From a reader…
I am starting the academic year at ___ and attended Mass at the local parish for the first time this Sunday and was disheartened. The tabernacle is absent from the sanctuary, the church itself is round, and many practices during the liturgy felt/were irreverent: Singing a hymn in replace of the psalm, joining hands at the Pater and singing it to a tune vs chant, standing through communion, etc. I attend the Extraordinary Form back home whenever I can, but here there seems to be little to no opportunity to participate in the liturgy of our fathers. What can I do while here in ___ that can help me “get through” and feel as if I am receiving spiritual enrichment and nourishment that I do from the TLM?
Courage, Faith, and Honour,
In many places, there are options,even if those options mean driving a considerable distance or putting up with other unpleasantness. Sadly, there are also places where there are no other reasonable options or, if there are options, they all have considerable negative points. What’s a voter … errr, I mean, what’s a Mass-goer to do?
Prayer is always the obvious answer, but perhaps also the most overlooked.
Pray for hearts that have been deceived by the empty promises of liturgical experimentation, that they might be turned to a more orthodox, and effective approach to the worship of Our Lord.
Pray for others who have had to suffer, often for many, many years, putting up with banal attempts to make the Mass “more relevant.” Truly, in our midst, there are some who have attained the status of white martyrs for the pain and suffering they have undergone.
Pray for courage in the hearts of young priests as they face the daunting task of reversing unwise and unwarranted changes, often against hostile parishes, chanceries, fellow priests.
Pray for more vocations.
Alcoholics Anonymous has a simple, but not entirely unhelpful, prayer, originally composed by the American Protestant Divine, Reinhold Niebuhr.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
As you settle into this new parish, realize that, as a college student, you might be perceived as an outsider and a part-timer. That will likely minimize your ability to enact any real change in the lamentable liturgical life of the parish. Still, the parish is probably (like so many other parishes) eager to have young faces become active. Talk with the pastor to see if there are any volunteer opportunities that don’t hinder your first job… you are a student Learn! You don’t necessarily have to single out liturgical roles or work. Perhaps there is a food pantry that needs stacking, a CCD class that needs teaching, some gardening that needs to be done. Suggestions of liturgical change will come more pleasantly from someone who has an actual, vested interest in the life of the parish.
In the meantime, you can use a hand missal for the Extraordinary Form in your private time. Pray and reflect on the prayers of the Holy Mass. Spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, before and after Mass. Unite your prayers with those of your brothers and sisters throughout the world who are even less liturgically blessed than you! There are people in in mission lands who have to wait even months between Masses. Unite your prayers with those of your ancestors in the faith, with all the Saints who have gone before us.
As you settle in, you will likely come in contact with other Catholics who are similarly unhappy with the current situation in the parish. While it will be important to build good friendships with like-minded folks, it will be spiritually important not to settle into some unofficial Confraternity of Complainers. There may be much to complain about, but there is even more to DO. Take positive steps, with others, to make changes. More importantly, take positive steps to become holier in your personal lives.
Holiness is the answer to all of the problems that the Church faces today. The holier we are, the better we will be able to weather the storms that are coming, and the better we will be able to rebuild the Church now and in the future.