Jul 16, 2019

A Short Story on Why Devout Catholics Should Not Shun Novus Ordo Parishes

Not all of us have this at our disposal...

It is Saturday, March 31, 2018. Easter Sunday is in a few hours. 

I am a few months away from being formally received into the Catholic Church. I have been....away....for years and I am so excited and grateful at being able to worship during this Holy Night that I can't wait to get to Church. 

I am blissfully unaware of the controversies and debates rocking the Church. I could not tell you much about the Latin Mass. This was the only Mass that I knew. And it was Holy and Perfect to me.

My memories of this service during my time in the Greek Orthodox Church were overwhelmingly positive. From my childhood I remember that at 11:55 PM everyone gets candles put into their hand. The entire Church goes completely dark. Everyone is waiting, pregnant with anticipation. When the clock strikes midnight the cry goes out, slowly, then building until everyone in the Church joins in unison to the music: XRISTOS ANESTI. XRISTOS ANESTI. Christ is Risen. All of the candles get lit. The first time I had seen it the only thing I could liken it to were old clips of the Nuremberg Rallies. Of course Joseph Goebbels stole the concept from the Eastern Churches. It is incredibly powerful. Incredibly joyous. 

So I was excited. I get to the local Church at 8 PM. The service does not begin until 9:30. I want a front row seat. I begin praying. Old ladies in mantillas - at this Novus Ordo service - introduce themselves to me and pray along with me. I am incredibly happy and thankful.

Around 9:25 most of the people attending begin arriving. A large percentage of people are there with family members being baptized/received into the Church. They are there for familial support. They look bored. Some are there with children who will be performing as altar boys or in the choir. From what I can see the holiness of the night is lost on most of the people attending. No one does extra praying. The prayers are perfunctory. 

I, on the other hand, am praying like the world is coming to an end. I do not say this to tout myself or my merits. I have written repeatedly about my own failings. But on this night I can honestly say my heart was on fire for Christ.

I notice that I am receiving the attention of amused attendees. The sight of a young, tall man in a nice suit praying so earnestly must have been hilarious to them. That someone actually believes all of this and takes it seriously was a species of human that they don't encounter on a regular basis. 

But I don't care. I keep going. This woman in her mid to late 20's was observing me in a different way though - at first, amusement. Then befuddlement. Then interest. 

The service ends and I nod my head at her as I leave. I think nothing more of it. 

Guess who I saw at my Latin Mass parish three months ago?

Christ told us to become fishers of men. Most nominal Catholics attend Novus Ordo services or they don't attend at all. If we want to re-confirm our brethren in the Faith we have to go where they are and show them a better way from our example that puts love of Christ and of our neighbor at the center of our behavior.