This is what my wife has been telling one of her best friends for years when their conversations inevitably turn to the overall lack of reverence that one becomes accustom to in our diocese. Her girlfriend and her husband have shared in our same frustration for years. These conversations they have tend to always enable my wife to segue into what has become her pat answer to anyone who raises such concerns over Eucharist desecration and indifference. "You know, you really need to check out the Latin Mass..." She does this with the patience of St. Monica, knowing full and well that this could be the conversation killing, friendship ending, "you know that 'nypd green' family...I always knew they were overboard..." comment that can change relationships in a single breath... or it can open up a new doorway into a deeper Eucharistic devotion, one that any Catholic with a belief in the True Presence is searching for. What price we pay to Evangelize...
I'm quite familiar with the justifications for not attending the TLM that her girlfriend would give, because I've given them all myself. "I don't know if this is for me", "I can't follow the Latin Mass", "yada-yada-yada...". Yes, going to the Mass in the Extraordinary Form can be intimidating, but just like sitting behind the wheel of a car for the first time, once you do it, you know you'll be behind that wheel again. That liberating feeling you had as a teen, being able to run to the store without a parent taking you, has just been given to your Faith, one thousandfold. THIS is what anyone lamenting the lack of Holiness at a Novus Ordo Mass is seeking.
It's funny, I look at today's Catholic and I see a bunch of good folks seeking an identity. They think they can define it themselves by putting their own stamp on what it is to be Catholic. Much like a middle age guy getting his first tattoo (or goatee? Just a little self effacing humor there...) we are trying to redefine and make relevant, what is already BEYOND relevancy and very DISTINCTIVELY defined. Youth Masses, Gospel Masses, Spanish Masses, CLOW... all these gimmicks and countless others have cropped up to try and 'sell' the NO Mass since the Latin Mass was all but abandoned. I'm sorry, but these 'pitches' are the equivalent of holding a piece of gold in your hands and asking someone if they'd like to buy a some bronze. If one says they believe in the True Presence, how can one see any way of offering the Mass as more fitting than the Mass in its Extraordinary Form? I've heard it said, (and I've said it myself) "I'd prefer a reverent NO Mass". Yes, of course I'd take that if it were my only option, but you show me someone standing by that assessment and I'll show you someone who is either a tad bit intimidated by the TLM or they are a little more attached to the 'ME' aspect of the Novus Ordo Mass than they realize or care to admit. As Father said in his homily last night, "we are about to go to the foot of Calvary". This is something that I always believed to be true at the Novus Ordo. But it has become something that I KNOW to be true at the Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
As for my wife's friend, she finally attended a Latin Mass last night. The first one at St. Mary's in downtown Wilmington in years. I'm also happy, though not in the least surprised that she is now sold on the TLM. No shocker there, this is a lady who stands up for the truth just like my wife does. If you seek the Truth, you'll find it. She did and I know will be back. We also had some other very close friends show up last night. They couldn't get over what they'd been missing all these years either. In fact, their 14 year old daughter had just finished a book on the Mystery of the Eucharist and the Mass had a profound effect on her. Their 12 year old son was very moved as well, his one issue was following the Latin. I view that as a good thing, a 12 year old young man who wants to follow the Mass? Do I see a future Altar Boy in the making? ...or a Priest? Could be... At the very least I know this is a family ignited by what they participated in last night. My brother-in-law, another former NYPD officer who now works for our local department was also deeply moved as well. His offer to usher last night was rewarded in the deeper view of the Eucharist he now holds from this one experience.
So, despite the petty attempts to disrupt (the AC trick was very predictable, I didn't think the older woman who collapsed when going to receive thought it was funny though), it was truly a glorious evening. I'm sure I'll be hearing others relate their experiences, as the Mass attendance was well beyond our expectation. I'm sure that many others last night, received not only the deeper connection with the Eucharist we all seek, but also learned a little bit about the Catholic identity they've been seeking as well. It was never gone, just placed on the shelf for a spell. Hopefully, it's back for good.
Saint Michael the Archangel...
...Defend Us in Battle!!!