Dear Gentle Readers... in these closing days of Advent preparation (both spiritual and secular), I am pausing to reflect on the last couple of weeks of the Missae Cantatae offered at St. Ann's and just what a blessing this parish, its priest, its servers, and its schola and choir are to the recovery of our Catholic identity.
Within just 10 days, both a Missa Cantata and a Missa Solemnis were offered... it was not that long ago that we would pray to just have one Mass in the Extraordinary form a couple of times a year... here are two in just 10 days... with full schola and choir... and just what exceptional schola and choir they are... every Mass offered seems to "raise the bar" on the last, with sacred polyphony being added to their repertoire of parts of the Ordinary of the Mass.
I state in the title of this post that St. Ann's has become "a beacon to the recovery of our Catholic identity"... because it is exactly these Masses that is attracting so many other priests and our blessed seminarians to come here to experience something "other-worldly" and to carry that with them into their own parishes and seminaries.
When our beloved Holy Father, Benedict XVI (Long may he reign!) liberated the "old Mass"... stating that it was never abrogated and expressed his heartfelt and prayerful desire that the two forms of the Roman rite might "enrich each other"... we see it played out weekly at St. Ann's.
Much of what has been recovered in offering the the Mass in the Extraordinary form, is carried over into the weekly Masses of the Ordinary form... to the recovery of the Mass propers... to the recovery of sacred polyphony... to the recovery of sacred ritual and rubrics...to the recovery of Latin as the language of the Church,... and now, with the new translation of the Roman Missal... even the recovery of sacred language for our prayers again.
But it does not stop there, this Catholic identity then carries forward to the "New Evangelization" that our Holy Father desires as well! I have used these Missae Cantatae to bring back fallen-away Catholics as well as to expose some of our separated brethren to the "fullness of Truth" offered by Holy Mother Church.
In last night's Mass I had a two-fer.... a fallen away Catholic who married a Southern Baptist. After Mass, we went to dinner... and it was a wonderful moment of evangelizing...and they were blown away by the Mass.
The wife said "it was all just so beautiful and reverent, you Catholics really know how to do reverence"... and the little boy, aged 11... "wow, I felt like it was a 'real' church"... and after fielding the usual questions of "why do you have to pray to Mary?" ... "why did the women have the heads covered?" ... "what was the thing the 'smoke' came out of and why?"... and answering them with all of the theological and scriptural references appropriate... they walked away with the seed of "fullness of truth" planted in their spiritual soil.
They also could not stop talking about the music and how it pulled them in and kept them engaged. They said that they had "never heard anything so beautiful" and even though they did not fully "understand the Latin"... they knew that it was something special! They even mentioned that the gentleman in front of them was recording the Mass... and after the Mass, the man turned around and handed their son a prayer card with a prayer for priests... little seeds can grow!
I offered Father Reid my gratitude this morning for his offering the Mass last evening, and ever gracious, he said that he loved doing it... and he added that the other priests assisting asked him if "he knew how lucky he was to have a schola and choir like that"... to which he answered "yes, I know."
Also, at Mass today, Fr. Reid announced that the new 'statues' had arrived, and that he hoped to have them installed by Christmas. So, the physical church itself continues to be an example of Catholic identity... adding not just more beauty to the Domus Dei, but adding more theological and catechial elements to the architecture... and continues to display St. Ann's as the beacon to Catholic identity that it has become.
I think it goes for all of us here at St. Ann's... that we are "lucky" to have Fr. Reid, St. Ann's parish, the Servers, and the Schola & Choir.... and that we should continue to remember them all in our prayers.
Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel nascetur pro te Israel.
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