Michael and I have had the opportunity to attend a couple Latin Masses at St. Patrick’s Oratory as part of our Lenten experience. My very first Latin Mass was in high school at my grandpa’s funeral. In recent weeks, Michael has been reading much about the Latin Mass, drawing my interest in it as well, and as I reflect on all of it, I find it interesting that my grandfather was the first to introduce me to the Latin Mass albeit at his funeral. It’s the last thing he left with me. Of course at the time I had no idea what I was experiencing. I had no appreciation for the faith that had been given me. I clearly remember my grandpa trying to engage me in my Catholic faith in junior high and high school and I just didn’t get it. He’d ask me questions and most of the time my answer was, “I don’t know.” Then he’d reply, “What are they teaching you in that Catholic school?!?” Exactly! Not much Catechism was happening in the Catholic schools then, unfortunately. My first Bible was given to me on Christmas by my grandfather in junior high. Of course I didn’t really appreciate that then either, but I do love it now.
All these things have come to light for me recently. He gave me these little seeds of my faith and I see now that he was planting seeds; maybe at the time he didn’t even realize it. I never appreciated it and I’m sure at the time I was more annoyed about it than grateful. And reflecting on all of these things, I can see the fruits of his labor. These last few weeks, he’s been on my mind a lot lately and I’m not even sure why, yet as I was getting closer to attend the Latin Mass I couldn’t help to think he wanted me there. All of these years, I’m sure he’s been in Purgatory or Heaven praying for me. And here I am today living my Catholic faith to the best of my ability. Taking all teachings of the Faith to the fullest, not being the cafeteria Catholic that I once was before marriage. I understand that I’m planting seeds in my own children and who knows who else around me. I know I may never get to see the fruits of that labor, but there’s a peace knowing that seeds are planted and if my children turn away from the faith that hopefully they will come back to it with great love and zeal.
I honestly don’t remember much from my Grandpa’s funeral Mass, except the Latin and that the women wore veils and I just didn’t understand, nor did I appreciate the beauty around me. So to attend the Latin Masses these last couple of weeks has been profound in many ways. The church is beautiful – the high altar, the communion rail, the large statues of Mary, St. Joseph, St.Thérèse, the vestments, the bell tower ringing (oh how I love the ringing of church bells). I really love it all. There’s so much beauty, so much meaning behind everything.
St. Patrick’s Oratory
We had the opportunity to attend confession there. Confession always, always is a nerve-racking event for me. Even though I was nervous, I loved seeing the traditional confessional and having complete anonymity. There was a peace that came with that. I wish all the Catholic churches had these. I think it lessens the nerves, as you’re not worried about how each confessional room is set up and whether someone is already in there. This one shows a light above the door so you know it’s in use.
Confession at St. Patrick’s Oratory
Of course, I went in there and began with, “Bless me Father for I have sinned”, and the priest immediately said, “You’re too loud.” Oops…I’m used to being in a confessional room so you don’t really whisper in those. The priest was very kind and gave me great guidance and advice. I was in much need of some spiritual direction so it was refreshing to not only have my sins forgiven but given great, holy advice to take with me. I know now that the devil did not want me there. There was the odd looks from my parents thinking we were a little crazy to go to a Latin Mass. We were running late, then there was traffic; we thought for sure we wouldn’t get to confession, which I was okay with, like I said it really makes me nervous, so if I wasn’t able to make it due to things beyond my control so be it. But the Lord prevailed; we arrived about 15 minutes before Mass and I was next in line. God wanted me there and it was so good for my soul.
We were able to attend the Latin Mass again yesterday evening. It was even more beautiful than last week. This time they had the organ playing, more candles were lit, they had three altar servers instead of two and for it being my second Latin Mass I was already able to follow along a little in the missal.
It wasn’t easy getting there tonight either – the devil was out in full force. He did not want us there. I was in full sloth mode this afternoon. I didn’t feel like going anywhere, let alone driving 20 minutes to Mass. I was tired and not feeling so great. It was much easier to stay home. But we said we were going during Lent, so we got ready. We almost didn’t get out the door in time…then there was traffic again, we hit every red light. We finally arrived in the parking lot and noticed it was going to be a light crowd. Michael wanted to go to confession and I told him you should have plenty of time. He was next in line, but when it was his turn the priest came out to start Mass…opportunity missed. We took in the Mass and was pleasantly surprised to see them start Adoration immediately after. That was beautiful too – seeing the priest in his cope and the incense during the Benediction.
Benediction at St. Patrick’s Oratory
Two of the altar servers stayed on each side, as if standing guard. The priest then proceeded back to the confessional…so Michael got his confession in. I see now how the devil didn’t want us to experience any of this holiness. And I’m so grateful that we pushed through and went, as I enjoyed every moment of it.
I really can’t even explain the beauty of the Latin Mass. It’s so reverent, humbling and peaceful. I can wear my veil. I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy the experience as much I have. I thought for sure I’d just feel uncomfortable, not understanding Latin, not knowing when to kneel or stand as it is different from the New Order Mass. I often wonder what the reasoning was for Vatican II. I think so much got lost, even if it was unintentional.
I highly encourage anyone to attend a Latin Mass – it’s rich in beauty and tradition. You’ll probably be surprised by how captivating it really is, how engaging it is even if you don’t know any Latin. Our plan is to go as family on the first Fridays of the month. The boys will love seeing the high altar and experiencing Benediction.
Here are some things I noticed (besides the Latin and the priest facing the altar, of course):
- The majority of women wear a veil. I love this tradition. Contrary to what many believe, Vatican II never did away with this tradition, but it did somehow get lost unfortunately.
- The communion rail. I LOVE IT! I was really nervous about this at first. I’m a take Communion-in-the-hand person, so the idea of receiving it on the tongue was stressing me out. What if I don’t open my mouth wide enough? What if it falls (that’s what the paten is for)? How embarrassing! I’m going to look like an idiot with my mouth all open trying to take the Eucharist. All of these things humble you…I get it…now. It’s not about me, it’s about receiving our Lord – body, blood, soul and divinity, from the priest himself. Michael suggested I ask my Guardian Angel to help me receive the Eucharist gracefully. I did and it went fine! Also kneeling at the communion rail gives you time before and after to really reflect on the Eucharist.
- There’s no sign of peace…as in shaking hands with your neighbors. I don’t miss this. It actually kind of stresses me out especially during the cold and flu season. You go to Mass and the majority of people are hacking and blowing their noses and then they want you to give them the sign of peace…umm no thank you. So then I feel rude, but really I can’t afford to be sick with 4 littles around and I try really hard to keep them from getting sick. So yes it’s nice not to have to stress about that.
- At Low Mass there’s no homily.
- The High Altar. It’s beautiful! Why the Churches don’t have them anymore is beyond me!
- Kneeling. You kneel a lot at the Latin Mass, but I think it’s more reverent and keeps me more engaged.
- The altar servers never cross the high altar without genuflecting and always keep their hands in prayer formation.
- The Blood of Christ is not offered to the parishioners.