Friday, July 07, 2006
Latin Mass Community's Report
Well, it's hardly a secret any more...the summary of "Stengths, Challenges and Vision" from the first listening session, prepared by some of the folks who attended the Blessed Sacrament listening session last month for the St. Rose Philippine Duschene Latin Mass Community, has been widely circulated. Even so widely circulated I might as well post it here.
This report was prepared by the SRPD folks in response to what they viewed as a haphazard and confused process during the listening session, when comments of the territorial parishioners were mixed in with the SRPD members and the comments of each group seemed to get jumbled in with the others. I understand that it was delivered to each member of the "task force," such as it was, and also directly into the hands of the Archbishop, in an effort to make sure our community's perspective was fairly presented (even if, fait accompli, the decisions have already been secretly made, and this and the efforts of other communities are the pointless exercise I feared they would be from the beginning).
Anyways, if you're a member of another parish in the 'Dotte, and you've done something similar, please share it with me, and I'll post it here alongside the SRPD report!
THE LATIN MASS COMMUNITY OF ST. PHILIPPINE DUCHESNE, KANSAS CITY, KS
“…a powerful silence, a seriousness… a centuries-old script… no personalities…” Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post, speaking of her recent attendance at an old Latin Mass in Washington DC.
- First, and most importantly, we have a great community sacramental life provided by priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP). The Masses are celebrated with great reverence for the greater honor and glory of God. As observed by our visitors, real interior participation in the Latin Mass seems to be very high (although it can't really be measured, except by noting the large number of our members who use prayer books and who also stay for some time after Mass on their knees to give thanks to God for the gift of His Body and Blood).
- We have daily opportunities for confessing our sins and being forgiven—typically 8-9 hrs every weekend and 6-8 hrs on weekdays. Generally, we take those opportunities for confession seriously, with a high percentage of adults making their confession at least every two to three weeks.
- We have weekly Benediction on Thursday evening and daily group rosaries. We put a big emphasis on traditional blessings during the course of the year, and the use of sacramentals. For example, almost 2,000 holy medals of St. Roch and St. Benedict and hundreds of holy cards were recently distributed to adults and children after two recent Sunday Masses.
- The spirituality of our Mass seems to obviously carry over into the daily lives of most of our parishioners, too. You can tell their lifestyle by the frequency they attend daily Mass, the modest dresses the women are wearing, the way everyone talks, the number of children, the bumper stickers some people have on their cars, the overall way they live good lives, and their good example to others. We are really trying to be saints!
- We are blessed with Fr. XYZ and his assistant, Fr. ABC, both of whom fulfill our spiritual and liturgical needs (frequent confessions and reverent Holy Communions administered by a cleric). In addition to these two young priests, we are also blessed by the regular visits of other good priests from the FSSP. Behind these priests we see a full pipeline of traditional seminarians as well.
- Our community produced a Fraternity seminarian, a monk and a cloistered nun last year, and we've had a hand in some of the other vocations that have come from the Missouri Latin Mass community, now Old St. Patrick's. Our stream of vocations is growing, not dying out.
Our Priests are outstanding role models for the boys, and with them around (or having been around), it's unlikely that any young man who does have a vocation will be able to ignore it)
- Unmarried Catholics in our community seem to have a special understanding of their role to become saints and to help the Church prosper, and most liberally contribute a significant part of their time to church devotions and activities. We don’t seem to have any unmarried singles living together.
- Married Catholics with children are the most numerous vocations in our community, and we are pleased that there are now more children than adults, 374 children as compared to 357 adults. The children are generally very well behaved at Mass, even the very youngest, probably because the parents control children’s behavior at home and older children help with the younger ones.
- During Mass, we understand the importance of our joining with the priest to pray together (but silently) the very words and prayers of the Divine Sacrifice. English-Latin Missals are much used, and are free to Mass attendees who do not have their own.
- Outside the Sanctuary, nearly all our Catholic Action activities are coordinated by laymen—prayer chain, handmade baptismal garment sewing, parish lunches following First Communion Sunday and other important parish events...you name it and we’ve probably got it!
- Our lay religious activities are all rightly ordered, with our Chaplain unquestionably in charge and others working with him (instead of against him or indifferently to him) toward a common goal.
- Even though not officially a part of our community, the Blue Knights and Little Flowers have originated from parent meetings and result in organized recreational activities for the kids. The Legion of Mary has grown to five Praesidia. We also have a lending library with good Catholic books, a parishioner who makes religious goods available, and other community activities after Sunday High Mass.
- Lay volunteers also coordinate our annual church picnic, our website, the preparation and distribution of weekly church bulletins, and our annual picnic and annual banquet. [Our featured speaker at the October 24 banquet will be Steve Wood, founder of St. Joseph’s Covenant Keepers, who will emphasize the importance of Dads in the family.]
- We've got our share of gray hair, but by and large, we're a YOUNG lot with many couples in their 20s, 30s and early 40s with lots of children—obviously our people are heeding the Church's teaching about the blessings of children. Two to three baptisms of babies happen every month.
- In addition to that, we have a large number of single men in our pews. Faith gets taught by mothers, to a large degree, but gets its strength, best example, and permanency from men, especially fathers.
- After going through much of our workaday life with people who are so different from us (for men), or who usually speak with immature conversationalists (for moms), we especially relish the times when we can get together "with our own kind," that is, with people who share our general spirituality and outlook on life.
- We have after-Mass coffee and doughnuts most Sundays, and two or three other events during the year in which we can get together.
- Young mothers who home-school their children keep in contact by phone to share ideas, field trips, and babysitting.
- Our Schola provides the traditional and timeless music of the church to bring our community to a reverent presence before God. Singing a capella, the Schola also accompanies the Eucharist on outdoor processions. The leader is a trained musician who brings out the best in choir members who range from the old to the young.
- As our forefathers did, our congregation easily joins in singing the common parts, i.e., the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, which provides another opportunity for lay involvement in the Mass and is a great source of Grace.
- We have five trained organists, one cellist, and two more organists in training who are almost ready to play at Mass and for church devotions.
- Religious instruction is regularly conducted by our chaplain for both non-Catholics and Catholics, and is tailored to the special needs of both groups.
- We have an excellent home-schooling support group, and our parishioners take their obligation to educate their children in the faith (and in more mundane matters) very seriously.
- Our website has been established for a number of years at www.latin-mass.org and is now being totally revamped.
- We regularly communicate with our members through e-mail, including distribution of our weekly church bulletin and alerts to the particular needs of community members. While living within the old traditional Catholic Church, we use the best and most modern means of reaching those who should be invited in or who have already joined with us to rebuild the Church.
- Our parishioners are involved in many pro-life and related political activities (Life Chain, praying the rosary at abortion clinics, Defense of Marriage Act campaign, Terri Schiavo bumper sticker campaign, support of the Grace Center, medical ethics seminar, etc. Many of our congregation also actively campaign for politicians who support Catholic values, including our own State Senator XYZ and State Rep. ABC.
- Whenever there's a specific need—a catastrophic illness or a job loss or anything else, whether with a member or an outsider—there is an army of our people to offer prayers and practical help. .......
- Elderly Catholics receive rides to Sunday Mass from community volunteers.
Our second collection at Sunday Mass is usually the FIN campaign, and this money is designated for ‘Families In Need’. Our community consists of many single-wage-earner families with stay-at-home Moms. The FIN collection is distributed to those who need extra help to feed and take care of their families when misfortune strikes.
- We also participate in activities like protests of The DaVinci Code and pursue other causes to support and defend the Church.
- We have a beautiful church in which to worship God and learn His truths, especially because of the traditional altar and statues of the saints that remind us of what we must become.
- We are especially indebted to Blessed Sacrament parish and to Fr. [N.O. Pastor] for their welcoming us to use their church and meeting areas. In many, many ways, Fr. N.O. Pastor has been a great help to our community, and he deserves the highest praise. We are so fortunate to have him for our landlord!
- The FSSP is here at the pleasure of the Archbishop, and we are somewhat unsure of the future of our Latin Mass community. We are especially concerned that we could lose some of our strengths by compromising our traditional practices.
- We have had three recent vocations to the religious life and more are expected, as there are usually 12 to 16 servers at High Mass and 4 to 6 servers at Low Mass. The older boys are well-trained in Latin solemn High Masses, Requiem Masses, Benediction, Solemn Processions in honor of the Blessed Sacrament, and Stations of the Cross.
- There are no traditional nuns in the archdiocese (although some are nearby in Kansas City, MO). We need sisters to pray for the Church, help with religious education, and give a clear example of what constitutes complete dedication to Jesus Christ.
- More young women would find the religious life if more consecrated sisters dressed in traditional habits were seen at Mass.
- Collections could improve, especially if there were more understanding of and trust in our future.
- Although Blessed Sacrament church is beautiful, its PA system could be improved so that folks who are hard of hearing can hear the sermons.
- We truly need the communion rail restored because we all kneel for communion on the step to the sanctuary. It's difficult (especially for the older folks) to balance oneself on the step and (for the younger folks) keep one's children from having their fingers stepped on while making a reverent Holy Communion.
- The primary organ needs some significant repair and regular maintenance.
- We really need a bigger vestibule and cry room. With so many little children, the vestibule can become very crowded with the confessional line and parents bringing children out for feeding, correction, and instruction. An alternative would be to place a free-standing confessional somewhere in the back of the church, so that the vestibule and cry room could be used exclusively by families with small children.
- The basement of the church needs considerable maintenance, especially the restrooms. It would be great to have a place for parents to change diapers.
- We would like a more permanent structure and commitment from the archdiocese, even though we would be content to stay at Blessed Sacrament for the present. We see definite advantages for continuing to remain at this beautiful church with its generous and welcoming pastor and parishioners.
- The community is very widely dispersed, and as such it's difficult to collaborate on things like education. Even getting to weekday Latin Masses, which many of us would like to do, is a chore.
- When visitors come downstairs after Sunday Mass for our social time, they get to see us relaxed and interacting as a single large family in our social setting. Coffee and doughnut hour is a fixture in our community and has resulted in many friendships being established.
- Few know about our community, unless they have a good friend who attends. Current new members say they would have been interested in joining our community long before now if it had not been hidden from view.
- It would be good if our community had access to archdiocesan and public channels of communication. In particular, we would like to see references to our activities in The Leaven, links to our website on the archdiocesan website, and news items published in the secular media.
- Having large families in fidelity to the Church's teaching on contraception does not permit the education of multiple children at $2,500 or $3,000 per child for grade school and about $6,000 per student for high school. Home-schooling parents, on the other hand, do a good job of inexpensively educating their children. The Archbishop should acknowledge, encourage, and publicly support this growing phenomenon, at least until the spirituality, liturgical life, and orthodoxy of teachers in Catholic schools is reestablished. We ultimately need an affordable, traditional option for corporately educating our children, particularly at the high school level.
THE VIBRANT PARISH (We think most of this fits the Latin Mass community)
- A community ordered primarily towards becoming Saints and thus attaining Salvation.
- A growing church, both by adding new families and adding to existing families.
- An adequate number of energetic, orthodox priests who’s first and foremost concerns are the provision of the sacraments and the saving of souls.
- Sacramental liturgies that emphasize our duties and reverence to God, our priest, and holy things.
- Sermons that call listeners to do great things for God, even when requiring strength and perseverance that seem impossible to achieve, except through grace.
- A community that supports the work of its priests with more than enough volunteers (i.e., lots of lay involvement in appropriate areas) to implement the directions of the pastor.
- A community that appears to the outside world as providing an excellent example of what Christianity is all about.
- The pleasing of God; resulting in many religious vocations to serve the Church
- Daily Mass and frequently scheduled Catholic devotions
- Long lines of penitents – with confessions heard daily, both before and after each Mass, as well as during regularly scheduled evening hours – so as to be more readily available to those who work during the day. We cannot become better Catholics without recognizing and confessing our sins on a regular basis.
- A catechism program faithful to the Church and that achieves spiritual growth, understanding, and religious commitment in the students.
- A beautiful church that continually awakens people to a deep love for the Church and makes its people its own. (We still need some elements, as discussed above.)
- Adequate, convenient facilities for other church-related activities. (Improvement is needed.)
- Faithful, consistent, and energetic leadership in the local church and the Archdiocese.
- Regularly scheduled evening courses in Thomistic philosophy and theology as part of an ongoing program of adult education.
- The education of students on the full responsibilities, beliefs, and activities of the Catholic Church so that one day they can effectively lead the Church to a new Catholic Restoration (Partial support)
- School options that fit well with the beliefs and practices of the traditional Catholic family. (We are missing this.)