I had an experience today that I want to share. I went to early Mass this Sunday morning. We had a visiting priest (he is visiting some family locally) who was really something. He chanted almost the entire Mass (Ordinary Form) including the proclamation of the Gospel.
One of our regular parish lectors chanted the first and second readings plus the Responsorial Psalm. He did a great job. Who knew he could chant? My parish’s best cantor did a great job as well. The three altar servers today are by far the best my parish has – three young men who go to college locally.
Our very rarely used pipe organ was played to perfection by a local professional organist (she’s Protestant and plays about one Mass a month for us) and the hymn choices were excellent. Probably best of all, the priest gave an outstanding homily and he used the Roman Canon. There is no question that the celebration of Mass was elevated in my parish this morning. Each person in the sanctuary seemed to be feeding off of one another. Some would say the Holy Spirit was really at work. Others would say “everything just came together.”
After Mass I found myself belting out “God We Praise You” (the recessional) while shopping for groceries. The Mass stayed on my mind all day today and it was a very full day. I wanted more so I went to Mass for a second time tonight.
The celebrant was our parochial vicar. The music was provided by our combination cantor and guitar player who periodically turned his guitar during Mass. The servers were young and poorly trained (not their fault – the person in charge of training them was putting on a real show “directing” them during the Mass.) The Mass was certainly valid and licit. It was also celebrated in what I can only describe as a perfunctory manner.
While I’m aware the grace that suffuses from any valid celebration of the Mass is identical, that fact cannot be used to discount how important it is to celebrate the Mass in the most solemn and reverent manner possible. The beauty of the early morning Mass made me want to return. The homily, chanting and music from this morning have been on my mind all day and thus God has been on my mind all day. My experience tonight in comparison felt like routine “ticket-punching.”
I wonder if most “liturgists” are even aware of this? I am going to email this visiting priest and thank him. I’m also going to ask if he coordinated the Mass or if someone else did? Quite a day.