Whenever we celebrate Mass, see we are uniting ourselves to the heavenly liturgy, the endless celebration around God’s throne, where the angels and saints sing in perpetual joy and adoration. Nearly every preface at Mass reflects this reality when just before the “Holy Holy” at Mass, we say that we are joining the angels and saints in their endless song! And so, our liturgies, even our weekday ones, and even when there is only one person at Mass, are part of a much larger reality. They are not “our” Masses in the sense of being private, and they are not ours in the sense of being for our private benefit. Every time we celebrate Mass, we are celebrating a public event, linked with the heavenly liturgy and linked with Masses around the world and for the salvation of the whole world.
Whenever we celebrate the Sacred Liturgy we ought to be bringing our best. Whenever we have a Mass here at St. Paul, the Lectors ought to be the best we have, the Communion Ministers the best, the Ushers the best, the Music the best, and so on. These celebrations always belong to the whole church around the world, and always belong to the parish as a whole. In our funerals, for example, the lectors ought to be from the group of parish lectors. The cantors ought to be coming from the parish cantors, and so on. The same is true for weddings. The same is true for all of our celebrations! The various liturgical ministers should be prepared and trained and good at their jobs! The Masses we celebrate here at St. Paul, for whatever reason, belong to the whole parish and are open to the whole parish. For this reason we do not have “private Masses” here at St. Paul. A private Mass violates this liturgical theology. When someone buries their father or mother the whole parish joins the family in their sadness and offers the family consolation and hope for the future. When two young people join together in marriage, we embrace them and ask God’s blessing for them. When a child is baptized or receives first communion or confirmation, the whole parish rejoices! We are a Sacramental, Liturgical Church, and our celebrations are public. This theological understanding underlies all the decisions we make about our liturgies. When to celebrate, how to celebrate, how often to celebrate, who is involved in the celebration… all these decisions are informed by what the Church teaches us about the Liturgy and the Sacraments.