“We, the undersigned Parishioners of St. Peter, Washington Virginia, respectfully request Fr. Horace Grinnell, Pastor of St. Peter, reinstate one Sunday Mass as previously celebrated.”
Hidden beneath these few simple words is a deep anguish felt by many Parishioners of St. Peter’s Catholic Church concerning the replacement of a longstanding, rich Novus Ordo liturgical expression with something less, something wanting. Instead of a liturgy that reflects the “Holy, holy, holy …” that takes place in Heaven, we are confronted with the imposition of a self-styled, minimalistic celebration of the Holy Mass. What we see now is “correct” and it is “valid.” Yet, we are left with a sense of incompleteness as we leave Mass each Sunday – a sense of near impoverishment.
Meriam-Webster says: change verb \’chanj\
: to become different
: to make (someone or something) different
: to become something else
So, the “Tidal Wave of Change” is changing our liturgy. Over time it will tend to make our Parish into something different. Already, some have fled to St. John the Evangelist in Warrenton or to St. John the Baptist in Front Royal. Those who are leaving are not “traditionalists” or any other type of “-ists”. They are people like my wife, a convert who embraced the Catholic Church years after Vatican II.
My wife studied for her entry into the Catholic Church as an adult and she continues to study her Faith and learn of its teaching and its traditions. She tries to attend Mass daily, and she has attended Mass in the Novus Ordo in several different countries, using multiple languages, not to mention attending in scores of parishes in the United States. She knows that the Mass is a central part of our Faith, and it does not take second place to “social justice” or other such notions that tend to put the mere human social order above the divine.
For her, a Mass must be more than “correct.” Mass must be an event to which she can take a prospective convert to share the awe inspiring reenactment of the Last Supper and Calvary, and also share the treasure of the “real presence.” And Mass must be an event where the celebration is a striving for the “maximum” rather than languishing in the “minimum.” It must be the “maximum” and the greatest event so that she can share it with her grandchildren and her beloved guardian angel.
My wife has seen “authentic” and “distorted” liturgies. She knows where the wrong type of change will lead. If change is not calculated to increase the true richness in our liturgy, soon there will be signs of disunity in the Parish. Bickering will begin and the words “traditionalist” and “liberal” will emerge as labels – divisions and factions will arise. Parish Pastoral Council meetings will become fraught with friction. For some, faith will be shaken and some will leave.
There must be a reason for change. Every change should be preceded by the question, “Why?”
Why must we at St. Peter’s become different; be made to be something different; be forced to become something different?