What was wrong with the Tridentine Mass? Nothing. The Mass is the Mass. It was the sacramental presentation of Christ Crucified. The hierarchical priest celebrated it visibly alone. The people watched. It was opera. But, there was no theology of the priesthood of the laity (as in Vatican II). When people went to work, work wasn’t understood to be the Mass lived. Work was performance, not self-gift, as Mass was understood to be a “rite: [“Ritual form,” cf. “Desiderio Desiderare” Result: the people were “clericalized,” meaning, they did not experience work as Christ’s gift of Self, and themselves giving it.

  1. Enter Ivan Illich’s perception and account of work being trivialized by 18th c. industrialization. Work was understood as the giftedness of persons. Machine “work” eradicated the reality and perception of male and female work. We must remember here that machines don’t work. Animals don’t work. Only persons work, and this because work is the mastery of the “I” of get possession of the “I,” to make the gift of the “I” to another. Where there is no “I” given as gift, there is no “work”

2) From the perspective of the liturgical celebration of Mass, I conclude: if Mass is not understood as the work of the God-man Jesus Christ, and all ordinary secular work is not understood to be the Mass lived, then the human person becomes secularized and individualized and consequently, genderless..

That is, Mass is the Action of the God-man Jesus Christ. That is, only persons work. Animals and machines do not work because there is no “I” in machines and animals. Theologically, “work” is properly defined in terms of Creation and Redemption. Presupposed is Chalcedon’s clarification that there is only one Person and two natures, divine and human, in Jesus Christ. The divine “work” of Redemption consists in the divine “I” of the Person of Christ subduing His[1] human assumed will and destroying the sin of disobedience of all men that He assumed in it.[2] The “work” of Christ is His free obedience to death – with His human will.

But if the Mass is the Action of Christ as Person, and work always involves the protagonism of person, and enfleshed person always involves being male or female since the revealed notion of person is always relational (as in the Trinity that is one God), then the loss of the Mass as Action would involve that loss of the sense of person as make or female. If this logic holds up, then the sense or loss of the sense of gender would have to do with the experience or loss of the sacrifice of the Mass as lived in the street.  

[1] It is most important to understand that “wills” don’t “will.” Only persons will. Such reification or personification of the faculty is the work of the hyperactive imagination which is common to us in all philosophical endeavor.

[2] 2Cor. 5, 21: “He made him to be sin who knew nothing of sin”

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