Monday, June 4, 2007
A Modern Catholic Adventure Story
Here's an adventure story. I hope you enjoy it.
The weekend after next we're going to a wedding in central Texas. We’re driving back to my grandmother’s house in Fort Worth late Saturday night after the wedding. Of course, you know the first issue up for consideration -- “Where are we going to Mass Sunday morning?”
The last time we just waltzed into an unknown church for Mass was in San Antonio. You would not believe the free-for-all that was. Let me see if I can summarize – the tabernacle was off to the side, the priest apparently didn't feel like wearing vestments as he flippantly walked out of the sacristy to begin Mass, there was no structure to the N.O. liturgy that I could recognize, the Scripture was all mixed up and badly paraphrased in his homily which lasted at least 30 minutes or more and was punctuated with laughter, clapping and cheering from the “audience”, women altarboys scantily clad in shorts and flip-flops were busy on the altar or kneeling at prie-dieus facing the priest NOT Our Lord in the Host. Of course, these groupies then handed out Our Lord while he sat back like some Jim Jones on his throne in front of the altar. You remember where Our Lord’s throne was, right? Yea, that's right -- off to the side. Needless to say, I’m gun-shy about just walking into a parish I don’t know anything about.
Usually when we stay at Grandma’s, we go to a scary (but much better than above) N.O. Guitar Mexican Cowboy Mass down the street from her house. The pews seem to be made for skinny giants since they are about a foot deep and so high off the ground that my feet dangle. This is especially ironic if you know that I share the general proportions of the average Mexican-American. I could just kneel the whole time and pray (which is probably what I should do) except that hardly anyone else is doing that and there’s a constant presence of Tejano-laced protestant-inspired guitar hymns. By the time the Mass is over, I’m nauseated from the music (thinking that even the dreaded “Lord of the Dance” hymn would be welcome) and have no circulation in my lower extremities. I’m afraid if I have to go there again, I’ll bum rush one of the "extraordinary" Eucharistic ministers before the consecration and drink the wine down in one needful gulp.
Ya’ll will understand that I felt very liberated when I made the decision not to do that again and try to find a Latin Mass. Fort Worth, I thought, is an average-size city. Surely, they must have one. Well, they do. They have exactly one Latin Mass a week on Sunday at 5:30pm. This is just a reminder to us here in little Ole OKC that we are indeed blessed to have St. Michael’s.
So, next I looked at Dallas. Dallas is a huge city in size and population, and should have several Latin Mass options, right?
They have one covert chapel with a daily Mass and two on Sundays. Yippee!
Now, for the rest of the story…
This chapel is in a Carmelite convent in central Dallas (near a golf course) about an hour from my grandmother's house. I had to e-mail a very nice gentleman in Dallas for directions because they can’t list the address on the internet at the request of the nuns, who are cloistered but not particularly interested in the Latin Mass. They're just charitable with their space --May the Good Lord bless their generosity. He says that both Sunday Masses are so crowded that it’s standing room only. You’d think in a big place like Dallas, they’d have a sizable church (or two) in an easy to find part of town.
I feel like we’re going to meet with members of the Cosa Nostra to conduct some criminal activity instead of going to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It sorta reminds me of what living in the days of the Roman Catacombs must have been like when you had to know a password to get into the Mass.
What will it be – “Mackerel Smackin’s the only way to go” or “Once you’ve gone Latin, you’ll never go back” or maybe they’ll just keep it simple and traditional with “Ichthus” or "Down with Nostra Aetate"?
Whatever the case, it’s sure to be an adventure. I'll keep you posted.