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Who am I at Mass?
I never realized that 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 is NEVER read at Mass (in the Ordinary Form).
Let me just say, as much as I appreciate that in the Latin Rite that we say “Domine, non sum dignus,” I am going to confess that it is sometimes easy (at least for sinful me) to say those words too quickly and along with everyone else jump up to get in line. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Of course this is a beautiful prayer, but it is one sentence. We are about to receive the King of Kings and perhaps for poor sinners like I, we need more time to stop and think for a moment about what it is that is about to happen. This is why I love the prayer that we say in the Eastern Rite before receiving Communion:
“O Lord, I believe and profess that you are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me as a partaker of your mystical supper, O Son of God; for I will not reveal your mystery to your enemies, nor will I give you a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief I confess to you: Remember me, O Lord, when you shall come into your kingdom. Remember me, O Master, when you shall come into your kingdom. Remember me, O Holy One, when you shall come into your kingdom. May the partaking of your Holy Mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of soul and body. O Lord, I also believe and profess that this, which I am about to receive, is truly your most precious Body and your life-giving Blood, which, I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen.”
At every Divine Liturgy we ourselves proclaim that we know that to partake unworthily brings about our own “judgement and condemnation.”
And then, immediately after the faithful have said this prayer, the priest sings: “Approach with fear of God and with Faith.” Another small sentence replete with meaning. Approach. Approach how? Only with “fear of God.” And not only that, but also with Faith. A Faith that believes that this is “truly the precious Body and life-giving Blood.”
I also find it rather beautiful to remember that during the Liturgy we are present at the Cross, as the Mass and the Crucifixion are one in the same sacrifice. Since this is true, then who are we at this scene? The prayer tells us: we are the thief. On the cross beside Jesus. Rightly condemned for our sins. And so we echo the words of the thief, “Remember me O Lord, when you shall come into your kingdom.”