July 3, 2009

Memento for the Dead

After ordination to the priesthood, it takes a while to really start praying the Mass. At first you are mostly nervous about remembering everything. But after a while you learn it all well enough to actually pray through the Mass, first on weekdays and then on Sundays.

One thing I've noticed over time is that certain prayers of the Mass bring people to mind for me. Two examples:

My grandmother, even though she wasn't a Catholic, used to watch the Mass on TV. She once told me that her favorite prayer of the Mass was the embolism after the Our Father: Deliver us Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming our Savior, Jesus Christ. So whenever I pray that prayer part of me thinks of her.

In the parish in which I was baptized (down the street from where I went to college) the pastor used to pray all the 'quiet voice' prayers out loud. I've always remembered how devoutly he said the priest's prayer of private preparation for Holy Communion: Lord Jesus Christ, with faith in your love and mercy I eat your body and drink your blood. Let it not bring me condemnation, but health in mind and body. Even though I've taken to praying the quiet prayers in Latin, and in Latin I prefer the other option for this prayer (Domine Iesu Christe, Fili Dei Vivi...), I always think of my first pastor at this point in the Mass.

There are other examples. I'm grateful for this effect. It helps me feel united in prayer with those from whom I have arrived in this world.

I do wonder if it will be the same when we finally get the new translations of these prayers.


pennyante said...

Probably more than you realize, us lay folks also pray the Mass with the priest... At the consecration, the words that come to my mind are these: "...they knew Him in the breaking of the bread."

I think these words from the Emmaus story are so very beautiful...

Paul A. Zalonski said...

Knowing the meaning of the rites and the theology of the sacred Liturgy is indeed a work (an education) of a lifetime. This is a work because it requires awareness, faith, reason, love, etc. We can never be consumed with our own complacency in front of the Divine and sacred duty.

My more mature years I, too, am thinking of those who have had an impact on my early life. It is a marvelous participation in the communion of the saints.

I can remember hearing for the first time a Jesuit priest that he was going to pray the Mass. Up to then I had always heard the priests say: "I said Mass today." There is a distinct difference between "saying" Mass and "praying" Mass.

Good work!


NC Sue said...

I'm a convert, and a nurse, so you'll perhaps excuse my ignorance. In the medical world, an embolism is essentially a floating clot. What is an embolism in Catholicism?

Brother Charles said...

Hi Sue,

That prayer is traditionally called the Our Father embolism, following the older meaning of a bonus thing, or something added. I think it comes from events or days added into calendars.