It has been a while since I've encountered anyone so passionately in love with liturgy as that. Until I read this post today by the young and spirited "Once-a-Detroit-Girl-Always-a-Detroit-Girl" Ms. Allie, "I am in love ..." (All Things Christ, April 28, 2012):
Laudetur Iesus Christus![Hat tip to A.B.]
Friday of the Third Week of Easter/Saint Peter Canisius, Doctor of the Church (EF)
Here it is, 11:30 at night and I am lying in bed again but there is something different about me. Something wonderfully different. Something that cannot be amply described in words. Seriously.
I just got back from a wonderful evening at Saint Josaphat’s in Detroit, a beautiful Polish church in Detroit that I had never seen before in person but had seen many pictures. I was with a friend for a Mass put on [by] the Juventutem, which is a group of Catholic young adults (18-35) who have a particular love for the traditional Latin Mass (TLM). This was their inaugural Mass and social for the group that has been started in the metro-Detroit area and it was great.
I had not been to a TLM since 2009 so I had to get a quick refresher from a priest-friend who happened to be the celebrant of said Mass. I used to go when I was in college because there was a parish that had a TLM every Sunday at 12:30 so not only did we get to go to Latin Mass, but we also got to sleep in! Win-win situation much? Yea. I had gone a couple times after I graduated but it had been a while.
All of my memories of the TLM had been wonderful but I had never been to a Missa Cantata or a sung Mass aka High Mass. It was beautiful. It was ethereal. It was glorious.
If I could tell you, if I could describe to you how my spirit had been and has been lifted up by this experience, I would but I cannot put it into words.
As we walked into the quiet church (a pleasant change from the sometimes noisy state of my home parish before Mass), I put on my beloved mantilla and we found our seats. It was hard for me to *not* look around. I have studied the histories of many of the parishes in the city so for me to be physically present in one of those places connects me in a concrete way to the history of these places. There were so many things my eyes wanted to examine but luckily, one of the perks of wearing a veil is that you have blinders of sorts that remind you why you are wearing the veil, to honor and focus on the Lord.
I prayed Vespers on my iPod and made a silent pre-Mass meditation. In churches like Saint Josaphat’s, I have no problem making a meditation because one’s spirit is lifted up by one’s surroundings. This can be sadly lacking in some more modern churches that have this fixation on the horizontal plane (immanence) of existence as opposed to directing the human heart and soul to the vertical plane (transcendence) of eternity.
Then Mass began. The organ music made my heart smile. The Latin made my soul so happy. I knew the vast majority of the songs that the people could sing. And luckily, I have watched enough Masses from the Vatican to know the what the responses are chanted. Latin is sadly not used as often as it ought at my home parish so hearing Latin songs filled a void in my heart that can only be filled by hearing a beautifully sung Panis Angelicus or another song like that.
There is something about the TLM that affects me differently than the Novus Ordo (the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite). No, I am not going to go off on a trad rant of sorts where I decry the Ordinary Form and praise unceasingly the Extraordinary Form.
But I must say that with this experience, my preference has been reinforced. I have a preference for the Extraordinary Form. While I don’t really get to go as often as I would like, when I can, I do go. All I care about otherwise is that the Mass is valid, licit, and it’s reverent.
Sure it can be an “acquired” taste and sure it can be an adjustment but, you know, it’s a new experience and you never know, you may just like it. I love it. My experience today reminded me of how very much I love it.
It took a bit to follow the rhythm but once I got my bearings things went smoothly.
Anyway, you’re probably wondering what the title of this post means.
Well, it has to do with the wonderful “feeling” that overcame me today during Mass, more specifically after receiving Communion.
My spirit had already been lifted so high by the beauty of the Mass but it was about to experience something all the more glorious.
As I knelt at the rail to receive Communion (and ignored that OCD tendency to fret about my veil) and waited for Him to come to me, my eyes wandered, I’ll admit it. But they fell on the crucifix over the tabernacle. Then, He was there. There is something about the prayer the priest says right before he gives you Communion that I love. It’s not just “The Body of Christ” which I find to be “lacking” (don’t you burn me at the stake, let me finish) in describing what it means. “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.” Here, we do not just hear what we receive, namely the Body of Christ, but we also come to know what He does for us by His offering His Body and Blood for us. I think this is more “complete” than just saying “Body of Christ.”
Well, I received Communion and waited a moment afterward (you don’t just dine and dash like some persons are apt to do in the Ordinary Form) and then walked back to my seat. A mantilla really helps one keep custody of the eyes.
I knelt and began to pray. I usually pray the Post-Communion/Mass Prayer of Saint Thomas Aquinas and while I do not have it memorized yet, I have the outline committed to memory. I got about halfway through when suddenly, my gaze was lifted up and my eyes kept going in and out of focus which was strange. And then I felt this overwhelming feeling of peace wash over me. Suddenly, all the pains, worries, and fears that had been plaguing my heart went away and were replaced by an indescribable joy. I could feel this interior smile of sorts that was beyond anything I had felt. I don’t know if I was smiling but my soul was and it was quite a wonderful feeling.
Then I realized it.
He had stolen my heart again.
And He does it so beautifully.
Throughout my discernment, I have heard Christ referred to as one who pursues and woos.
Does He ever.
No wonder He’s God.
And He is so generous. More than I deserve. He loves me so. He loves me individually and uniquely.
When I came back home from the convent, people told me (and they still do), “Allie, go find yourself a boyfriend.” or “Allie, you should date some more.” I just roll my eyes and ask, “Why would I do that when I already have someone?” Their response tends to be that of one who is not sated by what I say. But that does not matter.
It was at that moment that I knew. I did not belong to anyone but Him whom I had just received. And it filled me with peace and joy. There is still hope for me yet! Yay!
I tell you, once I get a car, I am going to TLM more often. I will still belong to my home parish but I will go to TLM. The added bonus is that I would get to wear my veil. Why don’t I wear it at the parish? Long story. Just trust that there is a reason. Those who know know. It’s not really a big deal. Not big enough to share here, at least.
Well, I have to get to bed. Mass in the morning. I am going to wish it was a TLM, just watch. I will probably hear the music in my head during Mass and I’ll probably get that wistful look on my face.
It was so wonderful today. So wonderful. I wish I could experience that always!
Have a great evening, everyone! -Allie