We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, he draws us to himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Blessed Relief. A morning with the Ordinariate.

Regular readers know the joy this blogger has for true, good and beautiful liturgy. Good liturgy should not be a rare thing. Good, reverent and solemn liturgy should be the norm in all parishes.

Regular readers also know this blogger's frustration when Sunday Mass resembles more a mockery than a solemn re-presentation of the one Sacrifice of Calvary. Sadly, we all know well that trashy liturgies are all too frequently a common occurrence at Catholic parishes.

Today, this blogger visited with the local Ordinariate congregation. Truth be told, the chant (English, Greek and Latin) and the sacred polyphony as well as traditional English hymnody was of a quality rarely if ever heard even at our local cathedral. Now consider this—the choir or schola consisted of two males, one of whom played the organ, and a young woman, the daughter of one of the men. Normally another female, a choral scholar, joins the ranks of the singers. Sure, there were a few moments when pitch slipped or a word was dropped—the singers themselves, the responsible individuals that they are, would be the first to chastise themselves (perhaps too harshly) for any and all transgressions. Such is the care these Ordinariate folk take with the music of the Mass. Criticism aside, the singers managed to lead with dignity and confidence a small congregation that was entirely reverent. Yes, entirely reverent! The sound of little children punctuated the liturgy, which confirms that The Fellowship of Blessed John Henry Newman, which celebrates at Our Lady of Fatima parish, is alive.

Mass booklets are available to guide visitors. The bulletin contained the Propers (chants and Scripture texts) and additional Mass music printed in full. A fair amount of effort was put into something which Ordinary Form Catholics might consider to be unnecessary. Such thinking reveals more about the typical lackluster attitude of Ordinary Form Catholics than constituting a negative criticism of the construction of a parish bulletin that also serves as a Mass guide furthering active participation (participatio actuosa) in the best sense of that term.

No hymns were announced, thus the Mass flowed uninterrupted by awkward invitations to sing. Thanks be to God! The only announcement occurred before Mass. One of the non-celebrating priests read the letter issued by Bishop Gary Gordon echoing the concerns of Canadian Bishops regarding the Canadian Government's attempts to impose euthanasia on citizens.

The chanting by the celebrant, Father Carl Reid, was excellent. His voice sounded a little tired at times—various viruses have taken their toll on everyone here in Victoria this pass Fall and Winter—but he led with the utmost confidence and clarity. Fr. Reid, formerly Bishop Carl Reid of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, possesses a fine voice and has the bearing of a true priest of God. Monsignor Peter Wilkinson, well known in Ordinariate circles across North America, delivered a good homily in a manner that non-Ordinariate priests would do well to emulate!

It was good to see familiar faces for fellowship downstairs after Mass, among them quite a few Ordinary Form Catholics. Some of those OF-ers are converts from Anglicanism long before the Ordinariate was conceived. Others are cradle Catholics who want the Mass undefiled. All were joyful and genuine. In my experience, the good folk who left Anglicanism or were forced out and who risked much with few guarantees offered by Rome are truly grateful for their home in Catholicism. That joy and gratitude is palpable among the members of the Ordinariate.

As for this convert, the Ordinariate is likely to become a regular occasion for relief from the cacophony of my home parish. The Ordinariate Mass, celebrated according to Divine Worship, the Missal, is celebrated ad orientem. Mass celebrated ad orientem is definitely reason enough to change parishes.

3 comments:

  1. Hey, I was behind on my reading so I missed this article. Glad to see that you made it to Divine Worship, and I'm pleased (but unsurprised) that you found it so rewarding. I saw you there yesterday (Palm Sunday) but I didn't greet you because a) church, and b) I'm not sure if you know who I am, and I didn't see you at coffee after Mass.

    I pray that the Ordinariate makes many more "converts" among Catholics who have been systematically deprived of authentically reverent liturgy over the past few decades, in favor of the dumbed-down, gender-neutral "something for everyone" smorgasbord they're accustomed to. Even the most reverent Masses I've attended in our diocese are infected by lowest-common-denominatorism.

    On a related note, I've heard that the number of parishioners at Our Lady of Fatima is dwindling due to the relative decline of the local Portuguese population and the assimilation of younger generations. But this is a predictable effect of liturgy in the vernacular: the ghettoization of immigrant communities. If the Mass was in Latin, we wouldn't have these fragile little ethnic parishes, would we?

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  2. Hi Murray. I confess, I recognized you with 90±%-ish confidence (smiles), but I wanted to respect consideration "A" (church) as you noted. I had to run because yesterday was a particularly eventful day, contrary to the rest of which I have desperately need. I plan to be at the Ordinariate on a regular basis, so our paths will again cross.

    I share your prayer intention for more converts among the deprived. I will do my part to spread the news.

    I noticed a sign at Our Lady of Fatima (indicating Mass in Portuguese) had been partially removed. I wondered to myself whether there is a regular Mass in Portuguese...?

    The Ordinariate Palm Sunday Mass this past weekend is the first such Mass I've actually been able to be immersed in the Passion without the distraction of cheesy tropes and awkward chants by multiple cantors who, truth be told, use far too much vibrato and spend too little time working on cadence. Alas, I am a prisoner of my professional training.

    Lastly, I agree with your closing comment. Ironically, Latin helped preserved distinct ethnic identities while the vernacular liturgies have aided in an assimilation that has robbed people of their identities.

    A blessed Holy Week to you and yours!

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  3. The Ordinariate Palm Sunday Mass this past weekend is the first such Mass I've actually been able to be immersed in the Passion without the distraction of cheesy tropes and awkward chants by multiple cantors who, truth be told, use far too much vibrato and spend too little time working on cadence.

    Agreed, this was the first Palm Sunday since our conversion in which I was not distracted by the "performance". As I said in a comment on a previous entry, the now-a-bit-of-this-now-a-bit-of-that approach that characterizes the Novus Ordo in the name of "active participation", is actually counterproductive to that very participation, since your attention is constantly wrenched away by the various discontinuities and awkward transitions. In Divine Worship, by contrast, there's nothing to distract you from the proper object of the liturgy; the sequence proceeds in a completely organic manner.

    The Lenten Kyrie at the Cathedral is a good example: while the refrain is quite pleasant, the duet between the two cantors makes me feel like maybe I should have bought tickets or something: Now we perform for you, now you sing along. I guess the thinking is that since we don't sing the Gloria during Lent, we have to fill the time with something. And don't get me started on the abomination that is the Novus Ordo Responsorial Psalm, in which we half-heartedly mumble some dispose-after-singing melody in between the cantor warbling at us from the loft. Ironically, the pre-2012 plainchant(ish) responsorials in Bishop Lahey's CBW III were actually better than the melody-of-the-day versions we get now.

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