Monday, May 10, 2010

The First Solemn Mass of a Newly Ordained Diocesan Priest and His Thoughts on Mutual Enrichment

We recently mentioned a conference going on in Detroit, which also made mention of an historical church, Assumption, across the river in Windsor, Canada -- a church we have featured before, and which, due to the diligent work of those in that area, has also hosted a number of "first solemn Masses" of diocesan priests in the usus antiquior.

I am pleased to present with you some photos from the first solemn Mass in the usus antiquior of a young priest, Fr. Patrick Beneteau, a diocesan priest ordained only within the past few weeks.

Being always interested in hearing what priests experience and take from the celebration of the usus antiquior and how this might further relate to mutual enrichment, I put the question to Father Beneteau. Here is his response which I wished to share:

"The entire experience of preparing to celebrate the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite has been an enriching one. In my second year of seminary I read Cardinal Ratzinger's, "Spirit of the Liturgy," and some of Louis Bouyer's works on liturgy. I realized that, in many respects, the Liturgical Movement was still in need of being actually implemented and taught. Thus began my keen interest in the traditional celebrations of the Church's liturgy in both forms of the Roman rite.

"In celebrating this past Sunday's Solemn High Mass, I was struck with how Christ-centered the entire Mass was. Every gesture, chant, rubric and prayer offered by either myself, the deacon, or subdeacon, focused my attention constantly on the fact that this sacrifice was being offered to the Father, through Christ's sacred action, not my own - and this was very liberating. The ad orientem direction of liturgical prayer emphasizes this fact so clearly.

"The second thing which struck me, out of the whole experience, was how incarnational the whole celebration of a Solemn Mass is. It counters so much of the hyper-cerebral tendencies that are current in today's society at large; that we have to know and understand everything in its completeness. The Solemn Mass strikes all of the human senses and helps us to learn and to enter into relationship with God and others.

"Although, somewhat nervous at the beginning of the Mass, I quickly felt entirely drawn into the great mystery of God, and felt as though I belonged to something so much greater than what was even occurring at Assumption Church. I felt the sense of the Church universal.

"Learning both forms of the Roman Rite, as a transitional deacon, and now as a newly ordained priest, has, as Benedict XVI said in Summorum Pontificum, been a mutually enriching experience. What I have learned in the Extraordinary Form has assisted me in my celebrations of the Ordinary Form, ensuring that the focus is on Christ, and that I allow the liturgy to speak for itself, employing all of its incarnational power. What I have learned in the Ordinary Form has also helped me in my preparations for celebrating the Extraordinary Form as well -- especially in my preaching as I attempt to always preach from the liturgy that is being celebrated, with its readings, its collects and its rich treasury of prayers."

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