The Perfect Mass

“Nicholas Wiseman was appointed as the first English cardinal and the first Archbishop of Westminster following the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales by Blessed Pius IX in 1850. This great pastor and scholar wrote, concerning the [‘Tridentine’] Mass that he celebrated each day of his priestly life: If we examine each prayer separately, it is perfect: perfect in construction, perfect in thought, and perfect in expression. If we consider the manner in which they are brought together, we are struck with the brevity of each, with the sudden but beautiful transitions, and the almost stanza-like effect, with which they succeed one another, forming a lyrical composition of surpassing beauty. If we take the entire service as a whole, it is constructed with the most admirable symmetry, proportioned in its parts with perfect judgment and so exquisitely arranged, as to excite and preserve an unbroken interest in the sacred action. No doubt, to give full force and value to this sacred rite, its entire ceremonial is to be considered. The assistants, with their noble vestments, the chant, the incense, the more varied ceremonies which belong to a solemn Mass, are all calculated to increase veneration and admiration. But still, the essential beauties remain, whether the holy rite be performed under the golden vault of St. Peter’s, or in a wretched wigwam, erected in haste by some poor savages for their missionary”   ~Michael Davies

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