Love or charity is the fuel needed to practice the heavenly virtues such as patience. With free will comes choice. We choose to either have patience or wrath. We choose. It is true that temptation plays a role in that choice, heavenly virtues can lead us away from temptation and sin, and help us grow closer to Christ.

“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is ‘timing’ it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.” –Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

We can look to the Holy Family to inspire us to pray for more patience in our life. In the story of the Finding in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52), the Holy Family along with relatives travelled to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. After they sojourned in Jerusalem for the Passover they returned home. Mary and Joseph noticed Jesus was not in the caravan. They lost Jesus. Contemplate that for a moment. Mary and Joseph lost God. For three days they went looking for Him and finally found Jesus in the temple. Jesus said, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Imagine the anxiety Mary and Joseph faced those three days looking for the boy Christ. How it took a great deal of patience, to battle the great level of anxiety, looking for Him.

All of the heavenly virtues work together. Patience being one of them. Without the grace of charity in the soul, patience along with the other virtues won’t be strong enough when tested.

In order to exercise the virtue of patience, or any other virtue for that matter, the person must be able to recognize if, when, and how frequent that virtue is being utilized. You have to be able to recognize the moments. Take an inventory how often you show anger, or any level of impatience. Also look for signs of depression or anxiety. It may be beneficial to ask your spouse, children, relatives, or friends if you’re patient. They’ll be honest I’m sure.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” –St. Augustine of Hippo

Virtues like patience can be obtained if you so choose. It’s a choice. Much like charity, you choose to love even when the desire isn’t there. It takes strength and it takes exercising the other virtues to help gain the level of patience needed to grow closer to God. Continue to pray and fast for patience. Patience is a virtue and we could stand just a little more patience.

by John Connor

Related articles:
Distractions and the Devout Life
Battling Sin
Forgiveness is Divine

Lord, I’m Not Worthy

At the Holy Mass a perpetual, thanksgiving sacrifice is offered to God at the hands of the priest which we assist at in Mass through worship and adoration. During the Liturgy, we encounter Christ in a mystical, realistic sense. The mere thought of the second person of the Trinity, Christ, coming to us in the form of bread and wine is beyond our comprehension. This is a physical occurrence. He becomes physically present to those in attendance.

What is noteworthy about our presence being along side the Real Presence is that in the Old Testament, the people of God could not come face to face with God. Only the high priest could enter the holy of holies once a year, speak the divine name of God in His presence and do so without keeling over. You or I would never have been able to do that. We are not worthy.

If the Hebrew people, God’s first chosen people, were not worthy to be in His presence, then his new covenant family, Catholic Christians, aren’t worthy either. Thankfully now God in His bountiful love can make us worthy, not because of our own merit, but through the sacrament of baptism we enter God’s covenant family. We are allowed present ourselves at Mass in the physical presence of Christ, God, under the veil of the Eucharist.

The state of our soul determines our worthiness, that being whether or not we should approach Jesus in Holy Communion and receive Him.

In the parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:2-14), the first group of people invited to the king’s wedding feast would not come, some even killed the king’s servants. Finally the king’s servants searched for those, good and bad, to attend the banquet. One person in particular showed up without a wedding garment and was bound up and cast out. This person was unprepared and unworthy to attend. The wedding garment was essential to obtain admission to a wedding banquet.

The fitting attire for a wedding as well as at Mass is a sign of respect, but in the parable mentioned, it’s not so much what the person was wearing is as important as his preparation.

We must prepare our souls for attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Mass is a foretaste of the Heavenly Wedding Feast. Christ, the bridegroom, and the Church, His bride. If we show up to Mass unprepared by not being in the state of grace we are henceforth unworthy to obtain the Eucharist at Holy Communion.

If the Eucharist was merely symbolic then yes, anyone can deem themselves worthy on their own account to receive Him. But Jesus made perfectly clear in the bread of life discourse (John 6:51-59) and at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-28, Luke 22:19-20, Mark 14:22-24) that the Eucharist is really and truly the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.

Saint Paul reaffirms this in his first letter to the Corinthians.

“And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” –1 Corinthians 11:24-26

Paul then explains what happens if one consumes the Eucharist unworthily.

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.” –1 Corinthians 11:27-29

The Catholic Church is not a bully by refusing people to receive Holy Communion with mortal sin on their soul. Rather it safeguards and protects people from falling into further grave sin. It would be sacrilege to receive the Eucharist outside of the state of grace.

Paul emphasizes that before receiving the Eucharist we must first examine ourselves to determine whether or not we are worthy. An examination of conscience may be in order to take inventory of any possible serious stain of sin, especially mortal sin, since mortal sin cuts us off from the covenant family of God. Repenting of serious sins through the sacrament of Penance brings us back into God’s fold, united once again. Discernment in St. Paul’s case refers to whether one is worthy to receive the Eucharist. It is of the utmost importance to repent of grave sins in order to receive Communion. Best safe than sorry.

There are times people may still feel unworthy to receive the Eucharist even in the state of grace. Venial sins can cumulate and the weight can be unbearable causing an unworthy reaction. It is perfectly acceptable to go up for a blessing, or “spiritual Communion.”

The Eucharist is not a Catholic privilege, it is an opportunity to humble ourselves to be in the presence of the Eucharistic sacrifice being offered to God. In lieu of trying to make ourselves worthy to receive the Eucharist, it’s an opportunity to leave the worthiness up to God. It gives God the opportunity to lift us up to Him. We shan’t not simplify Liturgy to a mere human level, rather, yearn for God to guide us to the Eucharist. Humility and grace opens the door for God to allow us to receive Him.

“Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea.” (Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof; by only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.)

by John Connor

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Liturgy You Deserve
Why I Love Traditional Catholicism

Welcome to the Masquerade

The Roman Empire was a hostile environment for Christians prior to its tolerance by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. Even when the Romans allowed Christians to freely practice Catholicism there was still a taste of disdain between Catholics and pagans.

To be a Catholic in the first three centuries, prior to its tolerance, meant your life was on the line. Where as today if you publicly declare devout Catholicity, you may get mocked or ridiculed for believing that life begins at conception, or that marriage is between one man and one woman. You may even get bantered for being too traditional or orthodox. Sure there may be some jeering here and there, but for the early Christians you could be martyred for publicly proclaiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Some people were content to closet their faith and wear masks. Not physical masks, but spiritual, in order to avoid martyrdom. While other Catholics chose not to hide behind a mask. They chose to live and share their faith openly knowing full well it may cost them their life, and were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to preach the truth.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” –John 14:6

Christ is Truth. To be a Catholic, a Christian, we are called to live truth, and to proclaim that truth to others, whether it be family, friends, or strangers. Professing the truth isn’t easy when there’s hostility in the air. Truth is also rigid. It is objective rather than subjective. But we need structure such as the Latin Mass. It focuses our attention on truth. Christ never said it was going to be easy, but He promised everlasting life in heaven if we endure.

The majority of the apostles were martyred for proclaiming the Truth of Catholicism, except for the apostle John who was exiled on the island of Patmos. Many early Christians freely gave up their lives for the faith. They did not wear (spiritual) masks. They did not hide. They openly shared the faith with others. Some may assert, “yes but they were followers of Christ,” which is true, but we too are called to be followers of Christ, to be disciples. That is what it means to be a Catholic. We do not hide from Truth. We affirm Truth. We profess Truth every Mass when we say the Credo.

In every age there has been a masquerade. Some Catholics choose to don their spiritual masks, losing sight of being a witness that attests to the true Catholic faith. While others chose to live authentic traditional Catholic lives publicly. Not afraid to shout from the rooftops that they adore Christ in traditional Catholicism and all the teachings of the Church.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” –John 10:10

Christ promised us everlasting life. That begins here and now by cooperating, living, and sharing the beauty of traditional Catholicism with others, and to affirm all the teachings of the Church.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.” –1 Peter 2:21

We are to be imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5:1). As Catholics we are to set the example of Christian Truth to others, to lead and to teach just as Christ did. That means we must not mask what is true and authentic when it comes to Christ or Catholicism.

Everything that occurs within the Body of Christ effects you and I, whether directly and indirectly. This goes for the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of the human person, and the sanctity of gender–masculine men and feminine women.

The masquerade is here and now. We are among wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15), but Christ promised us that if we endure to the end we’ll have everlasting life. Sitting at the Heavenly banquet with Him. It is not too late. It’s never too late to change hearts. We should pray for others that their masks come off. You may know people who claim to be Catholic but don’t necessarily agree with or outwardly live the faith. There will always be to some level a masquerade in the Church, but with authentic traditional Catholicism there is hope. Thankfully more and more Catholics are finding the beauty and Truth in traditional Catholicism.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” –John 8:32

by John Connor

Purgatorio: Prayers and Reparations

Our life on earth is an opportunity to respond to God’s love. We choose our eternal destination, Heaven or Hell, by how we respond to living out our Catholic faith on a daily basis. If we choose to love God, we also desire to follow Him, His Commandments, and the Church’s teachings. It’s not always easy, but the foretaste we consume from the Eucharist encourages us to do just that–live the Catholic faith. The Eucharist is indeed an “appetizer” of what we’ll receive in Heaven.

“Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Denying oneself is an act of humility. We strip away our selfish pride, and we follow Christ to the best of our ability. Jesus also said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) We are called to love God and neighbor with our whole hearts.

God Almighty does not burden us with unnecessary requests or commands. He prepares us for what heaven will be like. In heaven we will worship God unceasingly (Revelation 4:8). We are invited to the heavenly banquet–the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:9) Preparations indeed are in order.

“People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” –Revelation 21:26-27

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” (CCC 1030)

Nothing unclean may enter Heaven. People who have died in the state of grace, meaning all mortal sins have been forgiven before the time of death, will one day bask in Heavenly Glory. There may be the remains of particular venial sins or even temporal punishment due to the sins already forgiven that require purification before crossing into the threshold of Heaven and experiencing the Beatific Vision.

“We must say many prayers for the souls of the faithful departed, for one must be so pure to enter heaven.” –Saint John Vianney

Purgatory is a purification process where the removal of all venial sins, vices, and inclinations to sin that are not considered grave matter (i.e. mortal sins). This purification allows us to enter into heaven, as clean Souls ready to encounter Christ face to face.

Fire is often the vision we incur when we think about Purgatory. Paul writes, “If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:15) The penalty, or loss, is not referring to the fire of Hell, because the person is saved. No one can be saved in Hell. The purification process may feel like fire, and it may hurt, because we’re being stripped of our desire to sin. For some people humility can be a painful process, but a necessary one. We yearn for Heaven as we are being purified.

“This mountain’s of such sort that climbing it is hardest at the start; but as we rise, the slope grows less unkind. Therefore, when this slope seems to you so gentle that climbing farther up will be as restful as traveling downstream by boat, you will be where this pathway ends, and there you can expect to put your weariness to rest.” – Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio

Praying for one another isn’t limited to our earthly life. No. We can ask the Saints in Heaven to pray for us. We can and, rightly so, should pray for the Souls in Purgatory. The Church has taught for many centuries that we should pray for the Souls in Purgatory. We do not pray for the Souls only on All Souls’ Day. The month of November is dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory, and even beyond that to praying for them daily. In recent decades praying for the Souls in Purgatory has been deemphasized. Requiem Masses and black vestments have been replaced with feast-like Masses with white vestments on All Souls’ Day and funerals. Our mortal minds cannot comprehend the importance of praying for the Souls in Purgatory.

Prayer is powerful and we should not limit our prayers only to the living. One of the great joys we’ll receive in Heaven is to see how our prayers had on the Souls in Purgatory. Once the Souls enter Heaven they too will be praying for us. Praying for the Living and the Dead is a wonderful Spiritual Work of Mercy and the effects of this pious act cannot be downplayed by the implications it can have on others lives.

We join with the Communion of Saints in praying for all Souls, including those in Purgatory. That is a powerful expression of how much we love God and want to feast together at the Banquet in Heaven. We get a foretaste of that at every Mass in the Eucharist. Let us together offer up prayers to the the Souls in Purgatory. They too will pray for us.

by John Connor

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Restoring Catholic Culture

In recent decades the Catholic culture has felt a strong disorienting presence by the progressive and modernist world. There was a time when Catholic culture meant something extraordinary, and was filled with tradition.

Catholics have encountered those who believe we should get with “modern times.” The culture of the Church has never needed to be rebuilt, but to be restored with the beauty and tradition that has been around for over a millennium.

“The Church alone, being the Bride of Christ and having all things in common with her Divine Spouse, is the depository of the truth.” –Pope St. Pius X

To better understand the idea of restoring the Church’s tradition and culture we first have to look at how this happened in the first place. The world, the devil, and the flesh. The modernist worldview says we must change with the times. They insist that we must see the faith in relative terms, focusing on how we feel. Satan uses similar tactics. The devil would love nothing more than for the Mass to look like a theatrical show, with as little beauty and reverence as possible, because the evil one knows how important a sacred Mass is to us. Then there’s the flesh. The flesh says “I want to be entertained,” even at Mass. Catholics can overcome these attacks and see to it the Church is restored to its rightful beauty.

The family is the nucleus of our culture. You don’t have to look very far to see how much the culture has changed in the past few generations. And not necessarily for the better. The decline of Catholic tradition has created more lukewarm or “cafeteria” Catholics. Jesus said we are not to be lukewarm (Revelation 3:16). We are not to conform to this world, but to be transformed (Romans 2:12). Everything we do in our daily routines can and should point toward God. A traditional liturgy helps sharpen our senses to recognize God’s presence in our day-to-day lives.

Liturgy and Catholic family culture are cyclical. Attending a traditional Mass regularly (at least once a week) can have a tremendous impact on the family, providing virtues that will propel them to a more devout life. This action brings them right back to the Mass again, hungry for Christ in the Eucharist. Liturgy should be transforming, not entertaining. Christ also deserves the best liturgy we can offer Him. The progressive culture causes the Liturgy to be diluted. More Catholics are responding to this by attending a traditional Mass.

Modernism has tried to rebuild Catholic tradition by “breaking away with the past.” Pope Saint Pius X condemned the heresy of Modernism in his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis. Modernists view doctrines and dogmas as “evolving” over time that best fits the contemporary culture. Modernists also tend to reduce the supernatural down to the natural level. They believe that since human reason cannot comprehend the existence of God, that we must reduce God, the Church, and the faith to mere feelings. Today this ideology has led to fewer Catholics who believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. When the supernatural is deemphasized in the Mass, the Eucharist looks more like a symbol rather than Jesus in the Flesh.

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel and rebuild the Catholic Church’s traditions and culture, we can restore the beauty of Catholic culture, which means a liturgy rich with tradition. We already have a Sacred Liturgy with Latin and chant, beauty and reverence. Catholics can respond to this need for a restoration of beautiful Catholic tradition and culture, which will then strengthen the family. This provides a strong supernatural presence of Christ both in the Church and resonates in the home. Together we can restore Catholic culture.

by John Connor

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Eucharistic Journey

Liturgy You Deserve

When one attends Holy Mass, there are two essentials that one may reasonably expect, namely good music and a good homily. This expectation is not demanding, and in fact it is not demanding enough. To understand better this point, let us take a deeper look beyond these two elements (music and homily) towards the Liturgy itself.

In terms of liturgical worship, we seek out the supernatural, something with spiritual substance and depth. Deep down we hunger for a Liturgy that is rich and steeped in tradition. This desire flows from our love of God which spurs us on to offer the very best to Him.

“When the Eucharist is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim immolated on the altar.” –St. John Chrysostom

In the contemporary world, one can hear a great sermon plus entertaining music at a “mega church.” As Catholics, we are attracted to a liturgy that will satisfy our spiritual hunger. The Mass should be out of the ordinary (literally, “extra-ordinary”), rather than ordinary.

Instead of Jesus coming to us at the Mass on a natural level, we want to be supernaturally caught up to the mystical heavenly banquet that takes place right before our very eyes at Mass.

“It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass.” –St. Padre Pio

A priest’s primary role is to help us get to heaven by way of the Sacraments. His job is to administer the Sacraments, especially celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass–the Eucharist. All other side ministries and projects a priest may start or be involved in are secondary to his primary, sacramental role.

You should expect more from the Mass, and here’s how.

Ad Orientem
If one wishes to experience something “ever ancient and yet ever new,” attend a Mass wherein the priest faces the East. This is known as ad orientem worship. For the past several decades, most priests celebrate Mass versus populum, which means “facing the people.” We are more familiar with this posture. For over a millennium, however, Mass was always celebrated ad orientem and this direction has a lot of beautiful and rich symbolism.

“For as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west; so shall be the coming of the Son of man.” –Matthew 24:27

This way we all face the same direction in joyful expectation of Christ returning to us from the east.

If one has never been to a Mass where the priest faces ad orientem, it may look like the priest is turning his back to the people. This may cause people to feel offended, like they do not matter. A priest with a charming or charismatic personality comes across stronger when he is facing you. This may seem warm and inviting, but the priest has a very important duty to perform, and that is to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice at the Mass.

When a priest celebrates ad orientem, he empties himself of his own personality, and you get a clearer picture of the Mass being a sacrifice. At Mass the priest stands “in the person of Christ” or, in Latin, in persona Christi. As the priest steps up to the altar to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice on our behalf, he is in essence entering the holy of holies. Standing before God Almighty to offer Him the greatest sacrifice–the Eucharist.

When we all face the same direction, in other words, facing God, the priest and the laity together offer worship to Him. When the priest faces the people, the Mass can come across as a theatrical play, or a simple call and response. The priest “calls” and we “respond.” When the priest faces ad orientem, it is not to insult, but to lead us in worship and adoration.


Sacred Music
God deserves the best music at Mass. By “best,” I do not mean the organist’s capabilities or the cantor singing in key or loud enough for the parish to hear. Rather, I speak of what best pleases God, what best brings out our internal participation from the external.

There are so many different musical genres to choose from. But the genre of music that deserves the most respect at Mass is not the most-trendy, upbeat music. The sanctuary of the church is a sacred place where the Eucharistic sacrifice is offered to God. Sacred music best fits a sacred liturgy.

At Mass we embark on a sacred journey where we take part in a thanksgiving sacrifice–the Eucharist. Music that is sacred fits properly with the sacredness of the liturgy. Some contemporary styles of music do not necessarily resonate the sacred, but they are entertaining. Being entertained at Mass can distract us from what is happening at the altar. Sacred music will heighten our senses far above the outward feelings and emotions we get from, for example, the praise and worship style of music.

“The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially proper to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” –Sacrosanctum Concilium, par. 116

Chant and polyphony are preferred by the Church, but there are plenty of traditional hymns that properly fit the criteria of sacred music. Sacred music has a mystical “awe” about it, because it is simply that–sacred. It does not convey being “entertained” at Mass as the Mass is not about being entertained, it is about worship, adoration, and sacrifice. Sacred music reflects this fact.

Lex orandi, lex credendi is a Latin phrase that means “the law of praying [is] the law of believing.” In other words, good liturgy leads to good theology, or, the way you worship is the way you believe. If Mass is beautiful, reverent, and sacred, one is more likely to see clearly (and hopefully accept) the doctrines of the Church, especially the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

In the Latin Church, there are two expressions of the Latin Liturgy—the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form. Many Catholics today are more familiar with the Ordinary Form as it is the use most seen and practiced today. I would, however, like to focus upon the Extraordinary Form for a moment as I believe it most closely represents what I have herein discussed about liturgical worship.

What is beautiful about the Extraordinary Form is that it incorporates both ad orientem and sacred music. Moreover, it is almost entirely in Latin and there’s something sacred about Latin in the liturgy. It is the liturgical tongue of the Latin Church. At the Extraordinary Form, one uses all five senses, especially at a High Mass wherein there are more “bells and whistles.” One will see a liturgy that is beautiful and reverent. Liturgy should not feel plain and mundane. No, it should lift us up from the mundane to God. Liturgy that will truly feed us, yet leave us hungry for more, is a Liturgy worth attending.

God has given us a most beautiful Liturgy in the Extraordinary Form to offer worship to Him. Rather than say I “deserve” the Latin Mass, it is this beautiful Liturgy that helps me offer my best to God.

by John Connor

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Lord, I’m Not Worthy