Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

DO WE PARTICIPATE IN HOLY MASS? Reflection #4 on Pope Francis’ 2022
Apostolic Letter, ‘Desiderio Desideravi,’ Latin for Jesus’ pre-Last Supper words: “I have earnestly desired [to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”] [Luke 22:15] shows how God works through the Sacred Liturgy. ‘Desiderio Desideravi’ dovetails so perfectly with my years-long series on the 2022-2025 National Eucharistic Revival, that this is Part #33 of my reflections on the Eucharist.

holy Mass each week cheat themselves of this primary source of countless spiritual graces; but it is not enough to simply ‘show up’ either! The liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council strove to help us enjoy God’s blessings by promoting the “full, conscious, active, and fruitful participation” [Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium #11] of all who come to holy Mass and other rites. This not only demands that we strive to understand the meaning of theScriptures, actions, symbols and signs of our rites and rituals; we must also have the proper mindset and
disposition to benefit from them.

‘Desiderio Desideravi’ highlights two heresies that have long plagued the Church: Gnosticism and Pelagianism. Gnosticism rears its ugly head in those who have an “I know better,” or “This is the ONLY way,” or “If you knew what I knew” attitude. They dismiss or even disparage official rubrics, norms or options like receiving Holy Communion in the hand – or standing to do so as mandated by the USA’s Bishops. They twist or ignore rubrics and impose their own innovations. Such abuses corrupt the Church’s unity and violate
Christ’s Last Supper request that “all may be one.” [John 17:21] Some guidelines that govern our Rites permit personal preferences, but the essentials are non-negotiable; we are obligated to know the difference! Don’t be a Gnostic!

Pelagius, an un-ordained, lay Monk who lived from the 350’s to 410’s; was a highly educated theologian. His teachings were quite orthodox, but he ‘crossed the line’ by implying that our fallen human nature was not so bad and that we could ‘redeem’ ourselves – which means we had no need for a Redeemer! This, in turn, reduced Jesus to a good role model or teacher, and the Sacraments to unnecessary rites devoid of any power to save us. The Church also condemned the other extreme that sees us as totally corrupt and unredeemable; that heresy is known as Jansenism, named after the French Bishop Jansen [1585-1638] , who believed that our free will was so obliterated by Original Sin that we play NO role in our salvation. A similar heresy is in
Calvinism, named for John Calvin, [1509-1564] who went even further than Martin Luther [1483-1546] by professing that God pre-determines who is saved and who is not – rendering spiritual works, like celebrating
Sacraments, useless.

SACRED LITURGY: A REMEDY FOR HERESIES. The rubrics for the holy Mass and other Rites help keep us from becoming subjective – that is, if we properly, though not slavishly, follow them. For the rubrics remind us that it is a communal celebration, belonging to no one in particular, even a Pope! We ‘subject’ ourselves to it; we do not create or determine it. And it is properly balanced to keep us from slipping into heresy. How so?

Although we are unworthy, God still invites us. So, we usually begin with a Penitential Act that seeks forgiveness and mercy; if need be, we go to Confession first. Most Mass orations are in the plural since we come together, not as individuals, but as a community of unworthy yet redeemed sinners. We need not grasp in the dark alone, by ourselves, as we seek to get through life and into heaven! We have each other, the Church and her Sacraments, and a weekly gathering to guide and direct, console and nourish us!

“… SAY THE WORD AND MY SOUL SHALL BE HEALED.” Before receiving Holy Communion, we communally admit, “We need help!” for the Church puts the words of a Roman Centurion on our lips: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word …” [Matthew 8:8] And Jesus does say, “Come,” don your wedding gown [get baptized, that is]; “Repent,” [go to Confession if necessary] and remember: “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” [Luke 22:15]

With God’s love and my prayers,

Very Rev. Michael J. Kreder, VF, KCHS