I have a question maybe you can answer or refer me to the answer. Why is it during the Latin Mass you sit during the Gloria and Creed? And why does the server kiss the priest’s hat (biretta)? Today was the 1st time I have attended a traditional Mass, and when it was over my 3 year old turned to me and said that was a long Mass. Mind you I have been attending daily mass with my girls for almost 2 years.
And an other question, if you have time. In John Chp 6 our Lord says we must eat His Body. From my understanding the Greek states to eat like an animal. Throughout the OT there are references to eating but it is more like consume and devour. My question is how should one to receive the Lord? Chew or not to chew is I guess a way to phase it.
Folks, these are the sorts of questions that all TLM goers should be cheerfully ready to answer. Remember that the demonic spirit of oppression that began in earnest with the World War I generation, and fertilized the seedbed for everything that came after, is the spirit of INCOMMUNICATION. People stopped explaining stuff – most especially to their children. So, let’s explain!
Question #1: Why do we sit down during the Gloria and Creed at High Mass?
This question applies to HIGH MASSES, that is, SUNG Masses. Our interlocutor went to a Sunday Mass, which, as is typical, was a HIGH MASS. During a High Mass, for the Gloria and Creed the Priest Celebrant INTONES the first phrase: “Gloria in excelsis Deo” and “Credo in Unum Deum”, and then the priest quietly says the rest of the Gloria and Creed at the Altar. At the same time, the choir, OR if the Mass is an orchestral setting, the orchestra proceeds with the Gloria, and Creed. This can take several minutes. The Gloria from Mozart’s Coronation Mass is something like 4:30. So, when the Priest finishes speaking the Gloria and Creed, he and the other ministers and servers in the sanctuary go and sit down while the chant/polyphony/orchestral setting continues. When the priest is seated, the faithful then also sit. So, liturgically speaking, the Gloria and Creed are already finished in the Sanctuary. The action in the Sanctuary then pauses while the choir/orchestra finish the chant/setting.
Here are three examples of the Gloria. The first is Orchestral – from Mozart’s Coronation Mass. 4:40. The second is a polyphonic setting – Palestrina. 5:30. The third is Gregorian chant. 3:20.
Question #2 – OSCULATIONS (the ceremonial “kissing” rubrics)
The ceremonial “kissing” of objects and hands when handing objects to and receiving objects from the priest is called OSCULATION. “Os” in Latin means “mouth”. Many servers don’t actually touch their mouth to the priest’s hand, but just graze with the nose, or just get close enough for it to look like a kiss. This is not dissimilar to having a gentleman take a woman’s hand and “kiss” it without actually touching his lips to her skin. In my personal experience of being greeted by European aristocrats, they have never actually touched their mouths to my hand. Some people, particularly Europeans, will greet a priest with a cross-grip (right hand to right hand) bow and osculation handshake. Bottom line: this is a SIGN OF RESPECT. In terms of the priest, it is a sign of respect for his priesthood, and specifically the fact that he touches and holds the Host and Chalice in his consecrated hands. The sign of respect is for the Eucharist, which the priest confects in his hands. In short, this is about the most non-gay thing in the world.
It should also be mentioned another misunderstood rubric: the server lifting the hem of the priest’s cassock and alb as the priest ascends the steps to the altar. This has nothing to do with groveling or femininity. Most traditional albs have some quantity of lace around the hem, which is ankle-length, along with the black cassock beneath. With some albs, the lace goes all the way from the ankle up to the waist. Others are more reserved and the lace border is only a few inches high. Either way, back in the day before the industrial revolution, all lace was HAND MADE. Lace for liturgical purposes was generally made by nuns. Lace for secular use was almost exclusively the domain of housewives and young ladies who would work at lace making for a short period every day as an income supplement to the household. Either way, lace making is an extremely time-intensive endeavor. For an alb with a 30+ inch high lace border, a nun would have worked thousands of hours to make it. So one alb represented one, one and a half or even two full man-years of work (2000++ hours). The reason the server lifts the priest’s hem is to ensure that the priest doesn’t accidentally STEP ON THE HEM AND RIP OUT THE LACE as he ascends the first step. Even if a priest today has an alb with machine-made lace, he still doesn’t want to put his foot through his alb. (I remember reading on Fr. Z’s blog once that it is a BAAAAD feeling when it happens. One can imagine.)
Question #3: Reception of the Host – Does one chew?
In John Chapter 6, the Greek verb that Our Lord uses in the fourteen-fold repetition of the literal meaning of what He is saying about His Real Substantial Presence in the Eucharist does change from “eat” to “gnaw or chew” as the discourse progresses. Here is the general convention for reception of the Host: let Him sit on your tongue and soften, then fold Him with your tongue and swallow. Chomping on the Host immediately after reception is… slightly awkward. If you do chew the softened Host a bit, just bear in mind that some of the Host might remain in the crevices of your molars. The Church gives us a guideline that the Real Presence of Our Lord continues inside our bodies for approximately 15 minutes. One should remain in thanksgiving and prayer with Our Lord for a minimum of 15 minutes after reception of the Eucharist anyway, but for the sake of thoroughness, one should NOT, for example, brush one’s teeth or do anything that would dislodge or eject any particle of the Host from your body in those 15 minutes. Sometimes, when I am sick with a cough, if I should cough within that 15 minutes after receiving the Eucharist, I will check my hand (which I put up to my mouth when coughing) to ensure that no particle of the Host was ejected from my mouth or throat when I coughed. IF you should see a Particle of Our Lord on your hand, IMMEDIATELY consume Him by licking your hand. But this is quite rare.
Thank you K for your excellent questions!
I hope this helps.