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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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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