Though it may not seem like it when we’re trying to keep our Lenten observances (how many days is it until I can drink coffee again?), Lent is one of the fastest moving seasons of the liturgical year. It’s only 40 days, which translates to about five or six Sundays, depending on whether or not you count Palm Sunday as the last Sunday of Lent or the start of preparation for Easter. For a season meant to be of quiet penance, reflection, and personal growth, it doesn’t seem like you get much time!
But one of the best ways to capitalize on Lenten observance is by maximizing your time in prayer, especially on Sundays at Mass. Mass often feels like an event to check off the calendar, and it can be very easy to forget that Mass is a prayer (the most important prayer we have as Catholics). However, with a little bit of intentional commitment, it’s relatively easy to reclaim Mass-as-prayer.
There are many forms of the Mass, however. They all celebrate the same Eucharist, the same mystery of the bread and wine manifested into the Body and Blood of Christ (side note — every time I write about or think about the miraculous mystery of our faith, it astounds me), but each with a bit of a different flair.
The Novus Ordo Mass is the one that we are all (likely) the most familiar with. Translating literally to “New Order,” it is the style of the Mass adopted post-Vatican II, and is characterized by the priest facing the congregation, the Mass being said in the common vernacular, and lay people being heavily involved in the celebration.
The Latin Mass, Tridentine Mass or “High Mass,” is quite a bit different than the Novus Ordo. When one attends a Latin Mass for the first time, it’s incredible to imagine what a change it was for priests and lay people alike to transition to the New Order Mass. During the Latin Mass, the priest mostly faces away from the congregation, and most of the prayers are silent or spoken very softly. A choir will chant certain parts of the Mass while the priest prays, and participation of the congregants is “interior, involving eye and heart.” (Star of the Sea offers a Latin Mass every Sunday at 11:30 a.m.)
The Divine Liturgy, also known as the Byzantine Rite, is celebrated by Eastern Orthodox Catholic Churches. While somewhat similar to the Novus Ordo, there are some distinct differences, especially in regards to the traditions of Communion. Normally, the bread is leavened (symbolizing the risen Christ), dipped into the chalice, and offered to each person with a spoon. The priest also says a personal prayer over everyone receiving Communion, and normally asks your name as you approach. Other prayer offices, like Great Vespers and Compline, are also often held throughout the week in Orthodox communities. (Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church offers Byzantine Rites every Sunday at 10 a.m.)
An interesting Lenten observance might be to try out some of the different types of the Mass, and see if any of them speak in a particular, meaningful way to you to help you worship more fully. Sometimes all it takes is something a little different to help us reclaim the mystery of faith.
—Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
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