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2021 02 Extraordinary

The beauty and reverence of the Church's traditional Latin Liturgy is something we all love and are prompt to explain to others in conversation, but what if we could relive vicariously that moment when we beheld the "Mass of the ages" for the first time? What if someone could remind us what that was like by seeing this through his eyes to help us to see this once again?

One gentleman put this very experience to words after having visited St. Anthony's Oratory, the Institute's apostolate in West Orange, New Jersey. There he assisted at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the first time. He has most kindly allowed us to share his words with you. Here they are below. May they reenkindle in our hearts a love for the Sacred Liturgy and an awe in the power of piety to convert souls to Christ our Infant King!

 

Benjamin from New Jersey writes:

It had taken me too long but I had found one. A Catholic church that offered the Mass in Latin. A worship place of the True Faith without the modernist tics of the all-too common kind. In an era of destruction and revolution, the pillars of Truth were hard to come by, even in the place where they should be the most stationary. I sought tradition, the fullest of the Truth, the sturdiest ship on which to take my pilgrimage through this life.

Despite the drab and pale modern exterior, inside was hidden a vibrant and cozy Bethlehem. Walls inset with colorfully stained-glass depictions of Saints, those who piously walked the Earth before us in grand example and assist us even now from Eternity. Between them hanged paintings of the Passion, the Stations of the Cross depicted in reverent solemnity, a vigilant reminder of how the Lord suffered on His journey to be hanged up Himself. Sat in the dark wood pews of the nave were people of all nations. Men wore dark and pressed suits, women were veiled in ornate reverence before the Lord, children quietly sitting in anxious innocence. They prayed their way through the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, crafting a crown of roses for Our Lady as she leads us to her Divine Son. The priests offered confession before every Mass so I hopped onto the line. I went to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation to make sure my soul was clean for what came next.

I had not been to the traditional Mass before. I emulated my brothers and sisters in their movements and tried my best to read along from my grandfather's faux-leather Missal. But I couldn’t match the Latin orations to the English texts and decided to simply look on to the beauty of the high altar and the stained-glass window of the Great Shepard above, through which the sunlight shined into this holy place. The altar was flanked by icons of Our Lady and St. Joseph, terror of demons, none of which would dare enter in the presence of God. Atop the immaculately carved table was an image of St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost people and things. I became transfixed in the solemnity of the Gregorian chants of the High Mass, a sung sacrifice passed down from my forefathers. The Mass as Catholics had known it for millennia.

I knelt down at the consecration. I looked up as the three bells reverberated throughout the church, an ancient signal to behold the glory: the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ Jesus. The same sacrifice made in every Mass throughout the world, the same sacrifice done for our salvation, the same exact sacrifice on Calvary 2000 years ago. And I heard the offering in the language of the Church fathers, the same words spoken for centuries for the worship of the living God. In that moment, I felt as if I was no longer in my place and time. I was 100 and 500 and 1500 years ago and from now. I was at the place of the skull, kneeling before Him, who died for our sins and rose again for our redemption. And when I looked around and saw the people, in my mind flashed the words of St. John as he beheld the Apocalypse. "After this I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne, and in the sight of the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palms in their hands: And they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb."

 

I received the Lord that day. And I knew I had found my ship.

 
 

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shrine St. Stanislaus Oratory Milwaukee Saint Patrick's Oratory Green Bay St. Mary's Oratory Wausau St. Joseph Shrine Detroit St. Francis de Sales Oratory St. Louis Holy Family Log Church Cahokia Most Precious Blood of Jesus Parish Pittsburgh St. Mary Oratory Rockford St. Margaret Mary's Oakland Immaculate Heart of Mary Oratory San Jose Sts. Cyril and Methodius Oratory Bridgeport St. Anthony of Padua Oratory West Orange Old St. Patrick Oratory Kansas City St. Gianna Oratory Tucson St. Joseph Church Hammond St. Patrick Parish and Oratory Waterbury St. Francis de Sales Oratory Sulphur St. Leo's Oratory Columbus