“Feed my lambs, Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep.” That’s the job description of every bishop, all priests, religious—everyone dedicated to evangelization. The main way that we nurture God’s people is through the Eucharist—through Holy Mass.
Just like the first Apostles, we are also renewed as we minister to the faithful. With the Eucharist, everybody wins! At Holy Mass we enter mystery, far beyond our comprehension. Yet, certain parameters are present that have withstood the test of time. Our Mother Church continues to feed us, to educate us and has adjusted according to the development of society. Vatican Council II paved the way for Holy Mass to be celebrated in the vernacular—the language of the people. Latin continues to be the official language of the Church. However, the advantage is that we can now more easily understand what is being said, compared to the time before 1965. Some folks are still around who can remember the difference. There were strict rules for everything, particularly behavior, posture, and fasting for Holy Mass. Some rules still apply, others have changed. Although we do not have to do without food or drink from midnight before we receive Holy Communion, we are supposed to fast one hour before we receive the Blessed Sacrament. Folks who have medical issues are exempt. There should be a difference between what we wear to go to the beach and how we dress to come to Church. We Catholics like rules. There is comfort in ritual. Some folks want to be told what to do and exactly what is expected. After Vatican Council II some directives were relaxed, others ignored, some misunderstood. The reaction is typical of what happens when there is a world-wide shift in a practice that had been observed for 500 years.
However, 500 years is like yesterday in the life of the Church. The liturgical effort was intended to restore Mass to resemble what happened in the early stages of Christianity. There are places within the Mass where the presbyter can be spontaneous—like at the beginning during the Penitential Rite or after the Closing Prayer. However, the priest cannot add or subtract anything that is in the Rite, which is outlined in the General Instruction for the Roman Missal, neither can the people. For example, I cannot suggest that we leave out the first Reading or any of the Readings because we are running late. We cannot pray a Hail Mary instead of the Our Father, although God loves the Blessed Mother. We cannot change the prayers as they have been handed down to us.
Another example is when some folks say, “My Lord and my God” after the host and the Chalice are elevated. That prayer is from the Tridentine Mass when there were no Mystery of Faith acclamations. The prayer was said when the host was elevated and was said privately, not in unison with the congregation. Yet, because folks hear what others are doing, and it sounds nice, we tend to go with the flow. The prayer is not a sin, just not liturgical. We will not find such a response on any Roman Missal. Our acclamation is the Mystery of Faith, which on the weekend is usually sung. The acclamation is our response—nothing else. We cannot add or subtract to the present ritual of Holy Mass. If we wish to say something, it should be done privately and not interrupt someone else’s silence. Occasionally the projectors do not work. Interesting the number of people who do not know the Creed—neither the Apostles Creed, which we should be saying at the beginning of the Rosary—nor the Nicaean Creed. The Catechism is based on truths of our Faith which are outlined in the Creed. The Creed is more important than the Ten Commandments! Consider the possibility of praying the Creed with your family as a form of prayer together. Who knows, might change our life. Certainly, will help when the projectors don’t work.
We are always learning as we continue the journey of Faith. Christ offers us heavenly Food. He constantly feeds us through the Eucharist.