Tuesday, July 10, 2007

There Was Great Joy in That City: Reflections of Fr. Robert C. Pasley, KHS

Most of you have heard about Fr. Pasley and Mater Ecclesiae, but you've probably not heard much directly from him.

Until today. Fr. Z has posted and I have obtained Fr. Pasley's permission to reproduce here his comments about our motu proprio celebration on Sunday. (Incidentally, the Cornell Society for a Good Time joined us, and a good time was indeed had by all.)


By Father Robert C. Pasley, KHS
Mater Ecclesiae, Berlin, NJ


“Factum est ergo magnum gaudium in illa civitate.” (Acts 8:8)

These words from the Acts of the Apostles came to my mind as I awoke this morning. “There was great joy in that city.” As a matter of fact, I really recalled the now defunct 1970’s NAB translation of this phrase, which albeit more dramatic, is a typical mistranslation, “The rejoicing in that city rose to fever pitch.” What is most important in this one case, however, is not the translation, but that at Mater Ecclesiae, in Berlin, NJ , which is, I’m sure, reflective of all such places that celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the One Roman Rite, the rejoicing and joy was so great that fever pitch doesn’t even begin to describe it.

The Church was packed; visiting priests, members, visitors from all over (as far away as Rome and Ithaca, NY), reporters and photographers. As the organ swelled and the trumpet began to sound, we processed down the aisle. I could not hold back the tears. All around me I saw smiles and tears and swollen eyes.

The Mass began and the words of the Mass for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost seemed to be personally selected by heaven to celebrate the events of 07/07/07, the 7th year of Mater Ecclesiae’s existence, on the 7th day of the week, the Sabbath, on first Saturday dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The prayers of the Mass are as follows;

The Introit – “The Lord is the strength of His people, and the protector of the salvation of His anointed,”
The Collect – O God… giver of all good things… increase in us true religion and by Thy mercy keep us in the same.”
The Gradual – “Lord, Thou hast been our refuge from generation to generation.”
The Alleluia – “In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: deliver me in Thy justice.”
The Gospel – “ Jesus said, I have compassion on the multitude.”
The Communio – “I will go round, and offer up in His tabernacle a sacrifice of jubilation; I will sing and recite a psalm to the Lord.”

As the incense rose to heaven, and I ‘went round His Tabernacle to begin the sacrifice of jubilation,’ the choir and the people sang the Kyrie and Gloria with such gusto that I thought the walls would explode – “The Lord is the Strength of His people.” During the sermon I have never felt such rapt attention. At the offertory, the five men in the Schola sang the Ave Maria by Arcedelt, a reminder of all the Rosaries worn out in prayer over these last 40 years. The consecration came in the hushed silence of the Ancient Rite, and Our Lord, “the giver of good things had compassion on the multitude.” At communion, wave after wave knelt at the altar rail; doctors, lawyers, engineers, tradesmen, mothers, fathers, teenagers and so many little ones. Finally, after the Last Gospel, the Te Deum was intoned, the bells began to ring and the chills ran down my spine. It truly was extraordinary or should I say it is Extraordinary, the Form that is.

Off we went to Bishop DiMarzio Hall, a toast to Pope Benedict, the champagne cork popped in perfect rhythm, and the people clapped and cheered. On the cake, in beautiful Roman Script were the words, TE DEUM LAUDAMUS !! and the party began. Ubi Missa, Ibi Mensa. Finally, at 4:00PM, having extinguished the last Ashton on the porch, the Reverend Fathers having departed, the people having bid adieu, and about to close the door and collapse into the recliner exhausted form joy, a young father with his family returned. “Father, the boys want to say goodbye.” And I asked the oldest boy, why were we so happy today? And with a big smile he said, “Because Pope Benedict did a good thing.” Need more be said?

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