Dignity of the Liturgy

Rev. Philippe Pazat

Every member of the Third Order of the Society of Saint Pius X should have and show a special love for the liturgy.

Liturgical Place

Our opposition to the Novus Ordo Missae is based upon the fact that its departure from Catholic theology renders it unworthy for divine worship. This does not mean, however, that all Masses celebrated in the Tridentine Rite automatically have the dignity which is due to divine worship; it depends how they are celebrated and how the faithful assist at such Masses. This dignity and honour of the liturgy depend upon our attitude, gestures, words and actions as well the place where the liturgy is celebrated and the materials employed. Holy Mother Church has given us not only theological definitions and liturgical rubrics for its rites, but also rules, guidance and monitions in order to guarantee the dignity of divine worship. Perhaps, one might be tempted to consider these rules as less important in comparison with the theological issues, but to do so would be a mistake because all the “little” rules and guidance of the Church are nothing less than the theological expressions of the honour due to God.

The cleanliness and order of the building, the vestments, linens, altar, chalices, ciborium, etc. all play a part in the dignity of divine worship. And the responsibility for all these things falls on both the priest and the faithful.

The Church gives particular attention to the altar, the sanctuary and every item used directly for the celebration of the Mass. The altar cloths and linens should always be perfectly clean and without tears or holes. It is surprising to see the attention that we give to our own body and clothes in order to look presentable (indeed, it could be a duty of justice to honour others, our job, our company, etc.). How much more attention should we give to Our Lord?

Why be so attached to the Latin Mass if we do not give the example of dignity in the liturgy? Liturgical vestments should be repaired if broken and cleaned if stained. The sacred vessels, such as the chalice, the ciborium and the paten for communion should be fully gilded, because God deserves the best.

The altar and the sanctuary: they are the most sacred places where the sacrifice takes place and where we have the real divine presence. Consequently, they should never be used for storing anything (candlesticks, altar cards, etc.), even between the Masses. Would we keep the water, food and dishes for the next meal under our dining table? If we do not do it for ourselves, why do it for the holiest place on earth?

Unfortunately, because of the actual circumstances of the general apostasy inside the Church we are often obliged to celebrate the Mass in places that are far from ideal, but precisely because of this situation, we should be even more careful to make up for what is lacking through no fault of our own. Some residents of Saint Saviour’s House are giving an excellent example by cleaning the brass of the church once a month. I am very grateful and pleased with such a “zeal for the house of God”. Can the Third Order members follow this example?

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