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The Big Green Monster

It's big, it's green, and it's bad. No, not the Hulk but jealousy. Envy.

St. Thomas Aquinas said of Envy: "Envy according to the aspect of its object is contrary to charity, whence the soul derives its spiritual life... Charity rejoices in our neighbor's good, while envy grieves over it." (2, 36, ad 3)

I must admit that I am jealous, but I am not sure it is a sin. Does a starved person sin when he is suffused with desire upon witnessing the banquet of another? This is the situation I found myself in Tuesday, famished at the banquet.

In Southern California on business, I decided to make my way over to St. Michael's Abbey in Silverado CA to attend mass. Their website had advertised that they had "Latin High Mass" at 7am in the church. I woke up and made my way over to the Abbey from my hotel, a 30 minute drive.

As some of our readers may know, I have an abiding interest in the Traditional Latin Mass (Gregorian Rite). Since the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum last year, I have begun attending the TLM on a regular basis. I would say that I make my way to one of the extraordinary form masses in my diocese on Sunday at least 50% of the time since last September. The fact that I attend this mass so frequently now is rather surprising to me. While I had attended the TLM several times before Summorum, there was just never a convenient enough mass for the family and I to attend on any regular basis. After Summorum Pontificum, I began attending the TLM to better understand it and to become more immersed in the history of our liturgy.

But a funny thing happened over the past year. I find it increasingly annoying to return to a manifestly manhandled, if not overtly abused Novus Ordo. My home parish (which actually isn't my home parish because I cannot attend my home parish due to the absolutely outlandish abuses there! Another story) is by no means an egregious offender when it comes to liturgical abuse, but we have all of the usual symptoms of a low-grade sickness. Bad music, extraordinary ministers up the wazoo, and occasionally priests who take some liberties. Prior to the motu proprio, I suppose, I had become used to and usually ignored the obvious infractions. But now, what was formerly tolerable, now has become a visible sore just screaming to scratched, and I am incapable of ignoring it the way I formerly was able.

Don't get me wrong, the Mass is the mass and grace is grace, and I am not distracted to the point where I lose sight of what is really happening. I suppose my sentiments are more properly categorized as melancholy and wistfulness for what has been lost and moreover, sadness over the contentedness of so many in their sleepy deprivation.

This brings me back to my visit to St. Michael's Abbey. For the last year, as I travel on business, I make a point to see if the there is a daily local traditional Latin Mass in the area. I found one in Phoenix two weeks ago and I thought I had found one here in southern California. But what I thought was a TLM actually turned out to be the Novus Ordo in Latin. However, to only note the liturgical language would be a gross understatement of the difference between this mass and the mass distraction of my home parish. This was a radically different thing. It was all there, the Latin, the Gregorian Chant, the strict adherence to the rubrics, the smells, the bells, all of it. It was truly magnificent. Probably as close to the mass envisioned by the council as you are likely to find.

I was so appreciative that God had led me to this mass. However, gratitude quickly morphed into something else, something big, something green. Thus developed my little tantrum of the mind. I want this... I want this...And I want it now! It is mine and I want it. Why can't I have it? Give it to me!

I come to SoCal often on business and I will make it a point to visit the Abbey often when here. But now I have to go back home. While I still have the TLM, I dread returning to my home parish for I know that the next time that I do, some small child in the pew behind me will ask his mother, "Mommy, why is that man green?" His mommy will likely shrug, admit that she doesn't know and then hold hands and clap the hour away. I will be jealous for her too, for while blissful in her ignorance, she knows not what she is missing.

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Alexandra said...

Good story. I am jealous just reading about that mass. But at least somebody is doing it right. Perhaps, one day it will make it to my parish too.

Cheryl said...

I've been to a few of those beautiful Novus Ordo Masses as well - they tend to crop up right about the time I'm the most perplexed by bad music, altar girls, EMs and Father asking if anyone has a job for Jimmy right after the Our Father while Jesus is sitting on the altar. They're few and far between, but I think their number is growing.

If you're ever in Chicago looking for a nice Novus Ordo, check out the Benedictines (they also have a wonderful B&B) or the Opus Dei parish (St. Mary of the Angels perhaps). Of course, if you're in on a Sunday, you'll want to visit St. John Cantius for the TLM.

Dan Hunter said...

Mr Archbold,
Well written story.

Please help me out.
Do you find the Latin Novus Ordo more to your liking than the Gregorian Mass?
I have been to a Latin NO, and I regularly assist at the Gregorian Mass and other than the Latin, I find a world of difference.
The Latin NO is far superior to the way most vernacular NO are offered, its just that if you have equal access to a Gregorian and a Latin NO, why would one chose the NO?
The Gregorian Mass emphasizes the sacrifice of Christ much more than the NO.
Thank you and God bless you.

Anonymous said...

TLM in Orange County on a weekday? That would be like finding a juicy steak in your dog's food dish an hour after you feed him! But at any rate, there are a number of good Novus Ordo Masses around in places where the TLM is still a seed waiting for earth and sunlight. You do have to search for them however. And often, even in these communities, it is still dependent upon which priest is saying the Mass on that particular day.

Renee said...

I have never attended an NO in Latin as there are none in my diocese. The nearest TLM here is a 3+ hour drive (not too easy with small kids). I am envious of your opportunities to be envious.

Patrick Archbold said...

Dan Hunter,
Put that way, I do still prefer the TLM. However, for me it is not an either or proposition. While I love the TLM, I now better understand the reforms the council had in mind.

On the other hand the NO, even in Latin, also needs some changes. Yes, the emphasis on sacrifice is lacking as well as other things we don't need to go into here.

Like I said, not an either or proposition. I think the the likelihood of the TLM becoming the ordinary mass in its current form is extremely remote. Some version of a reformed mass is here to stay, it should be the best it can be. I very much want the NO to be reformed (as can be seen in my joke), but until that time, it should be the best it can be.

Deusdonat said...

Buck up, little camper. I too suffer from liturgical envy in that I am 50 miles from the nearest TLM here in Northern California. So, I sympathise.

nightfly said...

Funny, I thought that this was a Boston Red Sox post.

I hope that this can make its way to our parish soon. I love the place and am active, but there's some wobbly stuff (as everywhere else).

Daddio said...

Good post. I haven't been to a TLM yet, and I don't really yearn for it. I just want a well done, reverent Novus Ordo with good music, a good homily, and no EM's. We occasionally go to mass at the Cistercian Abbey in Dallas, and it is wonderful. The monks chant in Latin (not so much that the little kids get antsy), but everything else is in English. They are awesome preachers, and the sight of a dozen 20-something-year-old novices is really something to behold. Hopefully my three young sons will be inspired just by being there and watching them and visiting with them after mass, even if they don't understand the Latin yet.

Daniel said...

Every Sunday I sit through the N.O. at my home parish almost grinding my teeth to dust. Right now, my main beef is that at least one - and very often two - of the Readings are done by 10-year-old girls, who deliver them in that halting, stuttering way common to those of that age's reading level. Your post is right on the money, Patrick; I share many of your sentiments.

I actually DO have a TLM available only six miles from where I live. Unfortunately, it is in a city known mainly for its high level of drug-related crime and it's at 1 p.m. every Sunday, so I am hesitant to go regularly. I'm new to your blog here and so far I'm enjoying it very much. Keep up the good work.

RobK said...

St. Michael's has a summer camp as well. My boy went there last year - mass is said in Latin DAILY. He now loves Latin. He is headed back their this year. I went to camp there when I was a boy.

The Norbertine's who are at the Abbey are wonderful. They also offer the TLM at two different locations in the Diocese. They have been an anchoring rock for this diocese - keeping many close to the faith.

Paul in the GNW said...

Hey, great post.

Question: For any one on Long Island, or Queens, Brooklyn or Manhattan. I will be in that area for 2 weeks in August. Give me some tips on any great Daily Masses in that area. Thanks.

I have been to Low Mass TLMs over the years, including a daily TLM at 6:00 AM in a forgotten chapel of my otherwise totally liberal Jesuit College! It seemed foreign, but it was very prayerful - I actually made it there fairly frequently - on the other hand I don't think I would get much out of it with kids. I have never been to a High Mass TLM. I have been to very "high" Latin Novos Ordo's with full Chant and have always loved it.

I am fortunate to live in an area where I have many solid choices for an abuse free Novos Ordo.

God Bless to all and long live Benedict the Sixteenth!!!


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

The Norbertines are solid...you were fortunate to go to that Mass. As for finding a daily TLM in Orange County, you won't find one, Bp. Brown is like his counterpart in LA.

RobK said...

Joe, you are right. But I must protest that things in OC aren't quite as bad as LA - bad no doubt, but not quite as bad.

I am an occasional frequenter of the TLM at the JPII center. I am grateful that there is a place in the North Orange County for folks.

Anonymous said...

Same problem with my "home parish." I have found refuge in a nearby byzantine catholic parish. I have been going there for almost a year. It grows on you, and it is hard to go back to a NO parish with abuses.

Lori said...

We traveled to Northern California in the past couple of weeks, and went to a local parish where it was the new pastor's first weekend. He spent the entire homily reminding people (literally, over and over and over) how to pronounce his first name (he's foreign) and then told joke after joke after joke. The one altar BOY (be thankful for small things, I guess) was completely untrained, ran up to the altar to get the processional cross and ran it back to the narthex just as Mass was beginning, and the music was H & H all the way.

My husband, very much perturbed by all this, leaned over to me after Mass and said, "Thanks, thanks a lot honey...I used to be able to just be a pew sitter and be totally unaffected by those things...now I'm fully conscious of every ridiculous thing people do at Mass!" Just doin' my job, dear. :-)

lvschant said...

Prior to attending the CMAA Colloquium last year for the first time, I had never in my recollection experienced as beautiful and reverent a Mass as those we had there. We had all the permutations... All English NO, All Latin NO facing the people, All Latin NO ad orientem, All Latin EF. Each form was lovely, reverent...

Perhaps this envy thing can be a force for good in this particular case? Ever since experiencing how it can be, I have been working in the fields toward that end... slowly, gradually. Without having that picture of the ideal in your mind, you don't know what it is you are seeking, perhaps.

There are so many wonderful church musicians out there (just to highlight one aspect of the whole) who are suffering because of lack of support for bringing back the lovely Sacred Music to their parishes. Whether it is the parish priest, the parish council, the entrenched and very vocal parishioners who complain if something is done differently... Many of them are experiencing real opposition to implementing some changes to improve the quality of music in their parishes (leading to major frustration on the part of these 'workers in the vineyards'.

By speaking up and requesting Gregorian chant or Latin or other changes directly to the pastor (even if he doesn't seem interested), at least he won't be able to say that there isn't any interest in it from the parish if such a change is proposed from another quarter. Be a voice of support for the changes in your own parish and maybe change will happen where you are!

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