Liturgy, Love, and the Lord

Gold chalices and patens. Marble altars and floors. Gold tabernacles and vestments. Marble columns and steps. Gold candle and lamp stands. Marble rails, linen cloths, beeswax candles, rare incenses, professional choirs, elaborate stained windows, Sunday-best outfits, heirloom Missals, crystal holy water fonts, intricate murals and icons… oh my! All the money spent on these superficial things could have been sold, and the money given to the poor.

The Catholic Church is so hypocritical.

According to Judas.

How do we know this is what Judas would say to the Church today? Because it’s in the Gospel of John (12:3-8):

And now Mary brought in a pound of pure spikenard ointment, which was very precious, and poured it over Jesus’ feet, wiping his feet with her hair; the whole house was scented with the ointment. One of his disciples, the same Judas Iscariot who was to betray him, said when he saw it, “Why should not this ointment have been sold? It would have fetched three hundred silver pieces, and alms might have been given to the poor.” He said this, not from any concern for the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse, and took what was put into it. And Jesus said, “Let her alone; enough that she should keep it for the day when my body is prepared for burial. You have the poor among you always; I am not always among you.”

If it’s not obvious, here’s the breakdown:

  1. The Gospels teaches here that reverencing and honoring our Lord is first before all else. He is our top priority because His sacrifice shows how precious we are to Him. In return, we show how precious He is to us.
  2. If we neglect Jesus, if we neglect Love incarnate, then love will always be distorted in our pathetic mortal lives. God is love; He’s the origin of love and created us out of love. If we dismiss Love, then whatever we have left ain’t love.
  3. If we really want to care for the poor, then we must bring Jesus to them. Who are the true poor? Those who don’t know the true King. Everything we have: health, smarts, wealth, arts: all belong to Him. He is the Creator of all. The least we can do is consecrate our best to Him, so He can make more miracles out of them.
  4. Remember: only God can multiply food, multiply the years of our lives, multiply the hours in our days, and the resources we have. If we really care for the poor, then Jesus is our greatest resource. And guess what: He loves the poor more than we do. Loves them so much that He died for them (which means we’re also part of the “poor”).
  5. And what about those who give God only leftovers, mediocre efforts, lazy and lackluster work? Well, I think Jesus’ words apply also: “I am not always among you.” So let’s get back to Him before it’s too late! Give Jesus the gold, the marble, the linens and beeswax and incense, and crystals!

This is why we must make our churches beautiful again. Banish the tacky carpets, felt banners, cartoonish pictures, goofy crucifixes, lame altars, cheap chalices, dollar-store vestments, last-minute linens (crooked, wrinkled, and SMH), cringeworthy music, eyerolling projectors, inappropriate clothes, mad-lib prayers, disposable Missals, and the puppets….

After all, even Pope Francis’ latest document: Traditionis Custodes, was accompanied by his letter that states: be vigilant in ensuring that every liturgy be celebrated with decorum and fidelity to the liturgical books promulgated after Vatican Council II, without the eccentricities that can easily degenerate into abuses.

So let’s make EVERY Mass as reverent and traditional as possible. Please banish the cringe and the clowns.

Introit in Detroit

Since 2013, the birth of this blog, I’ve personally seen the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) grow across the Detroit Metro Area. In my seminarian years, fellow Tradsters/Trentacostals/Tradismatics and I would occasionally sneak off to TLMs after our obligatory presence at archdiocesan Masses. We loved how the TLM helped us praise and worship our God, helped us focus with laser-precision on the Eucharist, and helped us-and-priest alike decrease as Lord and Savior increased.

Mass never felt as long as it actually went; the timelessness of the classical liturgy keeps proving itself again and again. And again and again, especially since the lockdowns of 2020, the TLM has multiplied: more parishes offering it, more laity attending it, more priests saying it, more babies and young families flooding it. Before this bamboo-speed, grass-roots growth (there weren’t any ad campaigns or marketing ploys), packed Masses downtown only happened for the Mass Mob events. But now, every Sunday TLM downtown is a Mass mob. I’ve seen a nearly deserted parish go from zero to sixty in five years, and now boasts at least 1000 people present across three Sunday liturgies. Some Sundays, you can’t even find parking, either for your car in the street, or yourself in a pew.

St. Joseph Shrine

Detroit

So how did this start? Who’s responsible? And how does one replicate the Introit-in-Detroit in other dioceses? First, it’s the work of God’s grace. With all the pushback and shutdowns on the TLM, from hipster parishioners to bad bishops and even the Vatican, it’s miraculous to see Detroit become the TLM hub like nowhere else in the universe. But we don’t want Detroit to be alone, other dioceses can be TLM centers too. And so, other dioceses have been reaching out to Detroit’s Traditional Latin Mass Man, Mr. Alex Begin, for tips and guidance (he’s not even a priest!). Mr. Begin began (see what I did there?) with only one TLM site in the Detroit-Windsor area, but TLM sites now number over 40, with close to half offering the TLM regularly (you can find the association, and their many progress updates, here). He also produces a documentary series: Extraordinary Faith, which appears to have been filmed in the 1980s, but is actually recent, very informative, and insightful (if you can get over the 80s style, oh the nostalgia!).

Lastly, let me leave a list of churches across the Detroit Metro Area that offers the TLM, some more regularly than others. Hope you get to visit some, or all of them! (OR see this directory for locations across America.)

—My favorite Mass of the Year: Rorate Caeli

Notes regarding this list: adventurous random order, check church websites for schedule updates, *(beautiful church), **(very beautiful church)

  1. South Lyon: Miles Christi Family Center
    1. https://www.mileschristi.org/family-center/
    2. 8am every Saturday
  2. Livonia: St. Priscilla Parish
    1. https://saintpriscilla.org/mass-times
    2. 1pm every Sunday
  3. Plymouth: Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish
    1. https://www.olgcparish.net/latinmass
    2. 6pm every third Tuesday of the month
  4. Orchard Lake: St. Mary’s Preparatory School Chapel
    1. https://www.facebook.com/OCLMA/
    2. 9:30am every Sunday
  5. Ann Arbor: St. Thomas the Apostle Parish**
    1. https://sta2.org/church/mass-times/
    2. 11am every Sunday
  6. Ann Arbor: Old St. Patrick
    1. https://stpatricka2.org/
    2. 12:30pm every second Sunday of the month
  7. Redford: St Mary Parish*
    1. https://saintmaryofredford.church/
    2. 5pm every Sunday
    3. 8am every Saturday
  8. Sterling Heights: Sts. Cyril and Methodius
    1. https://saintcyrils.church/discover/liturgy/mass-times/
    2. 6pm every Sunday
  9. New Baltimore: St. Mary Queen of Creation
    1. https://smqoc.com/
    2. 1pm every Sunday
  10. Detroit Greektown: Holy Family Parish**
    1. https://www.hfdet.org/mass-schedule
    2. 9:30am every first Sunday of the month
    3. Noon every Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  11. Detroit Eastern Market: St. Joseph Shrine**
    1. https://institute-christ-king.org/detroit/
    2. 11am High Mass every Sunday
    3. 7am and 9am Low Mass every Sunday
    4. See website for daily Mass times
  12. Detroit Greektown: Old St. Mary Parish**
    1. http://oldstmarysdetroit.com/
    2. 7pm every first Friday of the month
  13. Detroit Eastside: Assumption Grotto Parish
    1. https://assumptiongrotto.com/
    2. 9:30am every Sunday
    3. See website for daily Mass times
  14. Flint: St Matthew**
    1. https://www.flintcatholic.org/stmatthew
    2. 8am and 3pm every Sunday
  15. Lapeer: Immaculate Conception Parish*
    1. https://www.lapeercatholic.org/
    2. Noon every Sunday
    3. 9am every Tuesday and Thursday
  16. Lakeport (Port Huron): St. Edward on the Lake
    1. https://stedwardonthelake.org/
    2. 8am every Sunday
  17. Temperence: St. Anthony
    1. http://stanthonytemperance.org/?page_id=96
    2. Noon every Sunday
  18. Directory for other TLMs in Michigan (and USA and Canada):
    1. https://theliturgy.org/tlmfinder
    2. http://www.ecclesiadei.org/masses.cfm#Michigan
      1. Some information may be outdated; search for the church website for confirmation

O Filii et Filiae Feels

EmptyTomb2All Christian Feasts are strange–otherworldly. Perhaps no other Christian Feast is as odd as the Resurrection: we celebrate the murder of an innocent man for our sins, then Him rising from the dead and teleporting from His grave… with a super-upgraded body (it’s my theory that this strangeness of the Paschal Feast has largely prevented its commercialization by businesses, Hollywood, and government. Christmas, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, St. Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, and more, have their secularized forms… but Easter? Not so much except for the treats and stuffed animals. It just ain’t a money maker.)

Combine all that with this strangest of times in world history (the pandemic quarantine), and we’ll all need a shot of what I think is the greatest of Easter hymns: O Filii et Filiae (pronounced: oh-fee-lee-ee-et-fee-lee-aye).

  1. King’s College’s smashing rendition:
  2. An epic and meditative version by Patrick Lenk:
  3. The hymn in its natural habitat (for Holy Mass)!
  4. Beautiful contemporary rendition:

Finally, here are the lyrics; they speak (sing?) for themselves:

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
O filii et filiae,

Rex caelestis, Rex gloriae

morte surrexit hodie.

R. Alleluia

Ye sons and daughters of the Lord,

the King of glory, King adored,

this day Himself from death restored.

R. Alleluia

Ex mane prima Sabbati

ad ostium monumenti

accesserunt discipuli.

R. Alleluia

All in the early morning gray

went holy women on their way,

to see the tomb where Jesus lay.

R. Alleluia

Et Maria Magdalene,

et Iacobi, et Salome

Venerunt corpus ungere

R. Alleluia

Of spices pure a precious store

in their pure hands these women bore,

to anoint the sacred Body o’er.

R. Alleluia

In albis sedens angelus

praedixit mulieribus:

In Galilaea est Dominus.

R. Alleluia

The straight’way one in white they see,

who saith, “seek the Lord: but He

is risen and gone to Galilee.”

R. Alleluia

Et Ioannes apostolus

cucurrit Petro citius,

monumento venit prius.

R. Alleluia

This they told Peter, told John;

who forthwith to the tomb are gone,

but Peter is outrun by John.

R. Alleluia

Discipulis astantibus,

in medio stetit Christus,

dicens: Pax vobis omnibus.

R. Alleluia

That self-same night, while out of fear

the doors where shut, their Lord most dear

to His Apostles did appear.

R. Alleluia

Ut intellexit Didymus

quia surrexerat Iesus,

remansit fere dubius.

R. Alleluia

But Thomas, when of this he heard,

was doubtful of his brethren’s word;

wherefore again there comes the Lord.

R. Alleluia

Vide Thoma, vide latus,

vide pedes, vide manus,

noli esse incredulus.

R. Alleluia

“Thomas, behold my side,” saith He;

“My hands, My feet, My body see,

and doubt not, but believe in Me.”

R. Alleluia

Quando Thomas vidit Christum,

pedes, manus, latus suum,

dixit: Tu es Deus meus.

R. Alleluia

When Thomas saw that wounded side,

the truth no longer he denied;

“Thou art my Lord and God!” he cried.

R. Alleluia

Beati qui non viderunt

et firmiter crediderunt;

vitam aeternam habebunt.

R. Alleluia

Oh, blest are they who have not seen

their Lord and yet believe in Him!

eternal life awaitheth them.

R. Alleluia

In hoc festo sanctissimo

sit laus et iubilatio:

benedicamus Domino.

R. Alleluia

Now let us praise the Lord most high,

and strive His name to magnify

on this great day, through earth and sky:

R. Alleluia

Ex quibus nos humillimas

devotas atque debitas

Deo dicamus gratias.

R. Alleluia

Whose mercy ever runneth o’er;

Whom men and Angel hosts adore;

to Him be glory evermore.

R. Alleluia

 

Liturgy and Lethargy

Lethargy is the wrong word: it means weakness and lack of enthusiasm.
Lethargy is the right word: it means weakness and lack of enthusiasm.

Lethargy perfectly represents what I want to describe.

Many Masses in my life always left me confused, especially as I grew in love for the Lord and His Church. If Holy Mass is the most important prayer of Christians, if the Eucharist is truly Christ’s Body and Blood: true Food and true Drink, if this is true, then why have so many Masses been lame? Lethargy.

Ever since learning that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is actually Jesus nailed on the Cross because of your sins, my sins, our sins—that Jesus teleports us to the original moment of His sacrifice—I cannot ignore the jarring clash between crucifixion and birthday-bash trying to show through at the same time. The energy and enthusiasm put into a party-style-Mass means “lethargy” is the wrong word. So much effort wasted on the wrong details.

But don’t take my word for it. Have a look yourself:

Step One: watch this excerpt of Jesus rescuing you and me from Satan and our sins, watch how He is lifted up for us to see what He does for us:

Step Two: watch how this Mass (from 2008) totally matches the theme of Christ’s crucifixion:

Step Three: this 2018 Mass (with German cardinals and bishops) also gets the point across:

And the point is (in case you didn’t catch my sarcasm): how did we get to this mess, instead of Mass? How do we have such a mess in theme? How did such liturgical abuse become a thing?

Mass never was about fun, entertainment, relevance, and needing to be cool or interesting. Sacrifice is never about those things.

Instead, sacrifice is a labor of love. Mass used to be (and can still be) solemn, reverent, powerful, deep, and intense:

Because Jesus is not partying it up on His Cross—He is dying because of my selfish and terrible choices to go to Hell. And I should not act nor expect this moment to be a birthday bash (or a tango dance-off).

And I’m not about to let this end with that tango video *shudder*. Instead, here’s an uplifting and helpful tip how we can start to reclaim our Lord’s Mass, with song and singing:


UPDATE 4/18/2020:

This CCP-virus (Covid-19) survivor is former EWTN President, Catholic-convert, and current spiritual director: Dan Burke. After beating the disease from the point of death, he has choice words about liturgical abuse and enemies of reverence. Hear what he has to say about why/how Jesus is desecrated today in our Church. His witness cuts me to the heart.

Exploring Exorcism

SatanFearsOver the years of reading and viewing the testimonies of several exorcists, I have realized that the more I was aware of the Evil One, the more I knew his limitations, weaknesses, and powerlessness against our Lord Jesus. Rather than increase my fear, knowledge of Satan’s abilities and tricks actually increased my confidence in the Catholic Church and her King. Because of this, I am sharing these best-of-the-best resources of exorcism experiences, hoping they help you as much as they have helped me grow in faith.

  1. Many exorcists have a police officer present during the diagnosis process, or even during the ritual. Jesse Romero is one such [former] officer, and his experiences are riveting:
  2. Demonology is not a common specialization for laypersons, but Adam Blai is not a common layman. His work as a demonologist has been a great aid to many exorcists, and his interview by Patrick Coffin (of prior Catholic Answers fame) is deeply informative:
  3. Father Gary Thomas is perhaps the most well known American exorcist (because of Matt Baglio’s journalistic investigation and the subsequent movie starring Sir Anthony Hopkins: The Rite). Here is an uncut extended interview with Fr. Gary:
  4. Father Cliff Ermatinger’s presentations through the 2015 Miles Christi Conference are exceptional and should be listened to carefully at full length (available here for purchase, set #23). Here is a brief sample:
  5. Exorcism Movies:
    1. As for The Conjuring, arguably the most popular recent exorcism movie series, please see my review here.
    2. See here for my review about Deliver Us from Evil.
    3. For what I think is the best exorcism film to date, please see The Exorcism of Emily Rose, based on the exorcism of Anneliese Michel. An insightful commentary about the Anneliese case can be viewed here:
  6. And for the experience of a dear friend of mine, through the intercession of the St. Benedict Medal, please see here.
  7. Lastly, remember that as flies are drawn to rotten bodies, so too are demons drawn to rotten souls. Get pure, stay pure.

BeFearless2

Mary Points the Way

the-nun-movie-posterToday, for the Feast of Mother Mary’s birthday (every September 8th!), I decided to take a break and celebrate with a show: The Nun (a prequel to the excellent Conjuring movies). Though I had high expectations for the film, and was disappointed, it did leave me with enough surprises to merit a review! Here’s what’s worth sharing:

—SPOILER ALERT—

  1. The Nun is Marian… very Mary focused! Throughout the film, we hear the Ave Maria (Hail Mary) prayer in LATIN, almost constantly! And not only are the characters praying Rosaries to fight off evil, a statue of our Blessed Mother actually (and literally) points the way to Jesus. So, I was very happily surprised to see the Divine timing here (today is Mary’s birthday, after all).
  2. And the Divine timing continues: during the last month, the scandal in the Catholic Church has been rising to terrible heights. We see in our present time that hell has hijacked our priests, bishops, and perhaps even our Pope. We see Satan has taken on the look of our ordained servants of Christ and His Church, and have corrupted the image of the holy priesthood. We see in this movie the same: a demon has disguised itself as a deformed nun, using the distortion to terrorize us. May we not let this deception of Satan continue!
  3. 5b9148b872977-imageLastly, the film started drawing some tears from me when the lead character–Sister Irene–decides to profess her final vows amidst terrible evil attacking her. You would think that any sane woman would flee if she knew that the closer she drew to Christ, the more Satan would attack her. But not so for Sister Irene: she knows the truth that Satan would keep attacking anyway, and that her love for Christ was worth the onslaught.
  4. Which leads to Sister Irene being a bride of Christ “worthy of carrying something so sacred” as the Precious Blood of Jesus. Here, the priest in the film surrenders the care of the holy relic of Christ’s Blood to Sister Irene. And of course, she knows how to use this relic, and isn’t afraid to! But even how exactly she uses Christ’s Blood to defeat the demon is insightful:
  5. She puts the Precious Blood into her mouth (as in receiving Holy Communion). By doing so, this allows her to ambush the demon with the secret weapon. The symbolism shouldn’t escape us: when we receive the Eucharist worthily, we all become bearers of the secret weapon against hell.

So, the Nun was an overall surprise for me, especially during the current crisis in our Church. The movie could have easily taken advantage of the evil events plaguing us today, but decides to show us a Church with good nuns and priests who are doing their job following Jesus: caring for souls and fending off the true wolves in wool.e2842e035b9195c11199d2-31682311_

Note: see here for another positive review.

 

Music for an Intense Lent

Are you a Christian? Are you a Catholic? Stop settling for weak Lents. Make your Lent intense with these choral and chant tracks (or with these movies). Listen with the volume nice and high, and you’ll see what I mean:

This first track is a choral piece I discovered a few years ago, and its ability to creep is unequaled. For the majority of the piece, the choir is only singing one word: crucifixus… crucifixus… crucifixus… (The Crucified… Crucified… Crucified…) and the effect is stunning.

This next track is also a choral piece on the Crucifixion, by Antonio Lotti from the 17th Century. This piece is from his larger work on the Nicene Creed, but it stands alone incredibly well as a meditation on Christ’s crucifixion.

Here is Parce Domine, a chant of longing for God’s mercy, recalling the complete and profound repentance of Nineveh at the [reluctant] preaching of Jonah from the Old Testament. Lyrics, both Latin and English here, and an updated version here that is worth your ears, and don’t miss this polyphonic version!

The Dies Irae is not specifically a Lenten chant, but for funerals and for All Souls’ Day. Yet, it seems mighty appropriate, reminding us that death and judgment is our destiny, but our death can be transformed to eternal life if we surrender our life to Christ. Don’t miss this neat little documentary on this timeless piece, which has appeared in many famed movies to date! The epic lyrics here.

This last piece is the Gregorian chant of the Stabat Mater Dolorosa (The Standing Mother of Sorrows), the scene when Mary suffered and stood before Jesus nailed on the cross. The Latin/English lyrics can be found here, and a video with the proper notation is here, but presented is my favorite chanted rendition:

So there you have them, three of my favorite tracks for contemplating what Lent is meant to be. I hope these help, and maybe become your faves, too.

Silence is Violence

tumblr_oeag54jrop1qciy3ro1_1280There is a first time for everything, and this is the first Holy Smack movie review that is focused on the flaws of a film. I was not impressed by Martin Scorsese’s latest “Silence” and I cannot recommend it to anyone whose faith in Christ and His Church is not mature and convicted. This movie can be incredible violence and poison to a soul still searching for sure faith (which is most everyone).

That said, this review is also an anti-venom to help prevent confusion, heresy, blasphemy, or apostasy from taking root in viewers. Here we go:

— (NO SPOILERS) —

——1) The mistake of the “Silence” story is the same mistake some of the disciples make in the Gospels (Matthew 26:6-13), namely that they are more concerned for creatures than for the Creator, they prefer helping the poor instead of honoring the Lord. The answer is, of course, they should do both, and prioritize serving and honoring God first, and everything else second, and themselves last.

——2) The logic is because God loves His poor creatures more than anyone can ever! Only God can die… and rise for them! Only God can heal them perfectly, feed them perfectly, save them perfectly, and raise them from the dead, ever perfectly! So to value creatures over the Creator is an unacceptable error. In fact, since God is truth, goodness, beauty, life, and love itself, to not trust Him (and entrust to Him) our efforts would be counter productive at best. The closest analogy to show this futility: trying to put out a house fire but refusing to call the fire department for help, and even blocking the firefighters from approaching… STUPID.

——3) Why would anyone do such a thing? A few reasons: maybe they do not know there are people who can actually help, or more likely: they only trust themselves. When it comes to God, we always must trust Him. Only He knows every perspective, every intention, every ulterior motive, and every possibility. Only God deserves our full trust, so when we put that same trust in just ourselves, we are being prideful and ultimately powerless. Even if things work out in the end, it’s only because God did something to help without us knowing. In other words, there is no luck, there is only God’s grace.

——4) The film also does not seem to realize that Jesus will raise the dead, that He Himself rose from the dead, that this is the most important miracle that gives a basis to all faith in Christ! That to doubt His resurrection is to doubt God! The countless martyrs and saints of the Church all went to their deaths trusting that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, and that even though they are suffering and dying, Jesus will vindicate them and glorify them in eternal life. That is why the martyrs have the courage and the love to endure suffering, because to endure eternal life without God would be terrible to them.silence-movie-martin-scorsese

——5) The movie goes so far as to even claim that Christ would want us to betray and deny Him if doing so would spare people suffering and death, yet this totally disregards what Jesus actually promises in the Gospels (Matthew 10:32- 33) that:

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I too will acknowledge him before my Father who is in heaven; and whoever disowns me before men, before my Father in heaven I too will disown him.”

So for Scorsese to overlook this and have Jesus contradict Himself in the movie is absurd and even offensive. If Jesus contradicts Himself here, how do we know for sure He isn’t lying? And if He is lying (which would be the case automatically)… then it ain’t Jesus talking; it’s Satan.

——6) So there they are, the greatest flaws of “Silence”. There are plenty more, but to list them all would be exhausting right now. If you find something and want it discussed, please feel free to leave a comment! But I leave you with this: Christ came not to rid suffering, for He Himself endured great suffering out of love, but He did come to fill it with Himself. Thus, to deny Christ would be to deny the very person who can and wants to help us endure and triumph.silence-martin-scorsese-andrew-garfield-adam-driver-liam-neeson-2-pm

——Bonus) One thing I did appreciate in “Silence” was that the prayers and clandestine Masses were in the historically accurate Traditional Latin Form, and also to see that the Traditional Latin Mass was powerful to the Japanese faithful who suffered to the end with dignity and love for God. One of the martyrs even sang either the Tantum Ergo or the O Salutaris Hostia (I forget which) during his martyrdom.

And for another perspective, please see:

Tridentine Triduum

This past Holy Week was a first for me. I not only survived the taxing liturgies of the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday’s Paschal Vigil), but I found myself thriving in the Tridentine Triduum.

Not only did the usual Tridentine expressions help me, but I found the differences between the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms (EF) of the Holy Week liturgies subtle yet rejuvenating to my soul and devotion. Here are a few points:

—–1) The priest truly disappears. The ad orientem posture of his prayer, the demands the rubrics places on him, the centricity of Christ, really shows how the priest is another instrument of Jesus. He wears what the Church commands him to wear; moves as the Church commands him to move; chants, speaks and whispers as the Church commands; does everything as the Church commands: all through which Christ Himself commands! The human priest merely becomes part of the whole thing: chalice, corporal, candles, altar, priest, patens, bells, thurible, servers, etc. Just another instrument among the many. And the more he disappears, the more He, who is Lord, appears. What made me see this clearer was the several times the priest had to vest in different vestments, outfitted for the specific task at hand, with no opinion of his relevant, necessary or appropriate. He was a slave to the liturgy, a slave to Christ and His Church.img_0531

—–2) Tenebrae took three hours. Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Last Supper started at 7:00pm. Two hours later, Tenebrae began and lasted until midnight. I was in liturgy for five straight hours. This was the single longest liturgy of the Triduum! But it’s length was vital, because it helped me feel the exhaustion that Peter, James and John felt while they waited for Jesus in Gethsemane, while they struggled to stay with Him and keep prayer. And those who chanted never stopped until midnight! Here we were then, doing what the apostles had failed to do: keeping watch with Christ in His agony. We were atoning for all the times we and others had failed to stay with Jesus.

Yet, going into Tenebrae, I had no idea it would last that long (not sure how long they last elsewhere). But I found myself just thinking, “Why not? Why not go the distance? Why not spend this time as I would with my other friends, talking late into the night, into the tenebrae (darkness)?”

So my advice: if you get the chance next Holy Week to attend Tenebrae, do it. But get ready for some spiritual struggle. Bring a devotional book with you (I suggest any of Fulton Sheen’s), your prayer journal, and get ready to reap and weep.tenebrae-hearse

—–3) Finally, the Paschal Vigil on Holy Saturday: two hours of which was in pure candlelight. Usually, in Ordinary Form Masses on this night, candles get blown out and lights turned on way too soon. Ever since I was a kid, I always thought the darkness should linger longer. Truly, I felt myself deprived that I did not yet feel deprived of full lighting. It seemed the candles were all for show, and not for something more.

Yet at this Extraordinary Form Mass, the darkness endured. So much so that I started worrying my candle would not last the Mass! As the wax waned, and the flame flirted with my fingers, I started noticing how dark the church was. Others had already lost their candles to the shadows, and mine was next. The desperation started to set in: should I find another candle? Should I save mine? Should I use my cell phone’s flashlight? And as I thought, I realized I was experiencing the darkness of being without the Light of the world. I tried to rely on myself, but this light was only going to go out anyway. I needed Christ to be my light. I needed Him to come back from the dead. I was awaiting His Resurrection.

And when the lights of the grand church came on amidst bells, organ and choir, I welcomed it in my deprivation. The darkness encroaching on my eyes taught me to receive His Light into my soul, because I had been in the dark for so long….easter2bvigil2b20152b042

—–So, if anything here has sparked your curiosity, please consider trying a Tridentine Triduum next time around, and you may find yourself not merely surviving, but thriving.

*Note, none of the photos shared here are mine but belong to their respective owners.

My First Rorate Mass

This morning was my very first Rorate Caeli Mass (please click link for stunning photos), a unique votive Mass for Mary starting in the dark of night’s end and ending at dawn, presenting for us how we are to wait for the true Light of the world (the whole point of Advent).

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(Photo Credit: John Cosmas)

The entirety of the liturgy is in candlelight. The shadows of the saints adorn the vaulted ceilings and walls. The altar shimmers in the firelight. The pews and handmissals glow under the candles. Everyone has their own little censer of wax, wick and fire.

Yet the moment that moved me most was the very end, at the Last Gospel (John 1: 1-14), the same Gospel read at the end of each Tridentine Mass. But today, as I was listening to the priest read the holy words, as I was wandering lost in the Latin and in the silence, waiting in the darkness of daybreak, waiting with a church full of people, waiting with my dwindling candlestick succumbing to the dark, waiting… waiting to genuflect at the very moment THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH.

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And then I understood. God Himself came down from Heaven and hit the ground. He covered Himself in the dust of earth, clothed Himself in the mortality of man, smothered Himself in our fallen nature. Touchdown: the Lord touched the ground, touched Creation and began His reclamation. He wore our worn world, but adorned you and me with Himself, with Divinity. And the least we could do was genuflect when we remember He did all this to be with us (Emmanuel), and for us to be with Him.

The world waited for the moment THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH. And the girl the world waited for, and for her yes. The pathetic candlelights waiting for the sun. The blind and those in darkness waiting to wake. Hopeless and helpless sinners waiting for more to life, waiting for a way to become saints. All of us waiting for a way to Heaven.

Let’s stop waiting.

Because it’s all been accomplished. All that’s left to be done is for you and me to decide: will we say yes, too?

Merry soon Christmas.

*All this meaning in the simple gesture of genuflecting…

**More awesome photos of Rorate Masses around the country.

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