Friday, May 31, 2013

Identity: Masses that are Sacred (Part II)

Dear Readers...

Divine Providence works in mysterious ways, and after my sad post of my experience at a less than sacred Mass in honor of the Most Holy Memorial Day at a parish that I was visiting, I had the opportunity to assist on Thursday at the Missa Cantata for Corpus Christi at St. Ann in Charlotte.

It was the "healing" that my soul needed after being so scandalized just four days earlier. The Mass was in a single word... Awesome!

Everything about this Mass was just so perfectly sacred and focused on the worship of God.  Much of this is simply inherent in the Mass in the Extraordinary form itself with the ad orientem posture and reverential rubrics.

Since a Eucharistic procession was to follow the Mass, as well as a Forty Hours Adoration, the one thing that was different was that immediately after Communion, the Sanctissima was placed in the Monstrance and the rubrics changed... the priest servers were careful as the Mass concluded with the last few prayers not to have their backs to the Blessed Sacrament and double genuflects were the norm.  The Real Presence was just so obvious...

And the Servers... I lost count after 15 of them, all just so reverent and precise in their movements, and it was a bit complicated at the end of the Mass as the Altar cards were removed, Father Reid's Chasuble was removed and replaced with the Cope, the incensation of the Sanctissima, and the formation of the Eucharistic procession... but they performed their office so well... and watching these Boys walk in procession... with their torches or handle candles, the boy ringing the bells before the Blessed Sacrament while the Thurifer walk backwards to incense the Blessed Sacrament.  It was just so moving.

Truly setting the atmosphere was the music. The music for this Missa Cantata was, if can be imagined, was a step up from the normally excellent job that the St. Ann Schola cantorum and Choir do.  It was just so heavenly.  The Gregorian chant seemed to float over the congregation and the sacred polyphony just lifted the soul upward... and it focused so well everyone's attention.

If there was any downside, it was that the were so few souls in the congregation to be uplifted and to be able to assist at a Mass that is sacred... but even with the lack of earthly souls, we know that all of Heaven was present, and I am sure they were well pleased.

Lastly, I closed my last post with the observation that the folks leaving the Holy Trinity Mass last Sunday in that other parish knew it was Memorial Day, but did they know it was the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity.  I had no such thoughts leaving this Mass... for every element of this Mass made very clear that this was the great Feast of Body and Blood of Our Lord.

O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine.  All praise and all thanksgiving, be every moment thine!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Identity: Masses that are Sacred and not Secular

Gentle Readers,

How spoiled Father Reid and the Music Directrix of St. Ann's have made me... 

On this great feast of the Most Holy Trinity, of which even the post-Vatican II Catechism of the Catholic Church states " is THE central mystery of the Christian faith, and it is inaccessible to understanding with Reason alone."

I found myself out of town due to travel this weekend, and so I satisfied my Sunday Holyday obligation at a parish and city to remain nameless.  I arrived at Mass early so that I could get my daily Rosary... when the organ erupted into one of the most beloved Trinity medleys I have ever heard.... "America the Beautiful... which transitioned lovely into Anchor's Aweigh... into Off into the Wild Blue Yonder... into something about the Halls of Montezuma (or his revenge.. something like that).  It was very powerfully done, and there was quite the flurry at the end... to which many people burst into wild applause  (I assume in honor to the Most Blessed Trinity!)

We then moved onto the Gathering Song, where the appropriate Holy, Holy, Holy...banged out dirge-like on the piano much less passionately than our prelude, but it was at least a song to the Blessed Trinity... we were on a roll!

The great Triune song of Thanksgiving ... the Gloria, was then banged out on the piano in a very odd, show-tune antiphonal response (forbidden by liturgical law).  It actually had some parts that sounded like a Disney soundtrack.

Moving on to the Psalm response... we again decided that the Responsial psalm proper and given for today was not we did a clavinova supported Easter psalm of "This is a wonderful day that The Lord has made."
The Alleluia was traditional and organ accompanied... but of course the words bore no resemblance to what was printed in the Missal... (I actually looked at the front of the bulletin to see if I was actually celebrating the same Feast as the rest of the universal Church.)

Then, after a very brief homily in which the priest did not preach on the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity (perhaps since it was "inaccessible"), we moved on to the Offertory...

How lucky was I to after years of waiting, be able to hear that ole time Catholic favorite, "How Great Thou Art!"  Now I suppose, putting aside its Protestant origins and  shaky theological text which make it forbidden by liturgical law,  I would agree whole hardheartedly that the Holy Trinity 'art Great'  but the text only sings of us and the Saviour... I bet the Father and the Holy Spirit are a bit lonely... I mean, it is Their feast too!  Oh, and I forgot... it was accompanied vigorously on the Organ... driving the 7 year old in front of me to clap rhythmically along... while his grandparents did nothing to stop him.  (I supposed that was better than his throwing the visitor envelopes into the air as confetti... repeatedly!!... as his grandparents gathered them up after each burst and handed them back to him)

Communion was quite the affair... after the "Jesus Lamb of God... Jesus Friend of Helpers... Jesus Social Reformer against the Oppressed..."  (I guess they did not get the memo last year that once again confirmed the liturgical illegality of a troped Agnus Dei.)  ... 19 'elders' of the parish (and I mean, average age of the  whole bunch could not have been under 75) rose to surround the Altar to get the the 10 chalices and 9 ciboria that were to be spread out... but one poor women (definitely one who drove the average age up) was carrying the Precious Blood in one hand (not sure if she knew  she was carrying it) and trying to hold a  railing with the other as she began to descend the stairs in her 6 inch heel stilettos when she slipped on the marble and spilled the Precious  Blood all over the place...  Everyone stood their wondering what to do...  I half expected them to simply bring out a mop... I was horrified!

It was at that point the choir burst forth another Triune favorite.... "Remember"!?!  I am not quite so sure at this point I wanted to remember anything....  but the text of the song were certainly not remembering anything about the Trinity either.  At this point I was struggling with my own conscious as to whether or not I was so negative that I was in danger of mortal sin and would have to abstain from communion... but I concluded that my feelings were more scientific and analytical in nature and I meant nothing uncharitable by it... so I went up... and apparently confused the women "minister" when I open my mouth and stuck out my tongue. (hopefully she didn't think I was sticking it out at her!).  She finally relented and placed Our Lord on my tongue, but made it clear to me by her facial expressions that I was in violation of some parish rule that I was to have taken the Lord of the Universe into my hand! (good thing I didn't kneel in place... I may have been forcibly removed)

I was finally able to take in the God of the Universe... Eternal Triune God of our Salvation.. and made my own thanksgiving that it was all coming to an end...

The priest then said the final blessing and then thank all the visitors, musicians, servers, janitors, social workers, and solders for which "today" we celebrate Memorial Day  (that's odd, I thought it was celebrated on Monday... and that it was a secular holiday with it's own votive Mass)... so perhaps that is why he spent more time thanking folks than trying to explain the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity.

We then had our Sending Forth song to the Trinity... "God Bless America"... which was more resounding on the organ than the prelude which I never thought was possible.  So as I knelt in personal thanksgiving for the gift of Christ's Body and the awesomeness of our Triune God... the thunderous applause around me caused me to ponder one other thing...  that congregation certainly knew it was Memorial Day weekend by the actions at Mass... but did they know it was also the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity... core mystery to our Christian faith?

Sadly, I fear not... as the secular has overtaken the sacred.  But I think that Mass covered their "holiday obligation" and they will not need to go the town parade tomorrow to hear those wonderful patriotic songs ... "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America!"

My personal thanksgiving ended by  'remembering' how much Father Reid and the musicians of St. Ann are a blessing to me, and to all of those who I have no doubt left Mass today at St. Ann's in Charlotte, knowing that Our God is a Triune God... and is worthy of eternal praise and adoration... which is what every Mass is about... worship of God... not man.

Gloria tibi Trinitas...Aequalis una Deitas...Et ante omnia saecula...Et nunc et in perpetuum.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Fact: Good things continue to develop at St. Ann's in Charlotte

Gentle readers,

Forgive my absence, but it has been a busy time for me... as it has been at St. Ann!

Thursday was the beautiful Missa Cantata for Ascension, which I understand will be followed by a Missa Cantata for Corpus Christi on Thursday, May 30 at 7.30pm which will also open a Forty Hours Adoration at St. Ann.

All the while, the weekly Missae Cantatae at 12.30pm on Sundays continue, and they are beautifully done, and well attended, but more faithful would be most welcome.