It isn’t all about him. For real men, it never is.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is exactly what I just described, except that the Mass is the most perfect artistic action in the universe because the Mass is the artistic creation of God Himself. The Mass is SUPERNATURAL ART. The Holy Spirit taught the Church the Mass. The Mass is art that is so perfect that it actually causes something SUPERNATURAL to happen – it causes Heaven and Earth to touch, it causes time to be bent such that the moment of “now” touches and intersects with the moment of Calvary 1984 years ago, and it causes bread and wine to be transubstantiated into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, made PHYSICALLY SUBSTANTIALLY PRESENT. Man calls down God, and God, in His infinite love, responds and fully submits in complete love, making Himself present on the Altar both at the moment of His death, and in His resurrection, so that He may go into us not only spiritually but also physically as Food.
-In the Tridentine Mass, the priest observes “custody of the eyes”, never looking around and NEVER looking out at the people. Like the guards, priests are supposed to keep their eyes on exactly what they are doing without distraction. The Guards at the Tomb wear mirrored sunglasses to block out all eye contact. Priests are supposed to keep their eyes DOWN or CLOSED, with a couple of exceptions such as just before the consecration when they are to look up to Heaven. This is like the Guards’ rubric of looking from side-to-side very deliberately when inspecting the rifle and the relieving officer. Did you catch that?
–Priests are also supposed to walk with a very deliberate gait – slow, measured and reverent in exactly the same way the Tomb Guards walk in a slow, deliberate, reverent gait.
–Priests are only supposed to say very specific words – no improvisation, no modifications. The Guards are the same way. They have a very strict announcement that they make at the changing, and they have very strict words that they say when telling people to be quiet and observe reverent silence (there is a YouTube video of that happening, look it up.) There is no chatting or extemporaneous speech. In the Church, the command is “Say the black, do the red,” in reference to the layout of the Roman Missal with the words of prayer in black and the instructions for the intensely precise rubrics, down to every gesture, in red.
-I would analogize the exaggerated heel-clicking movement that the Guards do to the genuflecting of the Priest (and servers, and laity, ahem) to the rubric of ALWAYS genuflecting to the right knee EACH AND EVERY TIME the axis of the Tabernacle and/or Altar Cross is crossed. In many Catholic Churches, the Tabernacle, which is the center of the Church – heck, it is the center of the universe – has been moved off to the side, or even hidden in a sacristy. Where a Tabernacle is present, Our Lord, physically present inside, is largely ignored. I have never seen a Novus Ordo priest consistently observe the loving rubric of genuflecting to the Tabernacle every time the plane is crossed. (I have learned since originally writing this that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal for the Novus Ordo Mass specifically states that there are to be no genuflections to the Blessed Sacrament or Cross except by the priest at the consecrations. Sit in stillness with this for a moment. Do you see why I say that the Novus Ordo was conceived in malice by the infiltrators, and thus cannot be “fixed”?)
In fact, most Novus Ordo priests wander around the sanctuary with their backs turned to the Tabernacle while they put on their “performance.” This would be analogous to the Tomb of the Unknowns itself at Arlington being moved “out of the way” and instead a stage being erected upon which the Guards would perform. It makes you sick to think of that happening at Arlington – but that is largely what has happened to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
-There is even an analogue in the Changing of the Guard ceremony to the Consecration of the Host in the Mass. Did you hear it when you watched the video above? It comes at the 2:36 mark. A rifle is fired, its report thus commemorating the moment of death of the Unknowns. In the Mass, the moment of consecration and transubstantiation are the report of Christ’s words spoken by the priest:
HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM.
(This is My Body.)
If you are fortunate, you can still find a church with a bell tower which rings the bell at the consecration of the Host and again at the consecration of the Chalice. This enabled everyone within earshot – oftentimes miles away – of pausing and saying a prayer as Our Lord came down upon the Altar, uniting themselves to the Mass.
Finally, the words engraved on the Tomb of the Unknowns:
HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD
This is analogous to the words of the Mass:
ECCE AGNUS DEI, ECCE QUI TOLLIT PECCATA MUNDI.
(Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world.)
In the Mass, Christ is obviously alive, physically substantially present in the Eucharist, veiled under the mere appearance of bread and wine. Every Mass is a supernatural event – a miracle. At the Tomb, the Unknowns remain dead – only their memory, veiled in anonymity, is honored. There is absolutely NOTHING supernatural about the Tomb of the Unknowns. Let me say that again: There is absolutely NOTHING supernatural about the Tomb of the Unknowns. It is most excellent, to be sure, but it is not a supernatural thing.
The point is this: if we all know and understand and FEEL the power of the excellent, excellent ceremonial rubrics of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, if we understand the power of “living art”, and we understand how important the concepts of reverence, solemnity, precision, dignity and beauty in movement and action are in the context of the Tomb, why, oh why, do we continue to tolerate the lack of reverence, the lack of solemnity, the absence of liturgical precision and dignity and the resulting UGLINESS that has been unleashed on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is not just a mere memorial of Calvary, but is Calvary Itself, made supernaturally present, and Our Resurrected Lord physically substantially present?
The Tomb of the Unknowns merits the excellent, beautiful, solemn, reverent, disciplined ceremony of the Guards.
Our Lord, Crucified, Risen and physically substantially present to us in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar deserves INFINITELY MORE excellence, beauty, solemnity, reverence, discipline and dignity in His Mass.