Latin in Maine and the Boston-LA connection

Latin in Maine and the Boston-LA connection

I feel like we’ve driven 500 miles this past weekend. Not quite but not far off either. In fact we drove more than 330 miles, first to Maine and then home, then to Newport, Rhode Island, then to a little town in Connecticut and home again. Poor Isabella started squawking every time I tried to put her back in the car.

Of course, it was all worth it in the end because we visited my mom and my sister at their house in Windham, Maine; attended the Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Missal at the cathedral in Portland; traveled to Newport, Rhode Island to meet up with Karen Hall and drive with her to Connecticut for lunch at the home of the parents of Barbara Nicolosi.

Maine and the Mass of Bl. John XXIII

isabellaplayground_thumbnail.pngLet’s start at the top. We headed to Maine on Saturday morning, making good time by avoiding the Friday night rush. first stopped by a farm stand that had some animals out for petting, including a llama that took a liking to Isabella’s hair. Then we took a jaunt by a park and then picked up some lobsters. (Only the second ones I’d had all summer.) On Sunday, my mom wanted to go out for breakfast before Mass, but miscalculated on how long it would take on the holiday weekend and we missed our Mass. Our only other options were the ExtraForm Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral at noon or a Spanish Mass at St. Dominic’s at 12:15. Now, mind you Isabella had very little nap the day before, did not get a full night’s sleep that night and now had not had a nap yet.

I was afraid we were on the edge of a full-blown cranky child meltdown. To top it off, I was dressed for a vacation-weekend Mass, not a ExtraForm Mass (i.e. I wasn’t wearing a suit or tie). On the other hand, a Spanish Mass was likely to be a whole lot longer. So we went to my first Mass of the Extraordinary Form of the Missal of Bl. John XXIII.

What did I think?, you’re asking. Um, it was long. And quiet. Yes, I know a low Mass is not necessarily a good first introduction, but my main impression was that I understand the desire for authentic reform. The fact that the prayers were said inaudibly bugged me. Yes, I know I can sort of follow along in a missal (if I’d had one), but only in an approximate “He’s probably saying this prayer now” sense. Certainly, there was plenty of reverence and I was impressed by the precision shown by the altar boys. I didn’t catch the name of the priest who celebrated the Mass, but he was very elderly and when he spoke in English he spoke. Very. Slowly. But when he prayed in Latin hespokeveryrapidly. The homily was a half hour if it was a minute, which is unfortunate because he could have said what he did in 20 minutes if he didn’t. Speak. So. Slowly.

So we went to my first Mass of the Extraordinary Form of the Missal of Bl. John XXIII.

Okay, maybe that’s not fair, since what he did say was pretty good if a bit heavy-handed. Um, Catholics weren’t actually the first people in the New World. I believe that honor goes to the Indians. I think he meant that Catholics were the first Europeans in the New World, not Protestants. And I think Father should have written his homily down beforehand because it was quite clearly stream-of-consciousness and off the cuff, going on until he ran out of things to say.

In the end, I’m glad the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is available and I’m glad that Pope Benedict gave us the motu proprio. But I’m fairly certain that it’s not something I would want on a regular basis, not in that form. Oh and we did not have a child meltdown. Melanie did take her out during part of the homily, changed her diaper in the car, gave her a piece of bagel, and when she brought her back the homily was still going on.

Newport and Connecticut and Karen and Barbara

bloggermeetup_thumbnail.pngSo today, we got up bright and early to head down to Newport. I’d got wind on Karen’s blog that she was going to be in the area (and Rhode Island counts as “in the area” for people from Boston) and asked if she’d be available for lunch during her visit. Somehow we ended up invited to Barbara’s family’s house for lunch and off we went. We met Karen and Barbara and Barbara’s sister at Karen’s hotel. (They were only 15 minutes late; Sorry, Karen, couldn’t resist.) Unfortunately, I’d missed Karen’s last message which told me to call her to get directions directly to Barbara’s family’s house in Connecticut. But it was a nice country drive anyway.

We had a great time chatting, although between Barbara and Karen (and Barbara’s mom, who’s a real pistol!), I’m not sure I got more than a few dozen words in the whole time. smile Of course, Melanie and I were constantly having to chase Isabella who managed to destroy only one breakable during the visit. (I’m still cringing.)

Nevertheless, I had great fun listening to them talk about Hollywood and the crazy people they meet and the bizarreness that is the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. We also started making plans for a St. Blog’s Parish Retreat (I just made that up right here) and started a list of the people who have to come. Of course, we talked about blogging and other Catholic bloggers; I’m sure more than a few ears were burning out there.

Our visit ended all too soon, but I’m hopeful we can see Karen in October when she’s supposed to swing through Boston itself.

The great thing about this gathering was how quickly we felt right at home. Being an orthodox Catholic is a small enough fraternity sometimes, but being a St. Blog’s blogger is an even smaller one so you feel an instant affinity and comfort when you meet. It was quite amazing, but maybe not so when you consider what amazing people Karen and Barbara are.

I was also quite pleased by a very nice gift Karen gave me of a first draft script of an episode of “Jericho” she wrote last season. She’d remembered me saying that it was one of my favorite new shows of the season and brought it along. She also brought an only slightly embarrassing photo of one of the stars of “Heroes” taken at a New Year’s Party at his house.

Incidentally, Karen has a very interesting perspective on the intramural Church wars and how she can be friends with Catholic folks she thinks are completely off-the-wall theologically. I’m thinking more about what she said and will have to mull it for some time. Food for thought.

  • Excepting the Canon, which has a tradition of being silent in the Roman Rite that goes back long before Pope St. Pius V, it would be more accurate to say you were bugged that the prayers weren’t mic’d.  They were audible, you just weren’t close enough to hear them.  As for dress, I rarely ever wear a jacket and tie to Mass in the summer time. 

    Personally, I just pray the Extraordinary Form becomes as rare as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

  • The Mass of Bl. John XXIII is something that takes multiple attendance to start to appreciate.  I had something of the same reaction (why can’t they mike the priest?), but also a different one—the discontinuity between the old Mass and the Paul VI really bothered me.  I could understand why someone who was raised with a properly-celebrated Johannine (!) Mass would be shocked by the changes.

    A reading suggestion:  This Is The Mass, by Henri Daniel-Rops.  It’s a meditation on the pre-V2 Mass by the great French scholar, featuring photographs by Yousef Karsh, with Bishop Fulton Sheen as the celebrant.  Great stuff.

    Another suggestion:  Sandra Meisel is a strong advocate of attending the “dialogue” Mass, where the congregants recite the altar boys’ statements.  That’s a good bridge.

  • You know, I think I have that book. (I can’t look at the moment, but will when I get home.) Or it may be a similar one on all the sacraments but with photos of Sheen.

    I bet it does take multiple opportunities to really appreciate it. I’m just not sure that’s where I want to go in my liturgical prayer life. (Not that we have much choice in this area. Attending the Boston Mass would entail an hour drive each way and leaving our parish which has priests and parishioners who are friends.)

  • Dom:

    Yes, there were two books with Sheen/Karsh.  “These Are The Sacraments” was the other, and it was penned by Sheen (Daniel-Rops had passed away). 

    And I can understand about the travel issue—an hour with a toddler…no fun.  And join the club:  Dale III decided to hoot and holler at the first or second TLM we attended.
    Mortifying, until the lovely grandmotherly lady sitting behind us genuinely praised our “well-behaved children” after Mass.  God bless her!

  • The great thing about this gathering was how quickly we felt right at home. Being an orthodox Catholic is a small enough fraternity sometimes

    We had the same kind of feeling/experience at the U. of Dallas, where we were over the weekend.

  • Domenico,

    You should try the sung high mass done in Providence, RI at the Holy Name parish some time.  Excellent choir, and very well done—though last time I went to mass there, it was a low mass, so I guess you’d want to call ahead to see what they’re planning if you wanted to go.

    The Low Mass to me always seems too quick; I fall behind and have to regroup at the reading of the Epistle. I wish that celebrants of it would a) always wear a mike, and b) take pity on those of us who can’t speed read Latin.  Although it is beautiful and simple, the low mass always seems rushed to me.  I suppose one gets better following it as one goes. 

    My wife said to me that she wished that some parish would do an instructional mass, to have someone narating instructions in English—“OK, we’re at the Gloria, go to page 11.  OK, we’re at the Agnus Dei, time to kneel.”  Naturally, such a thing would probably be destructive of piety, but coming out of the Novus Ordo to the Tridentine is difficult at first, and it is hard to feel reverent while simultaneously feeling foolish for losing one’s place.  In me, it makes me want to try harder the next time, but in some, it could be off-putting. 

    I’ve found going to the Tridentine Mass 6-10 times in a year has helped me grasp it better, and made me want to learn more.  I now have the missals, a copy of the Vulgate, a dictionary of ecclesiatical Latin, a 1945 Latin-English Rituale Romanum, and have taught myself the Rosary in Latin.  I’ve also found Maria Montessori’s “The Mass Explained to Children” helpful, which is, for a 42-year old cradle Catholic, somewhat embarrassing to admit, but such was my catechesis.  The learning experience of it has broadened and deepened my faith, so my struggling with the extraordinary rite has been very productive for me spiritually—I attend the Novus Ordo in a much more reverent and attentive way now, too.

  • I’m jealous that you got to meet Karen and Barbara!  It sounds like a great time.

  • I went to my first TLM this past Sunday, too…my thoughts were much the same as yours, Dom.  Long, quietly reverent, a little hard to follow, and not something I’d make the mainstain of my liturgical diet if given the choice.  Also not a magic bullet for issues that concern people at Mass (talking, dress code, etc).  I would much prefer a reverently celebrated Novus Ordo or Anglican Use Mass.  All the same, I’m glad it’s available to those who prefer it, as I delight in the fact that there are a variety of liturgical forms, all with the same goal of worship!

  • Lori,

    “Also not a magic bullet for issues that concern people at Mass (talking, dress code, etc).”

    Definitely we found that to be the case at the mass we attended. One young woman was wearing short shorts and a sweatshirt. One screaming child was not removed for quite a long time.

  • I was at that Mass with you. smile My son was also serving, off to the side, he was the smallest one. The priest’s name is Fr. Mulkern and he *is* ancient. LOL We love him to death but he *does* speak too long. We have done the 90 minute drive to that Mass for the last dozen years or more. It becomes increasingly harder the more children we have.. we have 12 now… but we will continue (or move closer to the Mass, as we hope to do, although in another state) as the form of the Mass does not lend itself to the abuses we have seen in practically EVERY Novus Ordo Mass in this state/diocese. Our children, nor should anyone, ever have to witness scandal at Mass.  I was probably out back in the sacristy with my two loud mouths (err, children) during the sermon, so I was not able to hear his comment about the first people in the New World. I do know of a resource coming from a Catholic perspective regarding the history of the United States that you might be interested in:

    God bless!

  • BTW, there is a TLM being said right now on EWTN by the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP). (the mass will be rebroadcast today and Saturday, and most probably other times) The priest saying the sermon, Fr. Goodwin, used to be our priest in Portland. He left in 1999 to join the FSSP.