Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Questions about the Mass?

2009-01-13 Update: I'm going to repost this at Critical Mass. If you have questions about the Mass... please, by all means, ask them there!

Do you have any questions about the Mass -- its parts, its origins, its basis in Scripture, its symbolism, etc. -- that you would like to share? I don't necessarily intend to answer them fully here, but I'm looking for additional thoughts and questions to address in my upcoming series on the Mass and Scripture.

Feel free to share comments about your favorite (or least favorite) parts of Mass, or what confuses you the most, or what seems most clear to you, or what produces the greatest spiritual response from you during the Mass. Also share any personal devotions you have during Mass; for example, when the Host and Chalice are elevated after their consecrations, I pray silently Dominus meus et Deus meus as did St. Thomas when he saw the risen Lord (John 20:28).


Tim A. Troutman said...

Here's one I've been wondering about. In the Eastern rite there are a hundred points where you make the sign of cross if there's one.

When I come to the western mass I make the sign in the beginning, after receiving and at the end. I've seen some make it during the penitential rite. I found myself improvising and making it several other times but then I have to ask if I should be doing that.

I am sure it is permitted (that's my best guess anyhow) but my question is - is it appropriate? Should I be making the sign of the cross when I feel like it or not?

japhy said...

That's a good question. I try not to make any extra gestures during Mass (although I do have a leaning towards making a sign of reverence to the processional crucifix).

As for the Penitential Rite, in the Extraordinary Form (EF) the priest says Misereátur vestri omnípotens Deus, et dimíssis peccátis vestris, perdúcat vos ad vitam ætérnam. ("May Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you your sins, and bring to you everlasting life."). Then the priest makes the sign of the cross at the absolution: Indulgéntiam +, absolutiónem, et remissiónem peccatórum nostrórum tríbuat nobis omnípotens et miséricors Dóminus. ("May the Almighty and merciful God grant us pardon +, absolution, and remission of our sins.")

This absolution (the second part) has been removed from the Ordinary Form (OF) however, and the Missal for the OF does not tell the priest to make the sign of the cross at the Misereátur vestri. A further difference is that in the EF, the priest and the server/people have their own Confiteors:

First the priest says his, and the server says Misereátur tui omnípotens Deus, et dimíssis peccátis tuis, perdúcat te ad vitam ætérnam ("May Almighty God have mercy on you...") to the priest. Then the server says his Confiteor (and we say ours, since the Confiteor before Communion is technically suppressed), and the priest says to him (and us): Misereátur vestri. Then the priest gives the absolution.

So in the OF, there is only one Confiteor (if any!) and the priest says Misereátur nostri... and there is no absolution. (The absolution in the EF does not take the place of confession, of course!)

So the appropriate context of the sign of the cross in the Penitential Rite is during the prayer of absolution; since there is no longer a prayer of absolution in the OF, the sign of the cross is omitted.

Silvanus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Silvanus said...

As to when make the sign of the cross in Western rites, I am under the impression, that the points are:

- in the opening (In nomine...)
- in the absolution of penitential rite (if there is absolution)
- in the end of Laudamus
- the threefold sign of the cross in the beginning of the reading of the Gospel
- in the end of Credo (et vitam + aeternam)
- at Benedictus (Bene+dictus qui venit in nomine Domini.)
- when receiving the Body of Christ
- at the Trinitarian Blessing

Jeff Pinyan (japhy) said...

According to Fish Eaters, the priest makes the sign of the cross 52 times during the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Mass. It doesn't distinguish when the priest DOES but the laity DON'T.

To my knowledge, in the E.F., the laity are "expected" to make the sign of the cross (in some form):

* In nomine Patris... at the beginning of Mass
* Indulgentiam... after the Confiteor
* After Cum Sancto Spiritu at the end the Gloria
* Just before the Gospel is read (on forehead, lips, and breast)
* At et vitam venturi saeculi near the end of the of the Credo
* In between the Sanctus and the Benedictus (after the first Hosanna in excelsis)
* At the blessing at the end of Mass (Pater, et Filius...)
* Just before the Last Gospel is read (on forehead, lips, and breast)

I'm not entirely sure about making the Sign of the Cross during the Gloria, Credo, and Sanctus-Benedictus, if only because it can be harder to know when to do it when a polyphonic setting is used. Perhaps in those cases it is best to cross yourself when the priest crosses himself (seeing as how he is saying these prayers in a low voice for himself).

In the Ordinary Form, we make the sign at the beginning and end of Mass (at the invocation and the final blessing), as well as the triple-sign at the Gospel.

Making the sign when receiving Communion is a personal pious tradition as far as I know... I've never actually seen it as "part" of the Communion rite.