The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the Mass as:
The memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.
The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior and includes the Church’s offering. The terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, “sacrifice of praise,” spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used, since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant.
The Holy and Divine Liturgy, because the Church’s whole liturgy finds its center and most intense expression in the celebration of this sacrament; in the same sense we also call its celebration the Sacred Mysteries. We speak of the Most Blessed Sacrament because it is the Sacrament of sacraments. The Eucharistic species reserved in the tabernacle are designated by this same name. CCC 1330
We also read in the Baltimore Catechism:
The Mass is the Sacrifice of the New Law in which Christ, through the ministry of the priest, offers Himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine.
(a) The name “Mass” comes from the Latin word Missa meaning dismissal. In the early days of the Church the catechumens were asked to leave after the gospel and sermon were finished. The faithful, however, remained until they were dismissed after the sacrifice was completed. Then, as now, this was done by saying or singing Ite Missa Est. In the course of time the word Missa, or dismissal, was used to designate the entire sacrifice. BC 357
In short, the Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of Christ on Calvary in which Jesus Christ is fully present in the form of bread and wine. When you go to Mass, this is the image you should be reminded of.
When we see this image of Jesus bloodied and dying on the cross, we are witnessing this at Mass. We enter into this mystery. With the Novus Ordo, and its countless variables at each Mass, we must ask ourselves a serious question. Would this be appropriate if you were at the foot of the cross?
Praise and worship music would be inappropriate as it possesses no solemnity, that is, no respect for the dignity of the Holy Sacrifice. Praise and worship music, by its essence and intent, is upbeat, which elicits a response of happiness. Playing a guitar before Christ Crucified and singing “Gather Us In, the Rich and the Haughty” is insulting. If you disagree, imagine yourself dying a wrongful death upon a cross, suffocating in agony and a group of people singing this song. What would you think of them? What would you be tempted to say to them?
Gregorian Chant possesses the somber tone which from antiquity instills reverence and awe. Pope St. Pius X instated in his Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini (Instruction on Sacred Music):
These qualities are to be found, in the highest degree, in Gregorian Chant, which is, consequently the Chant proper to the Roman Church, the only chant she has inherited from the ancient fathers, which she has jealously guarded for centuries in her liturgical codices, which she directly proposes to the faithful as her own, which she prescribes exclusively for some parts of the liturgy, and which the most recent studies have so happily restored to their integrity and purity.
On these grounds Gregorian Chant has always been regarded as the supreme model for sacred music, so that it is fully legitimate to lay down the following rule: the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.
The ancient traditional Gregorian Chant must, therefore, in a large measure be restored to the functions of public worship, and the fact must be accepted by all that an ecclesiastical function loses none of its solemnity when accompanied by this music alone.
Special efforts are to be made to restore the use of the Gregorian Chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in the ecclesiastical offices, as was the case in ancient times.
Gregorian Chant is the only form of music which will draw us into these Heavenly mysteries.
Standing During the Consecration and Receiving Communion
Standing is inappropriate as this is not just some man dying, but our Lord. When a mother loses her child, she does not stand, but rather, she collapses. She collapses over the despair of losing her beloved child. She collapses at the horror of never seeing him again. She collapses in grief and sorrow.
Much like any of us would collapse after tragically losing a loved one, we too should collapse to our knees out of grief and agony for the loss of Jesus, because He is our Lord. With the appearance of bread and wine, Jesus is fully present, Body, Blood, Soul, And Divinity. We should kneel out of respect and humility as He has dominion over us.
During the Consecration, we should kneel as the Holy Ghost descends upon the bread and wine and transubstantiates the Essence it into the Most Holy Eucharist. We kneel to receive Him because He is our Lord and only hands that have been consecrated to bring forth His transfiguration should touch Him. Those brave men who have been ordained to the priesthood or the diaconate have hands consecrated to touch Him.
Remember the conversion of St. Thomas, in John 20: 24 – 29. Thomas, both doubting and boastful, sees Jesus for the first time since their Last Supper together and the Betrayal in the Garden. Is it too much to imagine that Thomas, upon seeing Jesus, would jump up and run to Him, calling, “My Lord!” in excitement? And then, realizing that the Wounds in His Hands, Feet and Side are neither bloody nor healed, immediately fall to his knees, his face to the floor, exclaiming, “My God!” in breathless ecstasy and adoration? It all happens together, in that Eternal Moment of Sanctification.
If only hands have that have been consecrated to touch Him are allowed, then logically Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should not be allowed, as their hands have not been consecrated. While I understand the distribution of Holy Communion would take much longer, this should never, ever be a hindrance at the Mass, but a benefit. During this time, we should be offering prayers of Thanksgiving to Our Lord for allowing us to receive Him worthily. We should bring our prayer intentions to the Lord, focusing on His Holy Sacrifice on Calvary, and thanking Him for paying the debt which we cannot pay. In a society where we are constantly bombarded by noise, this provides ample opportunity to pray in silence before our Crucified Lord.
Pope Benedict XVI, while still Josef Cardinal Ratzinger wrote:
“Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of the liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.” Spirit of the Liturgy
Applause is used to signify an accomplishment of an individual or group. It is not meant for the Mass, especially when we remember that the Mass is the Sacrifice of Christ Crucified. We would not applaud someone else while we are standing before Christ dying on the cross. We should not clap while we are at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The focus of the Mass is not us, but on Christ.
This includes all aspects of the Mass, even when the Mass is concluded. We are in the House of God, present before Jesus Christ in the tabernacle. We do not applaud the choir, nor any other individual or group of individuals. We read in Sacrosanctum Concilium:
32. The liturgy makes distinctions between persons according to their liturgical function and sacred Orders, and there are liturgical laws providing for due honors to be given to civil authorities. Apart from these instances, no special honors are to be paid in the liturgy to any private persons or classes of persons, whether in the ceremonies or by external display.
Only men can be elevated to the calling of the priesthood. Many priests, while not all, were formed and called during their time as altar boys. A direct correlation has been observed between having altar girls and boys no longer being interested in serving at the altar. When boys are not interested, they may not heed their calling to a Vocation of Holy Orders.
When boys and young men miss their vocation to the priesthood, we are left in the vocations crisis that we are currently facing. Parishes are closing because we do not have any priests to minister to them.
These are but a few examples of abuses that we should aim to eliminate from the Mass if we want to restore a sense of the sacred. Prayerfully consider encouraging your pastor to begin removing elements that are not aimed at bringing forth reverence to Our Lord.