Thursday, August 6, 2009

Weekday Mass for the Transfiguration

Due to a combination of laziness, pressures of work and disinclination to bear with the Novus Ordo - sad but true! - I don't make weekday Mass as often as I used to, nor as often as I should; but to-day I felt it right and proper to attend the Holy Sacrifice, it being the feast of Our Blessed Lord's Transfiguration, a singularly important feast, as the Fathers knew and the Orthodox staunchly confess.

While in the West the accent has been on this revelation of the glory of Christ's Sacred Humanity (indissolubly united in one hypostasis to His Divine Person) to strengthen the faith of His disciples to face the ignominy of His approaching Passion, and upon the eschatological dimension of this feast as a presage of what glory is stored up for the children of God as co-heirs with Christ, in the East this feast is par excellence the feast of theosis, of divinization and deification: for what Our Lord manifests in His splendour, the glories of a human nature assumed by the Godhead, points to what God's Holy Spirit works in the faithful by His grace - their supernaturalization, Christification, and adoption as sons of God, nay, as very gods (by adoption, not absorption) as the Psalmist dared to suggest.

With these thoughts in mind, and reflecting upon what I read a learnèd High Church Anglican blogger wrote some time ago about the staggering truth and implications of the Incarnation, I went to Mass, first reading over the Traditional Propers of the day. Mass was to be in the side chapel at Church of the Apostles; only five layfolk (one a woman) were in attendance. I was asked to read - every so often I surprise myself by recalling I am an instituted lector, having been made such by the Archbishop of Melbourne - and so I did. What surprised me after devoutly hearkening to the Mysteries of the Mass, and receiving all unworthily the Same, was that, having after the Sacrifice read Vespers of the Blessed Virgin, and then lit some candles before her sacred images and said a few prayers more, I'd still only been in church only half an hour! The Mass (with sermon) hadn't seemed rushed, but in the modern Rite it can be got through rather quickly (especially as Eucharistic Prayer II, the "quickie Canon", had been used).

Having read over the old Proper beforehand, I noticed that the Collect is the same, albeit given at English, I mean, vernacular, Mass in the current impoverished ICEL translation.

Deus, qui fidei sacramenta, in Unigeniti tui gloriosa Transfiguratione, patrum testimonio roborasti, et adoptionem filiorum perfectam, voce delapsa in nube lucida, mirabiliter præsignasti; concede propitius, ut ipsius Regis gloriae nos coheredes efficias et eiusdem gloriae tribuas esse consortes. Per eundem...

(O God, Who in the glorious Transfiguration of Thine only-begotten Son didst confirm the mysteries of faith by the witness of the Fathers, and in wondrous wise didst fore-token the perfect adoption of sons by the voice descending from the shining cloud; mercifully grant unto us to be made coheirs with the very King of glory and bestow upon us a partaking of His glory. Through the same...)

I was a bit cheeky, too; reading the First Reading, which referred to One of great age clad in white garments, I didn't quite restrain myself when the inevitable distraction came, and I did slightly tilt my head toward poor Father, rather aged himself, sitting there wearing a fairly vile cheap white chasuble... Confiteor vobis fratres!

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