Saturday, October 24, 2009

“Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends!”

Naturally, I'm referring to that perfect form of sacred worship which only exists in Heaven. (Vatican Council II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 8) You knew that already, right?

Since that popular transcription of Father Franklyn McAfee's homily entitled “A Thing of Beauty” was released here two weeks ago, I know what my audience of dedicated readers -- both of you, in fact -- have been dying to ask me: "Hey, Mister Black Hat Guy, when are you going to post more video clips of that totally awesome Solemn High Mass at the National Shrine, so we can see your equally awesome performance as Master of Ceremonies?" And I gotta say, hey, people, it's not as if my Close and Personal Friend John Schultz can pump out those YouTube clips like a Pez dispenser, okay?

And there's one more thing. My performance as an MC is not that noticeable, and there's a reason. Actually, there's two reasons. One is that the priest, deacon, and subdeacon all wear much cooler outfits. The other is that a good MC is not supposed to be noticed. In the proper tradition of Catholic worship (which most of you will never see at your home parish because Father Feelgood is too busy turning the Mass into a game show starring little old him, but never mind all that ...), even the priest is completely absorbed into the ritual, becoming subordinated to That Which Is The Object Of Our Worship.

We don't notice that when the priest faces the people from the altar. There is a disadvantage to this, one in which we are not oriented toward God, but toward each other. Literally. So even a nice "conservative" parish can be okay with people applauding each other for every little piss-ant thing that someone accomplishes in the life of that parish; a wedding, a baptism, a show-and-tell after communion about the youth group's summer work camp -- the list is endless, and all of it upstaging the Real Presence.

In our last episode, you were treated to a choral prelude and Introit, the Kyrie and Gloria, and a Vesper hymn. This time we have the Gradual and Alleluia, the Offertory, a stunning Offertory Motet devoted to Our Lady done by the Choir at the National Shrine, and the Agnus Dei.

Our perfect liturgy in Heaven; that's "the show that never ends." The Master beckons those of us who keep His commandments: "We're so glad you could attend. Come inside, come inside."

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