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Why such rigid formality?


Due to our fallen nature, we tend to usurp the place that is rightfully God's, and to make ourselves the end of all things. Given the opportunity, we will turn even divine worship into something that is centered on us, on our personal touch, or how good it makes us feel. We need reminders that the Mass is about God; that it is a sacrifice offered to God by a priest on our behalf. We need to be reminded of God's infinite holiness and transcendence, and of our complete dependence on him. We need to be reminded also of the great debt we owe to him, and of the great sacrifice he made for us.

For these reasons it is fitting, and most helpful to us, that the atmosphere of the Mass be solemn and dignified, and at times somber; and given our fallen tendencies, the most realistic way to achieve this is by rigid control of the liturgy and strict adherence to tradition. Otherwise we will make the liturgy in our own image, and in the image of the time we live in. To moderns the Traditional Mass may seem "Medieval," but in fact it is the fruit of many centuries of development, and actually tends to lift us beyond the idiosyncracies of any one age.

But hasn't God condescended to our level? Isn't it the spirit of the gospel to be all things to all men?

It is true that, in a sense, God has condescended to our level, has assumed a human nature and become one of us; but he has not ceased to be God, infinite in majesty; and we will never stop needing his mercy and grace. If the liturgy is to reach all men, it must not be bound to a particular decade of human history, but should rather have a quality of universality.

We should indeed "get something" out of the Mass, particularly if we have the right dispositions; and the Traditional Mass, refined over centuries, is well suited to assist us in achieving that goal. More specifically, the faithful should have

the same dispositions as those which the divine Redeemer had when He offered Himself in sacrifice: that is to say, they should in a humble attitude of mind, pay adoration, honor, praise and thanksgiving to the supreme majesty of God. Moreover, it means that they must assume to some extent the character of a victim, that they deny themselves as the Gospel commands, that freely and of their own accord they do penance and that each detests and satisfies for his sins. It means, in a word, that we must all undergo with Christ a mystical death on the cross so that we can apply to ourselves the words of St. Paul, "With Christ I am nailed to the cross."*

* Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei, no. 81



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Todd Aylard