Before November ends and our consideration of the four last things (death, judgement, Heaven, and Hell) gives way to Advent preparations for the the great Second Coming that ushers in those things definitively, let us turn our attention to a short, often-overlooked summons to Heaven that takes place in every Mass. It takes place in a short dialogue just after the prayer over the gifts and before the singing of the Sanctus. It is called the “preface dialogue” and it is really quite remarkable in its sweeping vision and heavenly call.
- The Lord be with you.
- And with your spirit.
- Lift up your hearts.
- We lift them up to the Lord.
- Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
- It is right and just.
A fairly familiar dialogue to be sure. But to some extent, it fails to take wing because of the rather earthbound notion most moderns have of the Mass. Very few attending Mass today think much of the heavenly liturgy. Rather, most are focused on their parish Church, the priest in front of them, and the people around them. But this is NOT an adequate vision for the Mass. In the end, there is only one liturgy: the one in Heaven. There is only one altar: the one in Heaven. There is only one High Priest: Jesus in Heaven. In the Mass, we are swept up into the heavenly liturgy. There, with myriad angels and saints beyond number, we worship the Father through Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus. In the Mass, we are swept up into Heaven!
More so than “Lift up your hearts,” a better translation of Sursum corda is “Hearts aloft!”
What is the celebrant really inviting us to do? After greeting us in the Lord, he invites us to go to Heaven! But remember, the priest is in persona Christi. Hence, when he speaks it is really the Lord Jesus speaking, making use of the priest’s voice. And what does the Lord really say to us in the magnificent dialogue and preface that follows? Allow me to elaborate on the fuller meaning of this text:
“Let your hearts be taken up! Come and go with me to the altar that is in heaven where I, Jesus the great High Priest, with all the members of my body render perfect thanks to God the Father! You are no longer on earth, your hearts have been swept aloft into the great liturgy of heaven! Come up higher. By the power of my words you are able to come up higher! Since you have been raised to new life in Christ, seek the things that are above where I am at my Father’s right hand. Come up now and enter the heavenly liturgy. Hearts aloft!”
Consider this writing of Cardinal Jean Danielou, reflecting on some teachings from the Fathers about this critical moment of the Mass.
The liturgy of earth is a visible reflection, and efficacious symbol, of the heavenly liturgy of angels. This unity of the two worships is expressed by the liturgy itself in the Preface, where it invites the community of the Church (on earth) to unite with the Thrones and Dominations, the Cherubim and Seraphim, to sing the angelic hymn of praise, the Thrice-Holy. [St. John Chrysostom] says “Reflect upon whom it is that you are near and with whom you are about to invoke God–the Cherubim. Think of the ranks you are about to enter. Let no one have any thought of earth (sursum corda!) but let him lose himself of every earthly thing and transport himself whole and entire into heaven … ” (Chrysostom Adv, Anon., 4)
Elsewhere, Chrysostom remarks that the Gloria in excelsis is the chant of the lower angels. Even the catechumens are permitted to join in it. But the Sanctus is the chant of the Seraphim; it leads into the very sanctuary of the Trinity, and thus “it is reserved for the initiated, the baptized” (cf Chrysostom, Homily on Colossians 3:8).
The Chant of the Seraphim expresses holy fear. It expresses the awe felt by even the highest creatures in the presence of the Infinite, Divine Excellence. And this enables us to better understand the holiness of the Eucharist … (Jean Cardinal Danielou, The Angels and Their Mission, pp. 64-65).
Hence the Mass is never just the “10:00 am Mass at St. Joe’s.” It is the heavenly liturgy.
Until recently, Churches were designed to remind us that we were entering Heaven. As we walk into older churches we are surrounded by windows and paintings that depict the angels and saints. Christ is at the center in the tabernacle. And all the elements that Scripture speaks of as being in the heavenly liturgy are on display, not only in the building, but in the celebration of the liturgy: candles, incense, an altar, the hymns that are sung, the Holy, Holy, Holy, the scroll that is brought forward in the Book of Gospels, the lamb on the throne-like altar, the prostrations and kneeling of the saints before the Lord. All these things are described in the Book of Revelation’s depictions of the heavenly liturgy. None of these things are in our churches or the liturgy for arbitrary reasons.
Yes! We are in the heavenly realms and the heavenly liturgy and so we see and experience heavenly things. Hearts aloft!
This video I made some time ago shows forth traditional Church Architecture as a glimpse of Heaven. The Latin text of the music by Bruckner describes how the form of the Liturgy and even Church architecture is set forth by God, who first gave it in elaborate instructions to Moses on Sinai. Here is the text, with my translation:
Locus iste a Deo factus est (This place was made by God)
inaestimabile sacramentum; (a priceless mystery)
irreprehensibilis est. (It is beyond reproach)
59 Replies to “Hearts Aloft! A Reflection on our Mystical Transport to Heaven in Every Mass”
The orthodox call Mass the Divine Liturgy–so appropriate. In our church, we have shards of colored glass depicting nothing but nihilism, no candles, electric or otherwise, and only two wooden statues of Christ and Mary. Sadly some churches look more like basketball stadiums and airplane hangars than the heavenly city.
Yes, it used to be so very beautiful and Christ was Center of all. The sanctuary was holy and upon entering outside things were left behind and we were quiet. During mass the choir was in the loft singing Heavenly music and filled the sanctuary with song. All this first attracted me to the Church and I studied and studied it. I was a young woman when I first entered. Then, in the 70s it all just fell apart. Nothing seemed sacred. It became a time for fellowship and talking to each other. The sanctuary was used for meetings and practice and just another room. So much was lost but I figured young people coming in wanted something different. Times change. When I go to mass now I feel alone. I know that I’m not and I love the people all around, but the focus is changed. Love your article. Perhaps the older generation can pass on something important to the young generations to come, after all.
Yes this article reminds us that the Mass is intended to lift us up into Heaven. It is true that modern Church architectures are cold and not very inspiring or lacks the capability of “lifting” us very high toward our Lord and his heavenly kingdom. I started closing my eyes frequently during mass, especially when comes the time of the conscration and prayers over the gifts, it transports me in God’s world, where the priest’s words and gestures are no more his own but the ones of our Lord Jesus to us in the present moment. It is extremely moving. When I reoppen my eyes, I see everything new and more beautiful. So, closing my eyes helps me to forget for a moment about examining the building (especially when it is not inspiring) and the behaviour of people around me, helping me to concentrate on the Holy Sacrifice that is being offered on the artar.
Great point. It is sad , though, that in our modern churches we actually have to close our eyes to get away from the lackluster and counterproductive architecture. Hopefully we can all learn to close our eyes during mass and be similarly transported. Maybe that’s what the architects had in mind!
There’s more than one modern church in Texas which, inspired by the beautiful Anglican Ordinariate Liturgy authorized by Pope Benedict XVI, are magnificent and inviting settings for the Mass, and the glorious Anglican- and Gregorian chant which accompanies it at solemn high Mass on Sundays”
Google: Our Lady of Walsingham Church, Houston Texas, (built 2003) and look at the glorious photos of liturgy in its sacred art and architecture. You will not be surprized that in contrast to many older parishes, the Anglican Ordinariate parishes –and their scholarly and holy pastors and laity–are producing many YOUNG vocations to the priesthood and religious life, thanks to the people’s dynamic devotion to this rapturously beautiful Liturgy.
I have caught myself thinking earthly thoughts during the mass. I pray for the grace to leave the world below as the mass is being celebrated, so I may give proper glory to God.
It is difficult for contemporary liturgical services to lift our hearts and minds to Heaven when we are in modernistic churches filled with raucous drums/guitars/tambourines pounding out what some refer to as “music.”
Our church was built 20 years ago. It has a great deal of the horizontal and very little of the vertical. Sure, we have a high ceiling — but it harkens more to the barns that dot our fields than to the celestial mysteries. We have a tall cross — but it is envisioned as the mast of the ship, not the pointer to our eternal goal.
To Thomas’ point; it is possible to do reverent contemporary music, just as it is possible to do trite traditional music (Sing of Mary, anybody?). However, much of contemporary hymnody, just as architecture, is horizontal rather than vertical. If God is mentioned, it frequently occurs in terms of the singer speaking in God’s first person, rather than in our person speaking to God. More often, though, modern hymnody glorifies the assembly and concentrates on what we are doing — rather than on what we are imitating.
oops, historical error: the first building was built 20 years ago but the current worship space was built about 10 years ago.
As a lifelong catholic it wasnt until i attended a mass that used the communion rail that i got the full awe of heaven. It would seem that my imagination took over as i waited for the priest and i felt the choir of angels and saints kneeling on the other side of the heavenly banquet table.
Hi, in our church, we have a community of Greek-catholic Belarussians who use the high-altar for their weekly service. Because our (novus-ordo) community doesn’t use te high-altar, they recently grasped opportunity to install a real iconostasis in front of the altar. Their priest gave a litte tour and told me they call the middle door of the iconostasis the “Gates of Heaven”, which can only be used by the priest and during the liturgy. That’s where I learnt about the Mystical transport to Heaven, much obscured in our words-filled and priest-centric ‘contemporary’ liturgy.
A very useful book on the Liturgy which I am reading just now is ‘Evangelical is Not Enough’ by Thomas Howard. I strongly recommend it as a book to read by anybody who wants to understand the liturgy more fully. To some extent, as the title indicates, the book is concerned to explain how Evangelicals need to have a much deeper understanding of liturgy and worship but it seems at times that it might well also be directed to the wreckovators in the Catholic Church.
Where is the ruined church shown in the video?
It could be Fountains Abbey which is in Yorkshire, England. One of those many, many churches and abbeys despoiled by Henry VIII when he set up his own “church” with himself as “head’.
Quite frankly, our hearts are not lifted up into heaven during the mass because we have been told that the mass is a communal meal. When they designed the liturgy to be more like a communal meal, focused on us rather than God, they made a big mistake. Nobody needs God to have a communal meal. So he is left out. And in many many years of going to church, no one has ever told me that we are supposed to be lifted into heaven by the Liturgy.
There are very old videos on youtube of the old Latin Mass done in the 1940’s etc. You get a profoundly different feeling during those masses than you do during today’s mass. The place is packed and yet everyone is silent, gazing on the sacrifice in front of them. They are aware of the transcendant power and mystery of God. Today, we wear flip flops and look at our watch wondering if we are going to make our tee time.
This is beautiful! I wish the Mass would be explained this way to the worshippers. True, modern architecture,
poor music, all contribute to this inattention. But, the biggest problem lies in lack of catechesis. Your admirers
read your blog, not so the average person. Where will this bring us?
Yes, the Mass lifts me to heaven.
Beautifully said. We know why when Jesus said I am with you till the end of times he really meant it.
I close my eyes all the time except for the elevation of the Holy Eucharist and the Precious Blood and of course when I walk up to receive. I also always pray that my Guardian Angel and Our Lady and my favorite saints accompany me and ask that I may join in their praises.
Thank you Monsignor for every post of every day! THANKSGIVING!
They have too many players in the Mass today. It is more a stage than an alter with various narrators and performers entering and exiting the stage left, right and center. The Mass loses it’s continuity and becomes a production with distractions. They have even designed the church buildings to accommodate the production and audience.
Thank Mons for reminding us of this so elegantly. Some of those who commented identified inappropriate music and very uninspiring surroundings at mass as just a couple of the contributing reasons that this truth often escapes us. I also haven’t heard this explained so well before and I wonder why. This message / truth somehow needs to go far beyond your blog, Mons.
Lifted to heaven, yes. Lifted to where partial knowledge ceases, CCC 314. Lifted to where Jesus is eternally offering His suffering and death for each and every sinner, even those destined to go to hell for ever and ever and ever and….. To know exactly how God loves all that exists (Wisdom 11:24) even those going to hell forever and ever and ever and… and how we should try to love them while we are still in this world. To know how God wills good for all, wills all to be good, to be holy and how God cannot be thwarted (CCC 275) and How He is going to reconcile all things, even those going to hell for ever and ever and ever and …. To go to heaven and see all time at once, all in one thought as God eternally sees it, and to see the God-Child subject to Joseph and Mary and thereby revealing God’s eternal, changeless Divine Will, which we should try to imitate here on earth by willing to imitate Jesus in His being subject to Joseph as the head of the family, with the responsibility to offer prayers to God for the whole family. To go to heaven and to know how Jesus prays His infinite prayer, that He prayed on the Cross, in us, for us and through us and also in, for and through Joseph and Mary for close to thirty years. Such Humility in Jesus. This humility, for God to be eternally subject to Joseph in this way, this humility is unfathomable, but, such is our God.
Outstanding reflection and outstanding video! Thank you Msgr Pope!
Why do I sense that we are in exile?
After reading these comments I knelt down by the waters and wept…
When I raised my eyes heavenward a mighty wind rushed by with an intensity that should have moved me but it didn’t for I was grounded in that spot. As it passed I lowered my eyes to the ground and there I saw two green shafts, one looked like a developing wheat and the other a menacing weed. I was just about to pull the weed out from its roots when an almost silent wisp of air carried a whisper to my heart, “Wisdom, Be Attentive.”
So I stopped to ponder this deeply by breathing with both lungs. Then the clouds in the western sky grew very dark and they appeared to be racing toward me. I began to sense dreadful terror. I closed my eyes to this and drew in to my center of being to gather strength from all that I know is True in my heart. I repeated the prayer. “If my heart is in Jesus, peace reigns in me too.”
The next moment I remember, morning light streamed over me and I was bathed in His Glory. I was praised God for His twin gifts of warmth and Light.
Just then I saw the sweeping Ark of the Rainbow impress itself upon the cloud and it was as if time stood still. I was in Covenant Time and Jesus was Lord of all.
At Holy Mass we must move into Covenant Time and stay there long after the final “Thanks be to God.”
See you on the high ground!
I also close my eyes during the consecration so it certainly doesn’t matter what the Church space looks like. The Glory of the Eucharist is all that matters. Such an honor just to be there and recieve. God bless us all.
You are so right in saying that it doesn’t matter what the Church looks like. Some would complain if they were in the upper room with Our Lord because everything isn’t as they materially desire it! We are there present with the Lord before His most precious body and blood. I need nothing else…..
Never before have there been a rendition about Holy Mass. I think it is the most beautiful meaning that I have ever read about .I wish that all our youth could have read this article. I think that it would draw them to assist at Holy Mass more often. Gee,let this article circulate to every parish. I just fell in love with what is happening when our pries says Mass. What so many are missing!. This again, is to me just profound. U made my day.T.U. Flora
During Holy Mass I try to lift my mind and heart to the Lord. When that happens it doesn’t really matter to me where the Mass is being held. It could be in a barn and it is just unspeakably beautiful. Truly present are the Holy Trinity, Mary, and the Angels.
So many troubling comments from so many people here suggesting that if architecture, music, posture, etc. are one way, then it is more heaven-like than if the architecture, music, posture, etc. are some other (more modern) way.
To think this way is to try to import the world into heaven, to try to impose a human persepective on the divine, rather than the other way around. It is not the human element that brings about communion with heaven. In fact, all of the human elements, even with the most holy of holy priests in whatever people think is the most beautiful church structure is sorely lacking. Meanwhile, the worst of scoundrel priests saying Mass in a hotel reception room is a holy happening where Christ Himself truly comes among us. What would we say about a Mass that is said on a hill of rock and mud, with the stench of sweat and blood all around? But In fact, that is where it happens, at the Cross, where earth and heaven intersect.
Similarly, to emphasize such a human-worldly view when saying that the Mass transports us to heaven is to say to many who hear such things that heaven is like Mass. And a LOT of people are going to respond, even with the greatest and most traditional liturgy imaginable, “Well, if heaven is going to be like Mass, I don’t really want to go.” However, in truth, heaven is and will be infinitely better than anything we have experienced here.
I am 81 and can so relate to this message and the beautiful church scenes. Yes, our church Mass atmosphere has changed, and not necessarily for the good. However, we stay the course and try our best to follow Christ and His teachings.
It is more than art; but it is also art. Beautiful, transcending, living art.
Amen. Beautiful article. I am 49 and grew up in Brooklyn where our churches were beautiful and you did have a sense of awe. Moving to Central NJ was a disappointment as the local church looks like a barn, sparse and very protestant looking. The new Pastor is changing things, more statues, the Tabernacle restored to its rightful place in the center and we actually have a relic of a saint. I don’t understand why there is not a specific mandate requiring all Churches to be constructed (or reconstructed) and decorated to adhere to age old traditional design. It baffles the mind how we allowed nutty liturgists and confused clergy to destroy our churches. Thank God the pendulum is swinging back again.
The article was amazing. During Mass I am very aware of the fact that we are actually participating in the one Heavenly Liturgy and those words while prayed in English amongst the congregation are prayed by me silently in Latin – Sursum Cords and I feel my heart and my whole being lifted into that Heavenly Liturgy amongst the angels and saints mystically present in our little church on earth. Amazing. Thank you for this great meditation.
Another silent prayer of mine is that of the great St. Thomas as the Host is elevated. My Lord and My God. We are so blessed to have a rich Catholic faith. We need to Catechise the people in a better more traditional way so people actually know what they are doing and why they are doing that. When I teach Catechism I teach using the Baltimore Catechism and instruct the kids in the traditions of the Holy Roman Catholic Church that were largely ignored after the Council.
And The Heavens Opened..
I live in the UK and I have the good fortune to be able to attend a Tridentine Mass. What I find interesting is that what you need to remind us of in your article is transparently clear in the old mass. Perhaps most striking is that the priest, with his back to us, is leading the people towards God, even the eye is drawn to the central tabernacle. It is a God focused mass 100%. I pray for the general reintroduction of this mass, it is awe inspiring and, I am sure, will lead to many conversions. I atended Washington Cathedral for mass once; I found it sloppy,and the hand-shaking bit nauseating.
Bring back the general use of the Tridentine Mass. This makes abundantly clear where the focus lies.
In the fifties I was in the choir. (composed of all the 7th & 8th grade girls). I can still remember the opening words of the Latin Mass. The priest stood before the steps of the altar , bowed low, and intoned : Introibo ad altare Dei”
or “I will go up to THE ALTAR OF GOD” Get the difference?
I struggle to remember that I am in the Presence of the Lord in my parish. It has open beams and I have in disrespect called it “Our Lady of the Ski Lodge.” am not dressed to be in a ski lodge.
I constantly ask God for the help to pay attention where I am and close my eyes. During the “Gloria” I lift up my hands and close my eyes for deeper contemplation.
Because HE IS GOOD he Graces me in that struggle. After all He deserves all my love
Thank you for this article. I would like to share that Michael Rizzio’s post most offers the feeling of what I was allowed to experience during a Holy Mass some 30 years ago.
I arrived at Holy Mass at the end of a night shift, on my way home from work. I was at that time thanking God for making it on time each Sunday. And so happy in my heart just to be there; so thankful to God for the safety and surety of our Holy Mass. No matter what was going on in my life, it felt so comforting to know ‘in God there is no change.’ And He is always there for us.
I was seated (squeezed) in a seat towards the back of a little Carmelite Chapel in a town called Tavistock, Devon. UK. The convent has since been sold through lack of vocations. The Priest who offered the Holy Mass is deceased over 10 years now.
Any way, as Holy Mass progressed I was too happy and grateful for being there that I was unable to take in the readings of the day, just too happy and glad.
I became aware as the Priest began the prayer ‘let us lift up our hearts’, that my heart took flight. I was so scared I was going to physically take flight that I held on to the back of the seat in front of me. The utter joy that I felt by the time we responded ‘we lift them up to the Lord’ and the remaining responses, in the midst of this extraordinary jubilant feeling that it seemed to me, we the people of God are responding with a DIRGE when we should be bursting with joy.
To this day, I make a basket with my fingers and make a gesture to lift my heart to God when the priest raises his hands at that point in Holy Mass. But until I read this article, never understood what the meaning of it was.
Thank you for this article. I will continue to make my little basket and lift my heart to God with greater joy.
From this experience, it is only fair to share another outcome to that experience. Part of it really.
I became aware internally of Jesus, hanging on the Cross, and a certainty came to me, that God has not created words worthy enough of this moment of joy. What we need to do is perform good works to put flesh on the words He has made known in the little prayers He has revealed to us in Holy Mass.
Sorry, I am not articulate in relating this experience; but please God it will help others to find a new treasure in Holy Mass, for them to look forward to.
Very true, Mr. Mullan. Even celebrating the Novus Ordo well is not the same; the same Sacrifice, but other than that, very different.
Let’s remember that during the Last Supper, Jesus was facing his apostles, he did not have his back turned to them. As regards the architecture, music etc, I agree that mass can be celebrated in any surroundings, but…those surroundings should lift our minds to heaven, so that when “Heaven Comes Down To Earth” as Jesus does at the Consecration, our hearts are ready to receive him with all the love, respect and devotion we can offer the King of Kings, resting on His Throne (the altar), in his castle (the church.
1. Mass is not an simple reenactment of the Last Supper. To use your logic we should all be reclining on our elbows at a low table like Jesus and the 12 Did, and only men could attend 12 at a time.
2. At any rate, even there Jesus was not at the center of the table, but likely the head of the corner, in the Mediterraean fashion. In other words he was at the head of the U shaped table, and likely did “turn his back” to some of them.
3. Your phrase “turn his back” is pejorative. Priest and people all face one way. Now one “turns his back” on any one. Would you say you have “turned your back” to everyone sitting behind you at Mass?
4. The early Christians faced Eastward, i.e. all in one direction, to pray the Mass.
“Turn his back” is pejorative only to the extent that “face the people” is pejorative. In fact, when the priest is on the opposite side of the altar, then they are all facing the same direction, i.e. they are all facing the altar, except that the altar is at the center of worship, not off in the distance somewhere.
You were doing OK, actually quite thoughtful until you did the “off in the distance somewhere” Shame on you. Despite a thoughtful comment, you then manifest as just another hack and a shill
Ed the Complex You have totally misunderstood my comment about Jesus not having his back to the apostles at the last supper. I was referring to those who desire to return to the former mass where the priest did have his back to the congregation. I was simply offering an opinion, in no way was this meant to be a disparaging, derogatory, or a belittling effect towards anyone and I’m not sure how you could interpret it that way? I find it hard to believe that Jesus would not be at the center of the table where each apostle could clearly hear his words, see the expression of love on his face, and receive his body and blood, offered through his holy and venerable hands. I suppose we will not know until we reach heaven since neither of us were present at the last supper! Your responses are confusing and not related to anything I said, especially: “1. Mass is not a simple reenactment of the Last Supper. To use your logic we should all be reclining on our elbows at a low table like Jesus and the 12 did, and only men could attend 12 at a time”. Your comments are hurtful, come across as judgmental especially your response to Matt when you told him “you then manifest as just another hack and a shill” . Please don’t respond to this, I have no interest in being insulted again, I’m interested in conversations where all opinions are respected.
I don’t think Ed was being serious about having 12 men only. He was critiquing the logic about using the Last Supper as the norm. Although he is absolutizing the logic to be sure, But I think it just a rhetorical device to illustrate the problem.
But here’s my question for you Trinity, do you have a problem with those who “desire to return to the former Mass?”
Just to be clear the Extraordinary form is permitted.
Msgr. Pope: No, I have absolutely no problem with anyone who wants to celebrate the Extraordinary Mass. I was about 14 when the changes were instituted so I have an understand of what this meant…to me. I was simply trying to explain what I love about the new mass. Seeing the face of the priest, (not his back), hearing the English words which I can understand, sharing with my fellow Catholics only enhanced my participation and worship. Previously, some of the congregation would either pray the Rosary, or try to follow the priest movements based on the pictures in our St. Joseph’s missal, with Latin on the left side and English on the right side. I remember frantically moving forward a page or two to ‘catch up’ to where the priest was in the mass. Now I’m ‘right there’, we are praying and celebrating Jesus marvelous gift together. All of this strengthens and deepens my faith. What I don’t understand is why some people appear to judge others thoughts and opinions. It’s seems cruel for Ed to tell Matt he’s “hack and a shill”. Is that Christian brotherly love? We should express our ideas and agree to disagree, unless of course someone is stating an opinion against church teachings, even then, it should be done with kindness, not derision
Thank you for sharing…I have been reading a lot about the Holy Mass and I love going to Mass because I feel so much closer to Heaven when I am Mass and I offer up everyone there when the priest raises the Most Holy Host and pray that their hearts will be open to him that loves them dearly. I am 53 but I remember as a child how beautiful our church was with the view, smells and sounds of the Mass back then it was so beautiful, fondest memory would be midnight Mass on Christmas Eve my heart always go back to this time. I guess we need to continue to pray for our people and for our Church. God Bless!
When the priest says,” lift up our hearts” many of the people in our church lift up their arms and I wonder why.
Thank you for your article Msgr. Pope. I love that you reaffirm that we must ” lift up our hearts to the Lord” and contemplate raising our hearts to the heavenly realm to realize “the kingdom of heaven is within us”. I love to appreciate the beautiful and inspired spiritual art and music found in the cathedrals and churches of the past. But, if we are to attract more youth I believe that the modern church has a place as well. I have had many positive spiritual experiences in both old and new churches. Thanks too for reminding us that the central focus is that we are with Jesus and He is with us at and in the celebration of the mass. We could build more modernistic churches with spiritual art like the church that the great artist, Henri Matisse was asked to design for example, for the Holy Spirit breathes new life into every “new wineskin”. I think there is also a need for contemporary spiritual music which can lift us joyfully heavenward and speak to the people of this generation, just as the old time Latin did for parishioners in the past.
What an awesome call from the Lord to accept His invitation to “lift up our hearts” to Him through His priests. We are so blessed. As a lifelong Catholic I have not always appreciated the depth of our faith. A depth so profound. I have learned to accept the invitation to enter into this mystery with great reverence. Yes…closing one’s eyes is very helpful, so that my ears can be attuned to the Divine Liturgy and sense His presence all around me. I am there to adore him, praise Him, thank Him…to return love to Him Who is Love. Lord, help me to keep my heart, eyes and ears fixed on You, until we meet in Your heavenly banquet.
This reminds me of Father Harry who joyfully shouted “Lift up your hearts!” at every Mass he celebrated. He became a priest later in his life and loved his vocation. God bless Father Harry!
The code of Byzantine traditional Church might help provide an explanation about the Heavenly Liturgy. The Church behavior of courtesy, respect and reverence is based on what Byzantine Catholic tradition considers what a Church is. The Church is considered the house of God where God dwells and is worship. According to Pope Francis, “The Church is a mystery that consists of visible and invisible spiritual realities rooted in the Divine and Human natures of Christ.” In the Byzantine Catholic ancient tradition the Church is considered a Sacrament where the visible and invisible spiritual presence of Christ dwells. The Church is seen as an image of heaven on earth manifested through the Church structure, décor, sacred ritual symbols, prayers, Scripture readings, sermon, Icons, music, and Divine Mysteries.
The Church structure is divided into three parts: the Narthex, the Nave, and the Sanctuary or Holy of Holies. The Narthex is a place for spiritual personal purification and repentance. Where we light a candle for our personal intentions and generally prepare ourselves interiorly before entering the Nave for worship. The Nave is the main gathering place of the faithful. Its wall and ceiling are covered with holy icons to remind us that the Church is the temple of God, a holy place, a house of prayer. The lower portion of the Nave signifies the visible world. The dome and still more the sanctuary signifies the image of heaven, where the triune God is worshiped by us together with the angels, archangels, Seraphim and Cherubim and the whole company of the saints in heaven.
We should always be mindful that when we come to Church, we are entering the Kingdom of God on earth, his holy dwelling place. Remember what God said to Moses from the midst of the burning bush: “Moses! Moses!” Then Moses said here I am. “Do not come any closer. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are stand is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:4-5) The place where the Church stands is consecrated holy ground. That is why we choose to honor the Church as a holy, sacred place of God by the way we conduct ourselves with respect, reverence and attentiveness. This attitude provides for us an opportunity to reflect the image of Christ within us by our behavior, love of God and neighbor, prayers and actions that reflect what St. Peter said about us: “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9).
This is a beautiful article about the Holy Mass. I think the Value of the Holy Mass should be repeated over & over again for the this generation to understand the meaning & closeness of with the Father, Son & Holy Spirit, Mother Mary, St Joseph all the angels & saints in heaven joining heavenly choirs to be be united as one, Remember the Church & Holy Mass is very Holy & Sacred, People fail to understand the value of the Holy Mass because being cultured to the modernized surrounding. The Church has changed alot like the communion railing taken off, tabernacle is never in the centre as people have kept God aside and humans take the centre place. alters are be changed, crucifix are changed sign of mockery, every surrounding in the church is designed as modern the beauty of the church & Holy Mass is withering away. People distracted, immodest dressing, talking in the church, Receiving communion in hand, Beauty of receiving communion with your head cover & kneeling as lost its beauty of holiness, Loud music even the choirs have lost the holiness & spirituality of praising God, People do not even genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament it is indeed very very sad to see this, At weddings the bride’s are dressed so immodestly, even marriage has lost his holiness & sacredness of the sacrament. Some Priest are not ready to tell the congregation if there is anything wrong because they want to satisfy the people, which is wrong. Please bring that Holiness & reverence into our churches again and save the church. Pray for our priest.
Come to the Latin Mass and you will be at the gates of Heaven!
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. I believe Pope Benedict was trying to bring back what has been lost. I hope Pope Francis continues what Pope Benedict started. I believe my generation (I am 47 years old) has been shortchanged. I long for this beautiful Liturgy that lifts our hearts to Heaven. I am sad about the changes made after Vatican II even though I barely remember the old Liturgy.
Do go to an Eastern Catholic Liturgy. It is heavenly, the prayers and words are very inspiring and beautiful.
I am 68 yrs old and was ordained In 1972. I was around 20 and in the seminary when the changes started. When I was ordained the vernacular had become standard. My generation did not cause the changes but we were generally obedient to the Church in what was asked of us.
To the point, I was ordained in the Roman Rite. Whether it is the Tridentine Mass (which took shape as a result of the great reforming Council Of Trent) or the contemporary vernacular Mass, it is the Roman Rite.
To the second point, my parish Church was built in the fifties. It was designed to be used as a parish hall after the new Church was to be built in the future. It was cinder block with coloured windows. It was not beautful. A large portion of the parish went to the gym at our orther school for Sunday Mass. The altar was literally on the stage.
Except for the High Mass at the main church our Sunday Masses were low Masses. No singing whatsoever.
This is not to say that I appreciate the architecture or bad art that is used today but, before Vatican II we had some pretty bad architecture and art already.
I accept whatever building the bishop sends me to. I could tell nightmare stories of my youth and the aberrations of the Tridentine liturgy. I am aware of the potential beauty of the Tridentine form of the Mass. I also experienced it, especially in the crypt chapel of the seminary, at its worst. I have experienced the contemporary format at its best and worst. Since my parish has no desire or will to use the Tridentine Liturgy I will continue as instructed. I will also continue within my own strengths and limitations and those of my parish to celebrate the Holy Mass as beautifully and as well as I can.
My Irish ancestors celebrated on Mass Rocks. My English ancestors celebrated in warehouses and basements. Today many celebrate Mass in hiding. I am not sure they are all that concerned with architecture. Yes, I do teach the people constantly that the Mass is the touching point of heaven and earth. I am just grateful and overwhelmed that our Holy God allows me to be a priest. Beautiful church buildings are edifying and I am grateful for them and sorties overwhelmed by them but my salvation does not depend on them. The question to ask is, “how beautiful are the living stones united to the Cornerstone, Jesus Christ?”
May God bless you and please be kind to each other as the debate continues.
Dear Monsignor Charles, I would be very grateful to you if you could explain one more thing about the wonderful Truth you have shared in this article.
Why is this Heavenly jubilation present in Holy Mass just BEFORE the Consecration.
Having shared my own personal experience earlier on in these posts. The reason I kept it secret for years was because it seemed to me Jesus agonising death was too sad to rejoice over. I thought my experience was wrong because the jubilation would make sense after the Consecration.
There must be something from the Church Fathers instructing us as to why it is OK to be so jubilant right before the most solemn moment of the Consecration.
Sorry Peli, I thought I was posting the above on Monsignor Popes article.
I was going to ask our parish Priest, and my sister thought it would not be a good idea.
My family would not want anyone especially the parish Pries to know any of us have these sort of experiences, so I thought to ask in a way no one knew who I was. Please delete if you think it prudent.
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