Friday, October 11, 2013

Contemplating Liturgical Interiority

Martin Franklin is a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Hibbing, Minnesota, where he directs a men's schola and teaches adult religious education. He wrote this for his RCIA class:
When Jesus sent his disciples ahead of Him to make preparations for the Passover meal, he told them to prepare a large, furnished, upper room (Luke 22). The Church sees in this directive a call for Catholics to prepare “the disposition of their minds...for the Celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 1).

What is this inner liturgical room and how do we make ourselves ready for full, conscious and active participation in the Lord’s Supper?

In preparing for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we leave the cluttered interior rooms of our earthly concerns and we enter an inner sanctuary made ready with a hopeful heart, a knowledgeable mind, and a prayerful spirit. This three-chambered room of the heart, mind and spirit is our liturgical interiority, which the Church calls “the source of prayer…the dwelling place where I am…the place to which I withdraw…the place of decision…truth…encounter…covenant.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, 2563) We expand our heart during Holy Communion with hopeful anticipation as the Paschal Mystery is made manifest, present and communicated to us in the Eucharist for the forgiveness of our sins. Christ’s Death, Resurrection and Ascension come into focus through the readings and homily; the Lamb of God is made present on the altar with the eucharistic prayer; and the merit of Christ’s Sacrifice is applied to our soul when we receive the body and blood, soul and divinity of the Savior.

It is this hope of becoming coheirs to eternal life that prepares us for full participation at Mass. We furnish our mind for the Celebration of the Sacred Mysteries by making a conscious effort to gain knowledge and understanding of the truths of our faith. We know, believe and profess the Articles of our Creed; we understand and frequently receive sacramental grace; we study ethics and practice living a virtuous life; and we learn daily to commune with God in prayer. The Holy Spirit brings to fruition this lifelong effort to imbue with meaning each part of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and it is this very intellectual preparation of the mind that facilitates our conscious participation at Mass.

Our spirit rises to the beauty of heaven in active prayer throughout the Celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy as we pray the Mass silently and aloud, joining the heavenly hosts in praise of the Father. Our prayer begins at home with the Eucharistic fast and continues at church where we renew our baptismal vows at the holy water font, genuflect, kneel and sign ourselves with the cross; in an attitude of prayer we stand, sing, respond, confess, sit, listen, watch and kneel again; prayerfully we offer our tithe, feast on Scripture, recite the Creed, intercede for others and learn from the Roman Canon; and prayerfully we say the Our Father, share the sign of peace, receive the bread of angels and are sent forth. When we acquire this spirit of prayer, we make ourselves ready for active participation at Mass.

In imitation of Christ’s disciples, who prepared a large, furnished upper room for the Passover, let us respond to the Church’s exhortation to make ourselves ready to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. May we have a heart full of hope in the goodness of Paschal Mystery; may we consciously know the meaning of the truths of our faith; and may we ascend spiritually to the beauty heaven through active prayer. Saint Joseph Mary Tomasi, patron of Catholic liturgy, pray for us as we prepare this inner liturgical room so that we may join with all the saints in full, conscious and active participation at each celebration of the Mass.