Sermon for the First Sunday of Lent, The Cathedral of St. Eugene, Santa Rosa, 1:30pm Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
Sometimes it seems that the Ordinary Form of the Mass depends solely on the priest; on his presence and ability, on his personality and friendliness. He is the only one in the significant vestments, and even if there is a deacon, the priest is the one directing the show. This can even be true in the Extraordinary Form in a Missa Cantata, whereby the priest does everything including chanting the epistle and the Gospel.
Several years ago, I was unjustly accused by some of removing the people from the liturgy, of limiting their involvement, of not working with them to achieve common goals, and of not allowing for opportunities for collaboration. They even went so far as to say that I acted as if the liturgy were my own possession. One could tell that they struggled to make their accusations intelligible. They said they had high regard for me as a priest but were frustrated by my style of administration.
Some of these thoughts have been recurring in recent days, as deacons and installed acolytes have taken on the task of learning their roles as Deacon and Subdeacon in the Extraordinary Form Solemn High Mass.
In the Extraordinary Form, it would be a physical and spiritual impossibility to remove the people. Their involvement is vastly superior to those parishioners of old as they know where they are and how to offer themselves and their daily trials here at the foot of the Cross. And now we have a common goal, the worship of God and the salvation of our souls. Opportunities for collaboration abound as the Solemn High Mass is definitely a corporate act with the sacred ministers moving in unison and harmony. It is impossible for the priest’s personality to even make an entrance, and thus the Mass could never be seen as part of his own possessions.
I am a priest trained in the Ordinary Form who learned to love the Extraordinary Form in the third decade of my participation in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Now, in the year just past my silver jubilee, I am preparing to participate in a Solemn High Mass, which is becoming a regular feature here at the Cathedral. In the Solemn High Mass, I clearly do not do everything myself. There are other sacred ministers with whom I move as one in the worship of God. Much of the time, I simply have to wait and be still. This waiting time is an opportunity for some silent prayer. The Extraordinary Form of the Mass provides myriad times for silent, personal prayer.
The Solemn High Mass is the Church in action together. The Faith is fully present in each part and it belongs to no one individual, but rather it belongs as a work of the whole. Everyone has his own role and each inserts himself in that role with faith and determination.
For those suffering persecution or criticism: If my life is any indication of how the Lord works, don’t let this get you down. Move on! The Lord has more in mind for you and even the criticisms will be proven wrong in the new life. We are a corporate work here. The Body of Christ has become visible and active. It is time for the Lord to do His thing.
At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. And having agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And about the third hour, he went out and saw others standing in the market place idle; and he said to them, ‘Go you also into the vineyard, and I will give you whatever is just.’ So they went. And again he went out about the sixth, and about the ninth hour, and did as before. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing about and he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here all day idle?’ They said to him, ‘Because no man has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘Go you also into the vineyard.’ But when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers, and pay them their wages, beginning from the last even to the first.’ Now when they of the eleventh hour came, they received each a denarius. And when the first in their term came, they thought that they would receive more; but they also received each his denarius. And on receiving it, they began to murmur against the householder, saying, ‘These last have worked a single hour, and you have put them on a level with us, who have borne the burden of the day’s heat.’ But answering one of them, he said, ‘Friend, I do you no injustice; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go; I choose to give to this last even as to you. Have I not a right to do what I choose? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ Even so the last shall be first, and the first last; for many are called, but few are chosen.
From today’s Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, look with favor upon our weakness, and stretch forth the right hand of Your majesty to help and defend us. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
At that time, when Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed Him. And behold, a leper came up and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if You will, You can make me clean. And stretching forth His hand Jesus touched him, saying, I will; be made clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a witness to them. Now when He had entered Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion who entreated Him, saying, Lord, my servant is lying sick in the house, paralyzed, and is grievously afflicted. Jesus said to him, I will come and cure him. But in answer the centurion said, Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, and have soldiers subject to me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. And when Jesus heard this, He marveled, and said to those who were following Him, Amen I say to you, I have not found such great faith in Israel. And I tell you that many will come from the east and from the west and will feast with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, but the children of the kingdom will be put forth into the darkness outside; there will be the weeping, and the gnashing of teeth. Then Jesus said to the centurion, Go your way; as you have believed, so be it done to you. And the servant was healed in that hour.
Sermon, 1:30 pm, Solemn High Mass, Second Sunday after Epiphany
At that time, a marriage took place at Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now Jesus too was invited to the marriage, and also His disciples. And the wine having run short, the mother of Jesus said to Him, They have no wine. And Jesus said to her, What would you have me do, woman? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the attendants, Do whatever He tells you. Now six stone water-jars were placed there, after the Jewish manner of purification, each holding two or three measures. Jesus said to them, Fill the jars with water. And they filled them to the brim. And Jesus said to them, Draw out now, and take to the chief steward. And they took it to him. Now when the chief steward had tasted the water after it had become wine, not knowing whence it was - though the attendants who had drawn the water knew, - the chief steward called the bridegroom, and said to him, Every man at first sets forth the good wine, and when they have drunk freely, then that which is poorer. But you have kept the good wine until now. This first of His signs Jesus worked at Cana of Galilee; and He manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
Omnia Christus Est Nobis
Christ is everything for us!
I am a Roman Catholic Priest from California. I spent 13 wonderful years years as a member of the Province of the Pacific in the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. The outline of my life can be traced here.