Holy Mass – Reverent or Irreverent?

Mass-Ireland-Sacred Heart Church-Limerick
Institute of Christ the King Mass in Sacred Heart church, Limerick, Ireland. Used with permission.

Early one Sunday evening, I went to Holy Mass. It was exquisite. The priest wore deep rich purple vestments, for it was Septuagisima Sunday. His chasuble was wholly visible, as he stood facing the tabernacle with the congregation.

I was in the choir and the Gregorian chant we sang was sublime. The incense was heavenly and the priest’s soft, yet powerful voice incredibly beautiful. And the Latin words of the Tridentine liturgy surrounded me, like a mantle of the universal prayer of Holy Church.

My being was profoundly and wholeheartedly prepared for the climax of Holy Mass, the Lord’s Sacrifice upon the altar.

And having knelt as the Consecrated Host and then Chalice were raised, to the sweet odour of the incense and clear ring of the bell, we (the small choir) rose to sing:

Benedictus qui venit in Nomini Domine, Hosanna in excelsis.

(Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in excelsis.)

My Journey to His Sacred Heart—Article Continues Below

We then descended from the choir-loft to join the congregation in order to receive Holy Communion. We knelt at the altar rail and the priest made a sign of the cross above us, with the Holy Eucharist and then placed It delicately upon our tongues, all the while praying:

Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.

(May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting. Amen.)

Only the night before at a Novus Ordo vigil for that Sunday, it was quite a different experience.

Instead of a solemn procession along the aisle, with priest and altar boys carrying the crucifix and lighted candles, accompanied by the Gregorian chant of the Introit …

Two priests processed into the church, with numerous altar boys and girls, accompanied by pop music and guitars.

Rather than a beautiful purple chasuble, of exquisite material to gaze upon …

The two priests wore jarring green vestments with abstract patterning, for the Modern Church has done away with Septuagesima.

Instead of being able to gaze upon this beautiful chasuble, whilst the priest stood facing Our Lord’s crucifix and tabernacle with us …

The two priests had their backs to the tabernacle. Facing us rather than the Lord, the altar obstructed our vision.

Thus, we looked not upon heavenly beauty; chasuble, crucifix and tabernacle. We looked into two men’s faces.

Instead of praying with the priest, the preparatory prayers at the foot of the altar, after which he ascended, symbolising the ascent towards the heavenly kingdom …

We were engaged by the main celebrant in chit chat: “Good evening everybody”. To which most people dutifully replied: “Good evening Father”. Then Holy Mass proceeded with Irish music and guitars.

After the Consecration, we did not witness the profound genuflection of the priest before the Sacred Host, nor was the Blessed Sacrament held on high for all to adore. We simply saw the Eucharist raised quickly with one hand.

Just before receiving Holy Communion, we did not pray the second Confiteor, for any sins committed during Holy Mass, that we be made worthy to receive Our Lord.

After the one “Lord, I am not worthy,” rather than the three “Dominus nom sum dignus,” (Lord I am not worthy) two Eucharistic Ministers ascended the altar, ready to distribute Holy Communion, even though there were two priests.

Unlike at the Tridentine Mass, where we reverently knelt before the altar to receive Holy Communion on our tongue, at this Mass, we could receive Our Lord as we wished – before the sanctuary, at the back of the church, in the choir loft, from a priest, from a Eucharistic minister, standing, kneeling, on the tongue or in the hand – take your pick!

And whilst on Sunday at the close of Holy Mass, as the priest and altar servers solemnly processed down the aisle, we heard one of the great Marian Antiphons (in this case, Regina Coelorum) …

Here we heard another pop song as the procession moved away from us, towards the sacristy.

Unlike at the Tridentine Mass, where the priest left the altar immaculately beautiful, with chalice and paten beneath an exquisite chalice veil …

Here, the priest handed the chalice and paten to one of the altar girls to carry out in the procession.

Whilst on Sunday standing at the foot of the altar, priest and altar servers reverently genuflected together at the close of Mass …

At this vigil for Sunday, whilst one priest and the altar boys and girls genuflected, the younger main celebrant bowed, causing confusion.

Whereas after Holy Mass in the Tridentine Rite, silence reigned …

Here, as soon as the priests left the church, the din was so loud from all the chit-chat that it was hard to pray.

And whilst at the Tridentine Mass, each time the servers passed our Blessed Lord in His tabernacle, they reverently genuflected …

At this Novus Ordo Mass, as I prayed in thanksgiving, I was grieved to see not one of the young altar girls or boys genuflected as they
rearranged the altar.

I wonder why?

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