The accomplishment of the Sacrifice is about to begin with the Preface. The silence is broken with the second “word” when the priest asks the faithful to lift up their hearts. However, even though he is calling upon the faithful, notice that he does not turn to face them as he did with the Orate Fratres.
Gihr teaches that as did Moses when he climbed Mt. Sinai to be face to face with God, so does the priest when he focuses entirely on the altar of Sacrifice where, as it were, he will find himself face to face with our Divine Savior. The faithful will only see the face of the priest after his Communion when he descends from the “Mountain” to bring Divinity Incarnate to the people.
The priest calls upon us to put all worldly distraction aside and to focus entirely on Our Lord’s coming at the Consecration. We should be keenly aware that the assistance of grace is necessary to raise our minds and hearts solely to God, for without the divine assistance, we poor creatures are incapable of putting all worldly distractions aside. “Recollection of mind and fervor of devotion are gifts of the Lord,” says Fr. N. Gihr.
While contemplating our afflicted Savior, we may also see with the eyes of the soul what is imperceptible to the indifferent, the lukewarm, and to the worldly: The heavens open to reveal myriads of celestial beings descending to adore of the King of kings and Lord of lords, now condemned to an ignominious death, and assigned a grave with the wicked!
Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, who didst for my sake vouchsafe to receive the sentence of death, even the death of the Cross; make me for Thy love not to fear the sentence of the most cruel death that the wicked judgments of men can pronounce against me, nor ever to judge evil of others. Amen.”
In the Preface we implore God to permit our lowly, human adoration to be made worthy by having our praises joined to that of the celestial militia, all those “angels who praise, Dominations who worship, and Powers who stand in awe.”
More, is not necessarily better. Sometimes a particular good gets ‘lost’ or neglected when thrown together with a great number of other similar items. Such was the case with the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity. This weighty, doctrinally compacted Preface has become ‘lost’, or neglected if you will, amidst the numerous, newly created Prefaces for the N.O. missal.
In 1969, the late Bishop de Castro Mayer had lamented and objected that the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity had ceased to be the Preface for the Lord’s Day, ordinarily used for the “Green” Sundays of the liturgical year. The Preface used to honor one of the greatest and most impenetrable mysteries of our faith, and to Whom the Holy Sacrifice is offered, was demoted to practical neglect in the New Mass since in that Missal, it is used only for the Feast of the Holy Trinity.
Certainly, the early Church did not consider that more Prefaces were optimal for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. With time, the number of Prefaces had accrued to the point that it was felt necessary to eliminate a great many. It is believed that it was St. Gregory the Great (590-604), who according to Gihr, “reduced the immense number to ten”. Six hundred years passed before an 11th Preface was added!
The New Missal, as of 2011, had accumulated 82 Prefaces in the 41 years since 1970, whereas for the TLM, the 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal lists 15. Four others are included which may be used where permitted, and if the priest elects to use them.