Phenomenology of the Mass Part IV

A comparison of the Masses — Extraordinary Form and Ordinary Form — for the Feast of All Souls, closely related to the funeral liturgies, looks similar.


Extraordinary Form Ordinary Form
Offertory: O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of hell, and from the bottomless pit: deliver them from the Lion’s mouth, that hell swallow them not up, that they fall not into darkness: but let Michael the standard-bearer bring them into the holy light: Which thou didst promise of old unto Abraham, and his seed. V. We offer thee, O Lord, this sacrifice of prayer and praise: do thou receive it for the souls whose memory we this day recall: make them, O Lord, to pass from death unto life. Which thou didst promise of old unto Abraham and his seed. Prayer over the Offerings: Look favorably on our offerings, o Lord,
so that your departed servants
may be taken up into glory with your son,
in whose great mystery of love we are all united. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.


Or Option #2. Almighty and merciful God,
by means of these sacrificial offerings
wash away, we pray, in the Blood of Christ,
the sins of your departed servants,
for you purify unceasingly by your merciful forgiveness those you once cleansed in the waters of Baptism. Through Christ our lord.


Or Option #3. Receive, Lord, in your kindness,
the sacrificial offering we make
for all your servants who sleep in Christ, that, set free from the bonds of death
by this singular sacrifice,
they may merit eternal life.
Through Christ our lord.


Day of Wrath Sequence: Day of wrath and doom impending, David’s word with Sibyl’s blending, Heaven and earth in ashes ending. O what fear man’s bosom rendeth, when from heaven the Judge descendeth, on whose sentence all dependeth. Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth through earth’s sepulchres it ringeth, all before the throne it bringeth. Death is struck, and nature quaking, all creation is awaking, to its judge an answer making. Lo, the book exactly worded, wherein all hath been recorded, thence shall judgment be awarded. When the judge his seat attaineth, and each hidden deed arraigneth…. To Thy right hand do Thou guide me. When the wicked are confounded, doomed to flames of woe unbounded, call me with thy saints surrounded. Low I kneel with heart’s submission, see, like ashes, my contrition, help me in my last condition. No Day of Wrath Sequence.


What we see with the two offertories is a stark contrast. The greatest contrast is between the EF and OF Option#1. The OF #1 simply prays that the offerings enable the soul to attain glory. This implicitly means what the EF explicitly brings out, but the entirety of that drama is explicitly absent in the OF. Option #2 brings in explicitly the issues of sin, cleansing, etc.. Thus, #2 is a stronger option than #1. Interestingly, sins are not explicitly brought up in the Offertory of the EF; rather, the EF prayer focuses on delivery from the consequences of sin, hell and the punishments of hell. Now, the EF is not contradicting Catholic dogma. If a soul is in the hell of the damned, in that hell it shall remain. But “hell” is a broad category, as we can clearly deduce from this prayer, in conversation with the dogma that from the hell of the damned no one is saved. Thus, we are brought to mind the very real possibility that the soul of our beloved friend may well be undergoing punishments dread and terrible – not without light and mercy, not without hope and joy, but nonetheless truly great. OF option #3 alludes to this consequence with “the bonds of death,” but does not draw this out dramatically.

In short, the EF asks us to enter into the dramatic situation quite possibly and in all likelihood actually facing our beloved departed. We engage that situation; we participate in it. We also engage the drama between Christ and the devil, our adversary. We acknowledge that the Eucharistic sacrifice is for the destruction of the devil’s work.

Furthermore, the Day of Wrath sequence invites each of us to call to mind our eternal fate, thus calling us to mind our lives presently. We are invited, in pastoral prudence, urgently to take stock of our lives and to amend our sinful ways, to repent, to go to confession. We are invited to live a life dramatically facing the Holy Trinity. We are invited to love God above all things; to seek earthly things not because they are attractive in themselves but in obedience to Christ. We are invited to see that “all is rubbish” that is not sought out of the sanctified will seeking Christ’s honor above all. We are not simply reminded, therefore, of mortal sin, but of venial sin and imperfections, etc. Of the “one thing necessary,” without which I am damned and all gain is loss.