Here is the audio clip and transcript of my radio interview with Brian Patrick on the Son Rise Morning Show later today. First, here's the basic flow of the conversation:
- Full, active, and conscious participation
- A mystagogical catechesis: interpret, explain, relate
- The gestures we make – active participation
- Entering the mystery that takes place at Mass
- The new translation – et cum spiritu tuo ("and with your spirit")
- The Sign of Peace
- Truly understanding what is taking place on the altar
- Full participation: internal (spiritual), external (manifested), and perfect (sacramental)
Here's the MP3 (9:12, 8.4 MB):
Transcript of Jeffrey Pinyan’s Interview
on the Son Rise Morning Show, October 15, 2009
on the Son Rise Morning Show, October 15, 2009
Brian Patrick: St. Teresa of Avila, her memorial on this 15th of October. Seven minutes after the hour on the Son Rise Morning Show. Joining us this morning, Jeffrey Pinyan, author of Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People. Jeffrey, good morning.
Jeff Pinyan: Good morning, Brian.
Brian: How important is it for us to really understand that Mass is really a prayer?
Jeff: Well, I think it comes down to what the Second Vatican Council said about participating in the Mass fully, actively, and consciously. (Sacrosanctum Concilium 14; cf. 11, 48) And I think if we don’t approach the Mass as a prayer, we won’t really participate consciously: we’ll say things without knowing what we’re saying, we’ll do things without knowing what we’re doing. And that’s what my book attempts to address: helping people acquire this conscious participation at Mass.
Brian: And how is your book Praying the Mass set up to help us to do this?
Jeff: It tries to be a “mystagogical catecheis.” Now, anybody who’s been through RCIA is familiar with the term mystagogy. It’s that period of instruction and deeper learning after they’ve received the sacraments of initiation. It was also very popular in the early Church: St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote several mystagogical lectures. What a mystagogical catechesis is, is it interprets the various liturgical rites in the light of salvation history, then it explains those signs and symbols to tell you their meaning and purpose, and then it relates those rites to the Christian life.
Brian: There are so many subtle things that we do during the course of the Mass, and those of us who are cradle Catholics probably do much of this out of habit. If you bring a non-Catholic into Mass with you they’ll probably chuckle about how we stand and we sit and we kneel and we bow. And in your book you actually broke down all these gestures and really explain why we do these things, and certainly as I read through it, it gives me a much better understanding of how important these gestures are to our prayerfulness at Mass.
Jeff: I agree, and that’s actually part of our active participation. Sometimes you hear about parishes that say, “Well, we don’t kneel during Mass,” or parishes that won’t let a person bow to the Eucharist before they receive it. And really, that’s part of what the Church asks us to do as our active participation: to kneel before we receive Communion during the Eucharistic Prayer, or to make a sign of reverence before we receive. And what this book tries to show is not only why we do it, but also where does this gesture come from in Scripture, why are we making all these gestures.
Brian: As Pope Benedict refers to this active participation, really what he’s talking about is a call for a greater awareness for the mysteries being celebrated. Address that “mysteries” aspect of the Mass.
Jeff: Certainly. Now, “mystery” comes to us from a Greek word mysterion, and we kind of get our idea of “sacrament” from that same mysterion/“mystery” idea. One of the greatest mysteries that takes place during the Mass is the Eucharist, and what I do in my book is I draw from the Catechism and Church Father literature, especially St. Augustine because St. Augustine speaks about this mystery of the Eucharist taking place. And what he does is he connects the mystery of the Eucharist on the altar – which is the Body of Christ – with the mystery of the Church – which is the Body of Christ. And, it doesn’t lessen the miracle of transubstantiation taking place on the altar, but it reminds us that we have an identity with Christ and what we see taking place during Mass, and especially on the altar, is something that should be taking place within us also. St. Paul talks about being changed from glory into glory (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18), and I think that’s what St. Augustine had in mind when he related the mystery of the Body of Christ on the altar to the mystery of the Body of Christ, the Church.
Brian: Well Jeffrey, also in the next few years we’re going to see some slightly different translations – a more accurate translation, I guess – of the Latin to the English in the English translation of the Mass, such as when we say that greeting “The Lord be with you,” now we say, “And also with you,” but we will be saying the accurate translation from Latin, “And with your spirit.” Do you address these changes in your book?
Jeff: Absolutely; in fact, the new translation is really the driving force behind this book. I started working on something like it a couple years ago, and I’m glad I didn’t go all the way with it because it would have been obsolete in a couple of years. But I highlight all the new changes in the translation. I mark them out and I do my best to explain why the translation has changed, and why it’s important to be accurate with that translation. That example you brought up of “And with your spirit,” we’re not going back with that, we’re catching up to the rest of the world: the Italian, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese translations, they all translate the Latin et cum spiritu tuo, they translate that literally into their languages, and English is really the only major language that didn’t.
Brian: I love that, “And with your spirit.” The other seemed so generic, “And also with you.” When we say “And with your spirit,” we address that we’re talking about the Lord’s peace being in our soul, in our very being.
Jeff: And it makes sure that we’re thinking about the things of Heaven. Too often, the liturgical greeting is treated basically just as a social greeting that happens to take place during the Mass. And so you get, “The Lord be with you,” “And also with you,” “Good morning, thanks, how you doing?” And that’s not what’s supposed to be happening during the Mass. We’re supposed to be bringing our minds and our hearts up to Heaven, like the priest says right before the Eucharistic Prayer: “Lift up your hearts,” “We lift them up to the Lord.” So when we say “And with your spirit” back to the priest, we’re recognizing him as a priest, we’re recognizing his sacramental character that he received in ordination, and it’s a sign of respect back to him, really.
Brian: You also address the Sign of Peace as well, don’t you?
Jeff: Yes, briefly. Nothing really changes with that, but it’s important to realize that the Sign of Peace that we make at Mass is not simply an interruption in the Mass, and I know some people who kind of look at it that way. The Sign of Peace is really recognizing the peace of Christ and making an effort to show a sign of that peace to one another. And whether it’s done with a handshake or whether it’s done how it is in Rome, with this stylized gesture of friendship and peace between two people, it’s important to look at it, not as an interruption, but to look at it as a gesture of Christian peace.
Brian: There is so much richness in the Mass, and when we see it as a prayer we certainly are able to appreciate that more. Sometimes when I’m kneeling before the consecration and hear those words of the priest that change that bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus, I really think that if I truly got what was going on here, I’d probably die! It’s just an incredible miracle that is performed on that altar every day in our Catholic faith.
Jeff: Certainly. I think it was St. John Vianney who said that if the priest realized what he was doing at Mass fully, he would die out of sheer joy. ["The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love."] And certainly we don’t want to send anybody to Heaven prematurely, but we want them to engage themselves heart, soul, strength, and mind (cf. Luke 10:27) at Mass. We want them to enter into Mass with the perfect internal participation, knowing what’s happening and uniting themselves to it, and especially uniting their own personal sacrifices to Christ; and then showing, manifesting that internal participation exteriorly with these gestures, with these words; and then, God-willing, hopefully, that perfect participation which is sacramental participation, which is receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ in the Eucharist in the Mass.
Brian: And we can choose to participate in this prayer of the Mass every single day as Catholics, and we encourage you to do so. Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People, a wonderful resource from Jeffrey Pinyan. Jeffrey, we’ve linked your book from our blog, on sonrisemorningshow.com, we’ve also put it in our Amazon store. We appreciate you being with us and helping us to prepare for these changes that will be happening in the new English translation of the Mass. And thank you so much for enriching our faith this morning with your contribution.
Jeff: God bless you. Thank you too.
Brian: All right, we’ll have you on again.