About Me

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I am a medievalist and an adjunct college instructor in the humanities at Union College. My research includes medieval theologies of history, text/image relationships in visionary and mystical texts, and the writings of the twelfth-century Doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. I am also a translator of medieval Latin and German texts, especially as relate to my research. My translation of Hildegard's Book of Divine Works is available from Catholic University of America Press here. I completed a Master's in Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2010, a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany in 2008, and a B.A. in Classics and German at Boston College in 2007.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

De Sacra Liturgia

My friend, Donato, passed this blog post on to me, and I would like to share it with you, becuase it hits the nail on the head--it is exactly how I feel when I go between my home parish during the holidays and St. Mary's Chapel while I am here at school. It is also exactly why I continue to say even at St. Mary's "And with thy spirit," "Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof, but speak the word only and my soul shall be healed," and "We do not presume to come to this thy table, O merciful Lord...grant us therefore gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink His Blood, that we may evermore dwell in Him, and He in us," etc. (albeit under my breath)--for me, the words of the Novus Ordo (or at least, the ICEL translations of it) are talking to my neighbor, whereas the words of the Anglican liturgy are talking to God.

You will note that I have never been a staunch proponent of the restoration of the Tridentine rite, for I was raised in the vernacular. I have only come to appreciate the Latin Mass in recent years, and only because I am now a trained Latinist; it is not an experience I would recommend for any who are not prepared to engage the Latin. At the same time, I am very dissatisfied with the ICEL's Novus Ordo. For me, the appropriate language in which to talk to God is Elizabethan English and sometimes Latin--but that's because that's how I've been raised. For others, a modern English idiom is more appropriate--but it should not be an everyday language; the language of the liturgy, the language with which we speak to God, should be elevated and extraordinary.

The worst thing, however, about the Novus Ordo is not the rite itself but our attitude toward it--the "let's get this thing over with so we can get on with the rest of our lives." Every word of the Mass, it's every action and every moment, should be said, performed, and experienced with the utmost attention and care; we should lovingly caress the words with our mouths, and meditate upon them in our hearts, so that "the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart may be always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14).

The liturgy is not a place for individual innovation; rather, it is a place for communal obedience and submission to God. Indeed, the liturgy is not about ourselves, nor even about the community of individual men and women of which we are part; rather, the liturgy is about the community of man and God; it is about stepping outside of the boundaries of our daily lives and entering into an extraordinary place of holiness; it is about witnessing the eternal sacrifice of our Lord, who gave His Body and Blood to us in payment of our debts to the ineffable Creator, this sacrifice made once and for all on Calvary, yet every day renewed and fully present to us in the sacrifice of the Mass upon God's altar. The Mass is not about us--it is about Jesus Christ. Let us never forget that every time we enter the sacred space of a church or chapel where is reserved the Blessed Sacrament, we enter into the presence of God--we enter a realm which far surpasses the rest of the world around us in beauty, in tranquility, and in treasured wealth. And when we enter that space to witness the renewal of that sacrifice, we witness an event, real and wholly present in both time and space before us, that far surpasses in enormity and magnificence even the greatest of human deeds.

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