Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Saint Lucy's Day & Low Mass

Saturday was so busy for me that I had not the chance to reflect here upon the feast of St. Lucy. The day started with Mass at St. Stephen's, but then moved from one thing to the next, until the day, then weekend, got away. So I wanted to say just a word on this important virgin martyr.

But first, although I have expressed my gratitude in the past for my pastor's willingness to say Mass for so many feasts outside of the normal Sunday Mass, let me express it again. Fr. May takes seriously our Confession's claim that the Mass is offered not only on Sundays, but also on holy days, and other days when there are communicants who desire it. We do not presently have Mass every day, though I am sure that Fr. May would do it if a member were to express real interest in it. I have not pushed him for daily Mass yet. (If I lived in the immediate neighborhood of the church, I would do so.) As soon as the Daily Mass becomes a feasibility, however, we will have it at St. Stephen's.

I know that Redeemer in Fort Wayne has Mass daily in Advent, Christmas, Lent, and I think Paschaltide, and I always appreciated attending when my work schedule and transportational abilities permitted. Zion in Detroit also had Daily Mass, as I recall, before its recent pastoral vacancy. I pray that Fr. Braden will be able to restore the daily Mass there. Other than these few places, daily Mass is virtually unknown in the Missouri Synod, even at the seminaries and universities. I pray this will change. If it is to change, it will be one altar at a time.

As I say, however, at St. Stephen's we do presently have Mass on many of the traditional feasts. The low Mass on such occasions is a real blessing. Fr. Petersen has commented on this at his blog, and he makes good points. There is no need to fear you will need to write dozens more sermons each year if you go to weekday Masses. In fact, a long homily at low Mass would even be, in my view, inappropriate. It is an immeasurable blessing to begin the day with the Holy Mass, an affair of less than half an hour in which the child of God feeds upon the Word of God, not only in the lessons and propers, but also in the Sacrament, in which the sacred Body of Christ is truly present. He is present both lectionally and sacramentally.

Saint Lucy is one of those feasts of a virgin martyr that ought never be missed. Dom Gueranger calls her one of the four wise virgin martyrs, with Saints Agatha, Agnes, and Cecily. The modern Lutheran Church, certainly in the Missouri Synod, affected as it is simultaneously by Pietistic low-churchism, neoevangelical Ablazism, and certain trends of the post Vatican II reforms, has not a lot of patience for traditional feasts of virgin martyrs. We ought, then, to seize such opportunities whenever they present themselves. Set in the midst of Advent, Saint Lucy's feast points us, as with a shining light, onward in our liturgical journey toward the celebration of the Nativity of Christ our Savior. As Gueranger writes, St. Lucy's very name "reminds us (for Lucy signifies light) that He who consoles the Church, by enlightening her children, is soon to be with us."

I must close this brief reflection with a traditional prayer of Lucy before her martyrdom, for it is the sort of Christian confession that might be heard from the lips of Christians of any age, whether a martyr in the narrow sense who is tormented with actual fire, or the "white martyrs" who witness to the deathly culture that surrounds us with the word of their testimony and with their life.

"I bless Thee, the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, because by Thy Son the fire around me was quenched."

(Benedicto te, Pater Domini mei Iesu Christi, quia per Filium tuum ignis extinctus est a latere meo.)

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