Traditional Mass

Monday, October 15, 2007


  • Places where Mass may be celebrated
  • Symbolism or signification of the Church
  • Sacred vessels and liturgical vestments
  • Positions and gestures--their meaning
Before taking up a detailed explanation of the different parts of the Mass, we shall say a few words concerning the liturgical setting in which the Holy Sacrifice unfolds: church, altar, sacred vessels, vestments, etc.

42--May Mass be celebrated anywhere?

According to Canon Law (C. 822) Holy Mass ought ordinarily to be celebrated in consecrated or blessed churches and oratories.
Permission to celebrate outside a church or oratory may be granted by the resident Bishop (or for a religious Order, by its major superior), provided that the Mass be said in a suitable place and on a consecrated stone (Mass may never be said in a bedroom); and that the permission be granted for a just and reasonable cause; in an extraordinary case, and for a limited period. (For instance, Scouts may obtain this permission for the duration of their stay in camp.)


The apostles celebrated Holy Mass in private hoes, on tables--for the Mass, like the Last Supper, is a meal. "My Body is real food," said Jesus, "and My Blood is real drink."
Mass may be celebrated outside a church; but it may not be celebrated without a table and this table is the altar.
When we go to Mass, we sit at a table with our brothers around the Head of the house. . . . Our altar rails are tables of brotherhood. It is as a family that we eat the Body of Christ, our Daily Bread. . . .
In the era of great persecutions, the Holy Sacrifice was celebrated in the catacombs over the tombs of martyrs. This is the origin of the form of a tomb still given to the altar today, and of the custom of placing the relics of martyrs in altars--a custom that also reminds us of our communion with the saints in Heaven.
It was for this same reason that churches were later built over the tombs of saints--as is St. Peter's basilica in Rome--and that martyrs and illustrious Christians were interred in them.
This is also the source of the custom of chanting the "Requiem" at funerals in the presence of the deceased.
As in the subterranean passages, the early Christians needed torches for assisting at the Holy Sacrifice, the Church has preserved the use of candles on the altar during Holy Mass.

[From 'Your Mass and Your Life,' to be continued . . .]