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Traditional Catholic Prayers
The Rosary in English and Latin
The Holy Infant of Prague
A Guided Tour of the Traditional Latin Mass
Profession Of Catholic Faith For Converts
Words of encouragement from St. Athanasius
True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
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Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Stations of the Cross
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The Catechism of the Council of Trent
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A Tribute to Archbishop Lefebvre
Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Latin and English
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The definitive biography of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
Church Conservation News
The Catholic Worker Movement: A Critical Analysis
Why Christian women should not wear trousers
Is Distributism Catholic?
Vaticangate: Justice denied to Archbishop Lefebvre
The New Laity and the Anti-clerical Factor
Excommunications withdrawn by the Vatican
Garcia Moreno Catholic Statesman and Martyr
Bishop Fellay on the Beatification of Pope John Paul II
A Fake War against Materialism
Traditional Catholic Hymns in Latin with English Translation
St Thomas Aquinas's Commentary on St Matthew's Gospel
Analysis of the Open Letter to Bishop Fellay
A Guided Tour of the Traditional Latin Mass
A) Prayers at the foot of the altar
Written by King David whilst fleeing for his life from his son Absalom. He desired to return to the tabernacle at Jerusalem where he could pray to God. (It is omitted in Requiem Masses.) The "nation that is not holy" is the world. The "just and deceitful man" is the "old Adam'", our fallen nature, and the “enemy”: can be taken as the devil. "Giveth joy to my youth" signifies spiritual youth: as St Paul said: "but though our outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" - (II Cor, 4,16.)
A reminder that we can do nothing without God, the Creator of all things.
Inserted here in the 8th century. The priest prays for the forgiveness of his sins so as to be worthy to celebrate the Sacrifice; the faithful confess their sins separately and ask forgiveness so as to be worthy to join spiritually in the Sacrifice.
Striking the breast: the heart (or affections) is the source of sin and must be mortified: pride must be broken and humbled. Striking is done 3 times, expressing growing contrition for sins of thought, word and deed.
Invoking the saints: they are our intercessors, and it is a sign of humility to go through intermediaries rather than approach God directly.
DEUS, TU CONVERSUS VIVIFICABIS NOS:
In other words: give us sanctifying grace.
OSTENDE NOBIS, DOMINE, MISERICORDIAM TUAM:
refers to the great act of God's mercy: the Sacrifice of Calvary.
AUFER A NOBIS:
The "Holy of holies" was the inner chamber of the Temple in Jerusalem, entered only once a year by the High Priest who offered the blood of a lamb for his and the people's sins. Here it signifies heaven: "For Jesus is not entered into the Holies made with hands, the patterns of the true; but into heaven itself, that he may appear in the presence of God for us." - Hebrews 9:24.
Hands on altar - signifies the reliance on the merits of Christ and the saints (the altar signifies Christ). Kissing relics: Shows love and veneration for the Church Triumphant (i.e the faithful departed whose souls are now enjoying their eternal reward in heaven).
A short prayer to awaken faith and devotion. It contains every religious sentiment, adapted to the feast) time in the year.
Three times for each person:
Our insistence in asking for God's mercy (the parable of the unjust judge applies here). It is well-placed as a preamble to the Gloria where we thank God for His mercies.
GLORIA: The opening words are taken from the Gospel of St Luke 2:14: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will." The Gloria was introduced into the Mass on Christmas night around AD 130; and it was in every Sunday Mass and martyr's feast-day around the beginning of the 6th century. It raises our thoughts to heaven: "in the highest", "heavenly king"; "we give Thee thanks for Thy great glory", "Thou Who sittest at the right hand of the Father", "Thou alone art most high."
Raising hands to heaven: shows the priest's desire to praise God.
Joining them together again and lowering his head, the priest shows humility and self-abasement (At "Deo" - holiness of God's name). He bows his head in adoration at the words "adoramus te" (we adore Thee), and expresses gratitude: "gratias agimus tibi" (we give Thee thanks), petition: (suscipe deprecationem nostram" (receive our prayer), and bows in reverence for the Holy Name: "Jesu Christe" (Jesus Christ).
Sign of the Cross at the end: signifies the Holy, Trinity glorified at the end of Gloria.
COLLECT: A prayer of petition for the grace that corresponds to the time of the liturgical year and the day's feasts.
Prayer said aloud: priest prays in name of faithful: He is a mediator.
a) Kissing the altar: signifies love and reverence for Christ and His saints.
b) " Dominus vobiscum": it is preceded by the kissing of the altar as all blessings for the faithful come from it. These words appear eight times in the Mass. They signify: grace, light and strength be given to you for a good and perfect prayer. Hands spread apart: shows the priest's desire for blessings for the faithful. Hands joined together: shows the trust of the priest in God, not in himself.
c) `Et cum spiritu tuo': in this response the faithful wish grace and enlightenment on the priest so that he may be truly spiritual.
d) The Collects contain the contents of the Lord's Prayer in varied forms.
EPISTLE: The Mass in a sense follows the events of Our Lord's public life: first, avowal of sin and repentance as preparation: done by John the Baptist, and in the Mass by prayers at the foot of the altar; secondly, the teaching of the truths of salvation by Our Lord, and in the Mass by the Epistle and the Gospel; thirdly, the redemption of Calvary, and in the Mass, its re-enactment. The Epistle was read at Mass from Apostolic times, but the texts were fixed only gradually.
The Epistle and Gospel generally complement and complete each other, e.g. Trinity Sunday. Whitsun.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA/TRACT. They express the sentiments evoked by the feast or by the liturgical time of the year.
GOSPEL. "good tidings" especially because they give us a perfect and plain living picture of the person, conversation and actions of Our Lord. "Christianity is not an ideology, it is a person.'' - God made man. The Gospel is not just an instruction. In it we also give homage and veneration to the word and truth of God. This explains the following:
a) preparation of the priest. "Munda cor meum..." "Dominus sit in corde meo..." Why a preparation? In order to read the Gospel with veneration and reverence, which enables it to have a supernatural effect on him and the faithful.
b) The delivery.
i) ” Dominus vobiscum”: the grace desired is that the word of God be understood, embraced with faith and put into practice.
ii) the Sign of the Cross - made on the Missal; it shows Our Lord's doctrine and work summed up by the Cross made on the forehead, lips and heart; it shows the desire that the doctrine of the Cross be in the mind, lips and heart. His doctrine can be summed up as a renunciation of world and self, embracing a life of humility, obedience, faith, patience, hope, love of God and one's neighbour.
iii) Gospel at right side at an angle: The right is nobler. Churches were traditionally built facing the east, thus the Gospel was read facing north. The north symbolised the domain of the Gentiles and non-believers; the "good tidings" were to be read to the inhabitants of the pagan world for their edification.
iv) Standing: symbolises spiritual freedom given by the Faith, and is an attitude of respect, being the position of a servant before his master in Apostolic times (servants even ate standing).
c) Conclusion: the Missal is kissed out of reverence and love for the truths contained therein.
C) The Offertory
DOMINUS VOBISCUM: We pray that God's grace, aid and power may give the living faith, and necessary dispositions to celebrate worthily the imminent Sacrifice, in which we offer ourselves with Our Lord.
OREMUS: This refers to all the prayers said during the Offertory.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON: :
It has the same purpose as the Introit & Gradual, i.e. it suggests the theme of the feast or time of year. It also has a note of joy.
SUSCIPE SANCTE PATER: :
The paten elevated is the presentation of the host. The Priest raises his eyes and immediately lowers them; raising them to God to Whom he offers the host, and lowering them in recognition of his own unworthiness.
The Sign of the Cross with the paten signifies that the Sacrifice to be offered is that of Calvary.
"Sancte Pater": the Offertory prayers are addressed to God the Father. The Church unites herself with Our Lord in His offering, and is offered with Him.
"Spotless Host" refers to our sinless Lord Who is about to be offered to His Father for the sins of mankind..
"I your unworthy servant": the sins of the priest stand out before the sublimity of the act he is about to perform. "A means of salvation": the Sacrifice of the Cross.
DEUS QUI HUMANAE: :
The water signifies the faithful (who need divine grace; therefore it is blessed with the sign of the cross). It is not blessed in Requiem Masses where the fruits are directed more at the faithful departed than the faithful present. Pouring water into the wine signifies our incorporation into Christ's Mystical Body, one of the effects of the Mass.. "Partakers of divine nature" also signifies this.
OFFERIMUS TIBI DOMINE:
Raising the chalice is the presentation of the divine victim. The eyes are not cast downwards, as the prayer expresses more hope: "may it arise...with a pleasing fragrance". "Chalice of salvation" signifies the Blood of Our Lord.
IN SPIRITU HUMILITATIS:
Humility is expressed by the low bow of the priest. The trials and sufferings of the Church are offered to Our Father with Our Lord's Sacrifice. Our sacrifices are joined to Our Lord's. "A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humble heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." -Ps. 50,19.
The priest's hands are raised, joined and the sign of the Cross is made: this symbolises the blessing the priest implores of the Holy Ghost. His eyes are raised to the Holy Ghost to ask for His blessing.
"Bless": the effecting of the consecration. It is asked of the Holy Ghost since the consecration resembles the Incarnation, which was effected by the Holy Ghost.
(washing of the hands) Mainly symbolic. Washing the fingertips signifies the need to be pure even from the slightest sins, "I will wash my hands among the innocent": this shows the spiritual grandeur of the Church in which Mass is celebrated. This is a concept grasped by faith.
SUSCIPE SANCTA TRINITAS: :
The more we honour the saints, the better it helps us - they intercede for us. "And of these" are the saints whose relics are contained in the altar stone. "May it (the Sacrifice of the Mass) add to their honour": by their being honoured on earth by the Church Militant.
ORATE FRATRES: :
"My sacrifice and yours"-the faithful offer the sacrifice in a number of ways, but only the priest completes the sacrificial action itself. Priest and faithful offer themselves with the chalice and Host.
The ends of Sacrifice are given here: Adoration first: "praise and glory of His name," and then the others: thanksgiving, petition and propitiation.
It originally followed the "Oremus" at the beginnings of the Offertory. Two fundamental ideas expressed:
a) may the sacrificial gifts be blessed and consecrated,
b) may many graces come from the Sacrifice.
"Dominus vobiscum"- the grace prayed for is that the soul be elevated to the mysteries about to be accomplished.
"Sursum corda"- "Let us raise our hearts together with our hands to the Lord in heaven" - Lamentations 3, 41.
"Let us give thanks..." A greater faith, asked for in the "sursum corda", leads us to a greater comprehension that God is the source of all good.
The Preface unites us with all the angels who are around the altar, and who adore and praise God without ceasing.
SANCTUS: In two parts:
a) "Holy, holy holy...": The chant of the seraphim before the throne of God - (Isaiah 6, 3. Apoc. 4, 8.) Three times: refers to each person of the Trinity.
"Heaven and Earth are filled with Thy glory" - filled with the proofs of God's power and greatness, goodness and mercy.
b)"Blessed... Highest".: .From the chant of the children during Our Lord's entry into Jerusalem. Refers to Him here.
D) The Canon:
It has been said silently, and from the earliest times, for three reasons:
a) words must be inaudible to those around but audible to the priest. He is performing an exclusively priestly function reserved to him alone.
b) Transubstantiation is a miracle that is incomprehensible and has no visible signs, therefore it is wrapped in silence. We "see" with the eyes of faith.
c) Silence expresses humility, reverence, admiration and awe before the Mystery that is accomplished: "The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him"- Habacuc 2,20.
TE IGITUR: Eyes and hands are raised: the priest seeks help from God. Then they are lowered with a profound bow: expressing his humility before the great act about to be accomplished.
He kisses the altar - this signifies the union of charity with Christ from whom comes the power of blessing. The blessing, signified by three signs if the Cross, itself signifies the consecration.
"Unspotted oblations" - Our Lord's sacred Body and Blood, which the bread and wine will become.
"In the first place, we offer for your holy Catholic Church": the Mass, sacrament of the Mystical Body, strengthens and unites it.
MEMENTO: "Sacrifice of praise" - the Mass is principally offered for adoration. Thanksgiving is implied here too.
"For the redemption of their souls" - propitiation
"For the hope of their salvation and safety" - petition
"Vows" - all interior and exterior acts of religion.
COMMUNICANTES: "In communrcation with": again, reference to the Mystical Body, into which we are incorporated by Communion. All the saints mentioned are martyrs: the shedding of their blood closely identified them with Our Lord's Passion (therefore they had no Purgatory).
HANC IGITUR: "Accept" - accept and consecrate.
"Dispose our days in peace": peace is the tranquility of order (Augustine). An interior peace- security in God - rather than an exterior peace. Hands held over the chalice - as in the Old Testament - signify the transferring of the guilt of men's sins on to the victim.
QUAM OBLATIONEM: "In all things" - in every way, perfectly.
"Blessed" - consecrated.
"Approved" - done as instituted by Christ in the Last Supper.
"Ratified" - a true and valid sacrifice.
"Reasonable" - (Rom. 12, 1.) Close to the word "spiritual'": the sacrifice is of Christ, the Word: and not of an irrational animal as in the Old Testament.
"Acceptable" - which follows from the above four qualities.
"For us" - in Communion.
The five signs of the Cross : the sacrifice is that of Calvary, with the five wounds of Our Lord.
QUI PRIDIE: The priest, acting in the person of Christ,
imitates what He did in his actions.
SIMILI MODO: "After supper" - the bread and wine were consecrated after the Pascal supper.
UNDE ET MEMORES: The five signs of the cross made by the priest over the chalice and Host are not blessings, but recall Our Lord's five wounds, and hence His Sacrifice on Calvary, of which the Mass is the re-enactment. Incidentally, the Mass is so the commemoration of the historical event of Calvary.
SUPRA QUAE: The Sacrifice is more acceptable to God when it is offered more fervently and reverently by the priest and faithful. God weighs our intention; "Abel, Abraham and Melchisedech's sacrifices were acceptable because their intention was good (Cain's sacrifice was just ritualistic and exterior).
SUPPLICES: "these offerings" signifies Our Lord's Body and Blood inasmuch as we offer them. Why the mention of the angel? "And another angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer the prayers of all the saints (the Christians) upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God, from the hands of the angel." -Apocalypse 8:3-4.
"Altar" here means the heavenly sacrifice, i.e. the praise, homage and thanksgiving rendered to God by the Church triumphant.
The sense of the prayer is this: may the offerings of the Sacrifice of the Mass by the Church militant be one with the homage of the Church triumphant, via the intercession of St. Michael, and may it thus become acceptable to God.
MEMENTO: "in the sleep of peace" means "with a sure assurance of heaven.",
NOBIS QUOQUE: "some part and fellowship" refers to the incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ, one of the fruits of the Mass. Again, all the saints mentioned are martyrs.
PER QUEM HAEC OMNIA: "all these things" refers to the species of the transubstantiated bread and wine. The Father, through the Son, creates all good things.
The bread and wine by consecration converted into Our Lord's holy Body and Blood. "vivified": Our Lord's Body and Blood are living and give life (grace). "Blessed" is synonymous with sanctified.
D)The Canon (suite)
PER IPSUM. (Minor elevation) "Per ipsum, et cum ipso et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria. Per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen" —
"Through Him, and with Him, and in Him, is to Thee, God the Father almighty, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honour and glory, world without end. Amen."
Here, Our Lord's Sacrifice is offered for the glory of His Father - adoration - which is the first end of sacrifice. It is a climax and serves to close the Canon.
"Through Him": Christ is our Mediator, and we give glory to His Father through Him. "None come to the Father except through Me" Our Lord said to His Apostles.
"With Him": Giving glory to the Father means giving glory to Christ since He shares the Divine Nature with the other two Persons and is God with them.
"In Him": this refers to the unity of the divine Nature.
Whilst saying this prayer, the priest makes five signs of the cross holding the Host: three over the chalice and two in front of it, over the corporal. The number five again recalls the Passion — Our Lord's five wounds. The first three are made over Our Lord's Precious Blood during the words that refer to Him: "Through Him, with Him and in Him". The last two are made away from the chalice when the Father and the Holy Ghost are mentioned. The implication is that the glory that comes to Christ and to His Father and the Holy Ghost is derived from His Passion, as Christ said on Maundy Thursday: "Father, the time has come: give glory now to Thy Son, that Thy Son may give. glory to Thee." - Jn 17:1.
After the signs of the Cross the Chalice and Host are elevated. This constitutes the offering of the Divine Victim to the Father (the raising of the Host and Chalice at the Consecration is for the adoration of the Real Presence by the priest and faithful.
PATER NOSTER. Placed here, this prayer is a transition between the Canon and Communion.
"Hallowed be Thy name" takes up the theme of adoration in the "Per ipsum".
"Give us this day our daily bread" is used here to refer to Communion, for which the faithful begin now to prepare.
LIBERA NOS. "Libera nos quaesumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, praeteritis, praesenfbus et futuris: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei Genetrice Maria, cum beatis Apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque Andrea, et omnibus Sanctis, da propitious pacem in diebusnostris: ut ope misericordiae tuae adjuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi. "- Deliver us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, from all evils, past, present, and to come; and through the intercession of the glorious and blessed Mary, ever virgin, mother of God, together with Thy blessed apostles, Peter and Paul and Andrew, and all the saints, grant of Thy goodness, peace in our days, that aided by the riches of Thy mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all disquiet. "
This is a prayer for perseverance, which is the effect of the grace of Communion.
PER EUNDEM. (Fraction of the Host) "Per eundem Dominum nostrum Jesus Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
"Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost; God world without end. Amen."
During this prayer the Host is broken in half over the Chalice and then a small piece is detached from one half and used to make three signs of the Cross over the Chalice before being dropped into the Precious Bood. The Host is broken over the Chalice because:
a) it is practical. No particles are lost,
b) it indicates that the redeeming Blood in the Chalice comes from the broken (i. e. wounded)Body of Our Lord.
Mingling the piece of the Host with the Precious Blood the priest says these words:
HAEC COMMIXTIO. "Haec commixtio et consecratio Corporis et Sanguinis Domini nostri Jesu Christi, fiat accipientibus nobis in vitam aeternam. Amen."-"May this mingling and hallowing of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ help us who receive it unto life everlasting. Amen."
This shows that the whole Christ is under each species, which we will receive. It symbolises the Resurrection (the reuniting of the Body with the Blood).
PAX DOMINI. "Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo."-"May the peace of the Lord be always with you. And with thy spirit. " Whilst saying this prayer makes three signs of the Cross with the particle of the Host over the Chalice. This symbolizes how true peace comes from the Cross of Calvary.
The priest then places a piece of the Host in the chalice and recites the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).
Then there is a separate Communion rite for the priest before the Communion of the faithful. The priest recites his own "Domine non sum dignus" (Lord, I am not worthy) and takes Holy Communion. Holding up the Host, the priest then turns to the people with the words: "Ecce Agnus Dei" (Behold the Lamb of God) and recites a separate "Domine non sum dignus" for the people.
The faithful then proceed to Communion. Communion is received on the tongue kneeling at the altar rails. The priest says:
"Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen."
(May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto everlasting life. Amen.)
After Communion, there are the ablutions where the priest cleanses the Sacred Vessels, the Postcommunion prayer of the day, and then the Final Prayer and Dismissal "Ite missa est" (Go, you are sent forth).
THE LAST GOSPEL
The priest then goes to the Gospel side of the altar and recites the "Last Gospel", the beginning of St John's Gospel ("In the beginning was the Word..."). This is read at virtually every Mass.
Following this, at a low Mass, the priest and the faithful recite together in English the prayers ordered by Pope Leo XIII for the conversion of Russia: the Hail Mary, the Hail Holy Queen, the prayer for the Church and the Prayer to St Michael the Archangel, followed by a triple invocation to the Sacred Heart: "O Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us."
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