Posted by: fvbcdm | October 19, 2011

Feast of Isaac Jogues & Comp. (19 Oct 2011)

We Dominicans of the southern province of this country, and probably the other provinces too, have a program in which we meet regularly to discuss things of interest and value to ourselves and our ministry. This morning, the topic of our discussion was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, its place in our lives, and how we see its function and value for us. The discussion was for me a somewhat painful one because our community of twelve priests in this priory ranges in age from 48 years to nearly 82 years—I being the oldest man here.  Even in ordinary times, a spread of nearly forty years is bound to cause differences in outlook between the old and the young.  For us, those differences are magnified by the fact that we old ones were formed by the theology taught in our seminaries before and during the Second Vatican Council, and we young ones were formed by the theology of, and after, the Second Vatican Council.  Furthermore, some of the theological concepts and notions of the more recent period are attributed to the Council even though the Council never said nor intended those things.  Some of the liberals and radicals within the Church have for years been talking about “the spirit of Vatican II,” while the conservatives have been insisting that there is NO spirit of Vatican II, but only the words and actions of Vatican II.
 
An example of this is the view that different Catholics have of the Mass.  For most of us old-timers, it is an enormously important religious service whereby we pray and give to God the greatest act of adoration and worship that we possibly can.  Many of us celebrate Mass every day and are delighted to be able to do so, even alone if necessary.  For the younger people, it is a communal action whereby a group of Catholics come together to celebrate the presence of Christ among us in Word and Sacrament.  That being the case, if a priest of that opinion wishes to exercise his priesthood by celebrating Mass, he looks for a group to celebrate with him. He would be uncomfortable celebrating alone, and perhaps would not do it at all. Thank goodness, I belong to the old school, and can celebrate Mass every day either with one or two other priests or totally alone, as sometimes happens.  In this way, the bad health that has forced me into retirement has not deprived me of the most important exercise of my priesthood, and I hope that it never will.
 
I tell you these things today in order to ask you the question that we asked ourselves in our meeting this morning: What does the Mass mean to you? Included in that question are a number of others: Do I attend Mass regularly? Every Sunday? Not quite that often? More often than that? Do I believe that missing Sunday Mass would be for me a serious sin? Am I comfortable being one of very few people at Mass, or am I willing to attend Mass with anywhere from one to 500 others at Mass with me? What do I DO at Mass? What does God do to ME, or to US, at Mass? Why does the Church command us to attend Sunday Mass?
 
Think about these things and see if you can come up with clear answers to these questions. The questions might lead you to consult the New Catechism. And that would be a very good thing.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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