Liturgical Abuses and Feel-Goodness Led Me to the Latin Mass – Part I

My bitter blog rival, Timman, over at St Louis Catholic has written on how Bl. John Paul II drew him to the Latin Mass.  He broke his into two parts, here and here.

Since I am relatively incapable of an original idea for a post, I thought I would tell my story. My story, however, is somewhat different.

After returning to the regular practice of the Faith (meaning, making a good and sincere confession of several years of garbage and attending Mass every Sunday) about 12 1/2  years ago, I took an interest in liturgy.  As I traveled around to other parishes and such, I wondered why things were different seemingly everywhere I went.  At the time, I listened regularly to Catholic Answers Live and they often talked about this.  I bought Jimmy Akin’s book Mass Confusion to help me understand what was supposed to be happening.  Let’s put that aside for a little while….

One weekend, I was left playing bachelor as The Wife took Gabbynot to the Lake of the Ozarks with her family.  I had heard of a parish in South St. Louis that had the old Latin Mass.   I had heard about it from The Major’s wife and perhaps a couple of others. (The Wife and The Major’s wife were re-acquainted at a then Fr. Corapi conference.  They went to the same grade school but hadn’t talked for several years)  I knew from hearing about the old Mass from my parents that things would be turned around and that the Communion Rail would be used, but beyond that, I did not think much more of it.

So, that Sunday morning, I arrive at St. Agatha’s for the first time.  I believe it was probably June or July of 2003 (Yikes…10 years ago!) .  It is right next to the brewery.  GREAT LOCATION!  (This the the mind of a sanguine temperament-inflicted man) Anyway…I enter the church and immediately know that something is different.  Although as I said before, I knew the altar would be ‘turned around’ but it still took some time to let that settle into my mind.  I was not offended, of course, like some may be…just different.

Saint Agatha Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - altar and reredoes detail
(Photo from Rome of the West, http://www.romeofthewest.com)

Something else I noticed.  The congregation was different.  They were not dressed for the ballgame.  I saw many ladies and young girls in veils.  Many men were wearing suits.  Hmmm….different.  I was under-dressed in a polo shirt and khaki’s.

But when Mass started I realized how wrong my expectations were.

I fully expected the Mass to be just like what I had seen on EWTN on TV and in person (we made a couple trips down to that chapel in  Alabama).  That Mass is a hybrid of Latin and English.  That combination really was attractive to me. It sounded holy. It was reverent.  It was precise.  There were no guitars or drums or pianos.  The chants sung at periodic times of the Mass stuck in my head only after hearing them a few times.  I wish I could hear this and see this every day at my local parish.

But when the St. Agatha Mass began, I did not expect it to be so  q u i e t.  That really resonated with me.  It was a Low Mass, but at the time, I did not realize there were any other types. Also, like many newbie Latin Mass goers, I really had no idea where we were in the Mass, but I tried not to let that bother me. This was something very different and very reverent…a far cry from what I had been used to.  The crème de la crème was receiving Holy Communion.  I had never knelt for Communion at Mass elsewhere.  I liked it…a lot. It reminded me of my wedding day.  The wife and I received Holy Communion kneeling….hmmm…

That afternoon, The Wife and I talked.  I did not tell her I planned to do this, so she was a little surprised that I had gone.  She had fond memories of her late uncle taking her there a few times when she was growing up.  We talked a little bit about it but really didn’t do anything else again there for a few months.  We continued going to our nearby parish on Sundays…but the mustard seed was planted.

To

Be

Continued…

10 comments

  1. Having been lucky enough to grow up attending the latin mass I am always very intrigued to hear the stories of people and how they came to tradition. Thanks for sharing!

  2. It is always interesting to hear how people came to the Latin Mass. It is refreshing to hear when one takes to it so easily – often you get people who are a little bothered, and then figure things out in the end (which is good too, and understandable). But it is nice to see that it was such an easy acceptance on your part, as that was how it was for me.

    1. Let’s just say that there is a part two to the story as there was a little hurdle in between then and now.

      How’s that for a cliffhanger?🙂

      1. Oh no… Part two talks about the wife and her involvement. That was the real hurdle, right?… Humility pills, choking them down.🙂

  3. I came across the Latin Mass at Still River Ma. Beautiful, It was weird, I walked in during the
    Concentration. With hand on my heart, I saw light like an opening in clouds above the alter? Well it looked like heaven opened up. I was in awe, have been going, when I can find one, ever since. The graces are not watered down.

    1. Thank you or sharing, Susan! I have seen the shafts of light on a few occasions when I was in Rome and Florence. It almost does seem like heaven opening up a little!

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