Saturday, June 21, 2008
A serious thought--look at this
I think this picture, by Vernon Quaintance at Cardinal Hoyos' Solemn High Mass at Westminster Cathedral, is one of the most remarkable things I've seen. It sums up, in one image, so much of our thinking for the Traditional Latin Mass.
Much of the reason for traditional liturgy, including the Tridentine Mass, is formation of Catholic identity for those who worship with it. Look at that altar boy there. He looks pretty serious. He realizes that this is something serious, sacred, important. How does he know it's important? I will answer with another question: how often in normal life do you hold the end of a big ol' freakin huge red cape which is given to you in an extremely reverential fashion by guys in black robes with cool frilly white things over them? He is going to be filled with a deep respect and reverence for the liturgy, a respect and reverence for the office of a bishop, a sense of the importance of the priesthood, a sense that THIS WHOLE GOD THING IS SOMETHING HE MUST TAKE SERIOUSLY. I mean, seriously, would it shock anyone if this kid becomes a priest? What a privileged moment for that boy!
Now, if he were an altar server at a more mainstream parish during a Novus Ordo Mass that's celebrated in a stupid way, without a clear sense of reverence, where he holds some cruets and spills but people just laugh at him and pat him on the head and say aw, it's ok it's no big deal as the priest farts around in the sacristy and tells jokes at the homily and isn't too exceedingly reverent during the Mass itself...well, guess what? That boy is being formed, and not well. He's being formed not to take this stuff seriously. He's being formed not to view the priest as someone any more important than anyone else--just a little weird because he's not married. This boy in the photo will probably come away from this Mass (celebrated totally in a language he doesn't know) with a far greater sense of the sacred than the boy in our unfortunate parish.
The image is also a great sign of hope for Catholics dedicated to a more reverent worship. First of all, I don't think anyone was exactly shocked (happy, but not shocked) that Cardinal Hoyos would do a Mass like this in Westminster Cathedral. I don't think anybody was shocked that a Solemn High Mass every bit as beautiful as anything seen before Vatican II was offered, that the Cardinal wore a Cappa Magna, or that the cathedral was overflowing. It's back!
But maybe the most significant image of hope is, again, that little boy holding the end of the cappa. He is the future. Kids like him (many in big families) are being formed by this spirituality. This kid will probably grow up either to have a big, holy, Catholic family which will be devoted to the traditional liturgy, or he will himself become a holy priest. They are the saints of tomorrow.
What a great picture.