Friday, December 07, 2007

Missa Altissima

...well, not really, but that was my joke to the servers after Mass this evening.

I am not sure why, but I really enjoy this feast. The Immaculate Conception seems to me like a suitably generous "down payment" from heaven to earth; the kind of gift a doting Son can give if that Son is also the Creator. It fills us--me, anyway--with hope.

Plus, I had Mass for this feast in a church named for Mary, which is even more special.

We opened Mass, suitably enough, with "Immaculate Mary" (yes, I look forward to the day we use the antiphons regularly). Of course, incense; didn't smoke enough for me, but apparently enough for some, who cough! coughed! at strategic moments. Per the option in the rubrics, I incensed the image of Mary after the altar and cross.

I sang almost all the prayers, including the Eucharistic Prayer -- Roman Canon, of course. I noticed, as I prayed the prayer (note to brother priests: if you sing prayers regularly, you may find, as I have, that it ceases to be nerve-jangling, and you really can pray the prayer as you sing) that it further had the advantage of recalling salvation history, in its references to Abel, Abraham and Melchizedek. Yes, I included all the saints, all included in the super-nova of grace that was heralded by Mary's immaculate conception.

We had a nice, up-tempo contemporary hymn for the offertory, I can't recall it, but I enjoyed it as I was incensing the gifts. Backing up, our music director did a nice job with an a capella chant of the psalm. I dunno, I felt the joy of the preface as I prayed it; I was sorry it had to be followed by a mundane "Holy, Holy," but the Latin Sanctus hasn't caught on as much as the Agnus Dei (which we did sing).

Communion provided a particularly moving moment for me. Our music director has a nice composition that intersperses an English refrain with the Ave Verum (which I just love), which I offered during communion. In our church, we distribute from the back of church as well, and that is where I was doing so. After everyone had received, I ran up to the choir loft to bring the Eucharist to the cantor and music director, since they were singing for us. I waited while the music director finished the last two lines of his piece; there I stood, with a ciborium full of our Lord Jesus, as he sang, "Lord, you are here with us. We do this in memory of you"--interspersed with phrases of the Ave Verum. It gave me chills. Then, of course, I had the privilege of giving our music director the Eucharist.

After that, the cantor sang Gounod's Ave Maria, which I love, but isn't heard very often. The silence after that was so full, I hated to break it. I stood up, sang the post-communion prayer, the blessing, and the dismissal. Announcements have their place, but -- so nice to move with the rhythm of the liturgy. Our closing hymn was "O Sanctissima." The music director admitted he was a bit free with Latin tonight. In fairness to him, Latin aside, all his choices were first-rate.

Oh, and I did wear gold vestments. "Only the best for mother!" I told the agreeable servers.


Anonymous said...

Happy Feast day Fr..

frival said...

Father, I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it a hundred times more: may the cross you bear some day be crowned with a Bishop's mitre. Put simply, you "get it" and that's what really matters. Thanks for starting off the day with such great images!

Anonymous said...

One of my all time favorite blog entries on Bonfire. Thank you, Fr.

We had our Mass at 10:00 a.m. today -- no Latin or incense, but lovely music, an excellent homily, and none of the innovations that so many write about.

After Mass someone gave me information about Sister Pierina and the Hour of Grace.

Father Schnippel said...

Ok, I have to play dumb (no comments!), what setting did you use for the Roman Canon? I've never seen it written out, did you just improvise the chants based on the chant for the opening prayer, for example, or did you music director notate it, and if so, can I get a copy? (Christmas is coming soon...)

Bummer of my day, on my personal favorite Feast, I didn't have a separate Mass, 'just' concelebrated Mass at the seminary for Candidacy for the I Theology guys.

Tc said...

Can I just say that you're awesome?

Anonymous said...

Since the end of Hail Holy Queen is Salve Regina, we did have just a little Latin at Mass today.

Fr Martin Fox said...


A priest we both know helped me notate the Roman Canon; it follows the same approach that is used, in the Missal, for part of the Canon.

(For those who have no reason to know this: the Missal -- the book of Mass prayers -- contains notation for singing the prayers of the Mass, but it's incomplete, for reasons I cannot explain. Three of the four best-known Eucharistic prayers are completely notated for chant; but the Roman Canon is only partly notated . . . in English. It is notated entirely in Latin. At some point in the future, I will attempt that, at a weekday Mass.)

I will be happy to send it along, although I will have to explain my notation system, since I just made pencil marks in one of my sacramentaries.

Fr Martin Fox said...



But, to be totally honest, I don't know what I did to earn such an accolade.

Cathy said...

Sounds loverly, Father.
Happy Feast Day to you!

Anonymous said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Father, would you ever consider a transfer to Diocese of Cleveland?? We truly need priests of your caliber up here!

Wolfie said...

or maybe Dallas, Tx

it's warmer down here and we really need priests like you, that "get it" as frival said.

Anonymous said...

May I vote for the Diocese of Cleveland? (If you decide to move.)