Thank you, God, for bringing us back home! |
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
May the Infinite Peace, Joy, Mercy and Love of Our Lord be with each of you in abundance.
A few weeks ago, our younger son Kellin adamantly announced that he didn't wish to go to Mass at our parish, because there is absolutely no kneeling, and it is the "duty" of all who attend, to stand during the Consecration and throughout the distribution of Holy Communion. The other reason for Kellin's refusal was the choir, which contains only a few members, two on guitars, one on drums, and it's like being at a rock concert at times. Also, they sing every verse of every song, and it's interminable! So, hearing our son's concerns we went to another parish at the Saturday evening vigil.
We have gone to various parishes for Sunday Mass seeking a thread of orthodoxy and reverence. The one place we have found this is in San Diego proper at Holy Cross Chapel where a Tridentine Mass is said every Sunday morning at 9 a.m. It's beautiful and so reverent, so edifying. But it is a one-hundred mile round trip and you must get there nearly an hour in advance in order to assure a pew so it makes it difficult to make this a regular routine.
Kellin suggested we try St. Francis of Assisi, the same parish where we originally were in fourteen years ago. Because the pastor at that time had left the priesthood and, because of what we had heard about the parish becoming to 'overtly charismatic', we had shied away, thinking it was the same as the others.
Yet, I knew intuitively that the Holy Spirit was trying to tell us something through Kellin. As we walked into the church we had to weave our way through nearly twenty people lined up for confession. In our present parish it's usually only a handful. Very seldom have we had to wait more than a few minutes. As we found an available pew in the front we heard the melodic, nostalgic sounds of Gregorian chant wafting from the sacristy. At first we thought "could it be? could the choir actually be preparing Gregorian chant?" No, they weren't. It turned out it was only a tape, but the music permeated the church in gentle tones that set the proper mood. People didn't talk, they genuflected and prayed silently.
Oh, what a difference throughout that entire evening at St. Francis! What joy! What solemnity! What peace and joy to my soul, and to the souls of my entire family!
At our regular parish, the Blessed Sacrament is in a side room, where hardly anyone ever goes. So, the entire congregation talks profusely before Mass, as if it were a social hall. There are so many other aberrations; I won't bore you with them. Many of you probably have the same situation in your own parishes. One important note I wish to make, however, is that the pastor thinks of his vocation to the priesthood as a "job", and was heard to say to another parishioner last week that he "had to say" Mass. I emphasize the word "Had!"
Now, about the Holy Mass at St. Francis. It was indeed, holy in every way. We were able to sit in the front pew on the left side of the altar. It felt strange having an actual pew to enter, and a kneeler for our knees to touch. Mike and I knelt, rapt in prayer from the moment we entered until the Mass started. It was bliss. When Mass began, the cantor reverently led the congregation through only two verses of the opening hymn, which was beautiful. The priest was a visiting Franciscan friar from nearby San Luis Rey Mission and truly a consecrated one who conveyed holiness to all in the Church.
I noted from the start that Kellin was not restless. Normally, at our other parish, the one where everyone talks, Kellin sits slouched down, his head on his knees, a notable scowl on his face. But not this Saturday. He was paying attention, even smiling. He didn't fidget as he normally does, nor did he sit back in a slouched position. This was an answer to prayer, and the Holy Spirit certainly worked through Kellin so we would go to this parish. The Mass was absolutely reverent from beginning to end, and the homily was so edifying that at one point I thought both Kellin and Mike would stand up and cheer. Father talked about our faith, the one true faith, and the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, which give to us the strength to stand up for our faith. He actually said that no one who is truly Catholic should ever be afraid to stand up for their faith in working to end abortion, which is a sin, pure and simple. He told all of us that if faith is truly alive in our souls, we should never, ever be afraid to stand up and be counted, as those who have done so throughout the centuries in laying down their life for another. He prayed for the president-elect, and prayed that in this new administration true spirituality may be embraced in all works! It was more than a breath of fresh air; it was the breath of the Holy Spirit to our parched souls.
Everyone was reverent, even the altar servers. Everyone knelt at the consecration; everyone knelt at the proper time. Holy Communion was so reverent; I thought my heart would burst with joy. Everyone in the Church remained kneeling until Father had purified the chalice himself, as our Holy Father has instructed, and only when Father sat down, did the congregation.
I know that my soul was lifted up, my heart, my entire being. I was more than edified; I was given to see in an interior vision that the Holy Spirit was present in the form of a dove over the altar, and over the Priest. I noted that Kellin, my fidgety one, remained still throughout the Mass, and even joined in saying the prayers that the congregation participates in. After Mass, we went to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, which is to the right of the altar, but very present, having only a glass wall separating it from the main church. I was astounded to find people already there, and many, many of the assembled came in to visit Our Lord after the Mass. Not just one or two, but many, many came, which does not happen in our regular parish. We floated out of the church, and could not express in words our joy. Finally, after nearly two years at our regular parish, we were given, through the voice of a child, albeit a teenager, the grace to attend a Mass where all that Vatican Council II directed is in place. It was for us a major grace, for now we know that there is a parish where we belong.
I am praying for you and I thank you for your prayers for us. As we prepare for the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord this Friday, let us all present ourselves to Him with a pure heart.
Your very little sister in Christ,
For past installments by Cyndi Cain, see SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING Archives
January 30, 2001
volume 12, no. 30
Cyndi Cain's SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING column