Monday, November 7, 2011

Mass in Hebrew, Greek, Latin – and English

The Roman Mass is of course always offered in the three sacred languages (cf. St John xix, 20) of Hebrew, Greek and Latin, at least in the Extraordinary Form thereof – for Amen, Alleluia, Sabaoth and Hosanna are of course Hebrew words, as Kyrie and Christe eleison are Greek, and the rest is Latin.

In my own parish, the weekday Mass, in the Ordinary Form, is offered in these tongues together with English: for daily the Kyrie is chanted in Greek, and the Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin, while of course those four Hebrew words Amen, AlleluiaSabaoth and Hosanna occur during the liturgy, the latter two within the Sanctus, while the Alleluia is sung, and many times we say Amen.

Since to-day is a public holiday here in northern Tasmania ("Recreation Day", whatever that means), I attended the 9am parish Mass.  Our priest likes music, and, seeing as to-day is a feria, he offered a Mass for the dead in purple vestments: "The Lord's my shepherd" was the opening hymn, while a version of the commendation said at funerals, set to a hymn-tune, was used as the closing hymn.  As is done always, the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei were chanted, as was the Alleluia (bearing in mind that this is sung even at Requiems in the modern Mass, as is done in the Byzantine Rite also).  [I cannot now recall if he sang the doxology to the Eucharistic Prayer, but he usually does so.]

For this Requiem Mass, the 1st Preface of the Dead was used, together with Eucharistic Prayer III and its specially enlarged intercessions for  the departed as may be used at Masses for the dead; the orations were those "For Several Deceased Persons or for All the Dead", as follows:

O God, who willed that your only Begotten Son, 
having conquered death, 
should pass over into the realm of heaven, 
grant, we pray, to your departed servants (N. and N.) 
that, with the mortality of this life overcome, 
they may gaze eternally on you, 
their Creator and Redeemer. 
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer over the Offerings 
Look with favour, we pray, O Lord, 
on the sacrificial offerings 
we present to you for the souls of your servants 
and, just as you bestowed on them 
the dignity of the Christian faith, 
grant them also its reward. 
Through Christ our Lord. 

Preface I for the Dead
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, 
always and everywhere to give you thanks, 
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, 
through Christ our Lord. 
In him the hope of blessed resurrection has dawned, 
that those saddened by the certainty of dying 
might be consoled by the promise of immortality to come. 
Indeed for your faithful, Lord, 
life is changed not ended, 
and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, 
an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven. 
And so, with Angels and Archangels, 
with Thrones and Dominions, 
and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven, 
we sing the hymn of your glory, 
as without end we acclaim: 

Eucharistic Prayer III, in Masses for the Dead
Remember your servant[s] N. 
whom you have called (today) 
from this world to yourself. 
Grant that he (she) [they] who was [were] united with your Son in a death like his, 
may also be one with him in his Resurrection, 
when from the earth 
he will raise up in the flesh those who have died, 
and transform our lowly body 
after the pattern of his own glorious body. 
To our departed brothers and sisters, too, 
and to all who were pleasing to you 
at their passing from this life, 
give kind admittance to your kingdom. 
There we hope to enjoy for ever the fullness of your glory, 
when you will wipe away every tear from our eyes. 
For seeing you, our God, as you are, 
we shall be like you for all the ages 
through Christ our Lord, 
through whom you bestow on the world all that is good.
Through him...

Prayer after Communion 
Through these sacrificial gifts, 
which we have received, O Lord, 
bestow on your departed servants your great mercy, 
and, to those you have endowed with the grace of Baptism, 
grant also the fullness of eternal joy. 
Through Christ our Lord. 

Note especially the mention of offering the Sacrifice for the souls of the departed in the Prayer over the Offerings – reference to the "souls" of the departed was often dropped in the reform of the Missal, but survives in certain of the prayers for use at Masses for the Dead.

For the Prayer of the Faithful or General Intercessions, Father took the intercessions from Lauds in the Office for the Dead, as also may be done.

After Mass and thanksgiving, I had a chat with Fr Allan, and he mentioned something sad that several priests have told of: a parishioner, quite devout, has just died – but the children, doubtless unchurched, didn't even want a Mass for her funeral, just some inoffensive private ceremony not even at the church; thus their shame and embarrassment at not being churchgoers, their rejection through laziness or sin of the practice of the Faith, deprives their Catholic mother of a proper Requiem, a terrible injustice.  Father of course indicated that, like those other priests I've heard the like from, he would be offering a Mass for the repose of her soul, lest she be deprived of the suffrages of Holy Church through the fault of her children.

(I of course do not quote kindly Father in referring to the unchurched persons in such a manner, but I think it quite true to do so.  Even an unbeliever ought have respect to the wishes of the departed, methinks.  It reminds me of the dreadful crime of Simone de Beauvoir in not letting her dying mother be told of her terminal illness, and refusing to allow her a priest when her mother would have surely wanted one.)

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