The Beautiful Sisters of Kloster Engelport

On December 30, 2013 the Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus officially took possession of Kloster Maria Engelport in southwestern Germany. The monastery, which had been in the possession of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, had been threatened with closure, as it was no longer able to be supported by the aging Order which had occupied the buildings for 110 years.

Average age under 30

In sharp contrast, the Sisters Adorers are a young community, based in Gricigliano, in the Provence of Florence, Italy. Today their Sisters are present in Germany, France, Ireland, Sweden, the U.S. and other countries. The average age in the Order is far below thirty; the Sisterhood has many vocations. Their Motto is In Corde Regis (‘In the Heart of the King’).

Kloster Maria Engelport has also been established as a temporary novitiate for the fast-growing Order, where young women can spend time discerning their vocation.

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ADORATION SISTERS KNEELING to receive Holy Communion.

Kloster Maria Engelport has also been established as a temporary novitiate for the fast-growing Order, where young women can spend time discerning their vocation.

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A YOUNG ORDER founded in 2001, the Adoration Sisters’ average age is below thirty.

Celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form

The Sisters’ spiritual needs are attended by a Chaplain from their brother Order, the The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) or in German, Institut Christus Köenig und Hoherpriester.  They are spiritually and materially supported by the Institute and Canon Karl Lenhardt take care of the liturgy and the administration, with oblates of the Institute available for help with practical work.

As of January 2, 2014 the Mass in the Extraordinary Form is being celebrated at Kloster Maria Engelport, and the Mass is open to all. The Sisters also maintain the daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from morning until evening, to which all are invited. The Church’s Liturgy of the Hours is sung daily with Lauds (Morning prayers) and Vespers (Evening Prayer) in Latin. With the permission of the Bishop of Trier, the Sisters at the monastery of Maria Engelport will maintain it as a place of worship and pilgrimage.

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Rich history of Engelport

The coming of the Sisters Adorers is another chapter in the rich history of this Monastery. In 1794, it was a refuge for the Premonstratensian Fathers (Norbertines) fleeing before the wrath of Napoleon’s troops.

The Sisters are taking possession of the monastery at a critical juncture in German Catholic history.  At a time when many German monasteries are being closed, without the Sisters Adorers  Engelport had also been threatened with closure. Now the Sisters Adorers are keeping this place of pilgrimage alive for all.

Mother Marie-Caroline Says: “We look forward to working with the people of the Mosel and Hunsrück.” There are already more plans for the future, because the sisters want to be there for the people. (citation?)

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KLOSTER ENGELPORT in Germany

Open to all

Mass times at Engelport remain largely unchanged: Church, church services and holy images are also open in the future for all. Similarly, the monastery shop will remain open.

For inquiries, the telephone number is country code 49, then 02672 / 915 750 and you can view their website here

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ADORATION SISTERS in their characteristic blue-mantled habit, at Mass in Italy.

 

On Miracles, Saints and the Mass

Thoughts of a Priest on the 30th Anniversary of His Ordination

Father Richard Cipolla was ordained a Catholic priest thirty year ago, after a journey to the Faith which included studying at Oxford University and serving as an Episcopalian minister. A scientist and a Latinist, Father Cipolla is currently the Chair of the Classics Department at the Brunswick School in Greenwich, Connecticut. Father Cipolla is also parochial vicar of St Mary’s in Norwalk, where he gave the following homily on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his ordination as a Catholic priest.

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Last week we heard the gospel from St John that recounts Jesus’ first miracle, the changing of water into wine. Today we hear of two more miracles performed by our Lord: the healing of the lepers and the healing of the centurion’s servant. The gospels in the season of the Sundays after Epiphany concentrate on the miracles of Jesus as the answer to the seminal, the basic question asked and answered in the gospels: who is this man Jesus?

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These miracles are not offered as proof to the gospel answer to this question, that he is the Son of God, the Word of God and the Savior of the world. But they are offered— offered in a historical sense, not in some sort of symbolic sense—to point to the answer to the seminal question. Many who call themselves Christians have been having problems with these miracles for a long time, and they have done so because they have succumbed well over a century ago to a rationalistic and moralistic understanding of the person of Jesus Christ.

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These people are locked into a totally outdated and false understanding of the physical world: they live in a imaginary Newtonian world in which surprise is absent. It is absent by decree, since there can be no surprises in a clock world understanding of the physical universe. One does not have to be conversant with the ins and outs of contemporary physics to know that physical reality is full of surprises and that these surprises happen with alarming frequency.  The irony is that in an age in which science is seen to be the basis and the touchstone of what is real, most people, certainly including theologians, are locked into a view of reality that corresponds in no way to the mysterious and in a way crazy picture of physical reality that contemporary physics paints for us. And the verb paints is very apt, for physical reality is much more like a painting whose meaning can never be fully grasped than the rather boring view of reality that is like a Patek Phillipe watch: expensive, elegant in its own way, keeps good time, but in the end not very interesting.

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There is no doubt that we are living through one of the worst crises the Church has faced in her 2000 year history. The roots of this crisis do not lie in yesterday. The roots have been growing for at least three centuries, some would say much longer than that, and these roots are firmly grounded in the soil of that radical and myopic view of reality that places the individual at the center of the universe and as the ultimate meaning of what is real and true and good. The cry of Martin Luther: “Here I stand, I can do no other”, finds its logical and inevitable consummation in the world in which we live, a world that loves to talk about ‘community’ only in terms of a reality that is totally circumscribed by a radical denial of what has formed communities in the past: family, friends, shared values grounded in something beyond the community, and a sense of the transcendent.

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This is a world in which any objectivity in morality is denied, morality is defined in terms of the freedom of the individual to do whatever he wants, with the exception of hurting another person, and that hurting another person is seen in terms of making that other person “unhappy”. Even killing another person does not get in the way of this morality based on the self and a selfish understanding of freedom, as we can see in the painful example of the contemporary acceptance of abortion as a personal right.

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And the crisis in the Church lies in her willful refusal to vigorously counter in an ecclesial way, based on the truth of the Gospel, this warped view of what is real, what is true and good. There is no doubt from a reading of Church history that the Church has succumbed at various times in her history to trying to make peace with the world by a deliberate forgetting of her role and mission given to her by Him who is the ultimate contradiction to the world. But in those times, there have always been those whom we call saints, especially the martyrs, who have seen through these dishonest attempts to come to terms with the world, and whose lives and death have the same effect as Jesus’ miracles: they point beyond and above to the God who is good, true and beautiful.

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The Church has often had a hard time dealing with these people: like St Antony of Egypt who fled from the world to live in the desert; like St Francis of Assisi who embraced a terrible form of poverty to point to the reality of the radical nature of Christianity; like St Thérèse of Lisieux, whose understanding of the vocation of love that lies at the heart of what it means to be a Catholic brought her to such terrible suffering and in the end at her death a darkness that she perceived as a loss of faith. Or like St Thomas More, that very worldly and intelligent man, that eminent scholar and writer of superb even if mock Ciceronian Latin, that ambitious man who rose so high in political power and who found himself quite unexpectedly and not by choice confronting that choice that is at the heart of the Catholic faith and yet is denied by most Catholics, that choice between the world that tolerates only a tamed and impotent Christian faith and that faith which demands to choose contra mundum because of love of Christ who died pro mundo. And Thomas More chose for God in the context of defending the Papacy in the person of a Pope who was no great model for the Petrine ministry. The trouble is that these saints and most saints have been so pietized and hagiized and sentimentalized by Catholics that their meaning, who they really were, has evaporated. St Francis becomes a Disney character complete with birds and a birdbath. St Thérèse becomes a sweet pious French little girl holding roses. St Thomas More becomes a character in a Robert Bolt play who is reduced to a “man of principle.”

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But this is all part of the history that has brought us to this time of crisis. A time when bishops refuse to condemn the warped worldliness of their flock holding prominent positions in government, those who dare to claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, dare to proclaim themselves as Catholics, dare to claim to be daily Mass goers, and at the same time support contemporary moral positions that deny the Lord of life himself. And all of this in the name of compassion, compassion redefined in the name of the freedom of the individual. And this is what compassion has been reduced to. So many Catholics do not know what compassion means: it means to suffer with another. It does not mean to excuse the faults of another. But it does mean to love the other, and to love some one means to be willing to suffer with that person, means to reach out to the other from the Cross of Jesus Christ.

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There is no other compassion than the compassion of Mary at the foot of the Cross. There is no other compassion than St Francis’ receiving the stigmata. There is no other compassion than St Thérèse suffering her dark death in the context of her vocation to love. There is no compassion other than St Thomas More’s terrible realization of what love for the world really means — dying on behalf of the love of Christ for all men, in a most ambiguous context. It means that there is no foundation for true compassion except in the infinite compassion of Jesus Christ for the sinners of the world.

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But what has brought us to the particular depth of crisis the Church faces today? The difference between the crises of the Church in the past — and there were many of them — and the crisis besetting us now is this: the contemporary loss of the sacred, specifically the loss of the liturgy, of the Mass, as the binding force that was the fundamental context in which the Catholic life was lived through the centuries. It was, in the words of the Second Vatican Council, the fons et culmen — the source and summit of the Catholic life.

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The Mass of the Tradition is the fruit of organic development whose words, prayers, gestures, music cannot be identified with any one culture, any one language, any one provenance. The Mass includes its roots in Judaism, in the Greek speaking world of ancient times, in the Middle East of Syria and Lebanon, in the city and empire of Rome, drawing from traditions far and wide, from Britain to Gallican France, to Spain, to North Africa, from what we call in general the East: all expressed in a common and unchangeable language that is foundational in the Christian world of the West.

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This structure, this palace, this humble home, this house that everyone, rich, poor, men, women, children, educated, peasant could come to and be at home in, at home even if not intellectually understanding what all these rooms meant, coming into a place that was familiar and yet not common, the place that was always there, that did not depend on the fashion of the world, what was au courant at the time, that transcended time and space, that always pointed to what one could not understand but believed. This is so wonderfully captured in that scene in Graham Green’s novel, ‘The Power and the Glory’ when the Mexican peasants sigh with happiness as the priest, risking his life for them, says the Mass in a poor home, and when he raises the Host they sigh, and in that sigh they know, they know, despite the terrible reality of their lives, they know that God is with them again in the home of the Mass.

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But there came a time, not too long ago, where this understanding of the Mass was shunted aside. And it was declared that the Mass was no longer the venerable place for people of all times and places of encounter with God, but rather, that it was an historical document, that it was a text that could be manipulated, in opposition to tradition and with a great deal of arrogance, brought up to date, to fit the needs of modern man who now demanded knocking down walls to create open concept kitchens with granite counter-tops, whose focus needed to be the family room with the huge TV. And this reform had to be entrusted to committees and experts, as if because scholars could identify historical developments in the Mass this gave them the right to correct what they did not like: once the contemporaneity of the Mass with eternity was forgotten: then the Church, in the name of relevance to engagement with the world, in the name of making the Mass more meaningful to her people — in this case, the people of the 1960s — then the touchstone of the Faith is gone, and there is nothing to hold back the godless face of secularism and relativism.

cip15And once the priest became the center of attention in the Mass, often sitting a throne-like chair where the tabernacle used to be, once he became the facilitator and entertainer, once he faced his people with the altar as a barrier between him and his people, thinking that he was talking to them instead of to God, he forgot who he was. He forgot that the essence of his priesthood is to offer the Holy Sacrifice for and with his people and that this sacrifice demands the sacrifice of himself and that the center of his being must be Christ and Him crucified. This is why, in the words of Romano Guardini, the priest, amidst the joys of being a priest, always carries within his heart “la tristezza così perenne”, the sadness that is always in his heart, for as he offers up the Holy Sacrifice. his heart is rent by the knowledge that the Son of God had to die in such a terrible way for his sins and for the sins of the whole world.

cip16And yet, what we are doing right now is the antidote to the crisis we face. The greatest gift given to the Church in the past fifty years has been Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, giving back to the Church what was wrongfully and arrogantly taken away from her: the Mass of the Tradition of the Catholic Church. Benedict did this because he knew that the heart of the crisis of the Church is the parlous state of the liturgical praxis of the Church that has forgotten that the Mass is for God. It is the worship of God. It is the offering of the Holy Sacrifice, the re-presentation of Calvary. It is not a religious exercise for the people. It is not something for the priest to make up and to make relevant and to make the people happy. It is not an extension of religious education, a didactic exercise.

cip17The Mass is where one enters the Holy of Holies and gives oneself over to the mystery and the love of God. When I was ordained a priest thirty years ago, I never dreamed that I would be celebrating this Mass surrounded by people of faith from all sorts and conditions of men and women. But God is good and faithful. And he has given back to his Church this source of grace and truth, this treasure, the ultimate treasure that is filled with the beauty of God in the distillation of time, of that time impregnated with the astounding event of God becoming man, becoming flesh.

Father cipolla1And what else can we do on this day than be grateful and happy, oh so happy, oh so filled with joy? Especially in this parish church so beautifully made fitting for the coming of God under the veils of bread and wine! And what else can we do than before Holy Communion to echo the centurion’s words from the gospel: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed!

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 Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

Blessed John Henry Newman At Sea, 1833

 

 

 

 

In Anya’s Eyes: A Student’s View on the March For Life

Editor’s Note: It’s been 41 years since the Supreme Court imposed abortion — to be clear, this means the killing of a baby until birth  — on the United States.

Most Americans have no idea that we stand in the lonely company of only nine countries in the world which permit such barbarity.

Four are in the non-Christian Orient: China, North Korea, Singapore and Vietnam.  Three are in post-Christian Northern Europe: the Netherlands, Sweden and Great Britain.

So, why the United States and Canada?  In the fever swamp of 1960s ‘counter-cultural’ politics,  Roe V. Wade serves as a textbook example of how a small group of determined people can impose their will on an entire nation. (Other examples include Nazi Germany and Maoist China, but we digress.)

Back in 1973, nobody could have predicted the brave new world of 2014. More than 50 million lives have been snuffed out. Families are splintered, and in many cases, failing to form at all — poisoned by the immorality of a mass media that owes its soul to the porn business rapidly taking over legitimate Hollywood.

Young Americans are forced to inhabit this world, in all its base brutality. So it’s probably not surprising that they are the ones who are flocking to the growing Marches for Life, insisting that their generation will end abortion.

Anya Proctor is a 20-year old college student who attended her first  March for Life on Washington D.C. this year. She rode the bus for nine hours from southern Georgia, Then, she marched in the freezing cold, deep inside the massive crowd of peaceful demonstrators.

On her bus ride back, in the middle of the night, Anya recorded her impressions for Regina Magazine.

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I WAS SO IMPRESSED with the grandeur of Washington D.C. I marveled at the Christian quotations inscribed in much of the architecture. It made me feel like what we were doing was really important and could be truly effective.
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GOOD COMPANY: At the March, I was in good company—and a lot of it. For so much of my life I’ve been around people who disregard and have disdain for my faith, discouraging me from having hope about my own future and the future of good in this world.
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FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT: So this huge, faithful, youthful crowd in Washington resonated in my soul. I realized that there are people who share my beliefs. Though Christianity and Catholicism are undermined and targeted, they are also strongly believed in and fought for by good, spiritual people.
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MASSIVE CROWD, MASSIVE HOPE: The people at the March for Life had massive hope. They spoke about keeping up the good fight.They spoke about the genocide of the unborn, the sin that it is, and the pain it causes to everyone. They spoke about the preciousness of every life endowed by God. And they spoke about the hope of redemption.

anya7I WAS SO ENCOURAGED TO HEAR THE PEOPLE WHO SPOKE TO US. They articulated a genuine belief that the end to abortion was attainable. They said that science has now proven that fetuses feel pain — and that the tide would turn as that realization spreads.

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LIVELY BUT RESPECTFUL: The march was lively but respectful. Not chaotic or hateful, but spirited with love. Groups from countless colleges, Catholic or otherwise, and seminarians and sisters. Tons of young people with signs: “We are the pro-life generation” and “We want a culture of life.”
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THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT IS NOT ONLY A CATHOLIC CAUSE, BUT A HUMAN ONE. The evil of abortion is a no-brainer. You don’t have to be a Christian to see it’s abhorrently wrong, and many people there spoke of ecumenism. Togetherness on this issue is a good thing, but I was struck by a distinctly Catholic group that prayed while it marched; it represented to me the power of the Church. Because it is divinely instructed and the truest sanctuary of Christ on earth, it emits a unique aura. When you see true representatives of Christ anywhere, you just know they’re special. Seeing them made me feel at home.

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AND THEY WERE FREE — FREE FROM THE JUDGMENT OF THE WORLD AND STRONG ENOUGH TO FIGHT FOR JUSTICE:  The Catholics, the youth, and the immensity of the crowds were inspiring. I know young people hunger for truth. Too many stray from the Church because they think it’s restrictive, but the truth is it sets you free. The presence of believers was substantial. And they were free—free from the judgment of the world and strong enough to fight for justice.

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GOOD DOES PREVAIL: Thousands and thousands of people demonstrated that good does prevail. They demonstrated it to the government, to the country, and to the world. Importantly for my own faith, they demonstrated it to me. In this world where so much is against Christ, they restored some hope for me as I realized that I shouldn’t be so discouraged, like I often am. Because I’m not alone. There’s still a lot of good in the world.
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WHAT THE MAN ON THE BUS SAID: As we drove back from Washington, on the Interstate and into the freezing cold night, a man on my bus said, “When all of all these people from all over the country don’t know each other at all, but come together like this to fight for what’s right—that’s uplifting.”
And he’s right.

WHEN ALL THESE PEOPLE COME TOGETHER TO FIGHT FOR WHAT’S RIGHT, THAT IS UPLIFTING: I was surprised to see so many teenagers and young adults proudly participating. I heard people say that this march had the biggest quantity of young people they’d ever seen.

TRUE CONFESSIONS: How I Found the Traditional Latin Mass

They are young and old, converts and cradle Catholics. The ways in which people discover the Traditional Latin Mass vary widely, but their stories are all fascinating. In this first in a series of  roundtable discussions, Catholics from all over America and the world reveal their voyage of discovery of the ancient beauty of the Mass.

Robert in Chicago: Back in 1994, a Russian Orthodox friend of mine mentioned to me that the “pre-Vatican II Mass” was being celebrated at St. John Cantius in Chicago.  He was aware of it because a friend of his was involved there and served as an Acolyte.  At that time, I wasn’t even aware that the Tridentine Mass was celebrated anywhere.

I never left the Traditional Mass; it left me during Holy Week of 1970. When it returned, I was already attending the Divine Liturgy of the Byzantine Rite.

David in Virginia: As I am now 59 years old, born into a devout Catholic family, I first learned about “the Old Mass” when it was just “the Mass.” I never left the Traditional Mass; it left me during Holy Week of 1970. When it returned, I was already attending the Divine Liturgy of the Byzantine Rite. There were no polemics over traditional versus vernacular language, or inward versus outward participation. All coexisted, and I was in heaven on earth.

As to the Roman Mass, when the indult was enacted, I found a lot of bad attitudes, bitterness over what had been lost, lingering for years after it was found. Ironically, it was the Episcopal Church that brought me back to the Old Mass; more precisely, an Anglo-Catholic convent outside of Baltimore that I used to frequent for retreats. The “Missale Anglicanum” was essentially the TLM in English. The sisters in choir were fully engaged with the Anglican chant. There was no bitterness, only love.

I was born into a devout Roman Catholic family. Ironically, it was an Anglo-Catholic convent, where the sisters in choir were fully engaged with the Anglican chant. There was no bitterness, only love.

Steve in Washington:  I had been a Catholic about a decade, having heard nothing other than to stay away from “traditionalists.”  This was with groups such as Regnum Christi and Opus Dei — but they were as traditional as they thought that they could be consistent with the current approaches, which is why I seldom use the term “neo-Catholic.”  When Blessed John Paul II issued the second document encouraging availability of the TLM, the ice was starting to break…and there was finally a Mass not far from us.

I had been a Catholic about a decade, having heard nothing other than to stay away from “traditionalists.”  This was with groups such as Regnum Christi and Opus Dei.

Rosa in New Jersey: I had been attending a small Anglican breakaway chapel in Mary Mother of the Church Benedictine Abbey near Richmond, Virginia, and I had arranged my work schedule to enable me to come to Benediction and Vespers with the good monks of the abbey. I’d long known that only Rome possessed the fullness of the faith, but after attending several Novus Ordo masses and leaving in tears because they appeared so irreverent, had nearly given up on becoming Catholic. The beauty and holiness of the Benedictine liturgy of the hours gave me hope once again.

I’d long known that only Rome possessed the fullness of the faith, but after attending several Novus Ordo masses and leaving in tears because they appeared so irreverent, had nearly given up on becoming Catholic. The beauty and holiness of the Benedictine liturgy of the hours gave me hope once again.

Linda in Wisconsin: The TLM has always been in the background of my life. My late father stopped going to Mass after all the changes in the liturgy in the 1960s and 1970s. But he always talked about it. So there was always a TLM “presence” in the house growing up, though I did not attend one, when and if I went to Mass at all.

My late father stopped going to Mass after all the changes in the liturgy in the 1960s and 1970s. But he always talked about it.

Neal in West Virginia: When I converted, I became a student of Catholicism very naturally to learn more about the faith that I had just joined.  Not long after (maybe a year), I was hired as a Theology teacher at the parish high school, partly because I am an avid reader and had read everything on Catholicism that I could get my hands on coupled with my knowledge of the Bible from my Baptist upbringing (my father is a Baptist minister), and partly due to the fact that they were very desperate and couldn’t find anyone else to fill the spot.  Due to my new position, I continued educating myself on the Faith and its past, which led me to the Traditional Latin Mass.

I was hired as a Theology teacher at the parish high school, partly because I  had read everything on Catholicism that I could get my hands on coupled with my knowledge of the Bible from my Baptist upbringing, and partly because they were desperate. This led me to the Traditional Latin Mass.

Neil in North Carolina:  I was born in 1963, right in the middle of the Second Vatican Council. My parents and older brothers and sisters were part of the generation that experienced the transition. By the time I was old enough, the liturgy it was entirely in English with the Mass structured as a dialogue and the priest facing the people. I have no memory of the TLM, but I knew from talking to my parents that there was an older Latin form of the Mass.

Ken in the Philippines: In October 2012, I saw a poster about the return of the TLM at the National Shrine of the Most Holy Rosary (St. Dominick Church) here in Metro Manila, which made me curious. I researched about the TLM on the internet and saw a photo on Wikipedia.

I saw a poster here in Manila, researched about the TLM on the internet and saw a photo on Wikipedia.

Larenne in New Jersey: I was coming back to the Faith when dating my husband, who was a secular Jew. He came to Mass once to hear me cantor (I’m an opera singer & conductor) and he was really disappointed in the liturgy and the “cheesiness” of the music — his words, not mine!  So we started church shopping and it was always the same, just varying degrees of bad, seemingly without purpose, and impossible to relate to. I had been away from the church for a while, though I did not want to leave Catholicism.

What piqued my then-boyfriend’s interest was I had told him that I was on my “journey home” and I wouldn’t consider dating someone seriously unless he was also Catholic. This prompted him to go see the Passion of the Christ. He bought a Bible and read the entire Gospel section. I had heard Mel Gibson was a ‘traditionalist Catholic;’ I  Googled the phrase and stumbled upon Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, NJ – a TLM parish given special permission to practice this rite on October 13, 2000 by Bl. Pope John Paul II.  

I was coming back to the Faith when dating my husband, who was a secular Jew. He came to Mass once to hear me cantor (I’m an opera singer & conductor) and he was really disappointed in the liturgy and the “cheesiness” of the music.

Rebecca in Montreal: I’m a university student and had never heard of the TLM before. The Masses I grew up with were either Maronite or Roman rite, but in the liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom. Two years ago I asked a question about Catholic teaching on a Facebook group, and a Catholic couple reached out to me to help me with it. Being very faithful Catholics themselves, they started telling me about the Latin Mass, and encouraged me to find one near where I lived. I managed to find an SSPX parish. A year later, someone posted a picture of a TLM on an FSSP Facebook group, and that is how I ended up being part of my current FSSP parish.

Someone posted a picture of a TLM on an FSSP Facebook group, and that is how I ended up being part of my current FSSP parish.

PHOTO CREDIT: Phil Roussin

 

A Catholic Southern Lady

Text and photos by Patrick Clark

With three universities, countless historic sites, and the seat of the Bishop of Richmond, the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia is a vibrant cultural center. This Southern lady has spent over four hundred years sitting on her seven hills along the James River. Naturally she has quite a few stories to tell.

richmond3This Southern lady has spent over four hundred years sitting on her seven hills along the James River. Naturally she has quite a few stories to tell.

The Southside is like many of the neighborhoods in the city’s metropolitan area of about one and a quarter million people. It has its old main drag of convenience stores, gas stations, and storefront Pentecostal churches. The residential streets are nicer, generally turn-of-the-last-century houses with green lawns and inviting porches. Further beyond are the usual sights of suburban sprawl, motels and fast food drive-ins, with a ribbon of Interstate highway connecting the past to the present.

It’s on a winding road off the Interstate, featuring a Victorian hotel, an Islamic mosque, and a planetarium-shaped Baptist church, where one of this city’s more unique stories unfolds. Like a lot of things in the American South, it’s a story of community, faith, and just a bit of paradox.

unnamedLike a lot of things in the American South, it’s a story of community, faith, and just a bit of paradox.

St. Joseph’s Church on Buford Road is the home of the Latin Mass in Richmond. Founded in 1991 by as a community for the city’s Catholic faithful devoted to the Latin liturgy, it was originally staffed by Benedictines from the nearby Mary Mother of the Church Abbey. Ten years later, Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo invited the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter into his diocese to establish an apostolate at St. Joseph’s.

The church building, which was purchased from a Protestant denomination, was not originally built with traditional Catholic worship in mind. However through the efforts of the clergy and laity, the octagon-shaped sanctuary now features a beautiful high altar, altar rail, side altars, and colorful stained glass. To help incorporate the modern tent-shaped sanctuary roof into the traditional renovations, a local artist was commissioned to paint an icon of the Holy Ghost descending as a dove on the ceiling above the congregation.

FSSP Richmond VaThe church building, which was purchased from a Protestant denomination, was not originally built with traditional Catholic worship in mind.

Perhaps most endearing are some of the holy images around the church. St. Benedict and St. Scholastica flank the altar of a side chapel, keeping in mind the Benedictine heritage of the parish. A beloved half-foot statuette of the Curé of Ars in a corner niche is carefully covered in a tiny purple veil every Holy Week. An antique statue of St. Anthony holding the Christ Child bears an Italian immigrant name and the year 1924 on the base.

But of course the Church is not a time capsule, as the growing parish will attest to. Parishioners of all ages attend catechism classes, potluck dinners, and the occasional square dance. Children join Scouting organizations, perform Shakespeare in the summer, and play soccer after High Mass. Young men learn to serve at the altar and the professionally-directed choir chants majestic Gregorian polyphony.

richmind6Parishioners of all ages attend catechism classes, potluck dinners, and the occasional square dance. Children join Scouting organizations, perform Shakespeare in the summer, and play soccer after High Mass. Young men learn to serve at the altar and the professionally-directed choir chants majestic Gregorian polyphony.

 “The starting point is the Mass,” says parochial vicar Fr. Karl Marsolle. “That’s our very first mission, to try to make liturgy all that it can be.”

 The thirty-year old Fr. Marsolle, a native of the French Caribbean, is currently at his first parish assignment following his ordination in 2012. Part of a new generation of young priests to be formed at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, the Fraternity’s English-speaking seminary in Nebraska, he understands that healthy parish life and growth stems from the reverent celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

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Part of a new generation of young priests to be formed at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, the Fraternity’s English-speaking seminary in Nebraska, Father Marsolle understands that healthy parish life and growth stems from the reverent celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

“If you try to focus on that, everything else is given you,” Father states plainly. He also sees a hopeful future for both the parish and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, both of which are expanding.

“As far as the future of the Fraternity, we’ve been getting regular vocations.” But he’s quick to remind that, “It’s all God’s grace, it’s nowhere through our efforts.”

Already that grace seems to be working in several ways.

St. Joseph’s is the one of two parishes in the diocese to exclusively offer the sacraments according the 1962 rubrics. The other is St. Benedict’s, a Fraternity parish in the port city of Chesapeake that also began as an indult parish for the Latin Mass.

In October 2013, a traditional Eucharistic procession on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach attracted hundreds of faithful from across the state, and is now slated to become an annual event. Even in tiny Appomattox, a rural community several hours from the state capital, a bi-monthly Tridentine Mass can be found.

It seems like a holy paradox. The Latin Mass is now playing a crucial role in the revival of local Catholic culture in a diocese once known for “liturgical experimentation.”

The South may just be rising again.

It seems like a holy paradox. The Latin Mass is now playing a crucial role in the revival of local Catholic culture in a diocese once known for “liturgical experimentation.”



After 50 Years, There’s a TLM in San Fran

by Roseanne T. Sullivan

That famed beauty, America’s City by the Bay, now has a new jewel in her crown. His Grace Salvatore Cordileone, archbishop of San Francisco, has established a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) at Star of the Sea Parish. While there have been TLMs in the archdiocese for some time , this is the first to be made available in a centrally-located San Francisco parish during normal Sunday morning Mass hours.

Father Mark Mazza, pastor of the parish, celebrated his first TLM there on Trinity Sunday, May 26, 2013.  His Low Mass was the first TLM celebrated publicly at the parish in nearly 50 years. 

“The last Latin Mass was probably celebrated here the week before the first Sunday of Advent in 1964,” Father Mazza surmises. “The last Christmas Masses in the extraordinary form were then celebrated in 1963, fifty years ago. After this, the TLM sort of went undercover, save for exceptional circumstances.”

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“Before 2013, the last Latin Mass was probably celebrated at Star of the Sea Parish the week before the first Sunday of Advent in 1964.”

Fr. Mazza was trained by Fr. Joseph Previtali, currently the assistant Chaplain to the Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco, based at Star of the Sea. (Editor’s Note: For more on the Society, see sidebar below.)

The old rite wasn’t totally new to Fr. Mazza, however. When he was a parochial school student in Pittsburgh, he attended a Latin Mass every weekday. Fr. Mazza became an altar server in 5th grade, learning enough liturgical Latin to facilitate his later celebrating the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. 

“When the Archbishop called to say he wanted a weekly TLM to be scheduled at Star of the Sea, I asked him, ‘Who is going to celebrate the Mass?’  He told me, ‘You are!’ When I explained that I had never celebrated it publicly, his reply was ‘Well, you’ll have to learn.’ I thought it was exciting really to learn it and have the opportunity to do it — now almost every day.”

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When the Archbishop called to say he wanted a weekly TLM to be scheduled at Star of the Sea, I asked him, ‘Who is going to celebrate the Mass?’  He told me, ‘You are!’

Fr. Mazza celebrates the TLM Sundays at 11 a.m., weekdays at 7:30 am and First Fridays at 6:30 pm, in addition to a full schedule of Masses offered in the Ordinary Form.  All of the Sacraments are also available in Latin, as well. 

Star of the Sea is in San Francisco’s Richmond district, where the majority of the population is Chinese. 

“The Latin Mass is actually at the same hour at which we used to offer the Chinese Mass. I met with the Chinese people in the parish, and they seemed to agree the Latin Mass would be a good thing. They are in the process of putting together a Mass booklet with Latin and Chinese,” Fr. Mazza explained.

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“I met with the Chinese people in the parish, and they seemed to agree the Latin Mass would be a good thing. They are in the process of putting together a Mass booklet with Latin and Chinese.”

Fr. Mazza’s progress has been swift. On October 2, 2013, in honor of Fr. Mazza’s 33rd Ordination Anniversary, he celebrated his first Solemn High Mass.  Archbishop  Cordileone attending (in choro). The Golden Gate Catholic Boys Choir sang. Canon Olivier Meney (Deacon) and Abbe Kevin Kerscher (Subdeacon) of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest assisted.

“The choir — that was the hard thing,” Fr Mazza says with a laugh. But the daunting problem of how to get together a competent choir was resolved when he found a young Hungarian organist, Peter Ujj, schooled in the classical tradition of church music. Ujj now directs the Stella Maris Schola, which sings at high Masses.

“I’ve gained a greater sense of reverence and tradition, and an understanding of where the liturgy has been for so many centuries. One challenge is a lack of understanding. Some see the Traditional Latin Mass as disobedient, as a going backwards.”

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“I’ve gained a greater sense of reverence and tradition, and an understanding of where the liturgy has been for so many centuries.”

Fr. Mazza teaches his parishioners in the bulletin and from the pulpit that the old Mass is “part of the Church’s living tradition,” and that he is not “resurrecting something from a museum. There is one Roman Rite of the Mass, but with two forms, the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form.   In other words, the Traditional Latin Mass is fully the Roman Rite of the Mass but in its extraordinary form,” Fr. Mazza explains. “The Mass introduced by Pope Paul VI is the Roman Rite but in its ordinary form.   Therefore, there is no longer an old rite or new rite of the Mass.  There is the Roman Rite with two forms.”

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Fr Mazza teaches his parishioners in the bulletin and from the pulpit that the old Mass is “part of the Church’s living tradition,” and that he is not “resurrecting something from a museum.”

“I don’t see there is anything lost at all. Nobody is leaving the parish because there is still a full schedule of Ordinary Form Masses for those who prefer the new Mass. The parish has lots of choices. I believe in the option.  We’re trying to provide the TLM as a service to the work of evangelization.”

Star of the Sea Church is located at 4420 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94118, (415) 751-0450

Sancta Trinitas Unus Deus: The Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco

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Based at Star of the Sea parish, the Society says they are looking for new members who want to help build up a community to support the Extraordinary Form.

The Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco is an association of Roman Catholic faithful dedicated to the preservation of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, as a legitimate use of Holy Mother Church’s great liturgical patrimony.

The Society includes lay faithful drawn from every age, group and walk of life as well as clergy and religious members. Based at Star of the Sea parish, the Society says they are looking for new members who want to help build up a community to support the Extraordinary Form.

Photos of Traditional Latin Masses in the SF Bay area can be viewed here. For more information contact TLMofSF@gmail.com or call Jay Balza at 707-319-7549.

“How wonderful to find a Latin Mass in San Francisco. I’ll go tomorrow, Sunday, for the first time in this city. Mass, Holy Communion, and confession beforehand! To all who made this possible, much gratitude and many prayers.”

(Above from the combox at http://sanctatrinitasunusdeus.com/about/)

 MAIN PHOTO CREDIT: The Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco

ALL OTHER PHOTOS: Roseanne T. Sullivan

True Confessions: What’s So Fascinating About the Latin Mass?

Finding your way to a Latin Mass isn’t always the easiest thing to do. In this second in a series, Catholics open up about the circumstances in their lives that drew them to the ‘strange’ and ‘mysterious’ Latin Mass — and what they experienced there.

Linda in Wisconsin: I wanted to see for myself what my dad always longed for. What he so often talked about. 

Also, I had a broken heart at the failure of my civil marriage in late 2005.  I had fallen away from the Church for most of my adult life. As so many Catholics do. The world is very seductive. And I went with the world.

I was not married in the Church. When that fell apart, I did not intellectually think ‘I have to get back to church.’  But, I knew that the Church is immovable. Unending. Familiar. Home. I knew I had to go to Confession.

And I did.  It was Tuesday 7 pm Mass. I knelt in the confessional at 6:50 pm. And exploded in tears. It had been 10 years since I’d been to confession. Poor Father. Ten minutes before Mass and he gets someone like me. He was so kind. Patient. Merciful. And normal. Like I had just told him what I had for lunch, or something. 

Poor Father. It was Tuesday 7 pm Mass. I knelt in the confessional at 6:50 pm. And exploded in tears. It had been 10 years since I’d been to confession.  Ten minutes before Mass and he gets someone like me. He was so kind. Patient. Merciful. And normal. Like I had just told him what I had for lunch, or something.

The unchanging normalcy and strength of everything I had remembered from when I was a child going to Mass and confession was still there. That drew me back in.  I went to confession a couple of times a week in those days. To get everything confessed and absolved. So I could feel clean again. And happy. 

Rosa in New Jersey: Fr. Adrian, a Benedictine Monk, invited me to come to the Tridentine Mass he celebrated every Sunday, by indult. Whilst living in Baltimore, I’d gone to a spiky high Episcopal church, which had glorious music (Masses by Palestrina, Byrd, Haydn, Mozart, as well as chant); however, as lovely as the music was, I came to see the ceremony as exquisite theater.

Fr. Adrian told me he thought the Tridentine Mass would lead me to the solid, substantial faith I was craving.

I’d gone to a spiky high Episcopal church, which had glorious music by Palestrina, Byrd, Haydn, Mozart, as well as chant; however, as lovely as the music was, I came to see the ceremony as exquisite theater.

Neil in North Carolina:  I’ve always been interested in history, and I took a course in church history (at a Protestant college) as an undergraduate. I was instinctively drawn to the sound of the Latin words; I loved the sound of Latin when chanted or sung. As a young man, I considered the priesthood and decided against it, but remained active in the church.  I began blogging on Catholic topics in 2005 and quickly noticed that arguments, pro or con, about the TLM were a contentious issue among Catholics. There were Catholics who loved the Traditional Latin Mass, and those who despised it. I wondered what all the fuss was about.

There were Catholics who loved the Traditional Latin Mass, and those who despised it. I wondered what all the fuss was about. In 2006, I heard sacred polyphonic music and was absolutely entranced.

In 2006, I heard sacred polyphonic music and was absolutely entranced. When I realized that this was music specifically composed for the older Latin form of the liturgy, I was really curious. If music this good was composed for the Latin Mass, the Latin Mass must really have something going for it. I did not have the opportunity to attend a Traditional Latin Mass, however, until June of 2013.

Steve in Washington: I converted because I became convinced that there really is a God, who really did have a Son, who really did found a Church in 33 AD (not 1962).  My background was Protestant, in churches of relatively modern origin — and I was leaving that.  Moreover, Chesterton said that Catholicism is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.  So, when I went into a church, assisted at a Mass, heard a homily, or read a book, I was looking for a sense of timelessness.  And yet, my RCIA class hung all truths of the Faith upon only the documents of Vatican II–as if there had been no Catholic teachings prior to then.

Chesterton said that Catholicism is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.  So, when I went into a church, assisted at a Mass, heard a homily, or read a book, I was looking for a sense of timelessness.

Robert in Chicago:   I was born in 1961, the year before the Second Vatican Council was convened.  During my years in Catholic grammar school (ca. 1965-1974), the “reforms” were being implemented.  Remember, Chicago’s Cardinal Cody was heavily involved in the Council, and he pretty much led the American Church in interpreting and adopting all of the changes.  The Archdiocese of Chicago moved quickly, so from second grade on (1967-1968), Mass became clapping and singing, we stopped saying the Rosary and learning about the lives of saints, novenas, etc.  In fact, I never learned about – or even owned – a scapular until I was an adult. 

From second grade on (1967-1968), Mass became clapping and singing, we stopped saying the Rosary and learning about the lives of saints, novenas, etc. Religion class became a form of social studies: we had missionaries talk about the poor in Guatemala, and South America.

Religion class became a form of social studies: we had missionaries come-in and talk about the poor in Guatemala, South America, etc.   I would hear stories from older relatives about the Latin Mass; we had an old missal at home – stuffed with holy cards – that had beautiful pictures of priests and altar boys celebrating Mass in majestic old churches.  The language of the old Mass was exalted…the rubrics were much more reverent and God-centric than what I would read in the “missalettes.” So, I grew-up feeling like I had “missed something.”

Neal in West Virginia: The longer I was a Catholic, the more I felt like something was missing– the more I saw that many modern Catholics (including priests) have thrown away their heritage and no longer hold to the Faith. One example is the mostly protestant Mass in which the focus is no longer on God and our sacrifice to Him in atonement for our sins. It’s now an ‘iMass’ in which it is all about us and our “communal meal.” Many no longer feel it necessary to go to Confession; I have had priests in my area that don’t give out penance for those that do go to Confession. Many don’t seem to believe in sin, or hell, or the Real Presence, or much of anything else.  

The longer I was a Catholic, the more I felt like something was missing– the more I saw that many modern Catholics (including priests) have thrown away their heritage and no longer hold to the Faith.

In stark contrast, the TLM and traditional Catholicism in general was EXACTLY what I felt that I had wanted to join in the first place.

Robert in Chicago:   I attended my first Tridentine Mass in 1994 at St. John Cantius in Chicago.  Armed with a missal that I had bought at a rummage sale, it was naturally very easy to follow along.  I never could understand those who complained about Latin.  The translation was right next to the Latin in the missals, and after awhile, it becomes familiar.  

But instantly I felt like a man who had been wandering in the desert and found fresh, cold water to drink.  St. John Cantius also is known for their music, but this Mass was accompanied by live Gregorian Chant.  I couldn’t get enough.  I imagined this is what Heaven must be like: the celebration and glorification of God – human souls giving God their absolute best.  I remember the reverence – the only word I keep going back to – reverence – of the altar servers, the priests, the musicians and even the attentiveness of the congregation. Even the children were well-behaved!

There are tears in my eyes as I think back of that experience.  And the anger I felt that this Mass and so many sacramental were discarded – and that millions of Catholics my age and younger have never experienced this.  It got to the point to where I couldn’t wait for Sundays so I could experience it again.  Before long I volunteered to serve Mass and got involved with the “after Mass breakfast club.”  I had found a spiritual home.

There are tears in my eyes as I think back of that experience.  And the anger I felt that this Mass and so many sacramentals were discarded – and that millions of Catholics my age and younger have never experienced this.

Over the years, I’ve brought both Catholic and Protestant friends to the TLM.  Most Catholics (especially older ones who remember the TLM) cry because they mourn what was lost…having not even thought about it for years. The problem is many live in parts of metropolitan Chicago where there the TLM is not offered. 

They are also moved by the physical beauty of the church.  Sadly, many suburban churches look like airplane hangars.  The post-Conciliar Church has forgotten that we are multi-sensory beings: artwork, lighting, the smell of incense…all contribute to our spirituality.  God gave us five senses.  

Surprisingly, my Protestant friends are even more impressed, especially with the music and the  multi-sensory experience of the TLM.  Of course…it’s like nothing they have!

I’ve brought both Catholic and Protestant friends to the TLM.  Most Catholics (especially older ones who remember the TLM) cry because they mourn what was lost. The post-Conciliar Church has forgotten that we are multi-sensory beings: artwork, lighting, the smell of incense…all contribute to our spirituality.  God gave us five senses.  

Rebecca in Montreal: I was very interested in experiencing something so old yet so new to me. As a cradle Catholic, I was surprised to find out how little I actually knew about the history of the Church and her liturgy.

The pictures I saw on Facebook were breathtaking!! There was no way I would miss out on that.

As a cradle Catholic, I was surprised to find out how little I actually knew about the history of the Church and her liturgy. The pictures I saw on Facebook were breathtaking!!

 

True Confessions: My First Time

What’s it like to experience a Latin Mass for the very first time? Is it confusing? Enlightening? Exhilarating? In this third in a series of six articles, Catholics from Manila to Montreal — with quite a few Americans in between — tell the story of their first encounter with the Mass of Ages.

Ken in the Philippines: During my first experience, I felt like the whole church became heaven for me. The chants were heavenly. The choir’s voices were angelic.

Neil in Washington: I attended my first Traditional Latin Mass on June 9, 2013 at St. Ann Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC. I wish I could say that it was a soaring, uplifting, transcendent spiritual experience, but in all honesty I found it baffling. Despite the fact I had brought along my own missal and thought I knew what to expect, I had no idea what was going on. When I shared this reaction with my fellow Mass-goers afterwards, they explained that, yes, the Traditional Latin Mass can be bewildering at first and takes some time to get used to.

During my first experience, I felt like the whole church became heaven for me. The chants were  heavenly. The choir’s voices were angelic.

I was most unprepared for all the silences when the priest and servers say the prayers of the Mass silently or in a low, inaudible voice. Having grown up on the post-conciliar liturgy, I was used to the priest speaking or chanting almost everything aloud and the people responding when required. My fellow Mass-goers, however, urged me not to give up, not to become discouraged, and to keep coming to the TLM. I took their advice, and even though I’m still frequently confused, with each traditional liturgy I attend, the structure and rhythms of this form of the Roman Rite become a little clearer and a little more familiar to me.

I found it baffling. Despite the fact I had brought along my own missal and thought I knew what to expect, I had no idea what was going on.

Rosa in New Jersey: The music included hymns and chant, moving, beautiful, and profoundly holy. I’d had years of classical Latin in school;  however, my ear wasn’t quite tuned to the pronunciation of church Latin. It took a few Sundays for my ears to adjust. Yes, indeed there was incense–but I was accustomed to incense as an Anglican, so it seemed perfectly natural. The other congregants were welcoming and kindly. 

Rebecca in Montreal: My first experience of the TLM was at an SSPX parish in Montreal. I was in awe of everything! The vestments, the parishioners, the veils, the incense, the chanting… EVERYTHING! I was also shocked by how close the community is during coffee after Mass. The fact that everyone waited till they were out of the chapel to greet each other was beautiful. “Reverence” would be the word to describe it. Children had more reverence than I found in most adults at the usual Novus Ordo Masses I attended… and I’ve attended many.  

I was in awe of everything! The vestments, the parishioners, the veils, the incense, the chanting… EVERYTHING! I was also shocked by how close the community is during coffee after Mass.

 Steve in Washington: I first went to the TLM at Mary, Mother of God Church in Washington, DC, to low masses.  Initially, I didn’t care for it all that much as a matter of personal preference.

Once a month there was a high, sung Mass:  I loved that immediately–and still do!  But it took quite some time for me to subjectively fall in love with the low Mass. I felt uncomfortable because I didn’t really understand what was going on, I have never been good at foreign languages, and I couldn’t understand why you could not hear what the priest was saying much of the time.  

I felt uncomfortable because I didn’t really understand what was going on, I have never been good at foreign languages, and I couldn’t understand why you could not hear what the priest was saying much of the time. 

These indult masses were rare, authorized begrudgingly, and often in dangerous neighborhoods and/or at inconvenient times.  During that period, Fr. James McLucas said that traditional Catholics exhibited the clinical signs of children of abusive mothers–because we were. Holy Mother Church had been abusive.  We found it difficult to make friends or even acquaintances.  Part of the problem was that we were drawn together from the four winds; we were not a parish. If you found friends, they were likely to live a good 50 miles away from you…and so there seemed to be a reluctance to find friends in the first place.  

Still, the few acquaintances that we did make light up like a Christmas tree when we see them–even if it has not been for 5 years!

David in Virginia: It was about 1987 or 1988. I was in Cleveland visiting my then-in-laws, and went alone to an old church downtown. I remember watching all that took place on the altar, and the silence of the few who were in attendance, and I wondered what would happen if everybody in the pews simply got up and walked away. Would everyone in the sanctuary just keep right on going? At the time, I thought of that as a bad thing.

I wondered what would happen if everybody in the pews simply got up and walked away. Would everyone in the sanctuary just keep right on going? At the time, I thought of that as a bad thing.

Rosa in New Jersey: My first Mass was at St. Joseph’s in Richmond, Virginia. Although I was a bit confused by the silent parts of the Mass, I also had a profound sense of homecoming. The people sitting near me helped me find my place in the hand missal, when I appeared to be lost. 

Although I was a bit confused by the silent parts of the Mass, I also had a profound sense of homecoming.

Rebecca in Montreal: I admit I was slightly uncomfortable at first because I was new there, using the veil for the first time ever, in a Mass that I did not understand. This unease was quickly drowned out by the wonder I felt though. The music was for once unmistakably divine and serving the purpose of opening one’s heart towards something greater, something out of this world.

The people were absorbed in the Mass, though one lady questioned who I was because I was taking pictures all the time. After I clarified that I was just a new attendee, everything was smooth. As for the Latin, one of the parishioners offered me a Missal, and this made it quite easy to follow what was happening. The Maronites use Syriac (dialect of Aramean), and the Melkites use Greek mostly, so foreign languages are something common for me during Mass. I think it preserves a sense of the Mystery and Sacrifice that are present.

The music was for once unmistakably divine. It opened one’s heart towards something greater, something out of this world.

Linda in Wisconsin: In 2007, when Bishop Perry of Chicago came to his native Milwaukee to say the Mass at St. Stanislaus Oratory, a few miles from my home. I had heard this announced on Relevant Radio. So I went. Still didn’t know everything going on, but..but..it was familiar to me. I felt that, and so I wanted to learn about it. And the beauty of the vestments. The incense. The silence. It was all so mysterious. Yet, so familiar to me. 

And the beauty of the vestments. The incense. The silence. It was all so mysterious. Yet, so familiar to me.

Larenne in New Jersey: We arrived late to high Mass nine years ago this month. The modesty of dress, the chapel veils, the sacred polyphony, the incense, bells, the unbelievable reverence and Fr. Robert C. Paseley’s homily were beyond compare. The most profound moment was the Sanctus…those bells were rung, and everyone hit the kneelers.

I could follow just a tiny bit, thanks to my musical training. I found the Sanctus and knew what was happening…it was like everything was beginning to make sense. I started crying and looked at my boyfriend and he was crying, too. We knew we were home!

I found the Sanctus and knew what was happening…it was like everything was beginning to make sense. I started crying and looked at my boyfriend and he was crying, too. We knew we were home.

PHOTO CREDIT: PHIL ROUSSIN

 

True Confessions: How the Latin Mass Deepened My Faith

Why would millions of people journey for hours to a Mass? Why would they stoutly defend it against charges of being ‘strange’ or ‘pharisaical’ or even ‘schismatic’? Why does it attract such devotion from people of every race, color, age, nationality and language? In this fourth in a series of  five weekly articles, our Regina Roundtable members share their own deeply personal experience, to explain why the Latin Mass is so compelling and deepens their faith.

Neal in West Virginia: The TLM has absolutely deepened my faith.  The presence of God at Mass is unmistakable, and the extreme reverence only reinforces that.  In addition, my 1962 Missal has such wonderful devotions that you would never find in a modern missal.  Practicing traditionally has made me feel God’s presence in my life in a way not even remotely felt before.

The TLM has absolutely deepened my faith.  The presence of God at Mass is unmistakable, and the extreme reverence only reinforces that.

Linda in Wisconsin:  Yes. I read the Missal. Oh, my.  The beauty of the prayers there.  This liturgy is a saint-maker. Our ancestors, going all the way down to the beginning, prayed these very words. It calms me down. When I get stressed at how much is changing for the worse in our times, the TLM and its ancient beauty calms me, comforts me and by its very survival assures me that what is sacred and important never disappears. And never ever will. 

Oh, my.  The beauty of the prayers there.  This liturgy is a saint-maker. Our ancestors, going all the way down to the beginning, prayed these very words.

Robert in Chicago:   Well, my faith has become “richer.”  I’ve been made aware of so many devotions and sacramentals that we can do each day that deepen my faith and keep me “on the straight and narrow.”  I’m more aware that God loves us and has created us to live eternally with Him.  His Mother is always there to help us and the Rosary is the most powerful prayer (and weapon) we have.  All of this is new to me. 

But mostly…I’ve rediscovered the Sacrament of Confession.  What an amazing gift the Church has in this Sacrament.  St. John’s has priests hearing Confessions whenever the church is open, even during Mass.  The lines are long, and I find myself going to Confession almost every week.  I need to hear that God loves me and is ready to forgive me, no matter how often I fall-down.  All of the priests are compassionate and not at all condemning or judgmental, as liberals would have you believe.  It has become a form of spiritual therapy for me.  When I was growing-up, we rarely heard about the need for Confession.  We did not make a first Confession before our First Communion.  I didn’t go to my first Confession until several years after my First Communion.  And remember in the 70s, there was “group absolution,” “face-to-face ‘reconciliation,’” etc. 

I’ve rediscovered the Sacrament of Confession.  What an amazing gift the Church has in this Sacrament.  St. John’s has priests hearing Confessions whenever the church is open, even during Mass.  The lines are long, and I find myself going to Confession almost every week.

Steve in Washington: There is a timeless depth to the TLM and associated prayers and practices.  There is a profound comfort to praying the prayers of the Saints — and of my ancestors long ago — without the attempts to be “relevant” to the modern age, which is transient and falling and needing direct warnings. 

The timelessness is a reminder that there have been terrible times in the past as well…and we just need to pick up our crosses as they did. There is an aspect that is disquieting, though.  The Church used to speak with such clarity, confidence, and directness:  once you start immersing yourself in tradition, it can be painful to see the difference.

There is a profound comfort to praying the prayers of the Saints — and of my ancestors long ago — without the attempts to be “relevant” to the modern age, which is transient and falling.

Neil in Washington: Yes, I would say that the TLM has deepened my faith. Because this form of the Mass is still new to me, I pay closer attention to what is happening on the altar and what is being said as part of the liturgy than I otherwise might. The Extraordinary Form of the Mass is never ho-hum for me. I want to know what’s happening and I try to follow along in my missal.

The idea of beauty is central to the Traditional Latin Mass. The TLM strives to make everything beautiful: beautiful church architecture, beautiful vestments, beautiful church furnishings, beautiful music, and beautiful ritual—because it takes seriously the idea that Jesus Christ himself, the one in whom and for whom all things, including beauty, were created—is among us at every Mass offering us his Most Holy Body and Blood. If God himself, the creator and author of beauty, is among us, offering us Himself, the most beautiful thing there is, then it stands to reason that we should respond by offering the most beautiful things we have.

If God himself, the creator and author of beauty, is among us, offering us Himself, the most beautiful thing there is, then it stands to reason that we should respond by offering the most beautiful things we have.

Rosa in New Jersey: The TLM has led me deeply into the meaning in the Mass. In the TLM, as in, say, Dante, every single word has deep significance. In the depths of the quiet of this beautiful Mass, the church seems to fill with angels, and I feel the prayerfulness of the entire congregation as a force that surrounds us all.

God led me back, with my intellect and my heart together. As a young girl, I’d lived in France, and had felt powerfully drawn to the adoration chapels in the beautiful churches I so often visited. It was as if I always had known I’d one day become Catholic. The TLM, I thought, and still think, joins me to all of Christian history. These words I pray today were on the lips of a mighty army of faithful Catholics, spanning century upon century and I am one with them in prayer. I also found understanding by reading the works of many fathers and doctors of the church, and profound guidance in the works of John Henry Cardinal Newman.

God led me back, with my intellect and my heart together. As a young girl, I’d lived in France, and had felt powerfully drawn to the adoration chapels in the beautiful churches I so often visited.

Larenne in New Jersey:  The Latin Mass saved us. My husband and I went through RCIA together. He received his sacraments Easter Vigil 2006 and we were married on May 20th the same year.  I learned more about Catholicism in one month with Fr. Pasley than I did my entire time in CCD. I couldn’t believe how much I was ignorant of. It’s a crime and a crisis of my generation.

I learned more about Catholicism in one month with Fr. Pasley than I did my entire time in CCD. I couldn’t believe how much I was ignorant of. It’s a crime and a crisis of my generation.

Rebecca in Montreal: I rediscovered a depth and beauty that I had lost after moving to Canada and away from the Eastern Catholic liturgies that I loved so much. The Novus Ordo felt lacking, and it was a major turn downhill after having grown up in the wonderful Maronite and Melkite rites with the beautiful vestments, the smell of incense, and the mystical chanting.

I rediscovered all that in the TLM, and  saw that the Roman Rite could equal the Eastern ones in magnificence. I was also happy to have a break from all the outrageous abuses I found in the common Novus Ordo Masses. I had never received Communion in the hand till I attended Mass in France, and it was something unheard of in my country.

I rediscovered a depth and beauty that I had lost after moving to Canada and away from the Eastern Catholic liturgies that I loved so much.

David in Virginia: In recent years, not only do I attend the Traditional Mass almost exclusively, but I am a “master of ceremonies” for a Sunday High Mass here in northern Virginia.  I direct the other servers, and attend to the priest.

The whole of Christendom was built in Europe during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, around the Faith, the Mass as I knew it as a child, the customs and rhythms of the liturgical year. It is the Mass that has been the center, not only of my Faith, but of my heritage. It is how I worship, it is who I am. No one can ever take it away.

The whole of Christendom was built in Europe during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, around the Faith, the Mass as I knew it as a child, the customs and rhythms of the liturgical year. It is the Mass that has been the center, not only of my Faith, but of my heritage. It is how I worship, it is who I am. No one can ever take it away.

True Confessions: My Fight For The Latin Mass

In this fifth in a series of articles, Regina Roundtable members discuss their personal experience with people who do not understand their love for the Latin Mass. While this is sad and troubling, the good news is that these attitudes are softening, as Catholics are re-discovering their lost heritage — all over the world.

Robert in Chicago:  I’ve been labeled a “Catholic fundamentalist” (which is impossible, theologically), “wanting to drag the Church back to the 1950s,” and most hurtfully, “obsessed with externals instead of the Gospel.”  In other words, “putting on a show.” 

These people don’t realize that we’re worshiping God.  Anyone can sit and read the Gospels, but showing how much we love God in an “external” way, I believe, is very pleasing to Him. 

I’ve also been told that people who attend the TLM are “close-minded, judgmental, bigoted,” etc.  The exact opposite is true: I’ve never met anyone who fits those descriptions, in fact, we have many discussions in which there is disagreement.  It’s the “progressives,” I believe, are the ones who are most intolerant and dogmatic.  What a great irony!

Neal in West Virginia: My first experience of TLM was in Charleston, WV, where the Monsignor had decided to do one every few weeks for a while.  It was a high Mass, and was the most beautiful and holy thing that I had ever witnessed.  I felt that I had found what I was looking for and had decided to drive to Charleston (about an hour’s drive) as often as he would do it.  Unfortunately, after only a few times, he ended his last TLM by bashing all of the traditionalists, telling us that we should be ashamed of ourselves and stating that he would never do another one again.

The Monsignor ended his last TLM by bashing all of the traditionalists, telling us that we should be ashamed of ourselves and stating that he would never do another one again.

I actually missed this Mass, but when I called to find out when he would be doing it again, was told very coldly by the secretary that “Monsignor won’t be doing that anymore.” I then found an FSSP priest who did one weekly in Lexington, KY (a two hour drive), but quickly found that it was not practical to attend every week.  I tried to go to the Novus Ordo Mass at my home church, but had a harder and harder time bringing myself to go and fell out before long.

Rosa in New Jersey: I’ve not found resistance, but I have found incomprehension. I’ve also encountered people who profess nostalgia for the TLM, but who declare that others in their families “wouldn’t go for it.” The greatest criticisms I’ve heard have come from priests, one of whom said it would be celebrated in his church “over his dead body.” 

The greatest criticisms I’ve heard have come from priests, one of whom said it would be celebrated in his church “over his dead body.”

Neil in North Carolina:  One of my older brothers, who briefly attended seminary in the 1970s, made some rather snide and critical remarks when he found I was attending the TLM. I think he considers the use of Latin and the ad orientem posture of the priest in the liturgy to be relics of a bygone day and devices to exclude the people from participation in the liturgy, devices that transform Catholicism into an elitist mystery religion complete with magic words and formulas that only the properly initiated can use.

One of my internet friends has expressed some puzzlement. She says that she “has heard” that some of those who attend the TLM and promote it want to segregate people by gender and economic status and judge others on the basis of whether or not they belong to the “right” parish.

Personally I find these arguments absurd, but I am beginning to discover is that some of those who object to the TLM actually object to the cultural, economic, and political baggage attached to the Mass, which has nothing to do with the Mass itself.

Critics of the TLM will sometimes assume that supporters of the TLM are wealthy, elitist, racist, and sexist, which has not been my experience. Based on my observations of the TLM community at St. Ann over the last several months, I would say that the vast majority of those attending the TLM do so because they find it more reverent, more beautiful, and more in harmony with the historical traditions of Catholicism than they do the reformed, post-conciliar liturgy.

I would say that the vast majority of those attending the TLM do so because they find it more reverent, more beautiful, and more in harmony with the historical traditions of Catholicism than they do the reformed, post-conciliar liturgy.

Neal in West Virginia: When I first discovered the TLM, I asked my parish priest to do them, and he made it clear that he did not like it and did not like traditionalists.  Other than him and the aforementioned Monsignor, the most I get is a cold look, or a “oh, you’re one of them” looks.  Any other priests that I have spoken to have been somewhat condescending and taken an attitude of “well, that’s all fine and good, but you know the Novus Ordo is the correct Mass, right, etc., etc., etc.”

It was only when I met Fr. Tuscan in Nitro (Editor’s Note: See Regina Magazine article here) and Fr. Borgmeyer in Huntington, that I met priests who respected it and WANTED to do it.  I am under no illusions.  They are diocesan priests and probably feel the same way as the others, but at least they show great respect to us traditionalists and are giving us the TLM.

I have heard a few complaints about “rad trads,” but interestingly enough, it was from people who then learn that the TLM is much more beautiful, and who end up attending with us.

David in Virginia: No, only bad attitudes, which seem to be diminishing as one generation passes. And yet I still hear about “fifty years of suffering” from those who are in their thirties, which I find rather amusing.

Larenne in New Jersey: My parents were devastated that I didn’t want to get married in the church I grew up. They were happy that my husband converted, but they were really disillusioned with our decision. However, my mother’s father was ecstatic! He knew all the Mass parts and was pretty much the only one aside from me who sung the responses!

Meanwhile, my whole family has since followed suit. Each has become devout and increasingly dismayed at how carried away the Novus Ordo became.  When they can, they now attend the TLM. It took a few years, but they caught on! How could they not? 

After their initial devastation,  my whole family has since become devout and increasingly dismayed at how carried away the Novus Ordo became.  When they can, they now attend the TLM.

Linda in Wisconsin: I’ve never experienced anything negative toward the TLM from friends or family. I wear a veil to the Novus Ordo Mass. I’ve had nothing but encouragement and compliments from parishioners. Many ask me where I get my mantillas. Seems like they want one too. (Never any negative anything from Father, either. Not to my face anyway.)

I think it’s the TLM parishes that have a future. That’s where all the young families and children are.  You don’t see that many children in many Novus Ordo parishes. It’s not rocket science to do the math.

The TLM is ever ancient, ever new.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve found the pearl of great price buried in a field — first by coming home to Holy Mother Church. Then by finding the Liturgy that has helped me remember, and discover, who I am. 

The TLM is ever ancient, ever new.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve found the pearl of great price buried in a field.

Rosa in New Jersey: For as long as I’ve been Catholic, about 20 years now, I’ve assisted at a TLM every Sunday. The Mass is now written on my heart, and it guides every moment of every day. You asked about the importance of the music in drawing people to this mass: Quiet weekday masses can be deep and holy; however, the glorious music of a Sunday solemn Mass or Missa Cantata seems to me to give glory to God, who is beauty itself.

Rebecca in Montreal: I usually hear praises of the beauty of the TLM. Some people do express a support for the Novus Ordo as making them feel part of the community, but I will leave this as being a difference of opinion. I have heard a few complaints about “rad trads,” but interestingly enough, it was from people who find the TLM much more beautiful, and who end up attending with us. Older people are surprised to find that the younger generations are interested in the Mass, in modesty, in veiling, reverence, and weekly Confession.

All in all, people have been positive about the TLM, and the group of people attending or interested in attending keeps growing. The biggest problem is not people disliking the TLM, but rather never hearing about it, or where to find one!

I think, before re-evangelizing the world, we need to re-educate Catholics about their own faith.

I think it’s the TLM parishes that have a future. That’s where all the young families and children are.  You don’t see that many children in many Novus Ordo parishes. It’s not rocket science to do the math.