Monday, August 27, 2012

Old school meets school kids in Texas

Roman "fiddleback" chasuble
Yesterday morning, my mother had some gastric troubles, so we decided to go to the 4:00 p.m. Mass rather than our usual 11:30 a.m. attendance.  I'm glad we did.

You see, I'd forgotten that a young man my Knights of Columbus council supported while he was in seminary had agreed to come say Mass at our parish, which he had attended while earning his bachelor's degree at UNT. Father Justin, 30, was ordained just three months ago at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Fort Worth and celebrated his first Eucharist at St. Mary's in Longview.  Incardinated in the Diocese of Tyler, he will be serving at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception there.  I was a little startled to see him  processing up the aisle ... but not as much as I was surprised by his vestments.

The new kid was completely old school.  His alb had lace; if it covered an actual cassock, I wouldn't be surprised.  Instead of the usual bell-style chasuble, Fr. Justin had gone with a Roman or "fiddleback" chasuble.  And on his left arm — wait, no, was that a maniple?  Oh, my dear boy, you will make Father Z so very happy ....

You don't see many albs with lace today.
As surprised and pleased as I was, I wasn't half as bemused as was the rest of the congregation.  There must have been a breakdown in communication between Fr. Justin and Fr. George, our pastor, over the former's decision to do a High Mass.  Either that, or Fr. Justin forgot.

You see, the Sunday afternoon Mass is the LifeTeen Mass ... complete with a band that plays contemporary P/W music.

Nevertheless, Father gamely sung most of the Mass.  A moment of awkwardness struck early on when we came to the Confessio and everyone got the same deer-in-the-headlights look on their face: Do we sing this? I don't know how to sing this!  After one of the longest ten seconds I've ever lived through, Fr. Justin quietly and without recriminations picked up the baton: "I confess to Almighty God ...."  

His sermon was refreshingly meat-and-potatoes, not only daring to say the words "contraception", "cohabitation" and "abortion" but actually talking as if these were bad things, not merely regrettable.  Yes, he threw in some funny lines, but he was serious: Fr. Justin has apparently thought very long and very hard about what kind of priest he wants to be.  Someday he will be either a cardinal or an alcoholic; my money is on the red.

Quoth Father Z, "Tie one on!"
As for the high-school kids ... oh, they loved him, maniple and all.  

Our parish is kind of "betwixt and between": while we celebrate the Novus Ordo and send our kids to CCD classes, our parish leadership is faithful to the Magisterium and trying to get people into older traditional devotions. We get good turnouts in the ACTS program and pro-life activities.  On the other hand, we still have people taking the oremus position when the priest says, at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, "The Lord be with you" (oddly enough, today they didn't); they also hold hands during the Our Father (alas, today they still did).  Will we ever get enough of a group together to request the Mass in Latin?  I don't know; and right now, I think it less important than what we have now, which is a priest who respects the liturgy.

But yesterday we had a High Mass.  No, it wasn't perfect; I missed the choir (even better would have been a schola cantorum). But I have seen the future of the priesthood. 

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace, quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum.