Wednesday, January 21, 2009

St. Mary's Parish in Norwalk, Connecticut

The following story appeared over on WDTPRS and it seemed to be something that NLM readers would also be very interested in.

There is a new liturgical movement taking place at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, and one that can serve as an example and an inspiration for other priests and parishes.

Father Greg J. Markey is the parish priest at St. Mary's parish and has been actively working in the context of the new liturgical movement there since 2003, working to "reform the reform", providing liturgical catechesis, and has also added the usus antiquior to his regular parish Mass schedule.

His mission began by first ensuring that the faithful had a proper experience of the liturgy of the Church -- a necessary, but perhaps under-recognized starting point; the liturgy is, after all, the primary means of the transmission of the Faith to the faithful. He provides further liturgical catechesis through his parish bulletins, classes, as well as the parish website; all important compliments to the action he is taking with regard to the liturgy itself.

Here is one of Father Markey's recent catechetical pieces in the parish bulletin, which will give you a sense of his recent activity:

...Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to liberalize the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form) is essential to reconnecting us with our lost tradition, and understanding what authentic worship of God is all about. This Mass was the Mass of our forefathers, of countless saints, and which in its essence dates back to the earliest Church.

Inspired by the Holy Father, I began the Extraordinary Form at the parish every Sunday over a year ago. As your Pastor I wish more people in the parish would understand that we have been given a treasure here at St. Mary’s with this Extraordinary Form, and while the Mass is definitely growing, it is still a disappointment that more people do not recognize what this is all about.

If we look at the full array of Masses here at St. Mary’s, we see that there is a progressive solemnity to each of the liturgies on Sunday, with the 9:30 am Extraordinary Form representing the fullness of our liturgical patrimony. The Ordinary Form at 4:00 pm, 7:00 pm, and the 8:00 am are done reverently, and has the fixed parts of the Mass (Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei...) sung in Latin during Advent and Lent. The Spanish 1:15 Mass has a beautiful choir which sings the Latin Mass parts all year round. The 11:30 am Ordinary Form of the Mass has the largest volunteer choir, with the Gloria, Credo, and Pater chanted in Latin every Sunday, and at least once a month the entire Mass is done in Latin, ad orientem (facing East). Finally, once again as the fullness of our liturgical patrimony, we have the Solemn High Extraordinary Form of the Mass, with a professional schola singing the Mass parts in Gregorian chant and renaissance polyphony, and a full set of servers.

I encourage people to come and attend the 9:30 am Extraordinary Form so that they will experience what is in my opinion is the fullness of Catholic worship, and which communicates the Sacred to a higher degree than the other forms. The Ordinary Mass is a simpler version of this more ancient form, yet points to this fuller expression of worship.

I ask you to attend a few times because it sometimes takes a little while to appreciate its subtly, beauty and order. Even if you prefer the Ordinary Form of the Mass, your attendance at the Extraordinary Form will at least help you understand our history and the Ordinary Form better.

With all of the liturgical growth here at the parish over the past five years I hope that these two Pastor’s columns would help people to understand the big picture of why I am making these decisions. It is not my own personal whim which motivates me, but my desire to have our parish think and worship with the mind and heart of the Church.

Furthermore I think it more than a coincidence that the crisis in the liturgy over the past forty years coincided with so many other ecclesial crises: the radical decline in priestly and religious vocations, the shrinking and closing of Catholic schools, the breakdown of the family and the growth of the culture of death, the painful clergy scandals, etc. The Mass is the heart and source of our faith. If the Mass is deformed and weak, then so is the rest of the body. As Pope Benedict XVI has written, “I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is, to a large extent, due to the disintegration of the liturgy.”

In conclusion, nothing will affect a renewal in the Church and in the culture more than a renewal in the liturgy. The Mass not only expresses what we believe, it shapes what we believe. Come, open yourself to what the Holy Spirit is doing at this point in history, and worship our Lord in the coming year in spirit and truth.

The full text can be found here on the parish website.

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