Scandals up…attendance also up

No need for introductions on the current church scandals. It’s terrible. But God is already taking a lot of good out of these evils. Fr. Z said recently that his confession lines are longer. I heard that daily Masses attendance is up for a couple parishes in my Diocese. I don’t know about the rest of my Diocese as well as the rest of the country and other countries so it could be different but I haven’t heard of any numbers going down.

I believe people are standing up to make reparation and to pray intercessions. People are more interested in personal sanctity and holiness. So for today’s blog, I thought it would be good timing to invite new people to the form of the Mass that can not be argued against when its sacredness is concerned. People may argue for the vernacular to be more comfortable and understandable, but you cannot argue the sacredness of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM).

For people who might be interested in checking out the TLM or have attended and are still new to it, I’m sharing an honest message from a friend (with his permission and blessing). Please give a warm welcome to my friend, Kevin Mayer! He said:

Hi Mike,

Here is what I’d tell someone who gave the Traditional Latin Mass a chance but didn’t understand it, like it, or see what attracts people to it. When I first went to a Traditional Latin Mass I did not know what to do, but I was still curious and after attending a few more, eventually I realized these things that helped me.

–          I had been to the Traditional Latin Mass a few times years earlier and tried to follow along and pray the prayers out loud, but I found it difficult to follow along in the Mass because I could not hear the parts the priest prays quietly.  However, on one particular occasion I decided to simply watch and listen.  I decided to be receptive and not worry about figuring everything out.  I found this changed my focus to be less about what I was doing and more about what God was doing.  That does not mean my participation was non-existent.  It means my expectation became based on a disposition of receptivity more than viewing my participation in terms of what I was doing.  When I realized that, then I attended the Traditional Latin Mass more conscious about being receptive to the grace God poured out as a free gift.  That was freeing because it highlighted simply being in God’s presence.  His presence was easier to find when I had a more receptive attitude.

 –          I saw that the congregation’s prayer is less spoken out loud and happens quietly in the people’s hearts.  This reminded me of how Mary “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  I felt like I was doing what Mary did.  It is acceptable if I do not have words.  How many words would I really need to say when standing at the foot of the cross?  I didn’t know what to say interiorly, but I still prayed.  I found myself in a wordless immersion in God’s presence that I could not adequately describe, yet was real and fed me.  It is like when I tell my wife that even though I tell her “I love you” every day, I have still not been able to tell her how much I love her.  Love can become so great that it produces a response for which there are no adequate words.  Even praying in Latin, and not understanding much if any of it, can work with this disposition if we think about how a baby’s cooing is real communication, and parents knows the baby is telling them their needs or saying “I love you” even though it is outside the parent’s known language.  The strong bond between a parent and baby shows it is possible, and even natural, to communicate outside of a known language.  Responses to God our Father with or without words are true and real forms of communication, even though the familiar experience of communication with others uses words, I found that connecting with God without words fit well as a prayer of simply being in God’s presence.

 –          When the priest said the words of Consecration quietly facing the altar—instead of facing the congregation— it felt like we were all before God the Father together, and it also created anticipation for the Eucharist.  Specifically, during the Eucharistic Prayer, all of a sudden you hear bells and see the priest lift up the Host and then the Chalice, and each is sort of a surprise.  It felt like Christmas because when Jesus was born people were not expecting it, yet suddenly He was born!  The same happens in the Novus Ordo Mass, but because you can hear the prayers you know exactly when the Consecration is happening; it is not a sudden appearance.  It is interesting how the lack of something—in this case being able to hear or follow with the prayers—can increase something else—in this case the experience of Jesus coming.  His sudden appearance in the Eucharist not only recalls how His birth was something people were looking for while they did not know exactly when, but also how His Second Coming will be like that too.  This can lead us to consider if we are ready now to meet Christ when He comes again unexpectedly either at the end of time or at the end of our lives.

 –          The choir singing above the congregation in the way this church was set up created the beautiful effect of the music coming down from Heaven as if sung by angels.  Experiencing it that way makes it natural to see the connection between the Gloria and the angels’ song at Christ’s birth, creating another connection to Christmas that helps prepare for His coming in the Eucharist.

 –          Hearing chant in its natural setting was different from hearing a recording.  I felt like I had not heard that music before until I heard it in the Liturgy. It was like seeing an original painting of which you have only seen reproductions.

Big thank you to Kevin for sharing.

God bless, everyone!

Mike Panlilio

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