WITH ST. MARY'S
THE TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
When the Church offers up the prayers of the faithful, we are winning.
TWENTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
When the priest stands at the altar to offer up the sacrifice of the Mass on behalf of the congregation, he is simultaneously acting in the person of Christ, the High Priest, Moses, and most simply, a representative of us. His posture at the altar, unique to him compared to ours, is marked by the outstretching of his arms; we call this posture the orans, from the Latin word for “praying.” With this posture, he is offering up the prayers of the faithful and the sacrifice of the Mass, and emulating the pose of Moses in the battle against Amalek and the form of Jesus while he suffered on the cross. In addition to the obvious physical weariness that comes from lifting one’s arms, a priest will grow weary from offering everything on behalf of his flock, just as Moses grew weary in the battle and just as Jesus grew weary on the cross. It is our responsibility as the congregation to support and aid the priest in all that he does so that he may be strengthened when it comes time to offer the sacrifice of the Mass for us.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
The orans pose can be found at multiple points in the Mass, but it is always in the context of the priest offering things up for us, just as Christ offered himself on the cross. On a deeper Scriptural level, though, we can further understand why the priest takes up this pose by hearing in this Sunday’s first reading about a battle between the Israelites and Amalek. For whatever reason, the Israelites were successful only when Moses kept his arms raised during the battle; as soon as he dropped them, they began to lose. The battle was long. Moses grew weary from keeping his arms raised, so Aaron and Hur held his arms up for him and the Israelites won. During the Mass or in Adoration, you may occasionally notice that when the priest offers incense or at the moment of the consecration, certain altar servers will hold back the sleeves of his chasuble. This is not just practical; it is a recreation of Aaron and Hur aiding Moses as Moses aids their people. The priest offers the Mass for us, and we are unable to receive the Eucharist without him. The life of a priest is also very wearisome; in addition to his sacramental responsibilities, he is in charge of the operations of an entire parish and is also called upon to provide emotional and spiritual support to those in need. Priests can easily grow weary simply because they are lovingly working for the sake of our souls. We must emulate Aaron and Hur by lifting up the arms of the priest in his work. We cannot consecrate the Host. We cannot offer up the Mass on our own behalf. The priest must do this for us. But we can help him in all that he needs outside of the Mass so that he can be strengthened when it is time to offer up the Sacrifice of the Mass for his congregation. He is doing this for us, as we undergo a spiritual battle against sin and death. As long as he holds the orans pose, we are winning.
Family activity to do at home: The life of the Church must be self-sustaining. We need the Mass, and in order to have the Mass, we need priests. Priests aren't assigned, nor is it an office you are born into. Future priests are formed by their community and, most especially, by their family. As a Catholic family, you and your family members must keep this in mind; form your children, especially your sons in spirituality, prayer, theology, Scripture, and service. The future of our souls depend on this. In the activity below, you can find a guide to help walk you through the proper ways of promoting these things within your family. Your sons will respond to an active and formative participation in the Domestic Church.