Holy, Right and Just: Sacred versus Secular

It is such a joy to be Catholic and have the constant guidance of Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium. Especially in our modern time, we need this clear direction, telling us what is right and just. Oftentimes we think that our choices and feelings can dictate Liturgical practice, and adjust the texts, music, posture and gestures, for example.  Indeed, we are so very blessed to have thousands of years of tradition and teaching on these very subjects! The new English translation, especially seen in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, calls us to faithful guidance and preservation of the Latin prayers within our own age.


At Holy Mass, following the Creed and Offertory prayers, the presiding celebrant invites the congregation to join in prayer. Instead of the usual “Let us pray,” the importance of entering into the Liturgy of the Eucharist allows for a beautiful extension of the prayer: “Pray brethren that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the almighty Father.” This is an important reminder of the principal role of the celebrant; not only does he lead us in prayer, in persona Christi Capitis, he offers worship and prayer himself to God the Father, first and foremost among us. The priest offers himself— indeed his very life—in service to the Church, just as Jesus Christ offered himself as victim.


We acknowledge this in our response, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of His name, for our good and the good of all His Holy Church.” The Church is truly holy, and the new English translation reintroduces this important reminder: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. The Mass and its texts are set aside from the ordinary, the profane, the commonplace. All that takes place within the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass must remain Holy, set apart from our daily tasks. The vestments and vessels, our clothing and music, gestures and texts, all should be guided by the law of the Church.


The new translation of the Sanctus, or Holy Holy, even though only a few words have been changed, gives us great clarity in prayer. The repetition of the opening word, Holy, through punctuation is given a new (ancient) dimension. The reference to the Holy Trinity is retained from the Latin, in greater accord than the two or four ideas represented in the present version: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might. “...power and might,” a beautiful image, but unclear in reference. The clear biblical reference in the new translation restores the Latin and its prayerful exuberance in citing the prophet Isaiah, beautifully depicting the Heavenly Liturgy:


“I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple.
Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two they veiled their feet, and with two they hovered aloft.
‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!’ they cried one to the other. ‘All the earth is filled with His glory!’”


In this we are given a powerful image that we can all hold dear to us in mind and soul: Our Lord God is enthroned in the greatest majesty of Heaven. He is clothed in the glory of the Light, the most exquisite in Divine apparel. The Temple represents the holy place, just in front of the holy of holies. In Hebrew, tsebaoth means "armies" or "hosts." Isaiah 6:3 in the Vulgate has Dominus exercituum, "Lord of hosts". Another example is "a multitude of the heavenly hosts", in the narrative of the Nativity. Thus we can assimilate heavenly hosts as angels or seraphim, referenced in most every preface.

These six winged Seraphim, "the burning ones," are celestial beings who surround the throne of God, not just now or then, but throughout all eternity! Reverence for the divine majesty causes them to veil their faces with two wings; modesty, to veil their extremities in similar fashion; readiness in God's service, to extend two wings in preparation for flight. It is their endless song of joyful exuberance giving praise to God's perfect holiness. May our voices be one of constancy with theirs—for not only is it right to give God thanks and praise, but it is right and just to follow the law of God and His Church, and continue on the Sacred path to Holiness.



For more on Sacred versus Secular, see the video!