[RC¶93] Remembering we are but children coming before our Eternal Father, the priest now asks our Father to look down with a happy face upon the gift we have for him.
The priest goes on, and our imaginations flourish, as he asks that God’s holy Angel take our gift up into Heaven, placing it upon God’s Holy Altar, not unlike the deacon places the Evangelary on the Altar at the beginning of a solemn Mass. [RC¶94]
When Holy Mother Church speaks to us of “mystery”, she speaks of things beyond the intellectual grasp of an adult, but easily perceptible to the imaginative child. So we must become children to appreciate mystery, a truth I urge you to keep in mind as we move through the Roman Canon. How else can talk of God’s happy face and a gift born by an angel be real to us?
Four years ago, Pope Benedict XVI received from Christ the same mission Our Lord once gave Saint Peter: “feed my lambs, feed my sheep”. A well-fed lamb grows into a healthy sheep. The Holy Father hopes to help the lambs entrusted to his care to recover a sense of wonder, of awe, of mystery whenever we approach God’s majestic presence in the Holy Mass. Prominent among his efforts is the re-orientation of the priest during the Eucharistic Prayer, so that we are all looking up together to Our Father, instead of at each other. But so strong is our love for ourselves, and so fervent is the cult of the priest, that both the faithful and the priests find this food from the Holy Father preposterous. But it is only when we turn together towards the Lord that the images of the Roman Canon truly come alive, and full, conscious and active participation can thrive. God bless the successor to Saint Peter, give him the courage of Saint Paul, and may we remember we are lambs, and must accept food from the Pope to grow into healthy sheep.
Please allow me one further reflection. The Holy Father wishes to feed the faithful once again as one would a child, and quite literally: by having the priests and deacons place the Lamb of God directly onto the tongues of the faithful. God the Father does not reach down to take our gift, but receives our gift born by the hands of his Angel. Should this not be our attitude for Holy Communion? It was never common for the clergy to distribute the Lamb onto the hands of the faithful in the manner practiced today. The present practice is sadly misleading, was introduced illicitly in the 1960’s, resisted by Pope Paul VI--who never permitted it in Rome--and is tolerated today in Church law only as an exception to the traditional norm. At the Last Supper, Christ dipped his sacramental Body into wine and placed it into the mouths of his disciples. His Sacred Body was not passed around and handled as one would money or merchandise at a marketplace. Again, God bless the successor to Saint Peter, give him the courage of Saint Paul, and let us remember we are lambs, and must accept food in the form of pastoral guidance from the Pope to grow into healthy sheep.