The Lavabo: The washing of hands. After making the offertory, the priest purifies himself one last time before approaching the altar to consecrate the bread and wine, which through him as God’s instrument, by the Will of God, will become God Himself. He needs all the purifying grace he can get.
This church reminds me of the priesthood. True, it is one of the side altars in St. Jerome’s in Rome where St. Philip Neri lived so I think about the Saint every time I look at it.
And this part of the Mass, in turn, is the most about the priesthood. The pivotal point, the last purification before he embarks on the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
After this point, the Mass is all about the consecration, the bread and wine becoming the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
While the servers pours water over his fingers, the priest prays Psalm 25:6-12 in full.
I will wash my hands among the innocent: and will encompass Thy altar, O Lord.
That I may hear the voice of Thy praise, and tell of all Thy wondrous works.
I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of Thy house, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth.
Take not away my soul, O God, with the wicked, nor my life with men of blood.
In whose hands are iniquities: their right hand is filled with gifts.
But as for me, I have walked in my innocence: redeem me, and have mercy on me.
My foot hath stood in the direct way: in the churches I will bless Thee, O Lord.
Glory be to the Father…
When I first began going to the Latin Mass I was shocked that so much of the Psalm is prayed. It’s one of those things that has been taken out of the Novus Ordo in favor of just the beginning of Psalm 50 remind the priest and faithful of the whole psalm. (“Lord, wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin”).
The church in this painting is a side altar in St. Jerome in Rome, Italy. Painted as an illustration for Kimberly Fries’ book: Traditional Latin Mass: A Missal for Children found here: https://amzn.to/3FnasK0
(For the Latin Mass loving Catholics checking for Churches to go to, Rome is amazing. They most likely never celebrate Mass at this particular altar, but the rest of the church is similarly amazing. We didn’t go to Mass in this church, so I have no idea how they normally celebrate.)
Want me to paint your church? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a quote. I paint from photo references and can add priests/servers if needed.