Monday, October 27, 2014

A place to fill you up!

We've been in New Orleans for 4 months! It would seem like we would have hit up all the famous NOLA churches while we've been here, but... we haven't. So when I saw that one of the churches had mass at the appropriate time, we got in the van (30 minutes early bc that's how long it takes to reach your downtown destination from uptown) and found street parking (it's own miracle bc it was a home game) and went to mass at St Patrick's Catholic Church. This place has stain-glass that will take your breath away, and it's altar is beautiful wood, and it's ceiling over the altar (which probably has a fancy name) is (little known fact) ALL Tiffany's glass.

As we entered, the ushers were handing out  booklets with the bulletins, which I politely refused because I didn't want to tear them apart with our little tree frog fingers that some of our kiddos have. As we found our place, I noticed a few things were different: 3 priests, nobody facing the congregation, 18 altar servers... THE LATIN MASS... extra-ordinary form... Oh no!! Deep breaths...Now this can either be a BEAUTIFUL thing or a complete disaster! We already have trouble keeping the kiddos interested when mass is in ENGLISH... and to boot, we sit close to the front in order to keep them focused on what is going on up on the alter. So now we're up at the front, no booklets, no real clue as to what's going on (except for David who's pretty familiar with everything, though his Latin is not quite memorized), and to top it off, I'm the only female without a mantilla (the lace veil over my head) minus the Packers fans in the back of church whose heads were still covered with a cap at least.

So how on Earth was this so fulfilling? Well we were among one of the smaller families in church. There were many young, large families there (all whose little girls had their heads covered), and so our family noises were not a problem for ANYONE! The reading and the homily were in English, and I knew what to say in English in response to the Latin, though a booklet would have been helpful at this point. The Music... sigh... the music spoke such love and reverence that had we not been with our children, I would have been a BASKET CASE of tears because it was all so beautiful!! Harmony Harmony Harmony Harmony. Gets me every time.

The main reason it was so refreshing and fulfilling is that Jesus was THE MOST IMPORTANT person there. The 18 altar servers (all men ranging from 8 to 60s') looked like true soldiers for Christ! All the movements about the sanctuary (i.e. the main altar) were obviously very rehearsed and it said very clearly, "This is important to us and Jesus is the focus." It occurred to me that even if someone who WASN'T Catholic came here, they would have known that Jesus was the most important person. There was a candle procession of altar servers just before Consecration to a four-part harmony of SANCTUS SANCTUS SANCTUS (Holy Holy Holy) as if to say, "Ok everyone, Jesus is coming down to us in just a few moments. Let's get the place ready"

The fact that it was in Latin didn't bother anyone (anyone, referring to John Paul, Therese, Jacob, and Micah). It was novel for our kids, and it felt less like something I couldn't understand/relate to and more like what was happening was so important and so heavenly that mere English just wasn't reverent enough. Gosh, I LOVE the Church! There was SO much to see and hear and smell, that I wanted to shout from the streets, "BRING YOUR CHILDREN TO CHURCH- I PROMISE THEY WON'T BE BORED." And obviously I was so moved by this mass that I had to tell someone about it... and I happen to have a blog. It made me appreciate both forms (the "English" being referred to as Novus Ordo, whose meaning I have no idea), but it was such a realization that the church has more to offer than I realize!

So... St Patrick's Church in New Orleans. You won't be disappointed... even if you don't speak Latin... which I don't!
Deo Gratias! (ok I know a little bit).


Servant said...

Thank you Kate. I was one of the many servers at this Mass. Everything you say, not only about the servers, but about the church, the liturgy, the music, just wonderful and inspires men like me to always want to serve Jesus more fully. Some of the men you saw serving are seminarians (which bodes well for the future). I encourage you and your family to continue to attend the Traditional Latin Mass; it will change your life. It changed mine and my family's lives.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum.


Anonymous said...

What you saw on Sunday was a little special because it was Christ the King Sunday -- but as a routine matter, we always have the three sacred ministers in the sanctuary, the incense, the servers, and the wonderful music. Benediction is usually once a month.

Come back and introduce yourselves! Hang out afterwards with coffee and doughnuts in the courtyard. We want to meet you!

Anonymous said...

Kate, we call it "the youth Mass", because that's the one that draws all the young people and families.

No biggie about the mantilla. Lots of women don't use them. My wife does, but my mother doesn't. Totally optional.

If you want the text to follow along, there are some red booklets in the back of the church (just ask), but to be honest I'm glad you just watched and let it happen for you. Nothing wrong with mystery. God is mostly mystery, so meeting Him is bound to involve a lot of things hard to understand. "A God we could understand would be less than ourselves."

Are you really friends with Tom and Aga? That is so cool.

Robert Bailey said...

So majestic. Everything Mass should be. I've never felt as close to God as I did there. Will go back there every opportunity I have.

Laura Kiper said...

I felt the same way when we first went. That was 7 years ago and we now commute an hour to get there every Sunday. It doesn't get old...ever!

Eric Plaisance said...


Thank you so much for this testimony to the beauty and majesty of our parish here at St. Patrick's. It touches me to a great degree to know that the Latin Mass here affects people in such a positive way. Please, do not stop coming. Join us after mass for coffee in the courtyard.

I am a server here as well and love seeing our pews filled up every week, especially if there are newcomers present. :)

If you have trouble with the Latin part of the mass. Most people get a copy of the 1962 Missal promulgated by Pope John XXIII. The most popular edition (which I use myself) is the one printed by Baronius Press. It outlines everything in a very organized fashion and you have every single mass on the Traditional liturgical calendar. It has both English and Latin. It takes time to get used to. But in a short amount of time you'll know it like the back of your hand.

Please do come again, I'd love to meet you and your family.