Let’s try to understand individual parts of Holy Mass.
In Holy Mass when we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy . . .” it’s as though heaven has come down to earth.
The priest saying Mass could find himself in the vision of the prophet Isaiah, who on God sitting on the throne with seraphim surrounding Him and one to another calls: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Is 6:3).
Our human, often meagre singing joins with the mighty choir of the inhabitants of heaven. The term “Holy” does not mean His moral dimension, i.e. that God is not stained by any form of evil, but that God is transcendent, that means exceeding the dimensions of earth. He is holy, that is, incomprehensible, inexhaustible, inexpressible. He exceeds the human ability to know and define His essence.
A person, in an era dominated by exact sciences, must be very careful and humble when trying to know God and say who He is. Certainly, God lets Himself be known more by the heart than the mind The expression found in the prophet Isaiah: “God (Lord, Yahweh) of hosts (Sabaoth)”, means that God is the Lord of all the earth, the whole cosmos, all created beings. This is why – as we sing – “heaven and earth are full of your glory”. So, not only the earth with all that exists on it, but also heaven praises its God.
From expressions relating to God we pass to praising Christ. And so, words that follow: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9), lead us to Him. This is how the people greeted Jesus as He entered Jerusalem; we go through this event on Palm Sunday. Christ came to earth, becoming a man, but continually comes to us in the Eucharist and finally comes at the end of time. It is through Him that God, so different from what is created, so incomprehensible and limitless becomes so close in the love that He shows us in the Eucharist, becoming our food. What is so divine and also so far away, becomes so close to us in Holy Mass. Here we touch divinity, more . . . . . it penetrates us through this piece of bread, which becomes the Body of the Saviour. It is here Christ reconciles heaven and earth and renews it.
“Hosanna in the highest” we sing twice. The roots of these words go back to Psalm 118, accompanying the Israelites in procession to the temple. The term hosanna etymologically means “save me”. Pleading turns into a song of praise here: “The Lord helped me”, “the Lord is exalted”. So, God’s glory is interwoven with God’s help, with God’s love. God the Most High through His Son hanging on the cross, stretches out His arms to us, to embrace us. God’s Son, in what He felt on the cross and the human powerlessness seen by us, saved to world. Here is God’s economy of salvation, far from the principles of human logic, according to which the one who helps, the one who “saves” is the strong one. A strong person doesn’t need God’s help, this is also why his strength is limited and short-lived, whereas God’s power is unlimited. Here you might recall the words of Saint Paul, when he asked for the thorn in his flesh to be removed, i.e. some pain, which burdened him heavily. The Lord did not free him from it, but as Saint Paul said: “he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (. . . .) For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:9,10b).
We are aware of our weaknesses and limitations. But just as we are, let’s sing wholeheartedly to praise God: “Holy, holy, holy”. May God’s glory grow in us and transform us; let Him transform our weakness so that we become strong with His strength.
It’s worth ending with the reflective words of Cyprian Norwid:
Who worked for love – like YOU,
when You deigned to become a man for this work?
That You were sad to the point of death, and always loving?
for You had nowhere to lay Your holy head, King of the whole world.