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).
Posted by Kate Dawson