Saturday, September 26, 2009

Solemn High Mass at the Shrine...

Just getting back from attending a Solemn High Mass across the street at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. The Mass was celebrated as part of the pilgrimage of the National Church Music Association of America, who provided the music for the Mass (which, as you can tell in the video below, was very well done). The ministers for the Mass came compliments of St. John the Beloved Parish, which is located across the river in McLean, VA (Diocese of Arlington). You'll recall that I helped some there last semester, serving as subdeacon for two Solemn High Masses on Palm Sunday and Easter:

The Mass took place in the crypt church, which in my opinion is the nicest part of the Basilica. Unfortunately, the lighting is quite dark there, however. The crowd was sizeable, filling the pews, and the choir was huddled in the space to the right of the altar around the pipe organ. Being that the majority of those present for the Mass were musicians themselves who were there for the pilgrimage, many of the congregation joined in the chanting of the ordinary parts of the Mass. As is typical with Extraordinary Form Masses, the congregation was quite young, and well versed in this form of the Mass. The "nay-sayers" of the Latin Mass often harp on their notion that this Mass does not permit participation of the faithful. I beg to differ, however, and offer tonight's Mass as evidence to the contrary. The ordinary of the Mass was eminently "sing-able" by the congregation, and many, in fact, did just that. Now, you will say, that was precisely because all those present were musicians! Well, I will grant you that that was the case, HOWEVER, while they may have been more apt to sing since they were musicians, the melodies of the Mass were certainly no more difficult than the "gather and praise" stuff that is played at most parishes these days. With but minimal acclimation, a congregation could easily learn this form of music (a treasure of the Church, in my opinion). One need not look any further than the classical music aisles of any music store to see the popularity of Gregorian Chant CDs among a broad spectrum of the population. Look no farther than iTunes and see how many CDs are available of classical Church music. There is something inherently compelling to this music that attracts people and draws their minds and spirits upwards... oh well, I'll get off my soap-box. Suffice it to say that full, active, and conscious participation was clearly evidenced.

No comments: