WADE ST. ONGE

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Saturday, July 31, 2010

LIT: Mass and Marriage (Part I)


1. The Mass consists of two parts - the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Each part consists of two movements - in the Liturgy of the "Word", Man "speaks" to God and God in turn "speaks" to man, while in the Liturgy of the "Eucharist", Man "gives" himself to God and God in turn "gives" Himself to Man.

A. In the Confiteor (I Confess), the Kyrie (Lord Have Mercy), the Gloria (Glory to God in the Highest), and the Collect (Opening Prayer), and later in the "Alleluia" (Gospel Acclamation), the Credo (I Believe), and the General Intercessions, Man speaks words of faith and repentance, praise and thanksgiving, and petition and intercession.

God in turn responds by speaking to us through His inspired Word: in the First and Second Readings, the Gradual (Responsorial Psalm), the Gospel, and the Homily (in which the Holy Spirit uses the words of the priest to touch the hearts and minds of the people).

B. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Man offers to God all he is (his soul, his life), all he has (his possessions and all that is bonded to him), and all he has done (his prayers, works, joys, and sufferings) by uniting it to Christ's sacrificial offering through the elements of bread and wine.

God in turn receives this sacrificial offering and gives back to Man his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity - His whole self - in the Eucharist.

1. Form and Matter. In marriage, something similar happens. Man and Woman exchange "words" (vows) at the altar (which is the "form" of the sacrament) and then ratify the covenant through the marital "act" by making a "gift" of themselves to each other through the "offering" of their bodies and by extension their whole selves as persons.

2. Consummation. Mass is the "Source and Summit" of the Christian life. It is the summit of our Christian lives because it is there we gather all we have and have done throughout the week and give it to God through the Sacrifice of the Mass. It is the source because God in turn receives this gift of ours and in the measure we have given He gives us in return all He is and has to offer, thus transforming us and increasing our love for Him so that we might go forth again to live and love more faithfully and more deeply in our journey. Sexual union, as well, is the "Source and Summit" of Marriage. It is the summit of marriage because it is there we gather all we have and have done in the time since we last came together and communicate or express it to the other through the sexual union. It is the source because in "making love", our bonds are strengthened and our love increased so that we might go forth again to live and love more faithfully and more deeply in our journey together.

A. Of course, here too, the measure we have given is the measure by which we will receive. If one does not love his wife throughout the day or the week, the sexual act will not be very fruitful - if it even happens at all. It is similar to one who lies and loses his temper and fails to pray throughout the week - he will have very little to offer God in the Mass (remember, God wants obedience not sacrifice - and the degree of one's obedience will determine the degree to which the sacrifice is pure) and thus he will receive very little in return.

To be continued ...

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