Because I Am Usually Howling with the Mob

During these terrible days, when so many are saying so much so loudly against and in favor of our Church, and especially its leader, our dear Pope Benedict XVI, it is hard to stand apart from the mob—the one howling in protest, or the one trying desperately to shout them down. We are all standing along the Way of the Cross, jeering the scourged Christ or bewailing his persecution. How can we possibly be different? How can we change?

This is the question we have been addressing for the past two weeks in our School of Community (local membership of Communion and Liberation): Is it possible for me, as a Christian, to be fundamentally changed by my religious experience? Or is Christianity just something “added onto” me, like a picture in my wallet, or the leavings of a course I took in school years ago?

Can my experience of Christ be so convincing that I can resist even the pull of the mob—whether they are welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem with palms or goading him angrily up Golgotha?

In his homily last night, Father Barnes addressed this question. He said memorably that the only thing that can prepare us for the sounds of Good Friday—the curses, the shouts, the lamentations—is the silence in the Upper Room and the three gifts Christ leaves us here. The gifts, he told us, are charity (symbolized by Christ washing his Apostles’ feet), the Eucharist, and the priesthood, which Jesus instituted among the Twelve at the Last Supper, or among the Eleven who stood by him, though even some of them fell asleep.

I sang with the choir at the beautiful seven o’clock mass, and then a few of us stayed behind, seated before the Blessed Sacrament. Finally, at a few minutes before ten, we stood with Father Barnes for Compline, then silently left the church.

I will be thinking more about Christ’s three gifts as Katie and I fly to North Carolina this morning to see our daughter received into the Church. Even tomorrow evening’s Easter Vigil, as beautiful and touching as it will be, begs the question—Does this have the power to change me? Or will I be shouting with the mob again on Monday morning?

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  • Moses

    Here is a request for prayer for Christians in theWest Bank for the Holy Week celebration.

  • Athos

    IMO, Webster, to gather around the Lamb Slain Since the Foundation of the World (Rev 13,8) rather than to scatter with the mob is as near an antidote and vaccine as we will experience in this life. What I mean is to participate (a dear old monsignor used to thank us for "assisting" at the Mass) in the Holy Eucharist is to say, "I have heard the cock crow, I, too, have betrayed and abandoned You, Lord. I come asking forgiveness. I believe; help my unbelief." (Most converts I know feel this way; I won't speak for cradle Catholics.)When one acknowledges one's sinner status, it is harder to join an accusing, blood-thirsty, blood-seeking mob that thinks it is being "righteous". We find, astonishingly, that God is not only like the Prodigal's Father, running down the road to welcome and forgive, shod and celebrate. But He IS the Prodigal's Father, willing even to die an ignominious and wrenchingly painful death for us, "while we were yet sinners." A peaceful Good Friday and joyous Easter.

  • Allison

    @Athos: "What I mean is to participate (a dear old monsignor used to thank us for "assisting" at the Mass) in the Holy Eucharist is to say, "I have heard the cock crow, I, too, have betrayed and abandoned You, Lord. I come asking forgiveness. I believe; help my unbelief." (Most converts I know feel this way; I won't speak for cradle Catholics.)"What a spectacular insight. Thank you for this as I prepare for Good Friday services. (Is it called a "mass" since there will be no consecration today?)

  • Maria

    Mass of the presanctifiedTo return to the Roman Rite, when the ceremony of adoring and kissing the Cross is concluded, the Cross is placed aloft on the altar between lighted candles, a procession is formed which proceeds to the chapel of repose, where the second sacred host consecrated in yesterday's Mass has since lain entombed in a gorgeously decorated urn and surrounded by lights and flowers. This urn represents the sepulchre of Christ (decree of S.C.R., n. 3933, ad I). The Most Holy Sacrament is now carried back to the altar in solemn procession, during which is sung the hymn "Vexilla Regis prodeunt" (The standards of the King advance). Arrived in the sanctuary the clergy go to their places retaining lighted candles, while the celebrant and his ministers ascend the altar and celebrate what is called the Mass of the Presanctified. This is not a Mass in the strict sense of the word, as there is no consecration of the sacred species. The host which was consecrated in yesterday's Mass (hence the word presanctified) is placed on the altar, incensed, elevated ("that it may be seen by the people"), and consumed by the celebrant. It is substantially the Communion part of the Mass, beginning with the "Pater noster" which marks the end of the Canon. From the very earliest times it was the custom not to celebrate the Mass proper on Good Friday. Speaking about this ceremony Duchesne (249) says, It is merely the Communion separated from the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist properly so called. The details of the ceremony are not found earlier than in books of the eighth or ninth century, but the service must belong to a much earlier period. At the time when synaxes without liturgy were frequent, the 'Mass of the Presanctified' must have been frequent also. In the Greek Church it was celebrated every day in Lent except on Saturdays and Sundays, but in the Latin Church it was confined to Good Friday.At present [1909] the celebrant alone communicates, but it appears from the old Roman Ordines that formerly all present communicated (Martene, III, 367). The omission of the Mass proper marks in the mind of the Church the deep sorrow with which she keeps the anniversary of the Sacrifice of Calvary. Good Friday is a feast of grief. A black fast, black vestments, a denuded altar, the slow and solemn chanting of the sufferings of Christ, prayers for all those for whom He died, the unveiling and reverencing of the Crucifix, these take the place of the usual festal liturgy; while the lights in the chapel of repose and the Mass of the Presanctified is followed by the recital of vespers, and the removal of the linen cloth from the altar ("Vespers are recited without chant and the altar is denuded").

  • Maria

    Allison: We refer to the Celebration of the Passion.