How to Become a Better Weekday Catholic

Ite Missa Est. The recessional hymn sounds and Mass is complete. You’ve fulfilled your Sunday obligation. Sometimes people will rush out of the church building so fast that they don’t realize what just happened or Who they just encountered.

A person may unknowingly “activate” their faith at the beginning of the Mass, but then it deactivates at the end of Mass. It’s a sense of obligation. You “have” to be there, but in reality you’d rather be sleeping in or doing something else, anything else, than to be at Mass.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” –Matthew 18:20

It is possible for laity such as you and I to get more out of being Catholic, and to get more out of just some Sunday obligation. The answer is to become a weekday Catholic.

There is a very simple approach to becoming a weekday Catholic. Not only that, but a devout weekday Catholic. It’s so simple that anybody can accomplish such even with a demanding, overflowing schedule.

Attending a beautiful and reverent Mass is a first step to applying your faith in a practical sense during the week. The reason for this is you need the beautiful experience to plant the seed to become a weekday Catholic. That seed of desire will be planted at a reverent Mass. We desire to be satisfied at Mass yet hungry for more. It’s a hunger for more Catholicity that you can continue to enjoy during the week. Not only that, but prayerful practices during the week can make you hungry for the Eucharist on Sunday. It’s cyclical.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” –Acts 2:42

Christ wants to be part of your life every day, not just for one hour a week at Sunday Mass. Being a weekday Catholic is not difficult. Some speculate that it’s overbearing and time consuming, but being a weekday Catholic is simple with the right approach. Satan wants you to think that being a weekday Catholic will take too much time out of your day from work or obligations. Satan wants you to think Jesus is an afterthought, that prayer is dull, that the sacraments are rigid. If the devil can get you to think that being a Catholic is low on the priority scale, then he has won.

People make time to eat. Eating is important, especially eating healthy. If you stopped eating and drinking that would be bad for your health. People make time to do the things they either need to do or want to do. Spending time with Christ, such as prayer, each day works along the same line.

Prayer is essential to your spiritual health just as eating is to your physical health. Prayer nurtures and feeds the soul. Poor eating habits eventually catches up with the person and they become sick. The same with poor prayer habits. Prayer is easy to do every day. One of the most satisfying prayers outside of the Mass is the Rosary. I’ve mentioned the importance of praying the Rosary before, because the Rosary really is that powerful of a prayer.

“Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” –Matthew 6:33

Praying the Rosary takes minutes out of your day. The Rosary can fit into anyone’s schedule. Praying the Rosary together as a family is powerful. The Blessed Mother wants to be part of your prayer life with Christ at the center. It takes no time at all for the Rosary to become habitual. Praying the Rosary around the same time each day helps to create a better habit. No matter how busy I am I will stop what I’m doing to pray the Rosary out of habit as well as a desire to pray. It makes a tremendous difference.

Some parishes offer Eucharistic Adoration and Reconciliation during the week. The Sacrament of Penance is essential for those that have grave matter on their soul, but confession is not only for mortal sins, but also venial sins. Make a habit of weekly sacramental Penance for even the smallest of venial sins. After an examination of conscience there’s at least one venial sin that could stand absolution. Afterwards spend a few moments before the Blessed Sacrament, whether it’s exposed in Adoration or reposed in the tabernacle. Regular visits to the confessional keeps the soul clean. Reconciliation also fortifies the soul when temptation emerges. Make a habit of the Sacrament of Penance.

The daily scripture readings are easily accessible for free on any smart phone or tablet. It takes minutes out of a busy day to read the daily scripture. Allow God to nourish your soul with His Word. Time is precious but so is God’s Word. There is always time to be a weekday Catholic. A few minutes here. A few minutes there.

 “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” –Romans 10:17

Over time as your weekday Catholic habits grow, daily Mass is a great option. Why wait for Sunday for the Eucharist when a parish near by may offer daily Mass during the week. If you’re hungry for the Eucharist, go to daily Mass.

Being a weekday Catholic is a great way to prepare you for being a great Sunday Catholic at Mass. Your soul will be prepared for the Liturgy. Rather than run out the door as soon as Mass concludes you may find yourself sitting there in the pew for a moment and reflect on what and Who you just encountered–a beautiful Liturgy and Christ in the Eucharist.

by John Connor

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Patience is a Virtue
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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

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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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A New Year, A New You

New year’s resolutions are gaining a full head of steam. More people are deciding to seek the devout Catholic life. Weight loss may still reign at the top of many lists, but it’s very admirable for someone to add to their list to become a better Catholic. To commit fewer sins, to go to Mass on a regular basis, to frequent the confessional more often, or have a better prayer life.

With change comes discipline and the act of the will. This involves breaking old habits and forming new ones. Habits can be changed in a matter of weeks. The will acts as a beacon. A person that wants change in their life wills it. When a person decides to take their faith more serious and become a more devout Catholic, there are so many avenues one may venture.

While the list may go on within such prayer avenues, it’s the obvious approach people tend to miss. There are prayers and practices that fills the soul and are easily accessible. This simple approach to the devout life doesn’t involve a “feel good” conference for a quick “Jesus jolt.” An effective approach to the devout begins with ancient Liturgy.

The Traditional Latin Mass is the gateway to the devout. A reverent Eucharistic sacrifice is the foundation. People that take the Liturgy seriously are more likely to take their faith seriously.

“When we receive Holy Communion, we experience something extraordinary – a joy, a fragrance, a well being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt.” –St. John Vianney

Eating healthy and exercising promotes a healthy side effect–weight loss. The same goes for attending a reverent Liturgy such as the Latin Mass. Mass that is taken seriously and treated reverently could itself net a healthy side effect–the intent to take the faith seriously. A genuine attempt to live the Christian life as God wills.

Lex orandi, lex credendi is a Latin phrase that refers to good Liturgy championing good theology. Not only that, but beautiful, reverent Liturgy can lead to a devoted prayer life. The Latin Mass is an accessible approach to a bona fide spiritual growth.

“The heavens open and multitudes of angels come to assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” –St. Gregory

Soul-satisfying Liturgy from the Latin Mass can be the momentum needed to devote oneself into deeper prayer outside of the Mass. The Rosary is a most powerful prayer. It is a mighty weapon against Satan and his minions. Sinful temptations may also falter. The Rosary is also a chance to spend silent time meditating on the Mysteries of Christ through the Blessed Mother.

“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” –Saint Francis de Sales

One may also choose to pray the Rosary in Latin. It is the liturgical tongue of the Church. There are good reasons for praying the Rosary in Latin. There is less distraction while meditating on the mysteries. Moreover, the devil hates Latin; he loathes Latin. The evil one is fully aware how powerful and rich praying (or speaking) in Latin is to Catholics. Latin in the Liturgy dates back over a thousand years, and some believe that the earliest Masses were offered in Latin. The traditional Rosary in Latin is a personal preference. The Most Holy Rosary offers the Rosary in both Latin and English.

“The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying.” –Pope Leo XIII

The Divine Office, or in Latin Divinum Officium, is a most important prayer that the Church offers using a liturgical book known as a Breviary. Traditionally these prayers are chanted by monks and nuns, but may also be recited by devout Catholic faithful. The Divine Office is made up the 150 Psalms that are spread throughout the week, and also incorporates readings from Sacred Scripture, commentaries from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and short accounts of the saints lives. A beautiful aspect of the Divine Office is that it follows the traditional liturgical calendar of the Church. One can easily incorporate the Divine Office morning prayer (Laudes) and evening prayer (Vespers) as part of their daily routine.

The Traditional Latin Mass, Rosary, and Divine Office are three obtainable methods to live a robust, healthy, and devout life with Christ in His Church.

by John Connor

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Born to be Magnificent

Why I Love Traditional Catholicism

In the beginning of my Latin Mass experience I would attend the Extraordinary form, as well as the Ordinary form of the Mass, or Novus Ordo, with my family, alternating between the two liturgies. As I grew favorably closer to the Latin Mass, I found my liturgical “palate” began to change, noticing the vast difference how the two liturgies are celebrated.

“Catholic liturgy is no ordinary gathering…God, not man, is at the centre of Catholic liturgy” –Robert Cardinal Sarah

The robust appearances at the Latin Mass such as chant, ad orientem posture, spoken Latin, and Communion on the tongue are vacant at a typical Novus Ordo Mass. A growing number of Catholics are hungry for rich Liturgy rather than something that is mundane. Liturgy that will fill the soul is a Liturgy worth attending.

“Man should tremble, the world should quake, all Heaven should be deeply moved when the Son of God appears on the altar in the hands of the priest.” –St. Francis of Assisi

When one attends Mass, that person should have high expectations in liturgical structure. The Extraordinary form is delivered in such a way that’s beautifully reverent, a Liturgy worthy of God. The priest faces ad orientem, the music is beautiful chant, young men serve the priest as altar boys, the Eucharist is presented reverently. The secular motif that can be found at a Novus Ordo Mass (e.g. praise and worship-style music) is completely absent from the Latin Mass. And there’s no room whatsoever for a priest to interject his personality into the Liturgy–to change what is perfect, respectful, and pleasing to God.

“The liturgy is inherently linked to beauty…The liturgy is a radiant expression of the paschal mystery…Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis no. 35

Pope Francis referred to the Traditional Latin Mass as rigid, asking why are so many young people attracted to the Extraordinary form? The Holy Father is correct. The Latin Mass is rigid. Rigidity is beautiful, and [young] people are attracted to beauty.

Which begs the question, wouldn’t a person rather attend a fun, entertaining, and light-hearted Mass?

People who want to grow in their faith do not want to be entertained at Mass, but to be caught up in the Liturgy and their lives transformed. Mass is not a stage for entertainment. It is an opportunity to encounter God in the flesh, in the Eucharist. A chance to worship Him honorably and reverently.

There is beauty in rigidity. Rigid is good when it comes to Liturgy. The Latin Mass is structured in a way that leaves no room for personal changes or ad lib.

“How happy is that guardian angel who accompanies a soul to Holy Mass!” –St. John Vianney

The Latin Mass is for people of all ages that are hungry for a Liturgy that duly offers the best to God. While the Novus Ordo Mass could be “reformed” to make it more reverent by adding components such as sacred music and ad orientem, a priest could possibly incur his personal taste into the Liturgy. A perfect Liturgy cannot be altered. The Extraordinary form of the Mass preserves the structure intended to offer the most holy Eucharistic sacrifice to God.

I reached the crossroads in my own spirituality. Perhaps you have too. The beauty of the Latin Mass is not only nostalgic, “it is the Mass of the Church of all times, and therefore cannot be overthrown and has equal dignity,” says Cardinal Raymond Burke.

The best decision I’ve made since becoming Catholic is to embrace Traditional Catholicism to the best of my ability. That’s what I’ve done. Does it make it wrong to attend a reverent Novus Ordo Mass? In my opinion no…although I do prefer the Latin Mass. Why? Because when I attend a Latin Mass I embrace true Catholicism with all its splendor. When you reach the point in your spiritual life that you want the most out of Mass, the next logical leap is the Traditional Latin Mass. Becoming more of a Traditional Catholic has been a second conversion for me. In the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46) That is what the Traditional Latin Mass has to offer. It magnifies your soul and your spirit will rejoice in Jesus Christ.

“One merits more by devoutly assisting at a Holy Mass than by distributing all of his goods to the poor and traveling all over the world on pilgrimage.” –St. Bernard

by John Connor

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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

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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