What happens in the Liturgy?

What is Liturgy?

"The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the fount from which all the Church's power flows." ~Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #10

The word “liturgy” comes from the Greek “leitourgia” meaning “a work on behalf of the people.” This work is stressed by the importance of the liturgy in the life of Catholics and the life of the Church because we can do all things through Christ. Apart from Him, we are nothing. (John 15:5)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church also declares, ”In the liturgy of the Church, God the Father is blessed and adored as the source of all blessings of creation and salvation… the whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments.”

While there are other forms of prayer that take their foundation from the Holy Scripture, such as the Liturgy of the Hours, traditional devotions, such as to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, the Rosary, and adoration, the Church teaches that all these lead to the Sacred Liturgy of the Church which is the Eucharist and the Holy Mass. The enthusiastic participation of the people of God – the sacred assembly – is an important role.

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, “The whole rite of the Christian religion is derived from Christ’s priesthood,” for in virtue of the indelible marks, or characters, we receive in baptism and confirmation, “the faithful are likened” to Christ; these characters “are nothing else than certain participations of Christ’s priesthood, flowing from Christ himself” (“Summa Theologiae,” part 3, q. 63, art. 3).

What happens in the Liturgy?

In the sacred liturgy, especially the Eucharist, we enter into the kingdom made present now, into the heavenly liturgy where Christ is the “Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Rev 5:6).
  • We are drawn into eternity and participate in the eternal self-offering of Christ who offered himself upon the cross.
  • It is the proclamation to all mankind of the Gospel (the good news) of his triumphal death and glorious resurrection: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32)
  • Our participation in Christian worship is real. It is more than a memory of a past event more than 2,000 years ago, but a perpetual sacrifice done once to redeem us.
  • However, it comes into our space and time to transform us through the Holy Spirit. At the Mass, we are at Calvary in our space and time.
  • As the Second Vatican Council teaches, “The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed … it is the font from which all her power flows” (“Sacrosanctum Concilium” 10).
  • As Catholics, we believe that the bread and wine are consecrated by the priest into the body and blood of Christ: body, blood, soul, and divinity.
  • At every Mass, when we hear the words of Jesus, “Do this in memory of me."
As Eucharistic Prayer I, the Roman Canon, prays, “We celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ,”
  • "Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pt 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism." (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #14)

Please join us every Sunday and in our weekday liturgies as well, all for the glory of God!

Mass Schedule

Ad Orientem: Together We Face Towards the Lord Who Comes!

The posture of the priest when he faces the altar is called ad orientem – meaning to the East.

The Extraordinary Form of the Latin Mass is always celebrated ad orientem, the ordinary form of the Mass. The Mass since Vatican II may also be celebrated ad orientem. The rubrics – what the Church uses to guide bishops, priests, and deacons in how to celebrate the Eucharistic liturgy – of the Ordinary Form presume the priest is offering the Mass ad orientem, and the Church encourages all priests to celebrate Mass in this manner.

Fr. Byrd offers Mass facing the East – ad orientem – the direction of the Rising Sun, from where Christ will come. Thus during Sacred Worship, we all face the Lord.

The priest as head of the congregation and with the congregation – turns toward the Lord during the prayer, above all during the Eucharistic Prayer.

We do this to render more visible our recognition that it is Our Lord Himself Who inspires our prayer and Who acts during the Eucharistic Prayer to make sacramentally present His Sacrifice on Calvary for our eternal salvation.

We all turn to Him – We all Look to Him in the same direction. Facing Our Lord in Sacred Worship gives form then to our daily living. In everything that we think, say, and do, we are to turn to the Lord. Though we live and are engaged in the life of the world, we do so always with our eyes fixed on Heaven.

For other resources:
Listen to Fr. Byrd’s explanation on Spotify.
Watch Fr. Mike Schmitz explain ad orientem.

Why do we use Latin at Mass?

Catholics often confuse “Mass in Latin,” with the “Latin Mass,” thinking they are the same liturgy. However, they are two different Masses with similarities.

At some of our Masses, you will hear parts of the Mass in Latin, such as the Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus ( Holy, Holy, Holy) which is part of the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass. The rest of the Mass will be in English or the vernacular–in this case English – of the people.

Father Jerry Byrd also oversees the Oratory of Our Lady of Providence in Brownstown, Ind., where he is allowed to say the Traditional Latin Mass. This means all parts of that Mass are in Latin and none of it is in English except the homily and the Mass readings and the Gospel.

Let’s clear up some misconceptions and the differences between “Mass in Latin” and the “Latin Mass,” which is also referred to as the Traditional Latin Mass, the Tridentine, or the Extraordinary Form.”

We must also remember that Mass in the Roman Rite– the Mass you hear every weekend at any Catholic parish in the world – can always be celebrated in Latin, but it is different from "the Latin Mass."

Mass in Latin
In the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, Mass has been celebrated in the Latin language since the third century.

Latin remained the default language of the Mass until the Second Vatican Council when the vernacular (the language of the people in a particular place, such as French for France, etc) was suggested to replace specific parts of the Mass.

While the vernacular language superseded Latin, it didn’t “abolish” saying the Mass in Latin.

Priests are allowed to celebrate what is often referred to as the “Novus Ordo,” “New Mass,” or “Modern Mass” in the Latin language.

Vatican II was clear on the use of Latin in the Mass: “The use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36).

Vatican II also encouraged the laity to learn Latin, so that they could better understand the words of the priest.

The Latin Mass
When Catholics use the term “the Latin Mass,” they are typically referring to the Mass as it was celebrated before Vatican II.

Other names for it include the “Tridentine Mass,” or “Extraordinary Form.” This Mass is celebrated according to the Roman Missal of John XXIII ( 1962.)

Latin is the exclusive language of this Mass, and its customs slightly differ from the Ordinary Form (which is what most Catholics are used to with the use of English throughout the entire Mass. The Ordinary Form of the Mass is the Novus Ordo Mass,) where all parts are in English.

Both types of Masses (those in Latin or English) remain valid in the Catholic Church.

What about Pope Francis’ restrictions?
Pope Francis’ latest document allows local bishops to monitor “the Latin Mass” more closely. That is why we now have the Oratory of Our Lady of Providence that provides the “Traditional Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form,” for those who wish it.

Pope Francis did not “ban the use of Latin in the Roman Catholic Church.”

He didn’t even ban Latin from the Mass.

However, he did restrict its use. For example, at our parish, we used to have the Traditional Latin Mass at St. Ann on Friday nights. The new guidelines restricted the Traditional Latin Mass at most diocesan parishes and asked for it to be moved to an oratory out of pastoral care for those who desired to celebrate in the Extraordinary Form - or the Traditional Latin Mass.

Pope Francis also revoked the faculty given by his predecessors that [since 2007] allowed any Catholic priest of the Latin Rite to celebrate the Tridentine Mass.”

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued Summorum Pontificum, allowing priests and faithful who wish to celebrate the extraordinary form to do so, and encouraging parish priests to offer a Latin Mass if a group of parishioners request it. Some of those guidelines are now restricted by Pope Francis.

What does that mean?
In the Latin rite, there are two ways in which the Mass is celebrated, each with its own texts and logic. The “ordinary form” and the “extraordinary form.” The ordinary form is the usual parish liturgy with which all of us are familiar. In most places, the Ordinary Form of the Mass may be used in any language, including Latin.

While Pope Francis’ decision restricts the use of the extraordinary form( the Mass entirely in Latin,) the pope has not abolished it. The extraordinary form can be celebrated in those places where the diocesan bishop determines that it is necessary to meet a pastoral need.

The Vatican has a helpful and short document on the benefits and reasons that Latin is still allowed in the Mass here.