Feb 20, 2007

FSSP Mass in Kansas City, KS

[This is the first post in a series of generally describing Masses celebrated in Catholic churches in Kansas City (both dioceses). Most of the time, I'll focus on unusual stuff and the homily. I'll start with the Latin Mass Community of St. Philippine Duchesne (SPD) where the "Saint of the Party Animals" [my title] was the sermon.]

The two SPD Community Masses are offered by two chaplains of the FSSP at 6:30 and 11:00 a.m. every Sunday morning. Last Sunday, one priest offered Mass and the other heard confessions before and during Mass, except when both chaplains were needed to distribute Holy Communion. The 6:30 a.m. Mass is a shorter liturgy called the Low Mass. A slightly longer High Mass is offered at 11:00 a.m., with special opening prayers, entrance/exit processions, organ music, singing, additional prayers, incense, etc. I decided to attend the Low Mass early last Sunday morning.

Those who wanted to follow the Low Mass could pick up red booklets with side-by-side English translations of the Latin prayers said by the priest and the altar servers. However, it seemed many, if not most, people had their own large prayer books which they read silently before, during, and after Mass.

It's hard to believe the 6:30 a.m. Low Mass for Quinquagesima Sunday attracted a total of 12 altar boys dressed in black robes with white surplices. [Note: the High Mass a week later had 26 altar boys.] Many genuflections to the Blessed Sacrament were made by the altar boys who crossed repeatedly in front of the tabernacle as they helped to make the sanctuary ready. When the opening bells were rung, the priest and his entourage of 12 young servers entered the sanctuary. Two boys then stood, knelt, and genuflected at the side of the priest and prayed in Latin--apparently memorizing the prayers. Most of the time, the other boys quietly stood and knelt on both sides of the sanctuary, sort of like praying angels, I thought.

Latin was used for all the Mass prayers except for the repeating of the Epistle and the Gospel in English from the priest's podium. The sermon "Saint of the Party Animals" was then given and I have since learned that it was taken from The Story of Hermann Cohen by Fr. Tadgh Tierney, OCD.

After the sermon, more Latin prayers were said by the priest while the people read from their prayer books, and then the bells were rung for the holiest part of the Mass where the priest consecrated the bread and wine. At the consecration, bells were rung three times when the bread became the Body of Jesus Christ, and three times for the consecration of His blood.

The consecration is a very notable and reverent ceremony because of the deep bow of the priest, the bells, the slow raising of the chalice, the reverent genuflections by the priest and altar boys, an impressive silence, and reverent attention of the people. Actually, there seemed to be almost complete silence during the entire time I was in church, except for the priest's prayers and the occasional noises made by a few of the good number of small children attending this very early Sunday Mass. Personally, I found the silence helpful in praying.

Holy Communion was distributed to kneeling parishioners by the two priests, except for a couple of older people with walkers who stood for Communion. It appeared almost everyone in church went to Holy Communion. People returned to their pews, knelt down, and appeared to be praying. They finally stood when the opening verses of St. John's Gospel were read at the end of Mass, in Latin. Everyone genuflected when the Gospel said Jesus descended to be born on earth. After the Mass concluded, the priest led more prayers at the foot of the altar, including "Hail, Holy Queen," another prayer asking God to protect the Church, the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, and three "Lord, have Mercy's".

What was most impressive was to see the priest leave the sanctuary with his altar boys after Mass was concluded--and almost no one in the church moved for a couple of minutes! Continuing to pray, the people individually left the church once they had finished praying. Finally, I did not observe any talking in the church, even after Mass ended.


Anonymous said...

Let us note, as you did in your subsequent post, the numbers. Instead of 4 masses for 3300 families, we have 2 for less than 330. Whereas that other place had one person at 8am Mass for every 6 families registered; we had probably 1 for every 4 families registered at our 6:30am Mass, and close to 2 for every 1 family registered at 11:00am. And that's for a community scattered from here to next week.

Of course, we don't come out ahead in all the categories. We had 0 lay eucharistic ministers for every communicant; they seemed to have an army of them.

thetimman said...

I love the FSSP. They deserve a ton of credit for the principled stand they took in 1988, whether one agrees with it or not.

About the only quibble I have with the FSSP Masses I have knowledge of in Nebraska is that the altar boys don't kiss the hand of the priest when handing articles to him or receiving articles from him. They do this at the ICR Masses I have seen.

Like I said, a quibble.

Chris said...

I just came across your blog today by way of Kansas City Catholic. I hope to be making a trip over from Lawrence, KS very soon for the FSSP Mass.

Jonathan said...

I've been to three high masses at blessed sacrament but never any low masses...i've only been to no masses before and the tridentine masses are beautiful! i can't imagine an average parish matching blessed sacrament in reverence....

Anonymous said...

Clarification, please.

Those in attendance of the low Mass... "read from their prayer books" while Mass was taking place? Rather than actively participating in the liturgy and eucharist of the Mass?

Beautiful or not, aren't we there to worship our Lord in Mass -- not as individuals reading our separate prayer books -- not to relish in the "pretty things that take place".

So, we're gathering together -- yet praying apart? I don't get it.

joy said...

Yes, they all read from their prayer books. But it was not praying "apart". They were all praying together. The prayer books all have the same prayers for that day. They all also have the Mass. Both the Mass & the prayers are in both Latin & English. SO, the people were reading along with the priest as he offered the Mass, the same prayers & readings.
Mostly these days people aren't accustomed to doing that. We do reply to "The Word of the Lord" and other things like that, but usually we just listen to what the priest is saying (or we should be doing that anyway!). When we read our prayer book, also called a Daily or Sunday Missal, we are totally participating in the Mass with the priest.
I hope that clairifies it so you can get it?
In Christ,
Joy in MO

Janet MacKinnon said...

We have the Tridentine Holy Mass every Saturday evening at our parish in Sterling Heights, Mi. It is reverent, quiet with about six altar boys and young men serving. I like the generous use of incense and everyone entering more into the prayer of the Holy Mass as they follow along with their prayer books and leaflets for those who do not have their own books. Many young families attend.
The focus is where it should be, on the Holy Mass and not on the priest. We also have the many bows and genuflections as the priest and servers pass before the Blesed Sacrament. What a privilege to have access to this Holy Mass at Ss.Cyril & Methodius Slovak Catholic Church. May God be praised.
Janet M.