Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Mass in the Dominican Rite: Unexpectedly Well-Attended!

This is a picture of the Dominican Rite celebrated at Holy Family Cathedral in 2009...no pictures yet of today.















This afternoon, my seven-year-old gave me the most beautiful Christmas gift: he said "Okay" and agreed to serve the Latin Mass when a fourth server didn't show.

This particular young man is very slow to try anything new. He studies an activity for a long time before plunging in: for instance, he delayed taking off the training wheels of his bike long enough for me to raise an eyebrow but then, once he did, he jumped right on and knew exactly what he was doing the very first time. He's just that way.

Likewise, while he had spent a week training in the Dominican Rite and has studied it during Mass for many months since, he hadn't yet agreed to serve when an opportunity would present itself.

But today, he did! I really adored seeing him up there in all his sweetness, serving alongside his brother and two other boys.

Anyway, this year the Latin Mass was celebrated on Christmas Day in the Cathedral itself, rather than in the parish center. (You can see pictures here to appreciate how awkward that was.) Many people filed in who weren't normally at the Latin Mass on Sundays, and Brother Justin Gable, O.P. made an announcement before Mass began that this one would be celebrated in the Extraordinary Form, and the Mass in the parish center would be celebrated in English. I half expected an exodus of people to stand up and leave (not that they weren't all perfectly capable of reading about this schedule the week before in the bulletin!) but no one did.

Then, Father Anthony Patalano, O.P. came up to the ambo and addressed the congregation. His speech is recreated below (my words, not his):

"Four years ago, Pope Benedict XVI issued a letter to explain to the faithful that the Roman Church has one Mass in two forms: the Ordinary and the Extraordinary. This Mass will be celebrated according to the Extraordinary Form. Some of you older folks might remember this as the Mass from your childhood. It is the Mass that was celebrated for centuries prior to Vatican II and is part of the treasury of the Church. As such, it is very different than what you may be used to and there are also a few rules. For instance, Holy Communion is received only on the tongue. So that nobody feels forced to celebrate the Mass in this way, please know that there is an English Mass happening in the parish center."

He then announced a "pastoral decision," as he put it, to have everyone approach in two lines similar to the English Mass due to the unexpectedly large amount of people. As each person approached, he blessed each person with the Eucharist, saying "Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen" ("May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ keep your soul unto life everlasting, Amen.") as he otherwise would and an altar server stood on either side of him, holding a paten under the chin of each communicant. Everyone in the Church received our Lord directly on the tongue.

At the end of Mass, he catechized more about it, explaining how many people, and especially younger people, are finding that the beauty, solemnity, and reverence of this Mass are very attractive. Altogether, it was a joyful occasion to celebrate the Lord's birth and to glorify Him and His Presence among us alongside so many brothers and sisters. It also struck me that Fr. Anthony is really the perfect person to pastor the parish at this time; he is an authoritative yet utterly approachable priest who understands the need to teach frequently in order to encourage a graceful transition and welcoming attitude toward these organic developments of the local church.

Merry Christmas!


It is not possible to “eat” the Risen One, present under the sign of bread, as if it were a simple piece of bread. To eat this Bread is to communicate, to enter into communion with the person of the living Lord. This communion, this act of “eating,” is truly an encounter between two persons, it is allowing our lives to be penetrated by the life of the One who is the Lord, of the One who is my Creator and Redeemer.

The purpose of this communion, of this partaking, is the assimilation of my life with his, my transformation and conformation into he who is living Love.

-Pope Benedict XVI (Homily on May 26, 2005)

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