I had the priveledge of attending mass at my home parish this morning, and what a beautiful thing it was. After spending so many hours seeing and reading all about the horrific masses that so many have to put up with, seeing mass celebrated so well just served as a wellspring of grace for me.
Rarely do I get to attend mass at this hour (8:00AM) and alone. Doing so allowed me to concentrate, pray, and sit right up front where I could easily see every detail of the mass. Because of my seat, it struck me right away that our Priest, Father Duong, celebrates the mass with an amazing level of care and precision. It is a true pleasure to watch. Every movement is "just right" and wonderfully executed.
And to make it all even better, our 8:00AM Sunday mass is celebrated in "low mass" style - no singing at all. What that means is there is time for prayer and reflection, time to digest and internalize what is happening on the altar. Don't get me wrong, I love to sing, and I sing all the time (ask my wife). But I have always thought that the singing of hymns in the middle of mass was a distraction at best - intrusion is more like it. All made worse by the fact that virtually all of the hymns found in Catholic churches nowadays suck, both musically and theologically. I know that he who sings prays twice, but I'll settle for praying once, well. To paraphrase an old movie line "When I sing, I sing - and when I pray, I pray". Chant is a tertium quid, and truly does count as prayer, doubled.
Sure it would be better to get Father to "turn towards the lord" and lose the table altar. Or maybe to celebrate in Latin. But, even as it is, this mass is as good as the "new mass" gets. We are truly truly blessed.
So for all my friends out there who feel that they are stuck in a liturgical wasteland, if you want to see a reverent mass in a reverent parish, with a reverent priest and congregation, come to St. Benedict's in Greensboro for the 8:00AM Sunday mass. I hope to see you there.