Sunday, March 27, 2005

The New Latin Mass

Holy Week is to the Catholic liturgical calendar what marathons are to runners.

At my parish, Our Lady of Grace, we had a two-hour mass on Holy Thursday, a two-hour prayer service on Good Friday, and an almost three hour mass last night at the Easter Vigil. Liturgies of this length enforce a radical spiritual slowing-down on me, giving me a glimpse, I think, of the deliberate pace of life and worship in centuries past. It takes a little getting used to, but it's good. I was especially proud of my son, Sam, who was a tireless altar server at all three liturgies.

Though the form of the services has not changed at all since the Second Vatican Council, in the last few years their aesthetics have been radically altered by the changing demographics of our parish. On Holy Thursday, about half of the worshippers were Hispanic, and the Bible readings, prayers, and songs alternated between Spanish and English.

The aesthetic contrast between the Hispanic hymns and singers and their English-speaking counterparts was a little startling. Accompanied by guitar and tambourine, a woman in the balcony sang what sounded to me like Spanish love ballads to Jesus. She had a small chorus of back-up singers, and though I couldn't understand a word of what they were singing, I was almost overwhelmed by the tenderness and intimacy of their voices.

The English-speaking choir was equally beautiful, though in an entirely different idiom. Singing Mozart, along with traditional American hymns, they typified the order, complexity, and dignity inherited from the European liturgical tradition.

I left these services feeling spiritually rejuvenated and optimistic, not only by the liturgies themselves, but by the fact that these two groups of people -- old-fashioned, white-bread American Catholics, and Spanish-speaking immigrants -- seemed quite contented and pleased to share the year's holiest celebrations with one another.

Happy Easter!


Roch101 said...

"conservatives and Republicans teach at lower quality schools than do liberals and Democrats. This suggests that complaints of ideologically-based discrimination in academic advancement deserve serious consideration and further study."

Ha! Isn't there a more obvious conclusion? That schools with a greater share of Republicans and conservatives are lower qaulity?

Anonymous said...


Any chance that with the release of the Motu Proprio Our Lady of Grace will be the first church in the Triad to offer the Traditional Latin Mass?

Lord willing!