Being brought up in a Catholic family and having studied in a Catholic Institution, I was always taught that the Mass is special and sacred... it is a sacred meal and a sacrifice. But it was only when I attended my first TLM almost 2 years ago that the reality of the nature of the Mass was made clear. Even the most simplest of its forms, the Low Mass, clearly illustrates its sacredness, its mystery and its sacrificial nature. Is it the orientation, silence, the gestures, or the language, or even the priestly vestments? It is no question that these elements I mentioned contributes to the sacredness and sense of mystery to the Mass and perhaps the de-emphasis on the orientation, silence, gestures and language led to the de-emphasis on the sacredness, mystery, solemnity that eventually led to the de-emphasis on its sacrificial nature. What is left is the emphasis, or should I say over emphasis of the meal aspect, over emphasis that "transforms" it into merely a "communal" meal.
A theology of the Mass that is totally centered on "communal" meal aspect makes me ask myself: are we witnessing or partaking a mere breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack with some music and prayers? Are we just eating a mere bread and drinking a mere wine? Or are we witnessing a miracle, the greatest miracle that happens daily...the transformation of bread made by human hands, and wine made of fruit of the vine, into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Are we meeting some dignitary that we should show some sign of respect, or are we meeting the King of kings and Lord of lords face to face that we should show the greatest signs of reverence that we have? Is it a mere bread, or is it our God and King? What should our actions, our demeanor, our disposition be like in front of our God, our Lord and King who offers His Body and Blood for the sanctification of our souls?
The realization of the meal aspect, will never go away, unless we remove the bread and wine so that we can never communicate. The mere fact that bread and wine is present at Mass to be eaten is a sign and indication that it is a meal but the realization of the sacredness of the meal and the sacredness of sacrificial aspect can easily be hidden or taken away by means of the abuses and banality that had crept into the Mass, by making the priest face the people the entire Mass, by taking away and limiting the silence and gestures, sacred art and architecture, and even vestments that reminds us of the Real Presence of our Lord all in the name of simplification. The realization of the sacredness and sacrificial nature of the Mass, of our Lord's real presence, should in fact move us to show greater signs of respect, that is reverence and adoration towards the Lord by our disposition, our demeanor, gestures, music, sacred art and architecture, vestments, and prayers.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary continue to be our model and guide as she witnessed and united herself in the sacrifice of her beloved Son for the salvation of our souls.