Monday, August 16, 2010

Extraordinary Mass Number Four - Thoughts

On Sunday the 15th, I attended for the fourth time (as an adult) The Mass in the Extraordinary Form - celebrating the Feast of the Assumption.

Celebrated as a Low Mass, at Our Lady of Grace Church yesterday afternoon, by Father Robert Ferguson of the FSSP. And it was an overwhelming experience - perfect in every way (save for missing a part of the mass having to attend to my 8 year old's bloody nose). And it reminded me of a lesson learned from my childhood. That is - The Low Mass RULES! I am keenly aware of the Church's teaching that the High Mass is the "ultimate expression", etc. But I submit to you that - on a day in day out basis - they are wrong. Maybe at St. Peters or some other grand ediface on some days a High Mass is the best, but for the everyday Catholic - whose faith is simple, sincere, deep, and not wrapped up in Pomp and Pretense - the simplicity and humility of the simple rite reflects perfectly the humble and simple approach we have (or should have) to God our Father.

In addition tho the pure simplicity of the rite, there is the added aspect of being able to follow closely and precisely what is going on. In the High Mass, there are many times when the priest is up at the altar doing his thing and the choir is chanting away happily and there is now way at all to figure out what the heck is happening. At Mass one should internally participate and contemplate the enormous gravity of what is happening on the altar. The music should be focused on and supportive of that - not an ostentatious distraction from it.

Further it is now clear to me that the trend to highly produced Pontifical High Masses - both live and on television - is a distraction from the ultimate goal of establishing the traditional mass as a regular occurrence in most parishes. Watching one of these (admittedly beautiful) Masses is so overwheming and long that it can only be a turn off to those ordinary "John and Mary Catholics" who have neither the experience or the initiative to know that that is not an example of what having one of their parishes Sunday Masses in the extraordinary form would be like. They see a two-hour production on EWTN and think "no way would I want to have to sit through that every week" -never realizing that the normal parish mass would have virtually nothing in common with what they have seen on TV (or worse yet heard about second or third hand).

The two most beautiful Masses of my adult life have been this Sunday's Low Mass, and the Missa Cantata I attended last Easter in a tiny, beautiful church in Winston Salem, NC. If we could transform the average Sunday Mass at the average parish into something as simple and moving and beautiful and holy as those two Masses, the Church would be well along the read to true renewal.

Please Lord Let it be so.....

Sunday, August 1, 2010

On Making Pancakes... or, why am I so slow?

Pancakes! First let me say that I LOVE pancakes. All kinds of pancakes - as long as ther not too exotic or (God forbid) cheesy. Love 'em.

Because of that love and appreciation I tend to want to eat them a lot. And having three little girls means that I have had to fix them a lot over the past few years. Even some of the microwaveable ones are actually quite good, and about as convenient a food as one can fix - period. But lately, thanks to economics and a new electric griddle, I have had the opportunity fix them over and over again.

Usually, I buy a Costco-sized bag of dry mix, add the necessary liquid(s) and start cooking - and they are consistently Very Good. Yesterday morning, however, I was flat out of mix, and decided to try to make them from scratch.

The FIRST ONE was barely off the griddle before I could tell the difference in aroma, appearance, and texture. The first bite and the flavor difference became readily apparent. WOW! I could not believe the difference and could not believe what I had been missing. Admittedly, pancakes are not some Julia Child fancy-pants recipe, but the fresh versus premix difference is all the more astounding.

This episode has had me thinking for the past 24 hours.....

The experience of learning the difference between fresh scratch cooking and pre-mix cooking is not a new one. It is a lesson that I have learned before, but is still being re-learned. And I have to wonder - WHY? Why must I forget such simple, essential lessons? In Other Words - Why Am I So Slow????

The priciple applies to every aspect of life, too. How can we all be so stupid? How is it that God can jump in to our lives and save us - like a fireman dragging us semi-concious from a burning building - and a few months later we are cruising along like He isn't really there or doesn't really care? And I gotta wonder - does He get frustrated with us? Does He know how stupid we feel when we re-learn His love and care?

Will we ever really learn - permanently? Or should we even try? Maybe the experience of actually re-learning His love is an essential part of appreciating it in a deeper and deeper way? And maybe that is why He made us the way we are....