11-18-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Last week the Church observed the Feast of St. Leo the Great – who was pope between 440 and 461 AD. While he lived a long time ago, his influence on the Church continues right down to our own day. Indeed, he was called "the Great" because of the influence of his homilies and writings, especially about the true nature of Christ.

The Mass is one area where Pope St. Leo's influence touches us quite regularly. He did a number of things to promote the use of good music at Mass, and decreed the singing of the Gloria – which until then was only used at Christmas – at all Sunday Masses except during Advent and Lent. Pope St. Leo did these things to ensure a degree of solemnity at Mass.

The dictionary defines solemnity as something serious and dignified. We are solemn in the face of something truly important. Solemnity makes sense at Holy Mass since it brings us into the presence of God – in a way nothing else really does.

When I first came to our parish, I told all of you that I like to say a prayerful and reverent Mass with a brief, to the point homily. I still like to do that. But the more I study the Holy Mass (something I believe every priest should do throughout his life, given the importance of the Mass and its connection to the ordained priesthood), the more I am convinced that we could use a little more solemnity at Sunday Mass. After discussing this with Fr. Leo (who says a very Solemn Mass with his beautiful voice) and Fr. Tom, I have decided that I will try to add a little solemnity to the 11 AM Sunday Mass by chanting the collects (certain prayers) and Preface (the prayer prior to the Sanctus (Holy, Holy). My hope is that doing so will help make our principle Mass a bit more of a solemn occasion.

While I am asking all of our priests to consider solemnity when celebrating Mass in our Church, I will leave it up to each priest to do what he thinks best. The Roman Missal (the book which priests use to offer Holy Mass) gives individual priests a great deal of latitude on things like chanting and the use of options like incense or the Sprinkling with Holy Water. I truly believe in giving the priests of our parish the freedom to choose those options they believe will be most useful to celebrating a reverent and solemn Mass which helps people experience the presence of God!

While I personally will focus on the 11 AM Mass, there is nothing to prevent any of our priests from celebrating any of our Sunday Masses with a bit more solemnity. Christ is really present at every Holy Mass – in the Eucharist first and foremost – but in other ways as well. Solemnity is one of the things the Church uses to help us experience and celebrate His presence at Mass.

As you probably have guessed, I will have Thanksgiving Dinner with my family. I'll be at my sister Natalie's home – which seems to be our regular Thanksgiving place. I hope you have a good Thanksgiving, filled with people you love.

Say a Hail Mary for me and have a great week!
Fr. John