"Un Ti Morceau"

"A Little Something," mini-lessons and reflections by our pastor, Father Paul Counce

Noble Simplicity

Published April 22, 2012 by Fr. Paul Counce

In my “ti morceaux” over the past couple of months I’ve mentioned the most important theological reality of Mass: the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I’ve also mentioned the most important principle of Catholic liturgy: full and active participation by all worshipers. Now, before beginning to deal with some of the de­tails of the structure of the Mass, I want to mention what is sup­posed to be the most significant characteristic of good liturgy in our Church.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy mentions it in par­a­graph 34: “Ritual actions should be distinguished by a noble simplicity.” This basically means that our liturgy tries to be pretty formal and deliberate, all the while trying to attract at­tention to just one thing at a time.

The Mass is not a three-ring circus or sporting event, with three or four things always going on. No, the Mass is an ex­perience of shared worship, when everyone focuses on the same things toge­ther, and in order. We try not to dupli­cate symbols or repeat things needlessly. We try to resist the temptation to add gimmicks to our worship, or to con­stantly change our ritual actions. Perhaps most impor­tantly, the gestures and prayer texts used by priests and others don’t go overboard in extravagance or wordiness. Have you noticed this?

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