The Beauty of Thy Peace

One of the recent “movements” is the Slow Food Movement. This began as a protest against “fast food”. This protest is not merely against fast food on culinary grounds but also against the whole notion of eating on the run, eating fast. Slow Food takes food seriously and in a sense religiously, recalling, at least for a Catholic, the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, and ultimately the Eucharist as the food from heaven. The Eucharist is Slow Food, for how can one not savour that Food that carries within it the Eternity of God Himself.

The Manna from Heaven as the ultimate Slow Food demands that its preparation reflect the eternity that is contained in the Blessed Sacrament. You may have noticed that when I celebrate Holy Mass, whether in the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form, I have slowed things down. I have spoken to the Sacred Ministers about this as well as the servers. There is to be no rushing at the altar. Every movement, every gesture within the Mass must reflect the Eternal that lies at the heart of the celebration of Mass. This does not mean an artificial slow motion. It means that the Mass must always be celebrated with the quiet dignity and composure that is redolent of the worship of God in heaven.

One of the reasons for the invention of the Novus Ordo Mass was the often sloppy and even more often the mechanical rapidity of the saying of the text of the Traditional Mass by so many priests. The celebration of Mass should never be robotic nor perfunctorily objective. To celebrate Mass in that way is to deny the Mystery that lies at its very heart. Of course, there is an objectivity that must be preserved in the Mass. One enters into” What is already there”. One does not “make” it by attempts to give meaning to the words by a sentimental and personal reading of the words. But that objectivity also demands the subjective appropriation of the Sacrifice itself by the priest who celebrates Mass. And this is true of the deacon, the sub-deacon and the servers at Solemn Mass, as well as those who participate in the Novus Ordo Mass like the lectors and servers. All who serve in any capacity at the Mass must always be aware that they are entering the Holy of Holies that is the Mass and therefore they must reflect in their service the mystery and beauty of the Mass. The Mass is never something “to get through”. It is something that one enters into and must conform to its quiet dignity and holiness. And, of course, all of this applies to those assist at the Mass in the congregation. They must never be spectators but full participants in mind, body and soul in the worship of the Mass that is the icon of worship in heaven.

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!

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