Christmas and New Year

Christmas and New Year
By now, most of us have become accustomed to the revised wording for the Order of Mass and with new musical settings of these texts. At Christmas Masses we can do our bit to help infrequent church-attendees to participate by ensuring that the new cues and responses are readily available to them. Keep an eye out - get an order of service for anyone without one, share your New Order of Mass booklet or pew card.
Model “full, conscious and active participation” by taking part enthusiastically in the entire celebration. Listen attentively, join in the responses and singing, share the sign of peace with feeling, and engage with the symbols, sounds, smells and tastes of the celebration.
It will take all of us, presiders especially, some time to make sense of the revised Eucharistic Prayers and of new proper texts (collects, prefaces, etc), such as those for Christmas set out in last week’s column.
A couple of years ago in “Liturgy Lines”, I wrote that the prayers for Christmas are among some of my favourites and gave as an example these lines from the second preface of Christmas:
No eye can see his glory as our God, yet now he is seen as one like us.
Christ is your Son before all ages, yet now he is born in time.
He has come to lift up all things to himself, to restore unity to creation,
and to lead mankind from exile into your heavenly kingdom.

At this stage I do not feel quite the same about the revised version:

Though invisible in his own divine nature, he has appeared visibly in ours;
and begotten before all ages, he has begun to exist in time;
so that, raising up in himself all that was cast down,
he might restore unity to all creation
and call straying humanity back to the heavenly Kingdom.

The last day of the Christmas octave, 1st January, is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, as it is now entitled. This (liturgical) year it is a Sunday, which means that more people will celebrate this important feast in the church’s calendar than is the case when it falls on another day of the week. Like the fourth Sunday of Advent the feast highlights the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the incarnation and manifestation of the Saviour.
The new Collect (Opening Prayer) for the feast is:
O God, who through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary
bestowed on the human race the grace of eternal salvation,
grant, we pray, that we may experience the intercession of her,
through whom we were found worthy to receive the author of life,
our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.

Certainly we did “receive the author of life” through Mary, but surely it is not the case that “through (Mary) we were found worthy” of redemption!

The prescribed preface for the feast is Preface I of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

For by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit
she conceived your Only Begotten Son,
and without losing the glory of virginity,
brought forth into the world the eternal Light,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Perhaps others, like me, will feel uncomfortable with this. Is the married state not glorious?


Elizabeth Harrington