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My Saturday Mass experiences February 14, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, disaster, foolishness, General Catholic, Latin Mass, sadness, scandals.
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It almost feels like belonging to two different churches.  I assisted at two Masses on Saturday – the first, the Confirmation Mass for my nephew at Our Lady of the Atonement parish in San Antonio, and the second, the anticipatory Mass for Sunday at St. Louis in Castroville, TX.   For those who don’t know, Our Lady of the Atonement (OLA) was the first Anglican Use parish in the world – this Anglican Use Mass is celebrated in the vernacular using modified prayers inherited from the Anglican liturgy.  OLA also celebrates Novus Ordo Mass in Latin every Sunday.  The Confirmation Mass where we assisted was a sung High Mass in the vernacular, celebrated Versus Dominum.  The prayers inherited from the Anglican Use, and agreeing completely with Catholic orthodoxy with a special emphasis on the Sacrificial nature of the Mass and our unworthiness to partake of this great Sacrifice, are of such a quality that I feel they would make a fantastic option for the revised English “new translation” we will be using in our (vernacular) Masses starting on the first day of Advent this year.  The music, and the prayers, are beautiful.  The bishop performing the confirmations, the retired Bishop of Amarillo, gave a very good homily on the nature of the Holy Spirit and the impact this most significant reception of that Gift should have on our lives.   It was truly a fantastic Mass.  And then there is the Church – beautiful, with some signs of Anglican patrimony but only those that are in line with Tradition and serve to accentuate the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and uplift the soul.  The several side altars are spectacular, the number of relics the Church possesses is very substantial, and the Adoration Chapel is very fine.  I don’t know how all this has been financed, for Atonement is not a huge parish, but somehow, it has been done (possibly by not having 37 parish ministries and the concommitant staff), and the results are proof that it is still quite possible to design and outfit beautiful churches in a more traditional style.  But the main thing is the Mass – the celebration is very reverent and always highlights the Sacrificial nature – there is no confusion that what is being offered is a community meal.

As I said, later that day we assisted at a different parish – St. Louis in Castroville.  St. Louis has many of the same design features as a number of other Catholic churches built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the Hill Country by recently arrived European immigrants – limestone exterior, a very tall steeple, a traditional layout, and generally very fine altars configured, of course, for worship with all facing the Lord.  St. Louis has all these things, and used to have more – after Vatican II, various murals on the ceiling and columns were painted over in a plain white.  I understand they were very beautiful, but have been painted over for decades now.  I have heard similar stories – of marble altar rails torn out and literally left as trash (or parking lot curbs), of great altars removed and cut up – suffice it to say, many mistakes were made in those days shortly after VII ended.  Still, even with the new altar located 30 feet in front of the old and jutting well out into the nave, by modern standards, it is a nice church.  Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the Mass celebrated there.  Without being uncharitable, it was almost like a different religion.  The music – all the standard and incredibly tired (and very dated) hippy dippy fare – Gather Us In, Sing a New Song, etc.  The stretching hands across the aisle during the Pater Noster.  The very extended “kiss of peace,” with folks leaving their pews and going across the aisle, or half the length of the church, to shake hands, hug, talk, etc.  And the homily – well, one doesn’t always get to hear apostasy during the homily, but we did.  The venerable Father, a visiting priest, after explaining how, since Vatican II, the Church isn’t a construct of “rules” to obey anymore, he offered his opinion that hell doesn’t exist.  This being in response to one of those “hard” Gospel passages – Matt 5:17-37, wherein Jesus states that hating our fellow man is the same as killing him, looking at a woman with lust is the same as committing adultery, or divorcing and remarrying is also adultery.  Possibly since reinforcing these very challenging articles of Faith (coming, as they did, from Our Lord!) would offend the good folks in the pew, the priest chose to minimize these Doctrines by stating that our God is a God of Love, and that we should not fear any harsh judgement.  I pray for the sakes of the souls who seemed to really appreciate this message that he is correct.  What could have been a great opportunity to challenge people to conduct their lives in a manner more consonant with the Faith turned into a back-patting exercise of “I’m okay you’re okay.”  The music and the lack of reverence are difficult to take, but to hear out and out apostasy and all the false dichotomies about the pre-and post-VII  Church – there is only One Church, and only One Truth! 

Keep praying!  This can’t/won’t last forever…….

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