EX OPERE OPERATO – FROM THE WORK PERFORMED
Second Corinthians 6:2
Brothers and Sisters,
Advent without singing, and here comes Christmas also without congregational singing. This is rough on me and, as so many of you have told me, it is awful to try to enjoy Mass and other devotions without large groups, singing, and the ability to celebrate together.
With fewer people having been at Mass since we were again able to have public Mass again this Summer through the present time, it just has not felt the same. With no singing as a congregation being allowed, it has not been as fun, exciting, and just has not felt the same. Without any possibility of food and fellowship at the Church, just being part of out parishes has not felt the same.
It has been frustrating for so many of you – as so many of you have told me. I hope you know that it is just as tough, rough, and difficult for me: I love music and singing at Mass, I love having events at the parish, and I am well aware that there are members of the parish that I have not seen since before the shutdown in March. This is not at all how we anticipated the year.
Here’s the thing: Holy Mother Church has long-since employed the Latin phrase ex opera operato. It roughly means “from the work performed.” The Church discerned this reality when people started to question whether people in a small, poor parish were as strong of Christians as those in large, rich, and fancy parishes. The question was “isn’t it better to have Mass in a fancier parish church building?” People would go on to ask whether the Blessed Sacrament was “better” if it was made from higher quality wheat than the parish next door. Even further, priests would compete with one-another: they would ask things such as if their Mass was better because one priest prayed for longer before Mass than another priest, or maybe if one priest fasted more before Mass – does that make the Mass from one priest “better” than another?
The answer to all of these questions from Holy Mother Church is two-fold. First, it is always important to give our best to Almighty God; let’s now give second-rate to our practice of the Holy Faith or be only partially committed to doing a “good-enough” job. It’s always important to be as generous as we can with our time, talent, and treasure. To that end, there is a gradated degree of difference in the grace we receive from Mass. However, there is not a difference “in-kind” of what we receive from Mass.
Here’s what that means: yes, it would be nicer to have music and singing at Mass, however we STILL receive the same Blessed Sacrament at Mass that we would receive at Mass with music and singing. We still receive the same grace from Holy Mass. Simply from the act of Mass having been performed we receive the grace we need to be strong Christians. Don’t miss your chance for this grace.
God be near,