...and true-to-form in St. Ann's style, it went off without issue, everything fitting like clockwork... sacred ministers, the well-trained St. Ann altar servers (14 of them!), and the always solid St. Ann Schola Cantorum. What a wonderful Mass for His Excellency, Bishop Jugis to assist in.
The church was absolutely packed, with standing room-only along the back wall... but so quiet one could have heard a pin drop at the consecration... and the church was beautiful, with 4 new mosaics from Italy just installed in the apse, with lovely fabric canopy hanging over the Bishop's throne.
It all started at about 6 minutes before 7pm, with an already full church, the schola began with a beautiful, haunting prelude chant... a minute after the prelude ended, the sound of bells rang out, and the congregation arose... the schola began a lovely Latin hymn in 4-voice harmony as the procession entered with 14 servers, about 8 other clerics in choir, and the 3 sacred ministers...
Once the sacred ministers took their place in the sanctuary, again the ring of bells and and organ fanfare burst that almost knocked me out of my seat... the organ continued its triumphant song and after a minute or two, the choir roared in with the song Ecce Sacerdos Magnus (Behold the Great Priest) as the Bishop began his procession in... with 5 of his own attendant servers.
I have to say, dear Readers, that nothing says "successor of the Apostles" more than this pomp, and I know that there are some that say this is all "too much"... but we cannot forget the fact that Christ himself chose 12 men that were selected to be more than just mere "disciples" (i.e. students/follower) but gave them the teaching and meaning of the parables.. true "apostles" (i.e. teachers).
It is an under pinning of our Catholic identity in understanding that a Bishop is our modern day, local Apostle of Jesus Christ among us... just like Rome had Peter & Paul... and Spain had James, etc.... so this local church has Peter Jugis. Granting him this acknowledgement and honor of such a grand entrance, not to the person necessarily, but to office of Bishop is critical to recapturing our identity.
There was once a time when everyone knew Ecce Sacerdos Magnus or Pontifex et Sacedos as they were sung every year when the Bishop came to the parish for Confirmation. I overhead one woman after Mass say that she had last heard that hymn at her confirmation 50+ years ago.
Upon reaching the foot of the altar, His Excellency knelt before the Blessed Sacrament, before rising offering his confiteor, then ascending to his throne. All of these actions so important on re-enforce our believe in the Real Presence....
Now, lets play this out with a reality check... we have an Apostle of Jesus, arriving at house in which Jesus is at... he enters that house after being warmly greeted by the hosts.. and then immediately goes to the Lord and reverences him!... that is what happened with the Bishop's entrance.
It is this type of "parallelism" that our wonderful Holy Father speaks of when he says "lex orandi, lex credendi"... which paraphrased means: "how we pray is how we believe" (and the Mass and its associated elements are our highest form of prayer!
This is why I have written in the past about my frustration with priest and laymen do not genuflect to the tabernacle... would we not immediately blow down in adoration of of Jesus where he to appear again to us in human form, allowing him to tells us when to arise... well then why if we truly "believe" in the Real Presence in the Eucharist don't we do the same.
Well you can see that I have gotten off onto an important tangent, but directly related to the experience that I had assisting in this Missa Solemnis.
The rest of the Mass was equally as wonderful, with one of the wonderful seminarians, and a blessing to the Church, Jason Christian singing the Epistle with a beautiful voice. When I thanked him after Mass for doing what he did, he responded... "I loved doing it and I would do it everyday if I could!"... there, dear Readers, is the future of the Church!
I could add to that the outstanding Master of Ceremonies, Jason Barone another of the precious seminarians of the Diocese of Charlotte... for he worked tirelessly to make so much of the complex and intricate "mechanics" of such a Mass work like clockwork.
Well, there is no way in which my poor English words can do justice to the awesomeness of what the Mass actually was... but one last anecdote... as the organ sounded it postlude for the recession of the Bishop... NOT A SOUL left the church! the organ postlude went on for more than 3 minutes, and the Bishop was 'long gone'... and one would have expected a normal congregation to be pushing its way into the parking lot... but it is dead silent and still. That entire congregation had just been touched and witnessed something amazing... and they seemed to not want to loose the moment.
Equally unbelievable was the number of people, once folks actually did start to leave the church, who stood outside in the piazza just talking and sharing their experiences... 10, 20, 30 minutes passed had HUNDREDS of people were still milling about...
Say what you will about the "old Mass" and "Tradition"... but in the words of a convert who was received into the Church this past Easter Vigil that I also spoke to... "that was just so awesome... the most beautiful thing on this side of Heaven"
Photo source: Rorate caeli