Father Matta El-Meskeen (Matthew the Poor)
MASS IS ORIGINALLY THE PRAISE OF THE SERAPHIM before God’s throne. It was disclosed to the prophet Isaiah in a revelation that is above description and intelligence. This is the purport of mass the Church received through an awesome mystery from among the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The basis of the heavenly seraphim mass that was revealed to the prophet Isaiah is the calling of the Lord’s attribute i.e. His holiness that is above the mind’s intelligence. God’s holiness here, mentioned by tongues of the seraphim, is that God’s attribute is the basis for every praise and glorification. It was revealed since beginning of creation for the first time to the prophet Isaiah as the prophetical preparation for God’s descent on earth. Because with the angels the contents of praise do not exceed the heavens. But here the seraphim reveal the Lord’s descent from heaven down to earth. He says completing the praise: “The whole earth is full of His glory.”1 This is the revealing purport of the Lord’s incarnation that will fill the earth as He fills the heavens. It is known that Isaiah is the only source that announced that the Lord’s birth was from the Virgin: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”2He imagined that the seraphim in heaven will inevitably carry out the revealing praise, due to the birth of the Son of God actually filling the earth with His glory. A multitude of the heavenly host also recorded this truth the moment the Lord was born in Bethlehem: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.”3 This hymn is considered the echo to the seraphim’s shout: “The whole earth is full of His glory.”4 The Church filled with the Spirit hence chose to add: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth …” In another place the Church says: “heaven and earth are filled with Your holiest glory” (Holy Mass).
The name “Holy” repeated thrice in the seraphim’s praise is in its essence the revelation of the actual fact of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Mass in the Church is therefore considered nowadays the spoken inspiration of the Holy Trinity, and the essential revealing praise of equality in God’s Holy nature. For that reason the Church has now found pride with the seraphim as she has fulfilled their praise. This way the fulfillment of the Divinity is revealed by the Church in the heavens with the cherubim, the seraphim and the rest of the multitude of hosts and angels as the Apostle Paul says: “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the Church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”5
The greatest thing about hallowing God in truth and spirit is that man becomes partner in holiness itself. Consequently, through this mass we daily celebrate, we announce our right as participants in this hallowing, as well as our ending up above where there is the multitude of saints who aspire impatiently for our arrival as it is the purpose of their joy as well as of ours.
Hence no one should say that attending mass is tiring or tedious because while we are present in church we are inserted among the heavenly host and participate for a while in the atmosphere of the saints to rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.6
Mass which the Church celebrates calmly and with awe transports us on high to live for a moment our heavenly glory. Then comes the turn to partake of the Host, so we eat of the body of God and drink of His blood. Our participation is recorded in heaven and we are counted among the chosen who were invited the better homeland, i.e. the heavenly one.
Hence the seraphim’s praise qualifies us to become eligible to reveal the Holy we are praising. For that reason it is said that participation in mass is the hidden subterranean vault behind the earth which we in mystery use to reach the celebration of saints. This mystery the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to His chosen when He disclosed that He is the way, the truth, and the life. We follow Him in mystery beyond this age with praises resembling the heavenly host, drawn to Him by the voice coming from far. If the way becomes narrow or the possessor of this world narrows it, Christ will wipe away every tear from our eyes and the Lord will make us join His eternal joy: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.7
He who gave those on earth the praise of the seraphim accept from us also our voices with those unseen. Count us among the heavenly host. Let us also utter with them, as we have discarded all evil thoughts, and cry out that which they transmit, in ceaseless voices and with mouths that do not subside, and bless Your glory. (Gregorian mass)
1 Is 6:3.
2 Is 7:14.
3 Lk 2:14.
4 Is 6:3.
5 Eph 3:10, 11.
6 1 Pet 1:8.
7 Rev 21:4.
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