Sermon given by Fr. Fryar during the Solemn High Mass on October 1st, 2016 for the Conference of the Society for Catholic Liturgy (The perfect Sacrifice, a Mystery enveloped in mysteries)
Audio recording (3.9 mb, 4:18 min)
To be sacred or holy is to be set apart from the profane. The sacred things of God are set apart by barriers. These layers of sacred barriers increase until we reach where He Who is Most Holy abides.
This we see in the construction of the Temple in the Old Testament, which was divided into courts, and this we also see in the construction of the church, which is likewise divided up into parts - the vestibule, the nave, the sanctuary, the altar, the tabernacle. Each is a step or barrier closer to the center, where He Who is Most Sacred resides.
We can see this design of barriers toward the most sacred in the prayers at Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form. In the center of the Mass is the most sacred part - the Consecration. Surrounding the Consecration like a perfect circle is the Canon of the Mass. Nobody knows who wrote the Canon and yet it is so perfect that it can be divided and subdivided and admired. It is like a perfect circle that begins with God - 'Te igitur clementissime Pater" and ends with God - "Omnis honor et gloria."
If you step back and look at this circle you will see that all the sides mirror each other. The Memento of the Living is mirrored on the other side of the Consecration by the Memento of the Dead. Before the consecration we pray for the church, after we commemorate the Old Testament. Before there is a list of saints and after, a list of saints.
And as you step back further you will see that the Canon is likewise in a frame. Before it we see the Preface, symbolizing the prayer of Our Lord giving thanks to His Father at the Last Supper: 'Vere dignum et iustum est.. gratias agere." After is the Our Father - the perfect priestly prayer of Christ to His Father that contains the seven things we need to pray most in order of importance. These are likewise framed by the Offertory and the Communion. Which are likewise framed by the readings - symbolizing the public life of Our Lord, and the Last blessing which represents the Ascension. Finally another frame of introduction and conclusion - the prayers of preparation at the Foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel.
God's creation is so perfect that it can convert an atheist. We can admire the intricate parts of a flower or the perfection of the planets. It is fitting that right worship offered to a perfect and intricate Creator likewise be perfect, reflecting the perfection of He Whom we worship. This is what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is. We are honored to be here, to have the privilege of participating in a perfect Sacrifice, a Mystery enveloped in mysteries, a glimpse of Heaven and a participation in the Life of the Trinity!