Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of assisting at the first Holy Mass of Fr. Chori Seraiah, of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. I've had some time to reflect upon it and I have a few thoughts, which I would like to share.
First, I want to say that I think that Fr. Seraiah's celebration of the Mass is extremely reverent and extremely noble. There are few priests I know who are more attuned to what they do, as was Fr. Seraiah. That is a gift and I am very grateful that his attention to the celebration of Holy Mass is taken so very seriously.
Next, I would like to speak to the ceremony itself. It was a Said Mass (low Mass), with one server. As I was speaking with Fr. Seraiah last night, I became increasingly aware that the Mass he said was Catholic. It wasn't Latin Rite Catholic, it didn't have that feel to it, but it was Catholic. Much like how the Byzantine's are Catholic. It has it's own reality and it's own traditions attached to them, but as with many things which have come down through Holy Mother Church, when validity and licitness are applied to it, it takes on a Catholic quality.
It wasn't the easiest thing for me to wrap my head around, but once I started reflecting upon it, I thought of how the early Church adapted basilicas and pagan feasts and Jewish traditions into her bosom. This is yet another adaptation or better yet acceptance of that reality which has existed from all time. Will it take time to get used to? Of course, but looking at it through the lens of the Church from within, as opposed to seeing it from without, there is something Catholic about it. Of course, the liturgy that I witnessed yesterday has been celebrated, in a Catholic way for over 30 years, as part of the pastoral provision.
Next, I was taken aback by the profound respect that was given the Blessed Sacrament. While there are some peculiarities I don't personally care for, the manner of respect with which the Blessed Sacrament is expected to treated is astounding, especially in today's Church. One may receive in the hand, however, he does not self-communicate. He is not allowed to touch the host, but rather he must carry the host resting in his hand to his mouth and receive in that manner. While I personally don't receive Holy Communion in that manner, I can certainly see that this form of reception is far more acceptable than that which is practiced in 99% of churches today. Another area which I find to be interesting is that if one chooses to receive from the chalice, he does so in a passive way. There is nothing active in his reception of the Precious Blood. And those are but options. One may always receive the Sacred Host on his tongue and not receive the Precious Blood. But the constancy through that is that the Communicant receives kneeling. There is no standing.
Next, I can see where and how the Mass can be celebrated with all pomp and circumstance of a TLM Solemn Mass. It is not a stretch and it is not a far move. Clearly, the Mass, just like the Latin Rite Mass, is intended to be sung and it is intended to be High. Many will say, oh don't get hung up on the ceremony. That is something which will come. I say, no. Do get hung up on the ceremony. For it is the fullness of the ceremony which will draw people in. It may not be feasable in the first few months, but it should be done as soon as possible. Why? It is the ceremony which draws the senses of the faithful into the liturgical action of the celebrant. The most ceremony allows the senses to see, hear, touch, taste and smell. That is the draw to the liturgical action. That is what has been missing since Vatican Council II and the reforms after. That is what this liturgy can bring to physical, which has been missing.
Speaking theologically, I can see the use of the Roman Canon. I can see the absolute importance of the altar. I an see the importance of "bringing the Gospel" to the faithful. All of these things speak theologically to the Anglican Use. I will expound upon these elements in later posts, but I just wanted to take this time to give a very new view of a first Mass, not only for Fr. Seraiah, but also for the Des Moines area and for Holy Mother Church.
God is indeed, good.