I am so thankful for my church – a little haven in the midst of this messed up world. One of the ways my husband and I have chosen to deal with the ongoing confusion in the Catholic Church is to return to tradition. We have rediscovered the Latin Mass. I know that there have been periods of corruption in the church when the mass was then said in Latin. The Latin language itself does not necessarily repel corruption (though it is interesting to note that exorcism prayers are most often said in Latin. Hmm.)
What I like about Latin is that it is a dead language, and so the script cannot change. We pray the same exact prayers every week. If you’ve never looked at the modern prayers of the mass and compared them to the traditional version, you might notice some changed or omitted words. Here is an example:
I confess to Almighty God, to Blessed Mary ever Virgin, to Blessed Michael the Archangel, to Blessed John the Baptist, to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the angels and saints, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, deed. (He strikes his breast three times saying) through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault, and I ask Blessed Mary ever Virgin, Blessed Michael the Archangel, Blessed John the Baptist, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Angels and Saints, and you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
With the new form of the prayer, we leave out asking for the intercession of Michael the Archangel, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul… I don’t know about you, but I’ll take all the help I can get!
Another prayer said by the priest after communion:
P: May Thy Body, O Lord, which I have received, and Thy Blood which I have drunk cleave to mine inmost parts: and do Thou grant that no stain of sin remain in me, whom pure and holy mysteries have refreshed: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
For me, it’s not about the Latin so much – though it does sound absolutely angelic when sung – as the reverence and the fullness and beauty of the old prayers. All of the hymns are traditional hymns focused upon praising God – not of peace and love and what we can do for the world. I believe those songs have their place, but not in the Holy Mass.
I love being able to receive Jesus on my knees, as it feels appropriate to the magnitude of the gift. I also love that we receive on the tongue with an altar boy holding a gold paten – 2 ways to try to keep the Eucharist from accidentally falling to the floor. It seems prudent to me. I mean, this is Jesus’ body, and it deserves to be treated with extreme reverence. I also think of receiving on the tongue like a baby bird being fed by the momma/daddy bird. I (the baby bird) am starving (spiritually) and helpless to do anything about it of my own accord. Then momma bird swoops in and fills the emptiness. (I hope you are not offended by my analogy.)
For an hour, I feel as though I’ve experienced just a hint of what heaven must be like. The hour passes so quickly.
I particularly love the part right after the offertory when the altar boy incenses Father, then the other altar servers, then the congregation. What awesome symbolism! Another thing I love is that at the beginning of each mass, the whole congregation is sprinkled with Holy Water – just like what happens at Easter – only every week! So in two (additional) ways, we beg pardon and are prepared to receive Jesus at Holy Communion. (BTW -The Kyrie Eleison/Christe Eleison is sung 6 times instead of 3.)
Speaking of being prepared, confessions are held before each mass, just like in the old days! I don’t know about you, but I didn’t go for a long time, because the longer you lapse, the harder it is to make yourself go to confession. I once told a priest that going to confession was like going to the OB/GYN. No matter how many times you go and how many babies you have, it never gets easier! He told me to remember that it was Jesus that I was going to see – not him – and that Jesus already knows me inside and out. Anyway, having confession available weekly (super convenient) has made me feel so much more comfortable. It has become easier and I feel so much better about receiving Jesus knowing that I’ve been washed clean just before!
Some people think that the Latin Mass goers are a “self -righteous” group who look down upon “outsiders.” I have not found that to be the case at all. I have found most very friendly and welcoming. Most women do veil at the Latin Mass. Rest assured, there are no “veil police” there shaming those who choose not to do so. There are many women who attend without veils/hats. Modesty is super important (at any mass) however.
I think that veiling has to be a personal decision. I have to be honest and say that I struggled with the decision to veil for many years. Currently, I do so in my private worship life. I hope to have the courage to do so anytime that I enter a church soon – praying!
There were a couple of things stopping me for years, as I prayed about it. There was the fear of being equated with Muslim women and how they are seen as less than their husbands in dignity. There was the fear of what others would think of me – “Oh, who does she think she is? She thinks she is so holy…”You’d have to know me to know that this is surely not the case. I almost never feel holy, but I keep praying for holiness.
In the end, I have to say that it just feels right to me – veiling. I received a veil that belonged to someone that passed away whose dedication to and love for God I really respected. I decided to give it a try. It did feel weird at first. I felt self-conscious. At the same time, when I would place that veil on my head just before walking into the Church, I felt that I was dressing like a bride for Jesus who I was going to be with in an intimate way at Holy Communion. I think that the veil is a silent but powerful witness to our belief that it is truly Jesus in that tabernacle – not just bread.
In the old days (and still today), men removed their hats (helmets) as a sign of reverence and peace – kind of like laying down a weapon showing you are not going to fight. Women, veiled their heads to cover their vanity – their beauty – their hair- to show respect. It’s supposed to keep the focus on Jesus alone.
My hair is definitely not my vanity or beauty – it’s rather fine and straggly. No, I don’t wear a veil to cover my sad hair. I wear the veil as a silent testimony to my belief in the REAL Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and to show that I believe in the spousal relationship between Christ and His Church. I am not bothered that some people think that this shows submission to my husband. I am fine enough with myself to allow him to be the spiritual head of our family as God intended him to be. We are equal in dignity, but our roles are different. I am o.k. with that.
Call me crazy, but I don’t think we have advanced so much in the last 100 years. The way that families are living now is not the way that God intended and created us to live. And guess what?? We are suffering! Oh how we are suffering!
I want to get back to the basics – to live more simply and more remotely – away from this crazy traffic that has taken over our once peaceful town. I want to grow my own food and actually wash dishes by hand (with help drying of course!) I want to use less and give more.
All I know in this confusion is that this is not a time to be apathetic, or lukewarm, or hopeless. This is certainly not time to jump ship! This is not the time to be quiet. Returning to tradition has helped my family hold onto our faith and our hope! I pray for you and your families that God will shower you with grace & strength for these times and that you may be wholly open to it!