From the Pastor: So Many New Parishioners!
This Triduum and Easter was glorious in so many ways! Not only did we get a chance to commemorate Our Lord’s Passion and Death and then celebrate His Resurrection without having to lock the Faithful out of the church, but we had the opportunity to introduce these Traditional Rites to many people who had never experienced them before! As one person told me, “These were stolen from us last year. This year we won’t miss any of these services!” This exuberance had already been tangible through the whole of Lent, with daily and Sunday Mass attendance growing to new levels, with the Friday Stations and Soup having well over 100 people staying for the simple meal after each weekly prayerful Way of the Cross, and with ever greater participation in both our adult and children's groups and activities. And then came Easter, when we, for the first time, broke the 1000 person mark in Mass attendance.
As thrilled as I am that all of you are here, I also see problems arising from such a quick influx of people new to the Traditional Latin Mass (and other sacraments in the Traditional Form), so I want to address some issues here. Please note that I am doing this, not to chastise anybody, but rather to inform everybody! Just like we don’t want all of the people who are fleeing the covid-communism of Michigan and New York to simply move to Florida and then vote for the same things that made their previous states such terrible places to live, so we don’t want new parishioners coming in and then trying to make this parish become just like the one they came from! Exterior signs of the interior reverence and devotion which should be given to God at Mass are important, but old habits are hard to break. I know! It takes practice to really pray the Mass rather than just show up for the “entertainment” (you know, the “What will I get out of it?” mentality of so many modern Catholics).
First of all, put away your watch! A Sunday Low Mass (the silent Mass where the people come to full, active, conscious, participation through silent prayer rather than through busy-ness and vocal activity) generally takes slightly more than an hour. The High Mass, due especially to the fact that almost everything said aloud is chanted rather than recited, will normally run longer than 90 minutes. There are no “shortcuts” such as a shorter Eucharistic Prayer, or options to skip the Confiteor if the priest says the Kyrie! Everything is for the Glory of God, not for the “get in and get out” mentality of men! Giving God the bare minimum, even of time spent at Mass, leads to complaining (and often refusing) if He asks anything “extra” of you.
That leads to the second point, which is that the Mass is more properly described as “the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” to remind us that Mass is not just a chintzy, meager meal where we sit around passing time until we can (finally!) get a piece of bread and a sip of wine and go home. It is the Wedding Banquet of the King’s Son, the vows of which He proclaims from the Cross upon which He gave His life for His Bride, the Church. Past, present, and future space and time come together, as the one, perfect, sacrifice of Jesus upon the Cross is made manifest to us here and now. If you were physically present at the crucifixion, you wouldn’t be counted among the Faithful if you kept checking your watch and proclaiming, “Would you hurry up and die, already? I don’t want to waste my whole day with You!” No, rather you dress appropriately for the Nuptial Banquet, you pray appropriately at the foot of the Cross, and you make the whole day hallowed between your drive time to and from the church, prayers in preparation for Mass, prayers during Mass, prayers of Thanksgiving after Mass (not racing to be the first to the donuts!), and staying for social gatherings when the formal prayers are complete (outside of the church, of course, recognizing the clear distinction between “church” and “social hall”).
Finally, donuts are for eating after Mass, not before or during! Canon Law has shortened the Eucharistic Fast to a short one hour before the reception of Holy Communion, although you can always follow the previous rule of a 3-hour fast, or the even earlier fast from midnight if you are strong enough. Technically, the sixty-minute fast means that at a High Mass you could probably be scarfing down that glazed cruller in the pew during the Gospel and still fast for an hour before you receive Holy Communion! Don’t do it! You should also put an end to the “Novus Ordo normal” practice of feeding children (other than infants, of course) while in the church. “But Father, I can’t keep my children still and quiet during Mass unless I give them Goldfish or Cheerios or raisins!” Your elders can teach you how! Teach the children (a great way to learn yourself!) the glories of the TLM rather than reinforcing their childish manner of acting! For the Love of God, teach them to sit still and be quiet and pray! Don’t teach them to eat every time they “have nothing else to do” or you are setting them up for eating disorders in a few short years.
Remember that nearly everybody else around you was as lost as you are when they first started attending TLMs. What seems difficult and foreign now will soon become “normal” to the point that you wish you had never been deprived of Tradition in the first place!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka