Pre-Ramble:I think it might be a good time for a ramble, there have been a few things I have pondered the past few weeks.(…and Today’s scriptures also seem to have generated at least some thoughts.. .) From other articles I have spent my time reading, I also have begun to look at the differences in spirituality between the liturgy before and after Vatican-two. The scripture readings of today are that of Martha and Mary, and also Abraham, Sarah, and the visit of the three angels. All of the topics are not closely related, but they are a log of a week’s thoughts, and thoughts tend to merge together. Let’s start with the liturgy. End Pre-Ramble
There has been enormous chatter regarding our modern Mass and its familiar theme of gather around the table. The imagery is of course from the last supper. The flow of that Mass often seems to be first awaiting everyone to assemble, then for a group to prepare the meal, then the feast, and finally its conclusion. The generalized feeling is that the meal does not take place without my presence, and that my presence requires my participation. It also seems, at least to me, to have three parts. It has a beginning, middle, and end. How does that contrast with the Liturgy of old?
For start, while the new-fangled Mass has a distinct beginning and end, the traditional Mass seems continuous. It seems continuous as the Liturgy of Hours is a continuous prayer. Why does one Mass seem continuous while the other periodic? The reason, to me, is that the traditional Mass neither requires my presence or my participation. It continues like clockwork with nothing dependent on me. That also implies that I receive a benefit independent on my action. It is a Mass that is said for me, and not with me. It is a lot like salvation, something done for me by the LORD, without any input from me. With the Mass I witness what was done for me. It explains Christ’s sacrifice, and the Mass is said in a manner that reminds one of the eternal and the perpetual. It is everlasting.
Now for the two or three sentence commentary. First, I think both are valid but I also think the “new Mass” should be presented in a way that it explains the traditional Mass to Christians. That says they should complement each other, and not compete against each other. The new should not exist without the old. Now for the next topic. Many might argue.
The scriptures also speak of old and new. Take the apperance of the Angels to Abraham Gn 18:1-10a. The Angels appeared as three, and three angels speaks loudly of a famous Russian Icon called the “Hospitality of Abraham.” That icon (Andrei Rublev’s) also is known to represent the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The New Testament described in the Old. New and Old, and what about Abraham and Sarah? It is Abraham that converses with the Angels. It is Abraham that tells Sarah to prepare a meal. The Angels tell Abraham that the elderly Sarah will have a child. It is Abraham’s hospitality that reaps reward. It is described in the narrative of a patriarchy. What about the New? In the New Testament it is a young virgin that speaks to an angel, and she is told directly that she will carry the Lord. There is a comparison between the two. The comparison can be continued with Elizabeth and Zachariah. God enters into creation without the efforts of a Patriarch. Man need not do anything for the grace of salvation. We are saved by God, God alone. If man does anything, he makes mistakes. He sins. That theme continues with Martha and Mary Lk 10:38-42. Jesus informs the disgruntled Martha that Mary has chosen the better path. Mary simply listens to the Word of God, and that is what the Lord asks everyone to do. Certainly that does not mean that the efforts of Martha were for nothing, they were important not just the most important. Just as in the Mass my participation is important, but it is infinitesimally less important than what Jesus Christ did for me.