[exactly! it is in the nature of the priesthood!] a young Catholic prelate called on his clergy to celebrate the Eucharist with the dignity and solemnity it deserves. [unfortunately, it is only for his clergy. How I wish other bishops are like him.]
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, in a fraternal letter sent to his priests on December 31, said it is a solemn duty of priests to celebrate the Mass with utmost reverence and attentive care.
“Although we have many duties and functions as priests, in the mind of the ordinary Catholic faithful, we are priests because we can preside at the Eucharist and absolve sins in the confessional. We are priests called to bring to the Lord the sacrifice of thanksgiving from His worshipping people. We are priests called to bring the blessings of God to His chosen people. We are caretakers of the mysteries of God.” Villegas said. [Some priests say they are priests to fight for justice and peace! Do you need ordination to be a Gandhi or Mandela? Duh?!]
The young prelate said a solemn and inspiring liturgical celebration does not just happen. Instead it becomes so because of the ardent and careful preparation that goes with it.
“Within this spirit, I wish to raise some issues in our Catholic parishes and communities to help bring about a more inspiring and truly edifying liturgical worship,” he said.
Quoting the maxim that cleanliness is next to Godliness, Villegas encouraged his clergy to preserve the cleanliness of sacred vessels even advising them to regularly subject these to “metal plating to maintain their luster befitting the divine worship.”
“God deserves the best,” he stressed. [See below how the archbishop emphasizes name of the linens and the nature of its purpose, much the same with how he emphasized the role and nature of the presbyteros, aka priest.]
He said the altar linens—corporal, purificator, and finger towel—should be used according to their specific purpose, and not to be interchanged with the other.
Explaining further, he said the corporal is called such because it receives the “corpus” crumbs that may fall from the Host when the priest breaks the Host at the Lamb of God.
“The corporal must be laid out on the altar only at the presentation of bread and wine and folded back after the purification of the vessels,” Villegas said, stressing that “it must not be left on the altar.”
He said the purificator is used to wipe the chalice for droplets of water and wine during the preparation of the gifts and for purifying the chalice, paten and ciborium after Communion, while the finger towel is used for drying the hands after washing.
The purificator has an embroidered cross in the middle while that of the finger towel is normally in the corner.
Villegas reminded the priests to instruct their sacristans and altar servers to observe the proper use of the altar linens.
He said it is important to keep the vestments used for liturgical celebrations clean and dignified while stressing that “cleanliness and dignity need not be expensive.” [Some priests are too stingy when it comes to linens and vestments used for the liturgy but are too flamboyant when it comes to their signature secular clothes. Oh yeah, I know some. They'll trumpet the "Vatican II simplicity" in the liturgy, whatever that means, despising the beautiful pre-conciliar vestments for their drab plain white chasuble with an equally drab overlay stole. But when you see them in their street clothes, man! Are they in their Giordanos! Now who gets the best? God or the priest? Hmmm. No brainer there.]
“The church and its surroundings must be kept clean too from trash candy wrappers, soiled missalettes and even stuck chewing gums on the church flooring,” Villegas said, adding that “the church must be the cleanest place in the community.”
Villegas also reminded his priests on the importance of animating seriously the liturgical singing in their parishes. As a form of worship, singing together also promotes the spirit of unity and communion, he said. [And bring back Gregorian chant. "But its too hard to understand!" Yeah? Tell that to the 9 year old altar servers of the EF Mass I attend to. He chants the Credo without any guides! Better than me actually!]
“Please encourage the choirs to undertake their task as a ministry and not as a performance for public adulation,” the prelate said. [the reason why some choirs sing secular songs.]
He said secular love songs, even with religious themes, should not be used for liturgical rites. [how about songs from born-
Villegas also advised the clergy to “refrain from the practice of having children or young people dance in the parish sanctuary” during liturgical celebrations until the Episcopal Commission on Liturgy approved the rules pertaining to dancing within the liturgy. [Hah! That could have hurt Diwa and Chupungco! Redemptionis Sacramentum is against liturgical dancing. This instruction bear a universal weight, if I may use the term, than those produced by episcopal conferences. An essay published by the official organ of the then Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Notitiae, 11 (1975) 202-205, is labeled as a "qualified and authoritative sketch." The congregation consideres this as "an authoritative point of reference for every discussion on the matter." Therefore, diocesan liturgical commissions and offices of worship must base their discussion on the liturgy on this essay! But, I don't have much faith on the CBCP's Liturgy Commission being headed by the master inculturator. Chupungco even wrote an instruction which prohibits the EF Mass from being celebrated in the Archdiocese of Manila, in direct defiance of the Pope! On another note, Studio 23 televises a Mass from the SM Megamall chapel. Their is a regular liturgical dance, performed during the singing of the Gloria. Again a clear defiance of Redemptionis Sacramentum! What do we do about these dissenters?]
The prelate said it is likewise important to observe silence as a means of communing with God. [which is so rare nowadays. Why? After the homily, there is little to no time at all to reflect on what the priest has given since he or the commentator asks the people to rise for the Credo. Or even after communion where the parish announcements are made. Why in such a hurry? Are we too afraid to sit still and know that He is God? (cf. PS. 46:10)]
Quoting St. Charles Borromeo, he said: “You must realize that for us churchmen, nothing is more necessary than meditation. We must meditate before, during and after everything we do. Would you like me to tell you how to give God more pleasing worship? Stay quiet with God. Do not spend your time in useless chatter.” [Beautiful quote!]
[genuflection becomes rare nowadays, why? because the hippie priests say it is so "pre-Vatican 2" and "Vatican 2 did away with the medieval mumbo jumbo". Yeah, right. As if I would believe that. I understand older priests who have joint problems, but for younger ones who play bowling at weekends, my golly! Bend your knees for the Lord! Genuflection is an age-old sign of respect to someone who is superior that the one making the genuflection. A knight's respect for his king! Here are the specific instructions of the GIRM for genuflection:
- Three genuflections are made by the priest celebrant: namely, after the showing of the host, after the showing of the chalice, and before Communion.
- Certain specific features to be observed in a concelebrated Mass are noted in their proper place.
- If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is present in the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from the sanctuary, but not during the celebration of Mass itself.
- Otherwise all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession.
- Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads instead of genuflecting.]
The archbishop concluded his letter by saying that celebrating the liturgy should bring the priest-celebrant to “become more caring and attentive to the needs of the least, the last and the lost.”
“Good liturgy can sanctify only to the extent that it leads us to serve, imitating the example of Him who stooped down to wash the feet of His disciples,” he said, adding that “Sunday must not only be the dies Domini. May it become too our dies caritatis.”
We need more of the likes of Archbishop Villegas for the Catholic Church in the Philippines!
Ad multos annos, Your Grace!