Yesterday my family and I went to a parish in the area that we had not been to yet. We have been living in our new city for 2.5 months now, and wanted to settle into a parish and establish “roots”, or something like them, as soon as possible. We have basically settled on a parish/community that celebrates Mass in the extraordinary form. Yet, because we have never had the opportunity to attend a parish with the Extraordinary form exclusively there are some “adjusts” and “growing pains” we are learning to deal with.
Fortunately, through our community and good networking fortune, we have tapped into a social circle fairly quickly. In doing so, we started asking some of the friends that don’t attend the extraordinary form Mass where they go. Because of the layout of the area, it makes sense that not everyone in the social circle attends the same place. Yet, one parish kept getting named as the Church that, “if I don’t go to…, we go here.” People didn’t relegate it to second place, more so it was an elevation to “I wish it were closer/had been that way when we moved/etc…” So we decided to check out what all the talk was about.
Instantly you could tell what folks were talking about. The Church itself wasn’t anything special, in fact it was… well, boring. But, what that did was lend itself to being a perfect canvass for the Sacred. What I mean is that the first thing my 3yo pointed out to me is that there were “tall candles like at Easter at the one Mass in the small church.” What she meant was that for Easter Mass in the Extraordinary Form, we had just acquired a full set of beautiful candlesticks. Six tall candles on the Altar, and who notices it? My 3yo.
From there things got better, a scola, altar boys in cassocks and surplices – nothing fancy, vestments that clearly spoke to those in attendance that the priest took his role seriously1 It was clear that there was an intentional decision on behalf of the pastor to do all of these things. There was purpose to everything.
The entire Mass things popped into my head, it drew me in to what we were all really there for.. the Holy Sacrifice.
As all of this was coming together in my mind, the homily is what really pushed me over the edge. He spoke of shepherds. He talked about how if men are never told to think about the priesthood, then few will become priests. He also said that if we knew of good men, good boys, that would make excellent husbands and excellent fathers – they then should be told to consider the priesthood. Because if they would not make good husbands or fathers – they should not then be priests. He did not say that if they are called, but that we, the people around them, see these traits in them and discern that.
While some may have arguments against this, I agree 100%. I do believe that priests and fathers/husbands are teachers, leaders and shepherds. We are working hard to shepherd our families to God, and hopefully towards heaven. In the end, I realized that he was right because of what I experienced at Mass. It was an intentional encounter, carefully prepared by a loving leader, hoping to guide and instruct us all towards Christ. It inspired me as a Catholic… but even more so as a father.
- that is not to say that they were extravagant, but simply befitting the rest of the Liturgy. [↩]