Where is our attention?
Are we focusing on how we are variously "called, chosen, creed, the light of the world, the young whose lives are a mystery, creators of ourselves, singers of a new church into being, the only body Christ has"?
Or are we focusing on Him, trying to make ourselves full of Him?
A student recently asked me if I could recommend any nearby Catholic churches. He had just heard a sermon that, as far as he could make out, justified relativism.Worth reading the entire piece, and the comments.
I often hear parishioners comment that their pastor or assistant is “full of himself.” The very remark is enough to give any reflective priest pause. Every priest is there in persona Christi, not in his own charming or otherwise qualified personality.
The priest is not there to call attention to himself. He is not the main course. Such considerations, plus strange liturgical rubrics, send folks off looking for other parishes where they do not preach relativism or where the pastor is not “full of himself,” where the Mass follows the norms of the Church....
[Cardinal Pell] was asked about the direction the priest should face during Mass. He would favor the priest and congregation facing the East, all together facing towards the Lord, the proper focus of attention. Why? “Because it makes it patently clear that the priest is not the center of the show, that this is an act of worship of the one true God, and the people are joining with the priest for that.” “The priest is not the center of the show” – that is a great line and a great truth....
The temptation of the priest at Mass is to be an actor. Not a few excel at it. [then-Cardinal Ratzinger in his Spirit of the Liturgy] says, however, that, at the altar, the “priest must decrease, the Lord increase,” referring to John the Baptist.
The following Ratzinger words constantly remind us that the “silence” within the Church is there for a reason: “Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.” We do not attend Mass to be entertained, or to see a good performance, but to worship God. This awe in the presence of the Almighty ought to envelope priest, musicians, and congregation.
Cardinal Pell also touched on something that strikes me as of great importance. In his encyclical on the Eucharist (Ecclesia de Eucharistia), among other places, Pope John Paul II specified that neither the Mass nor the priest is a function of the community. Without the Mass, as it is in its integrity, no community exists. The community does not “ordain” its ministers.