Our Catholic traditions are truly something that we should treasure and defend. Today, my family attended St. Patrick’s historic church in New Orleans. Upon entering the vestibule, my senses were immersed in the sacred. Renaissance-styled statues of the saints perched high upon ornate ledges greeted me. As I pulled the heavy, carved cypress doors toward myself, the sounds of Gregorian chant from the choir loft filled my ears. When I entered the main sanctuary of the church, my eyes were immediately drawn upward to the detailed, cathedral ceiling. I felt as though I had just left earth and had stepped into heaven. On my way to the pew, I passed an antique confessional, complete with curtain and screen. With the intricately patterned stained glass, the golden high altar and the flicker of hundreds of candles, my mind was lifted upward. I felt overwhelmed by God’s presence and surrounded by love. I felt as though I were home.
Though we weren’t planning to do so, we soon found that we were attending a Latin High Mass. Every action, every hymn, every ritual and prayer encouraged a deep reverence for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I was amazed at all of the women I saw – young, old and in between – wearing lace chapel veils. At communion time, people processed toward the altar. Two priests and a deacon distributed the Eucharist to communicants who were assembled on their knees along an altar rail. Shiny, gold patens were used, and many received Communion on the tongue. It was like stepping back in time.
It is such a beautiful thing to see that there are still churches and people who are preserving this rich tradition of our Catholic Faith that was promulgated by Pope Pius V back in the 1500’s. I strongly encourage anyone who has never attended the Latin Mass to give it a try – if you can find a church that offers one in your area. You are sure to be deeply inspired!